Guess who's back from a short adventure in the Windy City?
That's right - me, myself and moi!
Actually. This was another trip in which I accompanied Daddy for his work.
Some of you already knew likely that my wonderful father owns and operates his own business, and a major part of that business is producing conferences across the country. He trains college students, specifically in their student government leadership positions.
Anyhoo. I've been to his conferences in NYC, Los Angeles, Philly, Boston and DC, and then of course naturally the ones here in FL. I assist by helping with set-up, tear-down, running the conference store and registration, etc. Basically I'm your behind-the-scenes gal. Daddy's main thing is doing workshops, but he also does a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work since it is after all his conference.
I'd never been to Chicago before. I have a love for visiting new places, and traveling to new sights, beholding new sceneries and cultures. Of course, I always look forward to returning to my little piece of paradise, otherwise known as HOME, but I do love getting to travel!
Honestly, I was expecting this city to be not very distinguishable from Philly and NYC. Most of what I saw of Philadelphia was downright ugly, with exceptions of course to the historical sections.
Anyhow. I was hoping Chicago wouldn't be just another concrete jungle which smelled like a cesspool of pollution and garbage.
|On Friday, after having just picked up our rental vehicle.|
Every big city has its dangerous spots.
I know, when I heard of Chicago before the first thing that came to mind was mafias and crime. But truth is, my very own tiny little hometown is riddled with crime, and it's only got a few hundred people tops, MAYBE. Guess what? Even with that small amount, it's got a poor reputation in the area. It's known for drug dealing. People have been shot here.
So, point proven? There is sin everywhere. Not just the big cities.
So anyway, you can't make stereotypical assumptions about a place. That being said, yes there are indeed places in Chicago which would not be wise to venture! So. Don't go to those places! Simple enough right?
|Lunch/breakfast Friday, at the hotel restaurant.|
Anyway. I'm already going down rabbit trails, something I'm a bit too good at doing. *facepalm*
The trip began EARLY Friday morning. I mean, a waking up at 4:30 AM sort of early. Eeesh!
We had a flight out of Orlando, which went good and smooth. I was able to make progress in the Rebels during that time, which of course I was happy about. Roughly two and half hours later, we touched ground in Illinois.
|Haha! How randomly amusing - Daddy was 'guest of the day'.|
Chicago was beautifully chilly. Now, back here in FL we've been having very nice days as weather is concerned, but up there it was literally CHILLY.
Oh happy day!!! I can't express how I love a chilly topography. Now, I don't care for super cold, e.g. in the 20s and below, that being said. Honestly us Floridians are pussies when it comes to cold weather!
The first thing we did, upon arriving at the hotel was to get situated and then acquire some FOOD!
Hahaha. Quite a story there. We headed down to the hotel restaurant. The PRICY hotel restaurant. >_< Anyhoo. None of the workers apparently knew English very well. Our waiter was a middle-eastern man, I'm guessing he was perhaps from Pakistan or Israel? I requested the "crunchy French toast." He looked slightly confused, and repeated my request in broken English. I motioned to where the item was located on the menu, and he finally nodded a bit sporadically.
About 15 minute later, he returns with Daddy's delicious looking eggs benedict, and....a small plate with two slices of toast on it. Regular toast, mind you, on a side-serving sort of plate.
First thing that entered my mind... "You expect us to pay 11 bucks for that?" I mean, I'm not picky or anything but eleven dollars for two pieces of regular, store-bought bread thrown in the toaster is a major rip off!
Eventually, the waiter returned and we tried to explain that this was NOT French toast. He clearly had no idea what we were talking about. I felt a bit sympathetic for him...he evidently had hardly any knowledge of the English language at all.
Anyhoo, EVENTUALLY I got some eggs benedict as well, instead. It was delicious! My first.
Upon finishing breakfast, the next thing was to begin initial set-up for the conference. We were located at a college called Malcolm X College - and that title creeped me out majorly. Seriously. Who's idea was it to name a public school after such a man? Anyhoo.
The core set up took several hours. Our hosts were very accommodating and friendly, which was a blessing.
After finishing up at the college, Daddy drove us over to downtown Chicago to do some sight seeing. He is usually worn out from these trips and would prefer to just rest in the hotel room, but since I came along he was considerate and thoughtful knowing that I was really eager to see some sights.
We got to go to the Sears tower! Well now it isn't called that anymore, it's officially the Willis Tower. But. I've always known it the other way and I'm sure most other folks will pretty much always think of it like that, as well.
