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I have never known such cold

By Tara Zandra | February 23, 2008

So I write from the Windy City. Oh sure, I knew Chicago would be cold. But I dutifully looked up the average temps for February before we left. According to Wikipedia, the average high is 34F and the average low is 19F. Not this trip. We’ve actually been here a week (going home tomorrow) and it’s been colder than average. Like the high has been 20F, if we were lucky. Add in that lovely windchill factor and you have some freezing S. Californians. One of our walking days, the “feels like” temperature was -9F. That’s called a harsh reality.

Before I launch into what will surely be a long post of details, I want to preface it all by saying that I do love Chicago. I very much look forward to returning, and soon.

That being said, this was not the best trip in the world. The temps were definitely a factor and obviously we wouldn’t intentionally come to Chicago (or anywhere north of us, really) in February if we could help it. Our trip started with long delays at the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:35am and we didn’t even get to start boarding the plane until 12:00pm. That wouldn’t have been a huge deal if it had only been Chris and I, but when you’re stuck with antsy kids, it’s just no fun. So right there we got a bad start.

The flight itself was fine, really good actually. Quite a bit of turbulence coming in for a landing, but that was to be expected. Once we landed we headed to the car rental and that’s where we discovered that they aren’t in the terminal. So we had to go outside. Sure we had coats, but not our gloves, hats or scarves because we didn’t think we’d be outside other than a run for a car. So there we stood, in I don’t know how cold of air, with a screaming Daisy who could not believe what she was feeling, waiting for a shuttle to take us to Avis. It all worked out from there alright, but again, not the best start- or second start.

Our hotel is fancy. It’s Sofitel of Chicago and again, if it were just Chris and I, it would be wonderful. Add in two kids, and I feel like I have to keep them completely quiet every second of the day. We discovered that first night that the hotel restaurant was not going to work for kids. So we called around and found a California Pizza Kitchen (ironic) that was open until 10:00pm. A lot of places close early during the week and while there is a McDonald’s on every single corner, there isn’t a Dennys or Taco Bell. Dinner was lovely and we were introduced to that wonderful thing called a parking charge. $19 to park so we could eat dinner. Boy does that add up after a few days and really hurts. I will never complain about paying $6 to park at the Natural History Museum in LA again.

So, Tuesday morning, Chris went off to work. He worked everyday and had to meet in the lobby at 6:30am returing here around 5:30 every evening. I have to say that really sucked. I refuse to say more because his personal email address is traceable to this website, but there were certain things that occured on this trip that had me uttering the words “How much do we really care about financial stability in the future?” Anyway, that meant the kids and I were on our own.

So I determined we needed to eat and our plan was to go to the Field Museum of Natural History. I found a Denny’s in the suburbs and dutifully wrote down directions from here to there and from there to the Museum. I also checked our bank’s website to find an ATM. We bundled and went off. Right away there was an issue getting to the freeway. We wasted loads of time trying to get on it but managed to get to where we were going. Only, there wasn’t an ATM where there was supposed to be, it’s hot traveling that long in the car with coats and stuff on, and we found the world’s slowest Denny’s. Slow as in from the time we sat down until the food was on the table was 40 minutes- and the restaurant wasn’t busy or understaffed. Just slow. I was so ticked by then and knew we still needed to come all the way back into the city to get to the Museum.

You know, as I’m reliving this, I’m getting disheartened all over again. I don’t think I want to detail the driving aspect. I imagine I could make it entertaining and know I could verbally tell it as a good story but frankly it sucked. Mapquest is just wrong. I would tell me to stay on the left fork when I should have been on the right. I sent me south when it should have sent me north. It told me to turn left. That’s all, not street or other instructions, just turn left- onto a freeway, by the way. Not an onramp, but a non-existent left turn. Yes, I also used Yahoo maps and even google maps and they are all just wrong enough to get a person seriously frustrated. Especially because I would just feel like an idiot and the two kids in the back were whining because they were hot or cold or tired or hungry or whatever. And I was driving a mini-van (which I will never willingly do in my life again) and of course, once you are a tiny bit lost, you get a lot lost because I’ve never been here before. So it sucked and I ferverently wish it had been warm so we could have walked all over and/or taken public transportation. So I’ll just focus on what we did and skip the timeline.

