Chicago Vacation Report
Well, it didn’t go perfectly... but I’m SO good with how it did go... If you'd like the short version, just look at the pics and read the summary at the end!
Let’s begin by saying that I started getting sick on Wednesday... scratchy throat.. stuffy nose.. by Thursday morning when we flew out to Chicago - it was bad. I pushed through and just tried to not hold my friends back (ya know?) and not whine. Cuz who likes a whiner on vacations (okay, who likes a whiner anytime? LOL).
Thursday - step tally 10,702
We got up at 4:30 to get ready, load the care and high tail it to the airport for our flight that left at 7am. The good thing about an early flight is that you get almost a full day at your destination. We got to the Hotel (we stayed at Wyndham Blake in downtown Chicago and it was GREAT!) and were able to check in! Yeah, cuz normal check-in time is 3pm. Our rooms were very nice although the view was of a brick wall.. LOL.. No biggie cuz we weren’t going to spend time in the room anyway. The hotel also had a nice little gym with ellipticals, stair machines, weight machines, some dumbbells, a couple of light medicine balls (6lb and 8lb)... it was fine.
The first thing we did was get our 3-day pass for the Chicago Transit Authority which gives you unlimited rides on all public transportation... buses, the metro (subway) and the “L” (elevated rail). This costs $20 and is SO worth it. Chicago has awesome public transportation. Get the maps. Ask people for help (Chicago folks are SO nice) and you’ll do fine. Yes, you’ll make some mistakes but that’s part of the adventure!
Then we headed off to what used to be called “The Sears Tower” and has since been renamed “The Willis Tower” cuz the biggest renter of space got the “privilege” or renaming the tower. Seriously? Who gets to rename an icon? I thought it was ridiculous and continued to call it the Sears Tower. I mean, let’s rename the Empire State Building or Wrigley Field, really? STUPID. We went to the top for the view and to orient ourselves to the city. It was crazy crowded but they’ve built these little plexiglass decks you can step out on that are pretty dang cool (if you’re not afraid of heights).. I really wanted to lay down and act like I was falling for flying but there were just too many people so we settled for this pic of our feet. yawn. I know. boring.
Looking down on the City
We picked up a City Pass while there which for the cheap price of $89 (more than 50% savings) gives you access to 5 of 7 attractions that we were going to do anyway.. it’s definitely the cheapest way to go AND you can miss most of the lines (and there are a LOT of lines!)... the attractions covered were Sears Tower, Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry or Hancock Observatory, Adler Planetarium or The Art Institute of Chicago.
We had lunch at a local joint called The Franklin Pub. It was perfect for me because they had grass fed buffalo meat... so I had a 1/2 lb burger (hold the bun) with some avocado and jalepenos and a side salad. It was scrumptious.. I was fading fast... but kept pushing on.. popping cough drops left and right.. here's my lunch:
Next, we went to the Navy Pier (via the bus of course!) We walked and explored... and rode the big huge ferris wheel. Shopped. People watched. Bought souvenirs for folks. The usual tourist thing. Evidently the Navy Pier is the #1 tourist attraction in the Midwest. It wasn’t my favorite place but hey, I had to go and check it out. One thing I did love was this broze piece... it was just beautiful
About 4, I finally just had to go lay down for a bit.. I was feeling feverish.. and honestly felt like I was about to drop. I needed to get up at 6pm to get ready for a show we were going to that night called “The Pianist of Willesdon Lane”. Here’s a recap from the Royal George Theatre: “Set in Vienna in 1928 and in London during the Blitzkreig, The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the true story of Mona Golabek's mother, noted pianist and author Lisa Jura. A young Jewish pianist, Lisa dreams of a concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall. When Lisa is sent on the Kindertransport to London to protect her from the Nazi regime, everything about her life is upended except her love of music and her pursuit of her dream. Golabek performs some of the world's most beloved piano music in this poignant true story of wartime Europe.” It had wonderful reviews from everyone...
I woke up about 6 and knew that there was no way I was going to be able to sit through the performance... because now I was definitely running a fever and was nauseated. So, my friends went off and had a great evening and me? I slept. Took drugs. Slept.
Friday - Step Tally 13,624
Woke up feeling like I’d been beat with a bat but the fever had broken and it seemed I would just have to deal with a snotty nose, cough and a lower energy level but I would be among the living! I was NOT staying in the room. We were headed to Michigan Avenue to eat at a restaurant called The Yolk. (I love breakfast!)... we took the metro (subway) to get there but we got a bit turned around coming out and ended up turning on the wrong street (Wabash) cuz we were chatting and not really paying attention... we ended up at a well known diner called the “Eleven City Diner”. Seriously good eats! I had no problem ordering within my eating plan.. I had a “protein scramble” hold the bread, hold the cheese, add the whole egg rather than just the whites.. add chicken.. add a couple of extra veggies and viola!! Delicious!
Then we were off to The Field Museum and a walk down by Lake Michigan to check out Grant Park and Millennium Park. I lived in Illinois as a kid and have some terrific memories of The Field Museum. It was very interesting but I was still pooped.. so I may have taken a little nap on a bench while they explored. LOL I like to say I was pacing myself. HA! There was this sculpture of an ancient man squatting... my coach intends to get me to the point of being able to go this low in a squat AND stay there comfortably for 10 minutes or so (texted the pic to my coach!)
