More Churches You Ask?

Oh yeah baby … and we are off early this morning!  We started off at the Bongo Room for breakfast, another favorite of mine.  Not because of their homemade Belgian waffles or their chocolate stuffed French toast … noooooo … because of their great service and friendly smiles!  Yeah, that’s it!  Ok, now we’re off to our first stop of the day …

St. Mary of the Lake parish!  OMG, this was another beautiful, active, giving parish.  We walked around the church and gardens because the front doors of the church were locked up tight.  Hmmmm … they don’t allow the faithful in during the day?  Weird!  img_2639



img_2655We found our way to the rectory and knocked on the doors — Hey guys!  We want in!  It was answered by a sweet lady who took us into the house and introduced us to Deacon Manuel.  He then immediately stopped what he was doing,  gathered us in and said, “Come follow me!”  I swear he did!!  So we did!!  And we were so happy we did … img_2651



img_2650He took us around the whole church and pointed out the beautiful architecture, the art work, the details and symbols of almost every piece of furniture and art in the church.  He, like Joe at St. Pat’s, was a wealth of knowledge.   He was so proud of his beautiful church but he asked us to pray for more parishioners for them.  He said that he and his wife had been parishioners there for 50 years, and that his family has celebrated every sacrament in that church over the past 50 years.  You know that this is their “second home” much like HNM is to many of us, and that they truly love it.  Deacon Manuel spent about an hour with us, showing us around, telling us stories, and even giving us one of their parish directories, because he said, it held so much history inside of it.

One of my favorite stories was this one … he said that during the early 90’s they did a major renovation to the church, restoring the artwork, cleaning every nook and cranny, and rearranging some of the seating.  He then took us over to the baptismal font that they use in the front of the church near the altar.   img_2648“Isn’t it beautiful” he says, and “does it look familiar to you”??  Well if you look closely, you can see that it’s actual pews!  They used the wood from some of their “leftover” pews to make the holder for the font!  He loved it and so did we!  How creative and again, they used their resources to tell their stories … to everyone who is baptized in that font and to everyone who looks at it and see “the pews” that were lovingly re-made into a piece of furniture that will be used over and over and over.  img_2643

img_2645We had a really special time with Deacon Manuel and promised to pray for him and his church.  Don’t you just love it when that happens?  God Moment!!!  img_2652

img_2659Peg, are you ready?  We got some souls to see!!  Off for a short walk to Graceland Cemetery, Chicago’s largest cemetery and the resting place for many of Chicago’s famous … and infamous! img_2660I should tell you that today was a 90 degree/90 percent humidity day … we hadn’t had one of these days all summer.  But today, our 7 mile walking day, it is!  So, you can imagine we’re pretty “steamed”!!  We took some time out at the cemetery talking to some of the staff in their cool, air conditioned office about some of the tours that run through the cemetery and the architecture of some of the headstones.  So, it turned out to be a great place for a “time out” … who else but Peggy and me would stop into a cemetery office for some conversation, water, and a history lesson!!  img_1201Yep, this is Marshall Field’s resting place.  I didn’t take a picture of his “plot” but he has pretty much a space the size of a small park for him and his family.  Ok, onwards we go!  Our next stop is St. Alphonsus!  And this was a beauty! img_2666 img_2668Doors of Mercy … and in we go!

We didn’t have a tour guide for this masterpiece, however, that didn’t stop us!  Apparently this church is on some “must see” church list because we weren’t the only ones in there snapping away!img_2671Oooooohhhhhhh … img_2674Awwwww … img_2675Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! img_2677

img_2676And on and on …. isn’t it beautiful?  img_2677What I’m loving about these “old fashioned” churches is the details … Look at the walls on this picture.  And then look at the stained glass, and the filigree, and the angel and the pillar.  Sometimes there’s just so much that you actually can’t take it all in … it’s overwhelming, but in a good way!  img_2686Feeling protected and watched over?  Yep, we sure were!  Oh, and don’t forget … Peg’s lighting candles for you all again!! img_2679Ok, time to go!!  Peg … Peggy???  Where are you??  img_2689“Oh, I’ll just be a minute!” img_2687Ok, fine!!

