I needed to give someone a flower. An elegant, long-stemmed, simple, clean, classy, no frills flower. And because I couldn’t trust someone to deliver it under those specific conditions, I drove to Chicago and presented it myself. Last minute. Saturday morning. Without rhyme, reason only to deliver the flower. So after a deluxe yoga practice, we arrived at Whole Foods in Pittsburgh at 8am, people already lining the parking lot, ready to shop for healthy things!  And I was ready to buy a flower. And supplies for the road.

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Flowers, coffee, and road trip food secured! I chose a beautiful blue hydrangea! Actually, a set of three. Whole Foods does a really good job with their flower bouquets. Always my go to. Despite this, I assure you that I removed those little pokey green leaves from the final presentation. :)

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Food for the cooler (yes I actually own a cooler): sandwiches, cookies, beet apple carrot lemon ginger juice, water, and of course, ketchup. One cannot have a road trip without ketchup.

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Me.

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My co-pilot.

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Co-Pilot mooching on my ketchup.

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Singing hard to our favourite SiriusXM Radio stations, we did our best impressions of Céline Dion, Salt-N-Pepa, Jefferson Starship, Biz Markie, and Loretta Lynn among so many other greats!! Her ears and my hair flopped in the wind. Rest stops were superb, too. Imagine me with Gwendolyn in arms, zooming in and out of the rest buildings. Sure, pets weren’t allowed. But the sign said nothing about princess dogs.

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Hello, Chicago!

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Seriously, little more excites me than driving into a city, observing the gorgeous straight lines of skyscrapers on the horizon.

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After delivering our flower to our very special friend, we checked into our glamorous downtown hotel, Hotel Monaco. A Kimpton Hotel, this place earns a bazillion stars. Oh my goodness, it was absolute perfection from start to finish! This includes the staff, especially the gentleman who goes by Foster; the cleanliness; the kindness; the price; the location; the super dog friendly nature, oh! If you are visiting Chicago, you must stay here. If you don’t, I shall forever question your sanity. A converted hat factory, we were greeted by THIS at the concierge desk, and I swear, that is Lauren Bacall, my favourite actress ever, on the far left!

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Gwendolyn liked the reception area which offered complimentary wine, served by a handsome hotel attendant from 5 to 6.

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And our room! Oh the room!

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After I granted permission for Gwendolyn to hop onto the bed, she immediately romped in the pillows! Pillow romping is her calling card.

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Whilst she romped, I enjoyed my complimentary wine! ;)

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And someone fell asleep in her self-designed fort whilst I primped for our Big Night Out.

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The robes feature animal print! Roar!

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Our divine view! Mind you, we literally stole the last available room, having made these reservations at four o’clock that very morning. “Hi, I’d like to make a reservation for me and my dog.” The reservation taker didn’t even flinch. He simply asked, “Oh! Wonderful. What is your dog’s name?” First thing’s first, and Kimpton knows this. ;)

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After primping, we searched for the perfect restaurant!

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And surprisingly, we could find nothing. No dogs allowed. :(

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But wait! Gwendolyn had an idea! What about the great restaurant at our great hotel?

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The South Water Kitchen?

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Boy did they ever accommodate to our special needs!

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And we had a craving like none other! Yes, I’m Italian, but rarely do I want spaghetti. But something about the cool summer Chicago breeze and the gorgeous city excitement dictated that it would be Italian night! The best Italian night with my best little elegant dog.

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But Gwendolyn questioned this Italian decision, as her heart is always set on chicken.

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So I ordered the Pappardelle. No lamb. No cheese. Add marinara sauce! Ah, yes, more vino, please! ;)

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She ordered chicken. She always gets her way. And more water, please!

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Selfie 1. This photo proves to me that I need to start wearing lipstick and mascara! At the very least. And remember to straighten my hair after having it blown in the wind for 497 miles. But overall I’m getting satisfied with my appearance because of the yoga which I’ll talk about later this week.

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Selfie 2.

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Selfie 3. So happy!

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Selfie 4.

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As we waited for our dinner, I captured this gorgeous image of the building and the sky! Oh la la!

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And I then noticed a string of unclothed bicyclists! Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!!

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It was the World Naked Bike Ride!

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional bike (or other person powered) event where participants ride en masse for the dual purpose of bringing attention to people powered transport and promoting positive body image… In the northern hemisphere the event happens on the second Saturday in June, annually since 2004. In Chicago it is held in the late evening.”

I think that’s pretty darn cool. So significant to my “who cares what anyone thinks / just be confident in your own skin and brain” mentality.

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Dinner served! Bon appétit! And please let me tell you… this was SO delicious. I twirled the succulent whole wheat strands like the most proper of Italians! My grandparents would be proud. In fact, I was so giddy on the wine and city, that I iMessaged this picture to them. They called me immediately! I sent it to my Irish grandmother, too. She is so cute and replied, “Looks fancy!!!” The fact that my grandparents are buzzing around at 10pm to answer my text messages makes me smile so hard!

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Don’t forget the chicken! Ever! ;)

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Of course we went directly back to the room to raid the Freds and maybe a peanut or two or three from the mini bar.

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Morning brought complimentary cucumber water and delicious hot coffee!

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A spot of tea for tea lovers…

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And The New York Times. A perfect breakfast!

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Millennium Park is just a hop skip and a jump from our great hotel. We showed up at 6am, wanting to get a photo at Cloud Gate. Why so early? Dogs aren’t allowed, so we needed to beat the park rangers. And we did.

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Oh such fun!!!

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Walking along Michigan Avenue in return to the hotel, we noticed this shoppe and thought, “This is sooooooooo Becky.”

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Gwendolyn ate breakfast! Bowls provided by the hotel… how absolutely positively wonderful!

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I did yoga!

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And we took the gorgeous door tag as souvenir.  ;)

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On the drive home, Gwendolyn was certain to greet each of the tool booth workers, expecting puppuccinos, of course. She didn’t realise they weren’t Starbucks drive thrus, even a thousand miles later.

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My perfect little co-pilot. It’s no secret that I really love my dog. I can’t imagine having the amount of fun that we experienced this weekend with another living being. Every part of the trip, from start to finish, was about happiness. And kissy kissies! And laughter. And even when I said something crazy (or intensely prolific), she cocked her head in interest. Dog really is man’s best friend.

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It was a mini holiday from heaven, and it belongs in my mind as the best mini holiday ever!

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And yes, we delivered our flower. :)

Have a good day, and namaste.