It is so wonderful to be among old friends again. It’s hard to explain exactly how I felt when Nikki and Brad walked into our room the other night, but elated comes close. I’ve tried not to think about how much I missed everyone…but when they are right in front of you it all floods back.
They arrived in Chicago after 10 PM after a grueling drive from Tulsa, and since we had been up for nearly 24 hours at that point we all decided that sleep was a good idea. We got up on Friday morning and realized we’d skipped dinner the night previous; food needed to happen. I e-mailed Scott, an acquaintance from AT&T that lives up here and had mentioned wanting to hang out while we were in the area, and we headed out. We originally planned on going to Gino’s East next door, but people have overwhelmingly recommended Giordano’s Pizza instead…and it’s only two blocks away. So there we went. I’ll just say this: Giordano’s is the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.
We sat down and ordered some Spinach & Artichoke dip while we waited for Scott (and, yes, I had plenty!) Scott arrived in short order and we all got to know each other. Scott found out about our blog from coworkers and has been following us for most of our trip. Although his name rang a bell when he first contacted me about meeting up in Chicago, I didn’t know the guy personally. I’d just seen his name on e-mails back in the day. It was strange to meet someone that already knew so much about us. We hit it off immediately.
Post-lunch we split up. The ladies went shopping (Indi has been in desperate need for new pants, the old ones are just about to fall off) and us guys went on a walking tour of downtown Chicago. We walked around Navy Pier, up to Millennium Park, the Sears Tower (it’s called something different now, but it’ll ALWAYS be the Sears Tower to me!), Daley Plaza, and back up Michigan Ave to our hotel. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been in a city so full of skyscrapers and more than once I found myself gaping at the sky like the tourist I am.
It’s also the first time in a long while that I was in a hub of civilization that doesn’t have thousands of years of history behind it. Everything felt new, even if it was a hundred years old. Not to mention the fact that I experiencing the home of The Blues Brothers and seeing places where The Dark Knight was filmed. Chicago is a wonderful city, full of life and energy. The sun was out. People were ice skating at Millennium Park. It was a really wonderful day.
After a few drinks at our hotel bar, Scott said adieu and we parted company with the last ambassador we’d meet on this trip. We returned to our room and fell asleep watching the Olympics.
Saturday was low key as we did some light shopping near the hotel. My weakness was the Hershey Store. Let’s just say I have a souvenir mug full of miniature chocolate bars. Well, full for now. Probably not later. No, definitely not later. That mug’s going DOWN! Another night of Olympics watching for us; Sunday brought us to IKEA and the ten hour drive back home.
Which is where I am now, about to sleep in Tulsa. It’s good to be back.