Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weekend in Chicago..

I had noticed several months back that Kentucky would play in Chicago the weekend before Christmas in the CBS Sports Classic. I knew Josh could get there in a couple of hours so we decided we could meet there and make a weekend of it. Jonathan was iffy about going with us because there was a chance the place where he worked might strike. I went ahead and pulled the trigger on three lower level corner seats when they got below list price. Jonathan finally got word that no strike would happen til the first of the year so he was finally in for the trip.

Jonathan and I headed out on the Friday before. The trip up went smoothly. We got past Champaign before looking for a place to eat. We called up Road Ninja. The next exit had several choices including one that warned us not to go because (I kid you not) one of the waitresses has “meth mouth”. We actually found a Just Hamburgers that appeared to be similar to the one in Paducah. The logo was the same but it was strictly a take out place. The burgers were good though. We got to our hotel by O’Hare airport with no problem and settled down to rest. There was a Steak and Shake next door and given it was Happy Hour, I grabbed us both a milkshake plus some cookies for later. We rested in the hotel until it was time for dinner. I wanted to get pizza from Giordanos so Jonathan could try Chicago deep dish style pizza (and because I like it). We got a medium meat pizza (which easily would feed the three of us). Jonathan loved it and we managed to hang on to a few pieces for Josh. Josh ended up taking the bus to O’Hare from Madison so he could come home with me to visit for the holidays. Picking him at O’Hare was a bit tricky. The airport is huge much bigger than BNA in Nashville. We finally managed to find him and get him back to the hotel. He even came bearing my favorite candy – Chocolate Stars. He also brought his Nintendo 4DS which Jonathan promptly latched onto for the evening.

We got up the next day and had breakfast. We decided to try Uber again. Jonathan signed up via my link so he got a 20.00 credit and so did it. He summoned a driver via his phone app. Murray showed up in about 10 minutes. He was about my age so we talked all kinds of sports from the 70s on. As we got close to the United Center, traffic was backed up. Murray hopped off an exit and took us a back way (that he said his dad had taught him) and we got to our destination with no trouble. We went inside and found our seats which ended up being excellent. The United Center is the home of the Bulls and Blackhawks so there were numerous banners hanging up celebrating their accomplishments. We settled in to watch Ohio State and Carolina. Carolina had absolutely no trouble with Ohio State. In fact with about 10 minutes remaining, we all got up to roam the concourse. Jonathan and I found that the Naismith Trophy for the best college player of the year was on display so we got pictures with it. We also were able to get pictures with Coke Zero props which they turned into a magnet. We got back in time to see Ohio State try to mount a run, but they still lost by eight. Finally it was time for our team (the Wildcats) to play UCLA. Aaron Harrison nailed a three and got a steal for another basket. UCLA called timeout down 7-0. Kentucky kept on rolling jumping ahead 16-0 forcing another UCLA timeout at the 16:24 mark. Kentucky kept pouring it on and were up 24-0 before UCLA finally scored at the 12:21. Kentucky kept piling on points and holding down UCLA. The halftime score was 44-7! I felt a little sorry for UCLA (but not that much). It was easily the best half of UK basketball I’d seen in recent memory. The game was more competitive in the second half but UK still won 83-44. We of course stayed til the end.

We left the United Center and I had to get a look and picture of the famous Michael Jordan statue. We walked away and tried to summon an Uber. It recommended we walk a few blocks east so we did. As we tried to get a car, we found one of the fatal flaws of Uber. When there are times of “high demand”, Uber will raise prices to “get more drivers on the road”. They were quoting prices that would be 3-4 times their normal rate. Being cheap, we didn't want to do that. We tried Lyft, but they were doing a similar thing and quoting 100-150% increases in regular prices. I keep trying on my phone and the prices stayed like this. We continued pressing east towards downtown Chicago. Jonathan grumbled all the way saying “we’re gonna die”. However, there were enough people around us most of the way, so there wasn’t much to worry about in my mind. My phone died finally so we decided to see if we could grab the “el” to O’hare where we could catch our hotel’s shuttle. We finally reached Union Station where we could get inside (it was pretty cold) to look at what seemed to me a very confusing map. Between Josh checking Google maps, we decided we needed to get on the “Blue Line”. We found a station a couple of blocks away and managed to get tickets and get on the train finally. The tickets cost 9.00 total, so it was a good deal. It took about 50 minutes to get to O’Hare (the end of the Blue Line). I called the hotel from the courtesy phone in the shuttle area at O’Hare and they told me they’d be there about 6:30. We got picked up and got back to the hotel no problem. We ended up getting Culvers (so Jonathan could try cheese curds) and then going back to the hotel for the evening. We found out later we walked 2.3 miles from the United Center to catch the train. Fortunately, we are all runners so going that far didn't bother us at all.

We got up the next morning and ate and checked out. We went to Bible Class at the Bridgeview church of Christ. We enjoyed being there. We did have trouble getting out because someone had blocked us in. Several people very nicely found the person owning the car and we got out. We only made two stops on the way back – once to get lunch and once to gas up. We made it back in time so Jonathan could get to Maple Hill and Josh and I to Central. We really enjoyed ourselves on our trip. UK plays Duke at the United Center next fall, so we are already planning to go to that one as well. I also learned that you need to have a backup plan when you Uber somewhere just in case. We should have found somewhere to eat after the game to let the crowd die out and then summon a ride via Uber/Lyft.