Going Back to California

I used to go to California on a schedule - every four months - to visit my ex-boyfriend. However, after we broke up I realized that when I went back, it wouldn't be to spend time with him but to spend a lot more time with friends. Plus, I wouldn't be going back on a four month schedule anymore...I would have to decide when I wanted to visit. Don't get me wrong, I saw friends when I was there but it was mainly to see him. 

To be quite honest, the idea of going back terrified me. Although I had a life in California before C, it's weird going back to a place that you spent so much time with one person. I was nervous & terrified to go back, but most of all I was excited. Going back, I went to spend a week with my best friend M. She's the kindest and realest person you will ever meet. Her family welcomed me with open arms & I am so grateful for that. 

I spent five whole days there (a Wednesday night - Tuesday afternoon trip) and we did so much. Every minute was filled to the brim with people that I adore & memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. In the short time I was there I ate more comfort food than I have in the past month, went to Disneyland, Six Flags, watched the Super Bowl with some amazing people, and attempted to go snowboarding. There will be more in depth posts about each thing because one post here just wouldn't do it justice.

California means the world to me. It's the one place I keep going back to time after time, wondering why I never gave it more of my time. Each time I go back, I'm greeted with love, and surrounded by laughter. Not only the people, but also the landscape awes me time after time. While I'm not quite sure (right now) where I'll end up in August, I know that California is definitely a possibility. 
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Our Final Stop: The Shedd Aquarium

After the Cubs won, we walked back to S's apartment and promptly fell asleep. It's crazy how much we crammed into two short days, but we did as much as we could. When we woke up on Sunday we decided to take it slow. We ended up getting breakfast at a place near S's apartment, and then went back to the apartment to pack up. 

After we packed up all of our stuff, we went and dropped it at S's work so that we could go to the Shedd Aquarium before heading back to Florida. We took the bus there which was very cool for me because then we got to see the Field Museum & Soldier Field on the way. We briefly walked by but hurried to the aquarium. 

While the Cubs winning the NLCS game will forever be the highlight of the trip, the second best part of the trip (besides being able to spend so much time with S) was going to the Shedd Aquarium. My two favorite animals are elephants & sting rays. At Shedd they have a huge sting ray touch pool (thankfully that was open) that they let us spend as much time as we wanted there. 

I absolutely love aquariums & like to visit them in every city that I go to, add that with the fact that they have a huge touch pool this easily became one of my favorite aquariums that I've ever been to. It's located on Lake Michigan & has amazing views of the city. This happens to be one of the bigger aquariums that I've been to. They have a ton of different species of fish, and in the middle of the aquarium they have a huge Wild Reef which was amazing to sit and watch. If you have time to go to the aquarium while you're in Chicago I would definitely say go - for the stingray pool alone. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park, and then we watched the NLCS game in Chicago (nbd)
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The Day the Cubs Won the NLCS

One of the coolest memories that I have is the night the Cubs won the NLCS game. Funnily enough, my ex and I had joked around about the series before we had broken up. I bet that there would totally be a game 7 (wishful thinking) solely because I was going to be in Chicago for it. I would just like to point out here that I was totally right, but not for the reasons I had originally argued. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to that night, especially for a newly minted baseball fan like myself. 

After a long morning/afternoon of walking, we decided to head back to S's apartment for a little bit before going out later that night for the game. It was a good thing we did too because we were all exhausted. After recharging our phones and refueling a little bit, we decided to go walk down to Wrigley to see what was going on/how the bars were. Some bars were charging $100 just to get in - not guaranteeing you would get a seat. That was insane to me, but baseball is a huge thing in Chicago that is taken very seriously. 

We walked through just to see the craziness of the crowd, and to buy a hat (M & I's request for them getting into the championship), then we bolted because it was insane. I am all about being there and being in the moment, but also being claustrophobic did not help at all. We headed to a bar about a mile away from Wrigley to meet up with some of S's work friends. We got there and the bar was slammed. Luckily enough, we were able to find a couple bar stools to pull up to their table.

