Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicago, Bah-Hum-Bug!

Had a wonderful weekend planned out to go to Chicago this weekend.  We had to drop Skyler off at O'Hare around 2 on Saturday and my ex had my kids so we figured we would make a weekend of it.  Cheri got online, got us a room a block away from “The Magnificent Mile” at the Sax Hotel relatively cheap, plus she got our parking half off which is a big deal in Chicago.  She had gotten us a couple of cheap meals through sites like Groupon where we got 2 meals for the price of one.  She wanted to go down Michigan Ave at night and see all the Christmas stuff.  I had Googled a card shop I wanted to hit since my local card shop sucks.  Wanted to go by Grant park and see Buckingham Fountain all lit up.  Plans of hitting the Lincoln Park Zoo in the evening because they had a Christmas light display that you could walk through and it was free.  Then on Sunday our plans were to once again head up Michigan Ave to window shop and look at the Christmas displays and hit Macy’s and “the Bean” sculpture at Millennium park.  I guess it’s called “Cloud Gate” but it looks like a big bean.

So as you can see, it was supposed to be a relatively cheap weekend.  A few big expenses but most of what we were doing was free or we had already prepaid for a couple of cheap meals as well.  At least, that was the plan.  But it went oh so wrong.

Skyler’s flight left at 2.  Now if you know Skyler, she has to do everything herself, she doesn’t want help from her parents so we are not involved in any of the planning.  But when it blows up in her face, oh course, we are to blame.  This happens over and over and yet she still refuses to let us help her plan.  Teenagers, and Skyler, are just too hardheaded and some people have to learn on their own.  So we just let her do everything and then take the blame later.  We figure when she grows up, maybe she would have learned some hard lessons.  Probably not, but we cross our fingers and hope.  This was to be no different.  We left at 11 our time, which we gain an hour going into Chicago so that left us 4 hours for a 2 and half hour trip.  All the way through Indiana, things were great.  Skyler was a happy teenager, which if you have one, know the rarity in that.  Then things fell apart in Illinois.

We hit the Skyway toll, or should I say, got in line for the Skyway toll.  They only had 2 cash windows open and cars were backed up.  We lost half an hour sitting in the line just to give them our cash so we could proceed.  Then as you get into Chicago, traffic sucks.  But I was expecting that.  We eventually get to O'Hare airport and that place was just unbelievably huge.  We didn’t know where we were going so we just found short term parking and parked.  Of course, then Skyler let’s us know that she needs to be at terminal 3 and we parked at terminal 5.  We just grabbed everything and headed in anyways figuring it was all connected (at this point we had no idea how huge this airport was) so we walked around a bit, figured out there was a train to the other terminals and hopped on it.  We got to terminal 3 and went to check in her bag, but couldn’t.  Apparently, the bags have to be checked in 40 minutes before the flight (which we didn’t know), so we missed that by about 5 minutes.  We told her to just go and we would UPS the bags and she’d have them in a day or 2.  So she gets in line for security and we left and headed out to the car with her luggage.  We get to the car and we get a call from her telling us she missed her flight by 3 minutes.  Which of course was our fault for not getting her there on time, even though she was involved in the discussion on what time we left.  After huge drama and Skyler saying she doesn’t even want to see us so she’ll stay at the airport by herself and get a later flight (oh God, the drama).  We drive over to terminal 3 and take her bags in and meet her.  And let me tell you, that freaking airport was so huge, I think we made better time going into terminal 5 and taking the train over then walking from where we parked for terminal 3.  We finally get with Skyler and she is fine now, she has a later flight, she gets to check her bag and take it with her, so she’s happy once again.  We didn’t really want to leave the airport but her flight wasn’t until 8:40 now.  And for some stupid reason, all of the food places to eat at the airport are all behind security so we can’t just go sit down and eat.  We find a place to sit and and sit for a couple of hours before Skyler decides that she is going to go through security and get something to eat and just hang back there.  So we said our goodbyes and headed out.

From the airport, we were originally going to go to the card shop, but now that it was later, and we were hungry, we decided to go to the restaurant and skip the card shop.  So we drove over to Cemitas Puebla where are first dinner was planned.  It was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for their Cemita Sandwich.  Our dinner was for 2 Cemita Sandwich’s, a plate of Chalupa’s and 2 drinks.  The Cemita Sandwich’s were pretty good and we enjoyed them but we actually love the Chalupa’s more than the Cemita’s.  But either way, it was an enjoyable dinner and nice time for us.  We hopped in the car and headed out for Lincoln Park Zoo for their free Christmas lights display.  GPS said it was an 18 minute drive.  But reality was, everybody else was going there as well and it took an hour and a half for that 18 minute drive.  We finally get there, get parked and head in for the lights.  Once again, it was an enjoyable time.  I’ve seen better light displays but it was still a nice time and something to do and we both had a good time going through the zoo and checking them out.  We get to the car, figure out how to get to the hotel and start to head out, only to be stopped at the exit to pay for our parking, so our free Christmas lights display cost us $17.  So an hour and a half, barely creeping a long in the car to get there, and now paying cash to leave.  We were so pissed.  We just wanted to get to the hotel and call it a day.  We totally forgot about going to Buckingham Fountain to see it all lit up.

