This trip to Chicago was a serious trip down Memory Lane. I tell Kyle these stories of month long vacations to Chicago to spend time with family. There are some things you can only do, taste or experience in Chicago so it was nice to finally let Kyle and Reece in on the things I remember doing during the long summers I was there.
Mann Park was a big deal for me. I remember being forced outside if the weather was anything but storming. My uncle didn’t allow us to sit in the house playing video games or watching tv if the sun was out. They lived in a small neighborhood of Chicago where everyone knew everyone. You could send your kids to the park and know they’d come back in the same condition -minus cuts and scrapes- as they were when they left. I remember Mann Park being huge. As a kid, you really could spend all day there and not get bored. We took the kids -Reece and two of his cousins- and they had a blast. Reece already loves parks so it came as no surprise that he would have fun but it was a enjoyable for me to see him having so much fun playing where I used to play.
After the park we loaded up and went to Skyway Dog. Again, as a kid I remember the whole extended family grabbing a bunch of Skyway dogs then drive across the street to another park and eat the hot dogs picnic style. Kids would eat then burn energy while parents enjoyed the nice weather. I typically don’t like hot dogs but there is something about a Chicago style hot dog with the poppy seed bun. Kyle and Reece ate their first Skyway Dog just like I did growing up.
We also ate gyros from Mickey’s, Chicago style stuffed pizza from Edwardo’s and sliders from White Castle. These are things we cannot pass up when we visit Chicago. If the dates line up and we are lucky enough to visit during The Taste of Chicago it is just icing on the cake. Eli’s Cheesecake to be specific. Kyle has had Eli’s during our previous trips but he has never experienced the booth at the Taste. It was worth the heat and crowds and the loooong walking to go to the Taste and indulge in a slice of fabulously decadent cheesecake; especially for the tradition factor. We have family with Eli’s so I grew up looking forward to a slice every summer and I can guarantee Reece will feel the same way.
The best part of a Chicago trip is the casualness of it all. No matter how many years have passed we all still get together in my uncle’s house and shoot the shit. We discuss everything under the sun and have a lot of laughs. Over time the yard games evolved from horseshoes to bocce ball and now cornhole but no matter what we play we are outside having a good time. It is not a Chicago vacation unless you leave with your clothes feeling a bit snugger and your cheeks hurting from laughs. I look forward to the next trip as soon as we leave and I love even more that I get to share a piece of my Memory Lane with my growing family.