Monday, October 31, 2011

Illinois and Wisconsin weekend

Two weekends ago, had a quick but fabulous trip to the midwest to see our friends get married. We've been friends with the groom, Jason, for over a decade, after meeting him as a brother of one of J's random roommates in her one year at Carroll College in Wisconsin. It's amazing to think of how several lifelong friendships have developed from that one year,we had a great time at the wedding, with the groom, bride, and families being great hosts that threw a great party that went by altogether too quickly!

Some other blog-related (whatever that means) tidbits and observations:


  • Stopped at Revolution Brewing for lunch in downtown Chicago -- a little mid-upper high end in prices but also food and service. For lunch, a pizza and polenta fries, along with a brew, were just perfect.

  • Also stopped at the first Dunkin Donuts I saw. We have them down in the Springs, but otherwise don't have much access to it, especially fresh vanilla long johns (maple seems to be more popular West of the Mississippi, in my donut observation at least)

  • Since we passed another dozen or so DD's along the way, I probably didn't need to get as excited as I did about seeing the first one

  • Drove into the maelstrom of downtown Chicago traffic in the rental car, heading for Michigan Avenue. This requires alertness, agressive maneuvers, swerving around delivery trucks, and running through numerous yellowish-red lights (possibly with a courtesy honk). I find this kind of chaotic driving oddly soothing, because everyone actually seems to be focused on the task. I'm much more frustrated with hitting every stoplight on Colfax (for example) around here precisely because people are doing everything but driving

  • At H&M, downtown, I found pants that fit!

  • Took surface streets out West so as to see something different and avoid tolls. The system was annoying and weird decades ago when we drove through, and is even more antiquated and strange now. The last thing I want to do is go 60-to-0-to-60 to pay $0.80. And I don't want to think about bringing quarters or even singles as soon as I get to the airport, let alone think about how this will work with a rental car if I blew through and relied on the license plate instead.

  • Made a planned stop in Naperville: looked somewhat interesting on the map, which was seconded by a local trailrunner, Lance. Naperville Running Store is supposedly one of the country's best running stores. I visited, and it sure is a nice store, but then I realized how visiting cool running stores isn't entirely useful unless you need something, which I didn't. Which is why I like running: because I don't need to buy a lot of stuff. Still a cool store.

  • Trader Joe's! Splurged on a $4 malbec, and got some 'sushi' rolls for dinner, to bring back to the hotel.

  • Sandwich and Yorkville, Illinois
  • Kept driving into increasing nowhere-ness, until getting near the town of Sandwich, Illinois, where the reception was to be held (at a nice hotel/convention center, which is fun and convenient once you get into town).

  • Sandwich does not have any interesting sandwich shops or delicatessans, or large statues of sandwiches.

  • Jason's parents (Jerome and Marian) had a great pre-party Friday night, welcoming out of town guests, and I really enjoy when people do that. Even better, they had it down the road in Yorkville at Kendall Pub, which had a surprisingly cool ambiance and availability of microbrews, which Jerome was supporting and was served by a great staff).

    Good news: I enjoyed a large Dead Guy Ale, one of my all-time favourites, as well as a local brew from Metropolitan brewing, and a Warsteiner Oktoberfest. All were excellent.
    Bad news: For some reason, the combination of these, a bit of wine, and little-to-no sleep the night before, really hit me hard.


After this, I found out that this guy was a few hours North in the Wisconsin Dells -- and won the marathon! Holy cow!
Or should I say -- Spotted Cow -- since he had previously visited New Glarus brewery? That explains the victory!


  1. Food and brew sounds good. My brother who lives in Chicago has been known to "check in" from Revolution. He's been trying to get me to visit for a brew tour (since... no mountains, gotta try something) but thus far I've settled for him coming here :) Maybe some day. It is a nice city.

    I drove though an RF toll road in a rental (it may have been here) and they just photo your plates and track you through the rental company and bill you. At least that's the way it worked for me. I then paid online in a few minutes. It was actually amazingly convenient.

  2. Cool, glad Revolution ended up being a good pick, as there were others.
    Downtown is great, multiple people discussed how unfortunate it is that the surrounding areas/suburbs are less exciting. I would be perfectly happy if the exact cities (history, architecture, businesses, etc.) of Denver and Chicago switched places!

    The toll: I like the idea if it's my own car, but in a rental car, I didn't know if there were some weird extra fee for tracking me down (which I assumed would be easy), let alone opening up possibilities of screwups (get sent bills from a wrong date, multiple billing, etc.), under the theory that the difference between "0" and "1" possible interactions increases the chances immensely of some sort of snafu. Or I could see myself forgetting to pay within a week, all for 80 cents!
    Mostly, though, growing up in Wisconsin, we've made out the toll roads in Illinois to be some sort of major character flaw, so I can't pass up complaining about them!