Friday, June 24, 2011

Days Are Still What We Make of Them

The group circles up, waiting for news of our flight.
When I woke up this morning, I settled on the fact that our time in Chicago was over.  The bags had been packed, the tickets were set, and we were prepared to arrive at Cornell and meet with several school officials.  The ceremonial last ride on the Chicago train to Midway International Airport was rather uneventful, and we were simply ready and waiting to depart.

However, as chance (or fate, if one wants to think that way) would have it, there would be no leaving Chicago today.  Once we arrived at the airport, we found out that the flight was cancelled.

This was a complete shock to me, as well as to everyone in the group.  I doubt anybody would have expected it, but it was in black and blue on the flight screen.  For a second, I just stared at it without understanding what exactly just happened.  But as my mind began to wrap itself around the situation, things became a lot more surreal.

It turns out that the plane had a few mechanical errors that kept it from going to our connecting terminal in Detroit.  Thus, the Delta staff scrambled to figure out what to do with us.

In the meantime, my fellow Cornellians and I set up camp right next to the special services section of the Delta Terminal.  We had a chance to relax and spend time together in an unusual setting.  It only boosted the hilarity and the antics of our group.

My very first Chicago-style hot dog.
Four hours and many course reviews, phone calls and card games later, Delta gave us a few Taxi vouchers to take a taxi cabs to a hotel near O'Hare Airport.  The trip itself was long and the car was quite stuffy, but it was strangely enjoyable.

We are now staying at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago.  In reference to the Hotel Operations Management course I am taking, I found that the hotel was independently owned and operated by the Intercontinental Hotels Group, a standard business model.  I find the rooms to be much more spacious and have a much more modern feel to it, as opposed to the Drake Hotel, which, while vintage, was not to my tastes as the Intercontinental.

With a little bit of time left, I joined a group of ILC-ers that decided to visit the Millennium Park with Ms. Neal.  We managed to make it to the opening day of the Tastes of Chicago, where various local businesses set up vendor stands and sell food.

The trip was wonderful.  From the big turkey legs for sale to the Bean, the trip rightly served as an appropriate ending for our time in Chicago.

All that being said, I am still looking quite forward to Ithaca tomorrow.  The plane will be leaving early, and we will be taking a different route than was originally planned to Ithaca.  And I am certain that I will enjoy the next phase of our journey just as much as today.

A Horrible Day With a Wonderful Turnaround

Apparently Chicago just really likes us ILCers, since this is the second year in a row where it has simply refused to let us leave. Today we returned to our wake up so early you might actually still be dreaming schedule, and woke up at 6 in the morning. We rushed over to the airport and got there with time to spare, at around 9. As we were walking in towards baggage checking, I noticed that one of the departure screens showed "cancelled" as a flight status suspiciously close to our own flight. I did an immediate double-take, and saw that it was in fact our flight that was cancelled. For the next five hours or so, the Delta officials tried as hard as possible to get us on a plane to Ithaca, but to no avail. Early on in our five hours of waiting, I was able to bond even more with my Fellow ILCers from Hercules, who I had known next to nothing about as recently as three days ago. These first three hours were quite entertaining, from an epic game of Egyptian War (a card game for those unfamiliar with the term,) to trying to translate what on earth Terilyn was saying backwards. By noon however, all our energy was completely spent, and everyone tried to sleep on the hard airport floor, no easy feat. Finally, at 2:00 P.M., we were informed by the Delta officials that our plane would be leaving at 6 in the morning tomorrow, which will mean yet another early wake-up.

2:00 was when the day began to take a turn for the better, when we were given lunch vouchers by Delta. Although lunch wouldn't seem like such a pick-me-up to most, I had one of the best sandwiches i have ever eaten, from Potbelly's, which was recommended to me by the informative Ms. Callie Brown (who apparently has taste in food rivaling our own Mr. Charles Ramsey). After lunch we headed to a hotel by O'Hare, which was quite the drive from Midway. When we got to the hotel, we decided that we simply had to see Millennium Park, which we had been trying to see ever since we got here but just didn't have the time.

