The Avatar Survives Chicagoland


How about we start out with an atrocious attempt at a city photo, shall we?  This was shortly after the city came into view and I proclaimed, “Sears Tower!” like a four year old who just spotted a pony.

The Avatar drove with new found confidence on her freshly adorned front tires and my friend, Blake, and I arrived safely to the city of Chicago.  Our hotel bedroom was a swing and a miss with this depressing view, but for what we paid, I suppose one is not to complain.  Now the price we paid for parking? Complain-able.  Sixty American dollars for less than 24 hours.

If only the whole original idea of taking the $20 train from Michigan City had actually worked out.


Our moods could not be dampened.  We freshened up and though I brought a coat for every occasion, I opted for my most stylish, least winter friendly jacket.  Not smart.  The sun was out, however, and we took off down Michigan Avenue to find the adventures that awaited us.

Turns out the first thing that awaited us was a frothy beer, courtesy of Pippin’s Tavern, an old, homey dive right in the heart of downtown.  From what we could notice, it was a favorite spot for older gentlemen with nothing better to do than to drink with their buddies early in the day (no judgement), and also for businessmen, madly escaping the corporate world for a hot dog and PBR on their lunch break.


Two wildly overpriced beers later, we stepped back into the sunlight and mainstream America took us over store after store.  We even went crazy with a couple clearance purchases from Express.  New white tank! Woo! I was elated with my purchase, and I know Blake was giddy to add a new v-neck to his collection.

If I can be perfectly honest with you, we were freezing, and entered each store with the sole purpose of warming our chilled bones.  What I was really on the lookout for was a place to eat, somewhere I had never been.

Taiyo Japanese won out and I mean seriously won out, with the best spicy tuna and decent california roll lunch combo.  A split of Prosecco to accompany, please.



Shopping I do fairly well.  Eating? I do that borderline professionally.



We stopped at a few more stores, blah blah blah, and met up with my sweet and funny friend, Ashley, who resides in Chicagoland, for dinner and post dinner drinks.  I have no photos in which to comment on from here on out because I left my phone at the hotel.  (I was over it after a quick meltdown, plus we were about to chow down on steak, so that cheered me up immediately).

Delmonico steak was my mouthwatering choice.  Yes, a 22-oz. bone-in ribeye, and it didn’t stand a chance.  Blake picked out a bottle of Spanish wine for the table and boom, I was in perfectly marbled cow heaven.  It didn’t even matter that it was cooked medium plus as opposed to the medium rare I ordered, it was that good.  And yes, I did help Blake finish his steak also.  I’m telling you, Mama loves food.

Toward the end of the meal our server was discussing with us where we should go next.  Pops for Champagne was his recommended spot and with way too much excitement I flung my arms in front of me and squealed, “That’s the place I pointed out on the way into town!” Amidst my freakout I managed to knock over my (empty, thank my lucky stars) wine glass and splatter a couple droplets in Blake’s direction.  After a quick glare from his end and multiple apologies from mine, we were off to Pops.

They were pretentious, but the mood was cool and hip, which is why they put us in the far back corner away from the public eye. I should’ve shown a bit more cleavage, I suppose.

Next up was Untitled, a favorite spot of Ashley’s, and rightly so.  We entered through a nondescript door and down to an underground, 1920’s themed jazz club.  Offering more than 280 American Whiskey varieties, I’m pretty sure Blake crapped his pants (the way one craps their pants when they’re elated…).  The live band played funky and fast jazz and the dancers clearly practiced their moves nightly.  We stuck to chair dancing, which is something Ashley and I do well.

10:30 rolled around and we decided that we were not cool enough to make it even to midnight.

I insisted on pizza back at the hotel.  And I mean, vehemently argued that it was an essential component to our Chicago experience.  Blake gave in and ordered a $30 pizza.  When he ran down to the lobby to retrieve it, I fell asleep – out cold.  Blake ate a corner piece before crashing.  So when in doubt, ignore my late night requests for food.  It’s always unnecessary.

The next morning came too early as I awoke to the smell of mushrooms and crust, and we had to get back to Grand Rapids for a work meeting.  We left with plenty of time and were almost out of the city until we missed an exit and ended up driving through the scarier suburbs for a half hour, with Blake’s GPS never quite realizing where we were.  We couldn’t speak to each other for a bit due to anger fueled by dehydration, hunger, and pride, but we managed to find our way and barely, just barely make it to our meeting on time.

what is it with me not being able to leave a city without a detour?

It was a good and necessary getaway.  I love Chicago, and for a bit I was thinking it needed to be my next spot to live.  I was antsy in Grand Rapids and wanted to get out again, but I think my problem is that I need to find happiness where I am now, in life – mentally, emotionally, physically.  Here.  In Grand Rapids. 

As I drove into my own city, I felt a sense of relief.  My heart, as spazzy and indecisive as it can be, is in West Michigan.