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Adventures in Train Hopping II

March 27, 2006 8 comments

Well, a couple days is a really long time in Eastern Standard Seminary Student Time evidently…

When we went to Chicago last September to watch Lee’s beloved Cubbies and Beth’s amazing Astros battle it out at Wrigley Field, we had several adventures that are worth sharing.

Last post, we explained the adventure of traveling by the famous “L Train” (short for elevated train) metro system in Chicago, but our excitement with the “L” does not end there.

On our last afternoon in Chicago, we spent a Sunday afternoon shopping on Michigan Avenue and seeing all of the exciting sites around the soaring downtown sector. It was getting closed to when we really needed to head toward the “L” to make it to our flight and return to Louisville. (Bear in mind that the airport was on the other end of the city, approximately 45 minutes away). Being the loving husband, Lee agreed to stop in at one last store before we made a beeline to the “L” station. Since it was time for the store to close, Beth was quickly trying on a few sweaters and jackets on the showroom floor, but nothing was worth purchasing, so we headed to the “L” and hopped the next train to Chicago O’Hare.

Everything was running smoothly, we had plenty of time to walk the half mile distance between the “L” station and the airport itself, get our tickets, wait in line to pass through security, and grab a bite to eat before our plane departed…and then the drama began.

As Lee pulled our tickets from the Southwest Airlines Online Ticket Counter, he asked Beth to pull out her drivers license so they could be ready to go through security. As he was inputting our access codes and he noticed that Beth was searching through all of her shopping bags.

Suddenly, in a panic, Beth blurted out “They’re in the train!!!”

Now, that is a mood changer if I have ever heard one. In an instant we both envisioned that train pulling out of the station on its way to the other end of Chicago and some miscreant discovering Beth’s huge wallet with her debit card, emergency credit card, social security, and key chain attached, which demanded a single responce…”Crap, its time to run”

So we sprinted, baggage and all, to the train station and we had to convince the guard to let us through the gate because we had no more “L” train bucks. Lee dropped his bags and sprinted to the train…but to no avail…it was long gone. He turned around just in time to catch Beth as she was weeping uncontrollably on the train station.

After composing ourselves and taking a moment to think, Lee lead Beth back up to the security booth to ask the security guard to radio the train to see if they could check for the wallet while Beth made some phone calls and back-tracked our shopping spree. News came back from the train that there was no wallet on the train…which could either be great news or horrible news.

As it turned out, it was good news because, when Beth called that last store we had quickly popped into, she was told that the had it safely in their possession.

“Praise God for his great mercy!” thought Beth.
“Praise God that now Beth will be able to smile again! (and for His mercy)” thought Lee.

So we hopped on the train again and travelled all the way back downtown where we were able to pick up Beth’s wallet that evening before setting about the task of figuring out a place to stay. We looked up and down Michigan Avenue at these exorbitant old hotels and new that we would never be able to afford a night in one of them. So Beth called the “800” number for Hotels.com while Lee made sure we would be able apply our tickets to a morning flight back to Lousiville.

The plane tickets transfered perfectly, but the motel room was a bit touchy. We wanted to be close to the airport, but were told that the closest they could get us was off of Michigan Avenue in a Howard Johnson for $160 a night. This sounded odd, but since we did not have any other options we decided to book a room and splurge on the room, which we anticipated be a little bit nicer than we would have choose on our own…I mean, come on, it’s Michigan Avenue people.

We grabbed a bit to eat at a hot dog joint before walking to our sweet suite at the HoJo. On the way a homeless man asked us straight up for a dollar to buy wine with…not a great sales pitch to us.

Finally we arrived at the HoJo, which, much to our surprise, was a $160 per night rat hole. It was the kind of place that you feel the need to sleep on top of the comforter and don’t want to walk on the carpet without your shoes…because, otherwise, it is oily between your toes. Needless to say, it was not exactly what we were hoping for and, immediately, the thought of a romantic final night in Chicago breezed out of the Windy City.

Anyways, it was a adventure to be certain but we made it home the next morning with no additional drama, just glad to be back in Louisville where we don’t have to worry about long train rides or HoJos.
All said and done, we highly recommend visiting the wonderful city of Chicago…just be sure you know which airport you are flying into, keep an eye on your wallet, and avoid the HoJo like the plague.

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