I’d like to start of the Chicago portion of this process with this fun fact about Chicago: according to some Chi-town residents, Chicago is not called the windy city because it is next to a giant and crazy amazing beautiful lake which causes great winds but because of the hot air of the politicians. All I have to say about that, is politicians are windy everywhere. But not every city has a ginormous, bluer than the bluest blue, lake of wonder.
Only Mildly Edited for Instagram!
After a long journey between the abysses (plural of abyss? I don’t know.) that are Ohio and Indiana, in which I listened to hours upon hours of some sort of true crime show on XM radio, I made it to Chicago right during rush hour. Nothing like a rush hour when your bladder is full, am I right? My goal for the day was to make it to Chicago with enough time to settle into my friend Sean’s home and then speed off to an improv show at The iO Theater. I was lucky enough to see Bunk Seven, a Harold team comprised of several talented individuals including a few buds of mine from the olde Temple U days. I used to watch these kids perform in sketch and improv all the time back in the day and it was really exciting to see how they had improved in their craft over the years. If you’re in Chicago and searching for a good improv show. I’d head over to iO.
The first half of Saturday I spent cruising Lake Michigan with My Sweet Genevieve. I’ve definitely got a thing for bodies of water, when I travel I always try to hit one up, but Lake Michigan may have marked it’s space in my heart as my favorite. I spent most of the time at Lake Michigan just wandering Lake Shore Drive but I did spot a delightful trapeze school and Belmont Harbor Dog Beach. Aaaand parking was free between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Magical place, Chicago.
The one on the left is kept trying to mount everybody.
The next half of I headed over to Evanston, where Northwestern University is located, to meet an old high school buddy who I hadn’t seen in five years after we got into a small fight over nothing and I told him “I would never speak to him ever again”, Joel. Apparently when I need a place to stay, I’ll forgive anything. We walked around the cute little town where there was some sort of art festival. In the few months that it’s warm in Chicago, there are a lot of art festivals in Evanston so if you’re headed that way, take a gander. It’s also worthwhile to head to Evanston for the cute shops/restaurants and beautiful Northwestern campus. While I was walking through there I couldn’t help but think “this could have been my life…why didn’t I transfer to Northwestern when Joel did? I’m a fool.” But then I remembered that Chicago is freezing and everyone here thinks they are the next Tina Fey and I decided Philly had been a good choice of place to grow into the fledgling adult I am today. Besides, Tina is from the Philly area so if I want to be the next “her” I’m just as on track as the Chicago kids.
The next day Genny and I headed to brunch at Tweet, near my one true love Lake Michigan, with some Chicago buddies and the lady who would be joining us on the rest of our travels, Christine. Tweet was everything: the decor was cuter than a place Cinderella would spruce up, the food was yum yum, and the cocktails were works of art. Meanwhile, the staff was really accomodating, allowing a gazillion of us to sit outside at a huge table and providing complimentary coffee while we waited to be seated. The only downside was that Genny had to sit on the outside of the gated seated area, something her anxiety-ridden little brain could not handle. She spent most of the meal whining at me with her paws propped up on a flower basket attached to the iron fence.
After brunch, Christine and I stopped by Lake Michigan for a brief photo-taking session and then went on to Wicker Park. Everybody told us Wicker Park was cool, so we went for it. And it was pretty cool. The actual park at Wicker Park is nice and it’s fun to walk in a specific neighborhood in a city because I like the ungodly combo of people-watching/architecture. I was slightly disappointed that most of the stores seemed like chains, but who am I to make comments about window-shopping? The only snag in our little Wicker Park journey was was that we missed The 606, which is an abandoned railroad track turned aboveground park. Right after I returned from Wicker Park, one of my friends informed me this park existed and I was sad. So sad.
That night Joel took me out with his Chitown buddies to Rosa’s Lounge, a jazz and blues club. I had been told that Green Mill Cocktail Lounge was the jazz venue I wanted to see, once frequented by personal heroes of mine such as Al Capone, So at first I was a little bummed we were going to some place I had never heard of. I proceeded to get more grouchy when the cover charge was $20 when it is usually $12. But they served $15 pitchers of Stella and the music just got better and better as the night went on. The crowd was whacky: full of locals who have been going to the bar for decades, couples who were making dance babies on the floor, and the occaisonal crew of young music enthusiasts such as ourselves. The bartenders seem to know everyone at the bar and I ended up getting a free shot from one of them for some reason. Around 2 in the morning after dancing for an hour straight to the riveting tones of a man who sounded a lot like an Evangelical minister, we decided it might be time to finish the night. I later found out you aren’t allowed to speak at all during the sets at Green Mill, so in hindsight I’m pretty stoked on Rosa’s.
This is a video I found on Rosa’s website
The next morning, after falling asleep at the ungodly hour of 4 AM, I woke up at the even ungodlier hour of 8:30 to pick up Christine and make our way to Omaha, where we have a friend in medical school. Im going to just throw at this pro-tip that driving in unfamiliar traffic when you are exhausted is not actually the best idea. At one point I made a grievious traffic error in which the backseat of my car toppled onto Genevieve after a very ferocious jolt. Thank G-d my veterinarian prescribed the pup some Xanax or she would have heavy-breathed her way across America after a seat attack such as that.
With Chicago under our belts, we began the not-as-flat-as-i-was-expecting journey through the Midwest. Stay tuned for Omaha and Kansas, the midwestern hot-spots that I will try to convince you are not as terrible as they sound. It’s going to be a blast.
“We’re on a mission from God”
Travel Tip: Never travel during vacation season so you can always find free parking wherever you go.