Wow guys, what a trip. I’m so, so glad I was able to make it happen, even though the games didn’t turn out like I might have hoped.
I headed out first thing Friday morning after a quick run. While leaving, I felt like this was a journey I was destined to take!
Also note that if you don’t follow baseball, this whole post may seem crazy. I dropped everything and drove 5 hours to a strange city by myself for a couple of games?
Yes. Yes I did.
I don’t know if you guys have seen How I Met Your Mother. I recently rewatched the series. (It’s interesting now that I feel like I’m more in that stage of my life…) Anyways, there’s an episode where Ted and Marshall drive to Chicago for pizza and the only song they can listen to is that “I would walk 500 miles” song on repeat, because the tape is stuck. I thought I would try that. I made a road trip playlist, and loaded the front of the playlist with 30 minutes straight of that song on repeat (8x). I thought I would see how long I lasted. I am happy to report I made it all 30 minutes. And yes, it did get better over time. In the middle there, I got a little bored with it, but by the end I came back around. It was a little jarring when a different song came on my playlist though!
I stopped for lunch about halfway, apparently in a town called Normal, IL. I found a Panera, and had the Fuji apple chicken salad.
The drive was fine until I got to Chicago. I spent about an hour less than a mile from my hotel, sitting in traffic. The Chicago Marathon was this weekend, so that just made things worse. I have never been so happy to hand my keys to a valet.
I wanted some downtime before the game so I relaxed in my room and had a flapjacked smores muffin in the room for dinner.
…which I came to regret later because I was STARVING at the game and couldn’t find anything I could eat, until I found a salad and it was the most exciting thing ever. But we’ll get to that. Let’s do some pictures.
The train was PACKED!
First view of Wrigley:
This is Wrigleyville. There are places (bars) that have stadium seats on the roof where you can watch the game without a ticket!
And the inside. I was at the top of the centerfield bleachers, right below the old scoreboard.
I was surrounded my plenty of nice Cubs fans, who grew rowdier as the beer flowed. I definitely got messed with a little bit, but it was all in good fun. Anytime anyone found out I had come by myself, they said “you’re brave.” It was a good game, but a frustrating ending. That being said, I also now really understand how much home field advantage matters. The momentum is everything.
Saturday morning I went for a run along Lake Michigan. To be perfectly honest, the lake made me strangely claustrophobic. It’s so strange to be to have something that looks like an ocean, but to know there’s land on the other side. I felt very landlocked. California problems, I suppose. It was a beautiful morning for an exploratory run though!
On my run, I actually had an extremely awkward encounter with one of the Giants’ broadcasters. I said hi…and she looked confused and then I realized I didn’t actually have anything to say…awkward all around. Oh well.
Next on the agenda was brunch! I went to Wheat’s End, a totally gluten free cafe and bakery. There was a bit of a wait, so I put my name on the list and walked around a little bit.
I started with a decaf cappuccino, and then got a side salad and popover with honey butter.
I also got a pumpkin cinnamon roll for later but had half of it then because it was warm! Yum!
Obligatory bean photos:
I hung out at the bean for a little while. It was an interesting place to sit back and watch the city.
The other “must do” thing for Chicago was a visit to the Field Museum. It was about 2 miles away, so I meandered my way over, stopping to finish my cinnamon roll along the way.
Look what I found! Lots of streets were blocked off for the marathon.
I really enjoyed looking at the animal exhibits, especially now that I work at a zoo. It was interesting to read about and compare the animals to what we have at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Look—Somali Wild Asses! I watch these guys 🙂
Terra Cotta soldiers.
Next on the agenda was a super quick coffee date with a Stanford friend who just moved to Chicago. It took me FOREVER to get there thanks to traffic, and unfortunately we didn’t have a ton of time together, but it was great to catch up!
I headed to the hotel to get ready. I felt so puffy every night: long sleeves+sweatshirt+giants shirt+fleece. I was cold in the bleachers thanks to wind, but my seats the next night were much more covered (and better!)
To be honest, I wasn’t feeling too great most of the day, and the soup place right by the train stop was a godsend. Exactly what I needed. It was called Soupbox, and I got carrot ginger bisque which was fantastic on a chilly day!
(It came with a free topping, so I went with artichoke hearts.)
My seats for Saturday’s game were awesome. I was on the first base side in the lower level. It was also a lot less rowdy. A lot of older couples with season tickets. I apparently got the woman next to me’s son’s ticket!
See that old scoreboard? I was right under that the previous night. Near the second to left column at the top.
Sadly, we lost again. It was rough. To be honest, it was really hard being a Giants fan in a different city. It was sort of demoralizing/soul crushing. I’m so glad I had the awesome experience of going to Wrigley to see a playoff game, but I left feeling sort of emotionally crushed. I think my boys need to go home to the home crowd. We still have a chance, and we need to get it done!
Luckily, I had a blueberry muffin from the cafe early to ease my pain.
The next morning, I walked around a little and stopped at Starbucks for some herbal tea and a banana, which I paired with a Luna for breakfast.
I loved walking around the chilly city in the morning. I really liked Chicago. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco, and it makes me want to take more advantage of SF when I get home.
Then, it was time to make the trek back. It was actually not bad at all, although I was expecting it to be rough. I blasted some music (my Knoxville playlist) and enjoyed the open country. I’m at the point in my life where there is just SO much to think about. Driving through the midwest countryside is also super easy, compared to driving through CA (like from SF to LA).
I stopped halfway through for lunch+gas. I didn’t leave with a full tank because there wasn’t much in Chicago, so I got pretty nervous when it was time to get gas and I was in the middle of NOWHERE. Seeing gas+Subway was beautiful.
I got a chopped salad with carved turkey (WAY more delicious than the normal turkey breast—it’s thicker cut), provolone, olives, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper. I think Subway is the most underrated “healthy fast food.” There are a lot of great options, and you can literally find one anywhere, which is great if you’re in the middle of nowhere or in an unknown place.
The rest of the drive was uneventful, but it was nice to see the arch as I drove in. St. Louis is much more familiar! Also, coming home to cats? The best.
It’s honestly so great to be at a point in my life where I can just drive to a new city alone, and have a great weekend. It also gives me more confidence that no matter where I end up, I’ll be just find. I think the people you’re with are ultimately more important to the place, and it’s so exciting to go to different parts of the country, even driving through farmland.
It was quite the trip. I’m glad the drive went well, because I have an even longer solo drive coming up soon!
In summary: Chicago is a fantastic city, I had a great time, and GO GIANTS! Don’t stop beliEVEN!