Chicago: land of miracles

It feels like we've done a lot of traveling lately. Probably because we have. Two weeks ago, we got a call from David's parents, letting us know that his Grandma, Betty, had passed away earlier that day. She was 91 so it's of course not a surprise, but she was healthy and busy right up until the day before she died. She was the sweetest person I've ever known!

We had to find a way for all five of us to get out to California for the funeral - no easy feat! We decided to fly because it would be such a quick trip and, after having just driven to the Gulf and back, we were not looking forward to hours and hours in the car again. Finding a flight that would leave somewhat close to here and get us somewhat close to there, AND having five seats on it, AND not costing $4,000+ was tough. We finally found a cheap airline (Allegiant) which has flights from Rockford, Illinois to Las Vegas. It meant a 6 hour drive to Rockford, then a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to Seal Beach, but even still that meant we could be from our house to our destination in 18 hours rather than 35.

Since Rockford is close to Chicago we thought it'd be less stressful if we drove up to Chicago the day before, then we'd have time the next day to see a few sights because our flight did not leave until 7:30 p.m. from Rockford. Everything went okay getting there - the hotel was mediocre but fine, we drove from there to a CTA station where we parked to take the L into the city. Everything was going good until we got to our stop downtown, and had walked about 3 blocks (man, city blocks are BIG in big cities!) and David suddenly realized he did not have his wallet on him. He had dropped it on the train! Panic ensued. I mean, scary enough to think your ID, credit cards, everything, are in someone else's hands, but even worse was the fear that this would mean we couldn't get on our flight to California that evening. The airline is so small that there would be no alternative flights the next day. It was now or never.

David jogged back to the station and the kids and I walked after him. Along the way, two of them had to use the bathroom, so we ducked into a Starbucks. As we all four stood there in the bathroom, I told them we should say a prayer that a nice person would find daddy's wallet and turn it in. So everyone said a personal prayer. Then we walked the rest of the way back to the station. The attendant there was calling the office at the end of the line to see if it had turned up, but the train wasn't to the end yet. Meanwhile, I called our bank to cancel his debit card and he called Discover to cancel his credit card (which he never uses - no reason to carry it around really). He then called the L office again and they said it had not been turned in but we could check back with them. We pretty much gave up hope that we'd ever see it again. Poor Lucy was bawling hysterically, all three of my children were sitting on the concrete floor of a dirty subway station. It was a very tense and difficult time.

We decided to get the kids a snack to distract them. While they were eating, we decided we may as well proceed as if we'd be able to fly, and since I still had my wallet, there was no reason we couldn't go ahead and do the things we'd planned to do (lemonade from lemons and all that).

(waiting around for mom and dad to decide what to do)

So we went to the Art Institute. David and I went there a long, long time ago (pre-children). They have several Georgia O'Keeffes which is fantastic. Plus some other art by some other people that I really don't care about. The kids are taking an art class right now about pointillism, and studying Seurat, so to see the real deal was pretty sweet.

After an hour or so the kids were super bored, so we walked a few blocks to go to lunch at Park Grill. It was just okay. The service was super duper slow and it was really noisy. I don't know why they didn't just seat us outside. Right before we left, David decided to try and call the CTA office again. We didn't think there was any point, but it didn't hurt to try. Then suddenly I hear him say, "YOU HAVE IT? WHAT?!"

The great news: The wallet was found!
The not-so-great news: We needed to go to the office at the end of the line to claim it. Which was like an hour away. In the opposite direction of where our van was parked. And, did I mention, we had a plane to catch?

We hurried back to the station and got tickets to take the blue line to its opposite end. It seemed to take forever to get there. As the train got farther and farther from the downtown stops, there were fewer and fewer people on board, and after awhile, we were the only white people. I am sure the regulars were wondering who this idiot white family was taking the train all the way out to Forest Park.

We got there and were directed to the office. They asked David to describe the wallet, which he did, and there it was! They handed it over and he had to sign something saying he took possession of it. And every single credit card was still in it - every business card, every bit of paper, and most importantly, his driver's license!

Then we went to get back on the train, and realized we'd need to buy even more tickets to make it all the way back to our van. But a nice CTA employee who'd directed us to lost and found let us go through the gates for free. Really everyone who worked on or for CTA was just as sweet as they could be. Very unusual. Maybe we looked desperate and pathetic.

The ride back was even longer because the train is on a U-shaped line, with the downtown stops being in the middle. Our van was parked at one end of the U and the station where we retrieved the wallet, on the opposite tip of the U. It took almost 90  minutes to get back to our van.

We then drove to Rockford, nervous we'd be late, but it turned out to be for naught because the flight was delayed 90 minutes. So we had a ton of time to kill in the tiny airport. We played games, ordered the best tasting wraps we've ever had from the little restaurant, and finally were able to get on our plane. What a day! The flight was uneventful and we arrived in Las Vegas around 10:30 local time (12:30am our time). We then got our rental van and drove 4 hours. Well, DAVID drove... I have to take sedatives to fly so I did not drive. I tried to help him navigate but kept falling asleep. Whoops. 


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