Monday, August 29, 2011

MN State Fair…

I should have worn my pedometer today, because I’m sure I got way more than 12,000 steps in. Whew! I’m tired, I’m stuffed, my ankles are swollen and I’m going to bed, now, at 21:00.

We had a good time though. We got an early enough start that we were able to find a place to park on a neighborhood street by the north entrance and the Pet Building. We got to see Australian shepherds run the agility course. There was an older, slower dog and a wildly excited, very young dog, one wouldn’t complete the teeter totter, one went through the wrong end of the tunnel, twice, and others were so, so, fast. I thought of Kate from because of her George. He’s a border collie, but I know they are known to run agility courses too.

We took the sky ride to the other side of the fair grounds just so we could get our Turkey Sandwich and All You Can Drink for $1.00 milk. I don’t think it was even 10:30 yet, but we couldn’t even think of looking at a thing until we had that sandwich in our hands. Mmmmmm, delicious, it’s one of the foods that we always get.

We visited sheep, goats, pigs, cows, llamas, and horses. There were no chickens, rabbits, or turkeys yet, probably later on this week. Did you know that Belgian horses are HUGE? We decided to sit for a bit and watch the teens and pre-teens perform English riding. They did such a nice job, even if some of the horses had other ideas in their heads than performing correctly. There always has to be at least one, doesn’t there? Before the show, I was able to get my raspberry malt from the Dairy Building, which happens to be the other food that I always get.

Lots of walking through various buildings, Horticulture, Fine Arts, 4-H, Education, and the one that has all of the quilts, clothing, jewelry, jams, jellies, breads, cakes, and demonstrations, and of course, we walked through tons of people, and ended up going to the Northern Equipment building that has tools, and gadgets and log splitters. Did I just say log splitters? Yup, they even had a State Fair sale going on, and one of them just happened to be the log splitter David wants so he can split all the wood at Barb’s cabin in Wisconsin. It sort of followed us home and is right this very minute sitting in our garage. It’s a very pretty log splitter, blue and silver. Ha! Well, we figure if we use wood to heat our house the majority of the time, why not have a log splitter? David isn’t a spring lumberjack anymore.

We ate and wandered a while longer and now I’m sitting here writing this when I told myself I was going to bed. So, goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Oh, one more thing…I got to see my favorite thing while we were passing the Pet Building on our way out, the Police K-9 dogs in action. Take a young, handsome, extremely fit ( in a tight t-shirt ) Police officer, with a padded arm, and a Police dog trained to attack on command, or when their partner is threatened, and mmmm, oops, sorry, ouch!! I tell you, it sure is a good thing I never do anything wrong, because  I would NOT want to get attacked by a Police dog.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chicago 2011…

Crossing the street to work today, I realized that it’s been less than a week since we were in Chicago, but it seems like much longer. Why does that happen? As soon as I get back into my usual routine, I seem to forget all about the fun I just had, it almost seems as if it were a dream. It wasn’t a dream though and we had FUN!

We got to our hotel on Friday about 14:00 and were able to check in right away. I like to feel as if the hotel room is my home, so I unpack my bags and make use of the dresser and closet, then I arrange all my bathroom supplies neatly on the counter, stow my bags away and subtly urge David to do the same. The first thing he did was try out the single serve coffee maker. Priorities! We looked through the visitor information and saw there was an outdoor concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 18:30. We walked by a concert the year before that was packed solid, so we thought we had better get there early and get a decent place to park ourselves. I was starving, as usual, and I wasn’t about to wait until after the concert, and we didn’t feel we had enough time to find a restaurant, order, eat and get there early. We ended up getting delicious sandwiches from a little shop on some street that I can not remember. Once at the park, we chose a grassy spot to lay our blanket (we were prepared) and chowed down. David got us each a glass of wine, it was okay, then decided he had enough time to find a store a buy a bottle, which was way better than okay, so much better that I ended up drinking over 1/2 the bottle myself. Yikes! (that was Okay too!)


The concert was the Verdi Requiem, which I thought we had sung in church, but I was mistaken, it just had some of the same lyrics. They did a beautiful job, the soloists, the choir, the orchestra…the Pavilion has wonderful acoustics. It was a beautiful night and a great, fun, relaxing way to spend our first night in Chicago.



