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Chicago, Illinois

100_6666Louise Speaks:  Day 26.  We arrived at our camp site very very late last night, but at least we made it.  We are at Lehmans Campground in Marenga, IL, northwest of Chicago.  We are parked right by a duck pond and the quacking is driving Gracie crazy, but what a beautiful sight.  One of the reasons for picking this site is that Enterprise will pick us up here.  Since we are going to be spending 2 days touring Chicago, we thought it best if we rented a car as driving through Chicago in a 26 foot RV probably isn’t a good idea.  Now it is the weekend so we “thought” it would be less crowded than during the week…well not our best idea.  I had planned this trip so that we would be in Chicago on days when there was not a Cub game.  However, since we spent 8 days at Winnebago that threw the schedule off, and I didn’t recalculate, so there is a Cub game today.  This is going to be interesting day.

If you’ve been following the blog for the past 3 years, you know that we are trying to complete the book, “1000 Places To See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz.  Most of the things she focuses on are of course tourist attractions, but in additions she loves hotels and restaurants.  So as we go through Chicago, we are going to be stopping by many hotels and restaurants.  With parking being close to impossible, our stops are going to be just that.  It’s going to be Thelma driving me around so I can stop at these places, take a picture, pick up a brochure and if I’m lucking asking a few people why they think they are in Patricia’s book.

100_6557Our RV Park was about 50 miles north of Chicago and by the time Enterprise picked us up and took us back to their office we didn’t get to our first stop until 11:00.  I map quest all the stops so we did have a route.  Our first stop was Gino’s East Pizza, supposedly one of the best places to eat Chicago style Pizza.  Our next stop and another thing Chicago is famous for was Super Dawgs, a very busy hot dog stand.  The next stop I have no idea why Patricia picked this place but apparently it is a very high price Thai restaurant.  This may be so, but we were almost afraid to drive through this part of town.  To me there was nothing special about Arun’s Thai Food, so maybe the inside and the food makes this restaurant special.

100_6562After visiting these restaurants it was time to head to Wrigley Field.  It wasn’t until we approached the ball field that I realized, oh crap, there’s a game today.  But I was still able to get pictures of the famous field sign, and feel the excitement of game day.  There were people everywhere.  I don’t know what time the game even started, but it was buzzing from all directions.  Luckily one of the bars that Patricia mentions was right at the same corner that I was standing at to take my picture.  Turns out Cubby Bear Lounge is a pretty happening place on game day.  They have a second floor bar that they called Cubby’s Upper Deck…kind  of cute.  I got to go inside to speak with the door man and asked for a menu or something with their logo on, and nice as he was he handed me some ice water in a bottle that had their logo.  Not what I had in mind, but I appreciated him trying so hard to find anything with their name on it,  This bar was hopping and I’m sure it is even busier after the games as it is right across the street.

100_6569From Wrigley Field it was off to some of Chicago’s entertainment.  Chicago is famous for comedy clubs and improv training as some of the best comedians come out of Chicago.  So Patricia had us go visit The Second City comedy club and the IO Comedy Club that trains comedians.  Even though it was Saturday it was too early for either of these clubs to be open, so it was stop by, take a picture and we were on our way.

100_6589As is Patricia’s favorite stops are hotels.  There are many hotels in Chicago as Patricia’s choices were The Drake, with the famous Cape Cod Room and the Ritz Carlton.  I was really hoping to see the Cape Cod Room as you are still able to see Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s carved initials in the world famous wooden bar.  There is also a “Wall of Whiskies and Wine Bottles”, a collection of bottles saved from prohibition days.  In any other city we would speak with the front desk  and ask for a tour or to at least see a room, but not in Chicago.  The streets were packed and there were cars and people everywhere.  So once again it was take a picture and jump back into the car.

100_6606By this time we are close to exhausted with going up and down the streets of Chicago.  As if the traffic wasn’t enough, they were doing construction on almost every street and every other street was a one way street.  So even if we found what we were looking for (thank God for a portable GPS) we had to go around the block several times just to find a place to pull over so that I could jump out.  Chicago is amazing with stores like Home Depot, or Office Max right on the main streets of Chicago.  There were people shopping and eating everywhere you went.  I thought they drove bad in New York, but the cabbies in Chicago are down right crazy.  We had thought of just parking in a garage but it was $35 for the day and since we had no idea where our stops were and they were so spread out, it was still easier to drive around and go around the block several times than to park and walk.

100_6598We were right in the center of Chicago. 100_6600 The buildings were so tall around us that even the GPS lost signal, which was not good, since we had no idea where we were going.  There are two corners right across from each other that house two of the more famous pizzeria’s in Chicago.  Due to their location, history has it that there is major competition.  I’m not sure which one was there first, but the second one definitely didn’t earn points by opening right across the street.  Pizzeria Due and Pizzeria Uno were both packed, so I don’t think there really is a competition…they both seem to be doing well.

thTaste of Chicago is an annual summer event that was held just a few weeks ago.  This is when different restruants and food vendors provide food in a tasting fashion.  With the city as crowded as it was today I can only imagine what it was like during a Taste of Chicago.  One of the spots that Patricia mentions in her book is Billy Goat Tavern.  Now we had the address and drove by where it was suppose to be at least 10 times…we just couldn’t see any sign of a restraunt or a tavern bearing that name.  So I told Thelma to just drop me off and I’d find it or ask for directions.  I walked and walked and it just wasn’t anywhere to be found.  The building with the address we were looking for had many business under one roof.  There was one space, a corner space, that was under construction, so I just assumed that was were Billy Goat Tavern was and it was just being remodeled.  So I go to the street to wait for Thelma, and just happen to look to my right, and there is a sign saying that Billy Goat Tavern is under ground, or on the lower level.  You think maybe Patricia would have mentioned that fact…another sign that Patricia has not been to Billy Goat Tavern.  But I found it, so I can cross it off the list.

