better late than never

Just about a year and four months ago (give or take), we celebrated my niece’s sweet sixteen. Thankfully, she’s incredibly patient and understanding because it took us this long to actually make due on her gift. Thanks to Groupon and schedules that finally lined up, our shopping trip to Chicago became a reality, ahem, this very first weekend of 2014. Which, coincidentally, will also go down in infamy as “Snowmageddon, 2014″; which, as we all well know, still doesn’t nearly rival snow storms of 30-60 years ago.” Thankyaverymuch.

We decided to drive in case we came back with a gazillion bags. Lord knows there was no way we were making the trek to Union Station with a two-person suitcase and six or seven bags. Oh, I meant … there was no way I was doing that. Turns out, it was a wise choice we drove. More on that later.

We found a hotel super close to Michigan Ave so we could easily walk to the Mag Mile and shop our little hearts out but, as it turns out, shopping wasn’t really on the agenda. As soon as we saw a sign for Navy Pier we opted to head out there and check out the ice situation and if, in fact, it was windier near the water. (No, I actually had no question about that). It was fairly quiet but absolutely beautiful (and yep, windy as suspected) off the end of the Pier.

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We may or may not have accessed a couple of areas on the Pier that are under construction and not meant to be traversed at this time … but that’s part of what makes an adventure an adventure. Right?

I’ve always enjoyed visiting cities in the winter, because as it turns out, people just don’t know well enough to stay in. My hunch is that many of them were travelers like ourselves trying to get some last-minute enjoyment out of the holiday lights and shops, but either way, it actually makes you feel warmer to be surrounded by all of that other downtown energy. And buildings. And the sights. Oh, the sights. There was this guy, who was clearly lost and clearly trying to duck and cover after he knew I’d spotted him. Silly goose.

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And this … guy? who … well … wasn’t in any hurry to get anywhere when my sister pointed him out. Poor thing.

IMG_0627_FBOur short walk on Michigan Ave. took us into one store before Alyssa decided her heart’s desire was to see Blue Man Group. We’d talked about it briefly on the way and we knew there was one late Saturday evening show. None of us had been and it sounded like fun so we figured we should shift our focus to getting some food. Have I mentioned I can’t go more than four hours anymore without thinking about food? Sheesh.

We found ourselves at The Cheesecake Factory (hello, best-portion-sizes-for-weight-gain-on-the-planet, I think I love you) and I thought it would be wise to check on tickets for the show. There were four left. In the premium section. I ended the call and we were all a bit dejected (but in my heart, I was all, yay shopping!). But, Alyssa was bummed and there was no way we were going to have a bummed birthday celebrant so we called back and got the last.four.tickets.

Alyssa took her first cab ride over to the Briar Street Theatre with my new favorite cabbie who I swear said that business was slow because people aren’t getting out as much and he’s just (murmuring) “learning to drive in the snow.” Awesome.

Oh, did I mention at this point that there was probably a good four inches of slush and junk on the sidewalks so we were all a bit … disheveled when we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the show? And, at this point, we’d already walked about 7 miles.

Turns out, the show was absolutely phenomenal making the few extra dollars completely worth spending. We all hurt a bit from smiling and trying not to get completely creeped out from the blue creepy guys leading the show. Did I mention they are creepy? Have you ever been up close to one? They don’t smile or talk … they just, just look at you. Eek.

Alyssa and I acting normal with that one blue creepy guy. 

We took the El back to the city (after a colorful detour to Caribou Coffee) and girl-talked until just after midnight. Mom and I bunked and Nikki and Alyssa did the same. I refuse to bunk with Nikki because she and I have a bad bunking history. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

We woke up this morning to news reports of ridiculously treacherous conditions, which yes, we knew were likely but who can really trust meteorologists anyway? Am I right?

This is where I’m thankful we drove. We didn’t need to load the rig with bags, but I was thankful we were together in our car making our way slowly back to Michigan. It took us just about five hours to get back, and even though it wasn’t a good idea to test the weather in the first place, the trip and the time with these ladies was totally worth it.

I’m sorry, miss Alyssa, that it took us one year and four months to gift you with your trip to Chicago but I hope you loved it just as much as I did. You’re always worth the upgrade, chick. And just think, soon, you’ll be 18 and we’ll have to do something even super-awesomer (but this time, before you turn 20, ok?). Ok.

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