Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June is Testing My Sanity: Chicago

I feel like it's been forever since I've written, and it's because it has been. Geez, this month is trying to kill me. I swear, the second I feel like there is a moment to breathe, the universe throws something else at me.

Anyway, let's start at the beginning (well, almost the beginning): June 2nd.

I've had a business trip to Chicago on the radar for months now. It was first brought up on my business trip to England back in December, but with budgets and schedules, it wasn't really on the radar for a good long time. Then, it popped up in mid-April, to be promptly rescheduled for mid-May. Since the weekend they picked (they always pick weekends because they don't want the robots to be down during the high volume times during the work week, so I almost always work on Sundays) didn't work for anyone involved, it was finally rescheduled for the first weekend in June.

The tickets were booked so my manager and I would fly out Saturday, June 2nd, work at the site on the 3rd, and fly back on the fourth. Simple enough. So, Friday evening, when I was packing, my manager called me to tell me the airline had called. They had switched his flight, had they switched mine as well? Apparently I had given the airline my work number so I had no clue. I just needed to call my work phone and get the info.

Snap to twenty minutes later and I've somehow managed to get myself locked out of my work voicemail and have no flight info. Snap to fifteen minutes later and I'm yelling at my cell phone because the American Airlines hotline is the most frustrating thing ever. I finally got to a real person who confirmed that I was also on the new flight. The direct Tucson to Chicago, which left an hour and a half later and got in an hour earlier. Yay! I could sleep in and pack in the morning.

Anyway, after a good night's sleep, running the husband through his chore list while I was gone, and packing, I was off to the airport! Made it through security with no problems. Just sitting at the gate, waiting for my manager to show. I just watched the minutes tick away as he failed to appear. So many situations were running through my head as I try to evaluate if I could do the job by myself if I had to. Finally, ten minutes before boarding, he appears.

Turns out, it didn't really matter because our flight was delayed by ten minutes. By twenty minutes. By thirty minutes. By five hours. FIVE HOURS! Apparently, there was a broken part (we found out later it really wasn't necessary to the plane functioning, it's just nice to have) and they couldn't repair it so they had to fly it in from Los Angeles. With the five hour delay, we would get into Chicago after midnight. If we had been on our original flights, we would arrive in Chicago before our delayed flight was leaving. Originally, they told us the plane may be able to leave in three and half hours so we didn't have a large enough window to go home and come back. We just toughed it out in the airport.

Do you know how hard it is to entertain yourself in the Tucson airport for five hours? It's a tiny little airport with basically one restaurant and virtually no real shopping. On the plus side, I finally tracked these down!

Isn't my mom talented? That's colored pencil!
My mom's art! It's been in the airport for almost twenty years, but they move them around and I hadn't found them in a while. Bam! Near the baggage claim for the B gates! (Click here for a better look at more of my mom's awesome work!)

Anyway (I'm really starting to ramble, aren't I?), we eventually got on the fixed plane, flew to Chicago, picked up the rental car, drove loopy tired through the dark to the hotel, and I finally got to crash at about 12:45 AM early Sunday morning. I'd say after a day like that, it was a good night's sleep, but I hate whoever decided to put me in the room across from the elevators. And whoever designed the black out curtains to be secretly hidden deep in the immobile decorative ones. Fortunately, we had a 9 AM start time, so there was plenty of time for kind-of sleep and a big breakfast since we'd missed dinner.

With a very easy repair job, we were lucky to be done in under two and a half hours, which meant we had the afternoon to explore Chicago! We hopped in the rental car and made a bee-line for the Museum of Science and Industry. While it's more of a children's museum, it was still fun.

The exterior of the Museum of Science and Industry
Inside the museum
Get it? Because I'm actually an engineer...
Inside the museum, I found this machine that I had never seen before. It makes souvenirs of molded plastic right before your eyes. Since I make molded parts all the time, I thought this was awesome and unique and made a little plastic train for Dan as a souvenir.

Yeah, I was so disappointed when it turned out these machines were everywhere. They were all over the museum and when I gave the train to Dan, he said something along the lines of they had these machines back in Texas. He hasn't lived in Texas for over a decade. Womp womp...

Anyway, my favorite part of the museum was the U-505. It's the only German submarine in the US. It was actually captured in WWII and, after the war, saved by the museum as the government planned on scrapping it. Unfortunately, we were too late to take a tour inside the submarine, but it was still incredibly impressive. It really made me want to learn more about the role submarines played in WWII.

Isn't this submarine awesome!?!
After skipping lunch (I didn't get to eat much in Chicago apparently), we were ready for a big dinner and chose the Navy Pier.

While it did seem like a pretty standard tourist attraction, we did have a good dinner and some very pretty views.

The lovely view from the restaurant
Since it was such a long day, we made an early night of it and I got to watch some girly movies in the hotel room without torturing Dan (cough "The Time Traveller's Wife" cough) and a good night's sleep once I was told about the location of the blackout curtains. With a quick direct flight home, I got to spent the afternoon working from home and catching up with my kitten.

I'll try to do a better job at documenting all the craziness this month is throwing at me, but I'm already behind the ball. I've gone and returned from a second, more stressful trip. I've got a minefield of a situation this very afternoon I've got to negotiate. Another trip in the pipes. A major home renovation. Houseguests. Hosting a birthday party for a 28 year old friend who's never had a birthday party before.

Yeah, this is going to be a long month...

No comments:

Post a Comment