Tuesday, August 18

Girl Trip, Part One: Chicago

Tyson's parents sent us girls on a one of a kind girls trip.  It was amazing and sooooo needed.  Tyson's uncle is currently serving as the mission president for the Indiana, Indianapolis mission and his grandma is serving as a senior missionary out there.  It was also the last weekend for the Indiana temple open house.  There couldn't have been a more perfect time to take a few days off and explore some new cities. 

Chicago is only a few hours away from Indiana, so we decided to take advantage of the proximity.  We took the red eye and Tyson's sister Jana was a champ and drove us into the city arriving around 6:00 am.  I brought my own pillow and blanket and let me tell you what, it was a game changer.  I was able to sleep on the plane and in the car.  It helped not having kids and freed up my carry on bag to allow the extra load.

I couldn't wait to get to Chicago.  I have always dreamed about going there, especially since two of my favorite movies are filmed there.  As we pulled into the city I was awe struck by all of the spacious buildings.  The architecture was insane and the city was so clean.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

After checking into our hotel and cleaning up a bit, it was first things first.  We found our way to get our first taste of a Chicago Dog.  It was ridiculously amazing.  I am a total hot dog lover though.  It had so many yummy toppings and was the perfectly sized dog.  I highly suggest going to Portillo's if you are ever in the area. 
After eating it was time to explore the city and find "The Bean."  It was at the top of my to-do list.  It was beautiful and even more neat in person.
^^^ It only took us a thousand tries to get a good pic and this was as good as it was going to get. ^^^
After wandering throughout the streets we went home and freshened up for dinner.  We made reservations a few weeks back for Giuliana and Bill Rancic's restaurant RPM Steak.  The steak was super tasty, but the sides and chop salad were my favorite.   
^^^ We were all slightly underdressed.  Luckily they didn't give us the boot. ^^^
Following dinner we found our way to the Broadway show Pippin.  Before heading to the city, we searched out what Broadway Musicals were playing in town and Pippin was the show at hand.  I had remembered Kelly Ripa raving about the musical on her show.  Without doing much research we took her word for it.  After only a couple of acts into the show we started to question what we had gotten ourselves into.  There were some parts Jana and I couldn't even look at the stage because we felt so uncomfortable.  I felt like a little kid, laughing from being embarrassed.  It could have partly been because I was watching it with my mother-in-law.  At intermission we all discussed whether we should just leave, but we decided to stick it out.  It actually ended up having a great meaning and being less traumatic towards the end.  Would I suggest the play, probably not, but it was something we can look back on and have a good laugh. 
We ended the night with one last stop back at Portillo's and indulged in the chocolate cake shake and a slice of the ever so decadent chocolate cake.  It was tasty!

The next morning we met our friend Whitney at the most delicious pancake house called Wildberry Pancakes.  I had the buckwheat honey oat pancakes with bananas and pecans.  Seriously the best pancakes, next to my mama that is.  We had to stop for one last picture at "The Bean" right afterwards.
Our cousin recommended the architectural boat tours and I'm happy we took her up on that recommendation.  I loved learning about each of the buildings that make up the amazing Chicago skyline.  And for not being a real history buff, I actually enjoyed learning about the history of the city.  The boat tours are a must!
^^^ The Chicago River is stunning! ^^^
We saw a Shake Shack and knew we had to make a pit stop for lunch.  It tasted better than ever.  Their cheese fries are just too good, to pass up.  And their blueberry and corn concrete was surprisingly tasty. 
We decided to wait out the line for the Willis Tower, also known as the "Sears Tower" and I'm so happy we did.  They had a look out ledge that was unreal.  It was crazy to be looking down over a 100 stories high.  The view of the city was beautiful.  If I ever go back to the city, I will make sure to check out the tower at night.  I can only imagine what the city looks like all lit up.
One of the highlights to Chicago was the Garrett's popcorn, another recommendation thanks to Emily.  The Garrett's mix was indescribably good.  It sounds kind of terrible, but in all reality tastes amazing.  It's a combo of cheddar cheese and carmel popcorn.  It's made fresh and tastes so so wonderful.  
After filling our bags with popcorn we made our way to the Chicago Art Institute.  Upon arrival the ticket person informed us that there was only fifteen minutes till close and we could not take any food or water into the museum.  Tyson's mom was a sweetheart and sat back with all of our bags, heaven for bid we had to throw away all of our popcorn.  We ran threw the museum like we were being chased by a mob.  We were lucky no one yelled at us to slow down.  It was our goal to take in as much art as possible, before they locked the doors.  I had never been to an art museum, I know terrible, but nonetheless it was breathtaking.  My favorite section, was of course the ballerina paintings.  I ended up purchasing a couple of the prints.  I was just so in love. 
By this point we had almost walked a half marathon, our feet and backs were killing, but we pressed on in pursue of the famous Chicago deep dish pizza.  The cheese and sauce was amazing, the cheese to crust ratio was probably my favorite part, however the crust left me thoroughly disappointed.  It kind of tasted like cardboard to me.  It was a When in Rome moment, so if anything else it was still fun to try.
After our somewhat disappointing show the night before, we decided to end on a high note and checked out the Cirque Du Soleil show that happened to be in town.  I cannot rave enough about this show.  It was hands down one of the best performances I have ever seen.  The tricks, costumes and all over show was out of this world.  I couldn't get over what these people were doing.  I'm still in awe.  I wanted so badly to have Tyson there jaw dropped along side me.  
After the show per Tyson's request we stopped by the famous Michael Jordan Statue.  It was pretty neat!
Little did we know our night was only getting started.  We truly tried to soak in as much of Chicago as possible.  We slipped into our Chicago Cubs t-shirts and headed out on a night of adventure.  We kicked off the evening with Molly's cupcakes.  They were just as good as I had remembered them.  Last minute we decided to drive by Wrigley Field and the Rancic's home.  While we were on a roll we decided to look up the house where Home Alone was filmed.  We drove clear across town and found the house at 1:00 am.  It was totally worth it.  The house was just as we all remembered it.  Sadly it was too dark to get a decent picture.  We were all delirious at this point and made the trip all the more fun.
The next morning, as if we hadn't eaten enough already, stopped by Magnolia Bakery to stock up on all of their baked goods and their famous banana pudding.  It brought me back to my New York trip that was spent with Tyson a few years back. We then got on the road and headed to Indiana to go visit the Cleveland's. 
Chicago will go down in the books as one of my favorite cities and trips!  The memories that were made were just too good.  I can't thank Tyson's parents enough for providing this remarkable and memorable girls trip and especially Tyson, for staying back and taking such good care of our girls.

Indiana post soon to come!
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