Hoofing it: Wandering the Windy City (and by Boat)

I had a great time in Chicago, it was a really great city to walk around and enjoy. The city is just enormous and has some of the tallest building in North America. It also well was/is home to some storied companies such as Sears, Montgomery Ward, F.W. Woolworth’s, Prudential, Wrigley and the local Tribune newspaper.

During our visit I had a chance to take the amazing Architectural river boat cruise and see many of these amazing buildings for a really great vantage point. The tour was really really great. It truly brought the city to life and allowed me to see the city on a way that I had not expected to see it in. The tour guide did a great job of describing the buildings and explaining why they were designed the way they were and talked a ton about the history of the city and its growth. Besides that he added a good bit of humor to keep the tour light and interesting too. I know that if I had not been on this three hour tour (really just 1 ½), I would not have come away from Chicago with  as much knowledge as I did about the history of it.

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My golden ticket for the Architectural Boat Tour

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Trump Tower,second largest building in Chicago.

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Categories: Cruising, Photography, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting the Mecca of Baseball: Wrigley Field Chicago

Wrigley Field, what a gem. I was so excited to finally make it to this mecca, where they have been playing baseball for the past 100 years. Last week my friend and I went to Chicago to specifically visit Wrigley and root on the San Francisco Giants during their three game visit here. This trip had been planned since early January and I was so excited to finally visit Chicago as a tourist and get the chance to see the Cubs home park. Wrigley Field is famous for several things, it’s the oldest ballpark still being used for Major League Baseball, it has an ivy covered outfield wall and there are bleachers on many of the buildings outside the park that have views of the field. This kind of charm just can’t be manufactured, and although there are some amazing newer ballparks, this one harkens back to a different time. They still have a manual outfield scoreboard (it’s supposed to be retired after this year), they have very limited advertising and very few electronic signs. You’re reminded of a much simpler time when you actually went to a game to watch it.

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A very famous corner, if you’re a fan of baseball.

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100th Anniversary

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Categories: Baseball, Photography, Sports, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Chicago Food Tour

What else do you do in Chicago besides baseball and sightseeing? Eat of course! This is a town with so many acclaimed chefs and amazing restaurants. Beside the fancy places you have so many simple yet great foods to eat here too. Although the main focus of this trip was baseball, I had to eat so here are a few pictures of some of my favorites.

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My first meal in Chicago, the amazing LOU…Malnatis

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Categories: Food, Photography, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Review: Conrad Chicago

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Hotel entrance and walkway to Nordstroms

I like Conrad Hotels, check that I love Conrad Hotels. Ever since our first stay at the Conrad Bali in 2007 I have been hooked on this chain. Of the 24 current locations of this boutique hotel chain operated by Hilton I’ve since stayed in eight of them, and overall I have loved all of them.

The Conrad Chicago, was no exception. Sure it’s not an amazing resort hotel like the Conrad Maldives or Bali, but for a city hotel it was good. The hotel interior was beautiful. The lobby as you can see has tons of seating, with several small intimate areas which was great. The lobby also featured a separate indoor and outdoor bar called Terraces. Unfortunately the outdoor area was closed except for my first night. I figured I’d have plenty of time to check it out, but unfortunately due to the rain and crummy weather it was always closed. Next time I need to strike while the iron is hot. That being said the bar was pretty hip, had a nice drink menu and was a nice hangout. Continue reading

Categories: Hilton Hotels, Hotels, Review, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

The 1800 mile pizza delivery

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Lou Malnati’s is damn good pizza, I repeat damn good pizza. They are a Chicago institution and make a mean pizza. They have an amazing butter crust, the perfect amount of cheese and simple toppings. In this case I picked up three of them (sausage, pepperoni and vegetarian). They offer premade fresh frozen pizzas, so I had to take some home so my wife could experience it. Since this was not in the original plan, I had to confirm that the hotel would keep them frozen in the kitchen then I hit up Trader Joe’s for an insulated cooler bag, and I was set. Continue reading

Categories: Americana, Food, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Chicago or Bust: Baseball, Pizza and Beer

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Vacation is finally here, and my buddy Tony and I are heading to Chicago for the week to stalk the San Francisco Giants while they’re on the road playing the Loveable Losers, the Cubs. This is our fourth year going on a road trip with the Giants. In years past we’ve gone to Miami, St. Louis and last year Denver and Cincinnati. These trips have always been super fun, but this year is different. We’re going to Wrigley Freaking Field the second oldest park currently being used for Major League Baseball and it’s their 100th anniversary.

