Hello Chicago!

Trust me.  The picture above is not an exaggeration… it is that cold.  In fact, I think my nose was still a little chilly.

Actually, John and I also considered opening with this picture.

Also accurate, but my lack of hat might be deceiving, so I instead led with my accidental Kenny impersonation.  However the second picture does resemble an upside-down octopus or maybe one of those science-fair globes that lights up when you touch it, which is quite nice.

John and I are in Chicago, folks, and it didn’t take me even a week to have a full-on, cold weather induced breakdown.  Let me explain…

First weekend here, we wanted to find the dog beach.  Bundled in my warmest Santa Monica, CA “winter” jacket, I didn’t say a peep when we accidentally parked approximately two miles from the beach and decided to walk on over.  Next to the lake, mind you, which means lots & lots & lots of wind.  I froze to the point of mouth immobility, but I wanted to be a team player.  Not a peep.

The next day, John wanted to head back to the dog beach, again.  I did not.  But, he seemed so excited about it that I didn’t let on, quite unlike me actually and probably unproductive, but I become dazzled by the excitement of living in a shiny, new city.  Already freezing my tail off, we began a nice chat with a dog-loving couple who happened to mention a place called Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that we might want to check out.  A beautiful lake-side park with sand dunes that butt up next to a forest, making an interesting back-drop for both.  I didn’t hear much else because the cold I felt from the word “lake-side” started making my brain rattle.  I think they mentioned something about how nice it is this time of year because nobody is around (wonder why?), and at that very moment I knew, I could not feel my fingers anymore, and John was going to suggest we hit up Indiana Dunes as soon as we got back in the car.  I finally mentioned my hypothermia with the edge creeping in my voice, and we rounded Todd up to go.

Sure enough, my hands hadn’t even lost their purple before John, brimming with excitement, innocently shaped what he thought to be a perfect day’s plan.  The next 10 minutes are a little hazy, but I know they involved tears, irrational babbling, a few curse words I’m not very proud of and the out-of-character demand that I be taken to REI, immediately.  I wasn’t messing around.  I was a lady on a mission for the warmest jacket Chicago had to offer.  John remembers that I actually said “I’ve been cold for the last 7 years,” which makes no sense at all considering I’ve lived in Santa Monica for 4, but I’m not gonna argue with crazy.

Ladies & gentleman, I got my jacket.  And not just any jacket… the warmest, fluffiest jacket that REI sells.  We didn’t even balk at the price-tag.  I think I might be able to sleep in the arctic with this baby.  It feels like walking around with a down sleeping bag over my head.  I love it.  Soon after, we were on our way to Indiana Dunes, and I was as equally excited about our mission as John.  Bless you jacket.

Here we are at the dunes.  I’m happily bundled in my new jacket and Todd’s showing off in his birthday suit.  See how the dunes butt right up against the forest?  It almost looks like snow.

See Chicago?  How cool is that?  It looks stenciled.

After walking down the beach along the water, we walked back up on top of the dunes through a trail carved in the Sea Oats.  That trail was one of my favorite parts.

Another favorite part was watching John and Todd, two very happy little beings.  Thanks to the new jacket, I think John felt free to wander with his wife, taking lots of pictures and checking out what was just around every bend, one of his favorite things to do.  Something as necessary to him as food and water, and probably the reason I felt so mad earlier.  I didn’t want to deprive either of us of our freedom, yet I was just so unbearably cold.  If there’s a loose lesson here, it might be a reminder to listen to our bodies.  Sometimes I walk around the house for a couple hours before I realize how cold my bare feet are.  I wouldn’t do that to a child I was caring for… so why do I do it to myself?  All I know is, my entire experience of Chicago changed… the moment I slipped on that jacket.


  • Danielle

    LOVE the shot of Todd on the beach. Gorgeous! I’m still curious how you managed to fly with him in your lap on the trip to Chicago!

    April 1, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Todd is a service animal!

      April 8, 2011
  • these photos are simply and utterly gorgeous. cold or not, enjoy your adventure, don’t over schedule yourself, and stay in the moment! super jealous! xx

    April 1, 2011
  • Mama Schrec

    I love John for lots of reasons but ignoring that price tag on an expensive down jacket in order to keep our daughter warm…that’s a big one!

    April 1, 2011
  • Despite the frigid weather this looks like a very memorable time on the beach. John is quite the photographer and your pup is precious! xo

    April 1, 2011
  • looks like fun – always think the beach makes any photo look warmer

    April 1, 2011
  • I have a jacket like that, I feel like am wearing a sleeping bag. It’s great, though, to be warm in the middle of winter, or in early spring in the midwest, as the case may be.

    April 2, 2011
  • Monica Ford

    I looooooove the wild hair photo of you in this post, Molly. Gorgeous.

    May 10, 2011

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