Tag Archives: Chicago

A Devilish Smile Means Something’s A Brewing

Where to go?

Reading Week is fast approaching and sadly I still don’t know what I’m doing yet. You might recall that a few weeks ago I was toying with the idea of heading to England, Belize, New York, or Chicago, or pretty much anywhere full of blue sky and sunshine and ocean and warm tropical rays and beach-sized beverages and hotties feeding me grapes.

Okay, hotties feeding me grapes might be a bit of a stretch, but the other things are all doable.

Regardless, here it is, just over a week from the start of the most magical time of the year (a.k.a. Reading Week) and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I have a feeling I might end up just heading to the airport and selecting a flight at whim next Friday. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that an as last minute as someone can make a last minute flight vacation intrigues me in a way that I can’t really describe.

So what’s the point of this post? I have no idea.

All I know is that I just watched the video below, and now I find myself seriously wanderlusting in the worst kind of way.

Note: wanderlusting in the worst kind of way isn’t bad. It’s what drives me to crazy stupid awesome adventures. In other words – who the hell knows where I’m going to end up in just over a week – all I know is that I’m about to do something crazy, and I can’t help but smile in a knowing/evil kind of way.


Boundless TV Series Teaser from boundlesstvseries on Vimeo.


 

So Many Places, So Little Time

Sounds about right.

I have a mad case of wanderlust this eve.

I know, I know – that’s really not a big surprise. We all know that I’m pretty much always one with the wanderlust. Regardless, I started chatting about potential Christmas trips with my brother and now I can’t get it out of my mind. The problem is that there are just so may places to go. And not enough time. Or money.

Anyway, my options (at least as far as I can tell) are as follows:

I’m leaning heavily towards NYC given what’s happened there in the past few days/weeks. Also, because I love NYC. But visiting Chicago would give me the opportunity to visit my friend Ben, and also explore another city that I love. And then there are those other cities that I’ve never visited – Seattle and Boston to be specific. Perhaps I should visit them?

Wherever I decide to go, I know that the adventure is going to be a blast. In the meantime, if you have a preferred destination – let me know in the comments.


84.4 Is Going To Be Awesome

Shiny. The 2011 Goodlife Marathon medal.

So today it is official. Today marked the day that I officially registered to run in the Toronto Goodlife Marathon, which is scheduled to start Sunday May 6th at 7:30am.

Holy crapshite! That’s just over 60 days away. Yikes!

This will be my first marathon of the year. You may recall that one of my goals is to run 3 marathons in a single year (item #227 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list). This year – assuming I avoid injury and/or death – is going to be that year. As such, I plan on running a second marathon in Ottawa, and a third marathon in either Toronto or Chicago. Or possibly Calgary. Or Vancouver. There really are so many options.

But back to the race at hand – er – I should say races at hand. Because not only did I register for the Toronto Goodlife Marathon which is scheduled – as I mentioned – for May 6, but I also registered for the Ottawa Marathon scheduled for Sunday May 27th, three weeks after the first marathon. Which means I’m on track to also check off item #247 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list – run 2 marathons in 1 month.

Is this insane? Probably.

Am I going to do it? Hells ya.

But don’t worry folks, I’m not the only person with a clear desire to engage in acts of the silly kind. My friend Carolyn is going to be joining me on this mission, and we are going to rock it. Beyond attempting to complete 2 marathons in a month, we’re also going to be striving for personal best times in Toronto. Our goal for the second marathon is not so lofty – it is simply to finish – to prove to ourselves that we can in fact run these distances over a short period of time. Because, if this works out, we’re thinking about trying for the Goofy Run1 in Florida, or even a 50k, or 80k Ultramarathon.

May is going to be epic!


1 The Goofy Run is actually a set of 2 different runs. Specifically, a half marathon on Saturday, followed immediately by a full marathon on Sunday.


525 Thousand Six Hundred Minutes Of Wanderlust

January 2011: This blog was born in a volcano in Hawaii. Okay, it wasn't born in the volcano, but it was born near it.

