Circling Eyjafjallajokul - Late Summer 2010 travel blog







It’s easy to understand why people get the impression that we don’t like where we live. After all we leave home about six months a year. But nothing could be further from the truth. Winter does last too long here; six weeks of snow, ice and darkness is about all we can endure. But the summers here are wonderful and they go by so quickly. I can still remember that delicious feeling in grade school when the term came to an end and the summer stretched endlessly in front of me. But I haven’t had that feeling in a long time, even though we do our best to prolong summer as long as possible.

We had a long bucket list of summer things we wanted to enjoy in the Chicago area when we came home last May, and we’ve only scratched the surface. We love the extensive theater life here and managed to see “Billy Elliott” and two comedy performances at Second City for half price. When you’re a native, you know where the deals are. Our time here has provided us with the opportunity to take advantage of Groupon, where you can buy a half price coupon to area restaurants and activities. Maybe we can find one to use when we're in New York at the end of this trip.

We spent a wonderful Saturday on a BBQ bike tour, riding about twenty miles through the ethnic neighborhoods of the city, sampling Korean BBQ, Pakistani BBQ, Chinese BBQ and BBQ southern US style. I lived in the city until I was 5, so my memories are dim and doubtless colored by the reminiscences of my parents. As they avidly saved for that dream house in the suburbs, our apartment building was sold to Koreans who raised the rent every month. It began to feel like a pit of quick sand to my parents. As we peddled on after enjoying the Korean version of BBQ, I suddenly began to recognize street names - Grandma and Aunt Marie lived on Hamilton Avenue, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Wally lived on Leavitt, and we had lived somewhere on Des Plaines. Those Koreans were still here! I wished I had brought the house numbers with me as I peddled along, peering at the fronts of small, but well kept homes. We would recommend the “bike and sample food” tours from Fork and the Road to everyone, but this ride took on a special poignance for me. We also love to take out bikes downtown and ride along the thirty miles of lake front. No other city we’ve visited has preserved its water front as well. And those bike rides always end with a picnic at Millennium Park, listening to a free music concert. Also the suburbs around our favorite city also have wonderful festivals and concerts. Most of them are free as well. In addition to those bike rides, we’ve worked regularly on our golf and tennis games - to no avail in my case. I try to console myself by repeating the “exercise is good for you” mantra.

And we love the neighborhood where we live. Most of us have been here over five years now and it feels like one of those places where “everyone knows your name.” After a summer that broke records for rain, the lawns, flowers and gardens have never looked better. Everything is so convenient. We know where to shop for the best whatever-is-on-our-list and the best places to eat. It’s time to head out, before that rut gets even deeper.

There’s a wonderful world out there and that bucket list is a long one as well. We look forward to visiting some old favorites and being able to put a few new pins on the map when we return from this cruise adventure.

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