And....we're back!

1:44 PM

To tell the truth, we've been home since late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. But I've been from my vacation. There's still more laundry to do before going back to work tomorrow, but I'm taking it slow. OK. I'm enjoying my last day of freedom before getting back to my (albeit greatly reduced) work schedule.

But, before I return to the fast-paced world of library-consulting, let me show you what The Beloved and I were up to! On Tuesday last, we flew out of NH and landed ourselves at O'Hare airport in Chicago. We stayed outside of the city in the Chicagoland area in Bloomingdale at the Indian Lakes Resort. To get there and back again, we rented a car. The Beloved was good enough to drive, mostly because he forgot to add my name to the paperwork and I refused to drive in case something happened and we weren't covered.

Here he is in our PT Cruiser. Isn't he cute? The car was kinda fun. We're going to have to buy another car at some point in the near future, and we'd like one with back doors. This has a huge gas tank and appears to get decent mileage.

So. The hotel. The hotel was nice, but it was absolutely empty when we got there! I suppose that's what happens when you start vacation on Tuesday. It was decorated in a sort of arts-and-crafts-Frank-Lloyd-Wright sort of ways. Except for the cave in the middle of the lobby. Seriously! A cave! And not just any sort of cave--a cave bar. We were intrigued, so we went for drinks. Very expensive drinks. With very little alcohol. And snacks. Which were also expensive. The cave bar was not, actually, our favorite place. In fact, I think it was the only time during the trip we felt ripped off. Fortunately, we got that out of the way early. Anyway--what it lacked in food or drink quality, it made up for in ambiance:

Our room was nice. But, again...weird. The arts-and-crafts theme continued, it was spacious (we had two beds, which seemed a little excessive, but The Beloved made the reservations), and the bathroom was very large. However, it didn't have a coffee maker. For normal people, this might not present a problem. For me, it was next to tragic. Even more confusing? There were coffee pods in the bathroom, along with cream and sugar packets. It was like they were toying with me.

But they did have pretty things on the ceiling. Look!

And that, my friends, was day one of our vacation.

On day two we met up with R & M at the Art Institute of Chicago. I loved it. The Beloved was bored. But he humored me. We saw American Gothic and Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte. The Art Institute also has a fantastic Monet collection. We saw lots of haystacks. And some water lilies. They were lovely as well. The Beloved was pissy because we didn't see any Rembrandt or Vermeer. He likes Dutch Masters. Poor boy.

I thought he might like some modern art and sculpture. So we went and saw The Bean, or The Big Shiny Thing in Millennium Park.

Apparently, it's actually called Cloud Gate. It's seriously one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. Unfortunately, it still wasn't a Dutch Master and The Beloved was still grouchy. There was only one thing to do--let him pick dinner.

We went to the Exchequer Pub, which was a few blocks away, right in the Loop. It may have been a Speakeasy when the first restaurant was established at that location during the 1920s. It was also frequented by none other than Al Capone. Oh--and they are said to have the best deep dish pizza in the Loop. Guess what we ordered!

And beer. The Exchequer Ale is quite good. We drank plenty of it.

Day three found us back downtown--this time at Navy Pier. It's kind of like Hampton Beach. Only the guys don't seem quite so sleazy. We walked around and looked at things and took pictures of the city from the pier. Then we met up with R & M for drinks. The Beloved was hot and grumpy, so we bought him a baseball cap to protect his head from sunburn. I should have done something to protect myself, but, well, it isn't vacation until you've got a sunburn, right?

We all went on the Ferris Wheel.

Nothing impresses The Beloved.

Not even the view. Well. He may have enjoyed the view a little.

I sure did. Plus, we got to see R & M be nauseatingly cute.

After the Ferris Wheel, The Beloved decided he was ready to venture out of downtown. He had read about a pub he really wanted to visit. Who cares that it was 3:00 on Thursday afternoon--that's a perfectly acceptable time to visit a pub if you're vacationing! So off we went to the Lincoln Park area and tracked down The Red Lion Pub. The pub is very English in decor, beers on tap, and menu. It's also rumored to be the most haunted bar in Chicago. All we saw was a crazy patron who spent a fair amount of time mumbling at us from the bar, introduced himself to The Beloved and R, and told me and M that we looked strung out. Although, when we got to the next bar (yes, it was a productive afternoon), I found my camera was broken! Poltergeists at work? Who knows.... (we fixed the camera with a little packing tape).

It was still early for dinner, so we decided to hit another bar in the area. North Lincoln has plenty from which to choose. I have no idea where we ended up, but they had pool tables.

We spent the rest of the afternoon there. I am an abysmal pool player. Pathetically bad. Thus the much maligned look on The Beloved's face as he was saddled with me. He apparently forgot that part of our wedding vows.

After several beers (or scotches if you were R), we closed out and went back downtown to 17/West at The Berghoff for German food. It was excellent. Unfortunately, we had already consumed so much crap that no one was particularly hungry. It was right about here that I realized we no longer had the bag of souvenirs. I don't know if we left it at the bar with the pool tables or if we left it in a cab. Only that it was gone. And I was a little bit pissed. So, it was time to call it a night.

The Beloved and I went back to Bloomingdale and R & M went back to Joliet. They had to get ready for R's parent's gala boating party on Saturday, which we, regrettably, had to miss so as we could come back home. It was still relatively early when we got back to the hotel, so we went to a movie--Live Free or Die Hard. It was much better than I expected it to be. Highly enjoyable.

Our last day there, we stayed in Bloomingdale. We ate a sandwich and then went to see another movie--this time we saw 1408. Also good. Surprisingly scary. After the movie we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We went to Tapas Valencia. Dude--I don't know why this place isn't packed all the time. It was seriously some of the best food I have ever consumed. The Beloved and I are converts. Tapas is the best ever. I don't think we have any in the area (if I'm wrong, please let me know), so I'm going to have to track down some fabulous Spanish recipes and host my own Tapas parties.

After that fine food, there was only one way to cap off the evening...back to the movie theater to check out Ratatouille! Another fine film. And a fine way to end our vacation. The next day was utterly eaten up with travel back east--including a fun bout of airport hell in not one, but two airports! I got more knitting done during the return trip than was accomplished the rest of the week. Here's the sock at National Airport. It's hard to see, but the Washington Monument is in the background. Seriously!

The sock did, in fact, go everywhere I did on vacation. I just rarely took it out to work on it. I was too busy drinking beer. And taking pictures. And playing. But I finished it just the same. Yesterday. But, I feel like this post is awful full, so I'll tell you all about it and show it off tomorrow.

We had a fun vacation, but's good to be home!

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