2014 Chicago Bucket List, part 1

I’m so far behind in blogging about my resolutions and other adventures from this year. We’re halfway into December and I have drafts from outings from February. So how about rolling up this very fun resolution into a miniseries?

Around this time last year, I posted a first draft of my Chicago bucket list: an aspirational collection of 50+ outings and adventures that I’d like to tackle before I eventually leave Chicago. While I didn’t stick to my goal of one bucket list item per month, I knocked a number of them off this year:

Sandwiches and Petits fours
Tea at the Drake

Tea at the Drake Hotel with Mom: For the last few years, I’ve met my mom in the city for a birthday weekend. This year I requested high tea at The Drake in lieu of a birthday dinner. While pricey, it was a really nice thing to do for a special occasion, and something I look forward to doing with my nieces in the future!

The Brookfield Zoo: In February, we braved the cold to take advantage of a free admission day to visit the larger of the Chicagoland zoos. They don’t have a sand cat, but they do have black-footed cats! The highlight for me was probably the wolf habitat – it was amazing to watch the pack tear around in the snow.

The Oriental Institute: I took a whirlwind tour of this museum during a tour of campus when I first started my job, but hadn’t been back in the two years since. If you haven’t been and you have even a passing interest in history or archaeology, you MUST go. I wasn’t feeling well the day we were there, so I spent a lot of time reading the contents of cases that had benches in front of them.

We walked downtown for donuts.
Do-Rite

Donuts from Do-Rite: It turns out I’d already had donuts from Do-Rite, but I hadn’t been to the main location downtown, so we made it our destination on a late spring morning when Nicolas wanted sweets and we both wanted a long walk. We’ve been a few times since, and their old fashioneds have been consistently excellent – possibly my favorite donuts in the city, though that might be the subject for another post.

Not bad.
Our view for the Sox vs Sox

Tina!
More baseball with Tina!

White Sox game: I was raised baseball agnostic, but adopted the Cubs as my team by default when I was subjected to radio broadcast of the games at my post-college call center job. If you’re a Cubs fan, you can’t be a Sox fan. That’s just the rule. So this was one of the least likely items on the list – unless I got tickets to the Crosstown Classic. Instead, I went to TWO Sox games this year. In April, Tina and Jeff treated us to an extremely cold Sox vs Sox game (and a helmet full of nachos). And then in May, we got a good deal for tickets and snacks on Memorial Day. I’m still a Cubs fan, but I have a new appreciation for the Sox – or at least their ballpark.

Water taxi <3 <3
View from the water taxi

The water taxi: THE WATER TAXI. How did I live in Chicago for two years before taking the water taxi? How did Nicolas live here for three times that long without taking the water taxi? The water taxi was a highlight of our summer, and a frequent weekend activity – walk to Chinatown, take the water taxi downtown, have an adventure, take the water taxi home. It’s the cheapest way to see the city from the water. If you buy a 10 ride pass, it’s not much more than taking the El, and it’s considerably more pleasant. About half the time, they didn’t punch our pass, or didn’t punch it the right number of times, so we have a number of water taxi rides saved up for next summer. Seriously: take the water taxi.

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Day 6: A Trip to the Zoo

I grew up an hour from Madison, and have many fond memories of Saturday daytrips there with my family.  We’d go to a children’s play at the Civic Center and get lunch at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry.  We’d pick up wee cinnamon rolls at Ovens of Brittany or bagels from Bagels Forever.  We’d have lunch at Ella’s Deli and go to the zoo.

Let me tell you: it’s really hard to conceive of paying for a zoo after living in close proximity to the National Zoo in DC and after growing up an hour away from a perfectly lovely – if small – zoo in Madison.  I went there with my friends after prom instead of going to Great America like the rest of our class. Shane and I went there together in the first few months we were dating. It’s a special place for me.

You know what’s even better than going to the zoo? Going to the zoo with a very excited toddler, especially one who happens to be quite cute and also related to you. Jenn and Bill met us at the zoo between thunderstorms – our timing was impeccable! – and we had a great time catching up and watching Max point and squeal.

Hhh

Delicate

There he is!

Uncle Shane didn’t want to be upstaged when silly photos were involved.

Grumpy Bear

Highly Suspicious Chicken

Cheer up, Uncle Shane!

Happy Penguin!

