Chicago

So lame with the blog updates. . . just now updating on Chicago anniversary trip.

First of all, I hate flying.
Me

We had a hard time ever leaving. Our first plane had mechanical difficulties, so they gave us another one, but we had to have our seats reassigned. Then we got on and sat at the gate for 25 minutes while they took care of a maintenance issue. Then we taxied out on the runway. Then we turned around and went back to the gate because the pilot “didn’t feel comfortable with the mechanical problems we were having.” Very reassuring. By this time, we were already an hour behind, and I was starting to worry about my Xanax lasting through takeoff, much less the landing at Midway. We got off the plane and went to different gate to reboard our third plane. Of course, we had to go through the whole boarding thing again. I popped another Xanax for good measure.

Takeoff and flight were uneventful, but when we got to Midway, we came in for landing, then before we touched down, the pilot pulled back up and said that he apologized, but he “wasn’t comfortable with conditions on the ground.” Awesome. Just let me clean up this puke on the head of the lady in front of me, and then perform surgery on the broken bones in Todd’s hand, and I’ll be ready to go again.

Second landing attempt was fine, but at that point, i was pretty exhausted from all that concentrating that I did to hold the plane up in the air.

At Midway, we got on the train to head out to Tom’s neighborhood. Tom is Todd’s friend from Auburn. I only get to hang out for snippets with Tom, but I love him. He is funny and a little strange. The first time I met him was around the time Todd and I got married, and then he has visited a few times since. We also stayed with him when he lived in San Francisco. So, Tom met us at the station and then we walked back to the apartment
(I love visiting a great walking city and Chicago fits the bill), stopping on the way to grab beer at the liquor store. That was where I first ran into my new favorite beer:

My New Favorite Beer

When I saw it, i got all excited, then looked at the price and said, um, no. So, i took a picture of it. But then I ended up having one later. It was great. More on that later.

It was raining that day, and so we decided to drink and grill out, so we wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. Tom lives with his girlfriend Tara, and their apartment is awesome. Kind of a 20s/30s feel, with tons of space, a porch, sunroom, living room with fireplace, bedroom, dining/sitting area, office/closet and a big kitchen and pantry. For some reason it made me yearn for city apartment living. I conveniently blocked out the fact that I have children and it would be a horrible place to live with them. In my daydream, I guess I was 25 and had a fabulous, exciting high-paying job.

We ended up running out of beer (how did that happen?) and so Todd and i offered to go back out to the liquor store. We borrowed raincoats and umbrellas and headed back to the liquor store. Did I mention that the liquor store had a dog? His name is Cosmo.

Cosmo

I know. Sometimes my travel posts are just about my Pet Tourette’s in a different city. . . .

We walked back in the rain. Vacation is great; even the walking in the rain toting wet bags of beer is fun. Here is Todd hiding out under the shelter of an old fire station.

Todd at Firestation

So, Tom and Tara’s friends came over to meet us and grill out. We had yummy grilled meats and homemade salsas and guacamole – Tom is quite a good cook. By the time the friends all got there I was pretty toasty, but these folks, Lucas and Lizzie, still let me hold their baby, Liam.

Happy Family

I talked to them for a long time and really enjoyed it. One of my favorite things about travel is meeting new people. I know a lot of folks who say that their lives are too busy for keeping up with old friends, much less meeting new people, but I guess I kind of crave meeting new people. It always feels like I have been recharged the day after experiencing new people. It just feels healthy to me. I liken it to when the kids have new experiences and it’s like they are sponges that just soak them up. It is like you can see their little synapses firing after a new experience.

The boys did the grilling. I think Todd is cute when he is happy and hanging out with his Auburn boys:

Two Parts Team Rat

Here are our wonderful hosts, at the dinner table:

Tara and Tom

Please note pots on shelf in background. Tom has done all this really great pottery, and I forgot to take pictures of it, which is a bummer. I believe he said something about trying to throw 500 pots? I don’t remember exactly, because I was drinking, but there were tons of them. Attempts to sneak one into my luggage failed

Here are Todd and Tom with some more of the guests, nice guys all:
Boys

And one more:
Boys

Hmm. Perhaps the reason i felt so “recharged” was all the men hanging around! It was definitely not the uncooperative cold and rainy weather.

There was more rain the next morning when we got up. Even though the weather channel was telling us there was not more rain. We had no idea how to dress, so, we ended up with umbrellas and rainjackets and hats and short sleeves underneath. Layers turned out to be the way to go, as it rained off and on all day.

Todd

Tom and Tara had other plans that morning, so Todd and I walked around the corner and a few blocks to Big Jones. Tom had told us that they had “good” grits and fried green tomatoes, but Tom is from Chicago, so i was doubtful. But he said fried green tomatoes and then I had to have them, even if they sucked. They didn’t! Totally the right consistency and batter. Just needed a little salt. Todd’s shrimp and grits were pretty good, too. It felt weird to eat “Southen Coastal Cuisine” in Chicago.

We walked back out into the weather to take the train to the Art Institute. I took pictures of cool signs (one of my favorite things to do, especially vintage ones. Chicago had some great ones.) I loved the wedding cake sign on this bakery:

Cool Sign

And the handbells on these imprints in the pavement. Why handbells?

Andersonville

And you can never have too many shots of church signs:

Jesus Saves

The Art Institute of Chicago was by far my favorite part of the trip. I could go back and spend a week there. I will, too, because the Modern stuff was mostly off exhibit due to the new wing construction they are doing. And the Cubs weren’t in town, so i have to go back for a game.

We saw so much amazing stuff that I couldn’t even begin to name them all. It is truly a museum where you turn every corner and find another masterpiece that you doubted that you would ever see in person. One of my highlights was seeing the three Ivan Albrights on display. I could have looked at them all day. (My photos don’t do them justice.)

The Door

We saw this:
Rivera

And this:
American Gothic

And this:
Black Cross, New Mexico

And then Todd and I split up; I wanted to see the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He wanted to see Renaissance stuff. Mine was way better.

I saw this:
Sisters

And this:
Paris Street, Rainy Day

And this:
Seurat

See that lady with the umbrella? She is a couple feet taller than Todd. This thing is huge in person. You could spend an hour looking at it from afar and another hour staring at each little detail up close. See? Here is the monkey:
Seurat Monkey

Check this out:
Moulin Rouge

And this!
Van Gogh

Oooh!

Ah!
Day (Truth)

I really was pretty blown away. My pictures don’t do justice to the individual works, and they certainly don’t reflect the sheer numbers of awesome things we saw. They have whole rooms of Gaugin and Monet. One of the funniest exhibits was a paperweight collection. Who knew paperweights could be so beautiful and varied?
It was just the best way to spend an afternoon. I didn’t want to leave.

Wooh. I think this is going to be a two-parter. . .

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