A Day in Chicago

Karen and I decided the other day that she would take a day off during the week and we would go somewhere.  Our original plan was to head to Indianapolis for a couple of days, spend the night, that sort of thing.  The dilemma… the pups.  We wanted to take them, and could have, but then what would we do with them when we wanted to go in somewhere or have dinner out or any myriad of other things that don’t allow dogs.  We couldn’t leave them in a hotel room and we wouldn’t leave them in the car, so there you go.  Dilemma.  And subsequent change of plan… day trips.  Ah ha!

So Sunday we just sort of drove around locally.  Didn’t really go anywhere overly cool, just sort of checking some places out.  We did this with the dogs.  They like to ride along.

Monday we got up, got a tad bit of coffee, waited for the radon guys to fix our leaky boot, and then headed to the train.  Ah the train.  I love it.  We were lame to wait until the last minute so our tickets were more.  Yes, they have so many at different price ranges just like the airline and if you wait too long the cheaper tickets sell out and you are left paying more.  Though really, c’mon… $52 for two one way to Chicago wasn’t terrible.  We have paid half that, but we weren’t too flummoxed by it.  Flummoxed… I love that word.

Drive to the train station, park in the 10 hour parking, hop on the train, get off in two and half hours after reading and listening to music and looking at the passing scenery and there you are… Union Station in the Second City.  Chicago.  I do love it there.

We have been to Chicago a few times now… before we moved to the midwest once, for two weeks over Christmas and New Years when the kids got married there.  That was our first time… we loved it then, and still.  We have only ever been downtown.  And this time was no exception.

One glitch… we didn’t have a plan.  We didn’t really decide until Monday morning that we were going for sure, hence the last minute ticket buying and such.  And we didn’t really talk about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go beforehand or on the train ride there.  So there we were, Union Station, smack in the middle of the city, and had no idea what we were doing.  Pretty funny… and, kind of fun.  No agenda.

So we walked… and walked… and walked some more.  We originally headed toward a restaurant some friends recommended, The Artists Cafe, on Michigan Avenue down across from Millennium Park and the Art Museum.  We were starving so that seemed like a great place to begin.  It would have been, only before we got there we passed another place.  There were people sitting in the window who had enormous burgers that happened to catch my honey’s eye.  Needless to say all thought of the Artists Cafe was out the window and in we went for burgers.  They were good.  Aside from the rather vocal and potty mouthed man sitting next to us, it was all good.  And to be honest, we didn’t really care about the vocal potty mouthed man either.  He wasn’t loud, so we could tune him out as he lit into his lady companion for… who knows what.  Just a little extra flavor in the big city.

From there we walked to Macy’s to check out the window displays.  They were pretty cool this year.  I liked them.  A sort of magical fantasy theme thing.  Then we ran across the Christkindlmarket  and wandered there for a bit.  Every ornament you could possible think of, strudel, schnitzel, some strange drink served in a tiny boot… and crowded.  Cool.  We bought nothing, but we experienced it.

After that we decided we’d wander over toward the river and see if we could find some hot chocolate and chai.  We did.  A nice way to warm up and charge the phone (another word for map nowadays).  We sat in there for awhile, got warm again, purchased our return train tickets from the Amtrak app on my phone, and then wandered along the river back toward the park.  Millennium Park at night is gorgeous.  Especially this time of year.  Skating in the city rink, reflections of christmas lights along with city lights in The Bean, the faces all lit up, trees with lights in them, people everywhere, music playing, the Pritzker all gorgeous.  Beautiful.  We spent a bit of time down there just hanging out and looking at the sights before walking back toward Union Station.

Most of the day we walked, I took photographs, we talked, we hung out together.  Nothing major.  We figure we walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 miles.  We had some good food.  We looked at some cool stuff.  We enjoyed both the train ride going and coming home.  But mostly, honestly, we just enjoyed spending the day alone together.  It’s truly our favorite thing.  Being together and having an adventure.  There is nothing better than that.  Than days like our day in Chicago.