On our way out, we saw this!!  img_2690A “Lending Library” for the kiddos!  Isn’t that sweet??  And as we walked out the front doors, we caught a glimpse of their cornerstone … img_2695It’s been a great morning so this afternoon we’re gonna take it easy and have some fun!  Off to the lake we go!  I wanted to show Peggy the “Museum Campus” so we walked through the park on the “lakeshore trail” to enjoy the lake that looks like an ocean. img_2697Apparently we got there just in time!  Today was the day the “Tall Ships” come into the harbor!  So we were able to see the “Parade of Tall Ships” pass right by us on their way to Navy Pier.  It was the coolest thing ever!!  img_2716There was about 14 Tall Ships parading that afternoon, including this one that is a “Viking Ship” … I know it’s hard for you to see so I think that the next time they come into Navy Pier, you should definitely come and see it for yourself!  Bucket List = Tall Ships!!

After all that water stuff, we decided to do some good old fashioned “land” stuff … like bike riding!  So off we went over to the Planetarium to grab a bike.  img_2723This was Peggy’s first time .. in a long time … that she had been on a bike.  So we decided that she should take a practice run before we head out on the trail … img_2722So she did … and there she goes!!  Oh but wait … there’s more to this story … Yes more!  Lots more … and I am not at liberty to discuss it.  If you would like to know exactly what happened, you should ask Peggy the next time you see her.  She has it all on video.  All I can say is that there will be no bike rides on this trip!  Let’s go find the water taxi!!  😉 img_2728Here we are on the water taxi and all I can say is “Thank God she still loves me.”img_2727

img_2725God actually answered my plea, as you can see by this picture … He said, “Have No Fear Lani.  Peggy Will Always Love You.  Even If You Did Almost Break Her Legs.”  Ok, that’s a little dramatic … but really, I am thankful!

We ended our beautiful day at Navy Pier, taking in the sights, sounds, and millions of tourists, who were there to see the “Tall Ships” in all their glory.  It was a great day filled with the beauty of our faith and of our outdoors.

Let’s go home and rest our legs!!

Talk to you tomorrow!





Get Your Kicks on Route 66!

Well with the boys gone you would think my schedule would open wide up … NO WAY JOSE!!  I’m still off and running!  I’ve got places to go and people to see!

First stop … Clark & Van Buren to grab Debbie so we can walk to Union Station to grab Phyllis!  Gonna have some girl time today!!  Both of the girls’ hubbies had conferences here in Chicago so we get to spend the day together!  How fun is that … we are bringing La Verne to Chicago!

But first things first.  We gotta give a “shout out” to our other LV gal, Sharon, who’s dad used to hang out at Blackie’s on the corner of our block.  So, Sharon!  Here’s to you!!


Ok now we’re ready to rock and roll.  Remember yesterday when the boys and I went to the Art Institute and I told you that everyone just has to go there?  Well … guess where we’re headed?  Yep …



The Art Institute is said to be the “Number 1 Visited Museum in the World.”  I have no idea if that’s the actual truth but when Chicago says something, everyone believes it!  In any event, if and when you ever get to Chicago, this has to be on your list of “must see” places.  It’s so hard to describe because the art really moves you on so many levels.  I can’t do that here!  So, in we go …

There is a new exhibit at the museum and wouldn’t you know it, it’s right up my alley!  It’s called, ” Doctrine and Devotion – Art of the Religious Orders in the Spanish Andes.”  Ok, I’m not gonna get crazy here but you know this was where I would be found for the next couple of days!  It started with St. Rose of Lima, embroidering, no less …


The exhibit turned out to be absolutely amazing.  Of course, I say that about all the exhibits there, right?

I’ll show you a few of the pieces from the gallery, but I really think you should make it a point to get out here and see them with your own two eyes!  First, the Blessed Mother …



Second, St. Peter at the Denial …



I think this one is soooo pretty.  I love listening to the audio guides for the pieces or speaking to a docent about them.  I am not an art aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that my appreciation has increased by ten-fold due to my frequent visits at the Art Institute.  What an amazing gift to have just a few blocks away from our front door.

What another great time at this great place but we’ve gotta go!  We are hopping on my favorite tour bus so we can hop on and off as much as we want.  But first, a stop at …


Yep … this is the beginning of our very own Route 66!  Isn’t that amazing??  And with the Sear’s Tower hovering over us in the background … I’m not sure our picture in La Verne under the Route 66 sign will look like this????


