Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Windy City

Okay so it took me a little longer to get this post up than I wanted to, there is just so much to write about. We had so much fun and kept ourselves very busy while we were in Chicago.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and after the scariest cab ride of my life, we somehow managed to arrive at our hotel alive. We got checked in went up to our room and got settled. We didn't waste too much time- I was so ready to go exploring and we were both very hungry. So we walked around and eventually found our destination- Harry Caray's Steakhouse. Brad ordered the biggest steak I have ever seen and proceeded to eat it all except the one bite he shared with me. Then it was off for some serious shopping. We found H&M just a few blocks north of our hotel and it was so exciting to go- I love that store so much! The best part is that they were having a huge sale so I hit the jackpot! After that we went back to the hotel and crashed, I don't know why flying makes you so tired.

Our hotel, the wonderful H&M and our first Chicago dining experience

Friday morning we took a bus down to Muesem Campus and we were able to go to the Shedd Aquarium which was very cool! This was probably the part of our trip that I was most excited about. This place was huge and there was so much to look at. They had dolphins, belugas, sharks, penguins and just about anything else you can imagine. It was so much fun to see so many cool things, I wish that our pictures would have turned out but none of them really did. We did get some good pictures outside while we were eating lunch; the aquarium sits right on the lake and had some very pretty views. After the aquarium we headed to Adler Planetarium. We were both very excited for this but apparently we had too high of expectations. There really wasn't a whole lot to do there. We did go to a star show that was really cool, but other than that we were pretty disappointed with the planetarium. We went to the Weber Grill restaurant for dinner and it was so yummy. Everything is cooked on a charcoal grill and we had some very delicious hamburgers which made Brad a very happy boy!

Outside the aquarium, touching starfish in the "tide pool" and getting ready for our 4-D movie!

Saturday was the 4th and we were so excited to be spending it in Chicago. Most exciting was going to the Cubs game! We woke up and headed to the train station- this was our first trip on the subway/ "L" train and it was PACKED. Everyone getting on was heading to the game and Brad was pretty excited to be around so many cubs fans. We got to Wrigley walked around a few shops and picked out some cubs shirts and then we were off to find our seats. When we got our first glance of the field Brad just got this huge smile on his face- he was seriously like a little kid and I loved seeing him so excited to be there. We found our seats which were pretty high up but we actually had a really great view of the game. Brad took lots and lots of pictures of everything there. I went and got us both a hot dog for lunch while Brad enjoyed the game. We were told by everyone that we just had to try the hot dogs at Wrigley because they were the best. I am not a hot dog person and I did not particularly enjoy this one either but oh well, it is all part of the experience right? The cubs lost badly that day, final score was 11-2 for the brewers. The worst part was that we were seated by a bunch of drunken Brewer's fans who were cheering at all the wrong times. Even though they lost it was still very cool to be there for the fourth of July! We left Wrigley and did a little more shopping. We had decided to go to the Rainforest Cafe out there; we walked forever until we finally found it. It was definitely a cool atmosphere but we didn't really love the place, the service was awful and our food was not very good either so we tried to get out of there as fast as we could. We then raced up to Navy Pier for the fireworks. They started them a little early so it wasn't even quite dark when they went off so that was kind of a bummer. It was still so neat to see them on being shot out over the lake. We are so glad we were able to be there for the fourth and have that experience. I think a baseball game followed by some fireworks is the perfect way to spend the fourth!

First sight of the field, sporting our Cubs shirts, heading to the fireworks and downing our hot dogs!

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. We had thought about going to church but there weren't any close to downtown so we had loaded a few conference talks on our Ipod's and listened to those in our hotel. We decided this would be a good day to attend the Taste of Chicago which was in Millennium Park. The taste is a big food fair where all of the restaurants come in and set up booths and serve a few of the foods from their menus. You purchase tickets at the beginning and then turn in tickets for food. I tried some sweet potato hash browns, which weren't as good as I had expected. We also tried some rib sandwhiches and Brad has some carne-asada tacos. The best part was the dessert we chose. It was from Eli's cheesecake and it was a chocolate chip cheesecake put on a stick and dipped in chocolate and then covered in toffee, then it is frozen. So it was like eating a popsicle of sorts only it was pretty amazing. I think I am going to try to figure out how to make something like that. Well apparently we decided to try and leave the park at the same time that the rest of Chicago decided to come to the park and it was seriously chaos trying to get out. It became a human gridlock. We were seriously stuck in the middle of thousands of people and everyone was pushing against each other trying to go one way or another. It took us about 15 minutes to move the space of about two blocks. There were a couple of times that I seriously thought I was going to die, it was so claustrophobic. It was so hot and we were rubbing up against all of these hot, sticky, smelly bodies. All we wanted to do was go back to the hotel take a shower and hop in the pool so that is what we did followed by a much needed nap. Then we headed up town to the pizza place that everyone had told us to go to- Giardano's. All I have to say is YUMMMMM!!!! This was seriously some amazing pizza. It was so huge and so full of cheese and so good. I am not really a fan of the Chicago deep dish pizza you can get around here but this was the real stuff and it was so so so good.

