Wednesday was both the best- and worst-planned day of the trip. We started off early (well, vacation early, who wants to get up to an alarm when they don’t have to?) with breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s, a fantastic little diner that uses organic, and locally produced when they can, ingredients. The food is nothing fancy, but the top-quality ingredients make it one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever have.
Next up was the Field Museum. This being the Field’s free admission day was the reason for the more structured planning. The Americas exhibit, where we spent most of our time, was very good (and the source of that alliances and generosity thing I keep going on about), but unfortunately, as I said, it’s where we spent most of our time. Here’s where the “worst-planned” part comes in. We had another museum we wanted to get to, and the really cool stuff in the Field, the fossil exhibits, are all (excepting Sue the T. rex, who dominates the main hall) on the second floor. It took us a while to pick out some presents for the kids, and by the time we did, we had to rush through the Evolving Planet exhibit so we could make it to the Museum of Surgical Sciences.
Which we actually didn’t. By the time we found a parking space and walked back to the museum, we discovered that they were closing in 45 minutes. Despite the fact that their sign said last admission was fifteen minutes before we got there, they agreed to let us go through. None of us were really keen on the idea of spending the money to only see half of what we came to see, however, so we wandered back toward the car, having rushed the dinosaurs, and having missed the surgical horrors completely. We were planning to meet up with Edward IX when he got off work, although the plan was loosely made and none of us had any idea where to go. Rather than go back and sit in the parking lot for another half an hour till Ed got off work, we walked into the first place we saw, the Paradise Cantina, to regroup. Tired of walking and not finding what we were looking for, and since they served reasonably priced food as well as drinks, we decided to just stay there. Hell, it’s simpler than spending another hour driving around territory none of us are familiar with trying to find a restaurant we all like, and then finding somewhere to park, right?
It was great to see Ed again after a little directional mishap and some wandering around outside trying to spot him so I could wave him down, and we all had a great time until…the check came. Apparently the reason they can afford to serve reasonably priced food in such a hip, ritzy neighborhood is that they charge for drinks what most hospitals charge for surgery. The bill was over $160 (hey, I get surgery from the guy in the two-sizes-too-large smock behind ShopKo, I don't know who you and your fancy insurance think you are) by the time we laid down a tip, and none of us had more than two drinks! Santo got the worst of it, his two mojitos being almost $25 on top of food.
The sticker shock wore off on the ride home (although an ominous precursor to the next day started to hit me as some evasive action was needed to negotiate the traffic and an unreasonably tightly curved off-ramp), and we all wound up back in Sean and Tim’s room, drinking and watching Master of the Flying Guillotine and talking about everything from how yoga is portrayed as a kung fu power in Hong Kong movies, to Ed and Santo nerding it up over various battleship specs. History has always interested me, but it’s hard to know what books to read to get a really firm foundational knowledge built up and not get bored to tears by lifeless academic writing. So I asked Ed and Santo to recommend me some, and recommend they did. By then it was time for Ed to head for home, and the others were ready for sleep, so Santo returned to our room and we stayed up another hour or two discussing - surprise! - music; how we got into our respective favorite genres, the bands (or band, in my case) we’ve been involved in, and how it’s affected our lives. Booze makes the bed call more loudly, and it’s getting late...