I cannot even describe the feeling of watching the cubs play in game 7, in a bar, in Chicago, surrounded by cubs fans. It was honestly surreal. As the game began to come to a close we all closed out our bills to be safe. As soon as they won we all charged out the bar, with everyone else in there, and ran down to Wrigley. Holding onto each others hand's & purses we went with the crowd. By the time we got there everyone was filing out of the field & into the streets. It was the most joyous scene. We sang Go Cubs Go & gave high fives. It was only when someone lit fireworks into the crowd that we decided we liked our lives a little too much & headed home. 

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling & I'm not sure I'll ever be able to have it to compare it to. I am so grateful for S's hospitality & letting us come and take over that weekend.
To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, then continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park
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The Parks of Chicago: Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park

After walking for what seemed like hours, we grabbed our stuff from S's work and then got on the bus to head to her apartment. S lives about four blocks from Wrigley Field, it's insane. You can literally see the field from her window. She's so nonchalant about it and I'm over here freaking out. The first day we were there after heading back to her apartment, we ended up playing cards until about 4am...only for me to wake up the next morning around 8am ready to go. What can I say I was SO excited. 

The second day we were in Chicago we spent a lot more time walking around during the day. I was determined that we would go and see Lincoln Park Zoo so that we could see Alexander Camelton, their new camel [who ended up not even being outside - so disappointed]. Lincoln Park Zoo is a free 35 acre zoo located in Lincoln Park in Chicago. If you have the free time, it's definitely worth a walk through. They have a lot of animals there for it being free, but one of the coolest things they have is a show with their seals. Luckily we walked upon it just as it was beginning and we actually stayed for the entire show. It's crazy to me that you can just walk around this free zoo in the middle of downtown Chicago. 

Not too far from Lincoln Park Zoo is a smaller park called Oz Park. It's about a mile away so you can walk from one to the other, if you want. Oz Park is in the North Side of Chicago and has many different statues from The Wizard of Oz in it. The park allows animals, which was fun for us because we got to see a lot of dogs walking around. The park is relatively big so if you have spent the entire day walking, like we had, you walk half of it and then decide you want to take public transportation back to the apartment to prepare for the night. 

That night was the final game of the NLCS for the Cubs at Wrigley, so needless to say that needs to get its own post because boy was it a night. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, and then goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier
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A Walking Tour of Chicago: Millennium Park & Navy Pier

After we got pizza, we felt a little rejuvenated and decided to explore a little more before heading back to Sarah's apartment. There were two places that stood out to me the most that are typical things to do if you're visiting Chicago: Millennium Park [where Cloud Gate aka The Bean is] & Navy Pier. 

Millennium Park is where Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, is located. The park is located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago. The park is actually a lot bigger than you think it is, but from what I could tell most people go there for The Bean. Cloud Gate is the giant metallic sculpture located in the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. To be quite honest, it was cool to see it up close and personal but I wasn't incredibly impressed by it. Yes, I am glad that we went to see it but I was more stunned by the views of downtown, which were absolutely beautiful. 

Once we were done staring at The Bean (which didn't really take that long to be quite honest) we decided to take a walking tour of Chicago. It's only about 1.5 miles to Navy Pier from Millennium Park and it's really quite a beautiful walk. We passed by The Riverwalk on the way, as well as Trump Tower (which was comical at this time because it was still before the election), and through a couple different parks. 

When we finally saw Navy Pier we were so relieved. Although it wasn't FREEZING yet, we were pretty cold (hello, we live in Florida). We walked inside to warm up just a little bit before heading outside to see the views from the Pier. Inside Navy Pier there's a bunch of different shopping opportunities as well as this amazing botanical garden. It was really cool because everything was decorated for Halloween since we were there the weekend before Halloween. While we didn't actually do anything there (they have a Ferris Wheel but it was shut down due to the wind), it was still an amazing place to go and visit. The views of the city are stunning, as long as you bring a jacket and some gloves you should be good because the wind is no joke on the pier.

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself
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