chi-town

our summer holiday, our first ever holiday that wouldn’t consist of visiting out-of-town relatives, was initially hoped to take place in vancouver, british columbia. the plan was to arrive the weekend before my brother and his university teammates competed in a dragon boat racing tournament. unfortunately, our bank account didn’t support the idea of airfare and train fare on top of dining and lodging. next, we considered using the timeshare my parents purchased in cancún some twelve years ago. turns out the timeshare wasn’t as great of a deal as we once thought. the cost of a week on the gulf of mexico rivaled that of the trip north, and, given the choice, we’d have much rather spent our seven days away from home and its insufferable humidity amongst the tall, green firs and towering mountains of the idyllic pacific northwest.

the only part of whatever trip we ended up taking that was important to liam was that we have a “beach day,” just like they do in daniel tiger, so when my dad suggested we look for something within a day’s drive from kansas city, the obvious answer seemed to be chicago.

none of us (besides aaron) had ever been chi-town visitors longer than the length of a short layover, which made it all the more special. our first family holiday in a place we (or most of us) had never (really) been. and of the dates we were able to secure, the five year anniversary of the day aaron asked me to be his girl happened to fall in the middle. needless to say, a close-to-midnight toast with a big bottle of rosé from (the largest, most intimidating) whole foods (i have ever seen) on the patio of our really rather swanky rental was quite clearly a must.

the 509 mile journey took a little over nine hours with a stop for gas and another for lunch. mum and i (and who knows how many bags i mistakenly thought i would need) sat cramped in the back of the sedan, and tried our best to occupy liam with puzzles and cards and melissa & doug sticker books while the menfolk sat in the front and tried their best not to let the highway noise lull them to sleep.

walking into our 28th floor, south loop airbnb was unreal. every single outer wall in every single room was a floor to ceiling window, providing us with the most stunning view of both the concrete jungle that is downtown chicago and the endless-horizon, ocean-like lake michigan.

i watched the sunrise each morning that week — something i so rarely do at home — and i mean it when i say i thoroughly believe there are few things more marvelous than watching the sunrise over lake michigan. the memory of it will stay with me until the end of my days, i know it. and that alone — the fond memories you create while you’re far away from home, traveling, taking in the world around you — is worth every penny spent.

wanting to cram in as many touristy things we could, being told of a ticket booklet called the citypass, which gives you vip admission to the most iconic attractions chicago has to offer, was an absolute godsend. for just us three, we were able to save a whopping $312.80 on tickets to visit the shedd aquarium, skydeck chicago, the field museum, 360 chicago, and the art institute of chicago.

being the over-planner that i am, and quite likely to the annoyance of the perhaps the entire group, i put together a rough, open-to-change-but-please-oh-please-for-the-sake-of-my-all-too-irritable-ocd-don’t schedule our first night in for the remainder of our time in the windy city.

chicago schedule edit again

the final amount of blisters my insensibly-sandaled-feet acquired that week walking up and down street after street, and from exhibit to exhibit at the art institute and field museum and enclosure to enclosure at the lincoln park zoo and shedd aquarium, and all along the the soft, sandy shores of lake michigan? thirteen. thirteen blisters.

but if i had the chance, i’d do it all again in a hearbeat. band-aids and blisters and all.

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