Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town...

We're off to Chicago!

We have a few miles to go to get there, so for the most part we take the major freeways.

It was an uneventful drive through Michigan, but when we got to Indiana it was another story. It started to rain pretty hard and we quickly pulled over and put on all our rain gear.

Going through Gary Indiana was a bit of an adventure, with roads filled with ponds full of water. We managed to avoid the hazards, but it made for some slow going.

Larry and I have discovered that Paul is a great navigator on cool country roads. But when it comes to cities, he has a gift for driving into... questionable areas. That and his GPS loves to take surface streets, so it literally took us three and a half hours to drive from one side of Chicago to the other! It took so long, and it went so slowly, that Larry's bike actually overheated.

Finally, we made it to the North side of Chicago, and our humble home for the next two nights, the Super 8 Hotel near Loyola University.

Paul got the three of us tickets to the Cubs game the next day, so we decided to walk to the EL station (an "EL" is an elevated train, for those of you who've never lived in Chicago) and take the train to Wrigley Field.

On our way there we saw quite an unusual sight...

Yes, that's a car that drove through the front of a video rental store. According to the police on the scene, the driver thought she was putting her car in reverse, stepped on it, and drove through the front door. The impressive part is that by the time we get back from the Cubs game, the car will be gone, and the window will be replaced. Makes you wonder if this happens all the time. ;)

After our brief detour, we finally get on the train and head into the city.

Oddly enough, we got to the game three hours early, so we found a nearby pub, Sluggers, and stopped for a couple of beers and a lot of fried appetizers.

Oh, I mean, I had lots fried appetizers... Paul and Larry ate celery sticks and carrots.

Now it was time for the game. It almost didn't matter how the Cubs played or who they were playing. Wrigley Field is the best baseball park in the entire world. I swear, I'd see English Cricket there if they played it. Thank God they play baseball, because I enjoy it a lot better.

There is just something wonderful about sitting in those stands and watching a ball game. And as much as I appreciate all the parks that emulate the great ball parks, there's nothing like the real thing.

And here's the first pitch! Okay, the first of four or five first pitches. Very bizarre. And I am not kidding, the second, first pitch, was pitched by Tony the Tiger. Okay, a guy in a Tony the Tiger suit, but still, quite weird. And I only had two beers, I didn't imagine it!

Speaking of which, take a look at this next picture very carefully. Yes, that is a beer vendor walking the aisles. Old Sytle isn't my cup of tea, but I have to love a baseball park that brings you beer to your seat.

The Cubbies were on fire! They were on top of their game today, and it was clear they would win easily. Paul chose a great game for us to see.

The interesting part about Chicago is that if you lived across the street from Wrigley Field, you got to watch the games for free. At least as well as you could from across the street. A couple of years back they decided to add more seats to the park which blocked the view.

In any other city, that would be that. However, in Chicago, all the buildings affected were allowed to build bleachers on their roofs, so that people across the street could still see the game. This picture shows a couple of buildings with bleechers on their roof. Pretty cool, eh?

The Cubs won the game, 6 to 4, just as the clouds rolled in the lightning lit the sky. As we walked to the EL station the rain began to pour.

And pour it did. Here is a picture of Wrigley from our EL platform. In minutes we were in gale force winds and torrential rain. Time to get on the train and head back to the room to get ready for dinner.

The three of us had all been on the Chicago leg of the Route 66 trip we took a couple years ago. On that trip we went to Lawry's for prime rib, and it was really good. This time around we decided to try someplace new, and Larry had a place in mind. A steakhouse called Smith and Wollensky, which has twenty years of reviews saying that they are the best steakhouse on earth. Well with reviews like that, we had to give them a try.

We went to our rooms, changed, then after a break got back on the EL and headed back on the EL to Smith and Wollensky. They had a special, bone in filet mignon that none of us could resist. So we ordered three, as well some tasty crab cakes and a couple of really good side dishes.

The crab cakes were amazing, and here Larry demonstrates what it would look like if he did eat the delicious and completely unhealthy, four cheese Macaroni and Cheese with truffle oil.

As you can see, the special looks pretty amazing!

The food was really good, although the service was a bit spotty. Our original waiter didn't bring me a menu for ten minutes. Then another ten minutes passed before another waitress decided to take over. Fortunately for us she did. We had some amazing cow!

Then it was time for dessert. Once again, Paul will demonstrate what it would look like, if, he actually ate the delicious and unhealthy dessert. Of course, Larry and Paul ate nothign but healthy dishes, and I was forced to eat the Mac and Cheese and the monster chocolate cake all by myself.

It was another wonderful visit to Chicago, one of my favorite cities in the world.

Tomorrow we will bid Chicago goodbye, and make our way into Wisconsin.


BC said...

While I can't say conclusively that you're wrong about Wrigley being the best ballpark to watch a game at, I've gotta imagine that Fenway (and possibly that stadium up in Chavez Ravine up in LA) would give it a good run for its money. I guess I'll have to go see it for myself to make sure!

Peter Kevin Reeves said...

I think you need to do your own research, before you come to the correct conclusion.

Fenway, probably number two on my list, is an amazing park. Not quite Wrigley, but close.

Sorry, Dodger Stadium (note the term Stadium, not park) just isn't a ball park. Like Jack Murphy in San Diego, its a nice place, but not a ball park. Okay, that's not fair. Dodger Stadium is a better baseball park than Jack Murphy. Just not in the same league as Wrigley or Fenway.