19 February 2010


Hello dear readers, how I have missed you! I hope this winter finds you well - and warm!

I can't tell you all how happy I am to finally put 2009 behind me to enter a new decade AND year of awesomeness: 2010! That's twenty ten for those of you who haven't gotten the memo.  I'm also excited to report that I've already traveled TWICE in 2010 and it's only February!

I have just returned from Chilly Chicago! Back in January, I had this realization that I had a four-day weekend coming up over President's day.  I have been meaning to visit my spectacularly awesome friend James Nedrud in Chicago for a while now, but my previous attempts were always thwarted.  James and I have known each other since 1998 (eek!) and became good friends my junior year when we were drum majors together for the Bozeman High School Marching Band! 

Here's a montage of pics of us together in high school. What a cutie - James isn't bad either ;-)! As you can see, he likes to pick me up. From left to right, my HS graduation, June 2002; Sweet Pea Ball Winter 2002; Post Speech Tournament (don't look up my skirt!), Spring 2002.

I was basically a part of his amazing family all throughout high school, and James and I have kept in touch ever since. He went to school at Roosevelt and majored in musical theatre. Keep your eyes on this one, he's going to be famous some day!!!

So, when I realized I had this impending four-day weekend, I immediately thought to visit James in Chicago. Magically, the stars all aligned. James was available all weekend, the flight was free with miles, and I BOOKED IT!

I flew in on Friday night, January 19th. James picked me up in Esmeralda, his very fashionable, super sporty 1986 blue Toyota Camry. Don't be fooled, she has gusto, especially the way James drives that beast. Manually....

I was starving, so after a quick driving tour we went to dinner at the worst Mexican restaurant ever.  Lazo's - do NOT go there. Seriously. It was cheap, so I wasn't expecting a magical dining experience or anything, but I was also not expecting sliced 'deli meat' in my enchilada. That's right, I said deli meat....

In an effort to put that traumatizing dining experience behind us, we headed to James' apartment. I'm sad I didn't take any pictures, because he lives in a cool old building. It's so old that the floors are sloped! Seriously, the bedroom is like 6-inches lower than the entry way! But it has character and felt very comfortable and welcoming! Molly, James' roommate, gave up her bed so I could stay, so a big thank you to her!

For the rest of the night we just hung out and watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Nice work Canada! 

Saturday morning we slept in before heading to a Master Class in which James was performing. Let me tell you, James is a better singer than I will EVER be. He has a full falsetto range and is just really impressive. It was fun to see how far he's developed with his singing, especially considering that we used to spend HOURS a day singing together in our respective vehicles!

After the master class, we drove around Chicago and I took this picture out the car window.  That's right, I'm that good. When I went to Chicago in 2004 with the UW Marching Band, Allison (my other traveling paramour) and I took many pictures by this beautiful fountain.  I was super happy to see it again, and with snow!

We drove around some more, exploring Chicago with Esmeralda before again retiring to James' abode. We had to prep for our big night - out in Boys Town with more High School friends!

James and I arrived at Sidetrack about 10pm. For those of you who don't know (or are too lazy to click on the links I so kindly provide for you), Sidetrack is in the heart of Boys Town, the gay district of Chicago. Now I've been to many-a-gay-bar in my day, so I thought I knew what to expect, but man was I in for a surprise. First, this place was HUGE! Second, I was one of like, four women in there. Normally you will see some straight girls and guys in there, but no.   had one old man more-or-less shove me out of the way to get to James! Oh well, we had a ton of fun anyway! And better yet, our good friend from high school Danny Luwe joined us as well!

Since I'm doing picture montage's, here's one of us!  Always hamming it up!

Not only was Danny junior prom date, but he was my partner for DUO Interpretation in Speech and Debate.  Together we won the Bozeman High talent show!  This kid was, and is still, SO FUNNY.  Man, I'm going to have a lot of famous friends some day!

Happy Reunion!!!
Proof that we've always been weird and still are

I had a blast in Boystown with James and Danny and the myriad of other people we met and I would go back in a heartbeat! Man did I NEED that omelet breakfast the next morning though...

On Sunday, we headed to Navy Pier where James had a Shakespeare Class. The theatre at the pier was doing a show of Private Lives. James hooked me up with a cheap ticket, and despite having to watch the show alone, I really enjoyed it! Tracy Michelle Arnold was especially impressive as Amanda Prynne, plus it was written by Noël Coward, master of dry, British humour. Just my style.

After the show, we took some "artsy" shots on the pier:

Damn we are cute together!
Work it girlfriend!
Frozen lighthouse
Really frozen lake.  Did I mention it was FREEZING in Chicago?  And I'm from Montana!
Another picture taken out the window.  I love Sepia shots!
I think people were actually riding on this Ferris wheel.  Brrr!

We left the pier and picked up Molly, James' fabulous roommate. She joined us for deep dish pizza at Giordano's. I have been thinking about this pizza and building it up in my mind for 6 years, ever since I visited way back in '04, and trust me, it did not disappoint! I mean, look at how ridiculously awesome it is!?!?! Like 2 lbs. of cheese for EACH SLICE!

Molly showing us the proper pose for my favourite: Extreme Eating Pics!
Damn that's a lot of cheese!  Look at it compared to Molly's head! 
My own extreme eating.  That plate is SO HEAVY, I can barely hold it up!
Molly bought this decadent chocolate cake to take home to her honey.  Apparently it was *almost* better than the pizza. Guess James and I should have gotten one too! 

With full bellies, we again retired to James' place to have a quiet evening. Too much fun was had on Saturday to even think about going out again.

Monday, sadly my last day in town, we slept in again, and then prepped for and audition James had scheduled. It was fun working through his monologue with him, I have forgotten how much I really enjoyed doing that sort of thing. Anyway, as we were getting ready to leave for the day I finally met Matthew Helms, James' other roommate. Matt and Molly both work together at Blue Man Group (in addtion to being actors themselves) and Matt mentioned that becuase it was a Monday holiday, they had a matinee and he offered to get us tickets! James and I didn't have any real solid plans, so we took him up on his offer!

The lobby of the theatre was really neat. All of these tubes running from one room to another. According to James, you can talk into one end and hear from the other, if you can figure out where they connect!

Fun with black lights. 

The show was really fun, and super interactive. There was less drumming then I thought there would be, but they had this amazing PVC Pipe Marimba that sounded unbelievable! I could have listened to them play it for days! And they *almost* picked me to go up on stage and participate, until they went with this girl behind me instead. Dang! Next time! I think it's an entertaining show and definitely worth seeing!

This blue man seemed less than enthused to have his picture taken with me, but hey, at least I look cute!
Outside by the marquee. You can't tell, but James is picking me up. Again. Some things never change! 

All in all, the perfect weekend! Thank you all for reading and a BIG thank you to James, and his fabulous roommates Molly and Matt, for being so darn awesome and hospitable. You are all welcome in Seattle any time, and you can bet I'll be making another trip to Chicago again soon!


MatthewMHelms said...

I would like to be the first to type a comment. That's all I have to say. Well, and great job on the blog. It was great meeting you and I'm glad you had fun, for the parts that you can remember.


james said...

I would like to say that this blog is amazingly thorough and perfect!! I feel so honored to be in it and a part if your travels! Honestly, it has been a goal of mine to be in one of your blogs and I am all too happy to check this one off the list!

That being said, the weekend couldn't have worked out better! I am sooooo happy that we could share this time!

Until our next travels!!
XO James