There are two kinds of vacations. The kind where you relax, and the kind where you try to pack as much fun into your days as is physically, and emotionally possible. This was one of the latter.
As I mentioned before, we spent the past week in Chicago on spring break. Of all of the cities I have been to around the U.S., heck around the world, Chicago is definitely Top Five. It has the heft and solidity of a real city, and all the diversity of things to do and see that you expect in a gargantuan city of its size. Every time I visit, I experience a different side of the place. I worked there for a brief spell in the early 90’s, and saw the place through the eyes of a 20 something, awed and intimidated by the immensity of it. I’ve been back on several occasions in the years since then, and each time the city that I experience is different. Mrs. 20 Prospect and I spent a weekend there for our 10th anniversary, as the White Sox were celebrating their World Series victory. This visit with the kidlins was for the full on family experience.
We stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in one of the closer in suburbs, and used the CTA to get around, something that didn’t intimidate me as near as much as it probably should have. I guess after all of the subways I have ridden around the world, the CTA just didn’t seem that bad. Still wouldn’t ride the red line through the south side at 10 pm though. In 5 days we managed the Brookfield Zoo, The Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, and even threw in the Adler Planetarium for good measure on the last day before we drove home. Chicago did its part to give us the full on weather experience. Sunny and 75 one day, raining and 40 degrees the next. Wind, cold, thunderstorms, and finally sun and blue skies again. It’s a city of many moods.
As much as we enjoyed it, Chicago is not really the kind of place that Mrs. 20 Prospect, and the kids enjoy. Too big, and brawling, and Carl Sandburgish. A nice place to visit, but not one in which they could ever imagine living. I’m not sure when I’ll make it back there, but it will probably not be with the family. My next visit will most likely be one of those “guy-cations” where I visit with friends to take in some ball games, and sample the local beer. I’ve been to Wrigley back in the 90’s, when the salesman used to give us the company’s tickets whenever they weren’t entertaining customers. The Cubs were still the choice of yuppies at the time, although the games hadn’t taken on the trendiness that seems to have taken root. I was always more of a Whitey’s fan anyway when I was growing up. For no good reason, other than Pudge was catching for them, Greg “the Bull” Luzinski was crushing homers, and they had the most melodiously named pitcher ever to play the game of baseball in Salome Barojas. I could say that name all day. Sadly, Comiskey Park was history by the time I got there in 1991, so I never got a chance to experience it. I still haven’t been to the “new” Comiskey yet. Can’t say it looks very inviting, although the neighborhood is a little better than it was back in the 90’s. The one day I had free tickets lined up, it was 90 degrees and there was an air quality alert. Didn’t really relish the thought of sitting in the upper deck sweltering in a cloud of smog.
So goodbye Chicago, and hello Minneapolis-St. Paul a place much more humanly scaled. Where the taxes are high, the schools are good, and the streets are clean. It’s America’s most Canadian city!
But I won’t be home for too long before I have to take to the road again. I leave tomorrow morning for Philadelphia. Where the taxes are high, the schools are horrible, and the streets are a war zone. America’s least Canadian city! My Dark Corporate overlords have a manufacturing plant outside of Philly, and I am going there for a few days of meetings. More travel, more time for reflection. I learned long ago that the farther away from home I get, the more I come to understand it, and appreciate it. As much as it pains me to admit it, I probably do need to keep on traveling for my job if I am ever going to keep what little sanity I have left. Time and distance are constant reminders that I am still alive.