Live by Request or Tour de Chicago

I went to Chicago with my family for five days and four nights. We stayed at the Palmer House:

This is the main lobby taken from the mezzanine level.

We did everything there was to do. The first day we drove to Chicago and stopped at an Indian restaurant on the way. We got stuck in traffic because there was wreck (imagine!) on Lake Shore Drive. We checked into the hotel and decided to walk around and find the Oriental Theater, which was only about four blocks from the hotel. Once we located the theater, we looked for some eats, and found a nice Irish pub called Elephant and Castle. The food was good, and the beer was even better. Who can beat a nice cold Guinness? We arrived at the theater just in time to get our tickets from will call, climb the steps to the balcony, and wait for a minute until the show started. My mom loved Wicked, and I think my brother and dad did, too. I had seen it before, and I have to say that it was better this time around. Here is the marquee:
While I was trying to take this picture a street-dweller kept walking back and forth in front of the camera. I was afraid to get him in the picture, because in California you have to pay homeless people if you take pictures of them!

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Argo Tea, which was right next to the theater. It was fabulous, almost as good as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in California.

The second day will be forever known as Museum Day. We went to Shedd Aquarium, Adler Plane-arium (for all of you South Park watchers), and the Field Museum all morning long. Here are the highlights:

My parents at the size of earthworms.
We got shrunk by a special machine at the beginning of this exhibit!

My brother and I after the shrinking process.
He kept saying: “Honey, I shrunk the kids!”

It’s a little known fact that Adam helped build the pyramids!

Probably everyone knows that I am an invasive species!

We ate lunch at Adler, and it wasn’t half bad. From there we went to the Taste and I ate corn on the cob, which is one of my favorite things in the world. I also had this fantastic vegan BBQ strip on a stick that was way more than the Taste portion I paid for! It was huge, and I was glad I didn’t get the whole portion because I was stuffed from the little one! From the Taste, we walked to the Sears Tower:

Here is the famous skyscraper from the street just outside the Sky Deck Entrance.

My dad’s famous observation: “We should just walk. It only looks like it is about three blocks away.” It was more than a mile away, so it took us almost twenty minutes to walk there. The next morning we were incredibly sore. I am guessing we walked at least eight miles on the museum tour, and we were literally on our feet for the entire day from around 9AM to about 1030PM. Here are some pictures from that day:

Some kind of eel. Don’t ask. I don’t know.

Just leaving the Planetarium. This is Chicago across the lake.

On Saturday we started out by going to Lincoln Park Zoo. Well, that was our intention anyway. The dork that I am, I told my family to get off the bus too early, and we walked over two miles to the zoo. However, we were able to stop by two different farmer’s markets before we even got to the zoo. At the second one, I found this amazing little booth that sold all locally produced, organically grown, pastries. They even had a choice of vegan scones! The one I got was perfect: crusty and dry and chock full of nuts and seeds! It was like an orgy in my mouth! From there, we went across the street to the petting zoo and made our way all the way through to the botanical conservatory where I took some pretty good pictures:

A random plant. I liked the leaves.


Another random plant. I liked the flowers.

Once we left the zoo and the conservatory, we went to the Magnificent Mile to shop. The best part of Michigan Avenue in my opinion is just off the Avenue: the Hershey Store. It seems like Hershey is the only major candy producer that doesn’t ruin their chewy, fruity candy by putting gelatin in it! I bought Rainbow Twizzlers. The taste was great, but they were the pull-and-peel kind, which I didn’t notice until it was too late. Their texture is so weird! Slightly off of Michigan is another place that I could grow to love. It is part of the Rosebud Restaurants of Chicago. They made me a special vegan pasta primavera that was out of this world, having the perfect amount of peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. We ended Saturday with the fireworks at Navy Pier, and I ended it with a vegan Chicago-dog, fries, and Ben and Jerry’s lemon sorbet. This is the huge ferris wheel:

This Ferris Wheel is actually over 100 feet shorter than the original one built for the World’s Fair in 1893.

We got up early on Sunday morning because my brother was running the Race to the Taste. The Race was a 5K, and he finished in like 24 minutes. Not too shabby for a course that he said was mostly uphill. Here he is getting his goodies out of the Bally Fitness Club Goody Bag:

Isn’t my little brother handsome?!?

After that we went back to our hotel room, ate donuts, changed clothes, and rode the Red Line to the North Side of Chicago to go to Goose Island Brewery. I have never been so disappointed in my life. First, we were supposed to call two to three weeks in advance for the brewery tour, which it does not say online. Their website says to arrive early to sign up for the tour. Second, out food was less than sub-par and our waitress was, too. Third, they were out of four of the six beers my brother requested for his sampler. And, fourth, the meal was the most expensive one of the vacation and we had several that were leaps and bounds above this one in quality. When we left Goose Island, we went to the Patagonia store to look around. Of course, we found nothing because their stuff is pretty expensive for what it is, but I learned that they will recycle used underwear. They make it into sheets, socks, and other things. Pretty sweet. We also walked around the neighborhood a bit and found a second floor Trader Joe’s. On our way back to the hotel it started to rain pretty hard, so we were a little afraid that the Cubs v. White Sox game would be rained out. The game was on, and was it ever fun! The Sox kicked some major butt: Sweep Revenge. Apparently in the cross-city challenge the week before the Cubs beat the Sox in every game, so it was only fitting for the Sox to beat the Cubs in every game at their own park: Comiskey Park a.k.a. U.S Cellular Field. At any rate, while we were there—we didn’t feel like fighting for a train once the game was over—two different Sox players hit home runs! Amazing! At any rate, we went back to the hotel and has Chicago style pizza from Renalli’s. (I cheated a bit on the vegan-thing from here on out.)

We passed out that night and got up late Monday morning, walked to Argo Tea and got breakfast, then checked out and headed home. On the way we stopped at Fair Oaks Dairy and the Albanese Candy Factory. Both were educational and fun. They would be places I would take a kid if I had one! The dairy even had a birthing barn where you could watch the baby cow being born, a huge trampoline, and a milk bottle climbing wall.

I would say all-in-all the vacation was great fun. I am used to a bit more alone time on vacation, but I had a great time with the family and made a few more memories. My favorite part was the walk to the Sears Tower, getting to the top, and saying to my dad: “Hey, Dad, look at those tiny people way over there three blocks away!” Can you spot the Taste?

Yeah, this picture was taken from the top of the tower, the Observation Deck, with the highest level of zoom.
Three blocks, my ass. But we made it.

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