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the big bean.

I left Hicksville, Ohio shortly after 5 am to begin the long 11 hour commute home to Eagle, Nebraska. Nearly 6 states in a day. I say nearly, as technically I didn’t completely enter Michigan as the interstate bends North at Star Mill, Indiana. But if you’ve ever traveled on this interstate, you damn near do. So for the sake of a dramatic storytelling, we’ll say 6.

I made my way through the dark of the night in search of a cup of coffee. When i woke up, I took a quick shower, put on my glasses and head out the door. Since it was so early, there wasn’t very many gas stations open yet, let alone a Starbucks. Eventually I pulled off at a 711 and checked the Google maps. I should make it home by 2:47 pm CST. Not bad. I knew I had a family shoot scheduled at night just North of Lincoln, so it should provide just enough time to get home, unload my luggage, throw some items in the laundry, refresh and maybe even shut my eyes for a 20 minute cat nap. I grabbed a cup of coffee, a large water, went to the restroom and head out.

(photo taken on my iphone)

I just began approaching Chicago and noted how much easier it was to commute through at 7:15 am on a Sunday Morning. I recalled the last visit I had made in the Windy City was well over two decades ago. While I’m not a huge baseball fan, my bet is always on the Chicago Cubs first. It’s certainly on my bucket list to see them playing at Wrigley Field. I also have some Pinterest saves of some cool Chicago shots I’d like to get. And always loved the idea of staying in a swanky loft far above the city after a night of listening to blues and dining high class.

I put in “Big Bean” in my Google maps just to see. 25 minutes. So if I went to Chicago, it would delay me an extra 50 minutes. By the time I look around at the Bean and maybe grab a hot dog for breakfast, I should have plenty of time still to get home for my shoot.

I had one mile to make my decision.

The most memorable times in your life rarely happen when they are planned out. Are they?

I live by this type of mentality frequently.

“You get one chance to live. When’s the next time you might really be this close to soak it in? Do it.” - my inner wanderlust soul stated.

I began to turn right on the curve to make my way up I-94.

I noticed some guys pulled off the side of the road that in my own judgmental state made me slightly hesitant my father was right to just stay in my car while driving through the city. I could hear him now making some dry sarcastic remark about hub caps being taken or getting shot. I apologize to anyone actually reading this from Chicago. Our humor generally gets us in trouble.

I continued on and watched as the city unfolded against the sunrise and before my eyes. I began to have that feeling of driving into Denver, another big city I strongly love. And once upon a time, lived in.

I began to drive through downtown, and saw some gentlemen crossing the streets sporting their Bears gear. Ahh, Sunday Football. Oh how I loved living in Denver and going our for Sunday Funday in the city while the Broncos played. It was probably even more fun than a Husker Saturday to be honest.

I walk by a cooler and chair on the corner and think of my friend Jeff. In Denver, we’d go out on the town to scope out the scene. By 3 am and well full of alcohol, we skipped the fancy food trucks and always found the guy on the corner with a cooler full of bean burritos. Cheap. Delicious. We’d decide on buying about half a dozen because one wasn’t enough. We’d go to bed stuffed and happy.

I parked my car long enough to walk on the street and take a couple shots. A pigeon walked up and danced around. Fun.

I hurried back to my car as I definitely hadn’t paid for parking but also wasn’t going to be but a minute.

I continued to drive until I saw two skyscrapers that brought my vision to life. This. This is that shot I’ve been looking at for so long. Okay, pull over. Snap. Got it. Back in. My GPS went wild. Turn left. Turn right. It was still set for the Big Bean. Back on track. I made my way towards the Bean and looked right. Oh my gosh. There’s that other spot!

(photo on my phone)

The fashion shoot I had gone to in Ohio in the first place for, had originally been planned to be set in Chicago and this street in particular was one I wanted to shoot on. It was just 7:52 so the sun had just come up, the golden tones of the street lights shined and the street remained bare. I missed my turn and went around the block until I found a spot. Ecstatic about my luck this morning.

I grabbed my camera and hopped out. How cool would it be to get low, in the middle of the street to get this shot? I wasn’t sure about traffic and if anyone would creep up behind me so I just began snapping. Snap. Look around. Snap. Look around.

Finally my courage said heck with it and I got low. I’m not missing this shot.



An ambulance began to roar around the corner and I decided it was time to head on.

I begin to travel and realize a couple is in the street. A photographer is too! She’s shooting the couple! Wow. Okay. I’m jealous. A van drives around her. I sit for a moment. She waves me to go around and I thought no, then she has my car in her photo and has to wait. Plus I could probably hold traffic so she doesn’t have to worry and get her shot. I notice the woman is wearing an elegant green dress. Oh my gosh I am in love with what is happening. And then a light bulb goes off. “Lyss, you need to get your phone quick and get this shot of her shooting them. You would kill for someone to do that in return.” I grab my phone and snap the shot. Dang. That’s cool. Why I didn’t do it on my camera I don’t know but my mind was on overload processing a lot of info apparently!

I see her wave her hands to inform me she’s finished up. I pulled up to her and said, “Are you on Instagram?” (Such a millennial thing to say right?) She said yes and I let her know I too was a photographer who just came up on her shoot and for a photo of her and she needed to see how badass she looked. The couple laughed, we exchanged handles and I wished them well.

(the photo I took in my car)

I made my way and found another spot to park for a brief moment. Wow. I bet a lot of weddings has happened here. I could get married under this too. There’s so many parts to me. I love the idea of a simple mountain elopement. Sure I like some rustic detail but not too rustic. Mine needs to have a little, class. Fall. Warm tones. A vintage white dress with lace detail.

But the idea of getting married right here under the hustle is so cool too. Elegant. A satin white dress with minimal detail. A high neckline and low back line. A black tux. Beautiful pastel floral arrangement. Spring. This is one of the reasons I adore wedding photography as much as I do. I live vicariously through your wedding days. Admiring the details. I mentally noted I will find a couple who will get married in this exact spot someday.

Why am I still not finding “The Bean”? I see a pretty park. It’s starting to get livelier. Families are walking their dog with a cup of coffee. Runners. So many runners. I’d love to wake up and go for a run through the city. I see a couple with coffee head back to what I imagine is their condo in this large sky scraper overlooking Harbor Point. Jealous.

I keep traveling around and end up on Main Street. I see a pancake joint that’s lined up with people. I keep going. Oh this architecture. So old worldly. I remind myself to take in every ounce and place it into my memory.

I see “The Bean” and I’ve gone too far in my state.

I notice the subway and my mind drifts to one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. “While You We’re Sleeping.”

I decide I love Chicago, particularly on a Sunday morning.

It’s quieter. And while the sound of the subway going by still rings in the scene, it trances and wakens your soul.

I do love big cities.

I turn around and make my way back to the parking area I was originally at. I grab my gear and make a run for it. I walk up on it and I see it. Cool. Better get the classic reflection selfie shot I always see. I ask a couple girls to swap photo taking. I take some of them. They take some of me. She makes me laugh because she’s taking a whole bunch of every angle and I didn’t exactly get ready that morning & did my makeup in the car, so I wasn’t feeling too boujee. I thank them. They’re sweet.

I check the time. It’s time to head home. I’m pushing my luck and I note I’ll have to travel and plan a weekend trip here again.

But even in its short lived time, it was all that I needed to finish an already great trip.

Until next time, Chicago.

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