Since we made the move to Indianapolis a little over two years ago, it has always been on our list to make a weekend getaway to Chicago. The drive itself is relatively painless, its just under three hours from where we live. However, our driving experience was a little bit different since for whatever reason, we decided to drive into town on a Friday afternoon.

After almost three hours of driving and almost reaching our destination, we were abruptly greeted with busy city traffic. This traffic was eerily similar to the traffic congestion we used to experience when driving from Phoenix to San Diego and/or Los Angeles. I would say that the traffic was probably worse than that of Phoenix, but probably not as bad as LA’s. Having been living in Indianapolis for the past two years, I almost forgot how fast big city traffic moves. The ‘traffic’ here in Indy moves probably at an average speed of 62-68 mph. Of course, you get the young teenage drivers from time to time that zoom past you in thier ‘souped‘ up Dodge Neon or Pontiac Grand Prix doing a whopping 75-80 — but aside from that, traffic moves fairly slow compared to other major city traffic.

Once we finally hit Chicago I noticed that their freeway signs were very cool… For example, depending upon the amount of traffic at any particular time of date, the digital freeways signs would provide you with an estimated time frame of how long it might take to arrive at any particular destination. (something I had never seen before) As I was monitoring the signs every couple of minutes or so, I noticed that O’Hare (Chicago’s INT Airport) was notated with a 55 minutes. WHAT?!?!?!? I asked to the wife to double-check where our hotel was located, to which she replied, right next to the airport! I quickly responded, O’Hare Airport? She stated, I believe so! **SIGH** At that moment in time, I realized that our drive was no where near done. We still had an hour to go in stop and go traffic until we reached our final destination –> our hotel.

Well, we finally did reach out hotel later that evening… As I recall, it was very hot and humid that day. As much as I was looking forward to walking around downtown Chicago, I was feeling some apprehension in doing so based on feeling completely beat up by the traffic on the way in and the weather. Keep in mind that our hotel was located in a small suburb called Mt. Prospect which is approximately 40 minutes North West of Chicago… (Note: we just drove through downtown Chicago and now we’re turning around and heading right back in that same direction) Whew, okay, we can do this, lets roll!

So after a very bizarre conversation with the front desk clerk (a young man who didn’t move his lips when he spoke) at our hotel it was recommended to drive about a half a mile down the road to where the Metra stop was located. As we made our way towards the Metra stop, we realized after about 15 minutes of aimlessly driving that we were obviously going the wrong way. We were provided with some extremely bogus directions — Very frustrated, we turned around and finally stumbled upon our stop.

We got out of the car and walked to the Metra station, just a short couple minutes from where we parked. We waited about 15 minutes before our train arrived. We loaded up all our belongings and hopped on the Metra system. Despite making several stops in between our stop and downtown Chicago, the trip was relatively quick. It took about 40 minutes between start and stop.

Ding Ding Ding, that’s the sound of our stop, everyone off the train. As we unloaded our stuff from the Metra, we proceeded through the Metra station which was stinky, hot and extremely humid. It was the the type of environment that would inherit whatever weather conditions were present that that moment in time. (e.g. hot in the summer, ice cold during the winter) As we exited through the station, we finally were able to locate an exit that lead us to the downtown area. We were all starving so we began our search by looking for a quick place that we could grab a bite to eat. To our dismay, just about everything that we came across was closed. (keep in mind that was around 7:30pm) We finally came across a very happening pizza place about 30 minutes later. By this time, Jonah was cranky and everyone was starved. We quickly ordered a pizza and some appetizers. The appetizers were pretty good and the pizza was superb.

After we finished eating, we walked around downtown for a short while. I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by the towering size of all the sky scrapers in this town. Wow, every building seemed to be at least 100+ft tall. We headed back to our hotel shortly thereafter. All of us were completely spent for the day. I was really looking forward to getting some sleep.

As we slowly woke up the following morning, we made our way to the continental breakfast that the hotel provided. (I really wanted to take full advantage of this because everything in downtown Chicago was very spendy, especially the food). I stock-piled my plate full of goodies and headed back to our room. I brought some coffee back and asked Momie if she wanted any? This was her reaction after taking her first sip.

What happens when drinking hotel coffee

Needless to say, Momie quickly gave the coffee back to me. She settled that morning on a cup of OJ instead.

Once we finished up with eating, we contemplated whether we should take the Metra or whether we should just take the car to go downtown. We ended up just driving simply because we did not want to go through the process of taking the Metra back to our hotel area at the end of the day.

After driving around for sometime attempting to locate a place to park that was reasonably priced, we found one that charged ‘only‘ $14.00 for the day. “Finally!”, cried Elijah –

We made our way downtown and started our official ‘Chicago-experience.’ After only a few minutes of walking around, we found ourselves staring right at the Sears Tower. Man, this building is absolutely behemoth in size. My first thought was, lets go inside and get to the top. HAHAH! Wait a second Mikey, before you can get to the top, you need to find the tourist Skydeck entrance, pay a considerable amount of monies and wait in line for 50 minutes. It was still fairly early in the day so I thought that maybe we could get right in and out. Nope, that was unfortunatley not the case. Here is a picture that illustrates the number of people that were in the same exact boat as we were. Okay I thought to myself, perhaps the line will move quickly so we don’t have to wait in this room for hours on end. Well, the line did move somewhat quickly, however, once we made it through the first security checkpoint, we found ourselves having to wait in another room for about 15-20 minutes prior to our official tour starting.

After a grueling wait and a mob of people to deal with, we finally boarded the elevator. I’m glad the elevators were working, I can’t imagine having to climb the 100+ stories.

As we got out of the elevator, we found ourselves in a room that encompasses windows all around ( The room was basically cirucular in shape and had nice large windows wrapped around the room). I thought to myself, how awesome is this. A birdseye view of all of downtown Chicago and surrounding areas. What a site to behold, completely breathtaking. I couldn’t believe all the buildings in this town.

Regardless of where you were at in the room, tall buildings were peppered throughout this entire city. I honestly never knew that Chicago was this big of a city. The room was pretty full of us trouisty type of people. It was very often difficult to get a decent shot since the area around the windows were completely bombarded with bodies. I managed to get a few more shots of the downtown area after waiting for certain areas of the room to eventually ‘open-up.’

This shot on the left here shows a better view of both the city and Lake Michigan which borders a lot of the downtown area. Unfortunately, we were not able to make it over to the Navy Pier area based on our time constraints. Nevertheless, we had a very good time with what we were able to see.

Here is another pict (and I know its kind of hard to see) but those little tiny white objects in the water are actually sail boats. It was fun to view the city from this angle. The last time that was in a building this tall must have been when we lived in Seattle and I was at the Space Needle. Although, I don’t know how many stories the Space Needle is, I’ll have to google that to find the answer.

ALL in all we had a very good time — We walked around town and found a popular park known as Millennium Park <sp?> We did get to eat a Chicago hot dog, and although it was good, it wasn’t nearly as good as the pizza that we ate the previous night. Perhaps I was expecting a little too much, however, I will say that the dog was purchased from one of those little concession carts nearby.

We headed home later that afternoon and made it back to Indy around 10:00pm that night. The drive took about 3.5 hours.

I am very much looking forward to visiting Chicago again in the not to distant future. It was one helluva town to spend a weekend at, my only regret is that I wish we simply had a little more time to see the area.