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


Thanksgiving in Chicago!

After our Toronto mini-vacation, we flew to Chicago and met up with Mom at O'Hare airport. We stayed at the Embassy Suites just a few blocks off of Michigan Ave, right across from a Whole Foods, near a Target, and in the same overall development as an AMC Theater and Lucky Strike bowling alley.

Since we weren't due Chez Mr. E's parents for dinner until 4pm on Thanksgiving day, we decided to take an architectural boat tour with Wendella. We made it to the boat just as the rain began, but we stayed warm and dry inside the lower level, although that impacted our views of the many towers lining the Chicago River. Mr. E roamed around the outer gallery to get some photos of buildings, bridges, and other scenery:

Mom and I then went to a matinee of the move "Spotlight," which was playing in the nearby AMC theatres. In the evening, we had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with Mr. E's family and some family friends.

The next day, Mom and I had breakfast together and did some souvenir shopping at Walgreens. A rainy cold morning! We then headed back to Mr. E's parents so that Mom and I could swim in the awesome pool in their building before all of us went to Russian Tea Time for a full afternoon tea service. Lots of sweet and savory treats! We brought quite a bit back to the hotel (and eventually back to Sacramento).

In the evening, Mom, Mr. E, and I took a Holiday Lights Tour that included stops at the Christkindl Market and the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Zoo (we almost missed the bus because of the traffic on Michigan Ave. due not only to the Black Friday shoppers but also to the protests about teen shot by police). Luckily, we were just in time and got seats right at the front on the trolley, which made for a very easy on/off process at each stop! Mr. E and I got an ornament at the Market, along with a commemorative "boot" mug with a purchase of hot spiced cider.

Such a fun way to spend the holiday with a "hybrid" family gathering!


Mr. E and I took a mini-vacation to Toronto Nov. 21-25 prior to meeting up with his family and my Mom in Chicago for Thanksgiving.

We stayed at the Hilton Downtown Toronto, which was in a great central location, easily accessible from the airport via the UP Express train to Union Station. Our room on the 30th Floor had great views of the surrounding area:

On Sunday, we braved the cold weather (and snow flurries!) to take a 2-hour tour of Downtown Toronto, which allowed Mr. E to see some parts of the city that I had already passed during my morning run. We jumped off the bus at the Holiday Market in the Distillery District for lunch and some browsing:

Our focus on Monday was museums and touring other neighborhoods. We both visited the Gardiner and particularly enjoyed the 12 Trees of Christmas special exhibit along with the distinctive outdoor sculpture and the contemporary sculpture gallery:

After lunch at Over Easy (decent food, abrupt service), I headed to the Bata Shoe Museum and the Textile Museum while Mr. E walked back to the hotel past the Music Conservatory, Royal Ontario Museum, Chinatown, Kensington Market, Queen's Park, and several black squirrels. He also got some views of the iconic CN Tower.

On our final full day, we headed to the CN Tower for a 360-degree view over the city, including down through the glass floor. We also made a stop at Steam Whistle Brewing, where we sampled the signature ale and purchased a tacker for Mr. E's collection, and then headed back to the Distillery District to the St. Lawrence Market for lunch. We finished our evening with a visit to the plaza near City Hall, with the lighted TORONTO sign near the temporary ice rink.

We really enjoyed the city, despite the trend of somewhat unhappy customer service folks we encountered, and definitely plan to return during a warmer season. Baseball, anyone??!! At least we finally figured out the PATH underground pedestrian network so that we could stay warm and dry as we traversed much of the downtown area!