Explore Chicago: A Mid-Week Escape

I declared yesterday “Mental Health Day.”  With the spur of activity that has surrounded me for the last couple of weeks and what I see in the upcoming ones, my psyche was on the brink of total metldown.  I could hear that little voice in my head crying out “Run Away!” every time a new task fell into my lap.  My to-do list is far too long to ever think about completing, and I don’t foresee another opportunity for a break until June.

So, what did I do?  I played hookey.

Ok, not entirely truthful.  I clocked out of the office after a half-day, with the reasoning that mental health is just as important as physical well-being, and if they wanted a happy and productive employee, they would let me take the time off.

A friend and I hopped on the train at 2 and headed for the city.  He couldn’t believe that I had never been to Garrett’s (or the Magnificent Mile for that matter), so that was our first destination.

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There was a line stretching out the door and down the block, and I loved watching the little kids pressing against the glass cases that were filled with tons and tons of delicious smelling popcorn.  We got our bags (one of cheese and one of caramel) and started walking.  Garrett’s popcorn is definitely as good as it is made out to be.  (I have the remnants in a drawer of my desk and have been sneaking handfuls throughout the workday.  Yumm!)

As we were walking down Mag Mile, I stopped dead and I’m pretty sure my chin hit the ground and my tongue went rolling like a cartoon when I spotted this lovely window display.

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That look you see on my face – that’s the “up-to-no-good-can-I-smash-the-window” look.

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I probably spent about 10 minutes inspecting every machine close enough to look at.  I didn’t spot my featherweight though, which was a little disheartening.

We then went to the John Hancock building, up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor.  We had cocktails (deceivingly strong ones) and admired  the view.  I feel bad for being there without Ellette, who would have gone crazy with excitement.  We will plan a return trip later in the spring, when the weather warms up and we have a bit more time.

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While I was sitting there, staring out over the city, and running my mouth like a crazy woman about every little thing under the sun, I couldn’t believe that this is where I live now.  I have been in Chicago for almost 3 years. I have avoided a lot of the touristy attractions in search of a more real, down to earth, side street kind of scene.  I have met some wonderful and talented people, seen some amazing shows, and learned a lot of new and sometimes strange things in doing so.  But being up there, looking down, it was all kind of surreal.

Afterwards, we walked along the lake front until we came to Millenium Park and the iconic Bean (because everyone has to see the bean).  It was fun watching all of the tourists getting excited about all of the different ways they could photograph the sculpture.

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We capped our day with a very satisfying dinner at the Chiago Diner in Boystown.  This is one of my favorite restaurants – and a must try for any vegan/vegetarian reading this.  Everything on the menu caters to a meatless diet and their ethics are fantastic.  Their wait staff has always been wonderful and their food is mouth-watering.   I have yet to get a dish I don’t enjoy.  They are small, but always bustling, with a charming and vibrant atmosphere.

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This was the perfect break I needed.

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