Wow. Time really flies when you’re having fun.

It’s hard to believe that I wrote my very first blog post here at Consumed By Wanderlust 1 year ago today: January 19, 2011. I won’t say that my re-entry into the blogging world was all that profound; I mean, my first post here was entitled “My First Post (a.k.a. Worst Blog Title Ever)“. I’d like to believe that things have improved since that initial post. But let’s be honest, anything that followed “My First Post (a.k.a. Worst Blog Title Ever)” had to be an improvement, right?

February 2011: This blog may have partied in NYC three times in the past year.

When I started the blog I had fully intended it to be a place for me to write about my adventures, my academic and health related pursuits, my nerdery, and other such related bric-a-brac. And for the most part, I think I’ve been successful in that respect.

March 2011: This blog saw my family of one become a family of two when Elliot came to rule my world

I also had intended the blog to be a place where I could identify challenges for myself, set goals, measure them in some way, and further keep track of the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to do (as I am rather forgetful). And again, I think for the most part I’ve been successful in this too.

April 2011: This blog saw me conquer the CN Tower and crush my old personal best time by more than 3 minutes!

However, there were also unintended consequences of this blog that I never would have ever foreseen. First and foremost this blog has taught me a lot about myself. That’s not to say that I didn’t often stop to reflect on my life prior to the blog – I did. But having to put into words the things that I have been thinking or feeling has been a great way to evaluate not only where I am and where I want to go, but more importantly who I am and who I want to be.

May 2011: This blog saw me finish my first ever marathon.

A second amazing and unforeseen consequence has been the development of new friendships. The online community has been (and continues to be) amazing. For those Bloggers and Tweeters  that I’ve been able to meet in real life and get to know outside of the interwebs, I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this past year has been and how awesome all y’all are. You are a group of amazing individuals who are unbelievably active in the community, who are charitable and positive, optimistic about life, health-minded, and never lacking in laughter and smiles. You have and continue to inspire me to be better at everything that I do. Your lust for life is addictive, and I thank you for getting me hooked on it.

June 2011: This blog saw me travel out east for the first time.

Finally, I would also never have foreseen that my blog would be read by so many. To date, this little-old-blog has been viewed almost 40,000 times. It has received over 1500 comments and is followed by over 500 people. I’m not sure where that stands in the grand scheme of blogging, but it’s far beyond what I ever had imagined. Truth is, when I started this adventure I figured I might get a few family and friends reading my posts. The fact that this blog receives over 100 views per day astounds me.

Anyway, here’s to another year of blogging and all the awesome things that it brings.

July 2011: This blog saw me attacked by a 26 foot Marilyn Monroe in Chicago
August 2011: This blog saw me kick my hernia to the curb.
September 2011: This blog saw me hanging in Montreal with Dr. Dixon
October 2011: This blog saw me conquer another mountain with Rick, and celebrate in the manner appropriate of a classy bitch.
November 2011: This blog saw me visiting my brother in the hospital after a nasty car accident.
December 2011: This blog saw me visiting with Arlene (in NYC) - one of the most amazing people I know

Some statistics, because, well, why not?

  • Total posts: 316 since January 19, 2011
  • Total page views: 38257
  • Average daily views in 2011: 103
  • Average daily views in 2012: 127
  • Total followers: 518
  • Total comments: 1516
  • Most common search term that brings people to my blog: sad babies, followed closely by pi

Twelve Trips, Twelve Months

On Wednesday night, Aidan and I returned home from our 4 day adventure in New York City. Aside from the obvious excellent time that we had exploring New York, be that exploration of the visual, gastronomical, or booze-y variety, two other most excellent things happened while I was away.

First, I got to see Arlene. And, since item #130 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list was Travel to visit Arlene, and since I technically travelled to visit Arlene, although I may not have visited her in her home, it still counts. Hence, I’ve scratched item #130 from my list.

