Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

The alarm went off and it was 3 something in the morning on a Friday - I was up early because I had a 5:15am departure from Tampa on my way to Chicago. This was my 4th blogged trip to Chicago with the previous travels here (2019), here (2019) and here (2020).

For such an early flight I was happy to find my entire 3 seat row empty with the exception of myself. Always fun to fly when there is no one sitting next to you. The flight was easy with no turbulence and ahead of schedule. Once we landed though I got an odd email from Southwest:

We are closely following forecasted weather conditions that may impact your upcoming travel with us. Your itinerary indicates you are traveling to, from, or through a potentially impacted city on May 24.

Flexible travel options are available on your reservation, allowing rebooking in the original class of service or standby travel within 14 days of your original date of travel between the same city pairs.

I had already landed at my destination on my only flight on May 24 and yet Southwest was telling me weather conditions may affect travel that day. Of course tornado watches were near as well as bad weather which turned out really delaying flights into Chicago from other cities.

I felt like a near local as I remembered exactly how to get from my terminal exit to the long walk to board the orange train into the city. From orange to red line I went and was only a few minute walk away from my hotel. I was very surprised to be allowed to check-in into my room at around 7 something in the morning when check-in wasn't till 4.

view from hotel 22nd floor

Unfortunately though my hotel room faced the city and not the river, but I'll take the early check-in over a different view.

With my Ingress events not starting till around 6pm that night it was time to explore the city. I went from north of the river all the way south to Grant Park and did a solid 30k steps on my Garmin. This wouldn't mean much step wise until I did another 30k steps on Saturday, which made my Sunday feet take a beating. One thing that continued to blow my mind was the amount of car horns in this city.

It's just an extension of a Chicago driver to always use the horn for anything. Whether telling a car you are near them or making your presence known for even the tiniest mistake. The locals don't turn around when the cars honk, but I still swing around and look out of some weird habit.

I didn't really eat anything that was worth a photo this time around - on Friday I enjoyed an overpriced basic shrimp tacos on the river. I was more there for the atmosphere and alcohol as the food was just a few items to supplement the drinking.

walking on Chicago Riverwalk

As I walked around I saw a cheap architecture walking tour and joined it. We walked around and I listened to someone explain old buildings, tall buildings, modern buildings and the modernization of buildings. As it went on I realized my passion wasn't really in architecture, but I could appreciate someone with passion explaining it. The most interesting thing I heard in that tour wasn't even related to buildings, but how the river's direction was switched a long time ago.

Saturday I struggled to find a place open at 6am for breakfast - as most breakfast places opened between 7-8am. So I had to walk a solid minute until I ran into Griddle 24 - which was a 24 hour diner. The Ingress event I attended ended up taking the rest of Saturday into the night and fun times were had, even if my team lost again.

As Sunday arrived and I woke up way too early in central time - I went back out to explore before my check-out. This time I went south to explore all the parks:

  • Lakeshore East Park
  • Maggie Delay Park
  • Millennium Park
  • Peanut Park
  • Lakefront Park
  • Grant Park

Happy to see that not everything has to be turned into an urban skyscraper landscape without an ounce of grass. That I guess is one thing I've come to appreciate about Florida - nature and beauty no matter where you are.

Rain looked to be approaching in the afternoon and with my flight going from 8pm to midnight I knew I would be landing after my weekly blog post has to go out. So I went out to the pier before the weather got bad to do some exploring.

Another Ingress event in Chicago was coming to an end and this trip I spent more time exploring instead of trying all the local food and drinking. Hopefully my flight home is painless, but this post will be live before I'm back in Tampa.

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