Saturday, July 1, 2017

"Not all those who wander are lost." - Chicago



My students on the last day of school gave me this beautiful journal in a travel bag with a ton of travel essentials. This thoughtful gift reminds me that no matter where we go or how long it takes to get there, we'll have an experience to remember. That's exactly how it felt in Chicago as we wandered without direction but always finding our way and a few laughs.

Cue the alarm at 1:30 am on Wednesday June 28th. We begrudgingly got out of bed, packed up the car and started our 11 hour drive to Chicago, Illinois at around 3 am. We took turns driving and sleeping on our sleeping platform in the back of the car which has turned out to be a saving grace on these long days on the road. We arrived in Chicago around 1 pm, dropped off our stuff and headed out for a Chicago style lunch at the famous Portillo's. The beers were local and huge, as was the food. Greg indulged in a Chicago staple: the Italian beef sandwich. (Side note: We are food obsessed and made it point to try everything Chicago in the two short days we were there - and there begin my regrets).

After a huge lunch I suggested going for a run to explore the city. Greg, the ever optimist and yes man in my life, agreed. According to his calculations (he is a physics teacher after all), Wrigley Field was only 4 miles away from our hotel! No way! We'll run there and take an Uber back. Perfect way to spend our limited time seeing the city, getting in a work out and still making it back in time for our dinner reservations. Except nothing is ever that easy. We ran along Lake Michigan which was beautiful even on the cloudy day we had. About 2.5 miles in I asked Greg how much further? He got out his GPS, laughed, smirked at me the way he does when he doesn't want me to get mad and said, 3.5 miles. So, our 4 mile run turned out to be about 6. In Greg's defense, running along the lake instead of through the city made for a less direct, but beautiful route. Wrigley Field was a site to see, even for someone less interested in Baseball as it is the 2nd oldest stadium in the U.S. We checked out a few bars in Wrigleyville where, on game days, you can actually see into the stadium from some of their rooftops.

For our anniversary (coming up in July) Greg's parents made us dinner reservations and got us a very generous gift card for the Famous "Lawry's- The Prime Rib". There are only 5 in the nation , one being in Chicago and another in California. Greg's parents, while living in California, would celebrate their wedding anniversary at Lawry's every year. The place was beautiful in it's old fashion decor and charm. The waitresses wore dresses reminiscent of housemaid's uniforms and all had name tags that read their last name. "Mrs. Smith". The menu was simple. A few prime rib options, a filet, a fish and a vegetarian. They started us with their spinning salad (they actually spun the salad bowl while pouring in the dressing) and then served us the meat right from a traveling meat carving station. Everything was delicious.

Thursday, our only full day in Chicago - we walked almost 10 miles around the city, doing every tourist thing possible. We got deep dish pizza for lunch (I'm still having dreams about it) and then walked around the city. Navigator Greg had us on a mission and, though we didn't always know where we were going or misjudged how long it would take us to get there - we saw everything we wanted to see and even some things we didn't know existed. We walked down Magnificent Mile - the stretch in downtown Chicago with every high end store, restaurant and building. Photographer Greg took photos of the skyline from almost every angle. I've included a few that are particularly cool.

We went to Millennium Park, home of "Cloud Gate", more commonly known as the bean. Let me tell you - pictures do not do this thing justice. I initially brushed it off as something you have to see in Chicago just to see it. It is amazing, capturing the City skyline in its incredibly reflective surface. You can find yourself in its reflection no matter where you stand and going underneath it is like a fun house of distorted images. We walked some more around Millennium Park - full of architecture and art (see more pictures below) before making our way to Navy Pier. (With a pit stop on the River Walk for a refreshing beverage and to rest our already aching feet).

Buckingham Fountain
Crown Fountain - faces of people of Chicago appear and kids play in the water

After a very long walk, we made it to the Navy Pier. We were pretty tired by this point but we walked along the Lake and enjoyed the scenery before deciding to go home. There were tons of shops, restaurants and beer stands, which we took advantage of, grabbing a drink at the stands as we walked along the pier. It was here that I realized how windy the Windy City could be.
Greg surprising me with his selfie taking abilities on our new camera - I never thought we'd be in the frame of this photo.

We walked back to the hotel, rounding out our 10 mile day, rested and headed out to a dive bar for some more local flavor, then getting Greg a Chicago style hot dog as a post meal bonus and myself a milkshake. We eventually passed out around 10pm, exhausted from a long and full day. More pictures below of all the things we saw.

Chi-town, thanks for letting us wander. While we did in fact get slightly lost almost every time we stepped out of our hotel, we always found something awesome along the way.

Mount Rushmore - Here we come!

Walking across  BP Bridge

running to Wrigley

Running along Lake Michigan

Amphitheater in Millennium Park

1 comment:

  1. Kelly and Greg, best of luck on your journey! I road tripped cross country twice in my younger days, once just me and my dog Dakota. I still cherish those memories. Enjoy every moment! Jason Hopp