Landed in Chicago Friday, and spent entirely too little time there exploring. Having spent 20 years in the area, the more I'm in Chicago now as an adult, the more I regret not spending more time in the city when I was younger. It's one of the few places east of Denver I'd consider moving to now, however. Really want to take a long weekend and dedicate it to Chicago sometime soon, just grab a Cubs game, and show Angelle some of the other parts of Chicago that are a bit more representative of the city instead of Michigan Ave's Bentley dealerships and poodles.
Headed out of town early to beat traffic. Then it was a quickie tour of Paxton (like there's any other type, again I wish we had more time to poke our heads into a couple stores or something so she could have gotten a better feel for the town), and over to meet Grandma. Grandma gave us some room (and her house), and headed back to Champaign, we freshened up a bit and followed suit. Quickie tour of downtown Champaign and UIUC campus, and then eventually caught up with the remainder of the Paxton crew I still regularly talk to. Had a great time catching up, and some great beers. Headed back to Paxton to crash for the night, and decided to pull off and show her Bridge Out and take in the clear night skies that we can normally only see out in the mountains. It seemed to be the whole theme of the trip for me, I kept wanting to cram as much as possible representing so much of what I grew up with and experienced into 2 days time.
Anyway, after being up for 20-something hours, we got a few hours of sleep, then had to wake up early and drive out into the middle of nowhere (Saybrook) to meet grandma/mom/aunt betty. Visited with them for a couple hours, hung out with the wild turkeys/cats/chickens/fat pugs, and set off for St. Louis.
Leaving from the middle of nowhere totally screwed up my driving plans, but it was sort of fun to roll through the middle of nowhere, IL (ie. Bellflower/FarmerCity/etc) on the way south.
Finally made it into the greater St. Louis area (Collinsville), and grabbed a hotel and refreshed a bit again before heading over to CWE to meet the Lammles, which was awesome to see Robdrea and Harper, who I hadn't seen since she was a baby. Had a great time visiting, then it was back across the river to meet up with Lowns and Helen in Cville, and see my old bartenders. Yet another long night, then exhaustedly back to the strange bed and crashed out.
Sunday was 'meander around STL' day, with stops at Sculpture Park, City Museum, the Riverfront, and the Arch. I'd sort of planned a bit more time in STL than Chicago just because I'd lived there fairly recently and knew where pretty much everything was, but even I was at a loss for what else to do in the City that wouldn't eat up a whole day (like the zoo or something). Wish I coulda flipped Chi and STL around, but oh well. Another meal, watched the end of some football, then it was a bit of driving around, (which there was a lot of), then up to the airport to see her off on her way back to Denver to work today.
So, the trip looked like this:
Then today was working in the St. Louis office, and then another 200 mile drive back up to Bloomington, where I'll work (and eat) the rest of the week, then back up to Midway Friday, and back to Denver, which feels more like home now than ever.
There was a lot of nervousness and such around the trip, on both sides. There were a bunch of moments I felt like I'd built things up to much and was just letting her down left and right. I was worried myself about a couple of the meetings, but I think things went at least as well as they could have, and in a few instances, really a lot better. Hopefully next time we're in town it's a bit more laid back.
It's weird, too. She's barely been gone 24 hours, and in that time I slept, was at work, and drove. And I miss the hell out of her. I remember a time in my life when I actually looked forward to business trips to get away from things. Now, I'm looking back and actually happy that I didn't get the job that would have put me on the road 15+ weeks a year. Funny how things change when your perspective changes. I can't wait to get back home, so much to look forward to the last 10 weeks of the year.