Chicken in the Car: Go, Go, Go!

posted by Momo Fali on July 10, 2011

Just about four years ago, I joined a social networking site called cre8buzz. It was a place where bloggers could connect, share pictures, videos, posts and ideas. It is where I met my very best bloggy friends.

One of those friends is Melisa. Not only did we connect online, but also in real life when she helped to coordinate and deliver my family a freezer-full of meat. She is all kinds of awesome.

A few months ago, Melisa’s second book was published. It’s called Chicken in the Car and the Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways to Enjoy Chicagoland with Tweens and Teens. Guess what I have? Mmm hmm…it’s all Tween Central up in here.

After I received a copy, a plan was born. My 12 year old daughter, Ali, and I would make a trip to Chicago and explore some of the places in Melisa’s book and Melisa would be our guide. It helps to know people.

Ali and I settled in with Melisa’s book, and her recommendations, and decided just where we wanted to go.

But then we hit a snag. Airfare is outrageous and we don’t own a reliable car, so the second part of our plan was figuring out a way to get there. Luckily, we were able to hitch a ride to Chicago with our good friends who were going the same weekend. It helps to know people, times two.

Upon entrance to the Windy City, it turned out that our friends didn’t have a reliable car either. Just on the other side of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge, the rear axle fell off. But, really, you can’t ask for more excitement at the beginning of your trip than standing on the side of the road, on the south side of Chicago at 10:00pm. We like to start our vacations with a bang! Or a thunk. Same difference.

This did not deter Melisa though. Ali and I, and our luggage, jumped the median and Melisa and her son picked us up on the other side of the road. We arrived at her house, exhausted, and she sent us straight up to her bedroom for a good night’s rest.

It was a good thing we rested.

We awoke early, took the train into Chicago and we were off. Kind of like a rocket.

Our first stop was that which will never be called the Willis Tower, also known as the Sears Tower. Melisa is an Ambassador for Skydeck, which is the name of the CLEAR boxes they have installed on the sides of the building on the observation level. You can, literally, step out of the building, into a box and see the city streets below your feet. It’s about ten shades of insanity. Also, I LOVED it.

My daughter loved it more.

After that, we enjoyed the Riverwalk and a walk along Michigan Avenue, before ending up at the John Hancock Building for lunch. If you want unequaled views of the lake and the city skyline, this is the place to go. The food was delicious too.

From there, we got off of our feet for a while and took a cab to Navy Pier where we enjoyed a beautiful architectural tour on a boat that traveled down the river. It was fun and informative and it was a gorgeous day to be on the water.

Following that, we walked the entire way around Navy Pier before I was forced to climb into a ferris wheel car. I was not pleased.

Now keep in mind, this was all. In. One. Day. And, we were not done.

Another cab ride took us to Millennium Park were we saw the amazing “Bean” and Crown Fountain, before hopping onto the train home and stopping at Portillo’s for Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Whew!

I suffer from insomnia, but you can bet that I slept that night.

The next day, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, before going to Ed Debevics for lunch.

If you’ve never been to Ed’s, you should go, but you need to leave your ego at the door; especially if your ego doesn’t like insults. The wait staff is notoriously rude, but even though they throw the menus on the table, “spit” in your water and call you dirtball, it’s a fun place to eat. It’s amazing how much a 12 year old enjoys watching her mother squirm because she might get scolded by the waiter.

We were told to wear these hats. We obliged.

After a short rest, we took a leisurely stroll around Melisa’s town before enjoying a dinner with fellow bloggers and the world’s best dessert; raw cookie dough (without eggs so it’s safe to eat). I ate the whole bowl. Of cookie dough. Don’t judge me.

Quit looking at my butt, lady!

I haven’t even mentioned the Vietnam Memorial, the Stained Glass Museum, the Tiffany ceiling in that which shall never be called Macy’s (also known as Marshall Fields), Buckingham Fountain, the 9/11 Memorial, the Naperville Bell Tower, deep dish pizza, photo ops in front of the Art Institute, the double-decker trains at Union Station…and MORE.

Melisa’s family was kind, generous and funny, the weather was beautiful and everywhere we went we encountered nothing but the nicest people you could ever meet. My daughter, who lately has been known as “The Surly One” actually smiled and LAUGHED. A lot.

Chicago is a fun, exciting and beautiful city and if you are a tween, teen OR adult, Melisa’s book is an invaluable resource for finding things to do and knowing exactly what to expect. The woman loves her town.

And, you know what? So do we.


