Touristy Tuesday: Chicago, Edition (Version 3.0)


(So obviously I’m a little belated on these final Touristy Tuesday blogs from the road, especially given that the job has been done for a month! Oh well. Better late then never!) 

This half of the job Chicago has been an interesting destination to be in with the Wienermobile. The first time was tourist trap overload. I went on my own make-shift Ferris Bueller adventure and our off days were jam-packed with the quintessential Chicago experience. When Eliot and I came back to Chicago in March it was the total opposite. I don’t think I even did a Touristy Tuesday post that week because there wasn’t too much to write.

Well, I guess we didn’t do nothing. We did take the Wienermobile through a Wendy’s drive-thru. Check that off the bucketlist!


And we did decorate the Wienermobile for St. Patty’s day, which was kind of awesome.


Although, it took a ton of work.


Our last stop in Chicago fell somewhere in the middle. This week we did less items that might be featured on a “Top 5 Things to do in Chicago” list, and did Chicago more like a local – mostly from the help of some locals!

On our first off day I headed to the City Winery in the west loop with my friend David. When I found out I would be coming back to Chicago and let David know he suggested we check out this urban winery he had heard about.


He had me at winery, but the urban part made it sound even cooler. For spending the first seven months on the road in the Southwest – wine country – it is probably surprising that I haven’t been to a single winery.


The City Winery ended up being more than just a cool venue. While looking into it David found out about an event series called The Dinner Party, described as a dinner conversation with three national or Chicago celebrities and a well known local chef. “It’s an evening filled with food, wine, chocolate, and various performances.” This probably doesn’t paint the picture I’m going for, so I’ll just put it bluntly – three really cool people plus a portly chef essentially sit up on stage and chat while sharing a meal and just talk about cool stories and the neat things they do. There is an element of engagement as well. It is broadcasted on the local public access TV station and then people watching or members of the audience can tweet in questions for the guests or comments using the hashtag #thedinnerparty.


I was really looking forward to it because it sounded like an event right up my alley. Interesting people and wine! It got even better when David and I walked in the door and I didn’t have time to even take in the extravagant lobby because I spotted a familiar face instantly. Adam Hickey – an old Hotdogger! Adam is a Mizzou grad and Hotdogger, one who I just keep running into. I first ran into him in Chicago the day I found I got the Wienermobile job, then again at a bar in Columbia, and now again in Chicago. We’ve also hung out at the Hotdogger Reunion and in Chicago our first time in town.


Adam was at The Dinner Party with his friend Stephanie, who moonlights as a Chicago food blogger. Since I’m an amateur blogger, talking to her was just as much fun as the Chicago celebrities. You can read her post about the evening, which does far better justice to the event than I could, here. 


The night was absolutely incredible. I felt like I was watching an NPR broadcast, but it was even better since the food was so good and the company was great! At times it even felt like a graduation commencement speech, about seizing opportunities and making the most of your life. Perhaps being almost one year out of college exactly, but I found it motivating and invigorating, perhaps a little determined to one day end up on that stage telling interesting stories myself!


After the cultural experience the night before, the next day at work was a 180 and entirely all-things silly at a Bologna Birthday Party. Birthdays are typically something we don’t do, unless it is on our own time. This was a special exception and once we arrived Eliot and I understood why. HOLY BOLOGNA! As we turned the Wienermobile down this family’s block it was like stepping into a magazine, the decorations were Pinterest-perfect! Oscar Mayer themed everything – from their outfits, to the Bologna sandwich bags they created.


We brought some birthday gifts ourselves – more than 50 packages of the lunch meat, which were stacked high, overshadowing the cake.


Talk about a great day at work. I got a hot dog balloon hat and hung out high fiving little kids all day! The couple is from Iowa, and they had speciality Sterzings potato chips brought in, so Eliot and I snacked our way through those, bologna sandwiches, and of course we had some hot dogs too.


Even though I would barely call that a work day, since we really just hung out and ate a bunch of homemade snacks, the next day Eliot and I had an off day. One thing I had not done on any of our trips into Chicago was go to the beach. Hello Lake Michigan!


Eliot passed on the invitation, so David and I headed out for some sun followed by frozen yogurt. Talk about the perfect off day!