We decided to take the evening tour since we could!!


This is the famous Wrigley Building all decked out in rainbow colors!  But then as the sun set, check this out …


Isn’t that pretty?  I was able to capture the beauty of the full moon, the wispy clouds and the skyline in the back.  It’s not the greatest pic, but I was so happy that I finally got a good picture of the moon in Chicago!


Buckingham Fountain all decked out in colors too, and lastly, a nighttime shot of the rail lines that go through the park to all sorts of places around the state.


Isn’t that pretty!!!

The next morning, Phyllis, Mike and I, decide to take the city by bikes!  So … off we go into the wild blue yonder!  No, we didn’t ride into the lake that looks like an ocean by accident!  But, yes, we did have quite a day on the bikes!


We rode all over Grant Park and by the harbor, then all the way north to Navy Pier.


We had a “date” with the rest of the gang so we made our way there for a friendly game of …

img_2286Bocce!!  Philly’s hubby, Tom, and Debbie’s hubby, Gabe, were finished with their conferences so we were all able to get together for a fun Friday Night in Chicago!  We have a fun place called Pinstripes that has bocce lanes and we have a lot of fun there.  So, friendly game … yeah right!!  Eddie was trying to give his teammate some (much needed) instruction!  She looks intent …


Next it’s Deb turn to throw …

img_2281Check out her concentration … img_2282Nice move Deb!

And Tom … now he’s a serious bocce player!!


img_2289It was so much fun to spend time with our friends and “ooohhh” and “Oh No!” and “Gooooo!” and all the other funny ways we try to get our little ball to go exactly where we want it!  I highly recommend a good game of bocce to add a little excitement in your life!


img_2277Check out Gabe’s form … he’s truly a master at this game!


img_2279Such seriousness … and yes, he is serious … he’s bringing out the … measuring tape!  Now this is serious stuff!

img_2290Who won?  I have no idea!  I was too busy taking pictures and gabbing away with everyone!  All I know is that it was a great time and a fun way to start the evening!

The next thing on our Friday Night Lights list?  You’re not gonna believe this one … we’re taking the speed boat out on the lake tonight to see the fireworks!  Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, the city sets off an amazing fireworks show and we usually see it either by watching it from our rooftop or being somewhere close to the lake.  Being on the lake is quite a different experience!  It was so pretty and the best part was watching the fireworks reflected in the many buildings on the skyline.


img_2297 That’s Navy Pier behind us.  I should probably tell you that we were on a speedboat that goes super fast on the water which means we’re gonna get wet!  And we did!  And I’m not gonna lie, it was a little cold there for a bit!  Being on a lake that looks like an ocean in summer wear at night … it was cold!!  But that was ok … we had fun!


img_2303Of course, these pictures don’t do them justice, but for us on the boat, watching the fireworks being reflected on the buildings in the skyline was really something!  I don’t know what I watched more … the fireworks as they were hitting the sky or the reflections being held in the buildings.  If you ever have a chance to see that, I’d say do it!!  It was a great summer experience!! img_2319We finished the evening off with a stop at Molly’s Cupcakes.  There’s no better place to be at 10:00 at night on a Friday evening than Molly’s!!   I’ll have a chocolate cupcake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting!  Heaven ….



img_2320I LOVE LOVE LOVE the “build your own” cupcake … it’s like making it right in your own kitchen just for me!  Oh yum!!!

It was the perfect sweet end to a perfect sweet day with good friends!  We are blessed that you have come either by happenstance (work!) or by choice!  We’ll take you either way!

Talk to you tomorrow!





Water, Water, and More Water …

As you can imagine with a lake that looks like an ocean, there is a lot of water here!  River water, lake water, pool water, rain water, filtered water, green water, blue water, black  water, and even Shamrock Green water (well once a year, that is!)!  You name it, they’ve got WATER here!  If we could only take a smidgen of their water back to California with us, we’d probably end the drought!

With all that water, we have got to enjoy it while we can, right boys?  But first, we figure we need to show Andrew all the cool looking buildings from the land and the sea!  So we’re off on our favorite “CTA” to North Michigan Avenue to catch one of the famous “Double Decker – Hop On, Hop Off” tour buses.