Of course, I’ve added another item on my list – item #242 – Travel to visit Arlene. The intent this time is that I must travel to her home. And stay for at least 3 days. The best and completely unintended part, is that the task must be completed 1001 days from today, which just so happens to be September 18, 2014. And that date, dear friends, is her birthday. Too cool.

Arlene and me, on the subway to Prince Street.

The other most excellent thing that happened while I was away, was the completion of item #195 – Travel once a month for twelve months. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure this one would happen. Not because I didn’t think I could travel that often, but because life could have gotten in the way. Thankfully, despite some rather crazy events this year, I was still able to complete this task. And I’ve had a blast doing it. So much so that I’ve outdone the original goal. That is, I’ve travelled at least 13 times in 12 months. Apparently I don’t know how to count.

Does this mean that I’m going to stop travelling? Hells no. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I suffer from the wanderlust. Of course, I’m not necessarily going to stick to travelling once per month, although I am going to do my best to keep this up. My vacation days aren’t just going to go on vacation without me, right? Having said that, my intention this coming year is to hit up Ottawa in January to visit some friends, and I’ve already planned a trip to Calgary to see Rick and go ice-climbing (as described here). After that, I’m hoping to hit up Japan, or maybe Malaysia, or some other such country with Rob, and there has been discussion about a trip to Vegas, as well as Los Angeles.

The point is, my travel days are far from over.

How the nerds calculate circumference

Anyway, because I’m all about summaries and statistics and tables and suchlike, I offer you a summary of my trips for 2011 in table form, with means and other statistics to boot! I’ve included the length of each trip, the number of flight legs involved, the total distance travelled (round trip), and a cost breakdown (flight, hotel, and ground transportation costs).

My travels have included 4 trips to Ottawa, 3 trips to New York, 2 trips to Calgary, 1 to Chicago, 1 big ass trip to Hawaii, 2 adventures in British Columbia, 2 conference based adventures, and a trip to Montreal. In all, I’ve travelled in 5 of the 10 provinces this year, and have seen 3 different states (4 if we include the fact that I landed in California on my way to Hawaii).

The total distance travelled – 39393 km – works out to about 98.3% of the circumference of the earth (which, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia is 40075.16 km). Hmm, perhaps my goal next year should be to travel the distance of the circumference of the earth. Clearly it’s possible, and clearly it’s math-y, and clearly it’s nerdy. Three things I love. You know what, this challenge is officially on the list.

So just like that I’m crossing off items #130 and #195, and adding items #242 and #243. Next year is going to rock.

Trip summary 2011

Month Destination days legs km $flight $hotel $ground $total
Jan. (I) Ottawa 3 2 706 $245 $0 $70 $315
Jan. (II) Hawaii 16 6 15908 $971 $978 $200 $2149
Feb. New York 4 2 1172 $363 $572 $0 $935
Mar. Ottawa1 1 2 706 $0 $0 $0 $0
Apr. Calgary & Revelstoke 6 2 5413 $568 $100 $200 $868
May. Ottawa 4 2 706 $250 $253 $200 $703
Jun. Wolfville & Halifax 8 2 2528 $0 $185 $240 $425
Jul. Chicago 3 2 1402 $353 $0 $130 $483
Aug. Ottawa 3 2 706 $499 $0 $80 $579
Sep. Montreal 5 2 1008 $507 $171 $280 $958
Oct. Victoria & Calgary2 8 4 6794 $0 $0 $0 $0
Nov. New York 5 2 1172 $380 $480 $0 $860
Dec. New York 4 2 1172 $380 300 $100 $780
Total 70 32 39393 $4516  $3039 $1500 $9055
Average 5.4 2.5 3030 $347  $234 $115 $697

1 This travel was completely covered by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as the trip was related to several meetings.

2 A portion of the travel costs were covered by my job (as I was attending the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada, or the GEOMed Conference)


How To Break Even With 39 And 60

So many shiny quarters.

