As promised, I am sending this to you a day late. I am currently delayed at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Actually, my flight was cancelled but I got on another one only a couple hours later. More on that in today’s post, which should occur later on tonight.
So yesterday I woke up with two items on the docket.The first was a brewery tour and the latter a baseball game. First, the brewery. I am always up for walking, especially if it’s a half hour walk or less. Beyond that I’d be inclined to find public transportation or a taxi. Unless I am making a day out of walking around – like I did today. For the 30 minute walk to the brewery, it was a good opportunity to see more of the city. Again, it was about 90 degrees with high humidity, so I carried my camera with me, but did not lug around my camera backpack, with all it’s extra pieces, and more importantly, without all the weight. I basically walked out of the hotel, grabbed some coffee, and then began walking north along the Riverwalk. After a couple blocks I found some public art, and continued north through the Old 3rd Street.
I’m not sure if Old 3rd street is authentic or touristic, but it basically had a lot of German pubs – it looked like Munich. Or at least the buildings were decorated that way. There was also a big sausage factory there, and it smelled like it. I kept walking north and further north until I got to the Lakefront Brewery. Outside there was a strong smell of yeast so I knew they were working hard (rather than hardly working). I entered and saw the tour was sold out, but I had already made an online reservation. For only $7, I got the tour, 4-6oz. tasters of their beer, a Lakefront beer glass, and a coupon for a free pint at a downtown pub. The tour was somewhat informative but I appreciated that it was also really entertaining and funny. Our leader, Josh, is in a local Comedy Sportz group, so you can imagine he was quick with the jokes. Heres: just a little 30 seconds of video I recorded during the tour – not during an especially funny moment, though.
After this, I wandered to the northeast, toward the Lake, which is where several of the photo spots are found. Well, primarily I was headed in the direction of the North Point Water Tower, and then planned on coming down the shoreline to the Art Museum, then back past the Historic Third Ward. It ended up being way longer than it looked on the map – my spatial skills failed me! I stopped at a cafe in the “Olympia” part of the city, and they had a cool beer menu: The walk was much longer than I had planned, and with the heat – my arms and legs were a glistening tan. The water tower was interesting, but nothing special.
Then I got to the water and bought some custard from the beach restaurant. Apparently Chicago is known for its custard – which isn’t the same as ice cream but looks just like soft serve. It did taste different, and was good, but this might be the biggest rip-off of my life. I got the small custard cup, which cost about $3.25 and it literally had three spoonfuls. If you have ever ordered a frozen yogurt from Costco, it looked like that, but about one inch high. Oh well.
I kept walking south, climbing over big rocks and stepped into Lake Michigan. People had told me it was going to be cold – only about 75. That is almost uncomfortably warm for me, so I prepared myself mentally, stepped in and found that it was more like 60. At least that’s how it seemed to me. It was definitely colder than the Los Angeles beaches.
Walking, walking, and more walking in the hot sun, and they don’t seem to make much in the way of shade here. One thing I have been shocked at here is how many people are out running in the middle of the day, in the 90 degree, 90% humidity weather with no shade, and while wearing runnings shorts and tank tops. I hope they use sunscreen, but will it even stay on in this weather? Anyway, my ultimate goal for this quest was the Art Museum, for some photographs.
Toward the end of my walk, I realized there were only about 15 minutes for me to get into a bar and use my free drink coupon, and I had one in mind.
Milwaukee’s baseball stadium, Miller Park, is not in downtown. It is known for its tailgating. I got there about 30 minutes before the game and it seemed like everyone who parked there was tailgating. Milwaukee is obviously a beer drinking city, even more so than Chicago. Here, people go out to drink before the game, then drink at the game, then go back to the pub after the game. So, many pubs/hotels in downtown offer free shuttles to and from the game. I used my drink coupon at …Irish Mo’s Tavern or something like that. Then I took their shuttle. Think: a shuttle full of drunk people where you are allowed to get on with alcohol. And then, as soon as we got on, the driver pointed out he was setting beers from an ice chest beside him. Not sure how that is legal.
The game was great. Actually, I don’t like either team, but I am all about baseball, as you probably know. Miller Park looks extremely similar to Chase Field in Phoenix. It is cavernous, has an enormous roof, and you can walk around all of the levels and play in the pitching cage, get free beer samples (Miller Batch 19 was actually pretty good), charge your phone for free, and lots of other stuff. Ultimately, I sort of didn’t get the feeling a lot of people actually cared about the game – it was more of “supporting the local team” and “going out to be social with others.” I do like the colors that everyone was wearing – blue and yellowish/gold, but I didn’t buy anything.
Adam Richman, the host of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel was filming for a new show called Fandemonium. I was talking to a woman who is on the staff, as he was filming something at one of the food booths. She said this episode will be on Sunday, September 22. I’m sure I’m missing lots of details about the evening, but at least that paints a little picture. It was fun. Afterward, I took the pub bus back, and this time, I chatted with a woman was is visiting from Florida, and is on a quest to see all of the stadiums. I believe on this trip she is seeing MIL, MIN, KC, and STL. It was cool to meet someone doing the same time of thing I am interested in. I shared some tips on visiting Dodger Stadium and she shared some tips on DC (where I am going on Sunday) and Yankee Stadium.
Side note: When I am referring to someone my own age (roughly), I never know whether to use the word “woman,” “lady,” or “girl.” Woman sounds older, girl sounds younger, and lady sounds formal. Thoughts?
Oh! I ordered a $6 pretzel and it was about a foot wide. They had a contraption with clarified butter to dip the pretzel in, and then four coatings to choose from: kosher salt, sesame ginger, parmesan cheese, and something else which obviously wasn’t as good because I don’t remember it. The staff told me the sesame ginger one was spicy and they gave me a sample of the powder. I tasted no spice whatsoever, and they were surprised. I ultimately chose parmesan cheese and it was actually cool to watch how much effort the guy was putting into coating it in butter and making sure the coating stuck everywhere. He seemed to be doing it as carefully and delicately as if he was performing surgery on his child. It tasted great!
After returning to downtown, I got in the car and drove back toward Chicago. Fairly uneventful except that I had to pay $2.80 to get on the toll freeway, and I had to pay another $1.90 to exit. Not sure how that works.
I slept in my car backseat last night – I pulled into a hospital parking lot which was mostly deserted but clearly had several cars there. If case you are super curious, it was the Skokie, IL NorthShore University HealthSystem. I only had about 4 hours to sleep before heading to the airport and chose not to pay for a hotel room for 4 hours. It was fine, except that I woke up sweating a few times – remember, it is warm and humid here.
I am writing this as I wait for my flight. The first one was cancelled and I got the last available seat on the second one. I feel fortunate because there is a big standby list that has been moved to the next flight. Of course, this second flight that I am on boarded, then we had to get off and wait again for an extra 90 minutes because of weather/traffic/whatever else. I’ll get to Baltimore sometime today!