Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March getaway to Chicago: Day 1

The bus trip over from Des Moines on Burlington Trailways was dirt cheap but not the most pleasant I've ever taken. I had two seats to myself for the duration, but also had two pairs of passengers camp both in front of me and behind. Their conversations ruined an otherwise calm time to take in the alpha waves from the bus engine.

But worse than that was the constant stops averaging once an hour, with the drivers voice booming from above announcing our stop followed by the shocking brightness of the overhead lights. I had actually nodded off into some serious dreaming when his voice interrupted my sleep to inform us of our rest break outside of LaSalle.

As we pulled into town well over an hour late I spied Manny's Coffee Shop on S. Jefferson, took note of the distance away from the bus station, and gambled a half-mile walk through the rain to grab breakfast there. I was not disappointed [see blog post].

Sated, and with the rains momentarily abated I walked the 3/4 miles to Union Station to grab a 3-day CTA pass and figure how to get to my hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood. There was a bus route that would have taken me straight there, but I was seconds late in catching the first available one and it looked packed. Best I thought to hoof a few blocks north and take the Green Line over to State, then walk between stations to hop on the Red, followed by another walk through the Magnificent Mile district, now with a light rain falling down upon my weary head. I was so shagged from my journey so far I didn't bother with digging out the umbrella and let the soothing cool droplets pelt my brow.

Finally I made to my home for the next four nights, the DeWitt Place, and lucked out on a super-early check-in. The full apartment with double beds, sofa bed, a small but functional bathroom, a seriously tricked-out kitchen, and an impressive lineup of satellite channels. I would have to return to this place again.

After a morning rest I took a walk south along the Lakefront Trail down through Jane Addams Memorial Park. I veered inward into the Streeterville neighborhood and perused Fox & Obel, an upscale grocery. Lots of tasty items for sale here, but at a premium price. I found nothing that I absolutely, positively must have. Jars of Koeze's Cream-Nut natural peanut butter interested me, but without a displayed price I'm balk at a purchase. I did snag a GuS (Grown-up Soda) dry cola on the way out. It's quite dry and refreshing.

Down the street I checked out a liquor store then made my way to a favorite haunt, the Second Story Bar, a divey gay bar on E. Ohio. I started off with a $5 bottle of Sam Adams, but quickly switched to the St. Pat's special – $3 shots of Bushmills. I bought a few and have a few on the house, then switched over to on-the-rocks, doubly-poured, and plow down a few more, all the while enjoying the ribbing from fellow patrons for being from Des Moines. One of the more memorable barbs was that no one in Des Moines is a vegetarian. I retorted, "Only at the lesbian coffeehouse!" That got a hoot from the crowd.

Feeling the downside of my whiskey consumption approaching, I bid adieu in search of eats. After a brief walk down Michigan I spy Gino's East on E. Superior and took a seat at the spacious bar area, a far cry from the claustrophobic nightmare of Lou Malnati's the year before [see blog post].

The pizza at Gino's, pepperoni and garlic with abundant cheese was quite satisfying [see blog spot].

With leftovers in hand I walked the few blocks back to my apartment, and popped out briefly to acquire an overpriced two-liter of soda. A pint of Häagen-Dazs called out to me, but I balked at the six-dollar price. I settled down for a four-hour nod, waking up at midnight with a case of post-liquor hot flashes. With no air-conditioning unit to cool down the place, I threw open most of the windows which come promptly down an hour or so later when the interior got chilly. I spent the remainder of the night wandering in and out of slumber with the comforting presence of MeTV programming as my audio/visual night light.

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