We had a nice weekend up in Chicago, the Mrs. and me. The occasion was for her to attend a conference for work, something we did for the first time a year ago when we went to Arizona. Amazingly, this was the first time I’ve been to Chicago in 15 years, since I ran the marathon in 2001. We’re three hours away! What’s wrong with us?

This time around we road-tripped it, dropping the girls off at school right at 7:30 Friday then getting on I–65 for the trip north. Clear roads and the time change put us in our hotel before 10 AM local, so S only missed a couple of the morning presentations. When she booked our room a couple months back, she had requested an early check-in time so I would be able to get into our room right away. With the hotel being filled with conference attendees, we figured that wouldn’t be a problem, something the person she booked with confirmed. On Friday, though, they threw a twist at us when we were checking in. They were working on the room we booked, but it might be a little bit before we could get in. However, if we upgraded, we could get in right away.

How convenient…for them!

We upgraded. Not sure how much nicer the room we ended up in was than the room we had originally booked, but the view was nice. We were staying at the Swissotel, right in the Loop, and as the picture below shows, we had a very nice view of Navy Pier.

She headed downstairs and after getting all our stuff unpacked, I grabbed my camera, bundled up, and headed out to find lunch. I stress bundled up because, after a long and very warm fall, it finally turned cold over the last 7–10 days, as many of you have also experienced. It was only in the mid–20s, with the wind whipping off the lake. First time I’d worn my heavy coat this season, and I had to add a scarf, gloves, and hat as well. I planned on cruising around a little before I found lunch, but after just 20 minutes I had to pop into a sandwich shop to eat and warm up. I crossed over to Millennium Park next and got some obligatory photos of the Cloud Gate sculpture, a few of the big Christmas tree, then decided it was time to hustle back to the hotel, where I spent most of the afternoon watching old ACC Tournament games on ESPN Classic.

A friend of mine from St. P’s grew up in Chicago and still goes up there a lot for work. He’s also a bit of a foodie/beer snob, and gave me a long list of places that were options for food over the weekend. For dinner Friday, we selected Howells & Hood, in the Tribune building. It was a 10-minute walk, and a rather nice one in the early-evening rush of downtown foot traffic. We had a very enjoyable dinner and then headed home. I don’t think the temp dropped more than a few degrees while we were inside, but it felt terribly cold. We acted like big babies and whined the entire walk home.

Saturday I got out a couple times while S was in sessions. The morning was insanely cold. I spent maybe 15 minutes outside before deciding it was stupid to be outside and went back to the room. A few hours later I decided to walk up Michigan Avenue, though the main shopping district. That was pretty cool. The streets were packed, there was plenty of Christmas cheer in the air, and the tighter quarters meant it didn’t feel nearly as cold. I walked all the way down to Bloomingdales and went inside to check out the huge tree and the even bigger line to see Santa, before heading back for the hotel.

S was done mid-afternoon and we ventured out for a late lunch. We went to a spot I had found online called the Broken English Taco Bar. It was a quirky little spot that had great margaritas, guacamole, and a page full of taco options. We shared a couple kinds, went over to Millennium Park for a pic at the Cloud Gate, and then hustled home as the wind had kicked in and the temperature had dropped again. My camera had stopped working because the cold was sucking the life out of the battery.

Now the big turd in our weekend plans was an approaching winter storm. The forecast had finally settled on Chicago and northern Indiana getting as much as 10” of snow by Sunday night. This was problematic because we were driving home Sunday. The city got a couple inches Saturday night, but the roads seemed clear. S went off to her morning session Sunday and we planned on getting out of town by 11:00, just before the next round was supposed to start. Thinking it would be tough to go through check-out, get our vehicle, etc., she bounced a little earlier and we were on the road by 9:30. It was wet and slushy and dark most of the way home. We hit one spot where I felt the tires slip a little, but once we hit Lafayette, it was over freezing and the precipitation eased up.

So a fine weekend in Chi-town. I could have used about 10 more degrees of heat so I could have explored more. As we were driving out of the city, I realized I didn’t even make it near any L tracks, which are an area I wanted to get some pictures. But we decided we need to take the girls up and stay in the city sometime when it’s warm, so we can get out and do stuff.