Holiday Hustle and Travel – Catching Up With You
By: Chris Darkes - November 27, 2017
Category : Places, Uncategorized
I popped the Medium app back open, and stunned myself that the last thing I had written was before Thanksgiving(?!) Well, at least for a moment, I’m back to catch up with where we last left off. The holidays were, in short, a blur — and even though I was back in Chicago for almost a week and a half for Christmas, I wasn’t nearly able to squeeze in all the stuff I wanted to do, and people I wanted to see. Every time I fly back the goal is to visit a list of places. Illinois is, after all, a smorgasbord of scenery. But the important thing is getting to see people you haven’t for quite some time. Great conversation eclipses sight-seeing to me anytime. Without getting too sentimental, the locations will always be there, while the people in your life may not be.
The unpredictability of the weather is what usually prevents me from traveling too far. While the weather wasn’t the worst it’s been, it still prevented me from getting to Monroe, Wisconsin — a memorable destination in any season. This is old hat for many of you who read my stories regularly, but something about the area is prime for getting my imagination revved up. The drive up there gets me inspired to write, to create. There’s something so calming about scenic roads. Visiting those old towns is like a story unfolding right in front of me.
Another location I wanted to check off my list was to finally see the house where they filmed Home Alone. Something I’ve wanted to do since I first saw the film. The home is located in the affluent area of Winnetka, Illinois. I’ve been in the surrounding neighborhood many times, but have yet to actually see the house in person. I figured with the Christmas holiday, the movie’s soundtrack echoing through my speakers as I wrapped gifts, and passing beneath the American Airlines globe decorations that the family runs across at the airport — it would all be poetic. But it will be there upon my next return.
Something unique about the area is you can explore the bustling city streets with elevated trains sparking above you, people of every walks of life shuffling about in Chicago, and just thirty minutes north, be surrounded by the peaceful lake and cozy woods. The north shore boasts a breathtaking landscape. It’s part private beach, part public. Which gives a glimpse into the places you can explore. Although I feel visiting the area is something best kept for summer, it still would give a completely different perspective in the winter. The secluded lakes, and the dense woods gives you a tiny sense that maybe Jason Vorhees is lurking around the forest. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies…
One place I was able to make my way to was downtown Chicago, only for a moment, but got to see the decorated store-front windows, as the snow fell through the frigid air. As you know, I much prefer Chicago in July, but it definitely feels like Christmas is upon us when you see that giant Christmas tree, people scrambling into stores, and those beautifully appointed window-front displays to the last detail. The one thing I totally miss though is the FAO Schwartz. My parents knew I was obsessed with it, and would make a point to get there almost every year. Even if we never bought anything, it was such an experience. I don’t recall, but I think it was on Michigan Ave. I loved the giant toys they had. Everything was bigger than life. Themed rooms with structures “breaking through the ceiling.” Adults and kids alike were buzzing with excitement while walking through the two floors of endless treasures. It will be missed.
Odds and Ends
Over the course of Christmas into the New Year, I checked another book off my Harry Potter list. My girlfriend is proud of me, but also reminds me that I still have four more to go. And those are the bigger books of the series. But that means I’m also one step closer to getting to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They’re such an easy read, and the way J.K. Rowling paints a beautiful tapestry for your mind, it’s no surprise her stories have shattered sales records. We’ve been watching the subsequent movie following me finishing the book, which I think is the proper way to do things. I wish I were able to allocate more time to leisurely reading, but with all the other material I’m already waist-deep in, it’s a solid start.
Something else that was long overdue since I’ve started writing, was to get a new phone. Not for the vanity, but for the camera and reception. A few years back, my phone stopped charging, and ironically around that time, the calls became real spotty. You’re thinking, “was this a rotary dial, you had?” Anyways, I finally coughed up the money for a new one that didn’t cost the equivalent of a mortgage…which is really nice when you’re buying a piece of technology that will be nearly obsolete in a year. I wanted to grab photos for the blog that were of the highest quality. I can finally start doing that. That gives me tremendous utility. That- and you don’t have to dial the operator before you can reach me, anymore.
I’ll finish this super long-winded post with a few things I received for Christmas that made traveling a heck of a lot easier. I stumbled across Timbuk2 while searching for a backpack geared towards hauling your laptop, while giving you enough room for a ton of books, notebooks, and really anything you can think of. Up until recently, I use to lug around my laptop bag to coffee shops, and it became cumbersome with trying to fit books, notebooks, and all my charging cables. My mom wanted me to be able to use it for my trip back, so she sent my Christmas gift over a little early. It’s perfect for anyone who travels frequently, or wants space for luggage, while still keeping it small and compact.
Speaking of notebooks, for Christmas my girfriend’s family gifted me with those wonderful Moleskin notebooks that just make everything easy to orgazine. I now have a stack of them. Each color represents a different topic. The OCD side of me loves it. The rest of me does too. Her parents also got me the Junopower Hue Pro power pack. It was a lifesaver on my flight. Also perfect for writing in coffee shops if you don’t have a plug. I’ll touch more on that at a later time.
Well for now, that’s all. The weather here has been insane. Raining nonstop for the better part of a month. That makes for great writing sessions, though. Hope you all had a great holiday!
Also published on Medium.