Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hannah's Visit

I said I would post about it and here it is! I need to get better about these things though, because it's taken me quite a while! But into it we go!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have my best friend come visit me from England. This is going to be one gigantic post about all of the things we did.

There will be lots of pictures.

I will talk about lots of food.

And yes, we had lots of fun!

Kind of like my workout posts, we're just gonna take it one day at a time. So here goes!

Tuesday, June 21
Hannah flew in from San Diego (where she was visiting other friends) on an afternoon flight. I'd been tracking her flight the whole time, and the arrival time never changed: it stayed steady at 9:02pm. I left work, got my lifting in, and then sat and twiddled my thumbs and not eat dinner, since Hannah had told me she'd be hungry right off the plane.

At the appropriate time I left, checking the flight status which still showed an arrival time of 9:02. I got to the airport and parked (at which point I totally forgot which terminal American flies into - it's 3, if you're curious), and started walking to T3 arrivals. Which, PS, is about as far away from where I parked as you can get.

As I went, I checked her flights arrival time. While I was driving, it had gone from 9:02 to 8:41! WHAT?! That meant she might already be coming out of the gate! So I hustled along and finally found a spot at the bottom of the escalator near baggage claim to wait, eagerly peering around searching for her.

And then I got a text...they'd arrived early but there was no gate for them and we they were still on the tarmac. The waiting process began anew. And we waited. And waited. And texted a lot about how bogus it was that we had to wait. And waited. And finally, around 9:30, she deplaned and headed out. Finally, after 18 months, I got to see and hug my best friend (possibly cracking some ribs), and we both cried.

As we started walking out of the terminal, hand in hand, I admitted that I had parked really far away. Whoops. But we got to the car, loaded things in, and were on our way.

Oh, and right as we were leaving the parking garage I turned on the radio and said, "Maybe 'My House' is playing on one of these stations!" and BAM, it was. First selection, and my summer anthem started playing (yeah, that's right, it's my 2016 Summer Anthem...something about Flo Rida...):
Anyways, I drove my little car straight to Cheesecake Factory so we could knock one of the bucket list restaurants off right away. It was delicious, and well worth the long wait for dinner! I got a piece of tuxedo cheesecake to split when we got home as well (good decision).

When we got home, my mom had prepared a little "Welcome Home" setup for Hannah:
It was super sweet, and after catching up for a few minutes we decided to get ready for bed so we could forge ahead full speed on Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 22
Wednesday morning rolled in and I got up and ran to the gym to sneak in a swim while Hannah got a little extra sleep. We decided that we (Hannah, my mom, and I) would meet at a local diner for lunch after my workout, and then Hannah and I would run some errands we'd planned for the day.

So first up was Tony's, for some good food, and then we wandered out on our errands.

First up was collecting supplies for guacamole (and possibly some dinner things we needed).

Next, we went to Area 51 in Crystal Lake to check out our tattoo designs. Aside from needing to reposition some text, they looked great!

After that was World Market...I'd agreed to assemble a gift bag for a speaker at work (no one else volunteered) and I still had to do it. So we meandered around and I picked up a bunch of random (but nice) chocolates and cookies and stuff, and that was that.

For the rest of the afternoon we hung around, talked, ate guacamole (it was SO GOOD) and made dinner with my mom. All in all, a fun and relaxing day.

Thursday, June 23
We got just a teensy bit busier. After my 10 miles on the elliptical and rush to get ready, we drove over to my office to hand over said gift basket. I decided I didn't want to stick around for the speaker, and instead we hit up eatery number two on our list...Olive Garden!

Delicious but not-so-nutritious!

After stuffing ourselves with breadsticks, we decided to wander around the mall for a bit. I was on the lookout for a new pair of shoes, and that's when we snuck into the Vans store and I bought these bad boys:
Sorry, had to show them off again!
We did a bit more wandering then decided to head out since we had to stop at Target for some more stuff before our tattoo appointments. Right when we were leaving Target the shop called and said we could come in early (as soon as we wanted), so we dropped things off at home and headed over.

A little less than two hours later we walked out with these:
Hannah's on the left, mine on the right.
Before I get into the story behind it, I have to mention that Hannah was really worried about getting her first "big" tattoo because she wasn't sure she could handle the pain...AND SHE FELL ASLEEP DURING IT. She got up afterwards and said it was really pleasant and the "gentle scratching" just lulled her to sleep.

Anyways...the store! Because there is one!

A few years ago Hannah mentioned getting matching tattoos, and I thought it was a great idea, but we had no clue what to get. Then one year at Christmas she sent me this wall hanging that says 'Good friends are like the stars, you don't always see them but you know they're there.'