We were actually extremely lucky with this flight cancellation, because not only did it let us finally go to Millennium Park, but it also let us go at the beginning of the food festival "A Taste of Chicago," which was conveniently taking place in Millennium Park. The park lived up to my expectations and then some, from the 3-dimesional bean-shaped mirror, creatively known as "The Bean," to the Buckingham Fountain, popularly known for its role in the introduction of "Married With Children", the TV show. We didn't get to see the fountain shows, but it was still fantastic, as was the view of the city at night. (I'll post pictures tomorrow, since it's almost 1 in the morning now and I'll be walking up in less than 4 hours). All in all, although I am disappointed that we weren't able to get to Ithaca and meet with various admission directors, I was still able to have fun, and am looking forward to Cornell as much as ever. I should be blogging from Ithaca tomorrow, plane permitting, and hope to finally get to see the campus.

"In-N-Out" in Midway

Whenever I explore a new city, I always notice the small things that make it unique. Here in Chicago, it just so happens to be the myriad of revolving doors. If I were to describe my day in a single phrase, the first thing I would burst out saying would be "a revolving door."

We finally said good-byes to the famed Drake Hotel and set out onto what was meant to be our final L ride to Midway Airport. As we hauled our luggage through the aimless corridors, we arrived at a monitor that showed departure and arrival times. We decided to quickly scan through the walls of text to find our flight and beside its name and info was the word "CANCELLED" gleaming on the bright blue screen. Hoping to avoid any peril, we kept our fingers crossed as we approached check-in. As it turned out, our fear has come true. While we attempted to get later flights to Detroit, our large party (and the fact tickets were booked separately) meant that we could get replacement flights, but that we would have to split our group onto multiple flights within the span of two days.

Our little own airport station as we awaited throughout the day as to what would happen next.

We had to stay in the airport for well over 6-7 hours, and while it was frustrating to say the least to have to stay in thre for something like a flight cancellation, it was actually an enjoyable experience as the group and I certainly tried to make the most of our time there. I actually took motion sickness medicine prior to our "flight" this morning and I admit to having have slept on the ground once in awhile because of it. At other times, I would try to see what some of the card games they were playing were or break out into a light dance. Soon enough, our frustrations with Delta began to boil down as they accommodated to our needs including vouchers for a hotel, food, and taxi until we will board a new flight to New York tomorrow morning.

One of the many card games that is contained in his mind.

After placing our bags inside of our hotel rooms in the InterContinental Hotel, a few of us (Jobel, Nick, Terilyn, and I) felt that we should take this extra time in Chicago to our advantage. We all opted in to visit Millennium Park as the Taste of Chicago festival started today. The charming thing about the festival was that to actually buy food and beverages, you had to go and purchase tickets that worked as a Taste-exclusive currency. I had an absolute blast trying out the different kinds of food including bourbon chicken, pulled pork, and Itlian ice. Before we headed back to the hotel in what should definitely be our final L ride, we certainly visited some of the many landmarks of Millennium Park including the Bean.

While canceleld flights can be extremely frustrating, I think our entire group handed the situation well enough that we actually managed to get some fun out of the whole debacle.
Surprisingly, being grounded at Midway International was not much of a frustrating experience at all for me. It was nice to nap off the previous late-night blogging session and my crazy 2 AM run to the gym. For the six hours that we were there, we camped out on the airport floor, some people got some reading done, snacked (I got some delicious frozen yogurt!), played some cards, and pretty much just chilled, all the while wondering what was going on.

The cause of the cancellation is still unknown, but Delta directed us to a hotel across town, close to O'hare Int'l, by which we will be catching a flight to Detroit enroute to Syracuse, NY early tomorrow morning. It looks like we'll be driving into Ithaca instead of a direct flight.

While I'm anxious about really starting the summer college adventure at Cornell, meeting my roommate and floormates at Mary Donlon, and getting to know our professor, I'm also a bit glad to have another night in Chicago. It's a beautiful, lively city which I'm really going to miss.

It's quite a treat that we're staying the night at the newly opened InterContinental Hotel next to O'hare, especially because it is so different from the Drake. Whereas the Drake Hotel has a luxurious, Italian Renaissance-stye vibe, the InterContinental across town is very modern chic and simply sophisticated. It is away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago and has its own art gallery. Comparing our experiences at these two very different high-class hotels is interesting, since we are about to embark on the Hotel Manageent course aat Cornell.

Ithaca- Or Not?

After lugging my heavy suitcases for blocks, I get to the airport only to find that our flight has been canceled. However, there is the bright side of things that include our getting to spend one last night in the amazing city of Chicago- in a beautiful brand new hotel to boot!