That night Eliot and I drove up to spend the night in Madison. We had an early video shoot the next morning and figured it would be easier just to come the night before. On the trip up we stopped for dinner in Rockford, IL – where I went to high school. We had dinner with Maggie, my oldest friend who has known me since middle school. Since she has known me since the awkward teenage years I was hesitant to introduce her to Eliot. Luckily, she kept most of my embarrassing moments to herself and we had a good time at dinner.


Maggie’s sister, Mari, just had a son and he came along as well. Baby Emmett was adorable. Believe it or not, I had never held an infant until that week. I think it went pretty well, and by that my standards are pretty low and I just mean that I didn’t drop him. He was pretty darn cute though!


The video shoot in Madison was a blast. It was for a meat convention coming to town, so Oscar Mayer partnered with University of Wisconsin and basically we spent the entire day hanging out with Bucky the Badger.


When we got back to Chicago that night I was met by my friend Sean from Mizzou (you know himwe run together) who had come up for a weekend away before finals.


Eliot, his friend Michael, Sean, and I all went out for drinks Friday night at a place called Revolution Bar. It was cool to see more of the Chicago nightlife side, which Eliot and I haven’t gotten too much of this half. The next morning Sean did what we always do when we get together, go for a run!


Saturday night Eliot, Sean and I all headed to Tinley Park, which is a music venue on the South side of Chicago for a Brad Paisley concert. Eliot and I were pretty excited about this, both being big fans. Sean, on the other hand, was not but tagged along anyway. The concert actually featured Lee Brice (who Eliot and I saw in Kansas City) along with a few others. We felt like we got our bang for our buck there. Brad’s actual performance was a little disappointing however. Don’t get me wrong – I loved it and had a blast – but he didn’t play some of our favorites!


It was fun watching these girls run around in short shorts when it was 50 degrees outside! I love growing up and not feeling the need to be super cute all the time, forsaking being adorable for being practical. Remember the days when it was uncool to wear a coat? That just seems so silly looking back!


Saturday was a late night and Sunday was an early morning. With about five hours of sleep, Eliot and I headed downtown for the Race for the Cure in Grant Park.


This was easily the coolest event I’ve been to on the road. We were parked right next to the stage and I can honestly say all I did for four hours was dance. I just spent the day having fun, being silly, and getting absolutely anyone I could to join in. I was glad I had so much fun because otherwise I might have spent time being jealous that I wasn’t out there running with everyone else!


Since it was a race, the work day was done by 11:00. We were already in downtown Chicago, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a little exploring. When I was in Chicago in January I went to the Art Institute, but a week after my visit they opened an enormous Picasso exhibit.


It just so happened that Sunday was the last day of the exhibit – perfect timing! Eliot drove the Wienermobile back, but I stayed in the city to check out the show. The line was tremendous, everyone trying to get in before it closed, but it was worth it. I am by no means an art connoisseur, but Picasso is so easily enjoyable to me that I had a blast!


After I left the Picasso exhibit I headed back out to Rockford to see someone near and dear to my heart – my middle school and high school yearbook teacher, Mrs. Campbell. She has known me going all the way back to the black hair days, and was a second mom all throughout my tumultuous teenage years. As an amazing role model, Mrs. Campbell has always been someone I have looked up to and I try to see her and her family whenever I can. It came down to the wire, but with only a few weeks left on the Wienermobile I was able to drive it out to her house.


The Campbell’s may claim they got the better end of that bargain, rides in the big dog and having it parked outside their house, but I think I easily won out. I spent the afternoon catching up with the Campbells and eating delicious homemade food! Plus, Mrs. Campbell sent me with a box full of candy which kept me awake on my drive back into Chicago that weekend.


Overall, the week in Chicago was easily one of the highlights of the second half, jam-packed both with seeing friends and doing really cool, interesting and unique things – everything a Touristy Tuesday post deserves!



Touristy Tuesday: Istanbul, Turkey – The Flight In!


I love to travel and even before the year with the Wienermobile, I tried to get out jetsetting every now and then. It may surprise you then, hell it even surprises me, that I have never been abroad. In college I was focused on graduating debt free, so study abroad just never seemed to be an option in my mind. Given that my mom has been living overseas for five years, you might think I would have been over to visit her. But again, I never seemed to have both the time or the money at the same time.

