Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Fourth of July in Chicago

Mr. E and I are in Chicago for the long weekend. The primary reason for being here is related to his dad's recent health issues and heart surgery rather than the holiday or his Mom's birthday (which is today). Luckily, everything went well with the procedure, and his dad was able to be discharged and come home on Friday. Thus, Mr. E and I ended up with a totally free and unplanned day yesterday.

We decided to make it a "play day" in Chicago to enjoy the city and everything going on for the 4th of July, including the final three shows of the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field (tie-dye was spotted frequently all weekend!), home games for both the Cubs and the White Sox, and lots of street closures to get ready for Taste of Chicago, which begins in mid-week.

After breakfast with his parents, I found a Groupon deal for the Hop On Hop Off Downtown Tour, which loops around 12 stops in downtown Chicago. Mr. E and I headed off to one of the tour stops to board the bus and strolled through some of the new parts of Maggie Daley Park, just across the street from his parents' condo building. This park has been completely redone over the past few years and is now an amazing urban playground for all ages -- kids' playground, rock-climbing walls of varying levels, ice-skating/roller-blading track, mini golf course. So fun!

Snake Bridge to Millennium Park
We then crossed the snake bridge to Millennium Park, as I wanted to get some photos of several iconic sites (The Bean, the face fountain, Divvy bikes) featuring my CaliforniaHealth+ t-shirt as part of our upcoming efforts to enhance the visibility of CH+ during National Health Center Week in August.

#My Plus = Awesome Public Art
#My Plus = Family-Friendly Water Features
#My Plus = City Bike Share Programs
We eventually found our way to the bus stop after browsing through the souvenir shop in the park and making note of a few items to pick up on our way back. The weather yesterday was lovely -- warm but not hot, a little cloud cover, a light breeze -- so we were able to sit comfortably on the upper level of the double-decker tour bus, which gave us great views of the diverse architecture and urban landscape of downtown Chicago. (all photos by Mr. E)

Navy Pier
Michigan Ave Bridge with Wrigley Building in Background
Tribune Building
Hard Rock Cafe (Grateful Dead tribute band in parking lot)

"L" Underpass View
Hancock Tower
"Corncobs" Residential Towers
Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower)
Reflective Skyscrapers
Award-Winning "Aqua" Residential Tower
Trump Tower (hotel + residences)
Riverfront View
Chicago Theatre Sign & Marquee
We hopped off the tour near Water Tower Place and ended up at the Oak Tree Cafe for lunch, where I had some awesome salmon sliders with cucumber and watercress and a ginger soy glaze -- yum! After getting our free Hershey bars at the nearby shop, we hopped back on the bus to finish out the tour back where we started. Mr. E took a quick look around Old Navy while I got our free snack size treat sacks from Garrett Popcorn, and we then walked back to the souvenir shop at Millennium Park to purchase two magnets, a Bean ornament, a snow globe for S, and a t-shirt for Christian. We were able to use a coupon from the bus tour company, so it's good that we waited until after the tour to do our shopping!

When we got back to the apartment, Mr. E went to work out in the Fitness Center on the 7th Floor while I hung out with his parents and started to prep the veggies for dinner, which Mr. E and I prepared for the four of us. We then headed back out to Maggie Daley Park for a round of mini-golf -- much cooler with no sun at 8:30pm! The course was practically empty, so we didn't have to rush at all. Mr. E was the victor, and we can get $2 off our next rounds by saving our scorecard (and remembering to bring it with us on a return visit).

The fireworks at Navy Pier were set to go off at 9:30pm, so we wandered up Harbor Drive (perpendicular to the street where Mr. E's parents live) and joined lots of other folks who'd had the same idea to line the sidewalks and get a view of the fireworks between the buildings. Even though there were many people around, we were still able to find a spot that wasn't too crowded and that provided us with a quick exit route down the stairs to the lovely Lakeshore East park, which is less than 2 blocks from Mr. E's parents' place.

What a great way to spend the 4th of July!


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