  • Melisa

    AND I LOVE YOU. (sorry to yell)

    I’m already planning for your next visit. Get some rest.

  • Jamie (gimmethejuice)

    Oh my heck – you were so close to where I live!

    So glad you got to enjoy the city. I love it and I am going to get your friends book. My girls are tweens yet but I’m sure there is stuff in there my kiddies would like to.

    • Momo Fali

      It is a great book and yes, there is plenty that your kids would enjoy!

  • Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]

    I love love you hard, lady! I kind of need to live near Chicago so Melisa can show me and my girls around.

    • Melisa

      You don’t have to live here, Angie. Come up for a visit anytime! 😉

  • Lynne

    I agree there is so much to see/do/eat in Chicago. Many years ago when my husband was teaching 7th and 8th grade, we used to take the 8th graders to Chicago for their class trip. Fun times! thanks for sharing your pictures.

  • Jenn @ MommyNeedsCoffee

    SO jealous! I totally should do that with my girl! Sounds awesome!

    • Melisa

      You totally should.

  • Tara R.

    Wow!! That is an impressive couple of days. (The axel fell off?!)

    Melisa is the perfect ambassador for Chicago.

  • kim/reluctant renovator

    Sorry I missed you. I knew Melisa would do you right; sounds like an awesome trip (except for that breakdown on the south side). See you at BlogHer?

    • Momo Fali

      Yep! I’ll be there!

  • UP

    Sounds great, except for the “stepping out of the building” thing…I get queasy just looking at the picture…acrophobia anyone?


  • Lisa Zuefle

    How did you get home or is that a topic for another blog?

    • Momo Fali

      We had to rent a car. Our friends have to go back next weekend to pick up their repaired SUV.

  • MidLyfeMama

    That picture of the Skybox thingie, as my ex-husband is known for saying, makes my balls crawl back up inside. If I had them of course. I don’t. Just for clarification.

  • Amie

    Did you leave our mutual friends stranded on the side of the road at 10:00 p.m. while you rode off in minivanned splendor (not that I would blame you–I’ve been on a road trip with them! Just kidding. Or am I?)?

    • Momo Fali

      Yes, we left them there looking sad and distraught. I’m a pretty awesome friend.

  • Heather

    I am SO SO SO GLAD that you and Ali got to do all those cool things with Melisa– she is the most awesome friend to have in a city like that, yes? I’m also glad that you ate Portillo’s for me (I can’t yet!) because IT.IS.MY.FAVORITE.

    ps: your daughter is a MINI YOU!

  • meleah rebeccah

    Oh my goodness, what an AWESOME adventure to Chicago. Minus the rear axle falling off someone else’s unreliable car.

    But, um… you could not PAY me to stand in that Skydeck! YIKES!!

  • christy

    Wow that sounds like an absolutely fabulous (and exhausting) trip! Love the photos, and love that city too. I brought my husband and our then year old baby girl with me to BlogHer in Chicago two years ago – we didn’t hit a third of the places you mentioned, but we had a blast there too!

  • Liz

    What a great recap of an awesome trip — except, for the Skydeck thing. I so want to be able to say that, yeah, I want to do that with Melisa. But, my knees felt all wobble-like just looking at the pics.

  • Kevin Brashear

    So glad you had a fine time in Chicago. I love it.
    We lived there, in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, for 12 years prior to moving to Columbus.
    I miss it so much it hurts.
    We had a two year stint in Cincinnati, between Chicago & Columbus, which we have tried to erase from memory because we hated it so much.
    We are enjoying Columbus more now that we are settled in & making some friends.

  • Sadia

    One word: AWESOME!

  • Patty

    Looks like you had a GREAT TIME! 🙂

    You did have the BEST tour guide!

  • lisleman

    Great travel story.
    Glad you enjoyed Chicago and were rescued from the southside highway. There is much of the southside that is very nice – just ask some southside Irish.
    But breaking down on any highway at night is no fun.
    I think Chicago is a great city.

  • Denise

    Shall I just point out a little something… yes, yes I shall.

    You. Are. Mom. Of. Ali.

    This post proves my point. Mom. of. Ali.

    Next time – y’all come visit me and my #prairiedogs. There’s good stuff for teens up here in the northshore suburbs, too. I promise. I have pre-teens and teens myself.

    Mom. OF. Ali. Just sayin’.

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Momo and Melisa Take Chicago DOWN.
    Monday, 11 July, 2011

    […] can read Momo’s summary (and see some great pictures!) by clicking here. It was a little sad to say goodbye to Momo and Ali, but I’ll be rooming with Momo in San […]

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