That is, until now! I’ll have to save the details of how the time came about, but in a Kelly-esque last minute change of plans, I booked my ticket to Istanbul, Turkey five days ago!

Five days ago it seemed like a really great plan. Four days ago it didn’t. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, there were riots all over Istanbul. Maybe I missed some of the build-up coverage, but it felt like in one day the city had gone from a destination promising rugs and coffee, to one on fire. When I checked in with my mom, although she tried to be reassuring, hearing “they just tear gassed my street and there are helicopters overhead… but don’t worry, everything is actually fine,” just wasn’t the comforting message I was going for.

But the women in my family are both courageous and delusional, plus – let’s be honest – I had already booked my flight so there really was no turning back now.

So with my bag already packed (you know, living out of a suitcase is kind of nice sometimes) I headed to O’hare to enter my first international terminal. Call me overdramatic, but they are certainly different than regular terminals. Each of the different airlines had a much different look to all of their patrons. The Middle Eastern airlines, for example, had families that were much more diverse than Swiss Air, which I was flying. It was fun just to take all of that in.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, playing the over-anxious traveler for the first time in a long while. Normally I have a more “meh, I’ll get there eventually,” than a rush-rush-rush attitude. With my extra time I headed to the airport bar. I love bars at the airport because everyone is interesting, going somewhere, off on adventure of some kind. The one in the international terminal was even better because there were just so many different languages to listen to! The downside: one glass of wine cost me $15! Oh well, it’s vacation, right?

I was pretty eager to board and see just who I would be sitting elbow-to-elbow with for the next 8.5 hours on our flight to Zurich, Switzerland. The plane was 2 seats in one aisle, 4 in the middle, and then 2 more seats. I held my breath as I counted across to find mine, hoping it wouldn’t be in the middle block of seats. Hurray! An aisle seat in the two person section! Relieved, I exhaled slightly and started looking back to see if anyone was already sitting by the window in my row.


An eager-faced girl pleasantly greeted me. Stella, an 11 year old (12 tomorrow she proudly exclaimed!) Greek girl from the Chicago suburbs was taking a solo trip to see her family in Athens, Greece for the summer. Hmm… an unaccompanied minor. I wasn’t sure what to make of the situation initially, but Stella ended up being just like me when I was that age, for better or worse!

She was very cute, admittedly not the best photo of either of us.

She was very cute, admittedly not the best photo of either of us.

She was a chatter, that’s for sure. But in a silly, anxious, wants to talk but not sure what to talk about, so she’ll say everything kind of way. The first thing she said was, “I’m glad you’re not a man or a boy because I would be nervous, but you seem nice!” Well – that’s the right foot to start out on.

She was adorable. Yes – she squirmed entirely too much for me and fidgeted a ton. Yes – she talked about everything that crossed her mind and her pedicure wasn’t exactly something I was dying to know about. But she could hold a conversation pretty well and something tells me she is probably going to be pretty great when she grows up. Plus she shared her snacks, and who doesn’t love that in an airplane, especially when they smell so tasty!

The flight itself was incredible. My mom had advised me to spend a little bit more to fly with an international carrier like Swiss or Turkish Airlines, opposed to United, because of the service. No kidding! The whole flight was a game of “what will they bring next?!”

I had texted a friend beforehand saying that all I wanted were outlets and warm towels. He had said I could at least count on Swiss chocolate. We were both right. There was an enormous selection of really good movies and TV programs, games, and music – all that were free! This already was a huge contrast from the U.S. carriers I’ve flown with.


I snuggled up with the blanket they provided, which was surprisingly cozy unlike those cheap red Delta blankets, and set into a movie. From then it was a mix of sleeping through the night and waking up for all the food they provided.

Used to a dixi-cup beverage and a palmful of pretzels, I found the spread that Swiss provided incredible. When they came by for drinks, out of curiosity, I asked how much wine was. Free! Oh, well then sure I’ll take some red wine! (I figured it balanced out the expensive wine from the airport bar.)


The food was equally impressive. Snack mix to start, followed by a chicken, rice and vegetable dinner, salad, and a brownie. In the morning they brought by a croissant and yogurt. Perhaps it is since I’m new to this whole international travel thing, but I thought the flight was divine.


