The Bean

It was raining this morning, so instead of walking, we took a cab to the closest Metro Link station. That first mile was ten bucks. It was $4.50 on Metro Link for the next eight miles. At the Saint Louis Union Station, we boarded the Megabus. 300 miles later, we off loaded at the Chicago Union Station, for $12.25. When we arrived in Chicago, it had stopped raining, so we walked the last mile to the hotel, roller bags in tow. This part of the trip was free.

It is always an adventure, when you ride Megabus, at least that is what Anne told me, when we boarded in Saint Louis. Anne and I were easily two standard deviations away from the median age of our fellow bus riders. Mostly they were college students on spring break. Our Megabus adventure occurred just after crossing the Mississippi into Illinois. The driver pulled off and stopped on the side of the road, not once but twice. After the first time it was a complete mystery. After the second time the driver came on the PA and announced that there was nothing wrong, except that he couldn’t see out of the front window, because it was all fogged up. We were on the upper deck and the front window there was completely fogged too. He solved the problem by cranking up the heat to an almost intolerable extent, but it did defog all of the windows.

After we safely arrived in Chicago, we went to our hotel to check in. It is the Wyndham Blake. The building once housed printing presses and is situated in the heart of Printers Row, just south of the Loop. The building has been completely refurbished and our accommodations are pretty nice. After check-in, we turned it around quickly and set off into the city to have some fun.

We spotted numerous buildings sporting all sorts of architectural significance. There were too many to detail here. We made it as far as Millennium Park, which is new since the last time that we visited Chicago. The centerpiece there is a sculpture entitled “Cloud Gate”, at least by the artist. Everyone else calls it “The Bean”. What ever you call it, it is a marvel, as I hope that these photos convey. When we arrived, there was a throng already mugging for the camera.

We had dinner afterwards at Pizanos. We had Mark’s Special, a deep dish pizza featuring tomatoes, cheese  and basil. In this case Mark’s is the possessive form, but it could be because I’m so special, at least that is what Anne told me. I had a local beer, Half-Acre Daisy Cutter. Actually, I had two, so you could say that I successfully clear-cut an acre at dinner.

It was after dark, as we toddled back to the hotel. One of the denizens of the dark tried to accost us. His weapon of choice was the truth. This panhandler’s patter went like this, “I’m not going to lie to you man, I don’t need money for food. I get $200 a month in stamps, so I’m not starving, but I cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes with stamps. Could you give me some money so I can buy a pint of vodka?” I’m of the camp that the truth in such situations is not the best policy.

Anne’s Megabus Return

Anne returned home, Monday night.  Rey had dropped her off at the Megabus stop in Ann Arbor, early in the morning and then he turned south to return to Tennessee.  Her bus to Chicago left on time.  At about five o’clock she sent the following message about the second leg of her journey:

The bus driver gets on the mike as we pull out 25 minutes late.  “Folks, the number one question I’m asked is [silence] and the answer to that question is ‘No!’  The second most asked question is [silence] and the answer to that question is ‘I don’t know!’  The third frequently asked question is ‘Are we there yet?’  Who knows the answer to that question?  What smart passengers!”  Anne explained, that three out of four bus drivers have seemed crabby, and the fourth might have been, but he didn’t say anything when we left Ann Arbor because most of the Detroit riders were asleep. 

She sounds a little less enthusiastic about Megabus now than on her trip up to Michigan.  Maybe the novelty of it has worn off or maybe she like everyone else is always less enthusiastic about the ending of our vacation than its beginning.   The weather forecast for the rest of this week is not too enticing either, high temperatures in the high nineties. 

I biked in the Park before work on Monday morning.  I got fifteen miles.  I also hit the 1000 mile mark for this year.  Later, I had a doctor’s checkup, that checkout well and then went to work.  After picking Anne up, on Monday night, Monday had become a very long day.  I’ve included an eclectic selection of photos with this post all culled from the last few weeks.  Enjoy!