2018 Chicago Trip

The 2018 edition of our annual trip to Chicago returned to Memorial Day Weekend.  The recap follows below:

Saturday, May 26th, 2018:

Alan and I arrived at Hopkins in the early evening, following Alan’s afternoon piano lessons (fortunately baseball practice had been cancelled for the holiday weekend, since we were still a little tired from our late night downtown).

We loved seeing the Cavaliers signage around the airport!

As we waited for our flight to Chicago, Alan passed the time by reading some books he found.  He entertained himself for quite a while.

Before long, we were off to O’Hare.  Once we arrived, Alan requested a quick stop at Target for chips and Hot Wheels cars (otherwise known as life’s necessities).  Then it was time to head to the house and immediately bring out the Lincoln Logs!

Sunday, May 27th, 2018:

As soon as Alan woke up, he picked up where he left off the night before with the Lincoln Logs and cars.  Jill joined him and soon their farm took shape!

Once we left the house, the [obvious] first stop was the Chicago Botanic Garden for the model train display!  It remains the premier destination and highlight of Alan’s trip.  For the first time, we saw the caterpillar train car out on the track!

We took a couple laps around the train display and took many photos, but didn’t stay quite as long as normal due to the unseasonably warm temperatures (mid 90s).

Note:  We made sure to wear our Cavaliers shirts all day in advance of Game 7 vs. the Celtics later that night!  I wore the “Whatever It Takes” shirt that we got at the Q while attending Game 7 vs. Indiana together.

After seeing the trains, we all went to another familiar destination — the Highland Park mini golf course!  When Alan has a favorite go-to spot, he makes sure to enjoy it.

For the first time in several years, no one got a hole-in-one.  While we were golfing, we heard the song “Whatever It Takes” playing on the loudspeakers.  Hearing those lyrics — which double as the Cavaliers’ 2018 playoff slogan — felt like a great omen for the game later that night!  Alan and I love that song now.

After golf, we headed to one of Alan’s universal favorite places — McDonald’s.  Alan got his lunch there and then sat patiently with a word search activity while the adults had their lunch at Rhapsody Café.

After a brief rest at home, the next stop was the Deerfield Public Library.  Alan assembled a very long train and had a great time driving it up and down the ramps he created for it.

While we were there, the Indians rallied to score five runs in the 9th inning vs. the Astros to force extra innings.  The Indians would later win it in 14 innings on a Greg Allen walk-off HR(!) when we were picking up milk at Walgreens and following on our phones.  I also saw that as a good omen for the Cavaliers, since the Indians won an extra inning game the same day the Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 in 2016 (Dan Otero even got the win both days).

Not that I’m superstitious or anything, but for dinner I suggested Il Forno Pizzeria.  Why?  Because it’s where we picked up dinner exactly two years ago (5/27/16) before we watched the Cavaliers beat the Raptors to win the Eastern Conference!

And sure enough, we watched the Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference for the 4th straight season in a thriller!  Alan watched the whole thing and pretended to be a coach.  He told the Celtics when to miss — and they listened, scoring just 79 points.  🙂  We knew the Cavaliers couldn’t have done it without Alan!

As we watched the Cavaliers raise up their trophy during the postgame ceremony, I thought back to a prophetic declaration that Alan made earlier in the month (on his own volition) that the Raptors and Celtics couldn’t beat LeBron James.  He was right, and it was a great night that we won’t soon forget!

Monday, May 28th, 2018:

The next morning we braved the heat once again and celebrated Memorial Day back at the Botanic Garden to see the trains.  When we went looking for the butterfly/lady bug/caterpillar train car to see whose turn it was in the rotation, we were surprised to find none of the above.  Instead we found a special patriotic train car!

Once Alan got his fill of trains for the trip, we got takeout (McDonalds’s and Panera, respectively) for lunch, then went on to round 2 of mini-golf.  Again no holes-in-one for any of us, but we had a great time on the course!

After mini-golf, Alan took his annual ride on the train with Jill.  This time they traveled from Deerfield to Glenview, where Robbie and I picked them up.  Alan opted to ride on the second level of the train, which he always chooses.

On our way home, we got take out from Naf Naf Grill.  After eating dinner, we took our annual photos by the famous tree (see beginning of post) and then headed to Maplewood Park for Alan to play.  Alan did a little rock-climbing and also entertained himself by sending some cars he brought with him down the big slide.

  

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018:

The next morning we took an early flight home so Alan could get back for piano and a baseball game.  Alan found our gate for us at O’Hare.

Thanks to Robbie and Jill for hosting us for another fantastic weekend.  As usual, Alan had a great time.  The trip was a great way to kick-off Alan’s summer!