We are in Rock Island, Illinois, right now, fixin’ to head to Chicago in the morning. And how did this come to pass, you might ask?

Well, Lis has been wanting to visit Chicago for a while now. We actually had a trip planned for last year – the annual Square Dance convention was in Chicago, and we had a sleeper car booked on Amtrak, and were signed up for the fun badge tour, and it was going to be awesome!! But, alas, Lis’ mom got sick, and we had to cancel.

So here we are, one year later, minus the square dancing and the train, on our way to the Windy City. But first, we stopped off for a couple days to visit Lis’ aunt, uncle, cousin and nieces in the Quad Cities.

On Wednesday we flew from Portland to Chicago, on Southwest. Lis has about a million Southwest free drink coupons, so we evolved a plan. We packed an empty plastic screw top bottle in our carry on. Then I ordered 2 drinks (orange juice and rum), and when the flight attendants weren’t looking, poured the rum in to the flask (we are classy broads in that way). Lis was supposed to get drinks, too, but she wanted apple juice and wasn’t sure she could be believable ordering apple juice and rum. But, anyway, we have some booze for the fancy hotel :)

Our flight got in too late for the 3 hour continuation to the Quad Cities, so we stayed in Chicago. Originally, we were just going to stay in some chain motel by the airport, but then my Travel Planner Extraordinaire girlfriend scored us a room at the Sutton Place downtown.

We took a cab from the airport, and at first the cabbie ignored us completely – I figured “Oh, well – big city.” Then he fished around in this little cooler in the passenger seat, pulled out a couple waters and handed them to us, still without a word.

And then, all of a sudden, he turned in to our cheerful tour guide, pointing out the tourist sites, laughing at our jokes, getting in the correct lane so we could better see things, etc. He was very sweet. He also took a wrong turn right at our hotel, said “Oh, you would be there by now,” and TURNED OFF THE METER!

The Sutton Place was nice, but didn’t have free wi-fi and didn’t have coffee in the room, and I slept past the free coffee in the lobby, so that was a bummer.

Plus, the lack of wi-fi in the room meant I had to go down to the lobby to deal with a work issue (there is wi-fi in the lobby and hotel bar), and so inadvertently found myself in the middle of someone else’s job interview – these two guys in suits were conducting an interview with another guy in a suit. I was very bummed – it’s one thing to have to be exposed to a bullshit meeting, but a job interview is about a thousand times worse. And, I couldn’t leave until my own business was finished, because I needed the wi-fi. Very sad story indeed.

We checked out of the hotel, took a cab to Union Station (this cabbie ignored us completely until the end when, for a change of pace, he gave us a dirty look when we paid with a credit card), and took the California Zephyr to Princeton, IL, where Lis’ cousin and niece picked us up.

The train station was crowded and our train was delayed, but once aboard we had a lovely ride, and I was in an unusual (hormonal?) space where the heartland scenery kept moving me to tears.

We’ve had a lovely visit with Lis’ family, including two rousing games of Celebrity, and tomorrow will head back to Chicago, where we will spend the remaining 5 days of our trip at The James Hotel. Lis’ cousin Cathy and niece Claudia will accompany us for the first day – we have extensive plans to paint the town!! (In between our naps, of course).