4th of July weekend recap

Happy Monday to my Notably Neuroticals! (Remember when I called you guys that whilst in a taco dip-induced haze and then proceeded to talk about farts for most of the post? You always get your money's worth on this blog, that's for damn sure.)

How was your 4th of July? Did you blow up yourselves or someone you love with fireworks?

Clay and I spent the weekend in Chicago and I gotta say, Chicago is one of my absolute favorite places on earth. I'm not sure why I love the Windy City so much (especially when you take into account that I dislike both wind and most cities), but I do. I was excited to be there again and to revisit both familiar and new places.

We made the trip with Dan and Emily, which is always a good time. I think that they are two of the very few people I could tolerate being trapped on a broken elevator with and if you know me at all, that's really saying something.

Dan and Emily have friends in Hobart, Indiana (it's okay, I hadn't heard of it either) and they graciously offered to put us up in their home which was amazing because 1.) It was a gorgeous house and 2.) They own a parrot named A.J. who likes to repeat what you say (though I was unsuccessful in my attempts to teach her to say "Bye, Felicia"). We were quickly warned about something called "The Hobart Haze" and it wasn't until the actual evening of the 4th that I learned what they were talking about.

Modern-day Vietnam. They were were talking about Modern-day Vietnam.

When we returned from watching the fireworks at Navy Pier, the town of Hobart was covered in a literal haze and the air smelled of sulfur and chaos. Bottle rockets and firecrackers were exploding from all corners of the neighborhood and I was only half-kidding when I asked if there was a nearby fox hole I could jump in. As we packed up the car to head home, I could hear the whistling sound of fireworks that were too close for comfort and I think my butt cheeks were clenched until our car finally reached the highway.

But enough about clenched butt cheeks ...

Shedd Aquarium is my happy place and it was one of our stops during the exploration of the city. I've been to the aquarium several times, but always look forward to the trip with the same excitement and enthusiasm as someone who's about to backpack around Europe.

I said hello to the beluga whales, politely waved to the stingrays and gave the stink eye to the disgusting amorphous blob that is the aquarium's octopus. If I'm ever rich enough, I'm going to buy Shedd Aquarium just so I can suck that dang octopus out of its tank with a vacuum cleaner and then launch it into outer space.

Satan incarnate. It's a dark picture, but you still make out the octopus' eyeball and the disgusting texture of its skin. It looks like a deflated bean bag chair. 

Other highlights of the trip included:

Sampling the local brew at Revolution Brewery. I'm on a major soft pretzel kick and guess what they had on the menu (other than the culinary innovation that is Bacon Fat Popcorn)? SOFT FREAKIN' PRETZELS.

Pictured: My honky soft pretzel and beer cheese, bacon fat popcorn with shaved Parmesan cheese and mushrooms.
This was not all for me.

We visited the Art Institute of Chicago which was beyond. There are no words. It was just beyond. We saw famous works from Picasso, Monet, Matissee, etc. ... and it blew my mind. I text my sister to tell her that we stood in front of Georges Seurat's Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande-Jatte and she replied, "The Ferris Bueller painting!"

And I was like, "Heck ya! And the painting from my poster with The Office cast!"

Please excuse my scarf. I was one fanny pack and a Hawaiian shirt away from being a true tourist that day.

We saw the famous silver been in Millennium Park and I'm not going to pretend like I understand its purpose or why it's there. It was just cool and I guess that's all that matters. Did you know that thing is 3 stories high?

Em, Clay and I posing in front of the bean. Not pictured: The bean.

We also stopped at Gino's East, the best pizza place on the planet. We stuffed ourselves with a deep dish pizza ('MURICA!) and sat outside so we could people watch. Lemme tell ya, Chicago is a great city for people watching ... especially during the 4th of July when the holiday happens to fall during the week of a Grateful Dead farewell concert. Never in my life have I seen so much tie-dye in one physical space.

It was fun to cruise around mostly unfamiliar territory, but I was thankful to be home. We decided to drive through the night on Saturday and made it back to Bloomington in enough time to enjoy most of Sunday. Clay and I puttered around the house, binge-watched Netflix and I went for a 6 mile run that felt absolutely torturous on my achy legs. You wouldn't think you could get sore from slowly wandering through a museum, but apparently you can. 

I hope you all had a safe and happy 4th and good luck getting through the work week!