As you may recall, I turned 30 on my last birthday. It was kind of a big deal, what with my 30 by 30 list and all. What I didn't mention on my blog (at least not that I can find) was that on my birthday I was spoiled by my dear Clarky. He had hidden 30 gifts around the house, and I got little clues throughout the day to find them. It was absolutely wonderful, and while the gifts were nothing fancy (more than one item was purchased at the dollar store) (and I loved it), they made the day incredibly special.
So. I knew that 6 months later, I'd have to do something pretty spectacular for Clark's 30th birthday. When a friend offered to watch my kids for an overnight trip to Chicago, I knew I'd hit gold.
You see, we've wanted to go to Chicago for a while. And not even to see all the museums or eat the pizza or go to the top of the Willis (even though we all still call it Sears) Tower. Those things are all good and fine, but what we were really wanting to see was Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. Fans of this show will understand our burning desire to see Carl Kasell, Peter Sagal, and (fingers crossed) Paula Poundstone in person. So I hopped on the website the moment tickets went on sale, purchased 2 tickets for the Thursday, February 9th taping, and we were on our way.
For this trip, we dropped our children off with our friends in Kalamazoo (our dear, kind, ever so generous and lovely friends in Kalamazoo), and started our adventure on a city bus. It was your typical bus experience, until we pulled up to the stop in front of the high school, where a crowd of kids were waiting to get on. They filled the whole bus up. I'd say it was standing room only, but I don't even know if there was standing room once they all got on. And oh, the profanity. I have lived a sheltered life, I am fully aware of that, but I think I heard more profanity on that bus ride than I have in the last, oh, 3 years. And then we saw a drug deal! It was quite the start to our little adventure.
So we rode the bus down to the train station and then took our very first train ride ever. That was much more pleasant. Lots of leg room, generally quiet. 2 hours of reading and napping and generally relaxing. I was so glad we decided to take the train to Chicago instead of driving. We didn't have to worry about our car, we were close enough to walk everywhere we went. It was fantastic.
We got off the train and walked down the road to Giordano's for some Chicago pizza. It did not disappoint. I think one of us took a picture on our phone, but I don't have any idea how to get there here, so just imagine some delicious deep dish pizza. Yummo.
Then we checked into our hotel, the Hotel Burnham. We chose this hotel because we got a deal, and it was the closest one to the show. It turns out it's old-school fancy. For example, we got a real live key for our room. One that goes in a lock and turns it. And here is the elevator:
But while it's older, it's not old. Older design, but not run-down. See what I mean? Old-school fancy.
Anyway, once we checked in, we walked over to the Chase Auditorium in Downtown Chicago, where we discovered that our panel for the night consisted of Roxanne Roberts, Tom Bodett, and Paula Poundstone! THE Paula Poundstone, right before our very eyes! Oh, it was heavenly. If I could have picked my dream panel, it would have been Paula Poundstone, Tom Bodett, and Mo Rocca. 2 out of 3 is not too shabby. I was surprised at how small the theater was, and how close we were to them. And then the show started. They did not disappoint. By far the best part of the whole trip. And so worth every penny.
Then we met up with Clark's friend Mark (they are rhyme-y friends) and wandered around, chatting and generally enjoying staying out late. It felt so luxurious to stay up past midnight and then sleep in the next morning. Lovely, lovely.
Friday was our walking day. We walked over to Millennium Park and saw the Bean. I knew we had to see it, but I didn't know how cool it really is. I kept walking around it, and into the middle, and just staring. It was cool. And I even took pictures. I know, you are all shocked and amazed.
"Look! I'm in Chicago!"
Then we walked over to the Art Institute, where we saw real deal paintings! By famous people! Lots of impressionism (which is some of my favorite stuff) including Renoir and Monet. And even some Van Gogh. I'll admit, it was a bit surreal, seeing the actual paintings that are so famous. I kept thinking in my head, "Oh my goodness, this is THE CANVAS that they painted on! Van Gogh touched this! This is the real deal!" Awe-inspiring.
And then it started snowing. But we soldiered on (and it was easy, because we had no kids, remember?) and headed over to the Field Museum. Julia has been on a major dinosaur kick lately (Dinosaur Train, anyone?) so we had to go see the big T. Rex and get her a t-shirt.
And then we had to see the rest of the dinosaurs.
And a real, live preparator! We learned about preparators in a book we checked out from the library, How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum, so I had to take a picture for Julia.
We also scoped out the Ancient Egypt exhibit (complete with mummies!), and breezed through a little exhibit about jade. And then it was time to head home.
We walked as fast as our little legs could carry us to Union Station, where, upon entering, we heard the last call for our train. We had barely made it. Phew! Our ride home was just as pleasant as our ride out (except this time we were sitting next to each other, instead of across the aisle), and perhaps made even better knowing that we weren't driving in a crazy snow storm. Taking the train in the snow is MUCH better than driving in the snow.
And then we were back in Kalamazoo. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but it was so worth it. I hope Clark enjoyed it as much as I did - it seems a bit like cheating to get to enjoy his birthday present so much.
As fate would have it, visiting Chicago was also on my 30 by 30 list. So while it's 6 months late, I get another check mark. Happiness all around.
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