Herald Staff Report
I’m a small town guy.
I was raised in a small town and now live in a semi-small town, comparatively speaking.
When my wife, also a descendent of a small community, my daughter and I leave for a big city, it generally amounts to plenty of eyebrow-raising moments. Our trip to Chicago last week was no different.
This is my daughter’s second time in the Windy City, but last year, we drove out and back in one day, after watching our beloved White Sox drop a game at U.S. Cellular Field. This year, we decided to extend our stay, and not only catch a White Sox game, but see a few other sights, while blowing through enough cash to fund a small country (OK, maybe not that much, but it sure felt like it).
Before heading off to U.S. Cellular, we detoured to downtown to check out the American Girl store, and buy my daughter her first American Girl doll. Since I’m a guy, I don’t understand the big deal about a doll. When I was a kid, I was more interested in how my Ghostbuster firehouse would defend my WWF action figures from getting destroyed by my GI Joes.
But after browsing through American Girl magazines all week, my daughter couldn’t stop talking about her very own doll, so we plopped down $25 to park for 30 minutes, and proceeded into a store that had so many items that a person could probably construct a life-size house with all the accessories provided. After finding the perfect match and riding up and down the escalator a few times (I assure you this wasn’t all my idea), we battled traffic to U.S. Cellular Field, where we forked over another $25 to park.
By this time, my wallet was tiring from having to provide money for all this parking. I understand it’s the all American way to make an easy buck, but my perception is rooted from the land of free parking. When I exit my driveway, I only worry about finding a primetime parking spot near my desired location, not how much money I need to park my car.
So I drew a line in the sand when we came back to our hotel (where our parking was “included” with our room), and told the family we were walking to the Navy Pier. And by the time we cleaned up and exited our room, we discovered we were missing a valuable resource — our stroller. In short distances, that wouldn’t be a problem. But since this was still multiple blocks away, we were in trouble.
With a stroke of luck, though, my wife pointed out a Walgreens during the walk and thought they might sell strollers. I laughed, saying she didn’t know what she was talking about, and by the time we left the store, we had our stroller for the trip.
Once we got to the Navy Pier, we took in the sights, and the big area gave my daughter the ability to run around and burn off some pent-up energy.
The only trouble that arose was the random guy handing out newspapers for “free,” only to ask for a monetary donation to a desired charity. Unfortunately for him, I work at a newspaper, so I questioned his enterprise of giving all profits to charity, since I had never heard of that. Needless to say, we didn’t take his “free” paper.
By the end of the trip, we did hand out a little more parking money for Shedd Aquarium, which was a fantastic look at animals not always seen at zoos, and we visited Legoland on our way out of town.
Legoland was more of an ear-opener for us, since we were pretty much the only people who spoke only English. I never felt so average in my life, as others around us went fluently from English to other languages that I didn’t recognize at all, showcasing the diversity experienced in Chicago, which is definitely a unique aspect of the city.
Once we came home, we were exhausted from our trip, from having to corral our daughter from getting lost in the crowds of people to the constant traffic battles.
It’s good to get out of town every now and then, but there’s no doubt, in the end, we’re still small town people.
CNHI, the parent company of the Clinton Herald, is conducting its college football sweepstakes. Compete against me each week on www.clintonherald.com.
Week 1 record — 23-2
• My predictions are in bold: Wake Forest at Florida State; California at Ohio State; Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh; Western Michigan at Minnesota; Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State; Charleston Southern at Illinois; Eastern Michigan at Purdue; Alabama at Arkansas; Massachusetts at Michigan; UNC at Louisville; Virginia at Georgia Tech; Navy at Penn State; UNI at Iowa; Texas A&M at SMU; James Madison at West Virginia; Florida at Tennessee; Ohio at Marshall; North Texas at Kansas State; Arizona State at Missouri; New Mexico at Texas Tech; Mississippi State at Troy; Florida Atlantic at Georgia; Notre Dame at Michigan State; Ball State at Indiana.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald.