Windy City Stories: The Arrival

Words: Mark Aquino
Images: Mark Enriquez | JD Lazaro | Mark Aquino

 

It was a cold February afternoon when I got a phone call from Mark. “We’re going to Chicago for Wekfest”. It was too soon, I didn’t plan on going to the Windy City this year but the best trips are those that go unplanned.

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It was 3 AM when my alarm went off. I woke up in a warm apartment in Fairfax, VA. The fan in the room continued to spin as I help myself up from the comfortable sectional in the living room. I wait for Mark and JD to wake up. Everyone seemed to be stuck in a state of temporary daze. Maybe it’s because of the 4 hour sleep, it could be the excitement or the realization that the day has come for our 12 hour drive to the Midwest.

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We pack the car, utilizing every inch of the small Evo X trunk. Our first stop of the journey was half a mile away at a local gas station. JD and I begin to calibrate the cameras and started our coverage that very moment. JD is a long time friend of ours, you may know him as Twreck Films, a sight to see at car shows and a very talented individual.

 

The weather wasn’t cooperating, we were welcomed with showers and gloomy weather from Ohio to Indiana. We didn’t falter nor were we discouraged. The ride was smooth this far, our beats were provided by an iHome Bluetooth speaker. We’ve had it with the ever changing radio stations. As noon struck, hunger sets in. We stop at a rest area somewhere in Ohio. Like kids back in elementary, we pull out our lunch bags – complete with spoons, forks and napkins. The lunch special for the day was cooked and prepared by Dianne. She definitely made sure no one starved, not on this trip. The aroma of Adobo and Rice slithered through the dining area and three hungry pinoys chowed down the last spoonful of delicious and savory chicken with lean pork. We continue our journey as JD and I fell into our post-meal siesta. Mark on the other hand had no choice but to chug a bottle of 5 hour energy to get him going.

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The last leg of our journey consisted of miles and miles of traffic around Chicago’s highways. After 12 long hours, we finally reached our destination. We stayed in Elmhurst, somewhere in the suburbs. I found out that we’ve been in the area the year before for a meet. As we got out of the car, the wind gave hints of coldness. We left Virginia in mid 70s weather and we arrived wearing sweaters and hoodies. Nevertheless, at least the sun was out to provide us with its warmth; gently radiating heat into the cold.

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We were invited by our good friend Ricky Cariaga, to some beer and steaks. After getting settled in our suite, we drove to his house located North of Chigago. With a lot of food on the table, we had to get them cooking. Mark fired up the kitchen stove and demonstrated his culinary skills as he served us some steak. Ricky on the other hand started the outdoor grill and got the sausages grilling. We enjoyed the food, the conversations, the drinks and the company of good people. It’s amazing how people connect and start friendships over hobbies.

We drove back to the hotel and finally laid down in our comfortable beds (while JD had a pull out couch). It was a really good trip this far, we got our first taste of Midwestern hospitality and we were looking forward to the next day’s activities.

Stay tuned as we wander Chicago’s streets and eats.

 

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