Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Chicago, Illinois—Day 185

Today I flew in from Milwaukee at the wonderful hour of 6 a.m., meaning that I had to be up and ready to go to the airport at 5 o’clock. When my alarm went off at 4:30, my dreams were telling me to throw whatever was making that god awful sound under the bed, but then I realized that it was my alarm and that I had to get up.

The hotel had arranged for a taxi to take the to the airport and he was even early, so when I dragged my bags downstairs he was practically there waiting for me. He tried to make conversation as we drove to the airport, but I was so tired and out of it that I could barely show any enthusiasm.

At the airport, I checked in and made it through security and sat and waited with my other fellow passengers to board the flight. We did and were told that this time around the flight was only going to be 15 minutes long! Now that’s a record. So basically we boarded and about 5 minutes later it was time to “prepare the cabin for arrival.” The ride was pretty calm until we had this huge gust of air that made the whole itty bitty plane swing like a pendulum from side to side. I immediately sank down in my chair and gripped the armrests and clenched my eyes shut as we swayed back and forth two times before settling horizontally again. As we approached the runway we rocked back and forth just that much that made me feel like one of our wings would hit the runway but amazingly we landed and with a huge slam on the brakes, skidded into safety.

My bag took forever to come. Probably because I was the only person on the entire flight that had only gone from Milwaukee to Chicago. So I waited and waited and just when I got in line for the missing baggage counter, I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye. The woman just smiled at me as I picked up my things, put away my luggage ticket number and grabbed my bag off of the carousel.

The guy at the taxi cab stand was pretty funny, shooing away these two young business guys who were trying to cut in line in front of me, telling them “Man, this is the LADY’S cab, yo! What you tryin’ to do, cut in front of her? Man!” I just smiled as he helped me into my taxi. The taxi ride down to the downtown area of Chicago was actually pretty smooth and there was hardly any traffic considering we were trying to get right into the down town area during rush hour. I checked in and took a quick nap since I was going to meet up with Richard (who just so happens to be in Chicago at the same time as me!) and his son Adam (my friend who connected me with his Dad in the first place) a little bit later on in the morning.

By 10 o’clock I had had a nap, a shower and was on my way to Adam’s apartment which turned out to be just a few blocks from my hotel. I found it and had the doorman call up to Adam’s apartment to inform them of my arrival. I got up to the 35th floor and walked out and couldn’t find any indication of what the room numbers would be and which way to walk out of the elevator. So I had to walk right up to a door and check out the number then to the one next to it to see if I was even close to Adam’s. Luckily Adam’s was the second one that I checked so I knocked and Adam appeared and let me into his really cool apartment overlooking Lincoln Park.

After showing Adam the pictures of the hippo conference, Richard and I were on our way to the zoo. We had Adam’s car and his nifty GPS system to guide us and we made it to the Brookfield Zoo with no problems. We paid for parking and headed into the zoo.

Luckily the hippos weren’t too far from the entrance and we arrived only to find the two of them completely submerged in the water, coming up every so often for a breath of air. They moved over to the beach area of their enclosure and to our luck got a little bit out of the water, just enough to get a partial body view of them, which is much better than just the nose for sure!
So we stood and watched and finally decided to go in search of their names. We headed to their inside enclosure, which also housed the rhinoceroses and the elephants, but couldn’t find anything about what the hippos’ names were. Richard started to head back to the hippos but then spotted a guy who was apparently coming towards me. I had my sunglasses on inside (completely forgetting to take them off) and couldn’t for the life of me see what Richard was gesturing. He was shouting my name and waving so I thought he wanted me to come over to him. So I did but then he asked if I had talked to the keeper that had just walked past me. Oh.

So I raced back in and found a door near the elephants that had to have some keepers in it since it looked like a storage room AND I could hear voices. So I waited and sure enough, three keepers walked out. I stopped them and asked them about the hippos and they told me that their names are Hansel (male, father) and Wicket (female, daughter). They also told me that they (the keepers) were heading out on their lunch break and that the hippos would not be fed for quite some time (or as they put it, “not any time soon, that’s for sure.”

So I headed back out to Hansel and Wicket’s enclosure and told Richard of the news. Wicket and Hansel hadn’t moved while we were gone. So we watched some more and the heat began to intensify. It was just boiling hot, with all of the humidity, and it was beginning to feel just dreadful. Everyone was feeling it, and feeling envious of the hippos that were lying so happily in the water. Several people commented on how they could just jump the fence and jump in with the hippos and I just smiled and shook my head at them. Even one guy told his little granddaughter who must have been about three that he was going to pick her up and throw her in, and I turned around to see him pick her up while she burst into giggles. Richard had gone off in search of drinks and I continued to watch Hansel and Wicket who had decided to move from the beach area back under the tree, which meant that they were completely submerged again.

Eventually they finally moved back to the beach area and I was able to get some cool pictures of them with several logs that were in front of their beach area. Richard returned with the drinks and I went off in search of the keepers again to see about feeding (it was now about an hour and a half later) and found a girl cleaning the inside hippo enclosure. She told me that the hippos were not going to be fed until “much much later on in the day” and I checked my watch. It was now almost 2 o’clock. I walked back out and told Richard and we decided that the pictures that we had were going to be just fine for what we needed since we already have a lot of hippos during feeding time. So we headed back out of the zoo and got back into the car (which was absolutely roasting) and turned on the air conditioner full blast. We readjusted the GPS system and headed back into downtown Chicago.

We stopped off for gas and then at Sam’s Liquor Store where one of the Hippolotofus Members works. We thought we would sort of surprise him and just say hi but unfortunately it was his day off so he wasn’t there. So we headed back to my hotel where Richard dropped me off and agreed to meet up later for dinner, along with Adam and his two brothers Eric and Tyler.

I went back to my room to drop off my things, headed out to find some lunch. I then stopped off at a Barnes and Noble for a bit before heading back to the hotel and calling the Cohens for dinner. We met up at a restaurant that was also not too far from my hotel. I had heard a lot about the brothers Eric and Tyler from Adam throughout college, and also from Richard, and it was quite the time seeing the four all together. After dinner they dropped me back off at my hotel and I stayed in working on the pictures from the zoo today.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.