The humid Illinois air thickens
Day FIVE of my June Blogging Challenge! Today’s prompt is very simple.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think of today’s prompt. Home. What about home? Is it asking where I live? Does it want pictures of my house? I decided I’d go with something a little less boring……. Maybe.
I live in midwestern Illinois in a small town called Mount Sterling. There are two stoplights and three gas stations. That is where I call HOME. But that isn’t very fun to talk about. Instead, I’d rather talk about where else FEELS like home.
We all have places where we feel the most comfortable. Places where all worries cease to exist and we can let our souls free. This could be at grandma’s house, or even with a certain person.
For me, one of the places that I truly feel relaxed is out in the woods. My fiancé and I love to go camping- it’s kind of what we do for mini vacations throughout the summer. Last summer we went probably ten or more times all over Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. We’ve actually talked about and agreed that camping is what we would like to do on our honeymoon!
I just love being in the trees, breathing in the fresh air. I love cooking over an open flame. I love playing cards at night with the campfire as our only source of light. It’s just an all-around homey feel for me. The rain needs to go away so we can get out and camp soon!!
Another thing that makes me feel at home is holding my sweet girl. There is just something about holding your child that makes your walls collapse and nothing else matters. She has stolen my heart! It seems that every time I leave her, something within me is just missing up until the second I see her again. I often wonder if that will ever go away. I doubt it.
Where do you feel at home? Is there anyone in your life that makes you feel at home?
Okay. So I swore I would do this a long time ago, (considering that I took the trip back in March) but I got a little busy… What can I say?
Anywhooo, I needed a little getaway right around the time that Spring Break came around, (I got lucky, huh?) so I decided to take the Amtrak to Chicago for five days. If I were to drive to Chicago from where I live, it would have taken me five hours and a boatload of money for gas. It ended up the Amtrak was only a three and a half hour ride and it only cost me $22 a ticket. The train is also a cool way to see the country, so I highly recommend trying it sometime!
I left for the Windy City on a Monday. The great thing about my mini vacation to Chicago was that I had a friend up there that offered to let me stay on his pull-out couch. I saved a lot of money by not having to pay for a hotel every night!
By the time I got there, it was too late to do much, so my buddy picked me up and we had dinner at Bar Louie and visited a bar in Naperville before heading for bed.
Tuesday morning we got up and decided to hit the city! The first thing we did was take the Metra Train to Ogilvie Train Station, which is the train station that is literally right in the middle of downtown Chicago. From there we walked to Millennium Park and saw The Bean (just about anyone who visits the city makes sure to get a picture with The Bean!). Millennium Park is surrounded by skyscrapers and incredible buildings, so if you really want a cool “inside view” of the city, Millennium Park is a good place to go.
If you keep walking through the park, you’ll eventually make it to Maggie Daley Park Plaza. It’s really just a big park, dedicated to the first lady of the city Maggie Daley, who died of cancer in 2011. The city had plans to add on to it when they wanted to make a bid on hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. Of course, that didn’t happen, but the park is still a pretty neat sight!
All of this isn’t located too far from Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago’s well-known streets for shopping. We were hungry, so we found a cool joint called Burger Bar. The pictures of our food don’t even do it justice, but just take a look and I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say it was the best burger I had ever had!! And the milkshake was probably the most beautiful shake I’d ever seen! I think Burger Bar has a few locations, but if you’re ever on Michigan Ave, I HIGHLY recommend Burger Bar!
This trip involved a lot of firsts for me! Not only was it the first time I ever rode on a train by myself, I also had the pleasure of trying my first Krispy Kreme doughnut. Oh man. I think it’s safe to say that I am glad I live in a small town so that I don’t have access to all of the amazingly delicious (and unhealthy!) food choices the city has.
While in the city, we also visited The Field Museum. I had been to Chicago before this trip with my sisters when I was in the fourth grade. On that trip, my family and I went to The Field Museum, but it’s always a lot more interesting and worthwhile when you experience it as an adult. I’m kind of a nerd, so I genuinely love museums, but I honestly think The Field Museum has a little bit of something for everybody. The architecture of the museum itself is just something to behold! It does cost admission to visit; however, they do offer discounts for seniors and military gets in free.
One of the coolest things to happen to me while I was in Chicago occurred when we went to visit Firehouse 51. Firehouse 51 is the firehouse they use to film the show Chicago Fire; however, it’s an ACTUAL firehouse. We parked along the road in front of the firehouse and were walking up to take pictures when a firefighter walked out and asked us if we wanted to take a look inside. I used to watch Chicago Fire religiously, so of course I probably squealed and said YES!!!
I probably just got really lucky that day when they offered to give us a tour, but if you have even heard of the show Chicago Fire, Firehouse 51 might be something to check out! It’s pretty cool to see a place where a hit TV show is filmed!
Another pretty cool thing I got to do was walk through Guaranteed Rate Field, which is the home of one of Chicago’s baseball teams, the White Sox. I got kinda lucky here as well because the friend I was staying with while in Chicago works security for the stadium. So I had the opportunity to walk down in the tunnel, on the field, and sit in the dugout. Anyway, they’ve put a lot of work into making the stadium look just absolutely beautiful. If you enjoy visiting all of America’s baseball stadiums, make sure you check this one out! I’m a Cardinals fan, but I wouldn’t be shy to say that this stadium is AMAZING! Five stars! Also, they added an area that looks over the city skyline, and it is a cool place to get a good view of the city from afar!
Needless to say, I think Chicago is a beautiful city!
Other note-worthy places to visit:
- Gyros Express, Villa Park: Literally the best gyro I’ve ever had, and probably my favorite meal of the entire trip.
- Portillos: Okay, so I feel like every Chicagoan is obsessed with Portillos, and even though hot dogs aren’t really my thing, they do have AMAZING Italian beef. Make sure you try a chocolate cake shake, too!
- United Center, Home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks
- Middleterranean Mediterranean Kitchen: MAKE SURE YOU GET THE GREEK FRIES with Parmesan Cheese and Garlic Mayo!!
- Brookfield Zoo: I looooove going to zoo. The Brookfield Zoo would be a good thing to do if you just wanted to get outside for a few hours. Also, military gets free admission, you just have to pay to park.
I wanted to make sure I personally thanked Nick Oplawski and his family for the hospitality and for showing me the great city of Chicago! I got to experience the city life like I never thought possible!