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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Travel Blog: Chicago

Hey all,

Well, I am home and ready to relax from my travels this past month. Chicago wasn't as exciting as Orlando or San Diego, a lot of it was simply hanging out in my hotel, studying for my classes or watching TV. I even lost the Internet from Wednesday to until I left as the wifi was down inside the hotel. So I didn't get to blog up on the last few days of my travels. So today I thought I would take a few minutes and end cap these travails.

Wednesday was actually where things started to pick up on the trip. Much of Sunday through Tuesday was bland, staying in my room, eating my meals alone, it was so bad I actually went to a movie on Tuesday by myself. I was looking forward to Wednesday though, as this meant a trip downtown into the heart of Chicago. I grabbed the shuttle that bussed us down and finally got a chance to talk to some people with similar interests, and despite having my own agenda in the city, I agreed to meet a few of them at the Navy Pier later to watch a scheduled fire works show. This was one of the first mixed group events that happened, so you didn't get a whole lot of interaction with other tables within your classroom setting, or even meet the other classes.

We got into Chicago after a pretty long shuttle ride and I made a beeline for a store called Rotofugi. It is a wonderful little vinyl toy store in Chicago with a huge selection of toys and artwork. I spent a good 30 minutes just browsing and picked up a few souvenirs to take back. I was amazed at the amount of selection they had, I took a few pics which you can check out below. They had some rare stuff and plenty to chose from, but nothing I thought I had to have so I stuck to some small items, though he did set me up with an online ordering site to get some plus sized shirts with the store logo on it so I am excited about that.

On the cab ride over (as the shuttle didn't get me close enough) I had also saw a small comic book store nearby. I hoofed it through what wasn't the greatest part of town, but browsed the store which had a wonderful small press section, where I found two books I had been desperately searching for. Transmetropolitan vol 2 by Warren Ellis and Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzuchelli. Polyp is a new book that I was looking for in San Diego, but couldn't find. I have even had issues locating it at my central store in town, so I gladly payed the $30 for the beautiful hardbound book. Expect a write up later this month in my Word Balloon Column detailing the read.

After browsing I cabbed back downtown and ate dinner at Portillo's, a really great Hot Dog and Italian Beef joint. I ate a Chicago Style dog, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, relish, mustard, and a huge dill pickle, with a hot dog on a poppy roll, plus half an Italian Beef sandwich, shredded beef soaked in au jous sauce, sweet peppers, and Swiss cheese, with fries and a beer, for like $12. It was amazing! Next up was to head downtown to the Pier and the crazy story that follows.

I was lost, looking for directions towards the Pier, I didn't want to take another cab and I was told it was about a mile walk, something i thought i could handle in plenty of time before I was due to meet my party. As I am looking for directions, this large black guy comes up to me and asks if I am lost. I say Yes, I am looking for the Navy Pier and he says to follow him. As I am following him down the street it occurs to me if he leads me down one of these dark alleys I will probably die. But I follow anyway. We reach a street corner and he turns to me and asks, " Do I party?"

This is usually code for doing drugs, at least in the movies, So I say no. He asks, " Do you wanna buy some coke?" I reply, "I've got school tomorrow." That has got to be the gayest response to someone trying to sell you drugs of all time. I mean I had HU classes yes, but I am 32 saying I got school. Terrible. Anyway he looks at me and says fines, points me to the left and says a free trolley will pick me up and take me to the Pier there and goes on his way. Sure enough, a trolley DID arrive and take me down there. The people of Chicago where nice, even the drug dealers!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I finally made it to the Navy Pier and met up for fireworks and beers. I had a good time hanging out with some folks from other tables, even getting a little flirty with one girl until I found out she was married. We watched a really fun fireworks show an split a cab back to the shuttle. All I know is 5 people splitting one cab is a pretty tight experience.

Thursday was marked by a night of studying and a few beers down at the hotel pub. It was fun just hanging out and studying and getting a chance to be in a relaxing situation with some of the people I met. We all turned in fairly early, especially with no ability to get online, I felt a good rest would do me great.

Friday was the last day of class so that meant taking the assessment (I did okay, missed 3 questions) and graduation. Overall I was happy with the class but it probably would have helped me out more 2 years ago when the class was meant to be taken, and not 3 years into the position. Still I was grateful for the opportunity to learn and network, and to meet one of McDonald's living legends in Fred Turner, the founder of HU and creator of our first systems manual back in the early 60's.

The graduation ceremony was held over a lunch, with a nice meal of beef brisket and potatoes. We got our diplomas and mingled, before heading back to the room to change and check out of the hotel by 2pm. I hung out in the bar for a few hours with a couple of the girls in my class and caught a free limo ride to the airport, to wait 2 hours before my flight. That was the plan at least, until the flight was delayed by rain by nearly 2 hours. The weather had been beautiful for the whole week while I was there, not to hot nor cold, just perfect. Until Friday, which was reduced to a rainy grey drizzle. I enjoyed the rain to be honest, until it delayed my flight so long.

Still after that delay and the headwind the plane caught I didn't get home until nearly midnight, and I had to work at 7am. All in all I was glad to have taken the trip, but I was more glad to just be home. Below are a couple of pics from the trip, hope you enjoyed the Travel Blogs, I am not sure when my next trip is scheduled, but I'll continue to update as it happens.

Fireworks at the Pier!

Several shots of Rotofugi



Fred Turner, one of our Founding Fathers.

Hope you enjoyed the pics and everything. I will be back this week with two movie reviews as well as new Flash Fiction and I am still sitting on some poetry. See you soon.

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