Chicago Weekend 2019

As a side note … I’ve been slacking on the blogging. We did Pumpkin Nights and I thought about blogging about it … but then didn’t. And we did a teeny tiny trip to Tucson where we *gasp* actually ate at some different places … but I really didn’t take photos so there’s that. But we DID also do a nice long weekend trip to Chicago for a wedding, so here I am. Again. Finally.

Thursday, October 31:

Our original trip plan was November 1-4, but then B realized he booked us our yearly physicals on the 4th, so the trip got shifted up a day. Therefore, we left on the 31st. DEN-SLC-ORD … and we almost got super delayed in SLC thanks to weather in Chicago. The storm we had moved eastward and, well, sorry.

We got in mid afternoon, so we hopped the train from ORD to downtown and then considered walking to the hotel … but since it was snowy and slushy and we had an extra bag (garment bag for B’s suit), we hailed a cab instead. Totally worth the $6. We got checked in to the Marriott Magnificent Mile, got in a super quick workout, and then did an early dinner at Gino’s East since B really wanted some deep dish.

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Deep dish really isn’t my thing, but we split a pizza with two different halves – B did the Meaty Legend and I did the Spinach Margherita. A bit too spinach-y for my tastes, but it did the trick.

Friday, November 1

We woke up fairly early, got in breakfast at the hotel, and then went for a run. Our goal: the Bean (yes yes I know it’s called Cloud Gate officially but I also know the creator is an asshole, so BEAN.).

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Just past sunrise. No one there!

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Look up.

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And yes, that’s snow on it.

We continued down to Buckingham Fountain
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and then ran the river walk a bit before getting coffee and heading back to the hotel.

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We did some admin stuff at the hotel, I got my lift in, we showered, and then we headed out for the day. First stop was to B’s cousin Peter’s place to say hi. Peter also gave us his Art Institute member’s card so we could head there the next day. Post-Peter, a quick snack at Jimmy John’s (… ugh, but their new tiny Little John’s sandwiches are the perfect snack size), and then off to our main goal for the day – the Field Museum and SUE the T. rex.

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SUE, the Rockies (baseball team), and Blair Braverman: the three reasons Twitter is not a complete hellscape. Seriously, SUE is hilarious. And they retweeted the selfie I shared of myself, SUE, and the kidlets.

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My dinosaurs with the majestic murderbird.

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Took a quiz about SUE/T. rexes – is it any surprise that I aced it?

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The end of the exhibit.

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Maximo the Titanosaur who took SUE’s place in the great hall.

From SUE and the Field, it was on to the Shedd Aquarium which is basically next door.

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I remember loving the Shedd when I was a kid (… I was also fairly obsessed with sea creatures …) and our first reaction was kind of underwhelming. Okay, to be completely honest, our first reaction was disappointment in learning that their stingray touch is only seasonal and we missed it by a DAY. No flap-flaps for us. Booooo.

We started at the bottom level and worked our way up … and it definitely got better as we moved up to the main floor. I took a decent amount of pictures but didn’t really save many except for the awesomeness that is the mantis shrimp.

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Hey buddy! Thanks for not completely hiding underneath the rocks like your relative was doing in Denver last time I saw it.

We also did grab a snack while we were there at one of the cafes – mediocre breakfast sandwich thing that B grabbed. My apple danish was AWESOME … and the weird licensed Starbucks in there really needs to learn that Pumpkin Spice Lattes (my first of the season) come with whipped cream, dangit.

After the Shedd, we walked back to Peter’s where B’s parents finally made it into town (they were staying with Peter and his husband while we chose to stay in a hotel). Then we all convened at a Latin American fusion restaurant, Carnivale, for dinner.

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Inside. I can totally believe that this place used to be a nightclub.

I had salmon over some quinoa mixture and it was really pretty good.

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Emilio took the picture so he wasn’t in it, but from L to R: B, me, father-in-law, mother-in-law, Peter.

Saturday, November 2:

Day two started off with a workout in the hotel gym (seriously, it was one of the nicest hotel gyms I’ve ever seen), then breakfast, and then out and about again.

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(played the “we’ll happily take your picture if you can return the favor for us” game to get this one. it was a candid shot the guy took but it ended up being my favorite of the bunch.)

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River.

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Yes, we went back; I wanted to see how busy it was.

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10:30a on a Saturday looks a lot different than 7:30a on a Friday did …

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Cool little installation also in Cloud Gate Plaza.

