Since she’s an academic counselor now and not a teacher, Carrie-Anne only gets two weeks off during the summers. So, if we’re going to do anything or go anywhere, it has to be the first two weeks of July. This year we decided to escape the heat and spent five days up in Chicago.

C-A’s never been to Chicago. I’ve been nine times as part of the two-year Transforming Community program I went through in 2018-2019 and just love the whole city. I know some of my affection for the Windy City is certainly tied to the spiritual growth I experienced and the relational changes that happened with me and our Lord during my retreats there; that was a significantly important time for me and for my ministry–truly transformative. All that is connected with my heart and my head to Chicago, no doubt. But I also just really love a big, bustling, diverse, busy, city with a million things to see and do.

We didn’t do a million things in Chicago this past week. But almost.

I’m mainly just posting a ton of pictures here today. I should have kept up with this while we were on the trip so it wouldn’t be this massive picture dump. But we got up early and stayed out late during those five days. And had an incredibly wonderful time. As always, click on the pic to get the full size.






We mostly did the touristy things one does while in Chicago. We stayed at the Cambria Hotel downtown, at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn in the middle of the theater district, because most of the really cool stuff is downtown.






We spent a whole morning at Millennium Park and took all the requisite photos at the iconic “Bean”: the reflections of the downtown skyline, the selfie, the squatty pics underneath the structure, and the zoomed out portrait.








And the splash pad. We didn’t get wet. But we stayed long enough to watch both of the huge face installations spew water on all the kids at least four or five times.








NASCAR was in Chicago over the weekend which made it difficult to walk from Millennium Park to Grant Park along the shores of Lake Michigan. We managed to weave our way around barricades and through the crowds of race fans trying to get a glimpse of their favorite cars and drivers as they unloaded their vehicles and only got flipped off and cussed at once by a cyclist for walking in a bike path.

Of course, we also spent an entire afternoon at the famous Chicago Art Institute where we gazed at the painting that got Cameron so locked up in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and took the somber selfies in front of American Gothic.







You’ve noticed that C-A has straightened her hair. She took the Christmas break to transition from the do-rag to her Q-Tip with a headband thing. And now she’s using her summer break to make the move back to how she looked pre-cancer. The way her hair came back so curly in those super-tight ringlets was surprising and I really thought she was rocking that look pretty well. But I think she feels more like herself now. And she does look beautiful, doesn’t she?








We saw Jersey Boys at the Mercury Theater and laughed our lips off at Second City. I don’t know Jenelle’s last name, but it was her last night at Second City–she’s been part of the group there since 2018—and I promise you she’s about to show up on Saturday Night Live. Or something.  I don’t know what’s next for her, but it’s going to be big. And we saw her on her last night at Second City.






What else? We spent an evening at Navy Pier and took in the fireworks there over the lake. We did the mandatory architectural cruise on the Chicago River and spent almost all day on the really cool downtown river walk. And we visited the Shedd Aquarium where we fed and petted stingrays and talked back and forth with some Beluga whales.








Luckily, the Cubs were in town so we watched the local boys blank the Halos at the friendly confines of 110-year-old Wrigley Field. Of course, I enjoyed a traditional Chicago-style hot dog, complete with mustard, tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, that neon-green relish, and the pickle on a poppy-seed bun. Carrie-Anne calls it a salad with a weenie. She’ll have no part of it.








It was easy to root for the Cubs because they were playing one of the Rangers’ rivals from the AL West. And we delighted as the out of town scoreboard on the ivy-covered walls lit up with Rangers runs from their blowout win over the Rays. We stood and sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame as it was led by some B-actor I’d never heard of. And we watched in amazement as 25,000 fans locked arms and swayed back and forth together and sang “Go Cubs Go.” Man, a Cubs game is special. It’s a truly communal thing that I’m afraid could never be replicated in a place like Arlington.






Oh, and I haven’t mentioned yet that we ate a lot of pizza. Lou Malnati’s was at the top of my list and we made it there at the end of our first full day. Malnati’s gives you the deepest deep dish you can find and it never disappoints. We also got Chicago-style pizza at a place near our hotel called Parlor Pizza Bar and at a joint around the corner from Second City called Professor Pizza. We dined at a couple of historic downtown Chicago pubs and got a fabulous breakfast one morning at Yolk.







We’re home now, but only long enough to mow the yard and do some quick laundry before we take off for Houston. It’s been one full year since Carrie-Anne’s last chemo treatment, twelve months since we rang the bell and my wife was pronounced cancer-free. The first of our annual checkups at M.D. Anderson is set for this Friday; we’re meeting with the cancer surgeon at 9:15 and the oncologist at 11:00. As it turns out, the Rangers are in Houston this weekend to play the Astros, so our one day trip became a two-day trip. And then yesterday it became a three-day trip as we decided to enjoy two Rangers-Astros games instead of one. It’s a vacation! We have to!