We both thought about what to get, and one day Hannah said she wanted to get something with the phrase 'like the stars', possibly in each other's handwriting, which I loved...and then we got stuck there for ages, with no idea how to execute or what else to add.

Then one day, in a total burst of inspiration, I had the idea that we could get each other's horoscope constellations as a background to the script. And so the idea was born...and that's exactly what we got. Our "matching" tattoos.

Hannah's tattoo is the Sagittarius constellation with my handwriting. Mine is the Leo constellation with her handwriting. As they are now, both tattoos are very simple, but we got them with the understanding that as time passes we will add to them. Just like our friendships, the tattoos will continue to evolve, which I think is pretty freaking cool :D

Friday, June 24
Friday was when things really got fun, because I had a surprise planned for Hannah that she had no idea about.

The morning passed without too much craziness, and around 5:30 we left my house to head towards the city (stopping to buy supplies for more guacamole). Originally I'd told Hannah that we were staying with one of my coworkers because I had a race to go to Saturday morning. This was part of the plan...but because I couldn't run I had no plans to run the race. It was, however, organized through work (and I was the organizer) so I knew I'd have to show up Saturday morning regardless. Saturday night the plan was to go out in Boystown, and then Sunday hit the Pride Parade.

Anyways...we were not staying with a coworker. About a month before Hannah's trip, I texted my best friends from college and asked if they would want to drive in from their respective locations (which weren't close...Bryn came from South Bend and Kycarah from a few hours west in Illinois) to have a Girl's Weekend.

And because they're both amazing and awesome, they said yes.

Moreover, Bryn said we could stay with her sister in Norwood park (about 30 minutes from the Loop) so we wouldn't have to splurge on an AirBnB. This got me even more excited, because her sister Kara is pretty fantastic as well. Then the week before Hannah came, I asked my friend Steffi if she'd want to come hang with us too...and of course she was down. I became more and more excited knowing that I'd have all of my best friends together for the first time in years.

It was so hard to keep it a secret all week. I almost slipped up a few times, especially the night she asked me how my other friends were doing (I almost replied, 'You can ask them yourself on Friday'...) but managed not to say anything until we were standing in front of Kara's door. At that point, I looked at Hannah and said, "By the way, I've been lying to you all week. We're not staying with my coworker."

And then Kycarah opened the door, and Bryn poked her face around the corner, and I almost died of happiness. And yes, Hannah was SUPER surprised.

It ended up being such a great weekend.

Friday night we hung around and got drunk off of Sangria and lots of home made vodka infusions that Bryn brought with her:
This label was in honor of me ;)
Kara's hostess gift. This...and sangria and vodka, haha!
And our first (of many) pictures together:
Hannah, Bryn, Kara, me, Kycarah
We had a great time that first night, just hanging out, catching up, and eatings LOTS of delicious guac that Hannah made. She really makes the best guac ever. We all got to snuggle with Bryn's puppy Luna too (how could we leave her out of girl's night?!):

We all finally decided to fall into bed. I had to be up early for the race the next day...and we all needed some sleep for Saturday's plans!

Saturday, June 25
I got up pretty early and was out of the house to get my team assembled at Proud to Run before just about anyone else got up. I drove to Montrose Harbor and saw my team off on their runs/walks:
Me...and various co workers. Proud to Run!
...and then I peaced out (as planned, since I couldn't run the 10k, which they were all fine with) and headed back to Kara's to figure out brunch.

Shortly after I got to Kara's, Steffi showed up. We had some mimosas then grabbed an Uber to Lincoln Park.

We picked a place in Lincoln Park called Nookies to have brunch. It was really, really good...except for the $7.50 upcharge for adding steak to my eggs. Like, okay I get that it's the city, but it wasn't some amazing quality steak, there was not that much of it, and there were entire entrees that didn't cost that much. I haggled with the manager to bring the price to something reasonable since the menu didn't mention the upcharge and the server hadn't told me.

For those wondering, I swear I'm not unreasonable. I showed the manager another dish on the menu that I had almost ordered and was almost exactly the same as what I had eaten but included the charge for steak...and cost three dollars less than my bill with the upcharge. It wasn't about the three was about the principle. Which I'm sure the manager was annoyed by, but whatever ;)

After brunch we walked to Lincoln Park Zoo...and it had to be the hottest day in history. Okay, so it was low 90s, but it was hot and there was not a cloud in the sky. We spent a few hours wandering around the zoo and finding places to sit when we weren't wandering, and then headed back to Kara's.