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Chicago to the Carlton Inn Midway Via The L

We checked out of our room this morning, walked the four blocks to the L train station, bought a couple of passes at the nearby currency exchange, climbed the steps up to the platform, jumped on our train when it showed a few minutes later, road out to the second to the last stop on the Orange line, got off the train and walked about six minutes to the Carlton Inn Midway, asked for and received an early check in, arranged for our airport shuttle at seven in the morning, dropped our bags in our room, walked to the corner to have some Greek food at a hotel recommended place (which was great), and then came back to the room so Kev could do laundry and we both could just chill for the rest of the day. We’re tired. So busy, in a great way, the last couple of days, and before that it was drive drive drive. Chillaxing today is awesome!

About the restaurant we went to for lunch… the Greek place. I did something I’ve wanted to for a long long time… when the time was right… and it so was today. This restaurant… The New Pindos was just down the street from our hotel and recommended by the staff as a place that’s “family owned and been there for 30 years”. It was great, but then I love places like that. It had this old vibe, but it was clean. The waitresses all looked like they’d worked there all of those 30 years. Ours was awesome… new her stuff, was funny, nice, so very attentive, all the good things you want in a waitress. I liked her. We both did. So when it came time to leave, Kev picked up the bill and I laid a $20 on the table as the tip. We walked up to the counter so Kev could pay and our waitress, who was such a cutie pie older lady, came up to me and quietly said… I think you made a mistake. I smiled and said no, I didn’t. She then said, in a bewildered voice, I’ve never gotten a $20 tip before… are you sure? I said, yes I was absolutely sure and told her to have a great day. She just smiled and said again… I’ve never gotten a $20 tip before. It was awesome, that look on her face. Money is money, not the end all and be all of happiness, but man… the look on her face. She was shocked, and happy. That’s a little extra happiness out there in the world. Maybe she’ll pay it forward somehow, but even if she doesn’t, she’ll be sweeter than she already was, and I bet she’ll be smiling all day. Which, really, if you think about it, is paying it forward. Smiles pay all kinds of joy forward.

We’ve had a great trip… eventful at times, but great. I think Kev has had a great first Chicago experience. I think he loved it. The architecture alone had his head on a swivel the whole time we were downtown. It was sweet. Great views, fantastic things to do and see, yummy food, great vibe. Chicago is, I will say once again with only a little redundancy, my kinda town. LOVE it. Chi-Town, I will be back… and I think, if I’m not mistaken, Kev may just be back as well.

One more post tomorrow as we travel back to the Northwest. Flight is early… 8:40, but it’s a straight shot. Then… back to my Oregon home, my honey (who I’m missing very very much), and my pups, who I’m also missing very much. My little family… here I come!

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Yolk, Fish, The Lake, The Pier, The River, Willis, and Chicago Dogs

What a full day we’ve had. Started off lounging around the room for a bit to let the major part of the storm pass, then we were off and running.

First stop… Yolk for breakfast. Wow. I had the stuffed french toast. French toast stuffed with raspberry jam and cream cheese topped with bananas and powdered sugar with raspberry syrup on the side. Oh yeah baby! That with a side of bacon and a few cups of coffee gets a girl going in the morning. So awesome.

From Yolk we walked to the museum complex where the Shedd Aquarium happens to be. An hour wait in the queue, but it was worth it. Fish, more fish, more fish, a show, a 3D movie, and a really enjoyable time.

After Shedd we took a water taxi, traveling on Lake Michigan, from the museum complex to the Navy Pier. We enjoyed Chicago dogs, me with sweet potato fries and Kev with curly. What is a Chicago dog you ask? It’s a dog with relish, mustard, tomatoes, peppers, a dill pickle, and onions. That’s how they do them and they are good. We also enjoyed the Smith Museum of Stain Glass Windows at the Navy Pier. So cool… and free. Also good. I’d heard about this from Karen’s brother and sister in law when we were all in Chicago for the wedding last year. They went then and showed us some photos. I had to see these windows… and am glad we did. They were gorgeous.

From the Navy Pier we took another water taxi, this time on the Chicago River, to the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. We took the one minute 1350 foot journey up to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor to stand out on the Ledge. Trippy, that’s what it was. It’s a long way down.

We ended with a walk back to our hotel, a bit of a rest, and then some dinner at the restaurant in the lobby… The Thai Spoon. What did I have? Hmmm… maybe some Massaman with chicken and a thai iced tea. Yeah… that’s what was for dinner.

