Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

On top of the city of Chicago from The Ledge at Skydeck.

To learn more about the weekly photo challenges, visit


Chicago Day 4

The final day in Chicago wasn’t the whirlwind you might expect. Rather than rush around trying to fit in anything we could, we decided to take our time. We grabbed a late checkout from the accommodating hotel so we could wrap up the CNN interview. Then we checked our bags and headed for the Sky Ledge. A must on my list (like the elusive ferris wheel) we actually managed this one. The line wasn’t as long as we’d been warned about but they packed us like sardines into the elevator. My issues with crowds surfaced and I had to hide in the far back corner of the elevator so as to not completely flip out. As expected, the views were stunning from the Sears Tower (or whatever they have renamed it to).

The highlight, though, was stepping out on the sky ledge – the glass enclosed box located outside the tower. While we waited our turn I asked Jay if he was afraid of heights and he assured me that he wasn’t. Reminded me of his flying planes and such. When our turn came, though, he put on foot on the glass and then promptly backed away. And he wasn’t the only one – there were so many people that wouldn’t go near the glass floor of the box. People cried, children screamed…I started jumping up and down and sank down to sit on it so we could capture a picture.

We really didn’t have time for anything else so we grabbed out bags from the hotel and grabbed a taxi for the hour drive to the airport. After that is was a mess of checking bags, losing things, fighting with security over a snow globe and saying goodbye.


Well, not EXACTLY goodbye because Kay, Jay and I are already planning our next adventure!

Chicago Day 3

Day 3 was the first day where we thought we would have no HPFF duties. We were quickly proved wrong as emails back and forth between us and CNN began in earnest. Thankfully, this lady was more on her game than the CBS crew. We actually managed to fit quite a bit of sight-seeing in at a pretty leisurely pace. Of course, it stemmed upon Jay and I getting ourselves lost in Chicago. We ended up in some not so savory neighborhoods which, of course, had me giddy with adventure. Jay? Not so much.

We took a rest at one of the larger parks where a friendly homeless man gave us quite a speech on pointers for romance in the park. As we just relaxed under a tree, our attention kept being drawn to this big shiny silver thing a little ways away. It was a horrible eyesore, honestly, but people were flocking to it like it was magnetic. We decided to investigate and found out it was some famous sculpture called “The Bean.” Suitable unimpressed we snapped a photo, walked underneath hopping for some great karma infused event. Receiving none, we shrugged at each other and kept walking.

This was also the day for our police adventure. While I can not divulge details, it ended up with two policemen arguing over who got to pose for pictures with me. The super tall giant of a man won, if t matters. We managed to fit in another classic Chicago meal – italian beef. And might I just say this makes the list of the most disgusting things I’ve put in my mouth. No, really, it’s not wise to ask what else is on that list. We don’t know each other well enough for that yet.

My last evening in Chicago ended where it had started: Navy Pier. A last ditch attempt to ride the ferris wheel proved fruitless (missed by ten minutes) but led to Jay getting a tattoo that caused onlookers to gawk like crazy, and I saw the biggest rat I’ve ever seen in my life. Terrifying looking creature, I tell you. Thankfully, the rat was forgotten by a wonderful night view of the Chicago skyline.

Chicago Day 2

Day 2, if possible, was an even more whirlwind of activity if that’s possible. Kay and I, curled up on the hotel suite floor, were awoken at some insane hour by Jay. Apparently he was starving and had to go find food. When he returned he let it slip – he’d gone to McDonald’s. Kay, ever the foodie, nearly had a breakdown and proceeded to make fun of him for hours for this transgression.

We had to say goodbye to Grace this morning as well. I was really sad to see her go. The moment she woke up, half dazed, she asked “Where’s the Brit?” and then, seconds later, with increasing puzzlement, “Why the hell are you two sleeping on the floor?” She was just an absolute joy to be around. She lives life for every second and her upbeat personality makes it impossible to stay tired or grumpy for any length of time. She’s just a gem of a person and I hope to get to see her again in the future sometime.

After our goodbyes to her, Kay was kind enough to take me on a Starbucks run. It wasn’t a good Mocha by any means but after having been without for so long I was ecstatic. We did a bit more walking around, seeing a few sites as we headed back to the hotel for the CBS interview.

Vertigo anyone?

We waited and waited and…waited. Jay was starving again and finally put his foot down that if they didn’t show up he was calling the whole thing off. Kay called them, passed along the word, and they arrived within 15 minutes. We managed to fake busy-ness and then Jay and I retreated to the hall where we could listen to Kay do the on-camera interview but stay out of the scene. She was stellar and it just served as a reminder what an amazing person she is. I’ve seen her change a lot over the years but never moreso than in the past six months. She’s taking life her life by the reins and just watching her come alive again has been wonderful. No matter how we met, she truly is my best friend in the world and I’m so glad to be a part of her life. Sappiness complete.

Interview over, it was time to feed Jay and what better way than a Chicago tradition? Deep dish pizza it is. We walked to Gino’s which I’d never heard of but it is now on my “have to go again” list…everything about it was perfect for me. Graffiti all over the walls (yes, I left my own mark there), wooden booths, and the most fabulous pizza I’ve ever had in my life.

We did some more obligatory site seeing in the afternoon and, sadly, I can’t remember much of it. It’s all just mushy in my brain as to when we went where. For dinner, Kay and I decided to surprise Jay with a steak dinner. It was a fancier restaurant than we expected but they were super friendly and never made us feel out of place. I got distracted by a cow on display (weird to see at a steakhouse) and picked up a “book” that turned out to be a wine list.

