Music, movies, and the Chicago Au Pairs

It was one of those days where almost everything that happened was unplanned. You see, even though my typical schedule is all over the place, most of my days are relatively structured: wake up, be productive, eat lunch, walk the dogs, be productive again, eat dinner.

But this particular day veered off that routine right after I completed the very first task of waking up.

Somebody else’s stuff. 

I love estate sales and there was one close to my house. It was advertised as having lots of clocks and, well, I love clocks. I didn’t buy anything but I spent a lot of tiiiime there. 😉


Bark BnB.

Soon after I left the estate sale I was contacted through for a last second boarding from a repeat customer, starting that same day for one night. My schedule was flexible enough to say yes and I wanted to do it, even though you might’ve already read that I have a hard time saying no.

Under a shade tree.

The next unplanned event was my friend coming over for a late afternoon outdoor movie. We set up in the back of her pick-up truck, ready for the featured movie, Mulan! It was awesome! My dogs and our guest dog lounged around in the back yard while Mulan saved China.

Playin’ the blues.

After my friend left, I got ready to meet another friend for a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Taj Mahal and Keb Mo delighted the crowd for almost 2 hours with fantastic blues music, and yes, there was a harmonica. Such talent on that stage! This pic was taken after the opener, just before the lights went down for the headliners.


The Chicago au pairs.

Afterwards, I walked down Broadway and over the pedestrian bridge. Lots of people on the bridge taking pictures, chatting, and a group playing a board game (okkkk?). At the bottom of the bridge was a suspicious gang huddled on the sidewalk. While they could’ve had guns and knives and pounced on me, they’re weapons were actually cute accents, luggage, and happiness. It turns out they had been waiting a long time for their Uber ride, who never showed up! #UberFail

They kindly asked if I could give them a ride to their hotel so I thought, why not? If they really were going to steal my money they still wouldn’t have enough for an Uber ride. 🙂 So we piled in my car and set off to their hotel.

We chatted about all sorts of things and it was so fun! I was hoping they wouldn’t realize how much of a dork I am. Hey, I did play Macklemore from one of my Spotify playlists so that bought me a few more minutes, right? I learned they are all au pairs living in Chicago but their accents are from all over the world… take a listen:

We made it to their hotel without incident, said our goodbyes, and then I drove home, ears still ringing from all the music that night.

A day full of unpredicted fun but sometimes that is the best kind, right? Hope you’ve had a weekend full of fun whether it was planned or not!

-Out of the Wilderness


Hotel Reviews: The W in Chicago, Illinois

January 2011

If you have the opportunity to visit Chicago, do it. Even at the start of a cold January, the city was great. I’m a warm weather kind of guy, so I need to visit in the summer, as well, but from the food to the sights to the history of the city, I was impressed with all it had to offer. If you’re looking for a good burger, try Kuma’s Corner. Another good restaurant is the Weber Grill Restaurant (little known fact: Weber brand grills began in Chicago). If you’re looking for a great tour, try Chicago Trolley Company. They offer a 15 stop tour on a double decker bus all around Chicago. Ask for Lance Romance to be your tour guide, he’s great. If you’re looking for a great view of the city, try the Sky Deck in the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). You won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a pleasant hotel, I would not recommend the W on Lake Shore Drive, near the Navy Pier.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon to begin a four day work trip in Chicago. After unpacking my gear, I was ready for a short siesta. I went to close the drapes and learned there are none. Only transparent shades that block maybe half the light coming in. There’s no way to make the room completely dark. Overlooking that and still attempting to rest a bit, I climbed in the king size bed and it was comfortable for the most part. I like having a lot of pillows and the bed offered me plenty. Unfortunately, I found a few strands of hair on the bed. I chalked it up as the maid’s and I overlooked that, too. What I couldn’t overlook, or more specifically, overhear was the sound of construction across the street. To me, there’s nothing worse than the shrill clang of hammers hammering, large drills drilling, and big trucks backing up when I’m trying to sleep. Beep beep beep… and on it went. I’ll give the W the benefit of the doubt, since it was out of their control.

After my short nap, it was time to get ready for the events of the evening. What does that mean? A visit to the shower fairy. My room offered a walk-in shower (no door) and a rain-style shower head. While I like the idea of warm water falling all around me, this shower was not that. If warm rain was a great dane, this was a min pin. The water fell in an eight inch radius and the best way I can describe it is this: if your right side was warm, your left side wasn’t. If you’re front was warm, you’re backside wasn’t. It was impossible for your whole body to be comfortable all at the same time because there wasn’t enough water to make it happen. And if you’re like me, I wash my hair and face with a cooler temperature than I wash my body, but with the water coming straight down from above, I either had to duck my head out or keep the water on a cooler temp. Neither idea was enjoyable. There was no bathtub. Free internet was not offered in the rooms, however it was offered in the hotel lobby.

To be fair, there were some attractive things about my stay in the W. My room offered an mp3 plugin to play my iPod through the room stereo, which helped drowned out the sound of construction. They had a complimentary robe for me to get comfortable in, which I did. While showering took some effort, the water was pleasantly hot. And they offer a complimentary service called “Whatever/Whenever.” This service included free rides provided by Acura to anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. “Whatever/Whenever” also included free movie rentals (using the in-room dvd player). The hotel also extended a free printer service for all your document printing needs.

mp3 plugin
walk-in shower
“Whatever/Whenever” service
hot water
free printing

construction noise
walk-in shower, no door
rain water shower head
free internet only in lobby
no bathtub
no window shades

To sum up, if all you’re looking for is a large bed to sleep in, the W should be just fine. However, if you’re looking for an escape, a place to relax and forget the troubles of “the real world,” the W is not the hotel for you. Too many little frustrations that won’t sit well with you. Thanks for reading and let me know if you agree/disagree or have a different experience at this hotel in Chicago.

Personalities: Indiana Jones of the South(west Airlines)

The friend that’s in town one weekend and out the next. This guy/girl is a bit mysterious, and is attractive to the opposite sex because of their adventurous nature and limited availability.

I live in a city with a higher percentage of IJSs (Indiana Jones of the Souths) than most cities in America. Other cities with higher than average numbers are Los Angeles, New York City, and possibly Chicago and Austin. These high rates are due in most part to the cities being a hub for the entertainment industry. I’d make an educated guess that cities with professional sports teams also have higher rates of IJSs if research includes professional athletes during their active seasons. If you know someone who is involved in music, television, or sports, you know what I mean when I say these characters can be both frustrating and attractive at the same time. The reason I don’t include the sales industry in this description is because often times those people travel because the have to, IJSs travel because they want to. That’s a gigantic difference, and Southwest Airlines thanks them. The meaning of the “Indiana Jones” label is simply because of the adventurous side of these people. Anyone who is willing to, and enjoys, being on the road more than being at home craves adventure at some level. The wild side of the IJSs is part of what makes them attractive. It was the adventurous, mystery of Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” that solidified Harrison Ford as a star around the world and made that franchise one of the most successful.

Another key characteristic of an IJS is “limited availability.” Like the Nintendo Wii in 2006. When demand outpaced supply, it created a stronger desire to have one. People want what they can’t have. Like the single girl that lands a boyfriend and all of the sudden, other guys want her, too.

These people thrive on adventure. Words that are not in an IJSs vocabulary: suit, tie, desk job, routine, lazy, boring.