We went to the Field Museum twice because we didn’t finish it the first time. The second time was today so Chris was able to come with us. It is a seriously cool Natural History Museum and I loved it all. Daisy was thrilled to see more mummies to further her unnatural fascination with them. Tabitha was disappointed that we went twice and still didn’t see everything, but she certainly enjoyed what we did see. I told Tabs that I would love to come during a week in the summer just so she could go to their summer camp (which I don’t even know if it exists, but I’m sure they have something).

We visited the Chicago Children’s Museum and it was wonderful. Again, we didn’t get to see everything, but what we did see was very cool. It’s at Navy Pier which I didn’t realize had as much stuff as it did. I look forward to returning and spending a whole day there. The Children’s Museum motivated me to turn our home even more child-centric. Their art area was something to aspire to. We do want to create an art and music corner in our living room and now I’m more eager than before. They had areas that I wish were possible to recreate at home. Basically I just wished we lived in a children’s museum and hope I can pull off something even a tenth as inspiring in our home.

We all went to the Sears tower. I asked Tabitha if she perferred day or night and she chose night so we went after Chris got home from work. Wow. There is really nothing else to say. It is truly a magnificent structure and the views are astounding.

American Girl Place is just a couple blocks away. The girls and I went yesterday. First stop was the Bitty Baby department as Daisy was promised her own as a kind of belated birthday gift. She chose her doll and I paid for her immediately so we could open the box and Daisy could carry her around. Tabitha’s doll has always been named Bitty Baby, it never received a proper name. But Daisy’s has been christened Bitty Daisy and she really loves her. Next we got down to some serious shopping. Daisy chose two outfits for her doll and Tabitha chose 5 plus another one with a matching outfit for herself to wear to the fashion show next month. Tabitha also picked up a couple books and Daisy chose a stuffed lamb (belongs to Felicity for those familiar with AG historical dolls) and I bought a backpack for Tabitha. She has a carry bag for Lindsay (her AG doll), but it doesn’t have enough storage space to be adequately used as a carry-on bag. Her new back pack is, well, back pack size, but with a nice pouch for Lindsay. Since we’re traveling more, it will come in very handy.

We went to a mall one day, but it wasn’t very good. We all went to Barnes and Noble one night because apparently we don’t have enough books. I didn’t get anything for me, but Chris chose a new book, each girl got a couple and I picked up more books for lessons. While there, we watched the lunar eclipse out the window. Orange and beautiful.

Today we went to a place called Millenium Park. There is a very interesting ice sculpture project going called the Museum of Modern Ice. It’s a wall of ice with color added and is supposed to mimic the Chicago skyline. It’s worked on everyday to keep up with the changes the weather brings. It was a rather interesting concept.

And that’s it. Tomorrow we go home. Again, the city itself, I love. I really want to come back in nice weather. Many of our adventures didn’t occur due to weather factors, work factors, or not wanting to pay another exorbiant parking fee. Also, it gets very tiring putting on scarf, gloves, hat and coat, getting to a destination, taking off scarf, gloves, hat and coat and then having to cart them around and then put them all on again to go back out to the car. Overall, not the trip I envisioned, but am very glad we came, otherwise, I never would have known how wonderful this city is.

Topics: Life |

2 Responses to “I have never known such cold”

  1. Mandi Says:
    February 23rd, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Well, I am sorry you didn’t have as good a time as you had hoped for. $19 for parking??? WOW!! How do they get away with that and not have public outrage?!
    I can only imagine how shocking it must be for native SoCal’s to jump headlong into dead of winter in Chicago!! Growing up in NH, I know what that kind of cold is like. We had winters where we were so happy to see the temp hit 20 degrees! I must say, I do not miss the cold, snow, hats, gloves, ice, heavy coats, scarfs, boots…..I could go on. And I totally know what you are talking about when you complain about bundling everyone up only to take it all off and put it all back on, over and over. It gets old so fast!!

    I hope your trip home is smooth and stress-free. It’s nice to see your update, I’ve missed ya! :D

  2. Sandy Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    {{{{ you all }}}} Welcome to winter, LOL!
    I didn’t know you were heading to Chicago? That’s a city I’ve wanted to see for years, my dad was a long haul truck driver when we were kids & used to always talk of how much he loved that city!
    I’m sure you can imagine now how we get so depressed by this time of year after dealing with this crap for 5+ months! @@

    I hope you made it home safe & sound! : )