Plus, the flight attendants were just adorable. Our aisle was attended to by this gorgeous Swiss flight attendant, who was charming both in his demeanor and also his ability to talk in so many different languages. I easily heard him speak in three – English, Italian and French.


The only hiccup in the flight was in the middle of the night, when I pulled a typical klutzo-Kelly move and while letting Stella up to use the restroom accidentally spilled the red wine. Miraculously, it didn’t stain my jeans at all! In that moment of horror all I could think was how embarrassed I was, trying to be cosmopolitan but failing in quite the fashion.

Stella woke me up in the morning (I forgive her, she was adorable in her enthusiasm) and we watched the plane come in over the Swiss mountains. Even the arrival was different than the states. Everything in the U.S. is laid out in a grid pattern, where as things were so loopy down on the ground in Switzerland. I looked at the hilltops, hoping to spot a yodeling blonde girl with braids, but that was one expectation that unfortunately wasn’t met.

When we parted ways in Zurich I found that navigating the Swiss airport was difficult not because of language barriers, everything had an English translation, but because it is set up much differently than U.S. airports. Luckily, all of the staff kept pointing me in the right direction and I eventually made it to my flight from Zurich to Istanbul, just as it was boarding.

And that’s where I am now – en route, in an aisle seat with ample leg room, having just enjoyed another tasty meal, waiting to touch base and get my first stamp in my virgin passport!

(Update: I have since landed and made it safe and sound to our apartment in Istanbul!)

Touristy Tuesday: The Tale of Seven Cities in Seven Days

During the month of April Eliot and I were moving around. A LOT. This coming from someone who packs and unpacks their suitcase weekly, logs at least 700 miles on the road in a seven day period, and never has a zip code to call home for more than a few days. April was such a crazy month that at one point I was in seven different cities, over seven days. This is that story.

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 9.02.05 AM

City #1: Denver, Colorado
After our time in Louisville, KY Eliot and I criss-crossed the entire Midwest Region on our drive to Denver, CO. From our farthest East destination to our furthest destination to the West. The trip took two very long days of driving, which were more eventful than our actual two days off in Denver.

After the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon Eliot and I were Westward bound. There was just one highway separating us from Denver, I-70 and about 800 miles of it. Our first drive day was broken up by two fun visits. The first was at my Dad and Step Mom’s house in Kansas City. They live just two miles off of the interstate and every time Eliot and I drive through KC we stop to say hello. Although we couldn’t stay long, it was nice to get some quality time in with my parents. As we pulled the Wienermobile out of their driveway I said to Eliot, “It’s great – my parents are literally on the way to every city we go to in the Midwest!”

Home Sweet Hot Dog Home

Home Sweet Hot Dog Home

Three hours later I called my Dad and he tells me that in the time it took us to drive 180 miles that: a neighbor had told a friend my parents were interested in selling their house, the friends had come by to check it out, and that they wanted to buy it. That means that they’re officially retiring, they’re moving, and they better find the next place to live! (More on that later!) Maybe I jinxed it when I made that comment to Eliot – so much for home being on the way now!

As I let that news sink in Eliot and I made a quick detour in Topeka, Kansas to pay a surprise visit. We had an enthusiastic Wienermobile fan who blew up social media trying to see the 27′ long hot dog and since she was on our drive anyway we figured it would be fun stop and to take her around the block. Kate proved that even big kids can get excited about the Wienermobile, that’s for sure!


By the time we made it to our hotel in Junction City, KS for the night we were wiped out. As we were waiting to check into our hotel rooms I started chatting up some of the other guests, one of whom turned out to be an amateur storm chaser! He was traveling over 1,000 miles in an attempt to catch tornados that were headed to SW Kansas – right where we were driving to the next day.

It turned out he would just be the first storm chaser of many we would see. The next day we saw a number of storm chasing vehicles pass us, with crazy gizmos attached to their cars and stickers proudly proclaiming their boldness.

Because we had been seeing storm chasers pass us the entire drive across Kansas I wasn’t exactly surprised when I saw a minivan pass us with a camera mounted to the top. I was surprised though when I looked in the side mirror to see the next vehicle, which looked like an armored tank approaching.

