After leaving Indiana, we headed to Chicago to spend a few days with my sister and go to the Taylor Swift concert. Yep, the T Swift concert! My sister had a ticket through her office and they were going to arrive in style, via a yacht, and had invited us along. Sounds pretty epic to me! It was Mark's first trip to Chicago so we were sure to check out some of the best sites in the city.
Cloud Gate or "The Bean"
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (it was as good as it looks)
Swifties for Lyfe!
We had a really great time in Chicago and, although our time was short, I think that Mark got to see some of the best parts of Chicago for a first timer! I'm sure next time we go, we'll dive more into the local scene with my sister.
After we left Chicago, we set out to visit Mark's extended family in upstate New York. We were planning on going through Canada, but we had Maylee and we weren't sure what the clearances were like for animals. Instead, we drove through the very northern part of the States and, of course, had to stop by Niagara Falls! It was definitely a fun, little pit-stop to break up the drive.
Indiana and Chicago, although super fun, were both a little chaotic. We always had stuff to do and people to see with never enough time to do it all! So, once we arrived to New York, we happily welcomed the slower pace of things. Mark's family were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed all that their cottages had to offer, which brought back a lot of childhood memories for Mark!
From New York, we headed south to see Mark's brother in Virginia. On the way, we passed right through Fredricksburg and made sure to stop to see some of my closest Oki friends! They greeted us with squeals of excitement, dinner, and margaritas. I was so, so excited to see them and very happy that we made the stop.
The next day, Mark's brother, Matt, took the day off to spend some time with us. He took us on a beautiful hike and we can officially say, even though it was short, that we have hiked part of the Appalachian Trail! To round out the day, he took us on the Brew Ridge Trail. We enjoyed lots of delicious beers and ciders (my favorite) before ending at a distillery. It was such a fun time!
The grand finale of our trip was visiting our friends Mary and Al in North Carolina. It had been 3 years since we'd seen them (if you don't count the Facetime sessions) and we were ready to catch up! We spent a few days there relaxing, which was so very much needed after the whirlwind of travel.
At this point, we had to decided if we wanted to fit another stop in or head back to Mark's parent's house to recoup before moving to Columbus. It was a pretty easy decision... we were pooped! So, we said our goodbyes to Mary and Al. Then, we checked in to the O'Driscoll Bed and Breakfast (haha) for the next 5 days with our sights on the target: Columbus here we come!