48 Hours in Chicago

Up until a few years ago, I thrived on whirlwind trips: 12 hours in Portland, 12 hours in Bilbao, 24 hours in Austin, 24 hours in Seattle….Hopping on a plane and hurtling to a different city hundreds if not thousands of miles away from home really put a giddyup in my step.

There was something exhilarating about zipping from sight to sight like a well-mannered tornado. Had The Amazing Race been on then, I would’ve clamored to get on the show. But I guess age strips away that layer of your brain that makes you invulnerable to sleep/oxygen deprivation, extreme temperatures, bad smells, and cramped spaces. Nowadays when I watch that show, I exhaust myself just wondering about how they deal with food, sleep, and irritable bowl syndrome. This may be why I have a soft spot for the BBC show An Idiot Abroad (now available in the U.S.!). Karl Pilkington is the only travel show star who manages to make me feel happy to be at home sometimes.

Not to say I no longer enjoy traveling. I’d simply rather spend more time savoring a locale than (literally) racing past its tourist attractions. And yet I somehow agreed to a quick jaunt to Chicago last November. Two dozen members of the UC Martial Arts Program’s yongmudo club, including me, descended upon Chicago for the 1st U.S. Yongmudo Championship. (Technically, the event was held at Harper College in Palatine, an industrial suburb just a hair outside of O’Hare International Airport, but “48 Hours in Palatine” just doesn’t seem to have the same dazzle.)

I’d visited Chicago several times before, in all manner of weather, but I still couldn’t bear the thought of being there for merely 30 hours like many of my teammates. So I extended my stay just a little, just enough to take the “business” out of it. Thanks to T & E for their hospitality and their big, warm hug of a couch!

In 48 hours, I managed to devour several bowls of T’s homemade leek and potato soup and an unnecessary-but-oh-so-delicious slice of triple chocolate cake; receive an amazing hair blowout courtesy of E; catch the Ponys at the Bottom Lounge (more pix here); complete a three-hour, multilocation/multiwardrobe photoshoot with E that ended sometime after 4 a.m.; rouse myself in time to meet the others at O’Hare; attend a tournament seminar; finish proofreading my new book; get roughly five hours of sleep; referee at the tournament; and enjoy a tasty Greek meal before heading to the airport.

I wasn’t there long enough for jetlag to screw me up, but the odd hours I kept certainly did. Good thing I took some photos. Otherwise I would’ve forgotten the whole thing ever happened.

The Ponys

The Ponys, Bottom Lounge

3 a.m. photoshoot

1st U.S. Yongmudo Championship, Harper College, Palatine, IL


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Filed under martial arts, music, photography, travel

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