“Eliot – what the hell is that, a UFO?! Quick! Take a picture!” We knew it had to be some kind of storm chasing vehicle, but didn’t know what and quickly forgot about it.

That is, until I checked my phone later to see this:


While we were taking their picture, they were taking ours! Turns out it was the crew from the actual show Storm Chasers from the Discovery Channel! A celebrity sighting and we didn’t even know it!

Even with the impending storms, Eliot and I wanted to stop at one roadside attraction. I feel bad even calling it that – it isn’t like the World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn or anything. It was the Eisenhower Presidential Library. If you follow this blog regularly you know that I’m REALLY into these Presidential Libraries, and am trying to see them all. I think I’ve gotten Eliot equally excited about them as well at this point.


The Eisenhower Presidential Library is located two miles off of the interstate in Abilene, KS. As we drove down the main drag we noticed signs decorating downtown welcoming marathoners for the Eisenhower Marathon which was the day before. Shucks! Even though I did my own half marathon that weekend I still felt pangs of race envy swell up.

By the time we made it the two miles to the library the whole town of Abilene must have known the Wienermobile was in town, and before we even purchased tickets there was a local newspaper reporter there to interview us!


The library itself was certainly a relic and honestly lacked the grandeur of some of the other libraries, like Nixon’s. It delivered on content though, with some really great timelines and displays of Eisenhower’s military experience. If anything, it was more than worth it to go to the museum because the volunteers told me if you become a member of any library you get into the other ones for free. WHAT?! This was the fifth library I had been to in the last year alone. I should have joined JFK’s from the start. Oh well. I am now a proud member of the Eisenhower Presidential Library. I also get a +1 to any of the libraries, so it looks like I’ll get to drag a friend to Carter’s when I’m down in Georgia.

After two long days on the road we finally pulled into Denver, only to be met with the absolute worst traffic. Worn out from the road and exhausted, I was getting squirmish – something that happens in traffic that both Abe and Eliot can attest to. In an attempt to placate me, Eliot tried to appeal to my two favorite things: running and frozen yogurt. “There are some nice trails around here!” he cheerfully pointed out as we crawled past a park. “I. NOTICED.” I probably growled back, staring at the miles left to our destination on the GPS. “I’ve been looking for some froyo – maybe we’ll pass a place on the way,” he tried to perk me up with next. “I’ve been looking too. There aren’t any. They’re miles away on Yelp. Let’s just get there.” And finally, after what seemed like eternity, we pulled into the hotel just as it started to snow. We made it! (And Eliot was still friends with me by the time we parked, so that was cool too.)


Our days in Denver were substantially less exciting than our drive to Denver. The blizzard had us snowed in and we didn’t do much besides laundry and catch up on work. We decided to save our adventure for the weekend, when we made a trip to see a former Hotdogger, Tracy.

City #2: Boulder, Colorado
Friday night that week Eliot and I drove out to Boulder, where Tracy – a Hotdogger from last year – lives. We went out for Thai food with her and her boyfriend Sam in downtown. Eliot and I had won the Perfect Month Challenge at work and had $60 to spend on dinner. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use it and figured it would be nice to treat Tracy and Sam to dinner since they would graciously be putting us up on their couch and air mattress for the night.


After dinner we headed to the Pearl Street pedestrian mall to a basement bar called the Sundown Salloon, where we met some of Tracy’s new coworkers, played some darts, and had a great time all around. It was fun to talk to Tracy now, when I was about 10 months into the job, and compare notes from when I talked to her in September, when I was just four months in.


The next morning I crawled out of bed, slightly dehydrated and slightly hungover – so basically in the best condition for a long run! I did 10 miles on the Boulder Creek Trail, enjoying the beautiful view of the mountains.


City #3: Estes Park, Colorado
After our night in Boulder on Friday, Eliot and I returned to Denver on Saturday to work during the day. After we handed out that last whistle I didn’t stick around too long, and instead headed up into the mountains of Estes Park, to see my aunt and grandma. I was exhausted and honestly slept most of the drive into town, but it was fun to get to have dinner and (surprise surprise) frozen yogurt with them.


In the morning we had breakfast in quaint little place in downtown Estes. There had been more snow and there were plenty of elk out to be seen on our way. That’s one thing I love about Estes – the wildlife might as well be town residents!