These double-decker buses are really a great way to see the city so I always recommend this “tour,” which is also a means of transportation, to everyone.


Andrew loved seeing all the architectural wonders, a love that he shares with his Dad.  So he was busy busy click-clicking away at almost every single building!


The famous Wrigley Building


Calder’s Flamingo


My Best Friend’s Wedding Church


Water Tower (one of the 2 structures that survived the fire)


The 2nd Water Tower that survived the fire

Our first “hop off” was at Navy Pier for a speedboat ride and tour of the river and lake.  This tour is a lot of fun because it is fast … really fast!


When you’re on the river, it’s a nice smooth gentle ride, checking out all the architecture and admiring the landscapes.  But then, the captain takes you through the locks and into the open water of the lake that looks like an ocean and … hang on to your hat or it’s gonna go!


Yes, our hair is crazy but that’s because we were going about 100 miles per hour!  Seriously!  We got some great pics of the Chicago sky line and of the clouds that happened to be painted on the sky that day.


It was a great day for the tour, warm enough to want to get wet, hot enough to dry us up in just a few minutes!

“Ok Nina, that was great but can we get in the water now?”  Sure … let’s go!  We hop back on the bus and the driver makes a special stop just for us to “hop off” at the Oak Street Beach.  Have you ever been to the beach in Chicago?  Well you’re gonna go now!


Quieres helado Landon?


Look at all the shells on the sand and the colors of the water!


Check out the “sky scrapers” right behind the beach!


It’s been a very nice afternoon at the beach but I think someone has had enough …


Ok let’s pack it up and make our way home!

Once we get home, the boys realize they’re really not ready to rest, so where do we end up?  The pool!  Watch out — CANNONBALL!!


For the last “tourist stop” of the night, we hop on our bus one more time to meet Nino at the “Chicago Athletic Club” to show the boys the view from their balcony.  It’s one of those “must see the lights from” spots and we knew the boys would love it.


Nina, I think I want an apartment here!


We had a great day on and in the water and our last “must see” of the night was more water.  These are the famous fountain/walls that hold video clips of over 3,000 local Chicagoans who posed for the wall.  They end their video by puckering up their lips and then out comes a huge stream of water for all the kids to stand under!  I love watching this during the day, but it’s fun at night too.


We ended the day with a stop at the Shake Shack for some Chicago “In & Out” burgers and it was a big hit.  Alright boys, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to call it a night!!

Talk to you tomorrow!



The Boys Are Back in Town!

Yep, we got a housefulla boys this week!!  And what a week it was!!  Who knows what you’ll end up doing or what you’ll end up talking about with two recent high school grads??  It was fabulous, let me tell you!  We were so happy that Landon, our Godson, and his buddy, Andrew, wanted to come to Chicago for their “graduation celebration trip!”  And he thought it was his gift??  What a gift it was for Eddie and I to share a week with these two amazing young men.

We all flew back to Chicago from La Verne on the 6:30 a.m. flight, so we arrived in Chicago and back at the apartment about 2:30 p.m.  Does anybody (besides me) need a nap before we start our day?  “Um No Nina, we’re good!”  So, first stop, of course, was lunch.  They arrived hungry and ready to begin their “Chicago Foodie Experience.”  So off we went …



If you remember, Landon was here with us last summer with the entire Haller gang, so he had a few of his “favorites” in mind.  Lunch at Portillos was the opportunity to share with Andrew the Chicago local favorite …Italian Beef Sandwiches.  Two growing boys, they can eat a lot!





I don’t think Lan was quite ready to leave, even though he had devoured the poor sandwich!  Stop eating now?  I don’t think so!!


I say, “Let’s go back to the apartment and rest since you guys have been up since 4:30 a.m. California Time.”  They say, “Sure Nina, whatever you say!”  Haha!!

Here’s their idea of resting …



A friendly game of basketball out in our “backyard” BB courts.  And once they got started, they were not going to give up their competitive game of “PIG” …





P – I – G … I win!!!  Way to go Andrew!  I’m sure there will be a re-match at least everyday during the week.

After all that time “working out” and then a short (very short!) rest, we decided to go take Andrew to another of Landon’s favorites … Chicago Style Pizza!!  So, off we went …

As we strolled through the park, we came upon the famous, the fabulous, the fantastic … Taste of Chicago!



