Sue and I flew out of Logan Thursday 07/25/19 for a 4 day trip to see Chuck and Denise. We actually left late Wednesday afternoon. With a 7:30 am flight out, I had booked a room at the Four Points Sheraton in Revere so we could just get the shuttle in from there.
The whole crew at Naperville's Riverwalk area! Me, Braden, Denise, Sue, and Chuck.
It had been really hot the previous few days, and early in the week Sue was out watering and taking care of her gardens. I took this great shot of all the blooming going on in the flower beds up by the stone wall.
Flowers blooming up by the stone wall.
We were a little late getting on the road Wednesday as I had to run Beau over to the Alton Veterinary Clinic. We weren't sure if it was just the heat from the last couple of days, or what. Poor guy had been really dragging, and then threw up a couple of times the other day. He was acting really weird Wednesday, and so I thought I'd run him over to see what was up.
Well, $350 later I brought a still very wobbly from the anesthesia dog home to recover. Seems he had ripped up two areas of his mouth chewing a stick. Both were infected and so the doctor had to put him out in order to patch him up. Gad.... He was still circling the rim when we dropped him off at Cathy and Steve's house on our way out. But he was fine. Both Cathy, and then Gail, who came over to our house to stay with him for a couple of days on Saturday, said he was taking his meds and feeling more like a dog than a zombie. Poor guy....
We didn't head out from Cathy's until just after 3:00 pm. That was later than I had wanted to leave at 1:30 pm as I didn't want to get jammed up in commuter traffic down on Route 1. We were lucky, though, and made it to the Four Points by Sheraton Boston Logan Airport in Revere, MA around 4:15 pm. Here's my Yelp! review:
We played some backgammon in the room before heading over to Unos for dinner. Had wonderful meals, as I mentioned in the review, came back and got wine at the hotel bar, and went up to the room to watch some useless tv. Early to bed as really early 4:30 am wake up Thursday.
Sue and I toasting our trip at dinner at Unos in Revere, MA.
Yup, Four-O-Dark-Thirty is not my idea of a good time to get out of bed. But we had to be down in the lobby by 5:15 to insure that they knew we wanted to be on that 5:30 shuttle. Smooth ride in, about 18 minutes, though it took some time checking bags and getting through security. We didn't have all that long to wait until boarding started.
We had a hop through Cincinnati, a small, but nicely done, and interesting airport.
Cincinnati airport display.
That flight was on time leaving and we were hugging Chuck in the luggage area of Chicago's O'hare International Airport at 11:45 pm. Denise had dropped him off and was circling back to get us all after we grabbed our bags. It was so good to see her. Quick hugs, and we were on the road.
While we waited for Denise to pull the car around to pick us up at Delta's Arrivals area, Chuck took this selfie of us.
We stopped for lunch at Portillo's Hot Dogs. As soon as Sue heard the option for real Chicago dogs, she was all in! And man, it just couldn't get any better than at Portillo's! That place is terrific. You just have to see it, to experience the energy there to appreciate what a landmark this place is.
After unloading the bags from the car at Chuck's and hauling them up to our room, we all sat out on the back deck. It's just beautiful. They sit on about 1.7 acres, mostly open rolling grass, but trees all around. Fortunately, there was a wonderful breeze swirling through the trees and around us as it was really hot.
View of Chuck's house from the back yard.
Braden got home from work around 5:30 I think it was, and so we had a nice chance to get to know him a little before we all sat down for dinner.
Me, Braden, and Sue.
Denise, Chuck, Braden, and me outside in the covered porch area.
View of the back yard from the covered porch area.
The plaque says: "Come Sit On My Porch" Yeah, I got that part down with no trouble....
Denise had all the ingredients laid out on the table for the great tacos we had for dinner. Those were complemented nicely with a wonderful bottle of 2013 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir that Chuck opened. This was a really, really nice Pinot. I haven't had much luck finding good Pinots under about $25, but this one priced currently at around $50 was just super. It definitely sets the standard for me for Pinot Noir, that's for sure!
We stayed in Graham's room and he had made up the greatest inspirational quote display I've seen; had to get a picture of it!
Graham's inspirational quote display.
While Sue and Denise took a long nature walk, Chuck and I jumped into his beautiful Porsche 911 Carrera for a sightseeing ride through the countryside.
Looking good in Chuck's Porsche 911 Carrera
Our destination was the Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton, IL for a visit to his mom's grave. It was a beautiful day, and with the top down on the car, we drove along discussing his mom's life as I remembered it.
