I sure did start off my day with homemade blueberry scones and tea. The lovely Amanda is an awesome cook, and wakes early which is a fantastic attribute, especially since the time zone difference weirded me out.
After a leisurely morning of updating the sign-up counts for Nerd Wars: Geek Noosphere and observing the bird in the nest outside Amanda’s front window, I made my way to Des Plaines to see my friend Rick.
I met Rick when we worked at the ill-fated International WoodFuels. We had hit it off instantly and he remains to this day one of my very favorite people on earth, despite our unfortunately infrequent interaction.
Today he bought me a Chicago hot dog for lunch. It had tomatoes on it! What!
It was an exceptionally nice visit, though I think Rick would have preferred to take me some place fancier. Honestly, I did not care one iota where we went just so long as I was with my friend.
I came back to Amanda’s and it was time to explore Chicago! First stop? Only the most amazing grocery store on the planet. Mariano’s is a crazy grocery shopping adventure. Walk in the door, and you are greeted with fresh flowers, a coffee shop, a smoothie place, and a freaking bar all in the lobby. Go up an escalator, and there is a liquor store and a bar … in the store.
And a sushi bar, BBQ joint, oyster bar, confectionary, and more. You can buy a bottle of wine and a silly straw and walk around the store like that. And, the fishmonger is from Medford, Mass.
From there I enjoyed the adventure of Chicago public transit by way of bus and train.
It was a Monday in the middle of the day, so things weren’t particularly crowded anywhere we went.
First stop was Wrigley Field. Oh, Cubbies. One day, my friends. One day.
We walked from there down to Lincoln Park, Amanda pointing out lots of interesting things from the neighborhoods in which she lived or worked in the past.
So many trees were in bloom; it was just lovely. A duck couple took a romantic stroll down by the water. Pathway puddles were festooned with epic piles of colorful turds offered by legions of waterfowl.
We made our way to the Lincoln Park Zoo. We maneuvered around some construction for the new Macaque exhibit, and tried to make sense of the cartoonish map of the facility. However, it was not hard to find true magnificence right inside the gate.
I do not remember this tiger’s name, but he is sticking his tongue out at you.
In the next area was a lion named Molly. She was very handsome and also not having any of anyone’s shit. She is the elder stateswoman of the cat area, and she currently shares her area with a transplant from the Bronx Zoo named Sahar, who at two years old is a whippersnapper of the first degree. Mane or no mane, you know who is really in charge here.
Did I mention a giraffe? There’s a giraffe. Apparently there are five but we only saw one. Oh my gosh. So elegant.
Then the polar bear. Her name is Anana, which according to a nice lady who works at the zoo with her son, is a portmanteau of the Inuit word for beautiful, and also the word for pineapple in another language. This 700-pound apex predator’s name is Beautiful Pineapple. Wow.
Yes I took one million photos. Wouldn’t you? I mean, sheesh. SHE IS A BEAUTIFUL PINEAPPLE.
Oh and check it out. Second City. NO BIG DEAL.
Amanda made wonderful dinner and then we went out to a pub to meet Becca (ThatBeccaPerson in Nerd Wars) for some drinks. The place we wanted to go to was packed with people for some event, so we went somewhere nearby called the Grafton. Wicked nice waitress.
I started with some local fare – whiskey barrel aged mead from right in Chicago. Delicious. The nose was heavenly, and the taste was sublime.
I then went to my standby of an Dickel Rye Old Fashioned. Ugh. UGH. Is there … soda water in this?! /dies from awful.
What in the world could possibly make this travesty better? How about a dozen local musicians presumably from the Old Town School of Folk Music next door playing Sweet Sue. You bet your sweet bippy I got up and danced and sang along. Becca humored me and danced with me. Great end to a great day.