Friday, June 7, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Or America's Highway. Whatever you call it ... We officially started our road trip today.
The historical route 66 officially begins near the corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson in downtown Chicago. From there we went to Lou Mitchell's restaurant and bakery on Chicago's west side which has been an icon on the route since 1923. They have served everyone from U. S. Presidents, Mayors, Governors, Senators, to coaches and athletes, judges and lawyers, celebrities and stars.
They serve milk duds and donuts while you wait and their serving sizes are generous.
We thought the pancakes were the best!
We are traveling on the original route which in most cases follows along side the railroad tracks and the new highway. Some are on frontage roads and occasionally a dirt road we heard. This was a detour we made by mistake.
This giant man is the muffler man. He used to hold a muffler and many towns have one. We passed one holding a rocket.
We stopped and bought some maple sirip in Funks Grove. The owner explained why they spell it "sirup". There are two spellings - one with a 'y' which is for fruit and sugar and water and the other with an 'i' which is for sap and water. He told us it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of sirup.
It didn't take long to get out of the city but the drive is slow. We had hoped to make it to Missouri but barely made it to Lincoln country ... around 180 miles. We got a late start and drove in a few circles!
We ended up at the state capital in Springfield and decided it was late and called it a night. We were too tired to eat out so we brought food in.
Tomorrow ... Missouri or bust!
Thursday, May 23, 2013
We had big plans for our last day in Chicago. We wanted to take in the Architectural River Tour during the day, the Art Institute in the evening, dessert at a fun outdoor restaurant we had been rained out of two nights in a row, and the most important to my daughter - a morning swim in Lake Michigan. We had been suffering with the heat and humidity for days now and of course the rain that kept getting in the way, so we were looking forward to a day that would be a little cooler and hopefully without rain.
We started our morning with our breakfast being delivered to our room.
Our room, by the way, is in the Acme Hotel which is perfectly located in the heart of downtown. It is unconventional, fresh and fun. It is self-described as a "Boutique Hotel Alternative" and was advertised as the place for someone who has "an eye for design and digs a high-tech vibe".
I love the big zipper on the wall! Did you know the zipper was invented in Chicago in 1896?
I enjoyed the bathroom fixtures and color scheme ...
Our room has a lot of fun touches, a "wood" floor instead of carpet and even a chalkboard on the entry door.
After we ate, we headed out for a walk to the beach and were hit by a frigid wind that pushed us right back up to our room to add a few layers of clothing. It was cold. It didn't take but a block or two to realize the beach was not going to work. And it was even too cold to walk (it was 50 degrees cooler in one day!) so we hailed a cab and headed to the Art Institute where we spent most of the day.
It was a nice day in the museum ... We both saw some of our favorite paintings and artists. They have an extensive collection of Impressionist paintings and a fabulous modern art exhibit. Since this is a design blog ... I thought i would show you some of my favorite modern art pieces.
Greg Lynn, Ravioli Chair
Stack Drawers, Shay Alkalay
Konstantin Grcic, Chaos Chair
Konstantin Grcic, Die-cast aluminum and concrete
Frank Gehry, cardboard
Charles and Ray Eames
This leg splint was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in World War II. Made out of molded plywood it was lightweight and inexpensive which made it ideal to transport to the field for injured soldiers. The Eames had already been experimenting with molded plywood technology in their studio and by being able to utilize military technology and manufacturing facilities, they were able to further develop and refine the process in order to create their first mass-produced product. By 1945, 150,000 of the iconic leg splints had been produced and was a precursor for much of their later work, in which they utilized similar technology to develop sculptural molded plywood furniture. (Information taken from museum card.)
Once we came out of the museum it didn't seem as cold, although I suspect it was because this time we expected it.
More beautiful flowers...
We walked through Millennium Park before crossing the street to hail a cab back to the other side of Michigan Avenue.
I'm not sure what the story is on these funny sculptures but they are sure cute! Downtown Chicago is filled with art ... particularly modern sculpture which is an interesting juxtaposition against the historical architecture.
We decided we would "brave it" and check out the beach. I think the cab driver thought we were nuts! The water was no longer the pretty blue-green color it had been all week - instead the muddy looking water was tossing waves around with fury.
On the way back to change for dinner we stopped in one of downtown Chicago's many beautiful churches. This was a Presbyterian church whose history dates back to Chicago's earliest days and still has a congregation of over 5,000.
A few blocks from our hotel we passed Downtown Dogs and decided to pick up a hot dog with "the works" as a little pre-dinner snack. We didn't want to leave the city without getting a Chicago dog and this seemed like the next best thing to getting one at a cubs game which we ran out of time to do. I am "gluten-free" and my daughter eats primarily "vegan" so a hot dog is not on our dietary lists in any way ... But we both agreed it was worth the deviation!
The "restaurant" was filled with all kinds of dogs ... even the TV screens played slideshows of images of dogs. Unfortunately this is where my phone battery died so I can't share our dog with you!
Our choice for dinner was a modern Sushi restaurant a short walk from our hotel.
The interior was all white!
Tomorrow morning we are heading out of Chicago and we will be starting our slow drive home! Route 66 here we come! We are so excited!
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
We took a little drive through Wisconsin today and went to see the city of Madison which is the state capital. It was a beautiful drive with a great view out the car window. My favorite ... the red barns (and a few lovely white ones!) that were scattered over the lush green landscape. My new camera is able to capture a great image even while traveling at a high speeds and through the glass window (it has a setting for shooting through a window!). It is a shame I cannot share those with you now. There is no way to connect my camera to my iPad. My iPhone is taking some nice photos too, but it is limited.
The road into town led us straight to the beautiful capital building and just like the streets in downtown Chicago, there were flowers everywhere!
I LOVED the white tulips!
We got there just in time to walk through the Wednesday farmer's market and food trucks. We had lunch sitting on a bench in front of the capital building ...
The wraps were fantastic!
After lunch we walked over to the Museum of Modern Art where my friend Barb's daughter is getting married in a few weeks. The wedding will take place on the top floor where there is a lovely restaurant and a rooftop patio with the most spectacular view of downtown Madison.
You can see the dome of the capital building from the roof and I can imagine at night it will look spectacular all lit up. It is going to be a wonderful place to have a wedding!
The staircase up to the third floor of the building where the wedding and reception will take place is a magnificent glass beauty and the rooftop patio just outside the restaurant is filled with a lush garden and sculpture.
The museum is located on State street which is lined with interesting shops and restaurants and leads you right into the campus of the University of Wisconsin. We had a great time walking around and again we were able to dodge the predicted thunder showers!
We thought we would spend the night in Madison but changed our minds and decided to head back to Chicago where we were able to check into our unique boutique hotel a day early. The hotel is quirky and fun and our room has an interesting view as well!
This is what is hanging right outside our window ...
And if you put your head outside the window and look down, you will see a few more of the flying sculpture:
The view inside the room is just as quirky and fun:
The lips on the bathroom mirror glow at night
I love the industrial towel bars
It was late when we checked in so we quickly headed out for dinner. I will take more photos of the hotel tomorrow. On the drive back to Chicago I searched for restaurants near our hotel and was pleased to see that Top Chef Winner Rick Bayless' restaurant, Frontera Grill was just around the corner. It was a bit of a wait but well worth it!
We started our meal with their signature Sangria
The food was fantastic filled with layers of interesting favors and was the perfect way to end a great day. Tomorrow is our last day in Chicago and we are hoping the weather will continue to defy the reports so we can take a swim in Lake Michigan. Well, we'll see...it just finished thawing out a few weeks ago we heard!