A fountain at Millennium Park, at the taste, enjoying our cheesecake on a stick and our humongous, delicious Chicago- Style pizza!

Monday was a pretty full day- but we started it off with one of the best parts of our trip. We headed back up to Wrigley and we took a tour of the field. It was so neat to hear all of the history of that place and also all the random tidbits that they had to share with us. We went pretty much everywhere except the locker rooms because it was a game day but that was okay. We were able to sit in the bleachers, then up to the press box then down in the dugouts, and finally we went out on the field. It was just so cool to be there, Brad was totally soaking up every minute! After the tour we headed to the Field Museum, which is a natural history museum. We didn't spend tons of time there but I think you could easily spend a couple of days in that place. They had all sorts of interesting exhibits. We did walk through the Egyptian exhibit, I don't know why but I find that part of history so intriguing but I almost think I learned a little too much about the embalming process! This museum is also where they have the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton, her name is Sue. She was so big. They had to make a model of her skull and put the real skull on display in a glass case because the real skull weighs 600 pounds and it is too heavy for the rest of her to support. I can't imagine how much she would have weighed alive- yikes! After that we had lunch at one of my very favorite places: Panera Bread. I love this place so much and one day we will get one in Utah- we have to- it is just soooo good. Then it was back down to Wrigley for our last Cubs game. We got down to Wrigley about an hour early to do a little more shopping and I noticed that in one of the shops there was a cubs game on. I asked Brad why it was on and after asking the cashier we found out that they ESPN decided to have them start the game an hour early. We were so bummed that we missed the beginning but we only missed about 10 minutes of the game so it was okay. This was a very fun game to be there for because we had a little better seats and also everyone around us was cubs fans (they were still drunken but at least they were cheering for the right team) and oh yeah- the Cubs actually won this game!!! Woot Woot! It was so exciting to be there for that and to see how into everyone was getting towards the end- so fun! Brad was VERY happy after this! They play a song in the stadium after the Cubs win and it was just fun to see everyone singing and dancing along. I put that song on our playlist so you all can imagine you were actually there.

The field from the press box, Brad posing in the press box, the dugout and heading to the field. Us on the field, Sue the dinosaur, Sue the dinosaur eating me, Brad enjoying his smuggled in Coke, Brad's shirt which deserves its own post after what I went through to get it and us down by the field after the win!

Tuesday was a pretty lazy day, we just sort of hung out in the morning. We went and walked around Navy Pier and I loved getting see the lighthouse. Then we headed to Grand Luxe café for lunch and did a little more shopping. We decided that we would go to Sears Tower even though it wasn't in our original plans. The week before we went out there they opened up these glass balconies at the top, so we thought it would be cool to go out on those. So we headed down to the tower and thanks to our city passes we got to bypass all the lines and went straight up to the top. It was pretty cool to see the city from up there. I was pretty nervous at first to go out on the balconies but it really wasn't that bad- it was actually really cool. Everything looked so small from up there. After Sear's tower we headed back to our hotel to get ready for our dinner. We had planned to go to a fancy dinner for our last night there. We ate at the Signature Room at 95th in the John Hancock Center. So the restaurant was 95 stories high and it was so cool! We had some incredible views and it was so fun to be in such a fancy place. The waiter even put our napkins on our lap for us but I've never had anyone do that for me so I wasn't quite sure what he was doing- oh well! The food was really good. Brad decided to order the special of Filet mignon and king crab- lets just say we were a little surprised at how much his dinner was when we got the check, at least we can just laugh about it though- right? We also enjoyed a very delicious dessert that was just as pretty as it was good.

A shot of Navy Pier and the Chicago Lighthouse, on the glass balcony at Sears Tower, Brad with Mr. Obama. Us at our table at John Hancock, the view from our table and us all dressed up!

We really had such a great time on our trip. We had perfect weather and we just enjoyed being able to spend so much time together and experience so much together. Too bad we can't take vacations like this a little more often!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And we're off!

That's right- it's finally here! We are heading to Chicago in the morning- at 10:55am to be exact. We are both so excited for a break. Brad is a little giddy tonight, I think he still can't believe he is going to a Cubs game- I am just excited for the shopping. We wish you all a very happy 4th! We will have lots of pics to post when we get back- I know you all will be dying to see them!