Back from vacation! I spent a few days in Chicago, and it was a wonderful trip full of pleasant surprises. It was already a treat to begin with because my airfare was free, thanks to a bump I took on a flight last fall, and then I got a great hotel rate through a Hilton sale, with an even better rate from pre-paying for the room. When I arrived at the hotel, the desk clerk called to see if my room was ready, but the number she mentioned was different than the one I’d been given on the online check-in. The clerk looked at her computer and said, “Oh, that’s because we’re upgrading you to a suite.” So, for my great, cheap (relatively) pre-paid rate, I got a suite that was bigger than my first apartment. It had a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator and microwave (and dishes!), a full-sized living room, and a bedroom that was the size of a normal hotel room. My mom worried that it was so nice I wouldn’t want to leave the room, but I found that it made it feel more like a home and less like a hotel room, so I didn’t have that “I want to cocoon in the hotel room” response. I did spend time relaxing, but I also got out a lot.
While I was waiting for my room to be ready, I walked along the river and had lunch at a riverside cafe, then went to the Sephora on Michigan Ave. and picked up some stuff for a spa night. Then I felt I deserved some hotel time once I got in. The hotel’s heated indoor pool was actually nice and warm, and they had a sauna. There was also a lovely terrace where I sat and read until it got dark.
Thursday was my tall ship day. There’s a tall ship that does cruises on Lake Michigan, and sailing on a tall ship was an item on my bucket list. I got there early, as they were still getting ready, and they asked me to give them about five minutes until they got the ticket office open. I wandered a bit, took some photos for some tourists (I guess I’m still the designated tourist photographer), then came back. They still weren’t ready. When I finally got to buy my ticket, they gave me a discount for being so patient and so eager. The cruise was amazing. They let some of the passengers help raise the sails, so I got to experience that, and once we were under full sail with the engine off, it was so peaceful as we flew across the water. I don’t yet have a sailing ship scene planned for a book, but I think it may happen someday.
I had lunch by the lake, then I met up with a friend and got to tour the American Library Association offices (it’s a tourist attraction for novelists) and spent the rest of the day hanging out with friends and having dinner at a lovely little neighborhood place they know.
Thursday was Art Institute day. I spent most of the day in the museum, just absorbing images and getting inspiration. Then I figured I deserved a rest and spent the afternoon relaxing and reading before I went out to get some pizza for dinner. I had to wait on the pizza, so I wandered the neighborhood and found the fire station they used for the bar in the TV series Early Edition. That night was spa night, using the stuff I’d bought earlier.
All in all, a good vacation. I did two major touristy things, spent time on and by the water, did some exploring, hung out with friends, relaxed a bit, and read three books. I didn’t even come back utterly exhausted. It helped that I came home Saturday and was able to have a normal Sunday relaxing at home, which helped me feel like I was back on schedule. Now I’m ready to dive back into work.