We stopped at a store, and Chuck went in to get a couple of pots of fresh flowers to put at the grave. Sort of tough kneeling at the grave, and placing those flowers as we both felt the deep connection between us, even though it had been 50 years.
At Kathy's grave in Assumption Cemetery, Wheaton, IL.
At Kathy's grave in Assumption Cemetery, Wheaton, IL.
At Kathy's grave in Assumption Cemetery, Wheaton, IL.
After leaving the cemetery, we took a drive though Wheaton, which is just a lovely small town. Chuck showed me the place where Kathy's sister Jeannie had parked and picked her younger sister Sue up to tell her that Kathy had died. Just a parking spot, but significant in so many peoples lives....
We grabbed a quick lunch at a local Chipotle Mexican Grill, did some more sightseeing, and then headed back to Yorkville. We rolled in at 2:30 and were back on the road in Denise's Jeep Grand Cherokee by just after 3:00 pm. Braden had joined us as he was excited to share the trip up to Naperville, IL, a city of 147,000, but still retaining a very small town vibe.
The DuPage River runs through Naperville, and one of the main downtown areas is their Riverwalk area. It was built by residents in 1981 to commemorate the city's 150th birthday, and it is one of the loveliest areas I've ever been to.
We went to the SixtyFour - Wine Bar & Kitchen on the Riverwalk. What a great time that was! They had 64 different wines that you could sample 1, 3, or 6 ounces. I was all over that!
SixtyFour - Wine Bar & Kitchen on the Riverwalk
Sue found a really nice California 2016 Sea Sun Chardonnay with a rating of 88 Points for only $17: "Sea Sun has a subtle nose, with scents of lightly grilled mango, soft butterscotch, juicy red apple, and newly ripened pineapple and apricot. Entry on the palate is round and creamy, with flavors of lemon curd and brown spice on the mid-palate. The finish has a grippy, toasty quality, with notes of cinnamon and lemon squares."
And I really enjoyed a 2017 Pessimist Red Blend Paso Robles, CA with a rating of 92 Points and price of $21: "Blueberry, boysenberry and black plum fragrance on the nose. Evolving layers reveal elderberry and truffle, with cocoa and cardamom spice accents, hints of eucalyptus, leather, cherry pipe tobacco and grilled meats. The finish is smooth and leisurely."
Amazingly, there was a sampling for The Prisoner that Nora had brought when she came over for dinner 07/20/19. And it's price was listed at $48.
I also tried a 2014 Blackbird Paramour from Napa Valley, CA that was listed at 95 Points with a retail price of $135: "84% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot. Complex aromas of blueberry, violets, espresso, and eucalyptus encircle the nose. Layers of cherry, blackberry, and savory herbs combine with fine-grained tannins on the palate, leading to a round, supple finish with persistent length." I liked it, but I actually liked the Pessimist better. And that's what I had a full glass of.
Two fisted sampling of some of the wines.
We took our wines out onto the veranda and got a table overlooking the river. Again, just a perfect day. Chuck ordered several appetizers that we enjoyed with our wine as we all just sat and had the best time ever.
Outside on the deck at SixtyFour enjoying the day.
I would have stayed there forever, but we wanted to walk around the area a little before heading off for dinner.
Trying to organize a group shot.
Got it! With all the walking we would be involved in over the next few days, I was glad that I had brought Janis with me.
This is just trouble - on a dare to jump in the fountain, Sue was right at it, but we convinced her that follow through was not essential, and we'd prefer not getting hung up getting her out of jail.
Shot of the SixtyFour from across the river.
The whole crew! Me, Braden, Denise, Sue, and Chuck.
Sue and I had just the best time together!
Reenactment of one of our wedding pictures.
Denise had booked 8:00 pm reservations for us at The Turf Room Restaurant in North Aurora, IL, about a half hour drive from The SixtyFour. My Yelp! Review tells it all!
Though we got back to the house late, it wasn't too late - in our opinion, anyway - to get a movie going. We complemented the movie by having a nice Bourbon Manhattan over the rocks. I'm not experienced in bourbons, but Chuck is, and this was smooth.
After having a wonderful quiche and fresh fruit that Denise had made for breakfast, Chuck and I went into his study to take a quick look at the currency trading platform we had downloaded. We could have been there for the duration, but we had other — far more important — things to do!
All 5 of us piled into the Jeep, and were off on an adventure into Chicago. It had been 1968 since I had been to Chicago, and was excited to see the sights.
View of the Chicago skyline from the turnpike.