We make our way to the hotel only to drive around it a few times looking for the parking garage.  So we decide, we’ll drive up, ask the valet where to park.  We didn’t see a need to use a valet, we can park a car ourselves, and we were afraid that would cost us more money.  He said that they will take care of it, so we said screw it, and let him park it.  We grabbed our bags and headed in.  We get up to the desk and we are so out of our element.  Motel 6 this is not.  They tell us that they will charge the credit card another $200 for our room and then after we check out, they will reimburse everything but our room charge and anything else we get into (pay per view, honor bar, ect.)  The problem would be, there wasn’t $200 on the card.  There wasn’t barely over $100, which was our spending money.  We paid cash for the room, which took all our cash and they wanted to take our last $100 leaving us with nothing for the next day.  It would get refunded after we check out but there was no guarantee on how long it would take to show up on the card.  So how are we going to put gas in the car, or pay for our breakfast or be able to pay for the tolls on the way home.  We explained all this to the lady behind the counter, plus the fact that the room would probably be cleaner when we left then when we went in, and she took pity on the pathetic poor couple in front of her at this rich hotel and only charged the card $50 which left us $50 for the other stuff.  We’d have to pinch but we could do it, I guess, and our lunch was already paid for by one of those deals.  Just as we go to walk away, I realize I don’t have my phone and I need it to charge in the room so I’ll have it tomorrow.  So I tell the lady at the counter where it is, she calls valet and tells him and he was going to bring it to them,  who would then send it to my room.  So once again, we turn to walk away, and I remember, I didn’t have my phone, Cheri did because she was using it to get us to the hotel.  I mention it to her, she reaches into her pocket and sure enough, it’s there.  So once again, we have to be a pain in the ass to the front desk and tell them to not bother with getting the phone.  We felt like such idiots.  Like some poor, hillbilly schmucks.  We got settled and walked down to get some snack food and some supper.  Since they took most of our money, we googled for a Subway and the closest one was about 4 blocks away so we went there, 7/11 for snacks and went back to our room.

We woke up the next morning, ready to make our weekend better.  We got up and got ready and called for our car.  Went down to the front desk, checked out, and started to separate what we were throwing in the car and what we needed for the day and realized we didn’t have the GPS that we took in to charge.  So once again, we are bothering the front desk for our mistakes. Cheri goes up to the room again while I load up the car.  I load up the car, then I feel like an ass telling the valet to go park it again because we were going to spend some time in Chicago.  I know it’s their job, but we just don’t like having people do things that we are capable of doing.  He didn’t seem too happy judging by the sarcastic “No, that’s fine, we love to do this.”  Cheri comes down, no GPS.  We have no clue where it’s at.  We figure it has to be in one of our bags somewhere and head on out into the city.

Cheri was feeling pretty good so we didn’t take the wheelchair and she walked.  We walked down to Macy’s and checked out all the windows and even went in and looked at how huge that place was.  We went up to the 5th floor which was marked Santa’s Playland.  Come to find out, that’s just the holiday nickname for the toy area.  So we got back down to the floor level and had to walk around awhile just to figure out how to go out the door we came in.  We basically looked for the most decorations and headed that way and finally ended up there.  Next we walked down to the Cloud Gate which looked like a giant bean that reflects everything around it.  It was pretty big, and the reflection of the city on it was pretty cool.  We then decided to head out to where our discounted prepaid lunch was,  Donna’s Café, a jazz café.  It looked like quite a walk, but we decided to press on.  We figured Cheri would be a little wore out, but once we got there, she could eat and get some pain meds in her and would be able to make the walk back.  We walked, and walked and walked and finally got there.  It was close to an hour walk to get there, Cheri was still going, barely.  We finally see the sign for it, we get excited, and then see the sign on the door.  “Closed Today, Go Bears”  They closed because of the damn Bears game.  So here we are, heading back to the hotel, Cheri needing a place to stop, eat, and get some meds in her and of course, we have very little money because our meal was supposed to be paid for already and we had to gas up the car and pay tolls yet.  So we walked passed all these nice restaurants and eventually find a McDonalds, about 7 or 8 blocks from the hotel.  We finally eat and Cheri gets medicated.  We head out to get back to the hotel to get the car.  Cheri is moving much better now, I felt like I was almost dragging her before we got to McDonalds.  As we are crossing the river, which our hotel say just off of.  We look at the building right next door to our hotel, and what do we see, a Subway.  After walking 4 or 5 blocks yesterday to get to one.  We finally get back to the hotel, and while waiting on the car, we noticed that we could see the Subway next door from the front door that we used when we left last night.  We finally get my car, we go to grab the sweet tea cups from yesterday out of the cup holders and realize that one of the cups got punctured and the cup holder was full of tea.  AAARRRRGGGGHH!!!  Cheri is bound and determined to find the GPS so she grabs the 7/11 bag that had our drinks in it from the previous night to move it off our bags and happens to notice the GPS somehow got put in there.  Neither of us remember putting it there, but there it is.  So we got in the car and got the hell out of Chicago.

A little under 2 hours, we were finally home and glad to be.  We did enjoy our time together, we always do, especially kid free and we enjoyed Chicago as far as what we saw and got to do.  But everything else about this weekend sucked.  It was supposed to be a stress free weekend, but that was not the case.  Now we are home, I’m going back to work tomorrow, Cheri has to run the kids to school and take care of everything here.  So much for our vacation weekend.  Now, hopefully the “deposit” that the hotel charged my card, will show up some time so we can get some groceries.