It was great to spend some quality time, however brief, with family. That was been one big advantage of the Midwest – I’m always seeing friends or relatives!

City #4: Lexington, Nebraska
Sunday it was back to Denver for one more day of work. Typically we have dedicated drive days, where we just wake up and drive, but this day we actually had to log a few hours that night. Because of some last minute schedule changes Eliot and I just had a day and a half to make it to Chicago.


This drive was substantially less exciting and marked mostly by bursts of song when the Pandora station came up with a karaoke-friendly selection.


City #5: Chicago, Illinois
Monday we woke up and drove. And drove some more. And some more. Or rather, Eliot drove. This was Monday, April 15th – the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a rough day for me and Eliot was a champ, tackling most of the miles. If I-70 was our best friend on the way out to Denver, I-80 was our best friend on the way back.


In Chicago we were doing a video shoot for Kraft, Oscar Mayer’s parent company. We didn’t have to do too much, other than being our usual corndog selves, but we did get the opportunity to meet the CEO of Kraft. Now that was a cool day! Not many people can say they’ve done that!

City #6: Madison, Wisconsin
Promptly after the final “cut” was shouted from the video crew, Eliot and I hauled buns out of town. We continued to rack up the miles for the week with a drive to Madison. Eliot is a University of Wisconsin grad and was very active in WASB – the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board. WASB puts on a series of programs called “Dinners on Wisconsin” where UW grads buy dinner for current students and talk about what they do.


Eliot and a Hotdogger from last year, Tyler, put together a program for the Wienermobile and we stopped in Madison to have dinner at the Roman Candle, a pizza place, with about 7 current badgers. Not only was the pizza to die for, but the company was great! Since we are both so passionate about the job, it was fun to share that with other interested students. You can’t help but hope they get equally excited!


While Eliot and Tyler picked up the students in the Wienermobile I waited at the restaurant to hold the tables. While I was reading a book filled with Pizza Poems, I glanced up to see a familiar face.

I wasn't kidding. Pizza Poems are a real thing.

I wasn’t kidding. Pizza Poems are a real thing.

In walked Louise (–SPELLING–), a girl I went to high school with. Even though we didn’t really know each other too well I had to say hello! Talk about a small world!


City #7: Oshkosh, Wisconsin aka OshVegas
While my parents live (or rather, lived) on the way to pretty much every city Eliot and I have visited in the Midwest, Eliot’s parents most certainly do not. He is from Oshkosh, WI which is pretty far North, near the Greenbay area. Luckily, Oshkosh showed up on our schedule and Eliot got to bring the Wienermobile home.

Oshkosh was our last city of the seven in seven days. Although we had two days off in town, it didn’t quite feel like it. Our first day off we had to drive from Madison to Oshkosh. Eliot’s family greeted us with a home-cooked meal, which hit the spot after the drive-thru diet that week. The next day the entire city of Oshkosh came over to Eliot’s house to see the Wienermobile. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, believe it or not. They did have a lot of friends over though, which was fun to meet every person who has ever met Eliot ever.


To prepare for that event Eliot’s mom, Carol, and I created a Wienermobile centerpiece – a rice crispy masterpiece.


The Wienermobile is made out of rice crispies, licorice, thin mint tires, and some marshmallow headlights. In case you’re wondering, it was just as much fun to eat as it was to make!



Seven days later, we had covered quite a bit of ground. Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. It was a long stretch, but worth it because of all the diverse experiences we had along the way – from friends and family, to future Hotdoggers and the CEO of Kraft!


To finish up our travels in April, I’m just going to mention a few of our other stops along the way.

Once we made it out of Oshkosh, we headed to Milwaukee. We might as well have been in Eliot’s hometown still. He has more than 30 first cousins, so we continued to meet people left and right at work.

I was headed back to Kansas City on our off days that week to see my folks. Why would I fly back to KC after just seeing them just a few weeks prior? Well remember how I mentioned they decided to up and sell their house? Just as rapidly as they made that decision, they had to move out! By the time I would be back in KC in May, they would have to be out of the house. Luckily I had packed most of my belongings before I left to drive the Wienermobile, so I didn’t have too much work to do.

