Slept at: The ALA MIdwinter conference was held at the McCormick Place Convention Center, and when I first found out we would be staying at the Hyatt Regency attached to the facility, I was irritated. I learned in 2013 that the area around McCormick Place has practically nothing, which means you are dependent on the convention center and hotel for your meal if you don’t have time to get away to another part of the city. However, once I realized that I was going to Chicago in January, I got over myself. The giant blizzard that hit during the conference (about 20″ from Saturday night into the wee hours on Monday) only made me happier that this was the case – I didn’t have go anywhere the day the snow was the worst.
Ate at: I revisited a couple of places I’d enjoyed in the past, outlined below. Otherwise, I was eating at hotel and convention center restaurants and stands. Note that McCormick Place does have some decent options, assuming that the volume of people at your conference hasn’t’ totally overwhelmed the facility. I had a couple of pretty good salads and a nice coup of soup for lunches.
Public House: a friend and I had an awesome lady date here, splitting some delicious mussels and a salad, and making our own beer flights. Note that the vibe is less gastropubby and more bumpin’ on a Friday night. Even so, I was glad to get back.
Exchequer: I went here for what I thought would be a solo dinner one night, and set myself up at the bar with my book and a beer, and then enjoyed a salad and a pizza. Just as I was contemplating going back to my hotel, some friends started checking in, looking to meet up. So, I wound up having a great evening with a library school friend, the person who brought me to Exchequer the first time around, and her coworker, who is awesome. Good times!
The only other meal of note was Sunday night. As a result of the blizzard (and perhaps the Superbowl) an event we were hosting on Sunday night was a bust. So, we all made dinner out of the leftover cheese platter, roasted veggies and cured meats. Add some wine and that was a pretty good evening enjoying the comforts of my hotel room and watching Downton Abbey.
Getting around: I flew into Midway again. Having learned from the past, I took cabs between the airport and convention center. I believe they were about $25 or $30 fares. Pretty reasonable if you ask me! Since I had booked this flight after I knew I’d be living in DC by the time this conference rolled around, I flew out of DCA (Reagan National). Very easy to get to on the Metro and even easier for Handsome to come pick me up since I landed after rush hour cleared!
The only other detail of note is that I was finally able to use my TSA PreCheck clearance, which was wonderful. I flew at off times, so the lines were nonexistent, and the agents were waiting for me to dig out my ID, etc. If you travel at all frequently and you carry on, I highly recommend signing up for PreCheck. For the price of an $85 fee and a short trip to a TSA office, you will be able to speed through security lines for 5 years. (Do make sure your most frequently used airports and airlines are on board with the program first.)