My adventure started on Thursday morning. My lovely wife drove me to the airport in Branson, MO. I jumped on a Southwest Airlines plane to Midway Airport in Chicago. (Yes Branson has an airport and it is large enough to support Southwest Airlines– most people are surprised). I waved goodbye to my wife and four year old son to start the adventure in the Windy City.
I had an uneventful flight into Chicago’s Midway airport. I found my way to baggage claim where the wait was short. For the first time in my life, my luggage came out early and was not the last thing the luggage carousel. I headed to the L (Elevated Train- like a subway) Station.
After following the long interior path to the L, I came face to face with train station. It is all automated and only takes cash but it requires exact change. I didn’t realize it required exact change at first and attempted to put a $20 bill in. Luckily for me, the Twenty was spit right out. I had to find a vendor and buy a pack of gum, which I needed anyway. I bought my ticket and boarded the L.
I had the map and plan on my phone. I realized a change from the Orange line to the Red Line was required and knew the stop. I was very please with myself but that is where I went wrong. I became overconfident in my technological wonder of a phone. When I changed lines to the red line, I had to go underground. I hadn’t thought about losing my GPS signal.
When I made my way onto the red line, I attempted to verify my exit but was unable to nail it down. I believed I knew my exit but was not positive. I got off of the train at the exit I believed was right. I attempted to verify it but couldn’t get the app to connect. Finally, I gave up and made my way top side.
I immediately started my navigator program to help me find my hotel. I had a difficult time with my sense of direction and knowing which way I needed to go. One of the Chicago locals must have recognized my deliriousness and he offered to help me find my way.
At first, I believed that Frank was going to just point me in the correct direct but he stayed with me as I walked. I was on the wrong level of Chicago (three different levels- I had no clue). He showed me the sites on our way to my hotel. I found out that he is a taxi driver and often gives the tours as he drives different tourists around.
Frank was extremely nice and helpful. I came to find out about this family and life. But the problem was Frank expected to be compensated for his time. I had already determine to give the guy a tip which would have been great other than my idea and his were different. He became offended when I offered him a smaller tip that he thought was deserved. I eventually gave in to get rid of him and paid him more that I expected. It is sad that it ended this way, because it left a terrible taste in my mouth about a guy who did help me out and was extremely nice.
As I went to check into my hotel, I realized my wallet was missing. I started to panic in fear. My wallet has my ID for my hotel stay, the Convention, and my flight home. It had all of my limited cash. It had my credit card and debit card. I must have dropped it with all of the confusion with Frank’s ordeal. Then I began to wonder, did Frank steal it? As I am pondering this, I get a call on my cell phone. A good citizen found my wallet and turned it in at the next door hotel. I was so relieved and yet still frustrated.
Finally I was able to check into my room at the hotel. The room was small but clean. It was so small, the TV is on the side wall because there is no room for it in front of the bed. The Bathroom door swings into the bedroom and blocks the main door because the bathroom is too small. But it was a comfortable and clean room.
I relaxed around the room for a little while. I was waiting on my buddies Brian and Mike to make it into Chicago. I decided to connect to the free internet to check on Geeky KOOL and to write an article. I am fairly tech savvy but I couldn’t get the wifi to work. After an hour of trying, I gave up and called their tech support. The tech guy was extremely nice and friendly. He attempted everything he could think of to get me connected but it just didn’t happen over a 45 minute time frame. He agreed to escalate this case up to the next level and left me without connectivity but with the promise that they would fix it.
In the meantime, my friends Brian and Mike arrived in town and were ready to find a bite to eat. They called my while I was on the phone with Tech Support. I called them back and they were at the restaurant. I agreed to join them for authentic deep dish pizza from Giordanos. We split a medium between the 3 guys and there was pizza left over. After two small pieces from a medium pizza, I was overstuffed. This was superior pizza to any restaurant pizza I have ever had.
We ended the night by walking Michigan Avenue and checking out many of the sites. Brian grew up in the Chicago area and he was a great tour guide (and I didn’t have to pay him). We checked out the Lego Store (check me out with Batman-Lego), the Bean, WGN/ Chicago Tribune Building, and much more. It was a perfect ending to my first adventure in Chicago. Tomorrow C2E2 begins.