Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chicago Adventure with Eric

So, for the info of others who may be curious and to get some observations down right away I want to get this down before much time has passed.

Yesterday Eric and I went to Chicago. He'd asked me to go have an adventure without making much more plan besides finding a hotel and throwing out a few ideas of things to do. This included going out to "a bar or club"(not a gay bar), probably shopping, going to a fancy Japanese buffet in the Woodfield Mall, going to a museum, and going to the Galloping Ghost Arcade. There was also this . . theory that one or both of us might find someone to go home with at the bar, or I could end up meeting up with friends at some point.

I'll state here that it's possible that we could have discussed some of these. . expectations in more realistic terms but it over all sounded like it would be fun. More or less. I, unfortunately, began freaking out a bit a day or two before leaving. I have a really hard time when I don't know what to expect out of a situation, and this is mostly ameliorated by having a plan and discussing expectations in general. :) Eric kept insisting that by not having an itinerary it would be more of an adventure and we'd be less disappointed if something didn't work out. He was more or less correct. . .but it didn't help my state of mind. I did resolve to try and let go and just trust him to "make it fun" though. :)

anyway, not very much happened "as planned".

First, Eric was supposed to drive and call me first thing in the morning, when he was ready to go. The time we'd talked about leaving was "before noon". I got a call around 7:45 and Eric said he was getting his oil changed and would be over soon. It was snowing, sort of hard, and he wanted to get going before it trapped us in c-u. I made myself get breakfast and get ready to go. I got a second call that he was getting his tires rotated and would be there soon. Then at 9:30 or 9:40 or so he showed up and said there was something wrong with his car that was not too hard to fix, but difficult to do in the current weather. After a brief tired debate, we decided to take my car, and I had him drive. I hate driving and he loves it. He's good at it and I trusted him to take us safely through the snow. Also we knew that the snow was not happening in chicago.

We left and stopped once to get food around 11 something and then took an exit to try this "Park and Ride" thing Eric wanted to do. We took an exit that claimed to be such and found a parking lot next to the metra. We got out, read stuff and tried to figure out how it worked. It was kind of obscured information and after a bit of looking we came back to the car and. . found the wheel locked and the key could not turn in the ignition. We talked to quite a few people including my parents, his brother, a ford dealer, people on facebook, and a few others. . they all said to "Turn the wheel, either left or right, hard if necessary and turn the key". Everyone gave the same advice. Over and over. seriously. I'm pretty sure we came close to breaking the steering column. Eventually I got a tow truck and the nice tow truck driver took one look, and try with the key, and said that the problem was that the ignition was locked up. The steering column would have to be replaced and he happened to have one that he and a buddy could install for us. And have it done overnight. The close dealers were closed and who knows when they might get to it anyway. Also these guys could do it for $200. Eric called his brother to verify that the price was good and it seemed to be. With few other options and after we made sure to get information about this guy, we made a deal. He was even nice enough to drive us to (and today pick us up from) the Metra station.

So finally, we were on the train into Chicago. We had a bit of confusion about reading google maps transit directions but eventually got to our hotel at 6:00p.m. We had very wet feet and were pretty tired and were very glad to be there. We checked into a small room with two twin beds and set out to find food. We were very hungry and we decided to eat in Chinatown. Oh yeah, our hotel was in china town. And Bryan's food apprehensions started to set in. I was starting to get tense because most of these restaurants looked very similar and 75% of the food looked unfamiliar. We walked up and down the street until we finally chose the place with one of the largest signs. It was actually really nice. I ordered Orange Chicken and a "Volcano" of Long Island Iced Tea. We ate well, drank well, and actually even talked to a nice family who had a son doing grad school in the Materials Science Department at uiuc. I recognized the name, but wasn't sure if I'd met him. One of the women in the group suggested going to bars in Wicker park.

After dinner we went back to the room and tried to figure out what we wanted to do next. The goal mainly was a bar. After trying to poll other people somewhat and feeling slightly daunted by trying more CTA fun, we eventually decided to go to Wicker Park. Eric had some apprehension about bars and we went in the first one that didn't look too annoying. The problem is I'm not big on bars that have lots of loud music and I find it difficult to talk or interact with people. We did have a drink each and watch some people play pool and shuffle board. Eventually we had trouble doing anything with the music and I wasn't very engaged in what was going on because of the music.

We left, made it back to the hotel room and drank, relaxed, watched anime and fell asleep.

Today we woke up, and I tried something else new: Dim Sum breakfast in Chinatown. I almost melted down and had a really hard time relaxing, but by the end of the meal I decided I was really glad I'd tried it. It was good food, but I had no idea what *any* of it was and that always kinda scares me. We were very full when we left. We were going to try and get to the mall and maybe the arcade (or vice versa)but by the time we were done eating we decided to get the car and then see what time it was. We made our way back through the CTA system, then the Metra, waited half an hour and eventually got back to Matteson to get the car. We decided that we didn't really have time to go anywhere else. . and were tired and frustrated. . and went home.

we had a bunch of discussion about how things went, how we reacted and how we interacted. . which was fascinating and could spark endless discussion. . but ultimately. . in spite of the difficulties the trip was a success. We learned the public transportation system better, and learned more about each other and how this sort of trip might work int he future. It was one of the firs times I've ever gone to chicago and not stayed with someone I knew there.