There is something enchanting about big cities. That’s one of the things that drew us to make the move up to Northwest Indiana – it only takes an hour to get into the city!
Since we were both gainfully employed for this our second anniversary celebration, we celebrated with a weekend trip a little closer to home. Since it IS so close to home, we were familiar with the city. We’ve done the deep-dish pizza thing. We’ve been to the Bean and Museum Campus. Spent a lot of time in Grant Park and along the Lake Shore. It’s becoming more of a challenge to think outside the box and come up with unique things to do in this city we only dream of calling home.
We do have our comfort traditions. If we stay overnight in the city, we tend to stay at the same place and grab breakfast at our favorite brunch stop. We love to stay at the Congress Hotel – we can usually find cheaper rates (because apparently it’s “haunted”?? Who knew…) and it’s got a great view of Grant Park and the lake. Since we’re getting the haunted hotel discount, we do spring for the extra “lake view” fees. And breakfast at Yolk is always a must during an overnight stay. They are only open until 3:00pm and have the greatest breakfast and lunch combo menu. So Jonathan could get a burger and I could get pancakes. (We don’t. We’re creatures of habit and have settled on ALWAYS getting some kind of skillet – it’s an amazing breakfast).
But of course it’s most fun to try to find new things to do. So we took the train in, dropped off our bags, grabbed some brunch, and then started on our new adventure! Jonathan has always talked about kayaking through the canal. So we found a groupon that saved us some money and made the trek up to possibly the furthest away kayak rental place. Just meant we had our work cut out for us if we wanted to make it to the end and back!
Kayaking is NOT easy. I have watched people kayak before. It doesn’t look very complicated. Before we left, they taught us how to sit, how to use the paddle, how not to use the paddle, and how to avoid tipping the kayak. With all that information, plus a quick study of the map, we were gracefully slipping into the kayaks and taking off on our adventure. Now, for those who know me, physically activity can make me crabby. Particularly if I think it should be easier than it is. The first stretch of our trip was against the current. And we had a long stretch of boring sights before we saw any skyscrapers. Jonathan’s manly strength and exceptionally long arms added an additional element of frustration. He was always WAY ahead of me. My arms were so tired before we even made it to the first fork in the canal. But finally we made it to the downtown we knew and recognized some sights we’ve seen while walking, driving, or riding the CTA.
The coolest stretch of the canal was unfortunately the most stressful. Because tiny humans in kayaks are nothing to barges and tour group boats. The water was choppy and I was so afraid we were going be hit or hit something. I was run into the wall by the wake from some boat. At that point I made Jonathan stay between me and the wall. It felt safer for a while. So we made it as far as we felt safe traveling and then made the trip back. By this time our arms were used to the motion and we had the water on our side guiding us back to land. We estimate that we kayaked about 5 miles!
In the end it was a cool experience, even a midst the stress and danger.
We were sweaty and a little damp by the time we were done, so we made a quick stop at our hotel to shower and get pretty for our anniversary dinner date. We decided to try an Italian restaurant. We’d heard from others that it was a good place to eat, but a big part of our choice in going was this was the restaurant catering the dinner the night before Jonathan runs the Chicago marathon. So he wanted to see how the food and his stomach got along. So we walked a few blocks from our hotel to Lou Malnati’s for some dinner.
Jonathan ordered chicken fettuccine alfredo (he thought that was most similar to what he would eat marathon weekend) and I ordered a personal size pizza. We talked about what we enjoyed about our second year of marriage and what we’d like to keep the same & do different in year three. I think essentially we decided we wanted to have more fun & stop being so comfortable with our routine. We’ll see how that plays out!
It was no coincidence that we celebrated our anniversary the weekend following our actual anniversary. The actual weekend, Jonathan performed his first wedding ceremony for a couple at church. But the secondary reason, was that as part of marathon training, his running group planned a 20 mile run in Chicago. It was supposed to be similar to actual race day so they could practice running in the city with water stations and some fans, and it was a morale booster for one of their longest training runs before race day. So Jonathan woke up at 4:00am to catch a CTA to Lincoln Park to meet the group. I was so nervous about him traveling in the dark (there has been a lot of CTA crime in the news lately) so I couldn’t fall back asleep. I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the lake – and watched re-runs of Criminal Minds until I was ready to go on my run. This was our first overnight stay since I became a real runner. The last time we stayed overnight (in April), I was just getting back into fitness and we took some walks, but I had never run in Chicago before. I felt like I joined some new unspoken club. There are so many runners in Chicago! I’m sure that’s just because there are a lot of people in Chicago and I ran along a … running trail. But still it was really neat. And I just love all the interesting things to look at on a Chicago run different from my usual runs.
We talked about doing some other things in the city on Saturday, but after our long day of kayaking on Friday and our runs on Saturday, we decided to just head home rather than walk anywhere or spend any more money.
All in all, it was a great weekend away! We love the city. We love each other. And we can’t wait to see what year three will hold!