Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Seven

We’re always sad to say goodbye to Pheasant Run, but that’s how the final day of our trip north began:

We weren’t quite ready to leave Chicagoland, though, so we stopped for a walk around the Lincoln Park Zoo.

We also needed fuel for our journey home, so we went to Rainbow Cone for a treat:

And we stopped in Bloomington/Normal for an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants…Portillo’s.

And so ended our extended trip for Combo Breaker. We had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories, and summer is only just beginning!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Six

I had big plan for Memorial Day, because for the first time, we were going to be staying a Pheasant Run an extra day, giving us time for extra activities. My plan was to go to Cantigny Park, which is a fun place to visit any day:

But a really special place to visit on Memorial Day. In addition to a lovely ceremony, where they laid a wreath by the Doughboy statue, there were demonstrations of many kinds, including a fife and drum corps, and an army drill team:

The only real disappointment of the whole trip was that the concert at Cantigny, featuring the Wayne Messmer Big Band, was cancelled due to rain. I was really excited to hear Wayne Messmer sing in person for the first time, but I guess I can hope that we can do that next year. Anyway, we drove back to Pheasant Run in an absolute torrent, and headed up to our room to dry off…we were almost as wet as if we had been swimming!

We went back to Alfie’s Inn for another dinner of appetizers (nachos, wings, spinach and artichoke dip, potato skins, and onions rings), plus another dessert (brownie à la mode).

Thankfully the storms stopped, so we had the chance for one last swim in the Garden Atrium pool:

After our swim, we went back to our room to watch the St. Louis Blues play in the first game of the Stanley Cup final…unfortunately, they lost, but at least we were able to watch them away from home!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Five

On Sunday, we stopped by Combo Breaker just as the pools were starting for the day. Since we were dressed for church, I took a picture of the Fab Five in their Sunday best:

And as is my tradition, I made sure to get a picture of myself wearing Pinup Girl Clothing on the Combo Breaker floor:

We then went to church at St. John Wheaton, where we unexpectedly ran into someone we knew…the Lutheran church is so small!

And then a stop at Oberweis for ice cream:

The lemon-blackberry was delicious!

After some lazy time in the hotel room, we went down to Combo Breaker for the Tekken 7 Top 8. The crowd was on fire, and I think this was my favorite fighting game to watch!

Ryan received a medal, as he has every year he has attended in one way or another:

That was the end of Combo Breaker, but we still had a few fun Chicagoland activities planned!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Four

Last Saturday, we were really hoping the rain would miss us, because we had lots of outdoor plans for the day…and for the most part, it did!

We started at Brookfield Zoo, a place we visited in January. We wanted to see what it was like in the springtime, and we wanted to see the Brick Safari LEGO exhibit (more details on that in the future)!

After a quick stop at the hotel, we headed to Giordano’s for a dinner of appetizers (calamari, a sampler platter, a wings flight, and fried cheese curds), plus a very delicious dessert (Nutella cannoli bites):

And then we made the short trip to Northwestern Medicine Field to see the Kane County Cougars, a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, take on the Beloit Snappers:

We didn’t stay for the whole game…at 9 pm, after two-and-a-half hours of play, they were still in the sixth inning, and the Cougars were winning 8-1 (the final score was 10-1), so feeling confident in the Cougars imminent victory, we headed back to the hotel for a little more Combo Breaker fun:

Next up: The final day of Combo Breaker!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Three

Day three of our vacation was also the day that Combo Breaker began, and of course we had to get a family photo while we were all in the same place (which didn’t happen very often this year!)!

A highlight for whichever children have money to spend is visiting the Gaming Generations booth to buy something video game related. This year, it was all plush, and the nice folks selling them even gave us a discount for being frequent shoppers!

Walking through the resort, we discovered that Pheasant Run had set up this nice table of treats for the gamers to enjoy as they came through the lobby:

After a swim in the Garden Atrium pool (which was surrounded by casuals set-ups for the first time this year, and provided us with a nice soundtrack of buttons mashing), we headed back to Medieval Times for the third year in a row, and for the third year in a row, we got to support the Yellow Knight of Navarre. This year, Ladybug received one of his carnations!

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were exhausted, so we didn’t even stop by Combo Breaker again…just a bit more Food Network before we crashed!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Two

Last Thursday was one of my favorite days of any trip up north…the day we took the Metra into the city of Chicago!

Those first moments in downtown Chicago are always a thrill for me!

Our big activity this year was going to the Sears Tower Skydeck. (Yes, I hear some people are calling it the Willis Tower these days, but it will always be “Sears” to me!) Not only were we thrilled with the views from all four sides of the Skydeck, we also walked out onto the “Ledge” for an even more amazing, and slightly terrifying, view!

After we had our fill of Chicago views, we made our way to Buckingham Fountain, where we had lunch, and a nice lady offered to take a picture of the six of us:

We then started walking toward Millennium Park, and found this cool dog along the way. I think he’s a companion to the dog we saw on the Wendella dock last year!

