Tuesday, October 21, 2014

to the suburbs


The RRS had been abed for several days during his vacation. We had not been climbing since leaving LA, so we were both pretty (READ: excessively) excited to go climbing. The night before we started looking at the online media for this place and bugged out. He even started hyperventilating. I'm pretty sure he did not go to sleep. We went to a new Vertical Endeavors location that had opened that month and proclaimed itself the largest in the nation (don't they always say this?). Also, we went right when the doors opened. 
It's a strange gym because they don't let you get on anything unless you go on an orientation tour thing which is annoying because you have to wait around and just gawk at everything until another tour starts. I've never had this happen at any other gym. They have a ton of auto belays, about 30. It's a really big gym and they have everything - bouldering, trad, sport, top rope. Enough for any type of climber to be satisfied, probably. The flooring is weird tire rubber pieces, which I've decided is not preferable and probably worse because it never gets cleaned. We spent more time than we were intending to there, but it was a lot of fun and the RRS slept really well that evening. 

coincidentally aloft,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

increasingly hipster-fied


Mushing our way to Chinatown to meet the family for dinner, I commanded my brother stop so I could get Beaver Donuts. We had just eaten in the suburbs because we were post-climbing starved and I do not have the self control to curb my enthusiasm. Yes, the doughnuts were totally worth it. The truck happened to be parked at this art festival thing/event. This area between Pilsen and Chinatown has increasingly become more hipster-fied throughout the years. Formerly very abandoned-industrial, it is now abandoned-industrial cum hip-grunge-artist-loft. 

not cool enough,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

taxi time

I decided (and the boys consented) to taking full advantage of the water taxi day pass everywhere. We started in Chinatown and went downtown to Michigan Ave where we shopped a little and checked out Eataly. Must return! S showed us his alma mater block party where we took full advantage by eating their food. Our next stop was a ride all the way up to North Ave, a neighborhood I'm not familiar with because I seldom visit. The taxi ride is a lot of fun and relaxing and a great perspective. It takes a while to get up there so the ticket price is definitely worth it. Upon landing, we walked for a bit just window shopping before making our way back to Chinatown and home for dinner. I highly recommend getting a day pass on the water taxi if you are looking for a unique, fun way to get around to a lot of places. 

better than a car,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

perfect day


The last day I would see my best friend before heading back to the west coast, we went to go check out the new facilities at the park in Chinatown. They are pretty fancy as far as public parks go. I love new parks. They are so well maintained and not so well used yet. This picture is so postcard perfect and representative of my day with her. 

We also got pizza at one of my favorite neighborhood places, which isn't pictured because it's in my belly!

externally elated,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

something touristic

I spent a day with S and friends from LA doing touristic things because it was their first time. For those of you looking for a fun loop tour of Chicago, I'm about to make your day. 
We started off at Intelligentsia for some caffeine because my friends had been walking around for a bit looking at Millennium Park and architectural hotspots. The Chicago Cultural Center is right next door so it was perfect because there was also an exhibit there I wanted to see. I made sure to show them the Tiffany dome. We headed down to make our way up Dearborn to see the Thompson Center, City Hall, Daley Plaza, and the Flamingo at this other plaza. This last sight popped us off right by the Harold Washington Library, which is one of my favorites. And I got to show them the roof before sending them on their way with a packed itinerary for the rest of their visit. 
poignantly perplexed,

Thursday, October 2, 2014

throne of pillows


His majesty spent several days in my room because he has the immune system of an 11 year old. Abed his throne of pillows. I also had to bring out all the winter blankets. Never has my bed ever been piled up with so many blankets. Not even in the winter when our heat is broken and it's negative degrees outside. 

eternally pansy,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

sauna hike


I made the poor decision of going to Starved Rock State Park on an extremely hot and muggy day. The temperature was probably approaching 100, and the humidity was probably extreme (80%-90%). I dragged my brother, cousin, mom, and the RRS along. We decided on the 6 mile route, and finished in about 3 hours taking lots of photo breaks. The terrain is mostly flat. Because the sandstone erodes so easily, they request you wear regular walking shoes because hiking shoes damage the rock, and they pave the main paths to prevent further erosion. I would rate this hike on physical geography alone as super easy because most of the route was paved and flat. The heat made it more difficult, but it was also shaded all the way. This place is gorgeous. I highly recommend a visit. You are weaving in and out of these massive canyons, gorgeous rock formations and sandstone features to look at.

We left just as a major storm rolled in, perfect timing. We munched on diy cracker/salami/cheese sandwiches on the car ride back. And the RRS spent the next couple days sleeping in my room because he has the immune system of an 11 year old. He suspects he and my cousin (who is 11) exchanged germs, and he got sick from my kid cousin. To be fair, my kid cousin got sick a few days later so his theory is not without correlation, but he's 11.

pleasingly immune,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

beaches on bikes


I'd been wanting to go on a beaches on bicycles tour of Chicago because nostalgia, and because it was hot. We started out scrambling to get enough bikes because my brother let his bike get stolen in Madison. I say this because I suspect he would rather it "get stolen" than have to deal with bringing it back home or trying to sell it, and maybe because it was a little tall for him. But also, I suppose you would think it would be safe in your parking spot in your parking garage in your building. The nerve of someone to steal from a fellow tenant! But also, it wasn't locked to anything. 

