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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chicago, Chicago...

Well, I've been in Chicago since Sunday and have managed to get myself lost once. I'm here for training for my company to learn about cisco MDS SAN switches. I know that's a little too technical for most of my readers, but suffice it to say, I'm learning now why I do some of the things I do in my job.

I arrived on Sunday evening and found my hotel via their shuttle and got settled in. It's outrageously expensive, but then I'm not paying for it. On Monday after class, I pulled out my scrappy stuff and started working on Christmas gifts. This is the third trip I've taken with my scrappy stuff and I find that it's the most contiguous uninterrupted time I can possibly have. After class and supper and before bedtime. It's wonderful! I pack everything I can into an old rolling computer bag I have and check it on the airline. When I'm not on the plane, I just use the connecting strap from my luggage to "train" them together. It works very well.

I decided that on Tuesday I would go into downtown Chicago to see something. It was a toss up for Wednesday, but since it was supposed to snow that evening. I wasn't sure what, but settled on looking at Christmas decorations on the Magnificent Mile. I had absolutely no trouble finding my way there. The bell-boy at the hotel was very helpful in his directions of which stops to get on/off at and where to walk. Mind you, I planned on eating supper there, so I was all about looking for something to eat. Well, since I didn't get down there until 7:00, stores were closing, the "vertical malls" were closing (although I didn't want to eat anything I can find back at home) and things were thinning out. I did find some intersting things, though. Here's what I saw when I turned the corner onto Michigan Avenue:

I had to tryout my new cross-hatch filter on the Christmas lights. There was the Lego Santa:

I went into one mall and was practically accosted at a kiosk for "Seacret" by a young Israeli woman selling their nail-care package. What she did to one of my nails was really impressive and I figured it would be a great deal, especially when I got it for half price by buying two. Although, in researching the links above I think I was hoodwinked because the price is half of what she quoted me for one. Basically, she sold me two kits at full price. Grr! Anyway, it seems like a lovely product and I have one to give as a Christmas gift. And she gave me a mini-pampering of my hands by having me scrub with their salt scrub. It really took a lot of icky stuff off my hands! So I have something to wish for.

Anyway, I decided at about 8:30 that I should find something to eat, so I started wandering and looking. I couldn't find anything, so figured I'd head back to the train to get back to my hotel and find something there. I had to get directions from the Marriott security guard to the train station. As I finally approached the stairs down, I spotted the Rock Bottom Brewery on the corner.

They were open, so I figured I could get something to eat there. The food was great and I had a really tasty stout beer. They brought a sample of the Terminal Stout, but it was just a bit too stout for me. The waiter was kind enough to take a picture for me:

This is where the adventure began. I went down to the train station and waited for about 15 minutes until a guy with the CTA came by and told everyone that the last train on the Red Southbound had already run because the tracks were closed. He sent me upstairs to get on bus 29 to get to where I could pick up the blue line. The bus driver kindly let me on without having to swipe my CTA card again, since there was only a buck left on it anyway. She told me when we got to the stop where I could pick up the Blue line, so I got off.

I went to the nearest subway stairs and it said it was for the Red line. So went to the next station and found that it was for everything except the Blue (and Red) line. So I walked back the way I came looking for the Blue station. Mind you, I'm wandering up and down State Street at about 10 PM and there's almost no one around. I couldn't get the attention of the transit authority officers on the other side of six lanes of traffic, so I did the next best thing. I went into the only open business I could find, a Subway sandwich shop, and asked directions. They pointed me to an intersection about two blocks away. I went to Adams and Wabash as directed by the girl behind the counter and one of the patrons with a mouthful of food.

I arrived at the station only to discover that it had the same labels as the one I had left earlier. Everything except blue and red. Every other color of the rainbow and then some! So I decided, screw it, I'm getting on because they cross somewhere. That CTA attendant was very helpful and let me in without paying, too. She couldn't understand why I was lost, but I did my best to explain it. She pointed me to the correct platform and told me where to get off to change to the Blue line. Okay, so I'm on my way home.

It's about a 30-45 minute trip from downtown to O'Hare, where my hotel is, so I figured I'd be back by 10:45. Well, we had to stop several times and go slow in other places because of crews working on the tracks. At one point we had to wait for the southbound train to pass because only one set of tracks was open. Anyway, I finally made it back to my hotel at 11:30. Boy was I beat! And cold! The temperature while I was walking around was in the mid-20's. That's just a bit cold for this South Texas gal!

So, since I went out on Tuesday, I stayed in on Wednesday. I got two projects finished and some actual work-related work done.

I just realized that I didn't tell y'all anything about Thanksgiving last week. We had a great time with 17 people for dinner and great times. We had to leave on Friday for a football game (which we lost), but we had a lot of fun visiting family and friends. Our friends who used to be our pastors, but are now just our friends gave the blessing. What she said was so beautiful. She thanked God for family and for friends and the blurring of the lines between them. They are just as much a part of our family as my father and brother and sister-in-law. And I thank God for them, too.

Peace, y'all.


Suzanne said...

Oh, Karen! I admire you for keeping your cool! Things like that (making connections) scare the living daylights out of me. But glad you got some scrappy time in! :-D

Tammy said...

Sounds like quite an adventure. I think I would have started crying. LOL

Patriot said...

Sounds like you've got the traveling thing down!

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