Monday, November 20, 2006

And a great time was had by all...

...all two of us that is!
Two full and busy days, and our first girl's weekend getaway was a complete success! We had a blast!

Here's the rundown, and I'll do my best to keep it short. We had so much fun and came home with so many stories, I don't know how successful I'll be at the shortness, but I'll try!

The drive out to Michigan City was pretty uneventful; just chugging along, chatting away. We made it there pretty quickly (after making a few u-turns and extra loops on and off the highway, but we won't talk about that), and had no trouble finding the train station. If you can call it a train station. We were a little (okay, much more than a little) aprehensive when we got there. What we thought would be a nice, fancy, real train station was a run-down, closed-up building next to a sketchy looking parking lot with one covered bench like a bus stop. The train tracks ran down the middle of this little side street along with the cars and looked to us like trolley tracks complete with an overhead cable. We almost got back in the car and drove all the way to Chicago. But then a real train pulled up, and as we settled in our seats, it turned out to be a nice relaxing way to ride into the city.

We did have a slight delay when we came to a stop in some other little town because there was a car stalled on the tracks. And while we sat there and waited for the tow truck and watched the cops gather, we kept asking ourselves, Does this really happen in real life? A car stalling in the middle of an intersection on train tracks?

So we got to Chicago and had a little lunch and decided to hit the Magnificent Mile, and do a little (a lot, really) of shopping. We walked up and down Michigan Ave, and it was so fun to be in the "big city". It really made me miss being so close to Portland. The holidays in the city just feel so bright and busy and bustling... just like in the movies. All the people, the crowded sidewalks, being all bundled up, the christmas decorations, the music in the stores... it just puts you in such the holiday mood. I decided I really want to do a shopping trip every year "downtown" somewhere in a big city. Whether we live here and it's back to Chicago, or a trip to New York, or we're back home in Portland, I want to be in the holiday bustle of the city for just a day or two and get that Christmas bug. That would be a neat tradition to start for me and Savannah.

(these pictures are from inside the four story Crate & Barrel)

Well, we shopped like crazy all day, and as the evening grew dark the streets started getting even more busy. This weekend happened to be the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Parade, with the big lighting of all the trees lining Michigan Ave. It was kind of neat to be in town for that, although it significantly added to the crowd, but there was entertainment and carolers and extra things like that.

They closed down Michigan Ave for the parade, and while everyone was watching that, we kind of ignored the festivities and took advantage of a little bit of a lull in some of the shops and restaurants.

I say "a lull", but the wait at the Cheesecake Factory (Nic had never had the chance to experience their delectable cheesecakes, so we thought we'd try eating there) was still 80 minutes. We ditched that idea and after checking out a couple other places, we ended up at Gino's East for some Chicago style deep dish pizza. It was a fun place and the pizza was so yummy!!!

In this restaurant the walls and the seats and booths are "grafittied" with people's drawings, dates, occasions, and signitures. We added our names to the art, and enjoyed our time off our feet in this cozy pizza place.

After stuffing ourselves we headed back to catch the train to Michigan City (wondering all along if our car would still be there when we got back to that sad little thing called a train station). After walking around carrying a few heavy bags all day, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing 90 minute ride back to our hotel in MC. I didn't fully realize the crowds at the festival would be following us back to the trains. So after a very not-relaxing trip back, with a train full of people (and a few over-excited, tired kids!), we found our car was still there waiting for us, and we set out to find our hotel. Correction- our motel. Correction- our $39 motel.

And I'm happy to say we found our $39 motel and we were very pleasantly surprised. As nervous as we were about going for something that cheap, it was in a nice, main part of town and the room itself was in pretty good shape. A bit outdated, (but then again, unless you're paying well over a hundred dollars, what room doesn't have a little mauve and teal decorating in it?) but the bathroom was new and clean, and the room had a big color tv with cable and a little fridge and microwave. Really, I doubt that we would have had much better if we went with the $80 room we were originally going to book.
We breathed a big sigh of relief, settled in our two beds and flipped through magazines while flipping through the channels on the tv. We found "live" -uh, should have been "live four hours ago"- coverage of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade, and thought it was funny that we had felt a little guilty about ignoring the parade while we were there, and here it was for us to watch snuggled up and warm in our beds!

We drifted off to sleep, and woke refreshed (waaaay too early in the morning. I was kicking myself all day that I couldn't make myself do some serious sleeping in.) and ready for another day of shopping. We took our time getting up and out of there, had a little breakfast at the Burger King next door, and headed out to the outlet malls. There we found tons of stores, tons of great deals, sore feet, sore backs, and not enough energy (or money) to spend as much time there as we would have liked to. We grabbed some dinner at a Subway in Sawyer, Michigan and headed home a little after 4pm.

So we were back in town by about 6:30. It was good to see the kids and be home. Sawyer was so happy to see me he would just crack up every time I'd look at him.
I was wiped out! And it's really catching up with me today.
But it was so worth it! I am so glad we did this!!!
I know this is a forever long post, but we really did end our weekend with a million stories to tell and funny things we saw; it was hard to just keep to the bare necessities of the adventure here. I pretty much talked Ryan's ear off when I got home last night, so just feel lucky you don't have to sit through all of that!


Heidi said...

a 4 story Crate and Barrel...that's heaven!
Glad you had a great time in the Chicago...

leslie said...

Heather, I am glad that you guys ha a great time. Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving. Let's plan a day and get together soon.