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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicago Chicago

Confused American Airlines passengers at San Francisco airport

We made it into O'Hara Int. airport Chicago on American Airlines after an absolutely chaotic check in at San Francisco and discovering at the last minute on the screen at the boarding gate that they were only going to provide drinks but no food of any kind, apart from paid snacks. So much for considering One World customers who paid high international fares!

Oakland area

In addition I was repeatedly scanned because my crutches set of the metal detectors. The security personnel seemed to have mission to put anyone and everyone on a potential terrorist resisting search status so when he scanned every metal dome on my short and trousers and I tried to take my shirt off to get through the endless bleeping he threatened me with adopting a stress reaction to cover something I was hiding, before giving up completely and letting me through.

The 680 heading over Mt. Hamilton area

The overflight landscape was varied, from diverse California images of freeways, mountains and lakes to the deserts of Nevada and then the endless patchwork of the Midwest.

Hills behind the Oakland area

The central valley of California agricultural production

Sierra Nevada mountains separating California and Nevada

Lake Tahoe on the boundary, with Nevada behind

Nevada desert and irrigation circles

The great Midwest

Chicago's O'Hare airport

Lake Michigan

Chicago was boiling, with a dryish 90-99 degree summer heat. We took the blue line, and transferred to the brown elevated line which had some good over views of the city before exiting at Fullerton. All the stations had disabled elevators which made dragging the luggage trolley straightforward, but then we had to negotiate a sweltering stretch in the sunshine, with no food and then when we crossed a six way junction and tried to get into Macdonalds, Christine cut her thumb nearly though to the fat in the entrance door.

Several scenes of Chicago from the elevated brown line

The Chicago Getaway Hostel (left) and Arlington houses and street

After a couple of Big Mac hamburgers and doing emergency dressing we struggled on the four blocks to the Chicago Getaway Hostel, which was a combination of Chicago prices $79 US for a double, a free breakfast, lots of party party activities and a slightly decaying hotel building with few toilets and spring doors almost impossible to get through.

Real vegetables in the supermarket at last!

The immediate neighbourhood main street

In the morning we took a walk through the well-to-do northern neighbourhood to the North Pond in the park by Lake Michigan, getting caught in an absolutely wild thunderstorm in a gazebo in the park with massive lightning strikes right over the tops of us and winds strong enough to blow rain right through the building we were sheltering in.

Trapped by a wild thunder storm in the park

After a lunch and retrieving our baggage, we struggled back to the metro, catching the subway back to the airport. We slightly missed out on the best way of doing this. Instead of taking the brown line which does a reverse loop around the central city and is partly, elevated giving further good views, we took the first train coming, a red line one which cut through the central city underground.

Panorama of Chicago from the North Pond

In any event we only made it out to the airport in time to check in with a very courteous American Airlines agent giving us three seats together in the centre aisle to stretch our legs and finding that if I discarded my crutches and hobbled through the security gate my hip didn't actually set off the sensors avoiding a full body scan.

The flight was pleasant and the food was good although characteristically for AA even on an international flight, they charged a staunch fee for any alcoholic beverages unheard of on any other carrier we have experienced.

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