Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm Off to the Windy City

Today I flew to Chicago for a work meeting.  It's going to be a very fast trip - I come home tomorrow.  Melon Man drove me to the airport so I wouldn't have to do so much walking in shoes with my toes still being bandaged and healing.  This was the first time I have worn shoes since having the nails removed about 5 weeks ago.  I have been wearing flip flops everyday since the surgery.  I knew I wouldn't be able to do that in Chicago because 1) it is flippin' freezing there right now, 2) there is snow on the ground, and 3) it's not permitted in our headquarters building.  So, I washed up my little white deck shoes and wore them.  They weren't TOO bad, but they still hurt my toes some. 

Our flight was on time leaving for Chi-town.  I was lucky to not have anyone in the seat next to me, so I was able to be pretty comfortable the whole trip.  It was neat flying this time because I could see the whole country (except our little corner of it) covered in snow.  It was so different than seeing it all green or brown like usual.  It was quite serene and beautiful.

When we started to approach Chicago, I looked out the window and could see that we were descending, but all I could see below us were clouds - tons and tons of billowy clouds and it looked like we were riding on top of them.  We we just skimming the tops of them FOREVER.  I could see other planes doing the same thing and knew we were in the flight/approach pattern.  I couldn't see anything else though through the clouds so I had no idea exactly where we were - that is until there was finally a very small break in the clouds just before we made a turn and THEN it hit me - we were out over the middle of Lake Michigan. 

Now, I already have somewhat of a fear of flying - but I have an even greater fear of flying over water.  I really have no idea whatsoever how I will EVER fly to Hawaii if we ever get to go.  I will probably not be able to have a window seat on that particular trip or I will have to take some medicine to knock me out or something!  I just do not like flying over large bodies of water at all.  It probably stems from watching that movie from the 70s when that hoity-toity new airplane crashed into the ocean and sunk and they had to use the big yellow balloon things to lift it up to the surface to rescue the people.  And, it doesn't help that on Sunday night I watched that documentary called "Brace for Impact - the Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger story" about the plane that crash landed in the Hudson River last year.  I ALWAYS seem to watch or hear something about an airplane crash just before I fly.  I actually flew on September 11, 2002 - one year to the day after the planes were crashed into the World Trade Towers.  Tell me I wasn't scared!  But, in a weird way, I felt pretty safe that particular day because I didn't think terrorists would try doing it again on the 1 year anniversary - I knew the next time would be random just as it was the first time - and I suspected that something sometime would happen on Christmas Day - and it did - this past Christmas.  But, that's a whole different story - one that I forgot to blog about. 

Okay, so now I've digressed again.  Back to Lake Michigan.  I looked down and could see nothing but water.  Argh.  Soon, we turned and started heading back over the downtown area and out to O'Hare.  We started coming down through the clouds and soon I could see the houses, railyards, and runways that have become so familiar to me.  We landed quite well and began taxiing around the airport.  In fact, we taxied around for a good 15 minutes!  What the heck?  Were we going to drive us all home now?  It seemed like we just went around and around in circles.

We got to see this American Airlines building that I've never seen before.

Then we got to see this fire engine racing down the tarmac with its lights going.  We hadn't heard or seen anything that had happened that would require this, but maybe that's why we had to drive around forever - to circumvent something.  There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, but planes are so big and tall that I couldn't tell for sure how much.  Luckily, the runway was dry.  I was happy.  I've been in a plane before that had to land on an icy runway and believe me, it was NOT fun.

We saw a bunch of other planes just like ours land in the time that it took to get to our gate, but we FINALLY got to our gate and deplaned. I was glad to be traveling alone so I didn't have to walk fast and be on anyone else's schedule. I just mozied on out to the rental car waiting area and soon the Avis bus pulled up. Everyone was wearing coats and scarves and gloves and earmuffs and boots and the like. Me - I was standing out there in shoes, a shirt, and jeans with no coat - nothing. And, it felt absolutely WONDERFUL! I got my vehicle - a Nissan Altima Hybrid - and it rocked! I felt like I was sitting on the ground compared to my truck, but it was fairly roomy up front and quiet as could be. Had good pickup too. I motored on up the freeway and headed toward the hotel. 

As I was driving up the 294, I was just cruising along and soon I came to the cross-street where I knew the Chicago temple is.  I decided to get off at the next exit and flip back around and go take a picture of it.  However, I was going the wrong direction to be able to just pull into the parking lot and the parking lot was closed off for some reason (I just checked their schedule online and they are usually open from 8 to 8 on Tuesdays), so I just kept going down the road to head back toward the hotel.  This is a picture of the temple during the fall.  Today, it had about 12 inches of snow all around it and the sky looked gray and dark just like in the picture.  Sometime when I have to be in Chicago for more than 2 or 3 days, I'm going to go do a session there like I did when I went to Ohio a few years ago.

I soon arrived at my hotel and got checked in.  I couldn't believe how hot my room was when I opened the door!  It was 78* on the thermostat.  Yeah, I cranked that puppy down to 66* and looked to open a window, but none of the windows opened.  Isn't there a law that hotel room windows need to be able to be opened in case of a fire?  Well, not apparently in this hotel. 

I decided to call Melon Man's Uncle Tommy at Neiman Marcus downtown and see if he was in and would like to meet up for dinner since I narked out the last time I was in town.  Nope, he doesn't work on Tuesdays.  So, now I was 0 for 2 on things I wanted to do while in town for the evening.  Dang.

I checked out the local restaurant list the front desk provided and decided to just go to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner.  They had a list of special dishes they were offering so I decided on the "Sesame Ginger Asian Chicken with Green Beans and Mushrooms" or something like that and a side salad.  It was absolutely FAB.  It had a little too much ginger in it for me, but the sauce, rice, and chicken was so yummy.

I finished just the chicken and mushrooms, half of the rice, a few of the beans, and left the rest. I was pretty full. But, can anyone go to TCF without getting a piece of dessert - at least to take home with you? Yeah, I didn't think so. So, I ordered a piece of Chocolate Coconut Cream cheesecake and headed back to the hotel.  As I was getting into my little hybrid car, this big blaring box of a store stared at me.  Melon Man would have been in heaven and I would have never been able to get him out of there!  He LOVES going to Barnes & Noble.

However, this was Barnes & Ioble - Book E Lers.  So maybe not.  Just kidding.  It was B&N - they just had some burned out lights.  I HAD to take a picture for him since it was such a huge store.  But, that's all I did.  I can't stand going to B&N - probably because ours always stinks like burned coffee due to the Starbucks in there.  I detest the smell of coffee - it makes me want to vomit.  I know most people love the smell, but not me.  Yuck.  Plus, I just don't like to read books much, so I get bored very easily in there. 

I headed back to the hotel and ate my cheesecake while I watched American Idol.  What a hoot!  Do most of these people REALLY think they can sing?  I mean, there are those who get the "golden ticket" who usually CAN sing, but the rest?  Oh my.  I watched a few more shows after that and FINALLY headed to bed after talking to Melon Man.

One last thing I wanted to blog about...today there was a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.  It is horribly devastating.  Thousands of buildings have collapsed.  It only lasted 3 seconds but due to the shallowness of the earthquake and the magnitude, it was very powerful.  There are thousands and thousands of people missing, dead, or hurt.  The airport and seaport are severely damaged to the point that they are unusable and aid will be difficult to get to this nation.  The Church has accounted for all of the missionaries and they are safe.  Unfortunately, I'm sure the images to come from this disaster will be horrific and devastating.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Your pictures are really good. Looking down on the snow sure gives a different perspective!