Once I packed up my few remaining boxes we went on a road trip to check out their new house, down at the Lake of the Ozarks. Let me first admit I was pretty leery at first. It is in the middle of nowhere. I don’t mean it’s kind of isolated. I mean, literally the middle of nowhere. As in 22 miles to the nearest grocery store. As in no cell phone service and dial up internet. Why would they want to move out to Edwards, MO!?


Then I saw the view. HOLY. MOLY. You are greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows when you walk into the house, which overlook the lake and beautiful foliage. The house is spectacular and they have a ton of land to garden on. Since my parents don’t mind the whole living-in-the-boonies thing, this is perfect for them! I left KC very happy for them to start their new adventure, and slightly bitter that they wouldn’t be just two miles off the interstate any more for me to visit them.

After seeing my parents, I then got to see my sister in Milwaukee. She drove in from Madison one night and we did a little bit of bridal gown shopping and a little bit of celebrating for her birthday. In one month I got to see my aunt, grandma, dad, step mom, and sister. With the exception of my mom, who lives in Europe, that’s pretty much everyone! (A big shift from the SW region where I never saw anyone I knew!)

She didn't get this dress so I'm allowed to post this picture, right?

She didn’t get this dress so I’m allowed to post this picture, right?

We ended our time in Wisconsin the right way. First by working this event called Stein and Dine, which is a beer, sausage, and cheese sampling event in Milwaukee. Naturally I had to get my picture taken with the Brewer’s Racing Sausages after work.


Our final stop was at the Cheese Castle, right before the Illinois border.


After copious amounts of cheese sampling, I felt it was only fitting to get a good cheese head photo to mark the occasion.



And that was pretty much all of April. I know I crammed it into one Touristy Tuesday post, but it seemed to move so fast that you could barely distinguish one week from the next. April, probably more so than any other month on the road yet, was when I felt the most like a road-warrior. I’m glad I had friends and family to see along the way, because that helped make it as enjoyable as it was. Packing and unpacking was almost fun, knowing we would get to see familiar faces at the each new destination!

Touristy Tuesday: Indianapolis, IN + A Night in Chicago Edition

With just a few weeks left on the road my Touristy Tuesdays are starting to get jam-packed again. During that winter hibernation period, where you didn’t see any blogs about travel or running, it was a struggle just to get out of the hotel. Now that the foot of snow is gone and the summer clothes have reappeared it’s a lot easier to get out and about!


Our first day in the Indianapolis we had high hopes. It was a maintenance day. Get the ketchup and mustard levels checked. Wash off the relish. That kind of thing. The idea is you get some work done those days, which we do, but they’re usually over pretty quickly, leaving time for adventuring. For example, our last maintenance day in St. Louis Eliot and I snuck in a tour of Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play. This maintenance day on the other hand did not lend well to being a tourist. Instead, we hung out at Penske for almost the entire day. (Let me tell you – the Indianapolis Penske is not exactly the finest way to be introduced to the city.)


Luckily we found a Cracker Barrel and hung out in their rocking chairs for awhile. We had lunch nearby and played Yahtzee for the rest of the afternoon while we waited on the company car. We had just enough time to play three games, and I will shameless gloat that I had three Yahtzees and won 2/3 games!


That afternoon I met up with Tim and his buddies from the Bourbon Street Running Club for a group run around the Indianapolis Downtown Canal. Although I didn’t experience too much of the downtown area beyond this, I was really impressed. From the run you could see several different museums, arenas, and tons of parks! Between the people and the copious amounts of things to do in the area, I could easily see myself moving to Indy one day down the road. It’s up there with Louisville, KY I think!


I saw another running friend, Kathy, on our day off on Wednesday. University of Indiana got lucky that week – I brought the Wienermobile by both their Indy and Bloomington campuses. It was finals week, so it was kind of fun to catch up with her – hear about her running escapades (she does a marathon each month!) – and also surprise the kids on campus.


That afternoon I headed down to the main Indiana campus in Bloomington to see my friend Rachel, who is there for grad school. Now believe it or not, I do have friends that aren’t from the running community. (Or forced friends like Eliot and Abe who are friends with me only because we are stuck in a giant hot dog together.) Rachel and I have known each other from way back in the dorm days. She made my Wilma Flintstone Halloween costume that year and I’ve been trying to repay her ever since.