Playing with the infamous cow at the steakhouse

Not being a wine drinker, Kay and I decided Jay should experience grappa. Let’s just say I don’t think he’ll be doing it again soon. He made all sorts of amusing noises at the dinner table. The best part was the waiter who knew EXACTLY what we were up to and kept making comments like “I’ll keep the flames away” every time he passed by our table which helped egg Jay on. What Jay missed was watching the wait staff congregate along the wall to peer at him when he took his first sip. You can’t make up memories like that 😀

Chicago Day 1

My trip to Chicago was fueled by a 8 year friendship with Kay and my work at It was originally supposed to be a work-free weekend but things sort of get hazy after that as CBS and CNN got involved. Its one of those things where every time something gets mentioned a memory/event you forgot about surges into your brain. It was an exhausting weekend, a time of your life weekend, and something I will never ever forget. So, I’m taking a page out of Meg’s book and listing some highlights for each day.

-20 something hours on a train that ran out of food. Kay went shopping for emergency rations to feed me as soon as I got off because, frankly, my tweets were beginning to scare everyone. (Pull and remove anyone??). A granola bar never tasted so phenomenal.

After a 3 hours delay the train finally arrives

-The Italian shop with the best selection of imported goods ever. I stared awestruck on each aisle and found it almost impossible to make choices. I did end up with some cookies from the bakery (this will be important later!) and then Kay got all the stuff to cook me the most fantastic meal ever at her place.

-Got to Kay’s and we curled into comfy clothes while she opened her gifts and then started cooking. Yeah, it was nearing 11 before we even turned on our Godfather marathon. Homemade gnocchi, wine, handmade tiramisu (we’ll skip the debate of the five second rule as it relates to brandy infused frosting) and….CBS.

-I won’t rehash CBS drama because many of you were on in the middle of the night to watch it unfold. The ending result was Kay and I downing french press coffee in the middle of the night, pulling archive data, checking NY flight info, cursing repetitively just to ease stress…and Jay rushing to get a flight to Chicago. This is about when most of the members following on twitter started worrying at what the hell their staffers lives were really like

-A few hours of sleep and a to-die-for breakfast of bananas foster french toast (bananas’s a staff thing). Next time I shall skip the butt in my face regular with the Mickey Mouse plates in favor of hugs from Chef Troy.

Chef Troy = love

-Most of the rest of this day is a blur to be honest. I know I still wasn’t getting fed Starbucks and Kay and her friend Grace took me on some weird train with drunken sailors with open cans of beer (that’s 12+ right? Warning: blog will contain instances of alcohol use…). Kay’s significant other and I got into a debate in the car about the space shuttle launch, sleeping with British men and whether or not I’d kick Jay’s behind for him. I actually don’t remember if we saw any sights (my camera I’m sure would tell the tale) but we finally did make it to our wonderful hotel right in the heart of the city.

– “Touching” of the hotel general manager. We needed a conference room for the interview and Kay decided to put my southern charm to work. Grace flipped a little with my *cough * method but we ended up with a perfect room (for free!) …and I ended up with an offer of an “awe-inspiring” liaison to see acrobats, watch fireworks and ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier with the man. For the record – I turned him down as we were awaiting Jay’s arrival. Another for the record? The fireworks were the one “must do” on my list for the trip. Jay owes me fireworks. Just sayin.

-Jay’s arrival is pretty much recorded on all of twitter. His horrible cab ride, being dumped in the middle of the city, the drunk girl with the flower standing on the street corner to welcome him. Kay and I took all this in stride and sat at the hotel bar sipping our drinks, knowing a man who flew across the ocean at a moment’s notice to be with us would find us eventually. It was kind of fabulous like that. (Marco….)

-After grabbing food at Navy Pier for a very humpy Jay (hungry + grumpy, don’t judge) we decide CBS could wait and took off to find some nightlife. Everywhere was busy and we turned away from several different places on Rush Street (I think that’s the area…). We entered this one place that had 80’s music going and then left when we saw it was standing room only. Back out on the street, a debate was raging on what to do until I finally got irritated, pushed our way back into the bar and commandeered us a table right by the stage, the bar and on the edge of the dance floor. Not at all like me (wallflower here) but the waffling was exhausting. Non 12+ things ensue but let’s just say that drinks flowed, dancing occurred, the Brit shook his head at his three girls belting out “Sweet Home Alabama” over the crowds, he almost had to fight a handsy employee (gotta love Brit heroes) and the wait staff quickly learned to keep out table well stocked and were nice enough to quickly replace all the drinks that got spilled. Oh yeah, and this was when the shoes got kicked off. Country girl in the big city…what can I say?


Sadly, I never did get a chance to ride it

-After a cab ride (and OH how that cabbie despised us…he even locked the dividing window because Kay, Jay and I were pissing him off so much which, of course, only made us roll down all the windows so we could yell at Grace in the front seat to continue our conversation) we retreated to the hotel where poor Grace decided we were all nuts and went to bed when we started flipping on the computers to get to work. HPFF took over and, as exhausted as we were, it all ran like clockwork. We each had our assignments and except for desperate cookie break pleas from Jay (italian bakery to the rescue!) and Jay trying to second guess me when I had to spout archive stats to Kay (he looked them up to check me…and promptly cursed me which was kind of endearing to both Kay and I hearing the proper Brit say dirty words) we managed to get everything done. Last minute calls to the desk (who know me by name now) got Jay linens for the sofa bed and we had a new roomie. Another tidbit I can’t put up on here but let’s just say that Grace awoke the next day to being alone in the two double beds by herself while Kay and I were curled on the floor at Jay’s feet, sheets and blankets for all the beds scattered throughout the suite.

And that…is Day 1, sort of. Obviously, it all kind of runs together