Scarlett’s Letter August 24, 2013

It isn’t even 2:00 PM, what a fantastic day, so far.

I stayed up way, way, way too late last night. My original intent was to write, work on a video project and go to bed kind of early, get up really early, and be downtown by about 7:00 or 8:00 AM. Well, I stayed up until 4:00 AM, I was really, really into my video project. And I finished two half bottles of wine, generous halves. By myself. Because I didn’t want to pack them home in my checked bag, opened. I’ve done it successfully, before, but I prefer not to, and so, I had an excuse to polish it off.

I managed to get up before 8:00, got ready, had breakfast, packed, checked out and headed for downtown Chicago. Traffic was terrible, on a Saturday morning, and the drive that should’ve taken twenty minutes took an hour. So I was even later than my renegotiated late start. I parked in a garage, and because they all look alike and I know I’ll be in a hurry to leave when the time comes, I took a picture of the car in its spot, I took a picture of the elevator vestibule with the floor level emblazoned on it, and I took a picture of the aisle I was parked in from the elevator vestibule. Once out the door and on the sidewalk, I took a picture of the awning with the address. This is what I do. This is how I manage to move through the world seemingly effortlessly. I document everything.

I walked and took pictures, walked and took pictures, walked and took pictures, walked some more and took more pictures. I was a little antsy about my departure, worried about traffic on the return. The guy at the front desk at the hotel said that two lanes of I-90 between downtown and O’Hare were closed all weekend and to allow some extra time for that. He also said that traffic worsens on the weekends as the day wears on. I asked if an hour would be enough time to get to O’Hare. He said he thought it would be about right, but he also said it should only take twenty minutes to get downtown. And it took an hour.  I planned to leave downtown around noon. I know, I know. I have a 4:00 PM flight, but I really, really hate being late and rushed and stressed, and I really, really, really, love O’Hare and their food, beverage and shopping options. It is one of my all time favorite airports to kill time in and absolutely, positively, hands down, wins the best airport bathroom competition, if there were one.

Getting up close and personal with downtown Chicago. I need more time here.
Getting up close and personal with downtown Chicago. I need more time here.

At about 11:00, I really didn’t feel like I’d seen all that much of the city. I expected more. At this point, I was at the Union Station Riverwalk, which appreciated, but I wanted to see more. I’d seen the “Sears” Tower and have photographs from many angles. How was I going to see the most in just an hour? I crossed the river and was met by a very tan, older man in the scariest shade of orange I’ve ever laid eyes on. Of course he spoke to me, everyone speaks to me. I write down in my affirmations every single morning, “I am friendly, outgoing and approachable.” And, so, I am. He worked for the Shoreline Sightseeing Water Taxi. In all my travels and all my touristy endeavors, I have never taken a water taxi. I’ve had dinner cruises, usually during work-related conferences and meetings, but I have never voluntarily plunked down money for a water taxi tour. Scary orange shirt tan guy facilitated my first, ever, water taxi sightseeing tour. I told him I had an hour and wanted to see as much of the city as possible. He led me down the stairs to the boat, spoke with the “captain”, “pilot”, “sailor”, “admiral”, or whatever you call the dude that drives the water taxi. And he said his trip to Navy Pier and back would take about an hour. Perfect, I swiped my credit card for $14 and bought my ticket. For the next hour we cruised to Navy Pier with a stop along the way (Google where the apple store is).

The water taxi sightseeing tour was perfect, it was relaxing, I wasn’t wearing out my shoes, but, then again, I wasn’t getting exercise. And the views were amazing. I got about a billion pictures, which I’ve reduced to a video, below. I saw more of Chicago in the hour round trip than I could’ve done walking, most certainly, and even driving. Next time I’m here, I hope to be able to arrange my arrival and/or departure to allow me some time on the ground at Navy Pier and the Sky Deck of the “Sears” Tower.

I arrived back at Adams Street at about 12:10, I’d planned to leave downtown, originally, by 12:00, so I was starting a little late. I made my way, handily, back to the garage, found my car lickity split, and headed on my way. As I entered I-90 towards O’Hare, the traffic was barely creeping. Barely moving is, of course, faster than barely creeping by several degrees. Thankfully, two things, I entered in the left lane, and, the express lanes were open “outbound” over the weekend, probably because of the two “local” lanes being closed. The entrance to the express lanes is a left hand entrance, so I only had to navigate through the traffic for three quarters of a mile, then expressed myself at some amount over the posted fifty-five mile per hour limit all the way to 1-190 and O’Hare. I dropped off my rental car at precisely 12:58 PM. My original plan was to drop off the rental car at 1:00 PM. Suddenly, I’m ahead of schedule. By 1:15, I’m through security with a free first class upgrade and headed for Beaudevin, one of my favorite wine bars in the world. Not that I’ve been to every wine bar in the world, but I’m working on it. Nancy was working. She is awesome. I don’t know that I’ve ever been here when Nancy isn’t working. For the record, if you need a mimosa at O’Hare at 6:30 AM, ever, Nancy is your gal.

Thank you Chicago for the reversible express lanes! Glad they were going my way today!
Thank you Chicago for the reversible express lanes! Glad they were going my way today!

Today, I had red wines. Of course. I built my own flight. Sorry, Nancy, I didn’t like the flights on the menu.  Beaudevin offers three ounce pours, six ounce pours and bottles. I had a three-ounce pour of the Nickel and Nickel Merlot. Fantastic. I think they’re next on my winery tour agenda. Perhaps next week some time, especially if Mom is up to it. Which, she usually is. For free wine, she is usually feeling mobile and agile and perky. I also had a three-ounce pour of La Crema Pinot Noir and Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon. Nancy’s shift ended, so I closed out my tab. Fernando took over. Smiley Fernando. I’ve seen him before. I resisted for a bit, but finally relented and decided on something delectable from France, the Mouton-Cadet Bordeaux. Supposedly, my father’s side of the family is originally from the Bordeaux region of France. Whether factual, or not, I’m sticking with that claim. It was a fantastic wine.

Nickel and Nickel Merlot at Beaudevin Wine Bar in O'Hae.
Nickel and Nickel Merlot at Beaudevin Wine Bar in O’Hae.

By the way, happy National Peach Pie Day. I could eat a piece of peach pie, if it were handy. And complimentary. Today is also National Waffle Day, and now, I’m sad. I would absolutely adore a waffle right about now. I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I am starving, but I will be getting free airline food with my free first class upgrade, so I’m not buying anything to eat. Not even waffles. Even if there were a place for waffles close at hand at O’Hare. If I could click my ruby slippers together, right now, and be anywhere, I’d be at Cafeteria 15L for chicken and waffles in recognition of National Waffle Day. I am actually bummed. Here I am, sitting at some dive wine bar in some stupid airport sipping on some silly Bordeaux when I could be noshing on chicken and waffles. I won’t be getting to Sac-Town until after Cafeteria 15L closes, so, I guess National Waffle Day will pass without my contribution to the celebration. Besides, I’m trying to be good. I actually have an organic, heirloom tomato and an organic apple in my purse, for healthy and conscientious consumption. Hope it travels well, I’m probably not eating either. After twelve ounces of red wine and no food since 8:00 AM an organic, heirloom tomato and an organic apple isn’t going to cut it. I may have to head to Torta Frontera before boarding the plane and eating my free airline food.

It is precisely 2:56 PM. At exactly 3:00 PM I need to head from Terminal C to Terminal B. My flight boards at 3:25, I need to be there. You just never know, the people mover might not be moving, you have to allow extra time for life’s uncertainties. Especially in traveling. That’s just how I fly.


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