Last we heard, I was in Chicago awaiting the arrival of my parents. Plenty of fun things have happened since then, and now I’m back in New York! I flew back on Monday night, worked on Tuesday, and now it’s Wednesday. Today was supposed to be my last shift before surgery, but the hospital is a little slow (read: not too many patients), so I was able to use some holiday time and get the day off. Woo! Using it to wrap up some loose ends before surgery and enjoy the sun while I can still walk normally.
My visit home to Chicago was absolutely delightful and I’m so happy I have a place to visit that is so wonderful. I was a little bit sad that I missed a day with my parents since their flight was delayed by a day, but such is life. We had Dairy Queen ice cream cake as a belated birthday celebration for my dad, as my parents were in Scandinavia for his actual birthday. (Any excuse for ice cream cake, right?) We also had my favorite Chinese food ever – Heng Wing, if you’re local to the Palatine area. Although if you’re local to Palatine, you probably don’t need me to tell you about Heng Wing, so there’s that. Best egg rolls ever. On Thursday, my mom and I had lunch with one of her friends and picked up some yarn to knit while I’m a bit immobile post-surgery. (Or strapped to a CPM machine, which seems as though it will be all day every day.) Played with the puppy, watched the Olympics, life is pretty solid.
On Friday, Chicago got a little more fun as one of my coworkers/friends came to visit! (Alyssa, who I ran the New Jersey Marathon with in 2013. She says she’s not a runner, but she’s run two marathons, so I’ll let you all decide…) She’s never been to Chicago before and was interested in visiting – I’ve been telling her she’s welcome to visit with me, but with warning that we’re staying at my (awesome) parents’ house, which happens to be in the suburbs. Woo! We picked her up at the airport and then headed directly downtown. Given that flights have been so messed up lately, I only had random things planned that didn’t actually require planning in case of delays.
First stop on the list was “lunch,” which was eaten at more around 2:30pm, but so it goes. Although I’d never been there before, we headed to Portillo’s for some Italian beef. We sometimes play trivia at a Chicago Bears bar in NYC (Gael Pub, you Upper East Siders…), and they will order in Italian beef for a game or two – gotta get the real thing! It was pretty solid, if you ask me, and definitely worth a stop on the Chicago tour. With full bellies, we walked down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park and the famous Bean, shiny as ever. Took the necessary tourist photos before walking through Maggie Daley Park (opened in April!) and taking a lovely walk along the lake. Maggie Daley Park has a ton of playgrounds, climbing walls, and miniature golf, so we took the miniature golf for a swing – we should both keep our jobs as nurses, but it was fun!
Next up was heading over to the Sears Tower (or the Willis Tower, but does anyone really call it that??) and got in line to head up. They said it would be a 90 minute wait to get to the top, but I think we were in and out of the entire thing in 90 minutes, so not too shabby. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went up the Sears Tower, and I definitely haven’t been up since they added The Ledge, so it was fine. I forgot how amazing the views are and did my best to point out important things. (Hey there, Wrigley…) We waited in line for the The Ledge, which is basically a glass balcony that juts out at 103 stories above the ground. I’m terrified of heights so was a bit cautious going out, but I just tried to not look down once out there and it was fine. So many selfies.
For dinner, we ate at the bar of Hello Tacos! on Randolph – we were still pretty stuffed from the late lunch, so I think we only had a taco each + chips and guac (obviously) and some delicious beverages. Would have loved to eat more, but we were full! We hopped on the train back to the suburbs, and my dad graciously fought jet lag to pick us up around 11:30pm. Thanks, Dad!
No rest for the busy tourists! We caught an 8:30am train back to the city in the pouring rain. Buckets of water were coming down. I planned mostly indoor-ish activities and hoped for the best, as Saturday was supposed to be the only rainy day. The architecture boat tour is always a winner, so we had that booked for the morning with the idea that we could be on the lower deck if it got too bad. It poured and poured when we first got to Chicago, but luckily it let up by the time the boat ride started. We had to put the umbrella up for maybe ten minutes, but otherwise, we were golden! I think I’ve been on this boat tour maybe 8-10 times. It’s great for visitors because you get to learn about all the buildings along the river while taking a fun boat ride. It was also our reward in junior high for “good behavior” or something, and since I was a well behaved child (for the most part, I’m sure my parents have some stories they could share), I went on it a lot. And with Girl Scouts. And probably other times. But like most tourist things in Chicago, it’s been awhile and our guide did not disappoint! The buildings in Chicago really are spectacular.
Next up, we headed to Goose Island for some lunch and beer. Although I think the IPA is one of their more famous beers, I love the 312 Urban Wheat. They had many, many choices on tap, so we each got a flight and a delicious lunch. We had to fought off post-beer and food comas as we walked around Old Town before heading to Up Comedy Club for The Second City’s Unelectable You performance. I really wanted to take Alyssa to a Second City show, but I don’t think either of us know too much about politics, so I hoped we got the jokes! Most of it was pretty relatable, and the improv and show was really great. Highly recommend seeing a show if you’re visiting!
We had plans to maybe grab dinner before heading home, but both of us were still quite full, so we hopped on the El back to O’Hare (the train schedule didn’t quite work for us), and my dad picked us up! Thanks again, Dad. We were a bit tired and watched the movie Everest, which I think solidified that neither of us will make that attempt…
The Air and Water Show!! I love the Air and Water Show – it’s such a fun day spent along the lake. When I was in college, the day would start the drive to Maryland was when the planes were coming in, so we’d see them flying as we drove past Gary, Indiana. Memories! We packed the cooler and picnic necessities for another trip to the city, finding a place right near the lake for the show. It was a little chilly in the morning and I even wore a sweatshirt on and off during the day. The show kicked off with the parachuters from the Army and Navy, which is always fun, then a fun morning of plane doing crazy tricks in the sky. Some of the planes are from military teams who fly fast and high, while others are civilians with some tricks up their sleeves. My favorite is Sean D. Tucker, who basically looks like his plane is going to fall out of the sky at any given moment.
I’m not convinced this year was as good as years past – the Blue Angels weren’t here, and the Thunderbirds just weren’t as exciting. But it was a beautiful day to sit on the lake, so life is pretty good. When we got home, we picked up some Giordano’s deep dish pizza to give Alyssa the full Chicago experience – we have a winner! It was delicious.
Monday was pretty low key – hanging with my mom and the puppy in the morning, a little run where Alyssa might say I almost killed her, and lunch at Egg Harbor Cafe, where our server was the familiar face of a server I worked with while I worked there! Deliciousness. Our flight was only slightly delayed (okay, maybe an hour), and I was surrounded by two moms and nine children on the flight back, but I can’t complain too much. Solid trip, for sure.
I always miss Chicago and love visiting, and it was so fun to show Alyssa around. It’s cool to see a city through the eyes of someone new, and I hadn’t ton or seen many of the tourist things in a long time. Being home also took my mind off of the upcoming surgery, but now it’s time to get down to business. Almost.