But not before taking a few more pictures ;)
Kycarah, Bryn, Hannah, myself, and Steffi
We took this super cool picture in the viewing area by the Sea Lions. Speaking of super cool...this was the coolest place at the whole zoo, and we were able to stand directly in front of air vents to cool off. I was very jealous of the sea lions too, swimming around in their enclosure. Would have been nice if they'd let us in there too!
When we got back to Kara's, lots of naps and relaxing were had. The sun kind of did us all in. After the naps we bust out the drinks again and started to tie dyed some shirts that we planned to wear to the parade the next day. Here's a sneak peek:

Though we had planned to go out...we didn't. It was a good thing we didn't too, because by 10 pm we were all shattered. Between the heat, the alcohol, and all the food we consumed (gyros for dinner!), we were all ready to got to bed pretty early.

Sunday, June 26
Sunday morning was a bit lazy, but we got ourselves ready to go to the parade and cleaned up a bit around Kara's. Kycarah decided to head back home (which made total sense since she lived the furthest away), and Bryn and Hannah and I caught an Uber to get us as close to the parade as possible. Bryn's brother Ian lives almost right next to where the parade starts, so we figured that would be a good launching place for us.

We ended up having to walk about a mile and a half to Ian's because of street closures, but we were able to hang out and cool off for a minute before walking to the parade. We found a great spot in the shade (which also happened to be almost exactly where I watched the parade from two years ago!) and got ready for some fun!

And of lots of things:

The parade began with a tribute to Orlando.
A Scout is Equal!
My favorite parts of the parade are the 'dykes on bikes'...they aren't called that anymore and I can't remember the name now, but two years ago when I went to the parade they were called that. They're seriously so fun to watch drive by!
Ahhh I see what you did there...I'm not 100% on board with Hillary, but I am all over this sign.
More motorcycles!!!! This time as superheros and villians!
The balloon floats! This was Hannah's favorite part of the parade, and very, very fun to watch go by because they were so creative. They started with an Orlando tribute.

That would be a unicorn!

My favorite sign of the day...and so, so true.
We had a little addition to our group...this guy came along and started getting us free stuff from everyone while he drank boxed wine :P
And that's just a sampling of all the pictures I took! With about an hour left to go we started to get hungry (and a bit tired) so we asked Ian for a recommendation for lunch and grabbed another Uber to Kuma's Too. We got there right before the crowd, and didn't even have to wait for a table.

The menu was great, and I had a hard time picking what to get so I finally asked the waitress for a recommendation (I was looking at either the Kuma burger, which is a cheeseburger with a fried egg or the Neurosis, which has caramelized onion and horseradish mayo). Since I'd never had a burger with a fried egg she suggested the Kuma. It was very, very good and perfectly seasoned, though I would have preferred a normal bun to a pretzel bun. I could only get half of it down, and the rest came home with me for dinner (along with those fries on Ian's plate :P):
Oh, and that garlic mayo on the side? Delish.
At this point, I would also like to let folks know that Hannah was SUPER English and ate her burger with a knife and fork, and I made fun of her for it. (And damn straight, Han, I'm making fun of you again!) She said it was too big and would have made a mess, at which point I glanced from her to Ian, who was shoving his burger into his face, making a total mess. I told her that there are some things that you just have to get messy when eating, and amazing burgers are one of those things!

It ended up being very similar to the "which side of the road is the right side to drive on" conversations that I have with people in England. We both insisted our way was correct and the other person was being unreasonable. Ahh, foreign relations. Discussing the important things at all times.

Anyways...I highly recommend Kuma's. There happens to be one near where I work as well, so I'll be hitting that up sometime soon.

After lunch, it was back to Kara's to pack up everything and head on home. Though totally shattered from a busy weekend in the sun, I was happy..and also sad because it meant an amazing weekend was coming to an end, and I only had one day left with my best friend :(

Overall though, I desperately needed that girl's weekend and a bit of a break from work-train-repeat. Knowing it was all coming to an end (without anything like it in sight for a very long time) kind of sucked :(

Monday, June 27
It was Hannah's last day, at my house, and we needed to leave for the airport after dinner. It sucked knowing that bags had to be packed and I'd be dropping her off at the airport, but we had a good day running around doing some last minute errands and stopping at different stores. The bulk of the agenda was Target, Funky Monkey (a local hippie-ish shop), Panera, and Baskin Robbins. We hadn't gone to Panera yet, and when Hannah was in San Diego she had some BR that she really liked and wanted to have again before she left. So we squeezed all of that in, and then when the time came we left for the airport.

And so we come to the point that always sucks when visiting (or being visited): Saying 'goodbye'. sucked.

But the upside was that I got to spend almost seven days with my best friend, I got to have a great Girl's Weekend with all of my best friends, and I'm lucky that I can say that :)

So there you go!
A week in pictures and words, and one I'll remember for a long time.

Love you, Han!


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