Our main stop that morning was the Art Institute of Chicago, as it contains B’s two favorite paintings. As we were meeting the family again for lunch, we unfortunately didn’t have time to explore the whole museum. I guess that means we’ll just have to go back …

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Grant Wood, “American Gothic.”

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Favorite painting number one.

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“Nightlife.” I forget the artist. But I love the piece.

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Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” Favorite painting number two.

There was an Andy Warhol exhibit going on, so we checked that out as well.

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One of his famous Campbell’s Soup can pieces was in the exhibit, but photos of it weren’t allowed. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Warhol, but I definitely appreciate him more after seeing this exhibit.

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Lion outside.

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Now I’ve officially been at the beginning point and the ending point of Route 66 … as well as seen some other random parts of it.

Lunch was at Vapiano’s, which is kind of like Eataly if you’ve ever been there. It’s kind of like a made to order cafeteria/food market. Hard to describe, but it was really tasty.

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Split that caprese salad with B and I got some pasta with cream sauce and mushrooms and I added shrimp to it. It was delicious.

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Leaving lunch. Had to snag a picture of the elevated tracks. Peter played mini tour guide for a few quick buildings post-lunch with all of us.

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The floor inside what was the old Chicago Athletic Club.

We split back up from the family – my mother-in-law’s knee was hurting her and B and I wanted to do a little bit of shopping/wandering on the Magnificent Mile. B stopped in a Garrett’s for some popcorn while I wandered into the doughnut shop next door.

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The chocolate was meh; the glazed twist was pretty good.

We only did some window shopping – the Nordstrom in Chicago is glorious compared to the ones we have back home – but I will admit, I almost spent a decent chunk of change in Roots. The main thing stopping me was luggage space. I consoled myself by reminding me that we’re planning a trip to Calgary in the spring.

We got back to the hotel to start getting loosely packed up and to get ready for the actual reason we came to Chicago – B’s cousin’s wedding. I was excited since I haven’t met a lot of people on B’s dad’s side (Peter, for example, is on his mom’s side).

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All dressed up!

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This is the cake topper? These are my people.

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The ceiling in the cocktail hour/ceremony space. Everything took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I regret not taking the time to wander around, but: heels.

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To that last point re: heels … the shoes were fine if I was sitting or moving. Long periods of standing and the feet killed. Knew I should have found a spot to sit during the ceremony …

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Us.

We didn’t stay very long at the wedding – cut out about 90 minutes early (at least) as we had to catch an early flight back to DEN. The time change helped, but still. 3:30a wake up calls suck regardless.

Sunday, November 4:

As everything had melted, we walked to the train station that morning … and were rewarded with a nice night view of the river.

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Got to the airport with plenty of time … and even enough time to stop in the Sky Club for a tiny bit of breakfast (sweet, sweet breakfast). We chose to go through MSP on the way back and that layover is where coffee was consumed. SLC was our original plan, but flights through MSP looked shockingly good (usually they’re AWFUL to DEN) and that flight got us home a few hours earlier. Totally worth the earlier alarm.

I hadn’t been to Chicago in years – hadn’t really visited it since the mid-90s and hadn’t done anything at all there since 2005 (just a Cubs/(ironically) Rockies game with the ex driving back home from college) – so I was excited for this trip. I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations and I can’t wait until I go back again.

Fall Activities 2017

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but fall is probably my favorite season. Sweaters and baking and the weather and THE SMELL (seriously, fall smells awesome). I love it.

I also love all of the harvest festivals and autumnal activities that are included … and particularly in October. I was a bit busy this month – I did some of the following with B, but a lot by myself, too.

Littleton Harvest Festival

Every year, the town of Littleton puts on a free harvest festival at the Littleton Museum (which also has an old-timey farm). In past years, we’ve enjoyed pie and fresh pressed apple cider and delicious roast pig. Lately, though … it’s gotten more and more disappointing. I honestly don’t think I’ll even bother with it next year.

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Turkey on the farm.

Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms Pumpkin Festival

While the Pumpkin Festival is only one weekend, DBG Chatfield Farms has other fall-related events throughout most of September and October – corn maze, haunted corn maze, a pumpkin hauling race. We were only interested in the straight up festival. We didn’t buy a pumpkin, but we enjoyed wandering around.

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The story behind the “haunted” maze.

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Us.

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Photo op hay bales.

