Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Chicago Trip

Hey TransGriot readers,
Finally woke up after getting into Louisville at 2 AM EDT from our trip to Chicago for the Remenyck Open fencing tournament. To be precise, we were in Evanston, IL on the picturesque Northwestern University campus.

AC, Dawn amd I were in a familiar position. We're climbing into some kind of vehicle and about to roll on an interstate highway. With the tune of the Blues Brothers version of Sweet Home Chicago dancing in my head, we shoved off at 8:15 AM EDT and headed north on I-65 for the 5 hour trip to Chicago.

The picturesque section of I-65 between Louisville and Indy I've done numerous times since I've moved up here and I love the scenery. For you shoppers, there are outlet malls on this stretch as well. I've even been to the IU-Bloomington campus, but this was the first time I was going to be travelling the section between Indianapolis and Chicago and I was excited about it. I have relatives in Gary and Chicago as well, but since the purpose of this day trip was to be part of Dawn's cheering section, I wasn't going to have enough time to visit them.

I also contacted blogger Jackie to let her know I was going to be in town, but her mom's been ill and she's been spending long hours visiting her at the hospital. Give your mom a hug for me and let her know I'll be saying a prayer or two for her to get well soon. ;)

We were originally planning on driving through Circle City, but after getting within range of the Indy metro area and discovering there was going to be construction on the Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds Highway, (yes peeps, in 1999 the 25 miles of I-65 through Indy was named for the Indianapolis native) we decided to hit the I-465 loop around the west side of Indy past the airport and pick up I-65 on the northwest side of town.

By the way, Vivica A. Fox is from Indy as well. What freeway are y'all gonna name for her? There's also a push by David Letterman fans to get the entire 60 mile I-465 loop officially named for him as well. The freeway is unofficially called by people in Indy the DLX or the David Letterman Bypass.

After a stop in West Lafayette, IN for breakfast, we resumed rolling toward Chicagoland through the flat plains of northwest Indiana and the farms dotting the landscape for miles. We jetted through the Merrillville suburbs and past the industrial blue-collar grit of Gary and Hammond to eventually cross over into Illinois via the Chicago Skyway.

We were within a few minutes of our final destination when we ran into (what else) bumper-to-bumper downtown area traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway. I call it from my numerous visits to Chicago the 'Damned Ryan'. We shifted gears and decided to get off the Dan Ryan and use Lake Shore Drive to get to the NU campus. This was also my first visit in the Chicago area since 1989, and as I stared out the window on a cloud-free and sunny 72 degree fall day I marveled at all the changes in Chicago since my last visit.

Eventually we arrived at the SPAC, as NU students refer to the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion around 1:15 PM Chicago time. AC and I had another solemn duty to perform before we could sit back and watch Dawn fence, so as she grabbed her equipment out of the hatch and hustled inside to check in for the tournament, we took off to perform that task.

Before AC's parents died, they expressed their wishes to be cremated and have their ashes scattered over Lake Michigan in Chicago, the city where his parents met. After saying a prayer and fulfilling that last request we headed back to the SPAC to take in some fencing action.

Dawn was warming up with her old LFC fencing partner Victoria Harris, AKA 'The Shark' when we returned. Tori's called 'The Shark' by her former LFC teammates because of her sly, toothy smile and her aggressive attacking fencing style that belies her diminutive size and shy personality. Tori and her parents moved to Chicago a few months ago and she was thrilled to see Dawn and a few of her old LFC teammates at this tournament.

Dawn went 2-3 in her pool matches and advanced into the Direct Eliminations, but lost a close 15-13 decision to eliminate her from the tournament. After hanging around to watch the finals, we rolled into a Giordano's in Morton Grove to grab some deep dish pizza and buy one to take back to Da Ville.

On our way to the Tri-State Tollway, we rolled through a section of Hillary Clinton's hometown of Park Ridge. That triggered a lengthy political discussion amongst us as we entered the Tri-State and began the journey home.

Hey, that's what happens when two of your best friends have political science degrees. ;)

While AC and I were disappointed for her that she didn't advance further into this tournament, she told us on the way back that she had fun and was actually pleased with her performance. She pointed out this was an 'A' rated tournament, that she won two matches in pools and lost the other three by 5-4 scores. Her ultimate goal was being ready for her first veterans division fencing tournament coming up in Richmond, VA on December 7.

She's recovering nicely from the ankle injury she sustained at last year's Nationals in Memphis and is counting the days until she steps on the fencing strip again. I'm just looking forward to the next time I can ride the interstates with my road dawgs.


Jackie said...

Wow! What a whirlwind! You road dawgs whooshed in, had a precious ceremony on the lakefront, watched Dawn knock off a few folks and whooshed out. Sounds great!
I am so sorry we didn't get to meet yall. Thanks for the call, made me happy.
That Damn Ryan gets ya every time but its suppose to get better with the new construction (yeah right).
BABYFACE has a highway? OMG! That's cool. I can just imagine the traffic reports. Thanks for your good wishes, we will talk soon.

Monica Roberts said...

That's the way we do it. ;)

Don't forget we sat down in Giordano's and chowed down on the deep dish as well.

The other interesting part of this trip is that we all have connections to Chicago on one level or another. AC's parents not only met here, but had relatives living in Gary and Hammond.

I have relatives living in Gary and Chicago as I mentioned in the post.

Dawn was not only born here, but grew up on the north side for a while until she moved to Lexington after her parents died.

The Damn Ryan was okay until we got around the Circle. Didn't even recognize the Comiskey Park area (oops US Cellular Field).

The Gold Coast and Miracle Mile has all that new construction and Navy Pier is impressive.

We were going to take I-94 back to Indiana but when we crossed it at the Dempster overpass and saw it was bumper to bumper that's when we decided to take the Tri-State.

Was a little disappointed we couldn't hook up, but I'm only five hours away ;)

Give your mom and Monica a hug for me as well.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Monica,

I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. This post has excited the wonderlust in me. I love, love to travel. It's enjoyable getting where I'm going, but the part I love is the getting from point A to point B.

A long time ago I worked for an airline (Piedmont) and I flew every week. I worked as a station agent and my scheduled was 4 days working and 3 days off. On the 4th day when I came to work I always had a travel bag with me! As soon as possible after my shift was over I was on a plane to somewhere.

Also, wow they have a freeway named for Babyface? (lol) That's funny.


I hope your mom is better soon.

Monica Roberts said...

Ms Deux,
Wow! Something else we have in common.

I worked for Continental for 14 years and did a lot of domestic traveling before I was involuntarily separated from the job due to the actions of a Republican state legislator.

I bounced all over the country during my time there.