The plan was to drive to the city over Route 88, come into the Loop from the south, head north along Lake Shore Drive to Lincoln Park, and then come back south down through downtown via Michigan and Clark streets so Sue could get an idea of the whole city.
Wow! What changes to the skyline since I was a kid! As a Junior and Senior in high school, I had a summer and school vacation job working for the famous architectural firm, Harry Weese & Associates, and so I was pretty familiar with the entire downtown area.
Driving north on Lake Shore Drive along the water. This is a shot of North Avenue Beach where my dad had been a life guard when he was young.
Interesting story as to how I got that job: I knew one of my brother's best friends, the also well known architect, Stanley Tigerman. In a meeting with Stanley in his downtown office one day when I was a junior in high school, he told me about Weese. Weese had an important role in 20th century modernism and historic preservation, and had a 60 person firm just north of the Chicago River. Stanley picked up his phone, called Weese, and, after hanging up, turned to me and said, "I got you an interview with Harry in 30 minutes. Better get going."
Holy shit! An interview with Harry Weese! I was beyond excited. And nervous. But Harry was just the most wonderful person you could imagine, though if you got him mad, he was fierce. I worked as an office boy for him for that summer, then any vacation time I had, and then the following summer he put me on the boards doing building materials listings, and then actual blueprint drawing expansions. It just couldn't have been any better. And it was that experience that gave me a walking knowledge of the downtown area as one of my tasks was delivering blueprints and proposals all over the city, sometimes taking taxis to get to a company.
So, for me to be able to just sit in the car and drive down all of the streets I had, at one time 50 years ago, been hoofing drawings around for Harry Weese & Associates was just the nuts. Long story, but just a small part of the full story that I tell on my personal page: Thoughts On Life And Other Trivial Matters Of No Interest.
Chuck parked the car in the underground Millennium Park Garage, and we walked over to the Riverwalk area along the Chicago River.
Busy Michigan Avenue in one of the busiest sections.
View of famouns Wacker Drive.
Man, what a busy, vibrant area the Riverwalk is! Chuck said that the entire pedestrian walking area is a relatively new feature. It seemed as though everyone in the city was there. Tour boats and kayaks were constantly moving up or down the river as we walked along. We stopped and sat for awhile as Sue wanted to run up to the bridge and take some pictures from there.
The 2 circular buildings on the right are the Marina Towers, and were built when I was just a young boy.
The guy in the kayak that just paddled by is a cop on river patrol.
Clark Street Bridge — not to be confused with our Clarks!
Sue walked up the stairs and onto the bridge to take this picture of the 4 of us sitting on the steps by the river.
We stopped along the Riverwalk for ice cream, and Sue couldn't resist getting a picture of this sign that was hanging in the shop.
From the Riverwalk area, we hiked over to The Bean (Cloud Gate) exhibit in Millennium Park. What an amazing sight!
The Bean exhibit in Millennium Park.
Sue taking a picture of us reflected in The Bean!
Man, was it hot! I think the temperature was in the low 90s, and the sun was brutal. From The Bean, we walked, and then hopped a pedicab, down to the water front. I had wanted to see the Columbia Yacht Club where we had sailed our 12 foot Penguin class racing dingy, Ding-ho! from in the 60s.
Taking the pedicab down to the lake front.
Columbia Yacht Club.
Columbia Yacht Club.
Columbia Yacht Club.
He taught me how to sail there off the Columbia Yacht Club dingy docks when I was probably only about 10 years old. It created a lifelong love of the water and sailing for me. It was a moving nostalgic experience for me as the time I spent there was one of great growth for me, and was something my dad and I shared together.
From Columbia, we walked along the water front to the Chicago Yacht Club, and picked up an Uber to our next destination: dinner!
Along the water front walkway. You can just see the Adler Planetarium at the left end of the picture in the distance.
A look back at the Columbia Yacht Club.
Better view of the Adler Planetarium.
Chicago Yacht Club on the right. We walked over to the entrance area and called an Uber to take us to dinner.
It was only about a 15 minute Uber ride to Osteria Via Stato located in the Embassy Suites Hotel. Chuck had mentioned it as having good Italian food, and I was all for that! We got there around 4:45 pm and had cooling sodas in the hotel lobby until they opened at 5:00 pm.
Approaching the Italian restaurant Osteria Via Stato.
After dinner, another Uber back to the parking garage, and then about an hour's ride home to Yorkville. Movie of the night selection was the great 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum. That ran until around midnight, and I was really ready for bed by then!
Sue got this picture of Buckingham Fountain in a drive by shooting. The work going on was for an upcoming music festival.
