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Chicago Skyline and Navy Pier from boat cruise on Lake Michigan

All work and no play makes Lady M a very dull gal; so I made a point to use some of my vacation time to enjoy Chicago and the surrounding areas. Whilst in the city, I moseyed on down to Navy Pier; a historical site in and of itself. I sat by the lake and watched the boats go by, people ambling around with their pets and trying to reign in their children. Women sunbathed in scantly clad attire on the top of sail boats and men smoked cigars and hoisted the sails. It was all very idyllic. Between Lake Michigan and reclining on the grass in the shade in 65 degree weather, I was experiencing a culmination of precisely what I do not in the Southwest (which was 123 degrees, when I left).

Another day, I visited the Chicago History Museum and took some rather amateur photographs of some of the 19th century items on display. I must have been in there for hours! I eventually worked up an appetite and made my way back to their café. Now, I am a firm believer in trying “authentic food” in a new locale; so I ordered a Chicago Style Hot Dog. It contained many ingredients I am not fond of, but that is irrelevant in the authentic experience. I took one look at the heap of food on my plate, crossed myself, even though I am not Catholic, took a deep breath and dug in. . . . annnnnd  . . . it tasted like mustard. I ate all of it anyways, rather proud of myself.

Chicago Style Dog

Chicago Style Dog

I missed the exhibit on Impressionism and 19th century fashion at the Art Institute! I did not factor in my visitation days were so close to the Fourth of July. Can you believe such a thing?! I mentally kicked myself repeatedly for this oversight. So I scampered in the rain to the central branch of the Chicago Public Library on State St. with its amazingly huge copper green cornices (you can not miss this building, if you tried). I rode the elevator and the escalators all the way up to the ninth floor, like a small child full of glee. Some ladies like to shop, I like to visit libraries. I am a library fan, like that. Again, time slipped away while I was perusing back issues of periodicals and 19th century literary criticism . . . because I could. I checked the internet for the best deep dish Chicago Style Pizza for dinner. Lou Malnati’s, four blocks south. So there I headed and waited a while. The pizza was as amazing as promised, but I warn you order by the slice. Only a fool would order a large for three or less people. Fork and knife are highly suggested and I used them! I felt a bit like a Chicagoan.

The highlight of my trip was my visit to Lake Forest Academy (LFA). Within a week of emailing the school, they set up a meeting for me with the Asst. Dean and Head Librarian. You must understand the enormity of this occasion. I am very much a fanatic of this school (which was established around 1870. They even have a school archivist!). By fan, I mean I have checked in on this school every month for the past five years. I have had the interior of their library as my desktop wallpaper at work and even created a vision board on my closet doors last year with all things LFA–A bit creepy, eh? Well, let us pretend it is perfectly normal. I only took one picture of the school, because I was too busy pinching myself that I was actually standing there. I believe I must have startled the Asst. Dean with my gushing and Cheshire cat grin, at least the head librarian was amused. I was hanging on his every word and delighted in his “SAT” vocabulary. He actually used “dichotomy, juxtaposition, and cognizant” all in one sentence. I wanted to rush up and hug him. Oh, how I miss the pretentious words of my youth! And the academy and its grounds were more beautiful than the website implies. *blissful sigh*

I lodged in Lake Forest for two nights. Driving around, peering at the multimillion dollar homes that lined the streets, the beach, and the bluff. The whole town is very well to do and the simplest things are priced far above the price I am accustomed to. Like $50 for parking for their Fireworks Show at the local park . . . Umm . . .Every parking lot and drive way boasted luxury car makes; BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Porche, and Jaguars. The weather was beautiful and families were walking down to the private residence beach (non-residents had to pay $10 and go play on the other side of the beach. No mingling.) Men and women were bicycling (something I do not see in summers in the Southwest) and jogging. Under the Norman Rockwell exterior, I began to pick up a begin Stepford Wives vibe. Everyone was beautiful and no one was overweight. . . I visited the local public library, another architectural gem. Their reading room was divine! The Librarians were most helpful and the staff had wonderful customer service skills. I also drove by the public high school. Home to the Lake Forest Scouts (though it took me a while to figure out their mascot. At one point I assumed they were the Lake Forest Spear Chuckers–totally possible.) Their public school had ivy growing on it and was just enormous.

If you are ever in the area, it so worth while to drive around and look at the homes. Or you could window shop on Realtor.com. Below are my quick snapshots of my excursion. My photography-minded readers are surely to be disappointed in my lack of effort.

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