Now here we are, back in our room, both playing around on our computers, TV on, feet sore, and happily tired. What will we do tomorrow? Well that’s the question… we move hotels tomorrow… leaving the good ol’ Travelodge for a hotel out by Midway. Close to the airport for our earlyish flight on Wednesday back to Oregon. I’m sure we will find something to do… there’s so much to do here. I love this city.

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Champaign/Urbana to Chicago

Well… here we are in the Second City. We started the morning by dropping off Mary’s car at Charlie and Jennie’s place and then getting a ride from Jennie in to the train station. She was wonderful. Took us to the train station, went inside with us as we checked in and got our boarding passes, then took us over to Cafe Kopi for some coffee and really nice conversation until it was time to take us back to the train station. Jennie is great and it will be good to sit down with her for tea and coffee again.

Our train was a bit late, an hour or so, which wasn’t really an issue. We had no time schedule. Once on and rolling it was smooth sailing to Chicago. Both of us with our individual head phones on playing our own music. Kev working on his laptop, me mostly just staring out the window. A nice mellow ride… and we didn’t have to drive. Yay!

We got in to Chicago, oriented ourselves (with the help of the iPhone GPS) and walked the 20 minutes from the station to our hotel. We checked in, dropped our bags, and immediately went in search of food. Not just any food, but Chicago food. Pizza. That’s right… Lou Maltani’s pizza. So good. I mean… really good. We loved it big time.

Then it was walk time… had to walk off some of that pizza. We walked over to Michigan Avenue and took a stroll up to Millennium Park. All kinds of stuff going on near the Art Institute, at the Jay Prytzker Pavilion, and the Crown Fountain. We saw tango dancing, heard Dennis DeYoung (lead singer of Styx) singing with his band live and for free, took our photos at the bean, and marveled at the beauty that is Chicago architecture. That’s just day one.

We are now comfortably ensconced in our room, hooked into the internet, TV on, loads of water here for the drinking to combat the humidity. It’s supposed to be rainy today here, but wasn’t and isn’t. It was humid, but beautiful. A few clouds, but loads of blue sky to go with. They say thunderstorms tomorrow, but who knows… hopefully we’ll get more of what we had today. And if not… s’ok. We will still be out exploring more of this gorgeous city.

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First Stop Hood River

First stop on the Parker sibling great American road trip… Oregon to Illinois… Finds outr intrepid adventurers in Hood River getting gas, a coffee refill, and subway healthy breakfast sandwichs. We are off to a great start folks…. And the sun is starting to peak through!

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23 Movies With Music and 3 Musicals

Music sometimes makes a scene, or a movie for that matter. Here’s a selection of tunes used in films that had an impact on me. By no means a comprehensive list, but a few who sprung to mind when I thought of doing this post. Enjoy and feel free to add your own in the comments section. Always looking for new music, new films to see, or reminders of films and music I’d forgotten about.

Let the River Run     – Carly Simon – Working Girl

A nice little fable of a film. The song, at the end, sort of sums it up and lends itself to that feel good feeling.

Band of Brothers Requim – Band of Brothers

Beautiful piece of music and a fantastic mini series. If you haven’t seen it… do so. You may cry a lot, I did, but it’s amazing.

Have a Little Faith in Me – John Hiatt – Benny and Joon

I fell in love with this song after hearing it in this movie. A little fable of a film. This film just works.

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon – Urge Overkill – Pulp Fiction

Tarantino knows how to use music in his films. This scene is just plain riveting. And the music in it is perfect for it.

Come What May – Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman – Moulan Rouge

I had no idea these two could sing, and sing so well. Besides which, this is a lovely lovely song.

Cell Block Tango – Various – Chicago

Fun fun. Listen to this a couple of times and you’ll find yourself singing along.

She’s Like The Wind – Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing

Patrick Swayze singing. Who doesn’t love that? Or love this movie for that matter. No one puts baby in a corner.

I Am Changing – Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls

Jennifer Hudson’s defining movie moment.

Long Ride Home – Patty Griffin – Elizabethtown

One of my favorite songs which was used really well in this movie.

Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – Once

A fantastic little film with some awesome music. If you have never seen this, or heard the soundtrack, or listened to the Frames, check some or all of that out. The two from this movie now have their own band called The Swell Season.

Vianne Sets Up Shop – Chocolat

This music just simply makes me happy.