It. was. amazing.
The sheer monstrosity of this building when it comes to size blows/blew my mind. I've been on tall man-made structures before, like the Empire State Building. But this is the tallest one I've gone on yet. 110 stories. I forget the exact amount of feet. It is massive.
The lines were quite long and the wait just to get the elevators lasted at least 20 minutes. It was worth it though. Entirely worth it.
The elevator ride itself was foreboding of the creepily awesome experience ahead. We crammed onto a car and instantly began shooting upwards at an amazingly swift speed. If the elevator had had transparent walls I swear I'd have passed out or lost my cookies or something to that effect. o_O It was swaying to a fro, slightly which began to get a little unnerving. The monitor above the elevator door tracked our progress as floors flew by, by the tens.
And then we were there.
At the top.
The view was spectacular. The tiny lights from far below scattered in every direction
as far as the eye could see. That high up, surrounded by people of all sorts of nationalities and languages, it wasn't difficult to imagine a modern day Tower of Babel. Whenever are you 110 stories up, immersed in a collection of dozens of different languages and people groups?
And of course...there is the freakily awesome highlight which many know this building for.
Four, 4' transparent glass boxes affixed to the side of the building, jutting outwards over the cityscape below.
Known as The Ledge.
|Waiting in line to get to the Ledge.|
The thought of standing in a glass box thousands of feet above the ground is enough to terrify most people. Including me. As we got closer and closer in the line, my heart raced. Mentally I knew it was perfectly safe but my body was insisting on remaining traumatized about the idea.
Finally, our turn came.
Gingerly I edged my way out on the glass. I stood and looked down VERY quickly. Oh my word. I'm getting chills even now, just remembering what it was like.
All I could think to utter was"Oh my gosh" over and over again. Ardently.
I had no intelligible words.
It was breathtakingly terrifying.
Finally I couldn't stomach the thought of looking down again. So I just focused my gaze on Daddy as he snapped photos, my heart racing and my hands cold from touching the glass beneath me.
Awkwardness almost always ensues when I'm the subject of a photo.
What did I tell you? "How to fail a thumbs-up 101."
My last attempt to not look as terrified as I actually was.
(But all awkwardness aside, is this not the most epic shot ever? I mean...the VIEW looking down! Eeeee I'm getting shivers again.)
Even Daddy, who's usually fearless when it comes to this kind of thing, said he got creeped out slightly.
Truth be told, as scary as the whole deal was, it was also one of the most exhilarating things I've experienced. I guess that's what exhilaration is, right? A mixture of adrenaline, terror and excitement?
Cause that's what I felt up there. It was thrilling.
Dorkiness for the win! (or not...)
This is maybe my favorite landscape shot of the bunch. All those little lights...
A friend suggested this scenery appears similar to the Grid, in the film TRON: Legacy. Strangely enough it sort of does! And Maygan mentioned its similarity to the City of Ember.
(Fictional place references booyah!)
Back down on 'earth'.
Gah! Why so blurry!
Yup, we were all the way up there.
We had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant practically across the street from the Tower. Deep dish pizza! It was absolutely delicious. Mmmm.
It was a delightful evening. On Saturday, we arose early (again) and made haste for the conference.
It went well! A long day for all the speakers and myself, but the conference overall was a success and the attendees seemed to enjoy it. I ran the store, answered questions like "where is the restroom?" and, "where can I find room such and such?" as always and helped register guests.
During the down-times when most everyone was in their workshops/sessions, I did character chats with friends on the computer and tried not to look too mischievous.
And then of course, there was tear-down and boxing up the items/supplies later in the day when the event came to a close.
That night we had dinner with the speakers, a take-out from a local bbq place which Daddy in particular loves eating at.
Sunday? 1. I had a huge frappechino at the airport, and 2., it was probably just a size too much. I had serious caffeine overloads and couldn't sit still. Not to mention, I kept getting all sorts of insane inspirations for writing from my astronomy book. O_O
Ah but Starbucks....java chip frappechinos....they...are...just...too...good!!
The flight home was smooth. It was good to be back in paradise again...when we got here anyway, it took another two hours to drive back due to some mixups with direction and then a morass of Orlando traffic. >_< I don't get why everyone loves Orlando so much. Is Disney really all that? I firmly believe Orlando is one of the worst places in the state!
It was a wonderful trip. I am very thankful I was blessed to get to go and that everything went so well!
What's been new with y'all lately?