Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#408 Chicago, That Toddlin' Town

I have been to Chicago twice this year.  The first time was in April with the girls (Krista, Julie and Michelle).  I had a free night stay at a hotel so we made a quick weekend.  We drove in Saturday morning and left the next afternoon.  Well, Julie left that night, but that’s another story. 

This trip consisted of a walk along the Chicago Lakefront Trail (love Lake Michigan!), Navy Pier (we rode the Ferris wheel!), shopping (Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Tumi among others) and eating (most notably Miller’s Pub). 

I must share one story about my lunch at Miller’s.  I had the Greek-Style Chicken.  It was really good and was a LOT of food.  So much that I left with a large doggie bag (I hate wasting food).  Which wasn’t a problem until we decided to check out NFL Draft Town.  It was free to get in but there were signs posted that you could not bring in any outside food.  The chicken was in a container at the bottom of my bag with my newly purchased Nike sneakers on top.  As I went through the line the guy felt the bottom of my bag and asked what it was.  I lowered my voice and said that I had just come from Miller’s and I was carrying half a chicken.  I told him I was incredibly full and promised  I wouldn’t open it inside.  He smiled and let me in.  Yes!  I saved my chicken!  (Which I ate later as a snack.)  

It was a fun trip but went by much too fast.  I felt badly for Julie, as she needed to be back for a meeting Sunday morning, only to text us Sunday saying the meeting was cancelled.  Bastards! 

My advice to anyone driving into Chicago – reserve your parking space in advance using SpotHero.  I found a garage a short walk from our hotel and it was way cheaper than doing it on-site.  You do have to choose your in and out times, but it worked great for us. 
The next trip was still a weekend, but a longer one.  This time it was Krista, Julie and me.  We visited my friend Keith and his wife Denise who live just outside Chicago.  Keith was generous enough to invite me to a Cubs game (my first!) and let me bring a couple friends.    

I must admit I’m not much of a baseball fan.  I went to high school games because I had a crush on the shortstop.  I also went to some games in college simply because it was free and a fun thing to do on a spring afternoon.  Pro baseball?  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Ok, I like my Indianapolis Indians and they have a beautiful ballpark but I usually find other things I’d rather do. I suppose everyone needs to go to one Major League baseball game in their lifetime and the Cubs isn’t a bad place to start. 

We went to a Friday afternoon game.  The day, game and company were perfect!  Keith’s seats are amazing!    

Keith had invited two other friend, Don and Jennifer, and it was fun to meet them.  I was “forced” to buy a beer and had some kind of cider.  Really good!  I was informed that at the top of every inning we had to drink so I nursed my beer for almost the entire game.  We also celebrated Don’s recent birthday.  (Thanks to Keith for our borrowed Cubs gear!)  

After the game we hit The Cubby Bear for a drink while waiting for Denise to join us, then walked a short way for dinner at a great Mexican place.  Again, lots of food but very good.  We got back to Keith’s house around 11 p.m. 

I must back up a bit to Friday morning and talk about Keith’s family.  We arrived at their house late Thursday night so went right to bed.  The next morning we met Keith’s daughter and niece in the kitchen.  We also met Zeus, their two-year old golden.  Such a great dog!  Ok, back to the family.  We chatted with Renee and Monica, and then more family arrived – Denise’s sister, Teresa, and her mom, Helen.  O.M.G.  It is an understatement to say that the kitchen was roaring with laughter.  They are all hilarious! 

Back to Saturday – we drove to Wisconsin to take a boat ride around Geneva Lake.  Keith’s friend was kind enough to take us all out on his boat.  It was another beautiful day!  We each picked out the house we wanted but couldn’t afford.  After a late lunch at Chuck's Lakeshore Inn, we stopped near Racine to pay a quick visit to one of my friends, Gwendolyn, and her family.  (A "feeling normal" visit for me!)  It’s been a few years since I’d seen them and this time got to meet their one-year old daughter.  Adorable!  We had a fun time playing Wizard and hillbilly golf before heading back to Keith’s.    

We took a slight detour after we spotted the Mars Cheese Castle. You know of no such place, you may say to yourself.  As did I before I walked across the moat to cheese paradise.  Words cannot describe my delight in being surrounded by cheese.  I am a fan of all kinds of cheese, but particularly love a good smoked Gouda and a dill Havarti (of which Keith and I discovered we buy the same type from Aldi).  I walked out of there with a solid cheese knife.   

We continued the fun just a bit more Sunday by stopping at Arlington Race Track for a couple hours.  I didn’t bet but Krista came close to winning on the two races she bet on.  I had a yummy Bloody Mary.  Again, they “made” me drink!  I didn’t mind so much though.  Finally headed home in the afternoon. 

What a great weekend!  Keith and Denise are new friends (I’ve known them almost two years now) and I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again, either in Indy or Chicago. 

A side note about Denise – I have found someone who loves Halloween as much as (or maybe more) than I do!  She showed me pictures of her work costumes the past few years and they are stellar!  She definitely would have won in my office.  Very creative and fun, that Denise. 

Here’s to two great weekends and hanging out with new and old friends!


  1. Wait, is your friend Gwendolyn taller than you? I'm 6'4" and have never had a friend over 5'8". Not that it matters, but that would be cool.

  2. Yes, Gwendolyn is 6'7". It is very cool to hang out with her and her husband and be the "short" one!