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Friday, April 08, 2005

On the road...in Chicago


From RandiArt

It is the morning of my third day in Chicago, about 6 am. I am killing time before heading out to O'Hare to catch a 1030 flight home to Beverly MA via Manchester NH.

It is always nice to visit Chicago this time of year. The place is just experiencing its first rush of spring weather, with temps getting as high as 80 F, but also dipping to a chilly 35 F or so at night. It has much in common with Milwaukee given it proximity to Lake Michigan, but it can really only be compared to NYC for its energy on any work day, and when the weather is nice the lakefront far exceeds any other major city (at least those I've lived in) on weekends.

We lived here from 1976-80 (see Randi's sketch of one of our residences), most of that period residing a block or so away from the Lake in the Rogers Park area right near the Loyola campus where I (and at times Randi) worked. It was primarily the harsh winters -- but also the high real estate prices -- that led us to seek positions elsewhere (eventually landing us at the University of Kansas in Lawrence). At one point Randi was planning to have a T-shirt made embossed with: "Chicago - A hell of a place to get tenure!"

Each visit to the city provides a surprise. The Millennium Park Crown Fountain display, which I saw in all its spitting glory last September, is impressive even when the crowds are thin. This time I was able to take some time to walk the Magnificent Mile and gawk at the store as well as drop some money off at the local Nordstroms....

As for restaurants, I was able to overdo it a bit here. On Wednesday night friends Al and Kathy took pity on me (sitting alone in the Palmer House lobby) and invited me to join them and their friend Henry for dinner at Bistro 110, located right by the Water Tower. Being invited to eat with Al and Kathy is actually quite an event. They select first rate places with great wine lists, and the evening is marked by a four course dinner, each accompanied by a suitable wine selected with care by Al who provides interesting commentary with each choice. Not being a wine buff I typically do little more than listen and learn. The bottom line is that Al and Kathy pay for the wine and the guests split the food bill. In this case, well worth it. Food was excellent, and wine was great!

Last night our publisher took my two co-authors and I out to the Park Grill which is on Michigan Avenue at the front of the Millennium Park. Had some bland tasting pot roast, but the desert made up for that a bit....

All in all, a successful trip, despite a head cold I caught in Milwaukee. For now I need to rest before trekking out to Belfast....


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