I returned on Thursday from a 10-day trip to Chicago, Dec 24 to Jan 3. It was a pretty good trip.

There’s a longstanding tradition of Christmas dinner at the home of my high-school buddy Forrest’s mother. This is one of my main reasons for flying up to Chicago for the holidays. My sister Lissy and I went this year. It was kind of a let-down. None of my peers were there except for Forrest’s brother Hamilton, who I don’t really get along with. The tradition of going bowling after dinner was also broken, though Lissy and I did drive past the Waveland Bowl alley and made obeisance as we passed.

For much of my trip, I crashed at Lissy’s new apartment, a basement unit with heated floors in Old Town. Pretty cozy, and it’s fun mapping out the hot-spots in the floor.

There’s an exhibit of Van Gogh and Gauguin going on at the Art Institute right now (I am tempted to call this Van Gogh Gauguin a-go-go). I walked down from Lissy’s, got there at 10:30 AM, and discovered that show was sold out for the whole day. Oh well. I figured I could buy tickets over the phone for a later date if I wanted to. I decided to go for a walk instead. I wound up going for a really long walk, which is one of my favorite things to do in Chicago. I took a zigzag course all the way up to my old address at Roscoe and Halstead, then zigzagged down to the building where I grew up on St James Pl, and finally worked my way back to Lissy’s. I was back before she was off work for the day, so I stopped into a nearby coffee shop, found a copy of the Onion (cool!), and made myself quite content with that and a big latte. My feet were sore. My father estimated I walked 15 miles, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

Saw Lord of the Rings on this trip. Good movie. I was just finishing up the trilogy around the time I saw it, so that was good timing. It was uncanny how closely some of the images matched the mental images I formed reading the book–Gandalf, the giant statues on the river, Weathertop, Moria, etc. Some things were different than I imagined, but in many cases, more impressive. Also saw Monsters, Inc on this trip, which was a great movie. Finally, I went to an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass art at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. This was a high point of the trip–the art was fantastic, and the setting was genius. I took some pictures.

New Year’s Eve was spent at a friend-of-a-friend’s place. I was invited along sort of as a tag-along guest, I suppose. It was OK, but nothing memorable. New Year’s Day was my folks’ typical bash, with a vast quantity of good food. Chili, turkey, various salads, dips, and sauces, numerous deserts. I ate a lot.

Travel was uneventful, but had the strict security checks that are now de rigeur. I set off the metal detector at O’Hare even though the only metal on me was the zippers and rivets in my jeans and boots, and my eyeglasses–no keys or change or anything like that. Of course, there’s some metal in me too, but that’s never set anything off. I think the metal detector was calibrated to be too sensitive.

Anyhow, it’s good to be home.