Our trip to Chicago

I love traveling.

I love packing bags and planning outfits to wear (although unpacking is far less enjoyable!). I love new places and experiences. I love airports and people watching. I love looking out the airplane window and watching the world shrink until the earth looks like a checkerboard of grassy fields and crossing highways.

I think it is so important to incorporate traveling (and just vacationing in general) into my life for a variety of reasons. For one, it is new experiences and a hunger for adventure that keeps me excited and vigorous about life. It’s not just about taking time off, it’s about living life to the fullest, which is why I’ve made traveling a priority.

A couple years ago Steven and I sat down with a paper and pen wrote out our “bucket lists” — everything we wanted to do before we died. (Totally his idea by the way. There’s a little dreamer inside that kid!) We ended up with quite the substantial list, spanning three pages of notebook paper — front and back — and we kept coming up with more. The funny thing about the list (which was no surprise to either of us, really) is how vastly different some of our goals are. Steven, the engineer, wants to build a race car and invent things. I want to write a book (or two) and stand on all seven continents.

Looking through the pages, we knew it would be impossible to do it all, but we decided we would help each other accomplish our goals, knowing our lives would be richer by doing things together we might never have done as individuals. (Cute right? Awwww).

I knew that traveling wasn’t really Steven thing, and he grew more anxious with every city I wrote on the list. Still, knowing how important it was to me, he promised we would try to visit every single one. 

Being fresh out of school and deep in debt (and traveling being a luxury of both time and money), I figured it would be years before we planned a trip anywhere. But then last Christmas, Steven surprised me and told me to pick a place on my list and we would go the following summer!

Chicago being the closest and therefore cheapest, I got busy planning.

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We stayed at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Ave., which was perfect walking distance from everything we wanted to see. We went in mid-June, and although it was a little warm in the afternoons, the weather was pretty great overall.

We went on an architectural boat tour along the Chicago River (Steven said this was his favorite).

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We visited the 95th floor of the John Hancock building at night and saw the entire city lit up. We waited about half an hour for a window seat at the bar, and it was 100% worth it.

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We spent three hours one afternoon in the Field Musuem, and we didn’t even make it to the second floor.

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The Field Museum was my favorite, and although probably not his preferred way to spend the afternoon, Steven said he enjoyed it too.

Check out that guy in the bottom left corner. I didn't even mean to capture that moment, but he's excited!
Check out that guy in the bottom left corner. I didn’t even mean to capture that moment, but he’s excited!

We jogged along beautiful Lake Michigan and spent an evening on Navy Pier, complete with fireworks.

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We even got to spend a little bit of time in the lobby of the Chicago Tribune. When I told Steven I wanted to work at a newspaper with quotes on its walls, he told me he would paint some in our house someday. Ha, thanks babe.

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One thing about visiting big cities (and I learned last summer in NYC), is that you walk EVERYWHERE and it is EXHAUSTING. We wanted to do more and see more, but we were so tired, and our feet so achey, that we spent some time in the hotel recovering.

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I was really proud of Steven. Anyone who knows him at all would probably laugh at the idea of him walking around a big city with a smile on his face. But he kept an open mind the entire time. He suggested things to do and places to eat. He even picked a seafood restaurant one night and ordered a way overpriced drink he offered to share with me (seriously, who IS this guy?). 

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I came back feeling a little bit more enlightened, cultured, and refreshed. I think there’s something indescribably valuable about exploring new places and seeing the different ways people live. Chicago definitely differs from Shawnee, KS, but both places have their strengths and weaknesses. In addition to big U.S. cities, I would also love to see all the national parks. I also long to visit other countries. All in time. I’m young, right?

Ultimately, I think traveling enriches life experiences. There are large cultural differences in our nation among country, suburban and city lifestyles. If we, as Americans, are to have open, productive convesations, and opinions in public discource, we should make an effort to explore and understand them all.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” ~ St. Augustine

“One’s destination is never a place. but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

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