PANIC ON CLOUD 9

10 Feb

Home again, home again and back to real life! We had a really spectacular time and I feel so fortunate that we could pull off this kind of trip for the 4 of us. As usual it will probably take me a few days to get up all the posts, so for now this one is just from Friday.

Friday morning started out like any other morning- I jumped on the gazelle (though I only had time for 20 minutes) and I watched the kids. Watched them until 8am that is and then Vicki showed up and Zach and I packed up the car and headed to Mom and Dad’s. Kathy was working for Mom which meant this was the first time ever that all 4 of us were able to head somewhere on a weekday together!! It felt like such a novelty. 🙂 Mom even commented that she felt as though we were doing something we weren’t supposed to.

We had a very easy drive to Chicago. No traffic hardly at all until we hit the Dan Ryan Expressway (of course) and good weather for driving. The trip went quickly and we passed time playing 20 questions and “My Father Owns a Grocery Store”. When we got into downtown Chicago we hit up our first destination- Giordano’s. If you want TRUE Chicago-style stuffed pizza, Giordano’s is the place to go. Zach and I went there on an 8th grade trip with our class in junior high and again in 2009 after we were married. That last time we went there our car ended up getting towed and we hadn’t been back since. We made sure to tuck it away in a garage this time (expensive though that is) so as not to have a repeat of that terrible incident. We got there a little after 11am and it was already starting to fill up fast. It was going to be 45 minutes before our pizza was ready so we got salads to tide us over.

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Zach and I shared this yummy italian salad (he ate all the meat off it) and we were more than ready for pizza when it finally showed up!

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We got their “classic” version- pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. Plus lots and lots of cheese. Soooo good.

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You just can’t beat Chicago-style pizza. After lunch we walked literally one block to our next destination. It was the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower.

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I hadn’t been up this building since that 8th grade trip and while the view hasn’t changed, a couple of other things have! The most notable being the giant plexiglass boxes that protrude over the side of the building and leave you looking through your feet 103 stories down…you’ll see those momentarily. First we walked around taking in the sights-

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It was a little hazy in the distance but overall our views for February were spectacular!

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When we’d come clear around the building we reached the scary/awesome boxes.

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Even being the daredevil that I am, it still felt a little nervewracking walking out into this thing!

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Pictures don’t even do justice to how ridiculously high above the streets of Chicago you are.

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This angle shows the far drop a little better:

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This new addition to the tower makes the big bucks you have to shell out to get to the top totally worth it. Such a cool experience!

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When we left the tower we took off for what Mom had been referring to as our “hotel”. Little did she know I hadn’t booked a hotel at all. Rather, I’d found an awesome condo off Home Away (a site like AirBNB) that had 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a nice kitchen and absolutely killer views. Here’s what you see when you walk in:

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Kitchen:

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Bedroom One:

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Bedroom Two (Zach and I’s room):

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Split view of windows from dining room/bedroom two:

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Bedroom Three (the one Mom chose for them):

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Living room:

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Balcony:

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And all of Chicago at our feet:

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We were up on the 33rd floor with Grant Park stretched out in front of us, city to our left and ahead and lake off to our right. As we hung out and enjoyed our apartment that afternoon, the weather got nicer and nicer outside which made our views even more beautiful!

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It’s rare to get blue skies and blue lake in February so we were well pleased!!

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Family photos were a requirement of course. Don’t you know my family? 🙂

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As the sun began to go down for the evening the sky changed colors and even though we couldn’t see the exact sunset, we still reaped the benefits of it.

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We changed into our dinner wear and snapped some of the last day-time photos at the condo.

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The rest of the entire weekend we didn’t drive our car once. Driving in Chicago is stressful and unnecessary! Parking is outrageous and difficult to find. Luckily an even better option than taxis are available to you in big cities nowadays- Uber! I may have mentioned using Uber in Indy with Hillary or in Nashville, TN with Zach but we became true Uber pros this weekend. We ended up using it a total of 8 times and it is SO the way to travel. Cheaper than a taxi, CLEANER than a taxi, less crazy than a taxi and so much better than trying to figure out all the driving and parking on your own. My parents thought it was genius. Dinner reservations our first night were at Quartino- an Italian tapas place.

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What’s that you say? Italian TAPAS?! You mean small plates, which equal variety, of pasta?! Yep. Jordan’s food heaven. This place cures their own meat, freshly makes their bread, hand-makes all their pasta, it’s a true Italian paradise. We got lots of food to share and it was all delicious! They brought out some bread first and we started ordering our plates. They are as follows: cheese tortellini, cavatelli with a tomatoes, basil and ricotta, shrimp risotto with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes and brussels sprouts (excuse the poor picture quality).

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The brussels were the least impressive but all the pastas were amazing!! The shrimp was top quality, the basil so fresh, but the tortellini took the gold for being the best dish of the night. The best savory dish that is, the best dessert of not only the night but possibly a top ten of all time goes to this INSANE torta al cioccolato-

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Vanilla gelato on top of a warm chocolate cake with a totally molten center that tasted like batter in the absolute best way. Take any notion of a restaurant’s typical “lava cake” and throw it out the window because this was a million times better.

Once we’d eaten our fill it was time for the next exciting surprise of the night, a visit to Second City!

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Second City is one of the top comedy clubs in America (there are a string of them across the map) and it’s where so many SNL stars have gotten their start. Their past actors and actresses were quite an impressive string including Tina Fey, Steven Colbert, Amy Poehler, Dan Akroyd and so many more. That’s why it’s a good idea to pay attention to who you see perform, you never know when they might hit it big! We got drinks and waited for the show to start.

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Our show was called “Panic on Cloud 9” and it was filled with hilarious short skits covering all the relevant topics of the past year in a funny and relatable way. We all agreed that they did a great job and genuinely made us laugh. I would definitely go back to Second City for a show the next time I visited Chicago! It was getting late by the time we got out and caught our Uber, I was positively exhausted, but not so tired that I couldn’t capture a couple of skyline by night pictures. 🙂

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And that wrapped up our first busy, fun-filled Chicago day!

Friday’s Food Journal:

  • Breakfast – fruit
  • Lunch – 1/2 salad, 1 1/2 pcs. pizza, cookie
  • Supper – shared tortellini, risotto, brussels, some other pasta, chocolate dessert, daiquiri 

60.5/1,200 miles.

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