yes we are back from our travels, and what fun we had, amazing what you can pack into 4 days -
Arrived Thursday afternoon, after negotiating the traffic on the I90 and finding our way into downtown Chicago with the help of Mabel (GPS more about her later) we freshened up and went in search of Dick's Last Resort a bar/restaurant that had been recommended by our youngest. Suitably refreshed and filled up we had an early night - well by local time it was early but by UK time it about 3am!
Friday - we awoke to the early dawn 4:40 local, toss and turned for a bit then gave in and had coffee and read our books. We decided to hunt out Lou Mitchell's for breakfast. Lou Mitchell's is a diner on the start of Route 66, we had a plate of fluffy pancakes each, pecan for me, banana for Peter, chased down by freshly squeezed orange juice and plenty of coffee. We then took a look round Union Street Station, for the architecture, The French Market - they obviously don't know what a French Market looks like! Then wandered back to the river and booked a river and lake tour - 90 mins out on the lake and along the river, with lots of history thrown in by our tour guide - the lovely Jeremy, very camp, we actually thought he was a rather large women at first, sorry Jeremy! He was very funny and very knowledgeable, I enjoyed it immensely but Peter felt sick, now usually its me that does sick! Once off the boat and with a bit of shade and some water he felt better so we headed of to Millennium Park to sample the Taste of Chicago, a month long festival (free) of food and entertainment. To say there were lots of people would be an understatement, but we found ourselves a place in the shade and watched some bands, eat red bean, rice and jerk chicken, guacamole and tortillas and a few beers. A walk back through the park. Thus ended the first full day.
Saturday - we were woken early by what sounded like someone moving industrial sized wheelie bins, but as we were on the 26th floor its was highly unlikely we would hear this. It turned out to be a tremendous thunder and lightening storm. The thunder was rolling around the sky scrappers, lightening bouncing off the glass, great sight but lots of rain too, didn't bode well for the Crossroads Festival! By the time we were ready to leave the hotel a few hours later the sun was out, forecast promising more storms for later in the day and temperatures up to 100F, phew... Anyway we plugged Mabel is - remember Mabel the GPS, now we are map people don't do technology, but as Chicago is so big and we decided to trust in technology, big mistake. We planned to visit Target and Walmart on route to the concert, so having sourced the addresses we typed them in to Mabel, so far so good, she got us there, result. Shopped and breakfasted, we decided to head on over to Toyota Park, now this wasn't too far from the shops according to the map, so we typed in the address and followed directions, after driving for about 10 mins I started to feel a bit panicked, it didn't look this far on the map, so I got Peter to pull over, we rechecked the address and added Bridgeview rather than Chicago, she recalculated and 30 mins later we were finally at our destination. Goodness knows where she would have taken us, but our faith was shaken in her ability, ok possibly some operator error too.
Me with my $8 bottle of beer
Peter stunned by the cost of the water $5 for a 20oz bottle
The Crossroads Festival 2010 was brilliant, the following artists played - Albert Lee, BB King, Bert Jansch, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Earl Klugh, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Hubert Sumlin, James Burton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang, Keb' Mo', Pino Daniele, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Ronnie Wood, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, Sonny Landreth, Stefan Grossman, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, and ZZ Top.
The temperature hit the 100F, it was hot, very hot! No shade as we were on the field and the cost of keeping hydrated was ridiculous $5 for water, $8-$13 for beer, people were passing out from the heat, those costs were just sheer greed on the behalf of the caterers. The day however was worth it and the rain held off, we got a bit sun burnt even though we had plenty of suncream. I think it was on par with the 1st Crossroads Festival which we attended in Dallas in 2004.
Sunday - Sunday was the day I met with Susan aka droppedstitch2 from Ravelry. What is Ravelry? Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. The content is all user-driven; we as a community make the site what it is. Ravelry is a great place for you to keep notes about your projects, see what other people are making, find the perfect pattern and connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world in our forums.
Anyway, I 'met' Susan on the Grandmas Hand group, she lives in Chicago and we decided it would be fun to meet up and spend some time together, she took me to her local yarn shop - Loopy Yarns where I was amazed by the choice and variety of yarns on offer, it was so hard to resist, but managed to limit myself to 3 different lots - see below. After the yarn shop we went for some lunch and chatted like we'd known one another forever. We took a trip on the EL and Susan showed me some of the local sites, Chinatown, the White Soxs Stadium, the time went so fast and before we knew it was 4:30 so we went back to the hotel where we continued to chat until Susan's lift arrived to take her home. It was a great day and I really appreciate Susan taking the time to meet me and show me around. Peter spent the day, eating and poking around the book shops and generally amusing himself, funny but he didn't fancy a trip to the yarn shop, I wonder why?
Sunday evening we decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner, we headed to McCormick & Schmicks on Wacker Drive - seafood restaurant and we weren't disappointed, such a lovely meal and a very friendly and knowledgeable waiter. I started with chilled Avocado soup, topped with scallops, blue crab and prawns, followed by Wild Fish Platter - salmon, crab cakes and king prawns, followed by Baked Vanilla Cheesecake. Peter had Oyster Platter 4 different types of oysters, followed by Scallops on a bed of risotto, followed by Creme Brulee, all this washed down with a large G&T to start and a good bottle of wine and coffee. We waddled back to the hotel.
Monday - was a funny day, we didn't have a full day as the car had to be back at the rental place for 1pm, so we had a stroll along Navy Pier, went for a late breakfast, sushi in Nordstroms, popped back to the hotel to check in online for the flight and generally fiddled about. We decided we would go to Target en-route to the airport, tapped in the address to Mabel and pulled out of the car park, immediately she lost satellite reception, not helpful, so we decided to wing it, the reception on Mabel kept popping in and out, meaning that she'd set us off in one direction and then pack up again, got cross with us, to say it was tense was an understatement, by more luck than judegment we got out of downtown Chicago and onto the freeway. Target shopping done, car dropped off and finally through the airport security, that was another story, hideous. Lots of waiting around, a long boring flight, did watch a good film - The Brothers and managed a bit of sleep. Arrived back in the UK, it was raining, the M25 was full and slow, so whats new.
A good break, lots done and it did feel like we'd been away longer than 4 days.