It only took me 6 months, but I am finally finishing the last post about our trip to the Midwest! Hey, better late than never... Enjoy!
Chicago -> Indiana
We spent 3 days in St Louis and really enjoyed it. Somewhere along that trip, we figured out Chicago was only about 4 hours away, so we decided last minute to extend our trip!
I have a very small bucket list, but getting to all 50 states is one of them. So, when we had an opportunity to check another couple of states off the list I couldn't resist. (Plus, I have wanted to go to Chicago since I starting watching the television show "ER" with my mom :)
They call Chicago "The Windy City" and "The City by the Lake"...they are not wrong on both counts!
There was snow on the ground and ice on the lakes the entire time we were there, and it made my little snow bunny heart happy.
The photos above were from our trip to Shore Line Park and to the Riverfront Walk.
Traffic and Public Restrooms
Imagine driving into Chicago. You see the bright lights, pretty water, tall buildings. You can't wait to explore. But, you are from Texas where there are wide open spaces and gas stations always let you use the restroom.
But Toto, you are not in Kansas anymore,
Firstly, Traffic stars in Chicago are wild.
Why do you turn right while in the left lane? I still do not know.
Why does this city have tunnels that go for miles and come straight from that chase scene out of Gotham?
These unknown factors all play into Michelle really needing to go to the restroom, and missing the turn for one 3 times and having to go ALL THE WAY AROUND only to miss it again. Then, she finally finds a gas station. Only to be told that their bathroom is not open to customers (What?!).
By this time your narrator is almost in tears and about to get arrested for going behind a snowbank 2 blocks away from the Magnificant Mile (Chicago's Rodeo Drive).
But instead, I ran a block to the CVS and begged and possibly bribed my new cashier friend to have mercy on my bladder.
Things to take away from this:
Potty takes precedence
Make sure you have gas because you're gonna get lost.
Make sure you have good shoes because you're gonna have to walk.
Parking and Restaurants
Something I learned pretty quickly about uptown Chicago. There is no street parking.
Except there is.
What do I mean by that? I mean that there are 4 signs on each side telling you when you can and cannot park.
However, no one listens to this.
Apparently, all you have to do is put your hazards on and regardless if you're running in for 2 minutes or 20 that is a free pass.
I have Texas plates and a Jimminy Cricket conscience, so we did not invite this kind of trouble into our lives.
The safest and most popular way to park is parking garages. The one we parked at by the lake was $12 for the 2 hours we were there. I would recommend including at least $40 for parking in your trip budget if you're going to be here a couple of days.
I will say that when we went to other parts of Chicago, parking was hard to come by, but street parking was available.
Most places to eat are open, but for patio eating or take out only.
We ended up ordering the famous Giordano's Deep Dish pizza to be delivered to our hotel. and it was as good as they said.
Tip: You will only eat one slice. Order a small. Just trust me here.
Bucket List Moment 1
We braved the parking situation mentioned above to be able to see Wrigley Field.
I like sports, but I love sports movies - and I have wanted to see the place where they yell "and the Cubs win the World Series!!" for forever and a day.
I would have taken a tour if they were available, but those are not currently offered because of the pandemic.
Bucket List Moment 2
My brother has always wanted to see the Great Lakes. Or, more specifically, wanted to drink from them. I found out that a beach was less than 10 minutes away from our hotel and had to take a few minutes to stop. We were a little disappointed due to the fact that you had to walk down to the beach from the top of the hill. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but it was of course very windy and cold, and it was icy so we were worried our fluffy selves would get hurt playing chutes and ladders with the incline.
Well, I decided this just wouldn't do.
Once I found out about my brother's desire to drink from the lakes, I was determined to figure something out. Unbeknownst to him, while we were getting gas to start our trek back home I searched for beaches close to use that would let us get - well, closer.
I discovered that there was a beach 40 minutes away in Gary, Indiana that would be perfect. Even though I knew this would add a few hours to our trip and we would probably not be able to make it home in one day now, I knew I had to do it.
As you can see, Gary did not disappoint.
I swear, this scene is straight out of Chronicles of Narnia. Crystal blue waters, snow and sand, and amber wavey paths to get us there.
I've got to be honest, I'll probably never miss the ocean again.
It's not really an adventure without one sketchy hotel, right?
I will never forget this hotel.
Cairo, Illinois has a population of roughly 200 people. There are no gas stations, no restaurants, no anything.
I put my brother (who does not travel often) in charge of finding somewhere to stay since I had been driving for over 8 hours and was exhausted. He found the Quality Inn of Cairo and it was the closest place that wasn't a motel so we called and booked it.
After checking in, we found ourselves walking down the hallway of Bates Motel, complete with the smell of smoke and weed. Our room was not much better.
Now, I will preface this by saying I am a little bit of a hotel snob - so I told myself I was being too hard on the room and to calm down.
But then I opened the bathroom door.
When I tell you I really thought Jack Nicholson was going to pop out of that curtain and scream "Here's JOHNNY".
With hardly any light, a rattling fan, and a completely dirty and peeling bathtub; my dreams of a hot shower were dashed.
The bathroom was also the size of the closet in the room. The toilet touched the wall and the shower and the door all at the same time.
I did not take any photos because I was sure I would see haunted faces in the camera and we don't need that joojoo.
I came out of that door and yelled "I DON"T LIKE IT HERE", and I continued to say it when we had to get TV dinners at the dollar store. When I had to sleep on top of the blankets, When the drug dealer was yelling for his woman down the hall.
What a fun way to end 2020, don't you think??
*Insert hysterics here"
But we made it, and we made it home. I got my shower, and to be honest - I'd do every bit of it again.