Bunny was thrilled to have an opportunity to feed some pigeons:

And we took some pictures at The Bean, as has become our tradition:

We then walked across Michigan Avenue to the Chicago Cultural Center, which used to be the central library in the city, and is home to beautiful mosaics and Tiffany glass domes:

Outside of the Cultural Center, we stopped to see the Bronze Cow statue, a gift to Chicago to commemorate the 1999 Cows on Parade display:

We of course had to stop at Marshall Field’s of Blessed Memory for a box of Frango mints:

And then back to Ogilvie Transportation Center to catch a train back to Geneva. We even found seats on the second floor!

After dinner in the hotel room, we indulged in the chocolate torte cake that I mentioned yesterday. It was as good as I remembered, and the children loved it!

After we spent a little more time relaxing, we headed to the outdoor pool, and stayed in the water as the stars came out. It was a lovely evening for a swim!

Back in the room, we watched a little more Food Network, but not a lot, because we were all exhausted from our busy day, and knew there was more fun to come!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day One

It’s time for another Markel Family Road-Trip Wrap-Up!

One week ago, the Fab Five and I left home dark and early to drive up to St. Charles, IL, to meet Ryan at Pheasant Run for this year’s Combo Breaker. Even with the lovely Chicago construction traffic, we made it to the resort by 10:30.

As always, we ran to the Super Target to pick up a few things…the novelty has yet to wear off, and it’s still a treat to shop there!

Then it was pool time! I think we spent almost three hours swimming that first day!

Upon returning to our room, we discovered that the resort fairy had stopped by, and left a basket of goodies, Kane County Cougars caps, and vouchers for tickets to a game while we were in town (stay tuned for the details on that!), along with a lovely note!

We went to dinner with my mom and her husband at one of my favorite Chicagoland restaurants…Alfie’s Inn in Glen Ellyn.

We stopped at the Jewel-Osco after dinner to pick up a chocolate torte, a dessert I have loved for about two decades (more on that tomorrow).

We then enjoyed a pleasant walk around the resort before the storms rolled in and we headed to our room to watch the Food Network on cable TV:

Tomorrow’s post will feature our adventures in downtown Chicago!

Chicago’s Field Museum

Here’s a closer look at our visit to the Field Museum in Chicago:

There was so much to see, and we didn’t have a lot of time. We knew we weren’t going to get to everything, so we made sure we hit all the highlights. We walked through the Hall of Birds, learned about the state fossil, the Tully Monster (sounds like a Sesame Street character, doesn’t it?), visited the Hall of Gems, where we saw a likeness of the museum’s benefactor, Marshall Field, carved in green beryl, took a look at ancient Egypt, and saw meteor fragments:

The highlight of our visit was definitely the Hall of Dinosaurs:

And the best part of seeing the dinosaurs was becoming acquainted with Chicago’s most famous resident, Sue, the T. rex:

We were able to use the reciprocity that comes with our St. Louis Science Center membership to offset some of the cost, so we only had to pay admission for three children. I thought that was a great deal for how much we saw and learned while we were there…someday, I’d like to go back and see some of the things we missed!

Brookfield Zoo

Here’s a closer look at our winter visit to Brookfield Zoo!

There was a bit of snow on the ground when we walked around (there would have been a lot more if we had waited two days!), and it was just beautiful:

The best part of the trip, though, was our experience seeing the animals. I was really worried about this aspect, because I thought they might all be hiding indoors due to the cold. In reality, though, this was the best chance we’ve ever had at any zoo to observe the animals…they were unbelievably active! The big cats were probably our favorite (we especially enjoyed hearing the lion roar…he was LOUD!), but we also saw so many other animals in greater detail than we ever have before! (Not pictured: The sea lions we watched fight over position on a rock for at least 20 minutes…they were hilarious!)

In the end, we spent around five hours at the zoo…but we had so much fun, I really thought we had only been there for about two!

I’d like to go back and see everything in warmer weather at some point, but I have to admit, this special trip, where we pretty much had the place to ourselves, will be almost impossible to top!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Four

We were worried we would wake up to more snow on the final day of our trip up north, but instead, we were greeted by the sun for the first time since our arrival! The views from the windows in our hotel room were excellent!

It was sunny, but quite cold and windy, so we loaded up the van as quickly as possible, and then headed into Chicago to visit the Field Museum. The retreating winter storm over Lake Michigan was still apparent from the museum’s windows:

One of the main reasons for our trip to the museum was visiting Chicago’s most famous resident, Sue, the T. rex. We were not disappointed!

Because I’m me, I had to brave the cold and wind to get a look at the city skyline before we left:

As we often do, we stopped for a late lunch at Portillo’s in Bloomington on the way home.

The rest of the drive was…interesting. We ran into some unexpected snow on the way home, and the last hour of our trip was slow-going and messy. But we got home at a decent time, and the clouds even cleared out for us to see the lunar eclipse later that night! It was a fun getaway, and we’re already planning our next trip to the Chicago area!