Dispatches from a Kia, Part II: Where It All Began

After a restful night of sleep in Effingham, IL, Pete and I had to make a tough travel decision: to stop in Chicago for a brief visit, or bypass the city of our love's inception and head straight to Michigan. It's only a 3 1/2 hour drive to Chicago from Effingham - it would be perfect timing for lunch! 

Cue: traffic. Four and a half hours later and we were off the highway! God, if I hear one more person in Austin tell me how bad traffic is, I'm gonna flip! A bunch of whiners in Texas, I'll tell ya. 

Although it took us about an hour longer than anticipated, we were still in time for a tasty lunch. We hit up our favorite pizza joint and brewery: Piece.

Their pizza is the bomb and we've missed it immensely. Pete and I shared a large mushroom- so much pizza that we would have leftovers for dinner and breakfast the next morning.

Ol' pal, Jayve (who lived in the same apartment building as Pete and I) joined in on the pizza and beer extravaganza. 

Seeing one awesome old friend got us thinking- why don't we see more awesome old friends? So, while Pete was taking a leak in Piece's potty, he made the executive decision to stay the night in Chicago and go meet up with folks we haven't seen in some time.

But first, a pit stop: to where it all began. We ventured over to our old hood, Logan Square, to revisit all the places that fostered our oh-so-saucy relationship.

First, we drove by Palmer Square Park, which was like a bitchin' extension of our front yard. I attempted to become fit by running around this park, but that quickly died after a handful of outings.

No phone calls on the road, dude. 
Once we were parked outside our old stomping ground, we immediately paid tribute to the long-lost tire swing. Pete used to soar on that thing. He would get a good running start, get some air, and continue running back and forth a few times until he was so high that he would use his leg as a pendulum to keep momentum (and continue getting higher). It was insane. 

I generally utilized the tire swing in different ways:

I got a message about a year ago informing me of the tire swing's demise. Thunderstorm. A sad moment in the history of our little hood, indeed. The tire swing became the 'cool spot' for all the neighborhood kids to hang out after school. It was a place for making out. It was the meet-up spot. A place to drink cheap beer. It was a place to play. I'm sad that she is no more...

The trampled ground from years of play remains!
We stopped at our front stoop and admired our former bungalow. Jayve (whom you saw in the picture from Piece) lived on the top floor. I was in the middle. And Pete was surviving in the seedy basement (not pictured). 

I peeked inside (and may have checked the mail- is that a federal offense?) and noticed that it's a bit of a mess. There are no individual mail boxes at this place, so the mail just gets thrown everywhere in the doorway. In the past, I would try to keep things organized. The new tenants did not follow suit.

Pete's old apartment is super illegal. There was only one entrance, no heat in the winter, leaks from the ceiling, you name it. To enter, he had to walk or bike through the alleyway and use the back door (his only door). Like a giddy schoolgirl, I would listen for him to come home from work or school every night (before we were dating) and make up an excuse to go out onto the back porch, wherein I would catch Pete for an unexpected chat. I took out a lot of trash in those days.

We scoped out the backyard, which was one of our favorite summertime hangout spots. I met Pete the day I signed my lease for this place. He was taking a break from building a picnic table in the backyard. Who woulda thought!? That picnic table has seen a lot of crazy nights - and there are plenty of doodles on the wood to prove it. We loved it so much that when we moved, we disassembled it and brought to Michigan for Pete's family to enjoy.   

Now the backyard houses a pile of wood. Very homey. One of the grills back there was Pete's. The table belonged to me. I left it with the assumption that it would be useful. Whoops. 

We got a kick out of the garden that still remains. It was all Pete's. I think that big bushy thing is some forbidden Japanese fruit treat. Whoops. 

After a bit more neighborhood exploration, we headed north to Lincoln Square to meet up with Pete's stepbrother, Jake, and his lady, Katie. Jake is a regional competitive eating superstar. You can check out some of his ridiculous eat feats here. I was hoping he would be joining us for Thanksgiving in Michigan (because I would take pleasure in watching him destroy some turkey), but instead they were staying in town to celebrate with Katie's parents and their two hilarious dogs. 

Overbite extreme.
Our next two home visits were also in Lincoln Square, so it made for an easy commute between friends. First on the list was my favorite new homeowner, Brook and her soon-to-be husband, Intranig. Brook and I attempted to make ground-making music videos in college, but after an altercation with the Chicago Police Department, we came up with this:  

(Brook and I are the female dancers. And we're awesome).

Brook and Intranig graciously invited us into their new, gorgeous home and liquored us up with beer and cocktails. But I failed to capture our rendezvous with a photo. Bummer. So here are before-and-after pictures of their home (they did all the work themselves...for the most part):

And here's a picture of Brook giving me a lap dance in college:

You're welcome, Brook.
So now that you know everything there is to know about my friend, Brook, we'll move on to Pete's former boss, Walt and his fabulous girlfriend, Jessie. Walt and Pete were a fearsome dynamic duo in the operations department of their university. They spent their days fixin' shit, setting up rooms and people watching on State Street. Not a bad gig. Why did we move again? 

Walt with his ladies.
Toughest dudes I know.
These folks will always be a part of our lives, no matter where our Winnebago takes us. It's great to know we have such generous and welcoming friends all around the country. I feel bad, though, because so many people offered us a place to stay for the night, and right now, there's no way for us to return the favor (well, we could pull out the back bed, but it might get a little awkward). We plan on having a guest room one day, though. In the form of a VW Bus or something similar. I'm sure the requests will start pouring in when that happens... 

So after our whirlwind day of friend-visiting, it was time to crash (we had to get up at 4am to take Jayve to the airport and thus, get a head start on the final leg of our drive). We stayed with my sister, Ashleigh, at our parents' South Loop condo. It's the coolest. Pete and I also lived there last summer and it was a great way to spend our final days in Chicago. 

Here's a snapshot of Ashleigh, Pete and myself with none other than Molly and Josh enjoying an Easter brunch in the condo:

The floor to ceiling windows are pretty spectacular. And the views are killer!

Oh! And there's a pool! With an orthopedic chair!

My parents are thinking about selling this condo. Is it obvious that I'm trying to persuade them to hold onto it!?


TRAVEL EXPENSES (or "Should We Have Flown?")

Sun 11/20: $21.18
Mon 11/21: $62.07
Tue 11/22: $46.07

Sun 11/20: Free
Mon 11/21: $32.19
Tue 11/22: None

Sun 11/20: None
Mon 11/21: $34.60
Tue 11/22: $44.73

TRIP TOTAL: $240.84