Every once in a while I get an urge to make a pilgrimage to Chicago to visit old friends. Such an urge was triggered a few weeks ago when some old buddies informed me of a couple of very cool bands playing during the weekend of April 6-8. As it happens, the Cubs' home opener was scheduled for April 9. Thus, a road trip -- or more precisely a "crammed in economy class for four hours" air trip -- was born. A quick search of Travelocity.com turned up a good deal at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago . Here were the highlights:
Friday night: I arrived in Chicago to one of the coldest April days on record. Figures. Fortunately for the pigeons, they could keep warm around the "Eternal Flame" in Daley Plaza. One can almost hear them say "Coo! Coo! Thanks for the flame, Chicago war veterans!"
I dumped my stuff at the hotel, scored my Cubbie ticket via the concierge (aided by another Travelocity perk: a $25 ticket voucher),and then it was off to see "Led Zeppelin 2",at Martyrs'. The band was quite good (although they had decided only to do material from the first four LZ records, so no "Achilles Last Stand") and I had a chance to catch up with many folks I hadn't seen in a long time.
Saturday I test rode a new/old bike, a P-38 recumbent. I owned a P-38 in the summer of 2002 and loved it, but had to sell it in the wake of the calamity, because we needed the dough. The Bacchetta Giro I have now is a nice bike but the seat is very high and I'm uncomfortable balancing precariously on one tippy-toe whenever I have to stop. I had been thinking about going back to a P-38 but wanted to test ride one first just to make sure I would be comfortable on it -- the seat back on a P-38 is relatively vertical which makes for a somewhat "closed" riding position, as opposed to the more laid-back Giro. There are no P-38 dealers in Oregon but Rapid Transit bike shop in Chicago had not one but two for test rides! After a few seconds on the P-38, I felt as if I'd been reunited with an old friend. An added bonus is that I got the floor model and saved a few bucks. It's a lovely fire-engine red and I'll be sure to post pictures in a few days when it arrives.
Sunday I went visit Millennium Park in Chicago. Very impressive, and I imagine even more so in the summer when the gardens are in bloom. As it was, the brisk, mostly sunny spring day helped provide some nice shots even with my crappy phone camera. Here's a long shot showing the "cloud gate" sculpture at the left, and the stage for the outdoor arena in the background:
The "cloud gate" sculpture -- known affectionately in Chicago as "The Bean" is a giant kidney-shaped, chrome-skinned orb. As you might expect, the reflections are very cool:
If you walk under the crease of the sculpture, the reflections become more abstract:
On the other side of the stage is an enormous, winding, chrome-and-wood bridge. Here you can better see the ornamentation over the stage, which kind of reminds me of an enormous watch spring that has become permanently unsprung, or perhaps a pair of wrecked "Chinese handcuffs" of the gods.
Sunday, Yakuza at Beat Kitchen. Also very cool.
Monday, the Cubbie home opener. The weather relented a little bit and graced the crowd with a high of 43 degrees -- for about three seconds. As is my usual approach when I go to a game alone, I got my scorecard, two hot dogs and a pretzel. Awesome. Plus, pretty good seats:
The Cubbies lost, but it was still cool to be at the park. Afterwards, a dinner at one of my favorite Chicago pubs, the Duke of Perth:
Tuesday, back home. And none to soon. Tuesday's Cub game was even colder, and Wednesday's was snowed out!
The trip was a great time but it's good to be back home with my lovely spouse and stinky little boys. And actual springtime weather!