Windy City Stories: Departures

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

It had been what seemed like a long day. I think I burned a good amount of calories just roaming the convention center. After the applause, the cheers and closing remarks, the gates opened up. It was time to head out. We had dinner reservations at Gyu Kaku – a restaurant specializing in Japanese BBQ located in Chicago. We parked our cars in a lot adjacent to the hotel and took the van and SUV into the city.


Gyu Kaku had a really nice setting, the giant doors and windows were opened to remind you that you were still in the windy city. The ambiance was relaxing, this was a place to bring a large crowd or companions for a good conversation over while cooking delicious cuts of beef. Our dinner was hosted by our friend Mark Yuen. It was a good dinner and a good night – conversing with good people while enjoying great food. The real discussion happened after dinner however but we can’t disclose that information.


We parted ways after dinner, said our farewells as all parties separate. We headed back to our hotel and called it a night. We had a long journey home the next day.


We started our trek back bright and early after breakfast. The journey was smooth this far, something had to go wrong – and it did. Six hours out with about 500 miles left to go, driving through Ohio, Mark felt his steering wheel vibrate abnormally. We quickly stopped on the side of the road to check on the tires. Alas, the driver front tire was flat. We quickly unloaded the trunk to get the spare tire and tools out. Adrenaline kicked in and we were able to swap the tires in no time on a really low car. With hazards on and a restricted speed we make it a rest stop. We tried to fill the flat tire with air but it leaked. We discovered pores on the sidewall where it was probably riding on. Instead, we had no choice but to limp home on the spare tire. We made sure that all tires were properly inflated and crept on the highway home. We stopped often to double check the tread wear on the spare tire as well as to check the tire pressure on the other three. The journey was intense, especially after we lost day light. We found out that one the Evo’s low beams didn’t work. We were half blind and crippled. We steadily drove through the night and eventually arrived home safe and sound. Our wounded warrior got us home.


This trip is definitely one to be remembered. The wrong exits, the roadside mishap, the millions of bad bumps we hit were all part of this memorable experience. I remembered Chicago as being bitterly cold along with bitter memories. Few weeks ago I left with a whole different perspective with joyful memories; I’ll keep it that way. I’ll be back. We’ll be back. We’d like to thank everyone for making our trip very enjoyable!

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