Chicago and More

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This past week, our little family took a journey to the Windy City as part of a 10-day, 5-city vacation. It all started with a wedding we attended in Peoria, Illinois. Peoria is in the same general region as my husband's extended family so we couldn't not spend some time with them. And then Chicago isn't so far from either of those, so why not, right?? I've never been and my husband hasn't been since he moved away from the area at 14. 

Since we have a 20 month old, I planned out our two days in Chicago about 10 times. Chicago is best known (in my mind) as the haven of Frank Lloyd Wright works, so needless to say we had a lot to squeeze in, in addition to the normal touristy things everyone recommended. I spent a lot of time in college studying ol' Frank, so these things are on my design bucket list. BIG deal. HUGE.

First stop was Wright's Robie House in Hyde Park. It is probably his most recognizable house, next to Fallingwater in Pennsylvania (also on said design bucket list).

Shout out to my Ergobaby Carrier that I bought at the last minute. This little gem made sight-seeing with a toddler much easier (and compact since we didn't have a stroller).

Shout out to my Ergobaby Carrier that I bought at the last minute. This little gem made sight-seeing with a toddler much easier (and compact since we didn't have a stroller).

Interesting fact about the Robie House: it is over 100 years old, but was only lived in as a family residence for a combination of 16 years. The Robies only lived in it for 18 months. The rest of the time it was passed around between wealthy owners and historical societies. It now belongs to the University of Chicago.

One of Frank's most defining design traits was that he designed buildings to reflect their environment. Illinois is a "plains" state, so the Robie house is flat and horizontal, like it's environment. It is much different than the very vertical, boxy, and pointy architecture of Chicago.

One of Frank's most defining design traits was that he designed buildings to reflect their environment. Illinois is a "plains" state, so the Robie house is flat and horizontal, like it's environment. It is much different than the very vertical, boxy, and pointy architecture of Chicago.

All those windows on the middle row are actually french doors to a porch off the living area. I toured the inside of the house as well, but I didn't pay the extra $5 for photos. It might have been worth it, but I'm pretty sure my brain will never forget how amazing it was. 

All those windows on the middle row are actually french doors to a porch off the living area. I toured the inside of the house as well, but I didn't pay the extra $5 for photos. It might have been worth it, but I'm pretty sure my brain will never forget how amazing it was. 

These are the gates to the driveway which leads to the very first attached garage ever built. They are very accurate reproductions, since the originals disappeared at some point in its ownership changes. That's my daughter collecting rocks behind the gate. It's pretty much all she cares about. Classic.

These are the gates to the driveway which leads to the very first attached garage ever built. They are very accurate reproductions, since the originals disappeared at some point in its ownership changes. That's my daughter collecting rocks behind the gate. It's pretty much all she cares about. Classic.

After leaving the Robie House, we took a quick stroll around the University of Chicago. It wasn't on our schedule of events, but it was adjacent to the house, and so beautiful that we had to check it out. 

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And we picked a perfect time of year to see this stunning area of town. The leaves were just starting to change.

After leaving Hyde Park, we met up for dinner with an old college friend and then retired early at our Oak Park hotel to rest up for our Oak Park adventures the next day.

We started early just blocks from the hotel and took a walking tour of this popular neighborhood. I think it's safe to say it holds the highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture anywhere. On top of that, it's a beautiful neighborhood. All-in-all, I didn't fall in love with the city of Chicago. I'd pick Atlanta over Chicago any day if we're comparing metropolitan areas. But if I was forced to live there, and it paid well enough, I'd live in Oak Park, even if we just rented a duplex. 

After all, Frank picked it, too. His home and studio are there:

This photo is my absolute favorite from our trip. Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio is nestled on the corner of a busy street in Oak Park, on the edge of the neighborhood, yet from this photo, you'd swear he lived tucked away in the forest. It's absolutely breathtaking.

This photo is my absolute favorite from our trip. Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio is nestled on the corner of a busy street in Oak Park, on the edge of the neighborhood, yet from this photo, you'd swear he lived tucked away in the forest. It's absolutely breathtaking.

His studio had a separate entrance to the public. Here's the plaque in the side letting you know you've arrived.

His studio had a separate entrance to the public. Here's the plaque in the side letting you know you've arrived.

A detail shot from the side entrance to Frank's studio. The craftsmanship!! 

A detail shot from the side entrance to Frank's studio. The craftsmanship!! 

From there we wandered down the street, taking in the piece of history that we were thrown into. It was by far my favorite part of the trip.