Egyptian. Genie. Wilma.

Just for throwback’s sake I’m including some fun college photos because they’re adorable and who doesn’t love a walk down Nostalgia Lane?

Ridiculous outfits we made to cheer on an intramural basketball team in our building. Go big or go home, right?

Ridiculous outfits we made to cheer on an intramural basketball team in our building. Go big or go home, right?


At the statue of David Francis. You rub his nose for good luck before exams! Whoo!

Rachel just finished her first year of grad school at IU studying Student Affairs, where she also worked as a Graduate Assistant managing Briscoe Residence Hall. (Yep – she’s a ResLIFER. Res Life, For Life. haha) I promised that she could totally take advantage of having the Wienermobile come visit, so she set up a hot dog bar for all of the residents to enjoy on move-out day. (That made me miss being an RA in the dorms for half a second, until I actually remembered all the babysitting that went into being an RA. haha)


That evening she showed me all around the IU campus, which was unbelievably gorgeous. I am really proud of how beautiful Mizzou is, but IU is a close rival. Perhaps because all of their red and white tulips were in bloom, but I was tempted to switch grad programs and move in with her!


We chatted quite a bit about grad school, girly things, and everything else under the sun. I love that girl because we can go for awhile without talking (sometimes too long) and still fall right back into cahoots together, planning adventures. It was over frozen yogurt that I talked her into coming to Chicago.

One of the traditions at Indiana is to dip in this fountain. Check that off the list, I guess!

One of the traditions at Indiana is to dip in this fountain. Check that off the list, I guess!

Rachel is adventurous in a crazy/zany/spontaneous way, but hasn’t traveled too much on her own and somehow had never made it to Chicago. When I heard that, I insisted she come with! Our mutual friend David was taking the bus into Indianapolis and driving back with Eliot and I already. She could do the opposite – drive up and take the bus back! I can be pretty persuasive (not that going to Chicago in the Wienermobile is a hard sell) and I left Bloomington assured she would be joining us on the adventure.

Friday afternoon David came in for the race. If I was Rachel’s first friend at Mizzou, David was mine. Just a few days before I talked him into coming to Indy for the Mini-Marathon, which turned out to be a pretty awesome time. You can read more about the expo, carb-tastic dinner, and the race on my latest race recap.

After the race though it was time to pack and hit the road. I’ve managed to squeeze in three half marathons lately, but it has meant busy days afterwards. After the Go! St. Louis half marathon Eliot and I had to drive 7 hours to the middle of Kansas. After the Mini-Marathon we were headed to Chicago, +2 with Rachel and David in tow.


That drive was only supposed to be a few hours long. Unfortunately we hit a massive accident, that left us going 6 miles over the course of 2 hours.


Yes, that is us going 3.9 miles.

Yuck! I think the novelty of the company car had worn off for those two by that point.


It was probably good they slept because we headed out on the town that night. David and I really wanted to take Rachel downtown for a real night out in Chicago, but we got in much later than expected and they two of us were a little tired from running PRs. Instead, we went to the Rosemont Entertainment District right near our hotel.


After sharing an oversized margarita pitcher (or two) we decided to share some oversized beers as well at the Hofbräuhaus.


Somehow these German beer places bring something out in me, like my accordion playing skills in Chicago, and when they had a ladies beer drinking competition Rachel and I were both up on stage. (And to think, we were both RAs in college!) While neither of us won, we did put in a good effort.


This entertainment district has 10+ bars all within walking distance, so from there we headed over to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar. WHOOOO! I have been trying to go to one of these bars the entire time we have been on the road, but failed at two other attempts while in the Southwest.


After the long wait, it finally lived up to my expectations. (Sadly, my cowgirl boots were already packed away so I’m not sure I got the full experience.) Let me just say that after this country bar I’m even more excited to move to the South. (Georgia – Lookout!)


After our around-the-world tour with Mexican margaritas, German Beer, and some good old American country music we headed home and crashed. Sadly Rachel had to head home in the morning, but that was just the start of Chicago adventures for me!

So that was Indianapolis. Running. Friends. Running Friends. Board Games. And Beer. All around a great week!