In the hopes of finding a later flight today that we could all fit upon, we hung out at the airport all day just sitting on the floor by first-class check in. One passerby even asked us what we were protesting. I basically was so exhausted that most of the day became a blur of watching people pass by. People watching is definitely an interesting way to spend your time however, and can become quite enjoyable. Kelly and I began to make up stories and names for interesting people in the airport terminal, speculating where they were going and accomplishing in life. I know one thing- we were accomplishing living the life of hobos!

That all got turned around when we finally arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel which Delta Airlines had sent us to. Modern and sparkling with technology, it was a completely different feel than the posh grandeur of the Drake but with just the same quality. Open approximately for just 6 months now, one aspect of the hotel that really appeals to me is their effort to not leave a carbon footprint on the earth. Cards are placed all over to remind of energy and water conservation, and is one of the first places I've seen in Chicago to be an avid member of the recycling club. Most buildings just have rotating doors.

Our flight has been rescheduled for 6AM tomorrow morning, and now we will fly to Syracuse and then drive into Ithaca rather than flying straight there. I am always up for an adventure, but hopefully not all the good dorm rooms will be taken!
As Terilyn and I would say in Aple-Aple, susee yankou susoonun Ituthuhacuca!


There isn’t much to say about my day because not much happened. We spent the majority of the day sitting in the Midway Airport playing cards, listening to music, and reading. In all honesty there really isn’t much to blog about. I didn’t do all that much in the airport except be upset that our flight was canceled and that we couldn’t be at Cornell today. I was really looking forward to the dinner with the Cornell admissions officers/students and moving into the dorms.

I must say; however, that the hotel we are staying in near the O’Hare airport is AMAZING! It is so pretty I never want to leave. Next to the floor length mirror (which I love because I love looking at my entire outfit) there are these little birds on a mock telephone line. It is so cute.

Until tomorrow, over and out blog readers.

A Bit of Turbulence

So, if I had to pick my least favorite day in Chicago, I might just have to go with today. It's a close call between seeing some of the greatest Universities in the world and getting stuck in an airport for six hours, but I would have to say that being stranded is probably the lesser of the two.

Basically what happened was that we arrived at the airport, rushing to make sure that we made our flight on time, and as we made our way through the walkways we discovered that our flight had been cancelled. We still checked our bags in and spoke with a Delta Airlines employee to see if we could possibly make another flight, but that process took about five hours to figure out. During that time, we resilient and resourceful Cornellians spoke to each other about our experience so far, exchanged jokes, ate at the snack bar (since we could not access any of the actual restaurants that were located behind security), and played some simple but exhilarating card games.

After that, we learned that the next possible flight that could seat nine extra people was tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. Delta gave us complementary food vouchers as well as taxi vouchers to get us to the International Hotel that they booked for us. It took us about another hour to get our luggage after that, and then we were on our way to the hotel.

I have to say, it was a little disappointing to hear that Ithaca would have to wait until tomorrow, but at the same time, it was really nice to get a day of rest. These Chicago days have been amazing, but tiresome as well, so having a whole day to pretty much lay back and relax is definitely not going unappreciated.

We definitely have a lot to look forward to tomorrow, and I am extremely excited to explore Cornell. For now, however, I think I am just going to kick back and enjoy my free bed and food. Talk to you all tomorrow! Good night!
The Airport Pow Wow

We're All Stuck

I am currently sitting on the floor of Chicago Midway International Airport, listening to The Black Key’s “Tighten Up” and blogging. All 8 of us to-be Cornellians, plus Ms. Neal, have been here since 9 AM today because our 10:50 flight to Detroit, (which is where we were originally going to transfer to an Ithaca- bound plane), was cancelled.

It is 12:54 PM now and in the last 30 minutes I have caught myself in the midst of falling asleep at least 10 times. I am actually feeling rather relaxed though—it’s been nice being silly and bonding with the rest of my cohorts. Genevieve taught me a secret language and Nick and I spent a lot of time saying words backwards. It’s all good.

Anyways, that’s all for now—we are heading downstairs to pick up our luggage. It looks like we'll be staying in Chicago tonight. I was really looking forward to reaching Cornell and having the dinner that was scheduled tonight, but at the same time, I can't complain about staying for even just one more night in this wonderful city.