The walk down the running trails by Lake Michigan were beautiful. We saw Grant Park where there’s a statue of Lincoln but we didn’t go to Lincoln Park where there’s a statue of Grant (HUH?). There’s a beautiful fountain there called Buckingham Fountain (which is modeled off a smaller fountain in Versailles). We sat and people watched for quite a while. Very beautiful and relaxing.
random man sitting by the fountain chillaxin
Then we walked down to Millennium park and saw the famous “Bean” sculpture. It’s made of stainless steel and, to me, looks like the mercury when you break one of those old thermometers. It’s impressive and the vibe is definitely fun!
We headed to the river for our Architecture Tour of Chicago. There are a lot of vendors for these types of excursions but the absolute best is http://www.chicagoline.com/... it’s a 90 minute tour for $40 and worth every penny. The guide was extremely knowledgable and added little stories that were very engaging.
My friends decided dinner would be deep dish pizza. Ahhhhhh. Not a problem. I have rehearsed this in my mind. I know exactly what I’m going to order so BRING IT ON! The evening played out exactly as I imagined it would when I mentally rehearsed it. I ordered a chicken salad and it was pretty good and very filling. My friends ordered their appetizers .. I admit that was hard. I was hungry but there was nothing “safe” for me to order as an appetizer. So, I just kind of got my mind set... then focused on the conversation as we waited 45 minutes for our meals to arrive. The pizza looked amazing and I did have a bite. It was the best red sauce I’d ever had - ever. I was satisfied with a bite and that in itself was a victory!
We were supposed to go to a Jazz Club that night but honestly, I was still tired, so off to bed I went about 10pm. No biggie.
Saturday - Step Tally 13,075
Saturday was a rainy day and, again, we started the day with a big breakfast. I found this to be KEY to keeping my hunger in check. So, off we went to Blackies, a local favorite just a short walk from the hotel. I had a skillet type breakfast.. hold the potatoes, hold the bread... add whatever veggies you have back there in the kitchen. They did me RIGHT! It was absolutely fabulous and extremely filling.
We decided to get a different view of the city and rode the Loop route on the Orange Line of the “L”. This is a must do if you’re in the city. Cuz it’s just fun and you meet the most interesting people. We then headed to the Museum Campus to go to the Shedd Aquarium but since it was raining it was so crowded it just would not have been fun.. so we changed plans and went shopping! I got these cool glasses and wore them all day! LOL it was fun. We didn’t really DO anything but explore and shop.. and shop and explore.. until dinner time.
I was craving steak and we ended up a restaurant called WildFire... however, my craving for steak changed when their special was Macadamia Nut encrusted Halibut. Oh. My. Stars. It was amazing. I had balsamic roasted veggies and asparagus which were both delicious.
So far my planning was going spectacular. So far. The desserts they presented at the end of the meal looked so so so amazing. I didn’t have any but it set the “tone” for my tastebuds. I wanted something sweet. But we were off to the Navy Pier to see another little show called Cirque Shanghai Dragon's Thunder (not to be confused with Cirque Du Soleil.. not nearly that caliber)... the show was okay.. that's it.
My friends were eating cake pops and bagels and chips and chocolate and it was all fine until the sweet tooth thing... I started obsessing over having something sweet. I had not planned for a “sweet tooth”. I had not mentally "practiced" or prepared for a friggin sweet tooth! Why?? Cuz I don't have much of a sweet tooth. Dang it! I didn’t want to turn a craving of a 3 on a scale of 1-10 into a complete nose dive into some decadent dessert. So, I decided to “indulge” but find something less than 300 calories.. I tried to find some sugar free frozen yogurt (seemed like a pretty healthy choice). Couldn’t find any.. they had fat free but not sugar free... frustrating.. but as we came out of the yogurt shop a guy told us about a dairy queen close by that had sugar free dilly bars. SCORE! We skedaddled over there and got a Dilly Bar. I did text my coach just to check in.. and sent him this picture of my indulgence. LOL It was so good!
Sunday - Step Tally 11,775
We would be leaving today.. so we got up early and headed out for another great breakfast. This time we made it to "The Yolk" for breakfast and it was fantastic. I got an omelet... again, hold the bread, hold the potatoes, hold the cheese.. add chicken and all the veggies you can find. The color was not appealing but the taste was great!
After breakfast we were off to The Art Institute of Chicago. What a glorious place. I could go on and on and on about it.. but if you don't enjoy art, you won't like it. My favorite piece was by Van Gogh.. but the sculptures intrigued me so much.. I spent a looooong time there.
Then we were off to the Shedd Aquarium... I just love the Shedd... it's a fantastic aquarium. I loved the Dolphin show.. they used dogs to compare the say the whales, dolphins and seals are trained to dogs.. it was so cool! How can you not enjoy these creatures??
Time's a ticking but we hopped on the double decker tour bus to find a place for dinner before we went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head out. We intended to eat at "Cite" which is on top of this building called the Lake Point Towers (past home of Oprah).. but we were too early and it wasn't opened yet.. we ended up walking to a Irish pub and had a quick dinner.
We packed up and headed to the airport only to have our plane delayed. Bummer.. So I ended up getting home at 1:30am... sooooo glad I thought ahead and took today off! Of course, we had a storm while I was gone so I came home to this - 1/3 of my tree gone! OUCH
In summary... I had a great time.. I stuck to my eating plan with one small deviation for a dilly bar... and a bite of pizza.. I did some sit-ups and push-ups to keep up my strength training.. and walked.. a lot... On a scale of 1-10, I'd give myself a 9!! the lesson I learned is to prepare for a sweet tooth attack! LOL.. but I'm happy with my choices and besides being sick, I had a GREAT time!
Next month, I'll have an opportunity to apply what I've learned because I'm going to Nashville.
60 days til Africa
14lbs to go to meet my ZipLine goal