Sunday, June 19, 2011


The Chicago pictures are all up now! (Phew.) That means it's time to catch up on the weekly 365 blog posts. Let's see if I can do that without writing a book on the subject...

Saturday, May 21, was our last full day in Lansing, and we spent a lot of it with my friend and former college roommate, Jessica. Since she's currently living in Lansing, that made it pretty easy to get together with her. We did brunch at Golden Harvest, went to the East Lansing Art Festival, got bubble tea, and took a photo walk around the MSU campus. It was a beautiful day and a well spent one too, I would say. (I also had dinner with Beth at Cheddar's that night, but I took no pictures of that.)

I had lots of choices for the picture of the day, but I liked the creepy pirate skeleton guy that was hanging outside the door at Golden Harvest. Remember how the Rapture was supposed to happen that day? Yeah...

141/365 come the rapture

On Sunday, we borrowed a vehicle from Bruce and Bonnie and drove down to IL to visit my family. We got there around 2:30 and spent a little time chatting with my Aunt Mary before walking down to the gardens and woods with her. Uncle Scott was there, working on the weeds. It had been years since I had visited the family farm in the summer, so we were finally able to see his ongoing garden projects as they were intended to be, rather than in the dead of winter. The picture of the day: Scott riding back up toward the houses, past the barn.

142/365 on the farm

I took a whole lot of pictures on Monday. It was a gorgeous day, and we saw a lot of family. That morning, we went for coffee in tiny downtown Oswego—at the house where my Great Grandma Grate used to live—and then walked around the park next to the Fox River. It was really lovely. Then, we joined my parents for lunch at their house. Later, I walked around the farm and back down to the gardens for more pictures. My sister Christine arrived with her kids in the afternoon, and I got to take yet more pictures, including some of the kids playing in the treehouse that Scott built in the woods.

143/365 enjoy treehouse life

My dad took us to the train station in Aurora on Tuesday morning, and we were off to Chicago for the rest of the week. Upon arriving at Union Station, Steve and I stowed our suitcase in a locker and walked to Blackbird for lunch. It was very nice—kind of fancy and modern—but I thought some of the proteins were over salted. After that, we collected our suitcase and took a taxi to our hotel to check in. The plan was to go to the John Hancock Observatory, but we also decided to visit Millennium Park after that, since it was supposed to be stormy the next day. If nothing else, at least we saw "The Bean" on this trip. For dinner that night, we had a fabulous meal at Girl & the Goat. That meal probably deserves its own blog post, though.

144/365 the bean

Wednesday did not start off well. It did indeed thunderstorm that morning, and we still went to Shedd Aquarium as planned. Unfortunately, by the time we got there to look at the fish, we were soaked ourselves from the knees down. The walk from the Red Line in the rain—complete with lightning as we were walking through the museum campus—was pretty miserable. (I remember the view of the Chicago skyline from outside Shedd being pretty cool, but it was so foggy that we couldn't see much of anything.) We got to the aquarium early enough to avoid a line for Will Call, but there was nothing to be done about the various school groups that were on field trips at the time. It was really crowded, and the fact that the light sucked for pictures didn't help my mood. By the end, I was just so done with it all and kind of disappointed with Shedd in general. It was nowhere near as good as Monterey Bay Aquarium. The one redeeming factor was the Jellyfish exhibit, which was definitely worth the extra $3 each. Too bad it wasn't a permanent exhibit.

The rain had stopped by the time we left the aquarium, and we were going to walk up through Grant Park next. But I was getting blisters from my wet shoes and socks, and we needed to eat lunch before it got too late. We made a quick stop at Lou Malnati's for some deep dish pizza (as quick as deep dish can be), and then we headed up State Street. I assumed we'd take the subway up a couple stops, but we ended up walking the whole way instead. Things were looking up a little by the time we got to Intelligentsia for some coffee, but we went back to the hotel to decompress after that.

Finally, it was time for dinner. This was the big one: Alinea. It's the 6th best restaurant in the world—at least on some lists—and the best in the United States. We had something like 18 courses, and it was all very fancy. (And amazing.) Instead of a tablecloth, our clean silverware was presented on little pillows. I could write much more about the whole experience, and I mean to... another day.

145/365 alinea

By Thursday, I was getting pretty good at ignoring my carefully planned itineraries. It was chilly and rainy again, so we scrapped plans for Navy Pier and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Instead, we took the L to the Lincoln Park (the neighborhood) and walked around a bit. We had a nice breakfast at Floriole Cafe and Bakery, and then we looked at some cute stores. Walking down the brownstone-lined neighborhood streets was actually quite enjoyable, at least until it started raining again. Lunch was at Sable in the Hotel Palomar, although I wasn't really hungry for it after Floriole, and then we had very fancy Mexican food for dinner at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo.

146/365 the L

We were back to Rick Bayless land for more the next morning. Churros and chocolate were consumed at Xoco for breakfast, and then we caught the train back to Aurora to gather the rest of our things and say goodbye to my family. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the car, trying to get through the traffic and back to Lansing. It took a couple extra hours, because the construction and traffic through Joliet was a nightmare, but we finally made it back to Bruce and Bonnie's house for the night. The picture of the day is from happier times: our breakfast that morning.

147/365 xoco

So the Chicago trip had its ups and downs. The weather at my parents' place had been perfect; the weather in Chicago was terrible. It was raining half the time, and it was windy and unseasonably cold. That meant less time outside, a lot of places skipped, and fewer pictures all around. I did find that I was happier with the images I had taken after going through them all, but the Seattle trip last year was definitely better for pictures. On the plus side, the food in Chicago was wonderful. Girl & the Goat, and Alinea especially, made up for a whole lot. Posts on those next.

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