Thursday morning I begin the "airport travel ritual" -- suitcase on wheels; soft-sided carry bag and laptop bag (about 40 pounds of leather and technology) on the #215 bus at 8am; transfer to the red line (subway) at Ashmont -- take the subway to Downtown Crossing; over to the Orange line; then transfer to the Blue line, and then board the #22 airport loop bus to take me to Terminal B (US Airways.) The 15 minute car ride is perverted into a one hour trip on public transit; but you don't have to pay $25/day for parking at the airport!
To my surprise, both flights to Chicago were on-time! I actually was there slightly ahead of time! I popped onto the blue line "L" train and took it into Clark/Lake and walked to the Hyatt from there... Traveling with all the luggage was a bit tiring; upon arriving at the hotel, I noticed that the "Big Bar" (the hotel's main bar)
was already filling up with leathermen. I checked in; and as I was, got a call from Bob telling me that his flight from Rochester was delayed due to bad weather and he would be late.
Now, unlike my Rochester post -- the entire weekend in Chicago was spent at the Hyatt Hotel, except for Monday night. The hotel was huge, and there was always a party going on somewhere.
Bob and I RSVPed for the MANHUNT
party on Friday night. We were among the first to show up. As the party got busier, Bob and I lent a hand at running the bar (which was unmanned) -- people started tipping us; and we ended up bar tending for the 100+ folks at the party for the next couple of hours. We made over $150 in tips! How unexpected and fun! It was a great way to meet people at the party, as well as make some spare change for a night out!
Saturday was the day I needed to work two security shifts for the Leather Marketplace. Remember: This is the same leather market that I used to bring my store in Rochester (R.C.L.) to every year; so believe me, it's much more fun going to the leather market when you don't have to
lug over $1,000,000.00 in leather goods, equipment, displays and employees 1/2 way across North America! Working security pretty much means a three hour shift posted at the entrance to the market, checking wristbands and/or id badges. In between my two shifts, I went to the BuzzedHard
party. I got my hair and chest hair trimmed down quite a bit!! I worked my second shift, then chilled out in my room for a little while before going to the Onyx
The Onyx party and the Kennel Club
were right next to each other; and both were loads of fun!!
I went back to the Big Bar around midnight, but my energy levels started to drop as I arrived. As I arrived, it was evident that the younger folks in the crowd started dropping their eXtasy, which is always a good sign that it's time to go to bed. 20-somethings in leather and fetish wear, hopped up on 'X' and testosterone is not a pretty sight when you're almost 40.
I wanted to go up to the observation deck in the Sears Tower
and to the Leather Archives and Museum
on Sunday, however, the weather was NOT cooperative. It was pouring. I spent the day shopping in the marketplace (got a GREAT pair of boots, but could not find a new motorcycle jacket.) I stopped by the Bootblacks and got a nice shine on my old boots from one of the contestants.
Sunday night I just hung out at the Big Bar and hopped from place to place within the hotel -- I met a lot of nice folks! As the contestants from IML were returning to the hotel from the contest, word got around that Mr. Washington won the contest. Honestly, the contest itself is not an attraction for me (nor 70% of the people coming to IML), we tend to treat IML more like a huge leather convention.
On Monday, Bob was returning home -- we had brunch and said our goodbyes. I went to Chris' room to drop off my stuff and take a much needed nap. I was awoken about two hours later by a knocking on the door. Five guys were in the hall greeting me by saying "we're the five tops that Chris sent up to take care of you!" ;-) In actuality, they were there to drop their stuff off in the room for safe-keeping.
Chris, Adam and I went out for dinner at Joey Buona's for authentic Chicago Deep-dish Pizza. Yum! Later that night, Chris and his friends headed out to the "Black & Blue Ball" (a huge rave/dance party) -- while I went to the Chicago Eagle
to have a few cocktails before heading to bed early (I had a 5am wake-up call coming!) I got back to the hotel by midnight and went asleep in no time.
On Tuesday, I flew home -- sleeping almost all the way... Another IML was over for the year...