Cruisin’ – Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis – Duets

Who knew Gwyneth could sing this well. Wow.

You’re The One That I Want – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – Grease

No list is really complete without this. If you are a person of my age, give or take 10 years either way, you know and at least secretly, if not down right openly, love this song and this scene.

Back Where You Belong – Sinead O’Conner – The Water Horse

Just a really gorgeous song.

Hot Stuff – Donna Summer – The Full Monty

Who doesn’t love rough burly guys dancing… I ask you.

All I Want Is You – U2 – Reality Bites

This song sort of sums up this entire movie.

Stuck In The Middle With You – Steeler’s Wheel – Reservoir Dogs

Ear cutting off scene so beware…. Tarantino knows how to use music in his films.

Goodbye Horses – Q Lazzarus – The Silence of the Lambs

R Rated, for those who care. I’d advise not watching if you do.

In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel – Say Anything

Iconic image from film this one. I think this spawned thousands of incidents where guys stood outside girl’s homes and played music.

Lust for Life – Iggy Pop – Trainspotting

In The Deep – Bird York – Crash

A truly intense gritty movie. Loved it. And loved this song in it.

People Are Strange – Echo & The Bunnymen – Lost Boys

The song in the first part of this clip is Gerard McMann’s Cry Little Sister, also good… Love when People Are Strange is playing and scenes of regular people doing what they do.

Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies – Prelude To A Kiss

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a video clip from the movie with the song in it so I had to settle for the video. A lot of people haven’t even heard of this movie. I liked it. Also a little fable of a movie.

American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Silence of the Lambs

The girl, before being kidnapped, drives along singing this song at the top of her lungs, no care in the world… and then… the second tune from this film. What can I say?

Like To Get To Know You Well – Howard Jones – Better Off Dead

This is the music video, not the clip from the movie… unfortunately.

Across 110th Street – Bobby Womack – Jackie Brown

A fantastic intro/opening credits to a movie. Love this and again love Tarantino’s use of music in a film.

Shoe



Shoe, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

There was a flurry of activity, as you would imagine, that day. Girls getting ready, but not really having to rush, which was nice. The boys arrived some time after the girls did, after having gone to breakfast and gotten ready themselves. They finished getting the coach house ready for the ceremony, which was great of them. It was beautiful by the time we went downstairs.

The Brides Room



The Brides Room, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

At this point we are, the girls that is, all at the Glessner House. This is the room they provided for the girls to get ready. It was perfect actually. Great size, loads of room, good light, mirrors, and private. You can see Mary putting a little makeup on Karen back in the corner. So cute.

30 East Huron



30 East Huron, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

The second to last shot I took in Chicago. The only thing connected with Chicago to blog after this is… the wedding. Yes folks, there’s a whole lot more coming. Hope you enjoy looking/reading as much as I’m going to enjoy blogging about it. LOVED the whole experience of it.

Pritzker



Pritzker, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion. An amazing outdoor concert area designed by Frank Gehry. The metal “net” over the lawn is designed to be a sound system. There are speakers attached to it all over. The idea is that you get the same sound, sitting out there on the lawn, that you’d get from being in a great auditorium. Pretty cool.

Trump

Trump, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

We, Karen and Mary included this time, walked down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park today so Karen could see the bean, otherwise known as Cloud Gate, and a bit more of the city. It was a great day for a walk. Cold out. Forecast said a high of 20 today and it felt like it out there. Colder actually when the wind was blowing. But man oh man was it beautiful. The color of the sky was amazing. I think I took about 220 photographs during our two or three hours out. Not bad considering I took this same walk a few days ago and took photos then as well.

We are having an excellent time here. Karen is doing much better. Still improving all the time. I think the walking we’ve been doing, in moderation of course, has been good for her and for the lungs. Opening them up, stretching their capacity a bit.

Today Becky, one of the bridesmaids, and Ulf, a friend of Mary and Martin’s from England, who is actually German, and moving to Chicago for a year, arrived. We had a really nice dinner out with them at Vong’s Thai Kitchen. It’s Mary’s favorite Chicago restaurant and it’s closing in it’s current location tomorrow. Nice that we got in and were able to get some tasty vittles before it shut it’s doors.

Tomorrow a lot of family starts to arrive. It will be great to see everyone. Only four days to go….