On a whim, we decided to go to Chicago last weekend. Thinking it would take a short 2 hours to get there, we left about 4:30 PM, hoping to have a nice dinner in the city before retiring to our hotel.
Things didn't go quite as planned. First, there was construction on the highway, so we were behind schedule before we even got close to Chicago. Then, there was the Chicago suburb traffic...busy and fast. Finally, we got into the heart of town and I misunderstood the directions and missed a turn. In a city full of one way streets, overpasses and underpasses, we got seriously turned around. Thank goodness we had a GPS to get us back on track, but it was at least a 20 minute detour to make our way back. Finally, we arrived at the hotel, only to find that valet parking costs $49 dollars a night. I parked in a loading zone while Jared ran in to check in and find out if there were any other parking options. Apparently there was a really long line to check in because it was taking FOREVER. It was already well past Libby's bedtime at this point and she was getting cranky, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Thinking there was a parking lot just around the corner, I left the loading zone and turned onto what turned out to be a one-way street with no available parking spots. Now I was stuck and couldn't get back to the hotel the way I came from, so I thought I'd just drive around the block. But the hotel was on an "upper" street and when I circled the block, I ended up on the "lower" street and could not for the life of me figure out how to get back to the upper street. I had the GPS on, but it kept losing satellite reception since were under bridges. To top it off, I tried to call Jared to tell him that I had left and was trying to work my way back, but my phone's battery died. I got more and more lost and more and more frantic, but finally my prayers were heard and the GPS started working again. I made it back and promised Jared I would never ever ever leave him again (not that he was upset, but I had been so scared alone!).
Finally, we got into our room and discovered that our 4 star hotel room was the size of a matchbox. It was far too late to go out and find something to eat, but we were all starving, so we ordered a much too expensive room service pizza and finally were able to get Libby to bed. Jared and I woke up the next morning with backaches from the awful bed. Seriously, this is what we paid for??? Anyway, it was a place to sleep and I guess that's all we really needed.
Saturday, we walked to the shopping district and looked around a bit. We went to the Museum of Contemporary Photography (unfortunately not as cool as I was hoping) and wandered through the park.
We were planning to go to the temple that afternoon, but realizing it was a good 45 minutes north of town, not including traffic delays, we decided to skip it after all. Turns out that was the right call, because it started raining like crazy, which only made traffic worse. We even spun around on a busy Chicago road (the Lord was looking out for us, though, because there were miraculously no other cars around!).
Finally, after another series of GPS malfunctions and detours, we made it out of the blasted city and had dinner in the much small and quieter city of Joliet. Over dinner, we decided that we are not city folk. We'll take our small town with it's lack of shopping and dining over the big city any day (or at least 364 days of the year). It's kind of a bummer that the nicest place to eat in town is the $7.99 Super Wok buffet, but at least there's ample parking.