Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Friendly Confines

I just got back from our family vacation to Chicago, Illinois.  I honestly have lost count of how many times I have been to Chicago, but this was my second time going with my family.

For a while, we weren't sure if it was going to happen.  It started out as being a trip with just my brother and I.  Brother has never been to a game at Wrigley Field and wanted to go, so I suggested that we make it a siblings trip.  Over Spring Break, we were talking about it at home, and my parents both said they wanted to go, too.  And so, flights were booked and tickets were purchased.

But then, my mom got hurt.  In the midst of cleaning up after the Superior Tornado, my mother injured herself.  At first, she thought it was just a fractured foot, but it was later revealed that she also blew her knee.  I'm sure that "blew her knee" is not the proper medical term for what happened, but I don't exactly know what the issue is.  "Blew her knee" should give you enough information to know that she is in pain and is physically unable to continue normal levels of activity.  After an initial meeting with a doctor, she was told that Chicago was a no-go.  At the end of a tearful phone call, I assured her that the trip would happen, even if it meant that she would have to swallow her pride and allow us to push her around in a wheelchair the entire time.  She felt a little reassured by that.

After a second opinion with her primary physician and a cortizone shot, she was given the OK to go.  And so we went.

Since this trip was initially about what Brother wanted to do, it shaped up to be largely a trip about all things Chicago Cubs.

Our flight out of Omaha was delayed, so we didn't have as much time the first night as we had initially thought we would.  We went out for a late dinner and spent the rest of the night in our hotel room.

The next morning, the first item on our agenda was a tour of Wrigley Field, otherwise known as "The Friendly Confines."  My mom didn't think she could do all of the walking that the Wrigley tour required, so she and my dad just sat at the McDonald's across the street and had coffee.  Don't feel bad for them - they ended up meeting some people from Ohio who wanted to dicuss Nebraska's future in the Big 10, which is a favorite subject of my dad's.

Waiting for the tour to begin.

Please excuse this interruption:  You'll notice that my hair is either in pigtails or a ponytail in all of the pictures from this trip.  It was rainy in Chicago the whole time we were there.  I don't mind the rain at all, but my hair does not do well when wet.  Thus, the pigtails or ponytail.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

You should know that my brother loves the Chicago Cubs.  He has been talking for months about how excited he was to be going on this trip.  I've been to Wrigley several times before, so this wasn't anything new for me, but I loved getting to watch him experience it for the first time.

Hanging out in the bleacher area

Climbing down for a closer look
Sitting in the press box
Sitting in the Cubs dugout
Acting like he owns the place

During our tour, it started raining, so we got to see the groundskeepers in action.  The field went from looking like this:

To looking like this:

The tour was very informative and very thorough, and I enjoyed it very much.  After the tour, the rain stopped, and we headed to Harry Caray's Tavern for lunch.

Standing with the Harry Caray golden statue
As we waited for our food, Brother wanted to show my parents the pictures he took during our tour.
They tried really hard to act interested.

After lunch, we went to Millennium Park to buy bus tour tickets.  Since my mom was injured, we tried to plan things that involved very little walking.  My family enjoys history, so we thought that going on neighborhood tours would be a fun way to learn about the history of the city.

Our first neighborhood tour was in Southern Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood.  We saw:

President Obama's house
Mohammad Ali's house

among many other things.  Our tour guide grew up in this neighborhood, which made the tour seem very authentic.  I wish I had taken more pictures of everything he showed us.

Then, we went on a tour of the Western neighborhoods.

My parents on top of our double-decker trolly
Brother got really sick of me asking to take pictures

In the western part of Chicago, we saw:

Little Italy

Chicago is a richly diverse city, and I loved seeing how definitive each part of town is based on its people and their cultures.

My favorite stop on this tour, however, was Harpo Studios, home of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

My family was gracious enough to get off the trolly and let me walk around the Oprah Store.  Of all things to buy, I ended up with an Oprah waterbottle.  Frankly, I didn't need another t-shirt, I couldn't think of any use for Oprah stationary, I didn't want random Oprah decor on my bookshelves, and God knows I won't get good use out of Oprah workout clothes.  A water bottle, however, is something that I use every day.  Also, it was only $6.50, which is a reasonable price for a water bottle.

Anyway, Harpo Studios was our last official stop, but we got to see lots on our way back to Millennium Park, suck as:

The rush for the commuter trains to the suburbs
The set for Transformers 3

We took the train back to our hotel to "freshen up" a bit and then headed to Blue Man Group.  I was not allowed to take pictures during the show, so here are some photos from online of their shows to give you the idea of what an incredible show they put on:

This show was incredible!  I love shows like this, but I was nervous as to whether or not my family would like it.  They ended up loving it and have already started talking about going to see them at the Leid Center when they come to Lincoln.

After the show, on our way out the door, I was asked if I wanted to get a picture with one of the Blue Men...

The answer was yes.  I only wish that the rain wouldn't have ruined my hair, which is the worst part of this picture.  Oh, well.

The next morning, my brother was way nervous about getting to Wrigley on time.  So, for the 1:20 game, my brother and father got on the train at 9:30.  For those of you who don't know Chicago well, it took them approximately 15 minutes to get there by train, which put them there more than three hours early.

Meanwhile, my mom and I did some shopping on State Street and on Michigan Avenue.  I much prefer shopping to standing in line waiting for gates to open.  To each his own, I suppose.

Dad and Brother were the first fans through the gate.  Are you surprised?
Mom and I showed up much later with H&M and Macy's bags in hand.

We had pretty good seats:

And got to see popular musician B.o.B. throw out the ceremonial first pitch

Without giving you the boring play-by-play, I will just tell you that the Cubs won!

And my brother got his wish of getting to sing the "Go, Cubs, Go" song in Wrigley Field.  He even took video footage of it with his camera as he was singing.

I don't even want to think about what kind of mood he would have been in had they lost.  I braced myself for it all day because the Cubs have NOT been doing well lately.  Not at all.  In this series against the Brewers, they lost their first game 18-1.  In baseball, that is an awful spread.  Out of nowhere, they pulled off a 15-3 win, which made Brother very happy.  And in my family, if Brother is happy, everybody is happy.

We ended our night at Navy Pier watching the fireworks show that takes place every Wednesday and Saturday.  I'm not a huge fan of fireworks, but I am a huge fan of getting to watch the sun go down over my most favorite skyline in the world:

All-in-all, a wonderful vacation with my wonderful family.  I am very blessed.

No comments: