Travels Archives

Rain All Day

The Buckingham Fountain

The Buckingham Fountain

I love CHICAGO! I really do. So spending a day there with Jon and good friends is always exciting to me. Every time we go, we try to incorporate something familiar with something new. and it’s a family rule that we never eat at places that we can eat at home.

Yesterday we went with Nelson & Jennifer Bontrager, Julie Weirich and Jake Stutzman. Of course we started the day early, with a necessary pit stop at Starbucks.  As tired as we were, we still managed to stay awake the entire trip there.

We decided to park on the north end of North Michigan Ave, and walked around for a bit as we waited for Giordano’s to open for lunch at 11. Our lunch included breaded mushrooms – to hold us over until the pizzas arrived and 2 medium stuffed pizzas – The Special and The Spinach. Mmm… so tasty, so worth the wait.

Meandering past The Fountain

We walked back to the parking garage to put away our leftovers and grab extra belongings (jackets and 1 umbrella). After shopping around for awhile we decided to head to Shedd Aquarium for a couple of hours. The 3 mile walk from north Magnificent Mile to Shedd wasn’t too bad. We had a few spurts of rain, and a drink stop at Jamba Juice, and finally arrived at the Aquarium. Some of the exhibits were closed, and it wasn’t too crowded, but still very busy ( it took 40 minutes just to get into the building). 

We for about nn hour and a half, and when we got outside we were surprised. not by the rain. but how crazy cold it had gotten. it went from 70 to 40. or at least that’s how it felt!  so rather than brave the cold or another drizzling, we packed onto the CTA. it has been a LONG time since i’ve been on a public bus, and wow, it’s different.  diverse crowd on that bus for sure.

Jen had never been to IKEA, so we headed out to Bolingbrook (a 40 minute drive to the southwest parts of the burbs). We intended to go to Schaumburg, but Jon & I were so busy trying to get directions from his phone and our gps that we weren’t paying attention to Nelson when he turned on I-55. oops.   None of us had ever been to Bolingbrook, so that was a mini-adventure. Jon’s task was to find a restaurant for dinner, and there doesn’t seem to be too many non-national chain options. since we didn’t get to the area until 7:00, we decided to do the IKEA thing first, then eat dinner (maybe we should have lightly snacked on the way – some were hungry tired and could have used it.)

Every time we go to IKEA I find dozens of items I want for our house. Oo, that chair would be awesome. Oo, how about a new kitchen?  Oh, I’m sure I would use this!  This trip we were very good. I only bought two baby related items and Jon got four Pilsner glasses. But I have added several things to my list of “Stuff I Want When Baby Finally Gets Here.”

We got to the restaurant about 8:45 and were mostly satisifed by our meal choices. I must have been hungrier than I realized since I actually ate my entire meal. that was a first in a long time.

Our drive home was non-eventful, thankgoodness. Nelson was super wonderful as our designated chauffer.  though I’m sure he would have wanted an awake companion to talk to while he drove through the dark night. 

All in all it was a blessed day. Good times with great friends.  my main regret – not bringing enough warm clothes or water-repellant wear for an unpredictable Spring day in Chicago. Never will let that happen again!

Jon Waiting

Jon Waiting

New Variety Frogs in Rainforest

New Variety Frogs in Rainforest

A Non-Laboring Day

We’ve been really busy for the past few weeks with work and home, and of course adoption tasks. So we decided to take a little break on Monday to un-labor. Several of our friends joined us on a day-long outing to Chicago.

We chose to visit Chicago attractions that were FREE, since our goal was to do Chicago Cheap and Free. Cheap train fares from South Bend Airport on the South Shore Line, and Free Attractions only. No shopping even, which is very rare for me!

We rode the elevator up to the restaurant/lounge of the Hancock Center.  96 floors up. It was a “Whoa” moment for sure. There’s even an awesome view in the Ladies restroom.   Unfortunately we couldn’t walk all the way around the top, since there was an aggressive host on duty.  But the parts we did see were amazing!

Then we walked all the way to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Did you ever notice how unsociable animals can be?  I cannot remember how many of them turned their backs on us. Though in their defense, it was over 90 degrees out, and in the afternoon. Silly humans, don’t we realize that animals are less active during this time of day?  Also, the Zoo was rather, um, limited.  Half the cats in the Lion House were not in their exhibits. The apes decided it was group nap time. and those indoor exhibits were muggy and did little to relieve the hotness from outside. But we still had fun of course.

Our dining experiences included Portillo’s and Lou Malnati’s.  At the Portillo’s on the corner of Ontario & Clark , most of us ate hamburgers and italian beef sandwiches, even though they’re known for their hot dogs.  It totally hit the spot, despite its greasiness.  My favorite part of Portillo’s though was the neon blue stars hanging allover the ceiling.  (I’m pretty sure neon lights do not match our office decor.)

This was the first time Jon or I had eaten Lou Malnati’s pizza.  Pretty tasty.  We tried the Lou and the Deluxe.  The Lou had fresh spinach, mushrooms and sliced roma tomatoes covered with a blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese. Something about this pizza reminded me of a family member’s homemade pizza. The crust? The cheese? The Deluxe came with generous amounts of sausage, cheese, green peppers and onions.  This one we ordered with the famous buttercrust.  Our fave : The Lou.  Which Chicago-style pizzeria has the best pizza? Well, that’s up to you. It’s all about personal preference. I’ll leave it at that.

After eating dinner, we headed back toward Millenium Park to relax while we waited for the South Shore Line home.  The worst part of a day-long trip is the time it takes to get home, and it was a long night.  We left Chicago at 9 pm (EST) and didn’t pull into our driveway until 1 am. We are all wiped out today.  Check out random pics here.

Side note: Do you wonder exactly how many miles you walked when you take a day-trip into the city?  It feels like a hundred, but it’s probably more like 10.

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