Roooad Trip: Chicago

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So, after we wrapped things up in St. Louis, we hit the road for Chicago. Not only was it was my first time in Chicago, but we were also celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary (ca-razy!), so I was mucho excited-o.

Random note: we stopped at this gas station somewhere in Illinois (where we did NOT run out of gas this time, probably because I was doing the driving...). Anyway, this gas station bathroom smelled EXACTLY like my childhood dance studio. Like, JUST like it.

So, ANYWAY... Traffic was miserable once we got closer to the city, but we finally managed to make it out for the evening. (You should have SEEN the state of my car as we pulled into the Marriott and had it valeted. Car filled to the brim...blankets, jackets, coke bottles. Just a total mess after three days of driving. "A sewing machine? Why does this chick have a sewing machine in her trunk?") But I digress...again.

So we went to dinner at Weber Grill, where they cook all of your food over charcoals on the backyard style Weber grills. We had steaks, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cheese, wine... De-lish.

After dinner, we decided to hit up a piano bar that was just around the corner. When we first arrived, the pianist was playing jazz and not singing. The rest of the patrons were also a little...well... Let's just say if we were having an age contest, Tyler and I would've been the bottom 10th percentile...
Things eventually picked up though and everything morphed into the sing-along style piano bar we were hoping for. We can sing Billy Joel and Journey with the best of those senior citizens... We ended up having a great time. Random note: Our cocktail waitress talked EXACTLY (and I mean EXACTLY) like Heidi Klum. I kept hoping she'd pop out an "Auf Wiedersehen." (Didn't happen.)

So the next morning, we started things off bright and early with an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River (where, if we were having an Asian tourist contest, we would've been in the bottom 10th percentile). Not only is the river gorgeous, it was a great way to see the whole city within an hour-- no walking required. I was surprised at how pretty the city is.
We then went to Wrigleyville to check out the stadium. Very cool. (I'm remiss I didn't get a picture of the Harry Carry statue outside. Not a big Cubs fan...I just like the Will Ferrill SNL skits.)

We also hit up some spots in Lincoln Park, including Molly's Cupcakes. We had to do some crazy Austin Powers-style parking, all in the name of a cupcake.

I indulged in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcake and Tyler had a Keylime cupcake. Sounds delicious, right? They were okay. I give them huge points for the concept of injecting straight cookie dough into the center of the cupcake, but it took plenty of bites to actually get to the center and the cupcake itself was a little dense and dry. Maybe it was just that they had the misfortune of following the spectacular-ness of The Cupcakery in St. Louis... I mean, they weren't gross, just weren't great.

We spent the rest of the day scouting out some spots the average tourist may not go in search of. To our advantage, we had a car.

First stop, Tyler's mecca: the SAE headquarters at Northwestern University. Tyler was an SAE at Nebraska (is an SAE?) and he came here as a pledge in 1998, but there's some super secret sacred temple room that you can only enter as an active member. Thus, the stop. Cue Tyler: "Don't make fun of it!"

Phi Alpha, baby.

To his credit, this church was beautiful and we took a lot of neat pictures. It was also very cute how appreciative Tyler was that we included it in our stops. We also found Tyler's and all of his pledge brother's signatures in the GINORMOUS Harry Potter sorcery-looking guest book in the front lobby. It was pretty funny to see everyone's signature and information from eleven years ago...

After that, we hit up the suburbs to pay homage to the recently deceased John Hughes. We found some of his classic movie landmarks...

Like, Kevin McAllister's house. (Tyler forced me to do this. I really didn't want to... "This is someone's house! You know they hate this...") We also saw the church that Kevin takes refuge in...
And Ferris Bueller's highschool. Trivia tid bit: also the same high school as The Breakfast Club.

My own little mecca (which was not in the best neighborhood, I might add.)

That night (yes, this was the hair burning night) we went to Second City, an improv sketch comedy club where all of the SNL greats got their start. It. Was. Hilarious. Seriously... (I kept thinking, "If these people are hilarious...and lots of SNL members get their start here....why isn't SNL funny anymore??")

Every single sketch was so funny. They did one sketch about "The Great California Gay Migration" from the point of view of a farmer reading a history book. And it was about how California voted down gay marriage rights, but Iowa voted in favor of them, so all of "they gays" migrate to Iowa. They just kept reminding us "California said no. Iowa said yes. Iowa... Iowa, America." (Don't know if it's coming across, but it was very funny...")

Thursday morning, we wrapped things up with a visit to Millennium Park to see "The Bean." (I'm pretty sure it's the same thing from Flight of the Navigator.)

The Bean kept morphing my reflection to look disproportionately small on top and big on bottom. Oh, wait...

To Tyler's dismay, I made him take another tourist picture. Poor thing.

Then a parade song and dance to "Twist & Shout" suddenly broke out in the middle of Michigan Ave and I danced along on the stairs...
Then we hit up Navy Pier...
Where we ate Chicago style pizza and shared Garrett's popcorn... Seriously, the best caramel popcorn I've ever had. The cheddar was good too, but the caramel was really spectacular. I now understand why it's $52 for a tin.

And from there, we headed east, back to DC...

Whew! That took a LONG time. If you made it through all of that, nice job... I realize it was a commitment. Thanks for reading, thanks for caring. :)

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