You might remember last year that I indulged in a “Lobster Corn-dog” that was the best thing I have ever tasted … on a stick!!  Well I searched and searched and, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be found anywhere!  WAHHHHHH … oh well, maybe next year!

We decided to continue on our quest for pizza.  But first, we wanted to show the boys the famous “Buckingham Fountain” because during the winter, the city completely refurbished the beautiful fountain, making it even more spectacular than it was when we arrived here.  It may not look different to you, but to us, it is just sparkling and bright and beautiful!



Close by the fountain is the lake that looks like an ocean and we had to show Andrew the enormous magnitude of this thing.  Every single time I see it, I just marvel at its size.  As a side note, Eddie & I were on a tour recently and this is what we learned about Lake Michigan with regard to the amount of ships that have sunk in the lake:

The bottom of Lake Michigan is literally a graveyard of shipwrecks. Local maritime historians say 1,200 of the 2,000 sunken vessels in Lake Michigan no longer exist because they hit shore and broke apart.

Experts add that about 360 wrecks have been found in the lake’s deeper water, but there are still many wrecks out there that remain undiscovered.

Anyway, we were  happy that Andrew was impressed by this little lake that looks like an ocean because obviously, we are!!





After Nino answered all the boys’ questions about “The Meaning of Life” and putting our tosies in the water, we were ready for dinner!  There’s no question here … Lou Malnatis is waiting for us!!  We’ll take a EXTRA LARGE, EXTRA DEEP, EXTRA MEAT, EXTRA CHEESE, EXTRA EXTRA Pizza!  Oh yes we will!





Well boys, that’s just about all we can cram in to our stomachs and our first “half day” since we arrived this afternoon – don’tcha think??  Hopefully with all this food in their bellies, they’ll have a good night’s sleep.  We got lots more to “cram” in this week!  “Goodnight Landon” “Goodnight Nina” … “Goodnight Andrew”  “Goodnight Nina”

Talk to you tomorrow!






Third Time’s a Charm!

Well, I really hate it when you guys leave, but it “sorta” makes up for it when someone else is on the way!  So, before the girls left, we spent our last day cramming as many things as we could into the day.  We took the bus down to visit the Museum of Science and Industry …

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It was a crazy windy day!

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Then back up to the Art Institute …

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and finally, made a wish at the fountain inside the famous Marshall Field’s Department Store (which is really Macy’s but nobody calls it that!) …

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We’re hoping our wishes of them returning soon come true!  These two crazy girls are a bunch of fun when they’re together and there’s not a moment to miss!  They are a blessing to one another and also to us!  But alas, the time came.  We sent them off with hugs and kisses and said, “so long” to Marissi and Choochie … see you again soon!!

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But then … guess who’s back???  In the very next moment, we were able to say, “Welcome Back” to Tina!!

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Woohoo!  My exploring buddy is back!  Tina was able to make her way back to us in between work trips out here in the “Mid West”!  This is her third time to visit us, and by now, she knows the city almost as well as I do!

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On the first day, we started with Tina’s favorite morning beverage … a “cup of Joe” … or in this case, an “Affogato,” which I learned is Italian for “dessert for breakfast”!  Haha!!  Since I had no idea what she was drinking, I had to look it up!  Here’s what I found:

An affogato (Italian, “drowned”) is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. Some variations also include a shot of amaretto, Bicerin or other liqueur. It is considered one drink, not a combination of coffee and ice cream.

I gotta give it to her though, because this place is soooo cute!!  It’s literally on a brick stoned alley, in a brick building, in a space about 5 feet wide.  If you don’t know it’s there, you will miss it … and believe me … a lot of people know it’s there!!  For you coffee lovers out there, you’re going to want to hit up this place!

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After she filled up, we continued by taking a walk through the park to make our way “up town” … the park is in full “spring” mode, which by the way, my allergies are not at all happy about!  But, the flowers are beautiful and the buds on the trees make you remember that life is about change.

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When we reached the river, Tina and I hopped on the famous (and fun) Architectural River Tour for my “first tour” of this season!  By the time you get here, I’ll be a pro at it!

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It was such a lovely day and a perfect one to be on the river.  Yes, I know my hair is crazy, but that’s because there was a little wind on the river … and you know my hair has a mind of it’s own!!

