Monday, August 2, 2010

The Windy City

The last week of July had been set aside for vacation, since well last summer. We debated between RAGBRAI and Glacier National Park...but decided that roadtripping, hiking, backpacking, biking and camping was the way to go. Really no contest in my opinion, but Wyatt is not the camper that I am. Anywho. Obviously this whole foot thing pretty much put the kibosh on that adventure. And it's not like, given my handi-capable state, RAGBRAI was an option. I was bummed to say the least. No racing, no running, no vacation in 2010. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I should also mention that I burned through a large portion of my vacation time with surgery so I did even have the time to take. Double grumble.

We decided to take a few long weekends this year and spread out the vacation time as best we could. Thus Katie and the mini-break were united!

Our first mini-break was this past weekend as we headed down to the windy city for 3 days. In all truth it was more like 2 1/2 by the time we hit the road on Friday, but we were on vacation so sleeping in and being lazy is totally acceptable. We left, um, noon-ish. What we weren't anticipating was siting in traffic for-ev-er. Seriously, the GPS said 2 1/2 hours, allowing for traffic and incidentals, we assumed 3'ish. But 5? No way. It was definitely a trying experience. Wyatt, who was just down in Chi-town during the week for work was having none of this. Crabby doesn't begin to explain the mood of the car.

We got down there and settled into the hotel around 5-530. We had booked a room online and didn't really know a whole lot more about it. Turns out the Sax hotel was super swank and very cool. It was next door to the House of Blues, a few blocks off Michigan Ave and just generally in hip little corner of downtown. We checked in to find out that Kidd Rock's official after party was in their hotel bar/lounge that night. Woah. Not that we are big Kidd Rock fans or anything, but it was still cool to see a little red carpet outside the hotel and the excitement associated. Our room had huge windows, a big clean comfy bed (not something you find at the area Red Roof Inn, now is it W?) and bathrobes! I've never stayed in the kind of fancy-schmancy hotel that provides soft snuggly bathrobes for their guests, so pardon my excitement.

Friday night, given the time we arrived, was the perfect time to wander Michigan Ave and take in the sights and shops. Burberry and Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's, OH MY! I gingerly stroked (to be read as manhandled) the classic Burberry raincoat, I ogled the fine smocks that LV had on displayed, and I channeled my inner girly-girl and and sappy at Tiffany and Co. Le sigh.

We attempted to grab a bite to eat nearby, but everything has a 2+ hour wait. INSANE! My empty tummy was having no part of that. We opted to take a 5min cab ride just a wee bit down the rode to a pizza place and were greeted with a much more manageable wait. Success!

We wrapped up the night with a cocktail at Dick's Last Resort and called it a night around 11 or so.

Saturday we got up at the crack of noon and went in search of food. Wyatt had an inkling, nay an obsession with, to find a restaurant from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The closest diner/breakfast spot, the Steak and Egger, was a 10 or so minute drive southwest of downtown. Off we went. What did we run into along the way? A giant street festival, Fiesta del Sol if I recall, in a hispanic part of town. We should've known we were in trouble when the cabby advised us to take the cab company's number as cab's didn't come out that way. We grabbed some brunch, Wyatt thought his was super tasty, mine not so much. We wondered the festival which was hoppin' for it being only like 2pm, and decided to call for a cab.

An hour and 3 phone calls later we still were without transportation. Fuuuuuuck. We consulted the iPhone for the nearest train or bus stop, but the real life saver was the gentleman who recognized us for the lost gringos that we were. He directed us to the nearby stop and even advised what line to take.
We continue to wait...

Once we figured out the "L" system tho getting around Chi-town was a breeze (and cheap!!)

After all was said and done, and that little adventure was behind us, we headed straight to the MCA which is my all time favorite museum. There was a pretty cool Calder exhibit, a new curation of the permanent collection and we even got be art!

Dressed up after our performance.

Our visit to the MCA even left enough time to stop back by Tiffany's. Oh how I love that store! (For the record, I blame my mom for inundating me with fabulous classic movies for creating this monster,)As Holly Golightly once said...I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It's like Tiffany's. Left unsupervised I may or may not have made my way to the extra sparkly and out of the budget section. And I may or may not have been busted trying on extra sparkly rights on my left hand. I don't know what to tell you other than I'm not sorry.

On the way back to the hotel we noticed masses of people congregating and gawking. Of course we went over to investigate, who do you think we are? What did we stumble on while on mini-break? It was Transformers 3 filming 3 blocks from our hotel. Wyatt just about peed his pants. OMG! Transformers! Robots! Explosions! WOAH!! They were filming a scene where Transformers, presumably the Deceptacons were coming across the Wabash St bridge and just generally tearing things up. It was like a kid in a candy store. Wyatt was so so soooo excited.

Eventually we bid adieu to Optimus Chicago and made made our way back to the hotel. We changed for dinner and headed just a wee bit south to a great Mexican restaurant. The food was good, the drinks were ah-mazing, but the service was awful! Ah well, you can't win 'em all. We got of there and hopped the train to Wriggleyville to check out the Blue Man Group, which Wyatt can only describe as rad. Totally rad. It was midnight-ish and i was too pooped to par-tay so we headed back to the hotel for another blissful mini-break night of zzz's.

But not before we stopped back at the Transformer set to see everything in the moonlight. One of the security/production assistants was handing out the shells from the epic fight scene they had been filming. Wyatt got 2. I think he is still carrying them around with him...

Sunday we got up early, um 1030ish, and decided to wander the riverwalk and enjoy the weather. We walked down to the lakefront, almost to Navy Pier and eventually grabbed a bite to eat at the Chicago Burger Co. Not too shabby.

Lunch on the river before heading home.

We called it quits and headed home around 3 or so. I wish it didn't have to end but we were both pooped and ready to start the drive home.

I definitely recommend a weekend in Chicago! It was great to park the car and just wander and explore from there. Even Wyatt, a non-Chicago fan, had a great time and wants to go back. So IronBri, what are you waiting for?!? I'll meet you in the windy city!

There are so many more things I could tell you about the weekend and why I love Chicago. Not quite pack my bags and move there love, that's reserved for NYC, but it a fabulous city I'd visit any time.


IronBri said...

Guess who registered for Surf City today. THIS girl! I went ahead and bit the bullet already planning for next Feb- without asking for time off yet. Oops!

Sounds like you had a great time in Chicago and did it up right. I didn't realize you were driving distance close to it. Um, jealous of you about Transformers 3! And nice shout out- sweet!

A friend told me about a free half marathon in Seattle in early November, I'm now thinking about three in about three weeks time. It'd be like peak training for Ironman all over- but with less biking and more finish-line beer!

Belle said...

What a fun and interesting mini-vacation. It was great to read about, especially since I have never been to Chicago.

I'm sorry you missed out on your camping trip. Maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

I always mean to get to Chicago and do touristy things like museums and exploring, and whenever I go it just ends up being visiting with friends, playing Rock Band in Wrigleyville apartments. Your trip sounds like a lot of fun, and you definitely deserved a minibreak before your hell week!