Despite the late night, we were all up for the Danish pastries and fruit that Denise had set out for breakfast. After breakfast, while Denise and Sue headed off to the store for some last minute groceries, Chuck and I went back into his study for more training on the currency trading platform.
Denise's folks, Wes and Peggy, arrived for lunch around 11:30 am. It was great meeting them both, and just having a great time chatting until Chuck had finished grilling up some great Angus Beef burgers. Denise had made up potato salad, and just a super bean mix with bacon.
Wes and Peggy joined us for a great Sunday cook out.
After lunch, Chuck ran through some judo videos of Braden for us. Really interesting as Braden is a National Champ in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, and earned a spot on Team USA at his weight class (185 lbs).
After Wes and Peggy left, Chuck and I went back into his study for more currency trading education. Denise and Sue went exploring and when they got back we transfered into the kitchen to kibitz and help with dinner prep.
Before Denise started cooking, Chuck popped open a bottle of 2012 Stags Leap Fay Cabernet that he had been given as a gift.
The bottle of 2012 Stags Leap Fay Cabernet we had for dinner Sunday evening.
Two very pleased party folks!
Now, that was absolutely mah-vo-loose! We couldn't help it, and looked the current retail price up: $141, and it was worth every penny of that.
We had some right after pulling the cork, and sipped it all the way through 4 major changes in flavor as it smoothed out. Truly a really great wine; good luck finding that in a restaurant. And, even if you did, you'd probably be in the $350 range. Nice is all I have to say about that!
Denise fixed a wonderful mushroom and Italian Mascarpone cheese risotto with 2 incredible main dishes: herb baked salmon and skillet sauteed shrimp and scallions and other seasonings. I'm not a fish person, and particularly salmon, but I tried some of Sue's (who loves salmon) and it was so smooth. But the shrimp is something that I'm going to try to duplicate as it went so great with the risotto.
In fact, in my humble opinion, Denise's risotto was actually better than what I had tasted at Osteria Via Stato. Yup. That good. Nice is all I have to say about that.
We all had so much fun participating in the party that we just have to do it again. And again, and again, and... again! Anytime! I'm up for that. Anytime!
And things got even better because at 7:30 pm we all jumped into the Jeep to take Sue on a sunset picture taking adventure! She got some terrific shots, as did Chuck who got some interesting pictures as well.
We pulled back into Chuck's driveway just as the sun was fully setting below the open field horizon behind the trees surrounding the house.
Chuck's house as the sun sets.
So, along with the movie of the night, The Bourne Legacy, Chuck decides to pull out his prized bottle of bourbon: a 12+ year old Van Winkle Lot B Special Reserve that had been given to him as a special gift.
The bottle of 12+ year old Van Winkle Lot B Special Reserve.
Now, this isn't just any bottle of bourbon, as I came to learn. This stuff is only on a very limited release, and if you're not on the list then your shit-outta-luck for this puppy. And once it's gone, at a shelf retail price of around $150, its value skyrockets. In fact, if you can find it, you'd pay anywhere from $700 to over $1,200. That was some really expensive sipping we did that night!!
I don't particularly care for bourbon, but I'd sip that anytime it's offered. It was sooooo smooth, I just could not believe it with all the far, far less superior bourbons that I've had in the past. I'm totally spoiled. Totally....
Woke up a little later than I would have liked to. Probably that demon Van Winkle.... Anyway, quick pack up, a corn muffin that Sue and Denise had picked up at the store yesterday, and we were out the door at 9:15 am to O'Hare airport for our 12:30 pm flight home.
Sue couldn't help snapping this picture at O'Hare on our way to our gate.
Though the plane boarded on time, we got stuck for almost an hour on the runway on hold due to passing thunder storms. That caused us to miss our connecting flight out of Detroit. I hate connectors....
So, we sat in Detroit for over an hour when they announced that the flight was delayed until 6:30 pm. Terrific. Sue walked over to one of the food courts and got us sandwiches to hold us over. Have to roll with it, though....
View of the Boston coastline as our flight made it's approach into Logan.
After getting our bags at Logan in Boston, we called the Four Points Sheraton for the shuttle. It was on the way, so we didn't have to wait more than about 10 minutes. On the way out, we stopped at that McDonnalds I had mentioned for burgers as we were pretty hungry because it was 9:30 pm.
Smooth drive home, and we were greeted to the howls of The Beau Dog as we stepped out of the car. We played with him for a couple of minutes before pulling the bags out of the trunk, and lugging them upstairs. No unpacking tonight; we could do that in the morning. And we did!