100_6613With all the driving we did today, we were able to drive up and down the Magnificent Mile, which has five of the 85 tallest buildings in the world.  In fact 5 of the 10 tallest buildings in Chicago are on the Magnificent Mile.  There are several things we wanted to see, but again without parking it was simply impossible.  Things like the Lego Store which exhibits lifesize or larger than life characters at the main enterance of the mall.  It would have been nice to go inside the Tower at the Ritz Carlton which is Oprah’s residence.  And just going to the top of any of the buildings for a view of the city…but that didn’t happen either.

100_6658Chicago is famous for it’s Museums and there is an area known a Museum Campus, which is a 57 acre museum park.  This park sits right on Lake Michigan and it houses the most notable museums that are all dedicated to natural science.  The Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History are all on this campus.  The park is also the site of Soldier Field Football Stadium, which was quite impressive.

We saw many other things today, but they weren’t on the list for today so we will visit them tomorrow…at least now we’ll know where they are.  We still have an hour and a half drive back to camp, so we were done with Chicago.  I’ll wait until tomorrow to give Chicago a rating, but let me just say, for my first trip to Chicago, I was not impressed.  I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Thelma Speaks: 



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Milwaukee’s Beer Heritage, Milwaukee, WI

100_6543Louise Speaks:  Day 25.   From the Art Museum we were headed to a tour of the Miller-Coors Brewing Company. There are many other brewing companies in Milwaukee. Since we have of course toured other breweries including a couple brewers in Colorado,we thought one in Milwaukee would be enough.  So  this one was on our list for Milwaukee. Generally the tours we have been on, are by tram or at least provide elevators, but this tour was a walking tour from building to building, covered several blocks, and including climbing alot of stairs.  But, they did however have a beer garden and there was beer sampling twice on the tour. Being a Bud girl I have decided that even though I am not a beer drinker, I could handle the Red Apple Beer in a pinch.

100_6541At the entrance they had a really cool retro 100_6542Bus that was like a museum on wheels. The inside had videos playing and memorabilia from the beginning of Miller Beer and Coors Beer since their merger. The bus itself was a thing to see. It had a front and rear door and it still ran.

100_6545Along the walking part of the tour, we were told that the Miller painting on the building is the Largest Wall Painted Sign in the USA so we have to mention it here and post a picture, since we have a category of “The Largest Things to See”.  Not that impressive, but still has to be mentioned. Touring the bus and the brewery and the beer tasting are all free tours and a good way to spend time in Milwaukee, which we had to do before going off to see Thelma’s 95 year old aunt.

And that is where we went next. One of the main reasons for the trip was so Thelma could visit with her last living aunt, and at age 95 we don’t know how many visits she has left. What a spunky young lady.  She had us laughing with her stories and loved hearing Thelma talk about when she was young. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, which quickly went into the early hours of the evening.

100_6552Now, Aunt Suzie lives with her son and his wife John and Mary. They just happen to be exclusive members of the Milwaukee Yacht Club so we were taken to dinner. What a great place. I’ve never been to a private club, but this is definitely how the rich and famous live.  John had a yacht / sailboat that slept 7 and had a 54 foot mass.  Due to Johns recent back problems, he donated this yacht to the club so that they could sell it to help raise money.  Now yes it was a tax write off, but we were shown the boat and what a beauty.  Mary says the Yacht Club has found someone who wants to buy the boat and has agreed to keep the same name and keep it docked at the Milwaukee Yacht Club so that John and Mary can see it whenever they want. We had a great dinner, with great company and the view was breathtaking, to make for a great ending to a great day.

We ended up not leaving till 9:00 and we had a 3 hour drive to our campground. We had to make this destination as we have a rent a car coming in the morning that we can’t reschedule, so today was a very very long day.

In order to rate The Brewing company, well you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, the Yacht Club, the most fun of the day…I love the water and I just find eating with a view of a large body of water is just the best. So to rate Milwaukee as a whole, it gets a B and a place I would love to come back to and spend more time…maybe a ride out on the lake in a sail boat.


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Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

100_6534Louise Speaks:  Day 25:  From Madison it was on to Milwaukee, our furthest East destination this trip.  The goal was to get to the Milwaukee Art Museum by noon.  The reason was that the last time we were in Milwaukee we missed the wings opening or closing at the museum.  Weather permitting they open and close each day at noon.  The wings, known as, the Burke Brise Soleil, open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m.  Upon our arrival the wings were closed…not a good sign.  We checked inside and were told that it was pretty windy outside and the wings close artautomatically based on the wind speed, but he was hopeful that they would reopen at the noon hour.  We as well as many other viewers patiently waited until 12:10 and the wings did not open.  I guess this means we have to make yet another trip to Milwaukee to see the opening of the wings.

We did however, get a chance to go inside the museum and see the wings from the 100_6536underneath part.  The museum is also right on Lake Michigan, so the views are breathtaking.  I like the town of Milwaukee, and coming back yet a third time will not be a problem as I am determined to see the wings open and close.  I took the picture of the wings closed, but copied the picture of the wings open.  I’m sure now you will understand why I must come back to see this transformation.

As I’ve said many times before I am not a museum person, but the art work around this museum and even on the outside, were very good exhibits.  It was fun to walk around, but I was disappointed in not seeing the wings open and close.  You would have thought that living in a windy city he would have made con-sessions for the wind so that they could open and close in any weather.  Oh well, the wings, and the museum get a C rating.  This may change once I see them open and close.


Thelma Speaks:


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