August 04, 2008
In order to renew her passport, Sibylle needed to travel to Chicago, where the nearest German Consulate is located. We debated several options for getting her to the city and back again. Flying by herself, the pari of us driving, or the pair of us flying.
At the start of the weekend we were prepared to drive to Chicago on Sunday, visit the consulate first thing Monday morning, and then drive home. At 550 miles each way, we were looking at 16 hours in the car in two days. Needless to say our enthusiasm for that much driving was rather low.
Sunday morning we finally decided to fly, together, rather than drive or her fly solo. Southwest has direct flights several times each day, and we could get their "Anytime" fare, which would give us some flexibility on our return flight. After scheduling the flight we ventured out to the mall to see if the Eddie Bauer store there had the backpacks we wanted.
We have been talking about getting one or two good travel backpacks, which hip belts, to use in Europe this year. Last weekend we saw some at the Eddie Bauer store downtown that we really liked. Moreover they were on sale through the 4th, and we wanted to take advantage of the $20 on each backpack. Being out in the mall, and doing some window shopping was light and carefree, in large part due to our decision to fly rather than drive. It's not that we were in a bad mood prior to making the fly decision, but making it certainly made us feel more in control.
This morning we got up at 3:30 am, in order to be at the airport shortly after 5:00. Our flight, which was surprisingly full, left promptly at 6:05 am. By 7:25 we were on the ground in Chicago, and shortly before 9:00 we had arrived in downtown, having taken the CTA "Orange Line" from Midway to the Loop. It took us perhaps 30 minutes to walk to the consulate, and we were third in line once we arrived there.
The consulate passport clerk was efficient, if a bit humorless. Sibylle's expedited passport renewal was completed and we were back on the street shortly before 10:00. With our new backpacks on, we walked out to Navy Pier and then took a trolley back to Wabash for lunch at Pizzaria Uno. After lunch we walked up Michigan to the Water Towel shopping arcade, and then made our way back to the Loop and our train to Midway.
Our flight home should have us back in Kansas city by 6:30; we'll be home by 7:30 at the latest. All in all, not a bad day. As a bonus to getting her passport renewal in the mail, we also got to test the new backpacks, and to try out some walking shoes. The backpacks are superb; having a good hip belt makes all the difference in the work when carrying any kind of weight. The shoes I wore, while okay for work, were not good for extended walking. Even with a good leather arch support added, my fallen arch was painful most of the day. I'll definitely be taking my boots to Europe; they were excellent for walking last year. Sibylle tried out a new pair of sandals today, and wasn't too happy with how the right one pinched her foot. She may take them to Europe, but will definitely have an alternate pair of shoes to wear.