Day three was our last day in Chicago. I had planned all the ticketed and “scheduled” stuff for Friday because I had this fear that we might miss our ride home. And, while the idea of living in Chicago is somewhat appealing, the idea of winging it in Chicago – in the cold, and with a young child – is not.
On Saturday we visited the Museum of Science and Industry. This is something we did the last time we were in Chicago and Maddie loved it then and was really looking forward to going back. We had to haul our suitcases with us there, though, because we wouldn’t make it back to the hotel before having to check out.
We wandered around Michigan Avenue for a while looking for a Starbucks (I had some gift cards I wanted to use for breakfast) and then found the proper bus stop to take the 10 to the Museum. The 10 doesn’t run as often as, well, as any of the other buses, so we waited a while. Saturday was definitely the coldest of the three days we were there, so waiting wasn’t entirely pleasant, but wasn’t completely miserable either (we saved that for later in the day).
We got in to the museum free with our St. Louis Science Center membership and paid $1 per item to check our suitcases and coats. Then we did the museum. It was just about everything Maddie wanted and more. We discovered we can see a lot more and a lot more quickly when there are just two of us as opposed to five, particularly when four of the five are between three and eight.
I think it was around 2:30 when I decided we’d seen it all and that I’d feel better being in the very near vicinity of Union Station when our bus arrived. It was scheduled to leave at 4:30 and we thought it would be there at 4, so we hopped in a cab and had it take us to Union Station. We got there pretty early.
Have I mentioned that Saturday was the coldest of the three days we were there? We walked around in the whipping wind until we found a Dunkin Donuts to duck into for a bit. We warmed up in there for about a half-hour and then didn’t think we could reasonably stay any longer without buying something else.
We walked back to where we were supposed to board the bus (it was 3:45 and we figured it would just be a 15 minute wait before our bus arrived).
What followed was about the longest 1 hour and 45 minutes of our lives as we waited, outside, for our Megabus to arrive. We watched two other buses pull up, two other crowds gather and load, and two other trips successfully make their deadline. Meanwhile, we lost feeling in our toes and started to grate on each other’s nerves.
At 5:30 our bus pulled in, late from a long journey from THE BUILDING WHERE MEGABUS KEEPS THEIR BUSES IN CHICAGO. No excuse there. At that point I really didn’t even care. I was just glad we were both on the bus and were in the process of defrosting.
I called Craig and told him of the delay. Our schedule said 4:30-10:30 and everyone knows it’s only about a five hour trip from Chicago to St. Louis so I said maybe the bus driver would make up time on the road. With the two stops we had to make, we’d still get there close to the time.
That statement is still mocking me right now. I don’t know what happened that night, but Megabus assigned our route to a rookie – she went 40 miles an hour the entire way back to St. Louis. I know this because for three hours I kept saying, “sure feels like we’re going about 40 mph,” and eventually spotted a mile marker and started clocking time until passing the next mile marker: 80 seconds. Later on we passed one of those digital speed checker signs designed to make you aware of your excessive speed and slow down. It clocked us at a whopping 39.
As we were driving through Collinsville, IL, I called Craig to let him know we were about 45 minutes from arriving at Union Station. Collinsville is really about 20 minutes from Union Station.
He waited a bit, then woke up the other three girls at 12:45 in the morning and picked us up at 1:00, a full 2.5 hours later than scheduled.
Honestly, I would take the Megabus again – the price was low enough that I can’t complain too much. I’m scarred for life from Amtrak and I can’t see driving when you combine the price of gas with the price of parking everywhere with the hassle of dealing with Chicago traffic. But on Saturday night I was ready to swear off the Megabus, too. But beggars can’t be choosers.
Thus concludes the three day adventure of Mommy and Maddie in Chicago. And I get to do this (or something like it) three more times. *grin*