We're back from Chicago! I know, I know. Two vacations in two weeks. What were we thinking? The timing was weird, but couldn't be helped. Jarrod was invited to play a show at a Big Mysterious Conference, and we took this as an excuse to explore the Windy City. Hurrah!
I'll talk more about his show in a few days. I have some VERY exciting news, but it'll take some time for me to decide how to share it. (You'll see.)
Chicago rocks! The first day, Jarrod had rehearsal so I popped on my iPod, and Rufus Wainwright and I took a tour of our surroundings. I walked for five hours around Grant Park and Michigan Avenue, as this is my favorite thing to do when visiting a new place. Explore by foot.
Right away, I noticed something peculiar. Twilight shirts. LOTS and LOTS of Twilight shirts. At first, I thought there had been a release party. Belated, but you never know. Then I spotted an official Stephenie Meyer tour t-shirt. Huh??? I stopped the girl wearing the shirt, and she said Meyer was in town and had just signed books for over 1500 people.
EXCUSE ME? HOW WAS I NOT NOTIFIED ABOUT THIS?!
Sigh. Stephenie Meyer was right there, and I didn't even know it! Oh well. At least I got to enjoy her fans.
It wasn't until I got home that I found out not only did I miss Meyer, but I also missed JOHN freaking GREEN! My hero! He was only a block from my hotel, and once again, I had no clue. Gaaaaahhh.
He read from Paper Towns, and then his brother Hank played music in the park.
The park that was A BLOCK FROM MY HOTEL.
Sob sob sob! Normally, I'm pretty sharp about these things, so it kills me that I missed both of them.
Well. Now that you know what I didn't see, how about what I did?
These boys were chanting "Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!" and dancing around in the fountains of Millennium Park. I watched them for about fifteen minutes, reveling in their joy. Totally awesome.
I loooove portraiture! The Art Institute is free on Thursday and Friday nights, so we were pleased for the opportunity to check it out. These two guys were my highlights, a haughty man painted by Ingres (one of my favorite artists), and the fabulously grotesque The Picture of Dorian Gray by Ivan Albright (created for the 1945 film).
We also stuffed our gullets with yummy food. Naturally, Chicago-style hot dogs were first on our list (Hi, Suzanna!), but we also had a ridiculously delicious veggie deep dish pizza from Pizano's and an incredible, inventive Chinese dinner from Opera (example: dessert was sweet corn - yes, corn - ice cream with mango and coconut sorbets, served atop black rice pudding).
The best part of the trip was The Field Museum. I've wanted to go ever since I watched The Ghost and the Darkness twelve years ago and learned about the Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo. If you've never heard of them, they were a pair of maneless lions who ate nearly 140 railroad workers in the late 1800s.
Considering my greatest fear is getting eaten alive by a wild animal, this is sort of a strange obsession, even for me.
Then again, lions rank only #5 on my list.
LIST OF ANIMALS STEPHANIE DOES NOT WANT TO BE EATEN ALIVE BY:
(2) Alligators & Crocodiles
(4) Grizzly Bears
It was thrilling to see them in person. They were honest-to-goodness on my "Things To Do Before I Die" list. (I like lists.)
Sue, also at The Field Museum. The world's largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton. A GIANT! So cool to finally see her in person.
Check out this GIANT salamander. Ewww! For an idea on how huge this thing is, check out the teeny, regular-sized salamander in the upper right corner.
My new favorite prehistoric animal -- the GIANT ground sloth! I had no idea these things existed. I am so, so happy they did.
At the Museum of Science and Industry, we saw the world's most GIGANTIC pinball machine. Neat-o!
And on the drive there, we stopped by a Big Boy at one in the morning so I could take a picture of the GIANT, tacky statue. (Because no vacation is complete without a tacky statue.) This one's for you, Jamey.