And thus ends the hiatus. I believe it was almost 13 months ago after my final post from Chicago that I finally gave up this blogging thing for a bit. 3,000 posts over 15 years and I just needed a break. But, alas, I found myself longing for the chance to type once more and employed the services of Rob to help me set up this fine looking specimen of a site here.
And with that I’m back, hopefully for the long haul. I post today with a purpose – Paul and I are off this morning for our annual baseball trip, and it’s a crazy one this time around. We leave today for Phoenix where, tomorrow, we’ll take in a D’backs game. There’s a bit of a surprise happening beforehand that I’ll be sure to blog about. Then Saturday it’s off to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for an RCPM concert. In between, lots of stuff. Follow along with the Foursquare check-ins on the right there, and we’re hoping for nightly images and videos to share.
So day two started at 12:40PM, probably the latest I’ve ever woken in my life. I somehow avoided the usual general irritability that follows my sleeping in, dusted myself off, and headed into the city with Paul to find Wrigleyville and Goose Island. Even in Key West my breakfast beer had come after a square meal, so one could authentically question my starting the day with a Goose Island Midwest Coast Wheat.
The actual order? The Stilton Burger, which I’d read about prior to my arrival in Chicago. Those of you who know me even passively are likely aware of my desire to turn everything into a story, and this seemed the appropriate time. The menu reported this: Pepper-crusted burger, Stilton cheese, garlic cloves, German mustard, pumpernickel bread. What was delivered:
It was an unreasonable amount of roasted garlic cloves, served whole and mashed into the blue cheese in the burger. That said, it was actually quite tasty, but again, a poor breakfast choice. As was the addition of a Goose Island Nut Brown Ale to chase it.
From there, off to Chicago Music Exchange. And for those of you who enjoy guitar this may seem a little exciting for you:
We wasted a lot of time there, I got to play the elusive Rickenbacher I’ve chased my entire life, and after my first visit to Whole Foods, finally hit the hotel again. I should note we hit the hotel following a bus ride where one of the many drunks we’ve run into while here offered some nice young lady riders the formidable and heart-healthy advice of “don’t get impregnated”. Sound advice. We cleaned up a bit, jumped in the car, and were off to stop #2 on our “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” tour: Smoque BBQ.
Upon our arrival the lineup was out the door and down the street, and it was about 8:30PM. Herb, a USPS delivery man right behind us, informed us it’s like this every night and it’s that good. Around that time a limousine pulled up and emptied an entire family of Albertans, in town for the the restaurant convention, and having heard of Smoque from the same show I had. The head of their crew was quick to offer up a swig of Old No. 7, which we passed on (reluctantly) while getting to know them a little more. Turns out they own a series of hotels and restaurants, as well as Canadian rights to some other brands. It became an incredible entertaining and social line-up that was truly enjoyable. The food? Incredible, but with our systems so out of whack (we’ve barely eaten this trip, and when we do, we eat too much) we didn’t touch near enough of what we’d ordered. Still, what we had was awesome, and we rolled ourselves back to the car, and rolled our car back to the hotel.
I can’t believe I’m typing this at the end of day 3 and still don’t have the initiative or stomach room to try the Bell’s Expedition Stout sitting in front of me. Ugh.
Day two diary is still in moderation, but hopefully up by the time y’all are seeing it:
Tired. For the first time in my life I slept in until 12:40PM, Chicago time. 1:40PM Toronto time. I’m not as cranky as I usually am when I sleep in, but I suppose it was necessary. From heretofore I shall speak in Chicago time, as it’s what I’m involved in now.
We were up at 4:10AM to be out and on the road for a little after 5:00. Hit a Starbucks for a quick bite and a big coffee and we were off. The border crossing was a breeze, and it was about 30 minutes in that we pulled off for breakfast at The Fly Trap in Ferndale, Michigan. I had seen it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and decided to give it a try, with their Green Eggs and Ham highly regarded. It was an excellent breakfast, both Paul and I really enjoyed it, and in no time it was back on the road.
From there it was the road to Kalamazoo:
Next stop – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bell’s is one of the more esteemed brewers in the States, owners of the popular Expedition Stout and Hopslam IPA. Being that I was driving I avoided the 10% stout, settling on picking some up at the General Store to take home, and sipping on a Java Stout while I was there. Paul opted for the Kalamazoo IPA, which doesn’t compare to the Hopslam (similarly, the Java Stout doesn’t compare to the Expedition) but was a great beer in its own right.
At this point we’d made great time, over an hour ahead of schedule, but didn’t count on a THREE AND A HALF HOUR delay in getting through Chicago, from the South entrance to our hotel on the North end. We got to the hotel, checked in, dropped our bags, got directions, and booted it downtown for our Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show. It was great, probably the best we’ve seen them, and we took the opportunity again to hang out with the band a bit afterwards. Finding out Paul was building a Telecaster Roger Clyne himself has offered to sell one of his Telecasters, assuming his son doesn’t lay claim to it. I gave him my card and we’re expecting possible contact in mid-June for one gently used Daphne Blue Highway One Telecaster!
Back to the hotel at 2:40AM we hit the sack and woke up not long ago. Looong day. We’re off now to Chicago Music Exchange, Goose Island, and Kelly Joe Phelps in concert in Evanston. Talk to you later!