Wrigley Field is just one of those very very special places in baseball history. The Cubs sadly have the moniker as the “loveable losers”, a team everyone loves even though they just stink most years. They have not won the World Series since 1908 and have not even been to the Fall Classic since 1945 although have made seven trips since 1908. Beyond all of this futility, it was not till 1984 that they even made the playoffs again. Since 1984 they have been to the playoffs six times and have only won one series back in 2003. Needless to say their habit of not winning can’t be matched by any other baseball team, there are a few that have never been or won a world series but we’re talking 40 years or less not 106. Ouch.

So besides heading to Chicago to catch three Cubs games, we’re also going to a White Sox game as well. That being said we’ll also get a chance to sample some deep dish pizza, beer and get in a few sights too. I’ve only been to Downtown Chicago once and it was back in 1998. I was there for work, so I didn’t get much else in besides that, so to be able to get a week to see the city, eat food from some amazing places and check out the ivy in the outfield is just phenomenal. I’m so excited.

Stay tuned for future posts on our flights out to Chicago, the amazing food, the hotel we’re staying at and of course on the games. Did I mention we’re sitting in a Luxury Suite one of the games? What what.

If you’re into instant gratification, I’d recommend following me on Twitter or Instagram for up to the minute postings, or of course you can just wait till you see my ramblings

Categories: Baseball, Food, Sports, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Raku Time

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The Raku Kiln approximatley 1800 degrees F

As some of you know I have a side hobby, sure travel is my favorite thing to do, but man can’t live on airplanes alone. I also love to make pottery. I do all of my work on an electric kiln at a city run art studio, and have taken classes off and on since 2006. I really focus on function pieces, bowls, mugs, plates and the like. I have lots of other things in my head that I’d like to make, but between other time commitments and the sheer difficulty of learning and making new things I have not come close to becoming half way decent at making much else. Continue reading

Categories: Art, Photography, Pottery | Tags: | Leave a comment

Salt & Straw Seriously Great Ice Cream

Honest, simple and local ingredients. It’s really not that difficult, but for a restaurant to get that right, seems almost impossible. Thankfully for Salt & Straw in Portland Oregon, they not only get it right they get it. This place is a foodie mecca for great imaginative ice cream with honest flavors, fresh ingredients and just dam good ice cream. I have only had the pleasure of visiting this fine establishment four times, but I have never gone away disappointed. They have wildly creative flavors and they just make them work. How does bone marrow and bourbon smoked cherries work? Well it just does? I expected it to be nasty and just not taste good, and after my little sample I had to get a scoopful, it was just perfect. The extra fat just added to the richness of the ice cream and the cherries, I’m just a sucker for cherries in ice cream.

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Bone marrow and bourbon smoked cherry ice cream and strawberry, honey balsamic vinegar and black pepper

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Categories: Americana, Food, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Southwest: The Airline I LUV To Hate

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The vaunted group A, what a lucky duck I was.

Southwest Airlines is a carrier I LUV to hate. They are the nation’s largest airline by passenger volume and have a huge route network throughout the United States and earlier this year Mexico and the Caribbean. They serve 96 cities in 41 states and have over 3,600 departures per day. Overall this is just incredible, but the Greyhound of the skies is just not my carrier of choice, but when push comes to shove I have to suck it up and get in line like all the other cattle.

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Categories: Airlines, Review, Southwest, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Persistence, the name of the game

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Yes, booking an airline award reservation is a game. There are so many hoops to have to jump through, but I find that if I stick with it, have all my ducks in a row and do all the research up front, I’m usually successful.

In this particular case I was booking a very special trip, aren’t they all special? No really this one was and is. Later this year it’ll be my 10th wedding anniversary, and I wanted to plan something unique for the two of us. We’ve been very very lucky over the years to have done some amazing things, and I’m very thankful for that, but since our child was born three years ago, going on vacation without her has not happened. In fact I think only twice have we both been away from home together without our little munchkin. Now don’t get me wrong, we love love love traveling with her, and as she gets older it keeps getting better and better. Plus as a tiny world traveler she’s already seen more and been to more places than some will in a lifetime. If nothing else, I want to make sure that our daughter gets the amazing opportunities my wife and I had as children to travel the world with our parents. I firmly believe that those experiences made us who we are today. But I digress, I’ll save that for another post. This trip was about the two of us having an extended amount of alone time. Continue reading

Categories: Around the world, Family, Travel, Travel Blog, United Airlines | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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