Between breathtaking South Dakota and bustling Chicago, we made a stop to sleepy Iowa. Since most of the corn fields were harvested, we couldn’t witness endless fields of swaying wispy, golden corn stalks, but I at least had the opportunity to cuddle with barn animals at Chris’ twin brother’s farm.

Monty, the gentle horse.  Despite their size, I learned that horses are kinda like dogs.20141102_10535420141102_11201420141102_111808

Pinwheel, the apathetic cow.  She, like all other cows, ate and shat perpetually.20141102_111710

Petunia, the fun-loving pig.  She had another pig companion, but it got away and was hit by a car, so it was roasted and devoured.  Bacon is fresh in Iowa.20141102_11270320141102_113407

Boomer, the naughty goat.  He likes to pee on his face.  No joke.20141102_113218

And then we were off to Chicago!IMG_7927

We didn’t dare bring the trailer into the city.  After dropping off Scromp in Joliet, a neighboring suburb, we continued on to the heart of Chicago, where we luckily had a place to stay for the next 4 nights: Chris’ brother’s condo.  His roof deck had a pretty sweet view:IMG_7932

Throughout the end of the week we thoroughly enjoyed the Midwest’s largest city and America’s third most populous city, the international hub for finance, tech, and transportation, the cultural mecca for art, music, and cuisine.  November probably wasn’t the best time to visit this beautiful city; due to the unforgiving cold we couldn’t appreciate the numerous beaches along Lake Michigan, but we were able to eat some of America’s finest foods, ogle at the famous skyline from various points of views, gape at intricate architecture and art, and more importantly be in the great company of friends.

Chicago is famous for its classic deep-dish pizza and hot dogs.  We chowed down at Lou Malnati’s and The Wiener Circle.IMG_7955 IMG_7974

Call me stupid if you want, but we even waited 3.5 hours to eat Au Cheval‘s famous cheeseburger, fries with mornay sauce, garlic aioli, and fried farm egg, and thick cut peppered bacon.  It was the carnivore’s dream.  I hate to admit it was worth it. 😉IMG_7993

When we weren’t eating and seeking shelter from the cold, we fulfilled our tourist duties by marveling at the photo-obligatory Cloud Gate (which all locals and I call the Bean) at Millennium Park.20141106_105243 IMG_794720141106_110418

We strolled down Michigan Ave., the touristy shopping downtown district.  As people who despise shopping, we primarily enjoyed the displays of horse statues and botanical art along the streets.  The lively colors of the art brightened up the lackluster gray tones of the buildings, skies, and city blocks.IMG_7956  IMG_7957 IMG_7960 IMG_7962 IMG_796320141106_142523IMG_7965

We observed Chicago from the 95th floor of the Signature Room at the Hancock Building, where there is no admission fee.  Food and drinks are expensive, but we managed to avoid buying anything since it was incredibly crowded–too crowded for immediate seating.  The view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan from the women’s bathroom was worth the search for downtown parking and the long elevator line.IMG_8002

Driving on LSD (Lakeshore Drive) was brief but scenic.20141107_125522 20141107_125607

We even drove past Wrigley Field.  Chicagoans are clearly proud of their professional sports teams; it isn’t difficult to spot Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, and Cubs paraphernalia. 20141107_124253

I took advantage of a gorgeous morning by making a quick jog to Soldier Field.  Chicago’s skyline caught my eye, along with this pleasing message scrawled across a lamp post.IMG_7972

A long, concrete wall across the street from our condo served as the urban artist’s dream canvas.  I found myself drawn to Chicago’s diverse palette of street art.IMG_7977 IMG_7978 IMG_7979 IMG_7980 IMG_7981 IMG_7982 IMG_7986 IMG_7987 IMG_7988

We also got a taste of Chicago’s cultural gems by eating and drinking in the West Loop, Wicker Park, and Lakeview hipster/yuppy neighborhoods.  A Chicago-native friend told me, “A key understanding most visitors don’t have is that it’s the neighborhoods that make Chicago fun, not the loop downtown.”  As a first timer to Chicago, I was obliged to see the downtown sites, but I appreciated the local neighborhoods even more.  I can’t remember how many bars or which bars we went to, but the venues were unique, vibes were awesome, company was great, and the Midwest hospitality was genuinely sanguine.

With our hearts and bellies full, we left Chicago knowing we would someday return in the summer months so we can enjoy the skyline with our feet covered in sand and soaked in Lake Michigan’s waters.  After indulging the Midwest’s unique rock formations and forests, simple-living agricultural life, and thriving Windy City, we continued east on our road trip, just barely escaping the predicted polar vortex.


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