Our bicycle gang started from Chinatown after eating a massive brunch of dim sum because my mom has no control regarding ordering food. Our first beach was 31st Street, one of the newer ones that also features a brand new dock and harbor and playground. One of my favorites because it is so easily accessible from my neighborhood and is typically less crowded. We skipped 12th St beach because it was just a little out of the way, but in retrospect we probably should have just zipped by. It's one of my favorites because it's less well known and smaller, so typically less crowded. The views from Solidarity Drive and the Planetarium are amazing. It's a good beach for thinking deep thoughts.

Our next stop was Oak Street beach, just past Navy Pier. It's typically one of the more popular beaches because of its convenient location from downtown and Navy Pier, but still small and intimate. The gradient is not very drastic at all so you can walk pretty far out but it still wouldn't be very deep. Fun to just dip your toes after touristing downtown. And you get a great, intimate view of the skyline going North.
Our next stop was Ohio Street beach, which is massive. There are a bunch of volleyball courts you can play on. The view is pretty stellar. I did not frequent this beach often growing up, mostly just zipped past on my bike.

My favorite and ending point of this tour was to jump in the water from the deck. Between Ohio St beach and before the turnaround for North Ave beach are usually lots of people jumping into the water right from the path. You can just set up next to a ladder and you and your friends can just dive/jump in. It was super refreshing and fun, definitely a highlight. I highly recommend. Make sure your friends aren't wimps and only watching you have fun.

We stopped at North Ave beach only to use the facilities because this is probably my least favorite beach. It is always super crowded despite how enormous it is. It is probably the most used, and thusly - the dirtiest. I never have any interest in coming here, and going past is usually a challenge because there are always people walking every which way not paying attention.

We ended in the Lakeview/Belmont neighborhood to see E's apartment and gorge on korean chicken wings. Not my choice, but I was outnumbered because it was all boys. Usually the case.

enamorously recommended,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

the suburbs


This was the day N and I decided to go to the suburbs to go on a "hike." We started out on the "hike," which requires you to cross a road that has traffic that doesn't have stop signs. We had to cross a similar road several times, sometimes the same road. You are just hoping the the good grace of the driver will see you and not run you down as you dart back and forth across the street for this "hike." You can see the last place you crossed the street from the next street crossing. Hiking in the Midwest is nothing like hiking in CA. There is little to no elevation gain or loss; it is flat the whole time. Granted, there is foliage because this is a prairie and not a desert, but it's not like there is so much variation you can have when it is flat the whole time. So your view is pretty much trees on either side of a wide, flat road the. whole. time. 

We unanimously decided the 2 or 3 miles we had walked so far was not glorious enough to convince us to make another 4 to a waterfall and then walk back. So we turned around with the reward of snacks in the car. Promptly after wimping out, it started to rain, and then rain harder. We were thoroughly drenched by the time we got to the car. And that was glorious. Next time, we'll bring bikes. That "hike" is far better suited to experience on a bike. 

After arriving in the city, we picked up my brother K and got stuck at the train crossing. 

frantically awaited,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

rained out


One of our premier activities was the water park. I had been so, so excited to come here it was ridiculous. The RRS was deeply concerned the build-up in my head would lead to disappointment. The day came and it was glorious. We packed a cooler and loaded up the sunscreen. It was a perfectly hot day and I got a bunch of other friends to join. I had grown up watching too much television, so the commercial for Deep River Water Park is engrained permanently in my mind, just part of the soundtrack of my childhood. And it's somewhat surprising to me that we had never been despite the egregious adverts all over the area.

We spent the morning going on all the rides and slides on one end of the park until it started to rain in the afternoon. It was a glorious downpour all of California would be entirely envious of. There was probably more water that came down that day than all the water that exists in CA right now. They eventually shut down the park and we left for the candy factory we had passed on the way to the water park. After loading up on diabetes, we left for East Chicago.

Marktown is in East Chicago, IN. It's a planned worker community built in 1917 that did not get fully completed due to the aftereffects of WWI. It's built to look like a traditional English small town. I imagine this would be what a lot of towns looked like after WWI in England because there were a ton of abandoned, dilapidated buildings. It has a small footprint compared the the acres of BP that surround the community. There's something spooky and touching about a place like this. I felt like I had to tread softly as I stepped into a pocket of history that was forgotten or is oft overlooked. I had a sense of wonder about how out of place this piece of land is. I suggest a visit if you're ever in that direction. It's certainly fascinating.

We returned to Chicago and ended up attending an event in my increasingly hipster-fying neighborhood. Maria's was having a birthday party of sorts and had beer, sausages, and live entertainment on hand. Another community favorite of mine is the Italian ice from Freddie's. I did not care for Italian ice until Freddie's and I still don't care for anyone else's except Freddie's.

simply splashtastic,