I love returning to a city that I am familiar with, particularly one where I have intimate knowledge. This is one of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to attend a blogger bootcamp called BlogHouse - it was hosted in Chicago.
Little did I know when I sent in my application, that I would be captain of a ship on the mighty Chicago River.
Okay, maybe “captain of a ship” is a bit much, but when the BlogHouse folks asked for two volunteers to captain a boat, I said sure, why not. I, honestly, thought it was an honorary title. I mean, who puts a boating novice in charge of a boat, of any size, on the busy Chicago River?
Apparently, Chicago Electric Boat Company does.
And, that is how I found myself next to Cailin from Travel Yourself, both of us donning a dapper captains’ hat, watching a safety video on how to navigate the Chicago River.
I have taken river cruises before in Chicago, with one of my favorites being the Architectural Boat Tour, but this was entirely different. A small boat, for about 12-15 people, low to the water, being captained by one of the group. What could go wrong?
I received an instructional briefing, while the others in the group happily dug into the beer cooler on board, generously donated by Goose Island.
I was under strict rules not to drink while navigating the river. I was fine with that. I felt a lot of pressure to keep all my fellow travel bloggers safe. I tried to act all confident, but in fact, I really had no idea what I was doing.
I occasionally attempted to regal the group with interesting Chicago River stories, along with other Chicago resident, Lisa, from LL World Tour. After all, every other Chicago River boat tour I took always had a tour guide. I felt I just HAD to be the captain and the river guide, all wrapped into one. But, I knew my primary responsibility was just that - to be a responsible boat captain, avoiding the giant ferries, tour boats, and water taxis that seemed to be everywhere on the river that night.
The group chit catted, bonded, and got to know one another - really the point behind the field trip. Some of them took photos for me, and took photos with me, so at least I felt part of the group - even if I was sans beer.
For those on board who were knew to Chicago, it was certainly an amazing experience. They kept sticking their head up through the roof to snap photos, as we slowly meandered past the Opera House, Trump Tower, and the Wrigley Building.
As the sun started to dip behind the Chicago skyline, and the summer temperatures dropped quickly in the Windy City, I was ready to join my group in some refreshments, and pretty much demanded that margaritas be served to me immediately. I was thrilled to have seen the Chicago River from a new perspective, but was also ready for my captain duties to come to an end.
Would you captain a boat full of travel bloggers on a major waterway??