Tuesday, August 5, 2014

10-Year Anniversary Road Trip: Chicago Here We Come!

Recently we were incredibly blessed with the opportunity for Jeff and I to take a trip to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, which is coming up in December.  We hadn't had any time, just the two of us, for a few years, and we were really looking forward to a new adventure and enjoying each others company. 

What did we do with the kids, you might ask?  The kids stayed with Grandma for 7 days and had a blast playing with her and Aunt Sue/Uncle Vic, making their own memories and heartily enjoying each others company.  We already knew this, but realized to an even greater degree what amazing family members we have.   I can't even put into words how good this trip was for my immediate family and how thankful I am for my extended family and the time/resources they invested in making this time super fun and special for LittleBear and LadyBear.  Their vacation will get its own follow-up blog post. :)

We tossed around the idea of a few different places and finally settled on Chicago.  Neither one of us had spent any time there.  Jeff really wanted to see Wrigley Field, and I really wanted an adventure, so we decided to take Jeff's car up north and explore the Windy City.

Addison Train stop at Wrigley Field

Once the kids were happy and settled with our fantastic family, we packed up and left at 5:30 a.m. for Chicago.  We had breakfast in Oklahoma, lunch in Missouri, dinner just across the river from St. Louis in Illinois and ended up finding our hotel room about 10:30 p.m.  It was a long day, but we had the anticipation of a fun week to look forward to. :)

Metro Train selfie!

From our hotel, we hopped on the Metro and took the Blue Line into the city where we met our amazing Chicago Greeter and enjoyed an almost three-hour tour describing the city, its history and architecture.  Then we spent a few hours hitting the highlights of the Art Institute of Chicago and tried our hand at eating deep dish pizza (incidentally, we discovered we are more New York-style pizza lovers...sorry Chicago). 

Then we ended our first day with a Segway tour of Millenium/Grant Park at sunset. (The Segway ended up being one of Jeff's favorite parts of the whole trip.)

Whee!!!!!  Look Moms, no hands!

Day 2 was just as full!  We started at the Field Museum, where I crossed "Meeting Sue the T-rex" off my bucket list.

Dream come true for me...she was amazing!

Did you know that her arms and Jeff's arms are the same size? 

Yikes, sorry Sue!

We grabbed lunch at a hot dog cart and then checked out the Shedd Aquarium next door to the Field Museum. 

#2 best hot dog in the city, we were told...

Once we were done there, we headed back over to the Field Museum until it was just about closing time.  Hungry and ready to sit down, we opted for a water taxi over Lake Michigan to Navy Pier, where we enjoyed a yummy dinner, walked around a bit more and rode its famous Ferris wheel.

Happy to sit at Navy Pier...

(Thanks to our Greeter, we knew that the Ferris wheel actually debuted at the World's Fair in Chicago in the late 1800s-1893, I think).  Then we took a bus and the Metro back out to where our hotel was.  All in all, we walked 7.5 miles that day alone!  Phew!

It's a big, big wheel...

That hottie on the Ferris Wheel is mine!  Woohoo!

Day 3 started with the Chicago Architectural Foundation's boat tour through the city. 

Chicago Architectural Foundation Boat Tour!

After that, we grabbed lunch and headed out to Wrigley Field to check something off Jeff's bucket list: a Chicago Cubs game. 

I have to admit, being in one of the older parks during its 100th anniversary was really neat.  Despite some rain, we saw a great game -- the Cubs blew the lead with two outs in the top of the 9th, then came back for a walk-off win over the Braves in the bottom of the 9th. 

We're a little wet, but hey...Cubbies win!!

We ended the evening with a fancy dinner at a yummy steakhouse (Harry Caray's, which was far fancier than you'd expect if you know anything about Harry Caray).

Day 4 was spent checking out the Museum of Science and Industry and walking around the portions of Millenium/Grant Park that we hadn't seen.  We could have squeezed a few more things in, but I felt like it was just right the way that it was. 

Steam locomotive...this was for Ben, one of his favorite books right now is Locomotive...

On Day 5 we began our trip home, but managed to squeeze in a few last-minute things to see on the way out of town.  We found Engine Company 18, which is firehouse 51 in NBC's show Chicago Fire (created by two Baylor grads).

51, Report!

We also found the house where Jeff's dad and aunt grew up.  He also enjoyed seeing the White Sox' stadium on our drive out of town. 

US Cellular Field, where the White Sox play...

We spent the day driving and stopped for the evening in Memphis, TN, where we enjoyed some yummy barbecue across the street practically from Graceland (after hours) and found the house where Jeff's mom and grandparents lived.


The next day we got to see Jeff's uncle and went to the cemetary to put flowers out at the graves of his great-grandparents, grandparents and his dad.  We left Texas bluebonnets (Jeff's choice) and white roses (Ben's choice) for Grandpa Al and mixed bouquets chosen by both kids for Nanny, Papa and Jeff's great-grandparents.  I'm really glad we made the time in our trip to stop there.  Then we headed back home.

This was such an amazing trip for us and we are so very thankful to our family for making it possible and to our friends for keeping watch over the house and Orbit for us.  We love you all!!!!!

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