Monday, January 10, 2011

natty's season of awesome, chapter one.

The latter part of 2010 passed in a blaze of hazy glory. I wish it could have gone by a little bit more slowly. I seem to feel quite often like life is whizzing past me at warp speed, and I am always left catching my breath, even though I don't exactly feel like I was along for the ride. Do you know what I mean?

But I was along for the ride, fast ride that it was. And it was an awesome ride that ended way too abruptly. But alas, such is life... when one gets older, anyway.

I am finally taking the time, while we still have a couple of days of break left (thanks, blizzard!), to share with you some of the awesomeness that was my Autumn season, in pictures and stories. It was a season of adventures, unexpected blessings, and upgrades, and I am so thankful to the Lord for such a peaceful and joyous time.

As you know, we spent a lot of time in Ohio. My husband was working on a project up there. During our stint in Ohio, we were able to take our first-ever family vacation, to Chicago. I had planned on blogging about it right after it happened, but photog-backlog got the better of me (and still has the better of me, even though I now see a very dim spot of light at the end of the tunnel) and it was a couple of weeks before I even got all of the photos done. They have long since been finished, and I now have the time to share a couple of stories for you.

Before I share, let me just tell you that I love Chicago.

I. love. it.

It is a city for which I had some appreciation already, but not that much. I had traveled to Chicago several times when I was a kid, to visit relatives. It was always fun, as much fun as one can have when visiting relatives. I enjoyed being around family and eating and generally doing a whole lot of nothing. I did not, however, see the CITY. Just the South Side. Nothing wrong with the South Side, but it's not the city.

I finally saw the city in 2009, in July. We were there for a week and a half because my husband was working up there. We had the most awesome time; it was unbelievable. And we fell in love with the city.

I am a total city girl anyway. I was born and raised in the city. I love the A, warts and all. And I love big cities. I've lived in London, and it's amazing. I've lived in Mexico and have been to Mexico City twice, and it is indeed big. I don't remember much of Los Angeles, because I was small, but I do recall that it was big. And then there's Miami. I love Miami.

My favorite big city, however, is New York. I love it. So much.

And I love Chicago almost as much. I actually refer to it as Almostnewyork.

With 2009's Chicago trip being so great I had little hope that we would be able to repeat it. We were determined to try, however, since this was our first official family vacation. Ever.

We headed out on the road around nine or ten in the morning. Luckily, Chicago is only a five-hour drive from Dayton. Like Atlanta to Savannah. Easy peasy.

There are lots of farms in Ohio. And Indiana.

We arrived in Chicago and were instantly smitten. Again.

Made it to the hotel, no problem. Then we find out that we have no room booked there. This was after my husband had called earlier in the week and called to confirm on TWO different occasions.

[When I had originally planned to share the highlights of this trip with you back in October, I had planned on giving this post the title of "The Misadventures of Natty's Family in Almostnewyork, Chapter One: How to Not Have a Place to Stay When Visiting a Big City Far Away From Home." I am glad life got in the way and I am just now getting to share this with you guys, because now it's just one big laugh. It actually was by the end of our trip.]

After sitting in the nice hotel lobby for what seemed like almost an hour while my husband was on the phone with the... I guess... reservation people, he informed me that a) they booked us the wrong weekend-- the following weekend, and b) not at this hotel (which was the hotel at which we had wanted to stay and thought we would be staying).

Sooooo, we got back in the car and drove twenty minutes away, to Midway Airport and its neighborhood. Of course, at the time, I was beyond pissed, because there went half of my plans to walk to the Navy Pier and Nordstrom and other places. And here we were, with no view of the city. Stank. Stank. Stank.

Buuuut, as it turned out, the hotel was nice, the neighborhood was nice, there was a Giordano's right down the street (where we ended up having dinner that night), Target was right over the bridge, and the city was actually not nearly as far as it seemed when we first made our way out to the hotel. After a couple of yummy deep dish pizzas, all was right with the world again, and we settled in, ready for all manner of city fun the next few days.

And major city fun was had by all. We took a double-decker tour bus two days in a row (and of course sat on the top deck in the most perfect fall weather imaginable), ate at Bubba Gump's since we liked it so much the year before, and also made it out to Hot Doug's for a couple of his famous hot dogs. We even met Doug himself! He was working the cash register. The experience was worth the hour-long wait in line outside (which we knew about ahead of time).

My oldest son and I took a ride on the Navy Pier ferris wheel, and acted like total little kids. It was our first ferris wheel ride ever! You would have thought we had traveled to outer space, we were so excited.

We caught the tail-end of Jewel's concert at the Chicago Country Music Festival in Millennium Park, which was a total surprise.

We had dinner in Chinatown, and fell in love with it, the food, the bubble teas from Joy Yee's Noodle Shop, and the Water Taxi.

And we took a ride to the top of the Sears Tower. Yes, Sears Tower. I know it's not called that anymore; it's called the Willis Tower. But in my mind it will always be the Sears Tower. My husband punked out before the elevator doors closed and did not go up to the Skydeck with us, but the kids and I had fun seeing the city from such a high perch.

I have tried to spare you a gazillion photos. It was difficult. It's a fairly safe bet that I will share more photos in Chapter Two of this series. This trip was all kinds of awesome and completely made of win, and we walked away with tons of fond memories of our first-ever family vacation. It really did set off Natty's Season of Awesome. And that's a way better title for this post.

Here are just a few more highlights. Did I already mention that I love Chicago? Yes? I'll say it again.

I love Chicago.

I love it so much.


urban muser said...

it sounds like you had a great time, even with the hotel glitch. your photos are wonderful.

Elizabeth said...

The picture of you standing on the glass elevator is freakily cool. I'm super scared of tall buildings, but love to see others' pictures of what is at the top. Very cool!
I stopped in from Mom Loop Friday Follow