Monday, March 28, 2016

Professional Road Trip Critic

The children and I made it back from Chicago and are on a one-day travel reprieve until we sally forth to Vail, Colorado.  I will now professionally review our first 2016 spring trip.

Navigation: 5 of 5 stars for my beautiful and talented sister, Mary.  She sat by my side while I piloted the miniature van. She expertly and efficiently consulted Google maps and assisted me in paying my tolls online.  I paid online on purpose because who wants to stop and pay tolls?

Companionship: 5 of 5 stars.  There was minimal arguing and deft cooperation at almost all times.  The children preferred to Uber rather than walk, which was kind of disappointing as I'd rather perambulate of my own power. Still, we balanced the options accordingly to optimize everyone's happiness and comfort.  Of course, I reveled in the constant presence of my sister, who tends not to live in Minnesota or even the USA.  She still gets 5 of 5 stars, even though I have abandonment issues.

Sights, Attractions, and Dining: 5 of 5 stars.  Have you been to Chicago?  It's really one of my favorite cities.  This time, I visited some old stand-bys - Frontera Grill, the shops of Michigan Avenue - and had some new-to-me adventures, including SkyDeck (formerly known as The Sears Tower) and Lou Malnati's Chicago-Style Pizzaria.  I keep wanting to go to the Shedd Aquarium and not going to the Shedd. I know I'll be back in Chicago soon, however, and the Shedd will top my list.

Accommodations: 5 of 5 stars.  When we got to the Renaissance on West Wacker Drive, we were surprised to find the lobby stuffed with Iowa State basketball enthusiasts.  "What's happening?" we asked.  "The team is staying here," the crowd replied.  Sure enough, right during the chaos of check-in, very tall and headphoned individuals streamed off the elevators and high-fived the throng.  At this point, the desk agent tried to assign me a room with only one bed.  "That won't work," I said amiably. "I have four people, as I indicated on my online reservation."  The agent retreated to the office and came back with the news that I'd been awarded a complimentary upgrade to a huge-ass suite with a full view of the Chicago River, and less desirably, Trump Tower.  Huzzah!

Overall: Clearly, this trip was 5 of 5 stars.  Because the children were charming and agreeable and mostly appreciative of the experience, I felt like planning another trip.  "What city should we visit next?"  The answer was quick and definitive: LA.  Noah and Rachel, we're coming for you.

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