Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 24, 25, 26 and the end! - Chicago, Holland Michigan, and home!

We have been talking lately about our favorite stops, sites, people and activities. The days we spent in San Diego seem like forever ago, and the truth is, three weeks have passed since that wonderful first stop.

Today is my last blog post! I am home safe and sound, and it is so very good to be here! (For the first time in 45 days, I might add!)
The last few days have been crazy and busy but wonderful. We came back to Union station in Chicago from our hotel at about 12 noon yesterday. We had about 6 hours until we left, and we had planned to go and explore Chicago. We hit a little bump in the road because the only place to store our luggage was lockers, and all of the lockers were full. Sweet Rebekah offered to stay with our stuff, since she is going to college 2 hours away from Chicago for the next 3 years. So off I went, to explore the city! I had read Kelle Hampton’s blog the other day when she was in Chicago, and she pointed out a bunch of places she had wanted to take her daughter. I had mapped them all out before I started on the trip, but since I only had a few hours, I did a condensed version.

First thing I noticed about Chicago was how very, very hot it was. And we all know how much I hate heat! So of course I was not too pleased that I had to walk around for the next 5 hours in that terrible weather. The second thing I noticed was how similar to NYC it was. There were a ton of tall buildings, a huge majority of the people were all in biesness suit and shuffled quickly by. The other percent of the people were tourists who stopped every 5 seconds to take pictures. Now if you have read my blog very much, or been with me to a city, you will know that since I moved to DC 3 years ago, I have become quite the city girl (or city “snob” by Rebekah’s terminology) and I love to fit in with all the city folk. So of course as I was walking around Chicago, I tried to blend in with the buieness people, and apparently it worked because people kept asking me for directions! I had been wanting to try the new Rolo McFlurry from McDonald’s since Rebekah had told me all about it-Note: One of the very, very few times I eat at McDonald’s-and since it was so hot I stopped by one on the way to my first destination. It was wonderful, and definitely my new favorite McFlurry, the only problem was that it completely melted within 3 minutes of being outside. (No really, not joking. That’s how hot it was.) Luckily it was just the think to cool down my core tempiture long enough to let me survive the mile walk to my first stop- Garrett’s Popcorn. I got a small bag of the Chicago mix. Later on Rebekah and I tried it, and to be honest, I didn’t think it was all that good. Rebekah said it tasted like cheese puffs and cracker jacks, and it really did.

My second stop was Millennium park. I took a picture with The Bean, and looked around a little. It is a beautiful park, and the shade was a nice rest. Next stop was to pick up some pizza for Rebekah and I. (Just a little note here. I forgot my water bottle, and got really thirsty. If you stop in any Starbucks, they will give you a free glass of ice water. And another bonus- carrying any Starbucks cup adds to your buniess person look – I got some of the famous Giordano’s pizza, which was amazingly deep dish! On the \way back to Union station, I stopped and offered to by a homeless man lunch. I took him inside a Panera-like place, and told him to order whatever. He just oreerd like $7 worth of food, but that was the BEST $7 I have spent in a really, really long time. The smile on his face made me want to go out and spend every penny I earn on buying people lunch. He was so grateful too. If only I could remember to be that grateful every time someone got me something. He introduced himself as Joe, and I started to say that my name was Rebekah. But before I could finish, he said “Don’t worry, I won’t ever forget your face. Thank you.” Sweetest guy ever.

After Rebekah and I shared our pizza for lunch, we spent some time waiting around, and then it was time to board the train for Holland!

We had a wonderful ride to Holland, even though there was a little hiccup because we almost didn’t get seats :/. Once we arrived in Holland, one of Rebekah’s friends picked us up and took us too the favorite coffee shop by Rebekah’s college campus. A bonus- it was Fair trade! I got an Italian soda, which was just delicious! Rebekah’s campus is beautiful (even at 10pm at night!) and then we went to the 24 hour doughnut place J The people we were staying with live at their parent’s bed and breakfast, and we slept in their living room. They have an empty hot tub in the living room, and Rebekah jokingly told me to sleep in there. I decided to do it anyways, and I slept perfect. (But I sleep perfect anywhere, so I wouldn’t call that much of an accomplishment!) Bright and early in the morning we were off to Chicago again. Once we arrived I put my luggage in the locker, and then bid farwell to Rebekah as she headed to the airport! (She is home now, safely in Texas!) I had about 8 hours until my train took off, so I decided to go have a nice lunch at a highly recommended restaurant called The Gage. It was stunningly good. I ordered the Mushroom sandwich and soup of the day (which was a chilled cucumber-melon.) The soup was the best part, by far. I have to explain something before I tell you about the Sandwich. I hate mushrooms. I mean, I really loathe them. But I have been reading a book on French eating lately, and they were talking about how one of the reasons the French eat so well is because they expose themselves to many different things and aren’t afraid to try new ones. My waiter had highly recommended the sandwich, and so I went with it. It was good. The sauce and bread were beyond amazing. But there is just something about the texture of mushrooms I can’t get over. The French book I am reading said that you have to expose yourself to something 12 times before you really get a taste for it. (and 98% of the time by the 12th try you will like it.) So I guess I have 11 more times to go!

An embarrassing story from today:
I had ordered tea and dessert at the restaurant. It had arrived, and I had taken one bite, but I really needed to use the restroom. I don’t eat at restraints alone very often (read: never.) and so I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was. I walked up to a waitress and asked where the restroom was, trying to communicate that I was leaving my table and please don’t let them take my food. But apparently I didn’t do a good enough job because when I came back, all my stuff was gone. Fortunately, I had a wonderful waiter who got me new ones right away, and I got to enjoy both, which were delicious yet again.

After lunch I went to Whole Foods to pick up a few things, and to Marshell’s to get a new pair of flats! Now I am on the train home, which should arrive in about 14 hours! I am so excited to get home and see my family!

How bittersweet it is to have reached the end of our wonderful trip. Our days have been very full and adventurous, but I enjoyed every one of them! I miss Rebekah desperately. Through all of our fighting and bickering, through every stressful moment and every irritating one, we stayed wonderful friends. And for her I will be eternally grateful. I have not been home in so long it almost seems like a dream that I will be there in 24 hours!

My highlights of the trip:

Favorite City: San Diego. For the weather, the bus system, our CouchSurfing host, and the attractions in general.

Favorite city for the activities: Gold Beach, Oregon. Learning to Surf, zip lining, going to deep crick, walking on the beach, and wandering through my Aunt’s garden.

Favorite city for the people: Seattle. 20 people in one house equals one big party!

Favorite moments:
Riding horses in Tucon
Snorkeling in San Diego
Holding a sleeping baby at the food pantry in San Diego
Fireworks in Disneyland
Sorting egg cartons in the LA food pantry
4th of July in Sacramento
Learning to surf in Oregon
Spending a night baking cookies in Seattle
Bagging diapers in the Seattle food pantry
White water rafting in Montana
Getting asked for directions in Chicago

People kept telling me that this trip was the chance of a lifetime, and boy, was it ever! I am thankful for everyone who made it possible, and of course of my wonderful friend Rebekah, for whom it would not have even been a dream without. And of course for my amazing God who got me through every hard moment and even taught me lessons through some of them!

Well, goodbye for now! I will try to blog about my trip to Europe as a nanny next week!


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