The Worlds Outside Our Hotel Windows

Chicago River!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: back in April my wife and I attended C2E2 in Chicago. Rather than stay in the adjacent hotels where all the drunken partying happens, which has nothing to with us, instead I found a nice deal through AAA to stay at the positively luxurious Swissotel Chicago, just north of Millennium Park. Our 26th-floor room had the largest windows we’ve ever seen in a hotel room from the inside. To the northeast of us, that’s the Chicago River down below. In the distance you’ll note the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier out on on Lake Michigan. Grandiose stuff.


The room was spacious and lovely. The staff was courteous above and beyond. But without the AAA deal, we couldn’t afford to stay here. The restaurants were upscale and would’ve required us to pack extra baggage with nicer clothing than our usual convention T-shirts or else barred us at the door. The valet parking alone cost us more than some small-town Quality Inns. AAA didn’t assist with that part, nor did their website mention it. Loved the amenities, but this may have been a one-time experience.

But oh, that one-time view of bustling Chicago below our window.


Fast-forward one month later. Tonight we’re in vastly different Toledo, Ohio — not so much our destination as our base camp for activities we’ve planned tomorrow across the border. Again, we’re avoiding other people’s parties in favor of personal space and serenity. Our chain hotel is cheaper than anyplace in downtown Chicago, but the room is surprisingly the same size, with dozens of square feet, two TVs, the nicest firm bed I’ve tried in years, and even an “iHome” setup, whatever the heck that is. Frankly, I feel more at home and less out-of-place here.

But oh, that view out our window. I, uh…


Obviously comparing the Windy City to the Rust Belt is mean and unfair, apples and oranges. To us it’s just the jarring juxtaposition of the two experiences.

Consider also the nighttime views. Chicago twinkles and sparkles and begs to go on a postcard. If I’d swiveled farther to our left, this photo would’ve been an invasive look inside the glass-walled apartments next door.

Chicago Night!

Meanwhile, Toledo at night gives some shiny reflections off the giant industrial puddle, while the delivery docks blink red and green even with their keepers in absentia. Maybe it’s a sort of urban visual poetry?

Toledo Night!

If we’d been assigned a room at the front of the hotel, our view would be the racetrack across the street. Funny how we drove 250 miles from Indianapolis today to escape Indy 500 fever, only to find ourselves within walking distance of yet another track.

…let me just bask in that Chicago view one more time before returning to our present-day industrial chic.


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