Chicago 2011

Being the busy bee that I am, I have just put the final touches on this entry…from last week, haha. Enjoy!
Just got home from a refreshing four days in the Windy City! I traveled with my mother and grandmother to visit my aunt and uncle, who live in Lisle (just outside of Chicago). Allow me to recap the details of our annual trip:

Day 1:
We departed Ohio on a bright and early Thursday morning, reaching Chicago in record time. As my aunt and uncle were still at their respective places of work, we three travelers ventured into downtown Naperville for an afternoon of shopping. It was there that I made the ULTIMATE shopping discovery: a dream come true, a store with a name that says it all: PAPER SOURCE.
Let me tell you, I was in HEAVEN. Paper Source carries all sorts of novelty and knick-knack items (books of satire, notepads from Knock Knock, cute thingys from Mod Cloth, hysterical dorm essentials, baking basics, awe-inspiring office supplies, and all manner of home decor). The store also specializes in the arts of scrapbooking, gift wrapping, and greeting cards. Mom had to physically pull me out of the store, but not before I had invested in a wonderfully worthwhile purchase, a dry and witty read called F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers. The title exemplifies the clever nature of this store. I want to live there. =)
After leaving the store (I was literally close to tears; I wanted to stay and explore Paper Source so desperately), we returned to my aunt and uncle’s condo to find a new addition to the family: an adorable young kitty named “KC.” She’s cute, but my uncle has dubbed her a “high flight risk” kind of cat, quite eager to escape the confines of the condo and explore the neighborhood. We were forewarned of this tendency, so we made sure to watch her carefully. Ironically, she DID run away AFTER we had gone home…but my uncle found her just beyond the backyard fence, thank goodness!

Day 2:
It’s amazing how much a little R&R can help your outlook. We spent the morning sleeping in, relaxing, and lounging about the condo (Mom took FULL advantage of the glorious hot tub!). After finishing some meetings at his office, my uncle took us downtown to the wonderful world of Chicago shopping! I devoutly visited the Holy Trinity of stores: Zara, H&M, and, of course, Forever 21. I also made my first trip to Anthropologie…um…yeah. The cost of one blouse was equivalent to my entire meal plan here at YSU. Simultaneously, my mother and I glanced at a price tag and widened our eyes in aghast amazement. Although the store muzak and decor were divine (I could have lived in that store, too!!), I could not bring myself to splurge an entire paycheck on one item. Yikes, Anthropologie!
On the much brighter side of my shopping discoveries, after leaving Anthropologie, I spotted a huge piece of news: MAGNOLIA BAKERY is coming to Chicago!!!! Opening 2012, ohmygosh. I can’t wait to visit it again…and now I can grab cupcakes from NYC and Chicago, too! 🙂 SOEXCITED.
Later that evening, we had dinner at P.F. Chang’s…oh my gosh, it was my first time eating there, and it was heavenly. Like, mandateofheaven, heavenly.

Day 3:
While the day began rather dubiously with a deluge of rain (not helped by a sudden malfunction in our van’s windshield wipers), things became much better once we arrived at Navy Pier. We had intended on watching the Chicago Air Show from the soaring heights of a skyscraper, but the rain had abruptly halted all air show proceedings. In the meantime, we ate lunch at Harry Caray’s (where I had my first celebrity sighting, James Denton of Desperate Housewives fame) and perused various shops and vendors. I also enjoyed my first trip to Navy Pier’s stained glass museum, the only museum in the nation devoted solely to the art of stained glass. What an immense, stunning collection! I could have spent hours there, too. 😉
We continued meandering through the sights of the pier, departing after a few hours. As we drove out of the parking garage, I nearly had a heart attack: an F-16 fighter jet buzzed our van, with burners flaring and engines roaring mere yards above our heads! The van rattled, the ground shook, and my body went into total shock at the scream of the jet. What an experience! It turned out that the air show was a go, after all!

Eager to see the show, we scurried past Lincoln Park and watched the planes from the comfort of a cozy apartment (belonging to my aunt’s brother). With floor-to-ceiling windows and magnificent views of Lake Michigan, we were in a perfect location to view the spectacular Thunderbirds formations and dangerous flight patterns. It was an amazing show, lasting a least half an hour.

As the sound of jets faded from the cityscape, we strolled through Lincoln Park and walked the beachfront of Lake Michigan, packed with families enjoying their last days of summer.

We took a cab to Michigan Avenue, disembarking in front of the pristine St. Patrick’s church. We peered into the quiet church courtyard, covered with sprawling ivy and gorgeous flowers. Very tranquil and soothing…until, the shrill sounds of excited squealing emitted from a corner of the courtyard. It was a young woman, jumping up and down whilst talking on her cell phone. As she carried on this strange dance, a rather embarrassed young man watched awkwardly. It was then that we noticed a vase of fresh-cut flowers on a nearby fountain, and a distinct sparkle on the woman’s ring finger. Apparently, he had just proposed, and the bride-to-be was now engaged in calling every member of her family. Ha!
Exhausted from a full evening of shopping at Watertower Place, we returned to the condo in Lisle and relaxed in the amazing hot tub. I also engaged in some hilarious quality time with my aunt and uncle, watching The Birdcage with Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. Pure. BRILLIANCE. I even preferred it over the musical version, La Cage aux Folles. 

Day 4:
Well rested and full of happy thoughts, we bid our farewells the Chicago denizens and departed for home. I always miss my aunt and uncle dearly, and I sincerely look forward to our next reunion!

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