After our tour, we needed a little protein so we headed over to our favorite little “Shake Shack” for some tasty burgers and fries!

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In the summer, those big glass “garage doors” behind us will go up and the sunshine comes in!  These Chicago stomps sure know how to make the best of their “in and out” spaces!!

Next stop?  The Fourth Presbyterian Church.  You know, that place famous for the movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”  Tina wanted to check out the architecture since we had just been on the tour and we felt like experts.

Architectural Overview

Since 1914, more than 8 million people have entered under the carved stone tympanum over the Michigan Avenue entrance to Fourth Presbyterian Church.

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The “tympanum” is the arched stone carving that sits above the doors.  I didn’t know it was such a big deal or I would have taken pictures of it for you.  Apparently, I was more impressed with the inside.

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After all that exploring, we logged over 20,000 steps and met up with Eddie at a new chicken joint for dinner.

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The Roost – Carolina Kitchen” is The Place to Eat Fried Chicken!!  Let me just say that for those of us who are “Donahue’s Chicken” fans, well, this one takes the coop!!  OMG, their fried chicken is to die for!  And their biscuits, you ask???  I cannot think of a better homemade southern biscuit that I’ve ever eaten!!  I’m not sure if you can see, but Tina caught Eddie and I in the window, both snapping pictures of our food.  Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t catch us stuffing our faces!!  Oh well, it would have been worth it!  HAHA!

It was a great way to start our visit!  But we have so much more to see!!

Ok, talk to you tomorrow!


So Long … Again …

Well it’s that day again … that day when people leave.  We had a few hours time in the morning before we had to get Tina & Cliff on their train to Midway.  And because we didn’t get a chance to do everything on Cliff’s list, we had to make a couple more “must see” pit stops before they left.  The most important thing Cliff still needed to accomplish was eating a “Chicago Dog” … and seeing “Sue”!  When you only have a couple of hours, this is the place to go!


BACKTRACK – Here’s something I forgot to tell you a couple of days ago … Cliff and Tina know their “places” and as we were walking around State Street, all of the sudden Tina says, “Auntie, I didn’t know there was a MAGNOLIA BAKERY here!”  I said, “I didn’t either!  What’s Magnolia Bakery?”  Well for you New York lovers out there, I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about.  But for those of us who have no idea how special this place is … well, when you come to visit, we’ll definitely make this a “Must Taste” spot!  I didn’t get a picture of their famous Banana Pudding because by the time I asked someone for a taste … it was gone!  Ok there you have it …

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Now back to the last day.  Off we go for a walk in the park over to the Field Museum.

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After spending a little time there, we had to eat before we left.  Well, if you “yelp” the best Chicago hot dogs on the Museum Campus, this is what comes up:  Kim & Carlos Hot Dogs.  It’s a little (seriously little) stand right outside of the museums so of course, it’s packed with tourists.  However, it is an authentic dog, hot and fresh, so everyone loves this little stand.

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As I waited for them to get their lunch (because you already know how I feel about hot dogs!), I took a little look at the lake that looks like an ocean.

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The lake never fails to awe me.  This “fall” look is so different from the views we had in summer, with the docks filled with boats and people.  Today, most of the boats are off the lake so it’s much less busy-looking.  All you can see in this picture are the buoys that hold the boats when they are docked.

Anyway, they all enjoyed their Chicago Dogs …


and then Eddie decided to give the birds some of his leftover chips.  You know how I feel about birds!  In case you don’t, I’m deathly afraid of the stupid little things, especially when they are so bold they dive bomb just to scare you away from the crumbs your hot dog left.  I ran away and when I looked back, this is what I saw!

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Let’s get out of here!!  Before we walked back to the apartment, we stopped at the Soldier Field Memorial Stadium.  This is where the Chicago Bears play their home football games.

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Inside the “Roman Columns” that surround Soldier Field.

The stadium is dedicated to all those who have served in our military, and those who continue to serve.  I had no idea that “Soldier Field” actually meant that.  It was a beautiful memorial and it filled us with gratitude once again for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can go about our daily lives.

