The breakfast choice is even more limited than yesterday: scrambled eggs with bits in and French toast. I add some extra cheese to the scrambled eggs. It's no substitute for bacon.
After my breakfast disappointment, I scrape together my sorry possessions and check out. There’s no –one from the hotel to grab me a cab. And none seem to be passing by. Then I notice a row of them at the next junction. It’s a taxi rank. I shuffle over the street and jump in one.
“The airport, please.”
Bagless, I’ve soon my boarding card in hand. The annoying security shit is relatively quick, thankfully. But I don’t have much time before boarding. Especially as I forget there’s a driverless train thing to whisk you out to the gates, all weirdly distant from the terminal. The walk wastes a good 5 or 6 minutes of valuable drinking time.
Where can I get a drink? There, I guess.
I haul my sorry arse onto a barstool at Outback Steakhouse, an Australian-themed, er, steakhouse.
“A double bourbon, please.”
“Which one would you like, Knob Hill, Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace.”
“Give me a Maker’s Mark.”
I don’t have a huge amount of time before my flight. Only time for a couple of bourbons. I board almost as soon as I get to the gate.
My flight is on time at least today. Not very full, either. The window seat next to me is unoccupied, allowing me to get some good shots of Chicago as we approach O’Hare.
With no bag to collect, it’s straight through to landside to grab a Joe. I’m soon immersed in that world of beige that makes up US suburban sprawl.
I’m in the same hotel on the Magnificent Mile. It’s nice to be at the heart of things. And it wasn’t even particularly expensive, given the location.
It’s pretty chilly out. Much cooler than Cincinnati. Not in the good sense. So much so that I need to zip up my coat. The fact it’s very windy doesn’t help.
I stroll down to the Clark Street Ale House. I'm feeling lazy and it isn't far. It's quite raucous, but at least it's the sound of human voices, mostly, not some shitty music. Though there is music playing. Get it on. Sweet Emotion. Not heard Aerosmith in years. I detect a 70's theme to the sounds. I'm OK with that. I am a child of that decade.
I start with the ludicrously-named Spiteful God Damn Spiteful Pigeon Porter (6.2% ABV). It’s pretty much black, without much in the way of head troubling it. Roasty in a coal-like way. Not bad, though.
The crowd is mostly young things. Other than the dogs, whom I guess count as no more than adolescent. Many of the young things are drinking macro beer straight from the bottle. Maybe the dogs have more sophisticated taste.
The beer list is pretty varied, with a good deal of Lagers: Dovetail, Stiegl, Weihenstephan and Ayinger. And there aren’t too many effing IPAs. Though obviously there are some fruited Gose abominations. And an inevitable NE IPA.
What next? 3 Floyds Thicc Bois (6% ABV). Another weird name. Described as an experime3ntal dry hop IPA with lactose. Speaking of abominations, I missed the lactose bit before I ordered. I can’t say I would have spotted the lactose. There’s a little lingering sweetness, but it tastes much like any other grapefruit IPA to me.
TVs are everywhere. But they’re showing a Cubs game, do I’ll let them off. I find it weirdly hypnotic, baseball. Very ritualistic. Maybe even more so than cricket. The players are well wrapped up. I don’t blame them. Not exactly short-sleeve weather.
I try to order a Gummy Vortex, but it’s just run out. I get a New Glarus The Hemperator Hemp Pale Ale (7% ABV). As she’s pouring it the barmaid says: “It smells like someone has been smoking a bong.”
“I know, I can smell it from here.” I reply.
Living in Amsterdam, I’m used to the smell of weed. The beer tastes like Dam Straat smells. Guess they’ve achieved what they’re after. Though, hang on. I though New Glarus didn’t distribute outside Wisconsin?
After a few beers, I leave. No food here and I'm getting peckish. I go to Jakes again. I slide my gut up to the bar and order a beer. Let's take a look at the menu. What do I fancy? A full meal, as it will be my only one of the day. A brisket platter sounds good. Meat and chips. What could be better than that? There's a tiny bowl of coleslaw to go with it. So tiny, it's clearly symbolic.
It looks like Kim Jung-Un at the end of the bar. Guess it probably isn’t, unless he has his double doing the hard work while he goes on the piss.
I'm taking things pretty easy, chilling in my hotel watching a Chicago White Socks game. Baseball is so relaxing. There's even less going on than in cricket. Been doing some writing, too. I just finished my first trip report.
When the baseball is done I flick randomly through the channels. Until I stumble on FX. An episode of The Americans is just starting. That'll do. It's quite nostalgic. Not the Cold War thing, particularly. It's set around the time I lived in the US. Did I really do that? It seems quite unreal now. I realise I wouldn't mind living over here again. For a year or so.
I get a bit peckish around half eleven and go downstairs to reception. They don’t sell any food here in the hotel and point me to an all-night Walgreens a couple of blocks away. I can’t be arsed to go back upstairs to get my coat and endure the cold, windy street in my shirtsleeves. Just as well Walgreens isn’t too distant.
It’s not particularly cheap. A sarnie sets me back over five dollars. The robbing bastards.
Sandwich wolfed down, I get some kip in. Even though I don’t need to be up early. I’ve arranged to be at Goose Island at 11.
Sleep creeps up softly on rubber soles and slips into bed beside me.
Clark Street Ale
742 N Clark St,
Chicago, IL 60654,.
Tel: +1 312-642-9253