Solo (non) Daddery

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Aurora, IL, wearing slacks and a dress shirt, waiting for my 8:30 meet-up with colleagues to attend a training class at which I expect to learn little or nothing from the material — I’ll learn about what people learn about when attending this training.

KrisDi and the kids are at home. I took Monday off as a vacation day, and came in on an early flight on Sunday to give myself about a day and a half to putter about Chicagoland looking for beer and food.

First thing I did after leaving the airport was go to Portillo’s for an Italian beef sandwich. Then I went to Mikerphone and Une Année/Hubbard’s Cave, headed to my hotel, from which I Ubered to Off Color, then Half Acre, then walked to Spiteful, and Ubered back to the room. I texted Weesh updates periodically in case she felt like joining me for a beer (she didn’t).

The room was at Fieldhouse Jones, a strange, heavily sports-themed hotel. Aside from being poorly sound-insulated and having very noisy plumbing, it was a perfectly nice place to stay.

Monday morning, I woke up at 4 (not on purpose), checked out, and drove to Munster, Indiana, hoping to beat traffic. Mostly I did, except a tanker truck wrecked on the interstate just before the Indiana border, blocking all lanes of traffic. Myself and others got by on the shoulder. I have never seen a truck wrecked as badly as that one. I think it took out a quarter mile of guardrail.

At 5:45 AM in Munster, I didn’t have much to do. I checked email for a bit until the Riviera Restaurant opened. I very slowly ate way too much, and the local news told me that cleanup crews were going to have to close all lanes of the interstate (at least in one direction) for 10 hours to clear out the mess.

Then I had four hours to kill before Three Floyds opened. I drove around Munster and Dyer for a while, napped for a bit in a parking lot, got some coffee at a Dunkin Donuts, wandered around a couple liquor stores (and had a nice conversation about bourbon with the manager of the Cask and Cellar), then sat in the Three Floyds parking lot to read (finally finishing The Girl From The North, which I firmly do not recommend). I had a Scotch Egg (breakfast left me too full for a real lunch), went to Windmill and had a nice conversation with the server there (she got permission from the owner to sell me a four pack of Memes & Dreams straight off the canning line).

My next intended stop was One Trick Pony; Google said they opened at 3. I did the email thing for a while at a Dunkin Donuts. When I got to One Trick Pony, their door said they were closed. Their website said they opened at six. I gave up and headed to my hotel (it’s been a long time since I’ve had a long drive where the number of miles was pretty much equal to the number of minutes driving). I checked in, got some cold beer at a grocery store, picked up a pizza from Lou Malnati’s, and had dinner in the hotel. After confirming that I wasn’t going to meet up with colleagues, I visited Solemn Oath, and had a nice conversation with the bartender there, who was surprisingly familiar with my home town — she works for a logistics company that frequently uses some facility there when shipping things to and from Canada.

  • I was impressed with Une Année/Hubbard’s Cave. I really enjoyed the beer and the environment, and the other patrons brought out some impressive beers to share. The bartender was really excited about the beer, was engaged with customers (he seemed to know more than half of them). The people there were all beer people — you don’t stop in at this dingy looking place wedged into a strip mall between a dollar store and a Chinese restaurant because you want to look cool. I was horrified by the story the bartender was telling about one of the brewers having scalded himself by unknowingly opening a pressurized 180 degree water valve (sounds like he badly burned an arm, and I think he probably got lucky with that).
  • Off Color makes some interesting and good beer. I’m glad I stopped there. The vibe seemed more “downtown” — more crowds of young folks wanting a beer being tolerated by the staff (that’s actually a really good description of how I felt about the service).
  • I don’t think Windmill makes as good of beer (in general) as Half Acre or Three Floyds, but since I had never tried any of it and they had a couple beers that were really good, I really enjoyed this stop. The bartender was a young goofy girl who really liked the beer and was watching old sixties-era sci-fi/western TV). There were no other patrons.
  • Three Floyds still has some really good beer (Zombie Dust and Lazer Snake are my favorites right now), but doesn’t seem to have come up with anything new that is really interesting. It’s kind of a busy place.
  • Half Acre still has some good beer, but hasn’t wowed me with anything for a long time.
  • Solemn Oath makes solid beer, but nothing really impressed me. I liked the space and the vibe.
  • I liked Mikerphone, but wasn’t that impressed.
  • Spiteful was OK.

I had an interesting experience being on my own for a day and a half with no actual responsibilities besides deciding where to go next, when, and how to get there safely. I felt guilty — like I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing (or not doing something I was supposed to be doing), and someone was going to catch me and I was going to get in trouble.

I had a good time. I think I would have enjoyed it more with someone else (but I’m not totally sure, to be honest — I like spending time with people, but I really don’t feel like I get that much time to myself. It was nice to do what I wanted to do and not worry about what other people wanted. Selfish I suppose, or self-centered, or both, but still true.

Posted by snaotheus

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