Dinos at the Denver Zoo

Okay, so this isn’t a yearly thing, but the Denver Zoo has had a dinosaur exhibit all summer that ends today, actually. In October, however, they made it into a “Dinos after Dark” thing that we didn’t go to, but all the decor was still up when we went in the morning a few weeks ago. For the purposes of this post, I’m mostly sharing the fall/Halloween-related stuff, but the actual animatronic dinosaurs were pretty dang awesome.

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Baby T. rex egg. True story – they sell this at Home Depot. We bought one for the house.

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It’s the Headless Horseman … oh … wait …

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Pumpkin triceratops.

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T. rex. Our buddy.

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Photo op dinosaur.

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Pumpkin T. rex.

Rock Creek Farm

We’ve gone to Rock Creek Farm in the past as it’s one of the best u-pick-pumpkin patches around … but three of the four pumpkins we bought (on the 20th that have been sitting in our garage) have started rotting. Not helpful if we want to carve all of them! Usually I would recommend this place, and maybe I still would, but maybe not for pumpkins.

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But aren’t the kidlets cute with their baby pumpkin?

Denver Botanic Gardens Glow at the Gardens

I was lucky with weather for pretty much all of these events, so I’m not terribly surprised that I ran into snow on the final one (it is Colorado, after all). The Denver Botanic Gardens did a Halloween-themed event this year and I really wanted to go … so I went on my own. Chunks of it are staying up for another few days as there is some Dia de los Muertos stuff as well. This, despite the snow and cold, was actually really enjoyable.

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I did the earlier of the two entry times … mostly for parking and traffic, but also for more crowd-avoidance. Problem was, sun hadn’t gone down yet.

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Pumpkin horse.

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The Chihuly got photobombed.

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Entrance display.

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Part of the Dia de los Muertos altar.

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My favorite of the many Dia de los Muertos sculptures.

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This would have been better if it hadn’t been so damn cold.

Creativity Corner: Stuffed Dinosaur

I have not created NEARLY as much as I’ve wanted to this year. But, I managed to toss something together in November.

Thanks to a few random reasons, B and I are acquainted with former pro triathlete and all-around awesome person, Hillary Biscay. She and her husband, Maik, recently adopted a little girl, Madison Frankie. Since I knew we’d have a good shot at seeing her on our Arizona trip (blog coming soon), I wanted to make a little something for Madison. Since we’re Team Baby Dinosaur … clearly, I wanted to do a dinosaur.

I searched around online for some patterns and came across this one. It seemed quick and easy (and doable), so I pulled out some fabric and took a few hours to make a dino. Lo and behold, it turned out!

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Other side.

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Holding it up (also for a sense of scale).

It’s pretty tiny, but it turned out pretty cute and I hope Madison likes it!

Boston 2016, Day One

Okay, technically Day Two as we got in super late on the first day, but we’ll call it Day One as it was our first full day in Beantown.

April 14th, we woke up at our Holiday Inn Express down by TD Banknorth Garden, ate pancakes from the awesome pancake machine, grabbed coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, ensured we had a late checkout, and headed over to the Museum of Science. Not your typical tourist destination, I get it, but it was FREE with our DMNS membership. We’ve talked about this reciprocity. It’s awesome.

Outside was our first taste of the Marathon, and a dinosaur.
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The evolution on how people have thought T. rexes to have stood/walked.

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We built our own fish.

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Because who doesn’t remember/like playing with these?

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In a space capsule!

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Second T. rex with a bib.

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Our own baby T. rexes in a T. rex footprint.

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Street art just outside the MoS.

After the Museum, we headed off to our actual hotel, the Holiday Inn Brookline, to check in. We dumped our stuff and headed back downtown to meet our friend Lindsey for lunch. Lindsey works for adidas and was in town to work the Marathon expo. Lunch, as you might remember from my food series, was at Union Oyster House.

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Brandon trying oysters.

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Hey, trick lobster! It can hold stuff!

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Me: Presenting, lobster.
Lobster: Presenting, human.
(The guys were very impressed with how much the lobster liked me. I am the lobster whisperer. It’s a thing.)

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Trying oysters.

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Lindsey getting on the oyster bandwagon.

After lunch, we dropped Lindsey back off at her hotel in Copley, randomly ran into our friend Nic (who, to be more accurate, literally almost ran into us; she also works for adidas), and checked out the Boston Public Library.

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The lights outside the BPL are the best.

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I am a sucker for spiral staircases.

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The main hall.

After the library, we headed back toward Brookline and Boston University (campus! home!) for our hotel and dinner.

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Oh Brown Sugar Cafe, I miss you.

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Ivan with the Oreo Angora and Gustave with the coffee Angora.

Day one, in the books …