A great morning, followed by a great lunch at Chautara and a totally indulgent, absolutely diet-busting trip to Campus Candy, where you can get delicious frozen yogurt topped with ANYTHING IN THE STORE.  Kids in the candy store indeed.

Friendo visit, part I

Erin Fae was here for a couple of days, which was so nice! After every friendo visit, I find myself commenting on how wonderful it is to just sit around and talk with no expectation of doing anything more – just being together and friend-y is enough! This was definitely the case with Erin’s visit.

Last night, in the midst of a torrential downpour, I met Erin at Artomatic for a little while.  This was my first time attending Artomatic, so I wasn’t sure what to expect – nor was Erin, who thought from the name that it might have something to do with vending machines dispensing small works of art.  Instead, it is nine floors of art and performance in a big empty building in SE with a great view of the Capitol, the ballpark, and the Anacostia River.  There were a few things I liked a great deal in the four floors I toured – and a lot of mediocre stuff.  We loved the Peeps dioramas and I loved Tigerflight‘s owls (of course).  I’d like to go back when I’m not quite so tired and can take it all in – and perhaps see a band and get a cocktail as well.

This morning, we three bleary eyed kids had Crop-to-Cup coffee from Erin’s co-op, ate delicious pancakes with rhubarb compote and amazingly sweet strawberries, and then went to the ZOO!  Erin was extremely excited about seeing pandas, and the pandas didn’t disappoint – we got there just after they’d been given bamboo, so we watched the fat bears chomp away for a while.  Chomp chomp chomp.  I squealed like a little girl about the baby anteater (no, not this one), and in general thoroughly enjoyed the perfect weather and the presence of friendos – though not the presence of OMG GIANT OVERSIZED STROLLERS EVERYWHERE.  It was also good to see the new elephant habitat well underway – once complete, the thing is going to be giant and amazing, and I’m happy for that!

Pandas and snacks

You know who loves pandas? Shane Bee. Shane Bee LOVES pandas. So I’m sure he will be delighted to hear that a panda at the San Diego zoo is pregnant. Go panda!

On an unrelated note, I had my first Belly Bar today. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant (despite my office’s best attempts to jinx me) – I’m just a completest when it comes to bar investigations. I had the Baby Needs Chocolate bar, which was, like many other bars we’ve talked about before, full of crispy weirdness and a thin layer of chocolate. It had a secretive cherry flavor, which I rather liked, but maybe that was just my not-pregnant body telling me that I was missing out on something because I’m not gestating. Whatever, body.

The stats: 170 calories/6 g fat/22 g carbs/12 g sugar/8 g protein

I don’t feel like talking about the “I’m a real grown up” things that are going on right now, so I’ll just say that we had a lovely weekend in Rockford visiting my family, playing mini golf, going to the zoo with my sister, and generally relaxing. Every time we go somewhere new, I come up with a new fantastic fabulous life plan. The current one is for us to quit library school and move to Madison, where we can rent one of the cute apartments near the zoo. I can work at the little cafe right around the corner, and Shane can feed the tamarins. I don’t know how realistic that is, what with two almost MLSes between us, but it’s nice to think about.

harebrained scheme

In preparation for our latested harebrained scheme, we went bike shopping today at Erik’s Bike Shop in Madison. Why do I need an entry level race bike? Because Nate and I have decided to do the RAGBRAI next July and need to start training. Part of the preparation involves getting gear, as neither of us have bikes. We picked up a $20 bike for Nate at a garage sale today – it’s not the best, but it’s something to train on until we get his bike. I’m getting a Specialized Allez Sport. Pretty incredible. I rode it around the parking lot, scraped my shin up, and didn’t fall off – a good start! Tomorrow I’m borrowing a street bike from my parents so I can train until the real thing arrives in a few months. I’m wicked excited – and wicked out of shape. I’m looking forward to the changes in my body that miles and miles of riding will bring.

After Erik’s, we went to the zoo. I haven’t been there in at least a year – it was a lot of fun, despite the fact that by the time we got to the big cats and monkeys were already back inside as the zoo as closing. We went down to State Street and wandered around for a while. I bought a dress and a skirt for $10 at Ragstock, then we had dinner at this Nepali restaurant. Yum. I haven’t been there in years – and it was every bit as good as I remembered. Now we’re just having a mellow evening at home, which is totally cool with me. Happy Saturday!