Thirty Before 30

Thirty Things Before 30: #12

12. See the Chicago River turned green for St. Patrick’s Day. This was actually a second round of #23 (Go On a Road Trip with Friends). And such a random Thirty Before 30 accomplishment, too. Last month, at our Dinner and Discipleship meeting (a Catholic young adult group that I am part of) we realized that our next meeting would be on St. Patrick’s Day. We debated briefly whether or not we would have a traditional meeting or if we wanted to do some sort of a social since it was St. Paddy’s Day. I half jokingly said, “Let’s go to Chicago!” The other girls chimed in that they would like to go, and it became one of those “If she does it, I’ll do it” things. Basically it was riding on me – if I could get the day off work, they would go with me. So I made arrangements and was able to get the day off from work – only to find out that they don’t dye the river green on St. Patrick’s Day, but the weekend before (unless St. Patrick’s Day does fall on the weekend, then, well, ya know… it would be on St. Patrick’s Day). I still had nothing planned, so we all agreed – we were going to Chicago!

We got together a week before the trip to make plans. We decided on a hotel near the airport and would take the “L” into the city. We even came up with a hashtag when one of our friend suggested we drink only Irish spirits throughout the day, starting with Bailey’s in our coffee and another suggested we not plan everything out but just do whatever we feel like doing – #whereverthebaileystakeus. Unfortunately, one of our friends came down with strep throat and wasn’t able to make the trip, so we came up with a couple of other hashtags – #missingamegan and #threecatholicsnofifths. It probably isn’t as funny to you as it was to us.


We made the five hour drive from Saginaw to Chicago with only one stop, listening to random top 40 stations and eventually three rounds of Taylor Swift’s “1989”.  Amy was a rockstar, driving the whole way. And we got to see a different side of her when her CD player started acting up. A traffic accident wound up dragging us into Gary, Indiana. If you’ve never been there, you’re not missing out on anything except a terrible stench. As we entered the Chicago city limits, we starting hearing from friends and family about the Trump rally being cancelled due to protesters in Chicago. We didn’t see any of the action, luckily. We finally arrived at our hotel, got settled, then headed out for Noodles & Co. We had a heck of a time trying to figure out where to park, and arrived just about 20 minutes to closing time. The person working the counter was super nice and gave us cookies. We stuffed our faces and headed to bed.

We woke up early the next morning, flipped on the local news and got ready for what would be a super long day. We rode the “L” into the city, got off at a random stop and my trusty sense of direction was failing hard. We eventually got to the river and caught up to where they were still spraying the dye into the river. It was SO GREEN. Like, was it Nickolodeon slime or the Chicago river? We may never know…

We made our way from the river to watch the Parade, which took us forever because so many streets were blocked off and we could not figure out our directions to save our lives. They had Millennium park and all of the random monuments blocked off, and after a while we understood why. It was like college homecoming tailgating times a million. So many drunk people. Everywhere. Drunk and disorderly. People peeing in alley ways. To the point when we were walking, we dodged every puddle, because you didn’t know if it was water, beer, or urine. Anyway…

We didn’t see the whole parade, but we caught some floats, marching bands, and plenty of bagpipers. After the parade, we were famished, and decided to get a Chicago hot dog. Katelyn asked some cops where to get the best Chicago dog, but they weren’t much help, so we settled on a place nearby called American Dog. We still don’t know if it was an authentic beef vienna, but it definitely did not have the electric green relish, so I’m not sure if it really counts – but I’m gonna go with I finally had a Chicago style hot dog.

After lunch, we headed to the Garfield Park Conservatory. My friend was super stoked about going there because she had volunteered there before and planted some cacti there. It was really awesome and I can’t wait to go back there with Ken! I know he will really like it – my husband is really into plants.

We headed back into the city and visited Navy Pier. It was starting to get dark so we decided to head back towards our hotel. We stopped at Giordano’s for dinner – Chicago style pizza. I had tried Chicago style pizza on my last trip to Chicago and wasn’t a huge fan, but this time it was amazing. I don’t know if it was just because I was super hungry (after all, I did walk over 25,000 steps!) or because we just got cheese or maybe I prefer Giordano’s over Gino’s… but yeah, it was awesome!

The next day, we went back into the city. We started our day like all good Catholics start their Sundays… with Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. It was so beautiful. And we also got to walk through the holy door. (You can read about holy doors here.) It rained all day so it was kinda miserable. We window shopped along Michigan Avenue. I finally went to the American Girl store and I felt like I was a kid again. We had lunch and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. Pretty delicious, although I have to say my favorite food of the trip was definitely the Giordano’s pizza. Or maybe the Indulgent Trail Mix. That I insisted on having Katelyn photograph.

After lunch at Cheesecake Factory, we hit the road for Saginaw. Again, Amy was a trooper and drove us the whole way home. We still haven’t figured it out, but I am pretty sure we only got 22 hours that day – not only did we lose an hour going from Central time to Eastern time, but we also lose an hour for Daylight Saving Time.

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