Chicago or bust

In our last rush to make it back cross-country, my blogging efforts were completely lost.  Two days driving across Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, then another two driving across Indiana, Ohio, New York and Mass.  I feel like I gained a whole new respect for how vast this country is.  I am going to break this up a bit.

Friday we got up relatively early and drove East through Colorado ski country.  We got to Boulder in time for a late lunch at Centro Latin Kitchen and “Refreshment Palace”.  They had really awesome sounding drink, and Molly and I opted for Cherry Ginger Fizzes to go with our Mexican.  After lunch we decided to walk around Pearl street and went in several shops including a really incredible book store.  We got back in the car and started driving further East making it just into Nebraska before stopping for dinner.  While we were eating, the sky started getting much darker, and by the time we were back in the car driving the radio announced a thunderstorm with possible hail and gusts up to 60mph.  On one hand, the sky was spectacular as the clouds lit up with horizontal bolts of lightning.  But on the other, 60mph made us kind of nervous.  Especially in tornado country.  So we stopped at the Days Inn in Paxton, Nebraska for the night. 

We got up really early (I think we were on the road by 6?) and drove all day across interstate 80 through Nebraska and Iowa.  It was a horrendously boring day but we did make it to Chicago by our deadline rolling into Lincoln Park around 7:30 to celebrate our friend Alicia’s birthday.  We were able to park right outside of Andrew and Ariel’s place and as soon as we had changed into something slightly nicer we walked over to Las Fuentes for some Margarita pitchers and food.  Afterwards we went back to the apartment for some delicious cake and another drink before going out.  I am pretty sure the plan was to go “bar hopping” in the neighborhood but it just never worked out that way.  We started at a bar called Delilah’s, which I was a fan of for their $3 nightly whisky special and just never really went anywhere else.  We were met by a couple of Andrew and Ariel’s friends.  Someone was having their bachelorette party or something and Alicia made me steal like 4 different bottles of bubbles with bows on top.  Around 2 Andrew was hungry again so we went to some other Mexican place for late night food before crashing at their place.

Sunday morning Andrew and Ariel made us breakfast before we left for Alicia’s house on the North Shore.  Alicia is an AmeriCorp Volunteer and lives in a house with 4 other AmeriCorp Volunteers.  We spent most of our time in Chicago staying with her.  After we all had showered, Andrew and Ariel drove up to Highwood and we had a late lunch at Real Urban Barbeque that was kind of phenomenal.  It was awesome because I did not feel like we had enough barbeque on our trip.  Afterwards we went to Fort Sheridan beach to soak up some sun.  Molly and I were really exhausted so once Ariel and Andrew went back to town we hung around watching the Olympics with Alicia and one of her housemates and went to bed early.

We were clearly wiped out because the next day we slept until noon.  By the time we hopped a train into Chicago it was 2:30.  We had a quick lunch on the walk to the Art Institute.  We were only able to spend a couple of hours there and spent most of the time checking out the photography and contemporary art.  We were also intrigued by an exhibit called “tiny rooms” which were literally miniature reproductions of rooms from different countries and eras.  After the museum closed we walked through millennium park before taking the train back to Highwood.  Alicia fed us some snacks and I hopped in the car to drive up to Madison for the evening.  My friend Kristin got off of work at 10 and I made it to town around 10:30.  We immediately walked over to a bar called Vintage, which had $1 Wisconsin beers.  We played some darts and hung out with my friend Emily from graduate school when she showed up.  At the end of the night Kristin took me to Ian’s for pizza.  They are famous for putting mac and cheese pizza but I got a traditional pepperoni.

On Tuesday, Kristin showed me around Madison.  We had breakfast and walked through the capital building.  It was kind of crazy to see how similar the layout was to the national capitol.  One key difference was the lack of security that allowed the presence of protestors.  They stood in the rotunda singing songs about peace and criticizing the Governor.   We also walked around the University campus and sat on the patio of the union.  Around 3 I left to drive back to Illinois where I picked up Molly from Alicia’s.  We had dinner at my friend Ashley’s house with her family.  They are really nice people and it was great to hear how well my sorority little is doing at Vandy. 

Wednesday I got in the car around 9:30 and drove up to Michigan to check in on my farm.  In case you missed it, I spent 11 weeks last summer living and working on a farm in southwest Michigan.  I was surprised to find one of my former coworkers there as well as the farm manager.  Jesse had to run errands in town anyway, so we grabbed a couple of beers and caught up.  I spent most of the afternoon hearing all of the gossip about the state of the farm and discussing the nature of becoming a “real person” with Jesse (some people think it’s funny that I contrast that with my current state of transatlantic rambling).  I left the farm around 8 and met a former camp friend for drinks, making it a really strange day for me.  I spent all day discussing summers past.  It was really good to catch up with Megan though and to reminisce on our lives as camp counselors.  Even though it has been a few years, I still miss camp.

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