No photos – you will thank me.
After departing the train in Chicago Union Station Saturday evening, we went to the Chinatown Hotel in that part of Chicago known as (wait for it …) Chinatown! It was a perfectly fine if basic hotel. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Clean, simple, polite, etc. Near public transportation, and LOTS of Chinese Restaurants and shops that would have been gangs of fun in better times. No elevators as it turned out and our rooms were on the third floor. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have cared but my travelling companion, Marilyn, isn’t fond of stairs. She turned out to be a hero, and very tired.
I won’t embellish this story. In the lobby of the hotel what had formerly been only a vague but slowly growing unease turned into full-blow active food poisoning. It was brutal. Details will be left undefined.
That night, no sleep but I memorized the way to the toilet very quickly (fortunately it was in our suite) and the path will be etched in my memory for years, as short as it was, from pure repetition.
Next day we didn’t even consider using our pre-paid tickets to the Field Museum (damn) and I essentially slept all day except for thankfully, but slowly, decreasing visits to the toilet. That, alone, is probably TMI – sorry.
Marilyn made at least six round trips up and down the 40 steps in the stairway (she counted), sometimes laden with bags for both of us, or food for herself (or for me the next day), or the need to go to the desk to do something we should have been able to do on the phone, etc. She got lost in Chinatown searching for a Sprite for me and was rescued by a really nice group of young people offering to help, then we found the next day that the Sprite was available literally across the street from the hotel.
I may – emphasis on MAY – get Marilyn to approve a written form of the stories from the Chinatown Hotel that were so entertaining to members of her family later in the week. But not right now. To hear her tell her story of getting lost, and the entire incident, is hilarious – – – now.
I do, however, have to sneak in a joke and an acknowledgement of an extraordinary person – Marilyn. We were married 45 years ago, divorced about 40 years ago, and over the years have developed a very deep and appreciative friendship. We travelled well together and she has become one of my most trusted and valued friends. She pretty much saved my life in Chicago (not literally, but it sure felt that way). Thank god she didn’t eat a hamburger on the train for lunch. If we had both been sick it would have been much, much worse.
Now the joke: I found out how to get along really well with your ex-wife – just give her your credit card and shut up. (pause).
So – to keep this brief – Saturday evening and most of Sunday were absolutely miserable for me, exhausting but quiet for her, and will be the source of entertaining stories about travel for years that come from a very dark place in my memories.
And that is enough said about being in Chicago. We delayed our flight from Sunday night to Monday morning, and arrived in Wichita on Day 072 without further incident.