Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just Across Town From the Botanical Garden

I've always been fascinated by bonsai

The vacation I took two weeks ago was a much needed one but it wasn't a true vacation either. Due to a sour economy, the co-owners of my company decided that rather lay more people off, that we would all take a week of unpaid leave. For the people like me who are prodigious savers but never have enough vacation time to use, it ended up being a pretty good deal. Even for those who felt that they couldn't go a week without pay, it was better than having no job at all. So I looked at the time off as a freebie and felt I didn't necessarily have to use it as well as I might have if I were actually burning paid vacation days.

This worked out well since an aunt-in-law from the Philippines was in the country and wanted to visit us from her current location in Virginia but was not confident to fly alone and have to make a connecting flight in one of the world's largest airports. There just aren't any direct flights from the boonies where I live except to the major hub north, east and south of us. So I forked over the money for a one-way ticket for my aunt-in-law to fly from Virginia to Chicago and since she also had expressed interest in seeing Chicago, we would kill two birds with one stone.

So on a Tuesday afternoon two weeks ago, I found myself in Chicago with my aunt-in-law, wife and daughter and wondering what we could do in Chicago at 5:30 in the afternoon. We decided to see the Chicago Botanic Garden which we had never seen before. The admission is free which is hard to beat but the parking was $20 so they still got their money from you but it was well worth every penny. We stayed there for a couple hours strolling around and seeing the sights. I would have stayed longer and watch the sun set but my aunt-in-law had some friends in town who wanted to see her and called to let us know they were waiting at the entrance.

After introductions, R & T invited us to supper at their house, which they said was just 45 minutes across town northwest of the Botanical Garden. Since we were staying in a motel out by O'Hare and it was 45 minutes west of where we were, I thought this would work out great. We could just bop on over there and eat supper and be only minutes away from our hotel room. I was wrong.

R told me to just follow him but I was leery about following anybody across Chicago and being able to stay with them so I asked for his address just in case I happened to lose him. I didn't end up losing him but I did type his address into my GPS while following him and was dismayed to see that it said it would take us an hour and fifteen minutes to reach his place putting us there at nearly 8:30, a long time to wait for supper when you hadn't eaten since 11:30. However, nearly an hour into the journey when R kept going straight when my GPS said to go right, another thirty minutes was added onto the GPS when I followed R's route. We drove forever and eventually ended up at their house an hour and a half after we left and quite away out of even the suburbs of Chicago. Later when I looked up Woodstock on the map, we ended up only a mile or two from Wisconsin!

I had great plans for our supper that night. I had planned on eating at one of several local restaurants in the Chicago that were highly recommended and not something I could get back home because that is how I roll. So when our hosts in Woodstock served us pizza that had been delivered and evidently setting around for an hour or so, my taste buds were a little disappointed. Because the brother of T and his family also showed up, there were eleven mouths to feed and only two barely warm, very soggy, medium sized pizzas to eat from, it was also a light meal after having gone almost ten hours without eating. I suppose in the end it worked out all right since I wasn't planning on any physical activity afterwards other than driving the hour it took us to get from Woodstock to our motel on the northwest outskirts of Chicago, my idea of the "other side of town."

Endless flowers

Colorful blossoms

Inviting water features


R. Sherman said...

Great picks.

As for bonsai, most of my botanical efforts turn into same, albeit unwittingly.

Then they wilt completely and die.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the FILIPINO SIDE of your family!!!LOL

Beau said...

Fun times, well, some of them :) I love bonsai- I've been growing a little maple for years, but it's starting to look too big compared to that thing in your picture!

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman & Beau - I've tried Bonsai over the years but never have had much luck. The fine line between okay and too dry is much too fine for me to grasph evidently.

Anonymous - Fortunately I still find the humor in it.

The Real Mother Hen said...

If I say I'm your aunt in law, will you give me a ticket... to uummm, let's see, Hawaii? Come on, I'm NOT asking for a Porsche! :)

sage said...

I'll have to check out the Bonsai Gardens in C-town. Parking is always outrageous there--that's why I try to do the train and cabs. As for dinner...

geri said...

Ed, when you wrote R and T's house was northwest of Botanical Garden, I said uh-oh. I had to laugh when you discovered it was only a mile or 2 away from Wisconsin. Northwest and other burbs are really like the end of the earth for us here.

I am surprised about the pizza, filipinos take their food more seriously than that. Too bad you had to miss out on trying other Chicago restos. I would have been very frustrated if I were in your shoes.

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - Sure that sounds good. I will give you a ticket to Hawaii in exchange for a Porsche!

Sage - I always seem to get eaten alive by cabs since I don't know where I'm going. I do like the mass transit but didn't want to fool with it in this case with three people in tow.

Geri - I'm sure R & T would have cooked fabulous dishes had we been eating at a reasonable time but since it was already late in the evening, I'm sure they ordered pizza so that it was ready when we got there knowing we would be hungry. I didn't completely miss out on good food in Chicago. See today's post.

Philippinesphil said...

Its true that Filipinos have a skewed sense of time, or perhaps its truer to sense a distinct lack of concern for it. 45 minutes give or take 45 minutes? All my Filipinos friends even joke about it, calling it "Filipino time" vs "American time." Makes me crazy. So, a 3 hr round trip for soggy pizza slices? No thanks. Live and learn...