The two of us (architect and designer) easily picked out Frank's works. But I think they are so unique that even the untrained eye would be able to say "Now that's a different house." Some of them had plaques out front to help you identify them.

This was definitely the most un-characteristic of Frank's houses. But he blended in his identifying details with what the owner desired very well.

This was definitely the most un-characteristic of Frank's houses. But he blended in his identifying details with what the owner desired very well.

Never thought I'd see gothic arch windows on a Frank House. But he did it!

Never thought I'd see gothic arch windows on a Frank House. But he did it!

I love his quote at the bottom of the historic marker above. My most favorite designers/artists/architects are the ones who would answer the question "Why?" with the question "Why not?" You should never limit yourself to others' expectations. Never build your portfolio based on a trend.

The famous Unity Temple in Oak Park

The famous Unity Temple in Oak Park

After we had walked Oak Park and our brains were saturated with amazing design, we got in our car, and by some miracle made it into the city with very little traffic. With a power nap tucked under her belt, we took our toddler and ourselves to the famous Art Institute of Chicago for more design awesomeness.

{Auburn grads you will appreciate this: as we were standing at the crowded crosswalk near the museum, I heard a "War Eagle!" and looked over to meet a woman who spotted my husband's Aubie hat as she was also heading to the museum. And she was from my hometown of Montgomery! After checking the time she realized she didn't have enough time to make it through the museum before catching her flight out, so she offered us her tickets. Sadly we already bought ours in advance, but it was nice to encounter a familiar dose of southern hospitality! I just love War Eagle moments.}

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the best impressionist collections I've ever seen. My one regret is not spending very much time in that wing. Check out Seurat's famous A Sunday afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. 

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the best impressionist collections I've ever seen. My one regret is not spending very much time in that wing. Check out Seurat's famous A Sunday afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. 

The museum has an Architecture and Design portion that I wanted to see first and foremost, so we breezed past the other exhibits. When we got to the A&D wing, it was CLOSED!!! Until next week!!! My heart sunk. I guess that's the one thing I forgot to check in my planning. Oh well.

We did get to see some other cool things in the Decorative Arts wing, like the original Diamond and Wire Chair from Bertoia. They also had a lot of great Art Nouveau pieces.

I'd say my favorite collection was the Native and Tribal works from America, and Central/South America. You can see how much these designs still influence pattern and design today.

From there we took our quickly fading toddler to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. We thought she'd love the sea creatures and dinosaurs. She got a kick out of the dolphins, but she fell asleep in the Ergo by the time we made it to the dinosaurs. 

The city was extremely foggy and wet while we were there. So we didn't attempt the Sky Deck or many other outdoor attractions (and we had time constraints as well).

But we weren't going to miss the Cloud Gate, aka, the famous Bean!!

Bean selfie!!

Bean selfie!!

And right next door, Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 

And right next door, Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 

Then it was time for us to head to Indiana, to see our family and have some down time. By the time we got in our car to head out of the city, I could barely lift my legs. They were like jello. The carrier was so great, but you really underestimate walking miles with a 22 lb toddler strapped to you. I'm just glad she's tiny for her age!! 

My husband grew up across the street from his aunt and two cousins. One cousin is just a week younger than he, and they grew up closer than most siblings. Despite our 14 hour distance, we love the blessing of sharing our growing families with each other. Here are all of our girls together (her three and my June). 

This photo, although not the best quality, is best the best representation of their visit with each other. Ana loves books almost more than life, and baby Eva is always content. Ari, the oldest (next to June) has been obsessed with "baby June" since she was born. June has a very unfortunately large personal bubble and didn't understand that her older cousin just wanted to love on her. She spent a lot of time screeching when her personal bubble was invaded :)

And Indiana did not disappoint either. Besides all the Frank Lloyd Wright in Illinois, I was also excited to see what a real fall is supposed to look like in the region. October is still irritatingly warm on the Gulf Coast. I think it's supposed to be 80 today. *Sigh*

But we are grateful to be home. And our little girl far exceeded our expectations and proved all the nay-sayers wrong. She was the happiest little traveler. We borrowed an in-car DVD player and used it very minimally. I think 3 times total. If she was a little older, I'd take her to the store and buy her a new toy. She was THAT good.

So see, we weren't crazy to go on a 10-day, 5-city trek with a toddler. I'd do it again. 

And next time I don't think we will wait for an out-of-town wedding before we decide to go on an out-of-town adventure :)

And you shouldn't either!