I decided on Chicago because I knew the 53rd Air and Water Show was being held this weekend. I’ve seen it with Kira by accident, then with David on purpose two years ago, and I’m like a child in a toy store when I hear those jets fly overhead. I get giddy and giggly and break out in a huge smile. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see an airshow up close, I highly suggest you do. There is nothing like it! It runs every year, both Saturday and Sunday and you can be sure it’s going to rain one of them. This year it rained Saturday, so we decided to go the Adler Planetarium. We both gave that a thumbs down. It was expensive, boring, and each different show of stars was an additional cost. We got two general admissions, one star show and spent $46.00. Way too much for what we saw. The sky cleared while we were in the planetarium, so the Thunderbirds, not wanting to disappoint people, did their part of the show, which ended up being longer than the next day. We were happy we got to see both days. 

We were trying to decided what to do that night, David wanted to go to a Jazz place and I wanted to go to Howl at the Moon. We passed by the Jazz place and looked at the menu and entertainment, then we passed by Howl at the Moon, walked in, looked at their menu, got our hands stamped so we could get in without paying a cover, walked back to the hotel, cleaned up and walked back to Howl at the Moon.

Howl at the moon

We ordered exceptionally good nachos, beer and Long Island Iced Tea. David had the beer. I had two Long Island Iced Teas. Normally one just about does me in, so these must have been pretty weak!! This place has two pianos, a drum set and guitars. They take requests, we sing along and the more people drink, the more fun it is. Chicago was having quite a few weddings coming up, there was one bachelor party and at least ten bachelorette parties. There was even a Mom’s night out group of eight wild Mom’s. I will definitely go back next time I’m in Chicago.


We got an early start on Sunday, because I wanted a good seat. We sat on a ledge, on our blanket, right by the boardwalk, (concrete walk actually). We were smart enough to bring along sunscreen, but not smart enough to use it properly. Did you know that you have to cover your skin with the spray on kind??? Just a quick spray doesn’t cover everything. I ended up with a blotchy leg, and because I didn’t use enough on my upper chest and shoulders and none on my face, I was a crispy critter. Never even crossed my mind to put any on my face, because I had my visor on. One would think I would have already learned these things at my age. hahaha

There were an assortment of planes and lots of parachuters, both the Army and the Navy. They were jumping from 10,500 feet because it was a nice, calm day, and we could barely see them at first. They would group together in twos and sometimes threes, with colored smoke trails, sailing in loops and tight circles. Once closer to land, they would split up and some would make really fast landings while others would take their time. One man was out over the water when he jumped, his chute opened, then kind of folded up, opened again, then folded and he started falling in circles. Next we knew, he let his chute go and he was falling like a stone. We were all staring with our mouths hanging open, gasping, thinking that we were going to see something very awful happen before our eyes, when he pulled his second chute. Oh my, what a relief that was for us. We were thinking that he did this on purpose to show what can happen if your chute folds, but after talking to a co-worker who knows jumpers and planes, he said that they don’t let their chute go just for show, he was really in danger and it’s a good thing his second chute worked.















There was a man and his son of about 15 yrs. sitting next to me and he was interested, but mostly bored though the show until the Thunderbirds made their first pass. When you hear that booming sound, it is such a rush. He was smiling ear to ear. Pictures just don’t do justice and I decided I didn’t want to lug around my big camera so these are not the greatest pictures, but they are a memory.


After the show, we slowly shuffled through a mob of people and walked all the way back to our hotel. The buses were packed like sardines, so it was just easier to walk. We showered the grime off, marveling at our sunburn and stupidity, got dressed and took the bus to Second City. Home of famous comedians like, Dan Aykroyd, Jim and John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Alan Arkin, Catheine O’Hara, John Candy, Eugene Levy and many, many more. We saw Sky’s the Limit (weather permitting) Hysterical! I’ve been wanting to go for years and I will make that a for sure stop next time I’m in Chicago.


The only other place I really wanted to see, was the Brookfield Zoo. We’ve been to the Lincoln Park Zoo several times, and because Kira is a zookeeper, I wanted to see what the Brookfield Zoo was like, just in case she sees an opening there. They happen to pay much better than other zoos (they’re Union), and while it is a good distance from the part of Chicago we love, it’s close enough. It’s and old zoo with newer parts. I’m so partial to the Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo that I have a hard time being objective at other zoos I visit. I tend to compare them…tsk. It was nice though and I think she would be happy there.