Chicago Bound

Chicago Bound. May 12-15th.

Monday faced us head on with the not-so-speedy Illinois Tollway. Why must we keep paying for roads that are habitually being worked on and are even worse after they are complete? When we lived in Illinois someone was making a lot of money from the tollway- and now that we moved to Minnesota…they still are making a lot of money of the tollway! I’m also glad we filled up in Wisconsin, which was higher for gas than Minnesota, but not the price shocking $4.19 a gallon for regular in the city.

…LaLo’s here we come! They just don’t make Mexican food like this back in Minnesota! However, with Chicago size portions and no calories spared, it’s a good thing that this food isn’t as accessible! Nishad was eating salsa by the spoonful…spicy salsa. Since we were in the neighborhood, we also stopped and took pictures of the boys in my Mother’s garden at my old childhood house.

We loaded up the kiddies, and headed east to downtown. After living in Minnesota (only second to California with wind gust/power), the windy city didn’t seem nearly as windy as I recalled. Chicago get it’s nickname from all the political “wind” that flys around… We checked into our hotel, The Avenue http://www.avenuehotelchicago.comwhich/ is right on Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile) and Huron. It was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever stayed in.

Need I say, Gino’s East (one of the best places to eat pizza) and Garret’s Popcorn where right across the street! This city and FOOD! ha,ha. We were also a few blocks away from Fire House, Engine 9 that had a park adjacent to it- which was a hit with Nishad. He *loved* the non-stop sirens and trucks. I on the other hand could do without the diesel and hustle and bustle.

This time around, I learned first hand that Chiacgo is not a very family friendly-child oriented city. They have revolving doors at every store-front. Try getting the Cadillac of double strollers through that! It was about then that I missed the family friendly, “nice” people of Minnesota that see a struggling Mom of two and actually hold the door open for her with a smile instead of rushing right by.

We walked Ashish over to the Hyatt, where the BEA conference was being held. He registered and went to the meet & greet while the boys and I started shopping (yes, already!). This was also prime time for me to catch-up on my snap-shots! With the city as a backdrop, one can only feast with photo opps (see, a reference to food – again). We walked a few miles to Frontera Grill (Rick Bayless’ place), but it was closed on Monday’s! Instead, we headed back and ordered pizza to go, and crashed.

Tuesday morning Ashish got all decked out in a suit and tie (I haven’t seen him in one since our wedding). While he attended the conference, the boys and I painted the town blue! We went to the Chicago Stockyards, shared a sundae at Ghirdelli, had a picnic style lunch, played at the fire house park, went to Millennium Park, and missed Daddy a whole lot! After the boys woke up from their naps, it was time to go and meet Daddy for dinner. We went out for Indian food- and made a pit stop for some Chicago popcorn for dessert.

Wednesday we met up with Auntie Audrey at LaLo’s- again. Audrey and I did everything together back in h.s….I’m so glad we’ve remained in contact through the years.
This was such a short trip we didn’t plan to make it a social visit- especially since we weren’t going to drive to the burbs, but I had to have some…out of the city time. 🙂 After the boys, Audrey, her Mom and cousin Colby (5), all played at Proska Park (the same place I grew-up playing). It was so neat to see!

After a long day, we headed back- in a commuters nightmare. Just when I started to tear-up about not living close to those special people in our lives…traffic gave me a reality check! Daddy was a party-animal (at least in Ashish terms) as he stayed out with the folks at BEA (they have an evening arranged for them all with a tour and dinner). The boys and I ate Gino’s- again! And we loved every bite of it. 🙂

Goodness For Dan: Ashish’s co-worker, Dan (Ashish’s previous boss), became my savior a few different times turning this trip. Every time something happened- he would magically appear. For instance, my room key wouldn’t work. So I’m trying to back the boys out of the elevator (mind you, I was already frustrated) and there he appears with a smile and a helping hand.

Then there was the Gino’s East “incident”~ Remember how I spoke of revolving doors? Well, I ordered take out for the boys and I, and I couldn’t get in to pick it up! So, I called Gino’s and they had to send out security to open one of the regular doors. Just as they did, a PACKED trolley pulls up and unloads a million hungry people who trample over us to squeeze through any and all doors. So the security guard is yelling, “I’m looking for a stroller!” Nice huh? Well, it get’s better!!

While waiting for our order, Nishad takes out his disposable camera (with a flash) that Mom picked up for him (so he would leave MY camera alone) and he takes a picture of 10 drunk business men. Thank goodness for beer…they were all happy! So, on the way out…I couldn’t open the door again!! So, I was ready to give up and open the pizza right in the middle of place when Dan comes out of nowhere! He opened the door for us- Which, of course, I’m thanking him on the sidewalk in front when all of a sudden we hear, “Whoa, What Was That?!” and I turn and Dan says “Watch out!” as I simultaneously try to move the buggy…that a blind man just walked into! The nice blind man keep saying, “What was that?” Dan kept saying, “Your okay…Your Okay….You walked into a buggy.” That was my cue to get back into our safe hotel room! Enough of letting us loose on the streets of chi-town!

The Perfect Spot: FREE Parking in front of the Lincoln Park Zoo. I knew it was going to be a good day when I landed a free parking spot in front of the zoo in Lincon Park. Good timing and my oh-so-awesome illegal u-turn abilities combined with my parallel parking skills paid off! We spent the morning at the zoo, along with every other elementary school in the Chicagoland Metropolitan area, visited the botanical gardens and at lunch before (The Gorilla Grill- Good Enough to beat on your chest about) heading back to pick up Daddy. Nishad loved how close the animals were- similar to a very beautiful zoo in Saint Paul, Como Zoo.

Off to the Dells!! Bye Bye, My Kind of Town! Despite 1hour detour, we made it to the Dells where Daddy booked a lakeside, beach room for us to relax in. And, boy…did we need it! I think we were all in bed by 9p.m. The following day we went to Deer Park and heading back for home!