Tina & Cliff November 2015 011 Tina & Cliff November 2015 012 Tina & Cliff November 2015 016

As we walked back to our apartment, we were all happy with the week we shared, exploring new places and doing the “Chicago” things.  Cliff and Tina are great travel buddies, as well as a wonderful niece and nephew.

Tina & Cliff November 2015 033

We are blessed to have them both in our family!  Don’t stay away too long guys, we have a lot more “things” to see and do!

Talk to you tomorrow!



You’re Staying?

After Edward and Ash went home, and because it worked out with Choochie’s work schedule, she was able to extend her stay with us for a few more days.  What?  You’re staying?  Oh … ok then!  haha!!  It’s always that way with our beloved “Tornado”!!  But she did good!  She found out which museums were free this week so that we wouldn’t have to spring for any entrance fees.  So let’s go grab a bike and get going.  First stop this morning?  The Shedd Aquarium.  We haven’t actually been inside the aquarium yet because it’s one of the more expensive venues for tourists.  But free?  Heck yeah, we’re going!!  And it does not disappoint.  I thought it would be weird because I always think of salt water aquariums, like Monterey Bay or Long Beach.  This one was different in that each exhibit was from a different part of the world and it explained their water/climate/animal lives as it would be in their own region.  Our first stop was the Amazon River and rain forest.  That was incredible.  So much wildlife and life under water!  From bugs to deadly frogs and pirahnas … um, it was beautifully exhibited but I’m quite sure I would never be able to get myself to experience it first hand for any amount of money.  Nope … the exhibit was just great!  They have a fabulous indoor water stage where they put on the shows, you can see dolphins, beluga whales, etc. performing, but the best part about it was it’s location.  As you are seated in the amphitheater-type seating, you look out at Lake Michigan.  It was so pretty today you could see everything in the background perfectly clear!

The seating arrangement.

The seating arrangement.

Lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background.

Lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background.

We missed the show because we were too busy checking out the exhibits and the crazy frogs but we’ll do it the next time there’s a “FREE” day for sure!

Cute little deadly things!

Cute little deadly things!


After a quick break on their outdoor patio, we kept moving along.


Checking out her Dad’s office from the outdoor patio at Shedd Aquarium.

Next stop … keep riding down the lane to the Planetarium … The Adler Planetarium.  I should probably mention that all of these venues are on “Museum Campus” which is where the Field Museum and Soldier Field (the stadium where the Bears play football) are also located.  Remember that this is about a half mile from our apartment … so very close by!

The Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium

For any of you space enthusiasts or star gazers out there, you would love this place.  This was another new museum, another free museum, another great museum!  We didn’t see as much as we would have liked because we had spent the morning at the Shedd, but we got a taste of what we want to see next time.  The architecture and the interior style of this place is sooo cool … modern and original at the same time.  The Adler is America’s first planetarium and it’s mission is to inspire exploration and understanding of the Universe.  Well it certainly inspired us!

The cafeteria inside the Planetarium.

The cafeteria inside the Planetarium.

Hey Chooch, you hungry?

Hey Chooch, you hungry?

There is so much to learn here and actually see.  I think we’ll just need to pick an exhibit and start by seeing them one by one.  I would love to see the “Moon Mission” next .. I’ll keep you posted on that!

Before we left, we were offered an opportunity to look at the sun!  The sun?  How many times did your mother tell you not to look directly at the sun??  You’re gonna go blind!!  But no, here they want you to look at the sun!!  With some crazy, high-powered telescope, you can actually see the sun rays blowing up on the surface!  It was so cool!  I’ve never seen anything like that.  They have you look in the first telescope to see one part of the sun, then move you to the second one to see another part and in more depth.




It was absolutely incredible!

As we made our way home, we decided to do a timed selfie of us on our bikes.  That turned out to be the funniest thing we have ever done and I’m sure that we gave quite a few people a good laugh.  Here’s how we tried to do it:  I set up the phone on a wall, held by a rock, with Choochie holding my bike til I could press the button and run back to the bike and … 3, 2, 1 – SMILE!  OMG, it was hilarious.  We must have tried 15 times before we almost fell over from laughing cramps!

Take 1

Take 1 …

Take 2 ...

Take 2 …

Take 10 ...

Take 10 …

and, finally …

Take 27!! Ta-da!

Take 27!! Ta-da!

I can barely pedal home … talk to you tomorrow!