Who knew trains full of people were less important than trains full of stuff? Outside of Chicago, that is the case, and we sat on the tracks at various places until pulling into Union Station about an hour late. That did help to resolve what we were going to do until we could drop our bags off at the rental house at 11:00 and until my friends arrived between noon and 1:00.
Once we had our bags (one of the few processes more secure than air travel), our weekend of foot abuse began. The walk to the El stop wasn’t bad, and it was a Blue Line, which was just what we needed. The stop for the house was a little over a half mile–not at all bad unless you’re dragging nearly fifty pounds of luggage. I was very happy I took my friends’ advice and brought the wheelie bag but not at all happy for using the extra space it provided to bring more stuff I wouldn’t use.
At least it wasn’t raining like the forecast said. It was actually very pleasant unless you’re dragging fifty pounds of luggage for .6 miles. For that, it was too warm and sweat-inducing. I was pretty soggy when we reached the house.
Good thing there was a cute courtyard and chairs on the porch where I could sit and rest and dry off. I was especially glad for the chairs when the key code for the house didn’t work. I plopped down and texted Carolyn, who handled the rental, even though she was still on a plane and wouldn’t get it. It gave me time to be less sweaty.
Train sleep (translation: very little sleep), having breakfast nearly six hours previously, and a decent bit of exercise from my walk found me nodding off on the quaint, little porch or our adorable, historic rental. I suggested we go eat to get a little energy and to pass some more time. A Yelp search showed lots of interesting places with a vegetarian-friendly place about a mile away.
Since that appealed to my picky, pescetarian daughter, but walking that far with luggage did not, we opted to risk leaving our not-so-valuable clothes on the porch. The house was an old carriage house located behind another house, so our stuff wasn’t visible from the street to tempt thieves to steal a bunch of boring mom clothes and much cooler eighteen-year-old clothes. My real fear was leaving the hundreds of dollars worth of makeup, because you know there are marauding bands of designer makeup thieves all over Chicago. Still, I was tired and didn’t want to sweat any more, so I risked it.
Halfway to the chosen restaurant, I spotted another veggie-friendly place, but said picky one did not approve of anything on the menu, so we carried on. Handlebar was nicer and had many more choices than we had space in our bellies. They also served classic cocktails and interesting beers, but my fatigue would not allow alcohol consumption without snore-inducing consequences. I opted for water and the BBQ shrimp po’ boy with some kicky green beans, and Ellie had a Green Meanie with broccoli. I loved the quirky atmosphere, the menu with its array of side choices, and my food. We hoped to return for the dinner menu but, sadly, did not.
All of my friends had landed by the time we ate, but there was still plenty of time while they collected their luggage and traveled from Midway. Ellie and I stopped for bubble tea on the way to the house. By the time we got back, Carolyn had confirmed the key pass code, but it still didn’t work, so Ellie and I sat on the porch and shot tapioca pearls across the yard with our straws serving as pea-shooters (or would that be pearl-shooters?). It was probably the most I heard Ellie laugh the whole trip as we tried to outshoot each other. The best was my failed attempt to bounce one off of the house that hit directly in the corner of the window and dropped smack on the sill.
Once our ammunition was depleted, we went back to smartphone zombie-dom, and I suddenly worried we were at the wrong house. Why else wouldn’t the passcode work? Great… and here we were shooting tapioca all over the yard.
I dug out the directions provided by the rental company. House number for the house out front match? Check. Went around path to left of the house? Check. Entered passcode on door and was let in? Insert giant honking sound of failure here. I tried the other two codes for the interior doors and a mini-siren sounded from the mechanism. I hoped my friends would arrive before the police. But if I was at the wrong house, only the police would come. Chicago jail was not on my list of tourist stops.
The keypad stopped squealing within a few seconds, but the panicked voice in my head did not: “You’re screwed. You’ve probably been filmed the whole time, even while you were shooting food all over the yard like children. And it’s not like you can run with all that stupid luggage. What a great way to bond with your daughter… in jail.”
But then a tiny whisper of reason broke through, reminding me there were pictures of the house online. Hooray technology! I was soon viewing a picture of the house, and it matched the house I was sitting in front of!
But there were sirens in the distance…
Reason won again and told me there had been sirens off and on the whole time we’d been there, so most likely, those weren’t for me. I was at the correct house, after all. Things were looking up. To put a period on the end of that statement, Carolyn texted me with new passcodes, and they worked. At least I’d be inside if the police came. But of course, they never did. My wonderful friends came instead, and it was going to be all fun from then on!
(Except freezing by Lake Michigan for six hours, Flugtag being delayed because the organizers were surprised by the wind in The Windy City, a moody teenage daughter, the Cubs losing…)