So apparently even when I’m not thinking about it, I’m knocking things off of my Not-So-Bucket-List list. In this case, item #39 and item #60. Now, don’t get too excited folks. Neither of these items were monumental challenges. And in the grand scheme of things, only one is probably truly blog-worthy. But here I am, writing about both of them.

Item #39 – Save $500 In Change

This is the item that’s really not so blog-worthy. I mean, it’s change. Who really cares that I’ve managed to collect an immense pile of coins over the past year or so? I do, that’s who. And why should I care? Because $500 is bigger than $0, that’s why. W00t!

What am I going to do with my new-found wealth? Well, there are 2 options. The first is the responsible option; apply it to my bills. The second is the fun option; use it for adventuring. I’m not sure what the answer will be at this point. Especially considering that the coins need to be rolled before I can take them to the bank. And have I mentioned how heavy this much coin is? I’m definitely not going to want to carry it to the bank myself.

1 million interweb points to whomever can guess the number of pennies in these containers.

Now, before you assume that I’m a complete loser who spent his Sunday afternoon procrastinating by counting change, let me state for the record that I did procrastinate by counting change, but I didn’t count everything exactly. That is, I estimated the total. And estimating is cool, right?

How did I estimate? you might be wondering. Well, I could have used a scale (if I owned one), but instead I opted to measure out a length of stacked coins. Knowing how tall a pile of coins was, I could easily make a bunch of stacks and assume they were worth the same. Hence, an estimate. I also ball-parked the pennies because cripes-on-a-cracker, I didn’t want to count all of them. I’m sure by the size of the ‘penny jar’, you’ll understand why I opted to guestimate. Note: the thin glass decanter depicted in the picture to the right is a standard sized decanter.

Item #60 – Buy A New Camera

I actually bought a new camera in July, and completely forgot that it was on my list! How ridiculous is that?

My camera. So shiny and new. I shall call him Snappy.

Anyway, I picked up my fancy-pants new camera when I was in Chicago visiting Benjamin. It’s a Fujifilm FinePix F500 EXR, which translates to super-duper-awesome. The camera was cheaper to purchase in Chicago (what with the exchange rate and the typically lower prices for electronics in the U.S. of A.), and rather convenient because I wanted to get some good shots while I was there (and my iPhone camera isn’t always the best).

The camera is pretty sweet, with lots of buttons and functions that I still don’t understand. It has a pretty sweet zoom on it, and the images it captures are fantastic. I do however have to brush up on all that it can do, if I ever plan to take a decent picture.

Sadly, I haven’t used it much since I bought it because I haven’t been on any epic adventures (what with my hernia surgery and such like). However, I will be heading on yet another trip shortly – all part of my mission to achieve item #195 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list. And next month I have a conference in British Columbia, so hopefully it will get some use then.

Anyway, given that I managed to save $500 in change but also spent a sizeable chunk of coin on the camera, I’ve managed to break even more-or-less. But this is the best kind of breaking even as it has involved a trip, it has involved the purchase of a camera, and it will likely involve a new adventure funded at least in part by the $500 in change. Awesome.

Okay, clearly I’m not breaking even at all. But I’m having a bunch of fun in the process, and that is a huge win in my books.

Show Me Your Downward Dog: Week 4

Well, this update is going to be rather pathetic, but given the whole I-needed-to-have-hernia-surgery thing, I’m going to cut myself some slack.

As you are aware, I am trying to complete a 35 day yoga challenge. That is, attend 35 classes in 35 days. This would officially mark the end of week 4, which means I should be up to 28 classes. Riiiiiight.

Clearly, I’m nowhere near that goal. However, given the circumstances, I’m not doing too terribly. And if my post surgery healing takes a turn to the miraculous, I may still be able to make my goal.

What did I actually manage to do this week? Well, I hit up 3 classes before the surgery. This brings me to a total of 21 classes in 28 days. I’m an entire week behind. Which means I would need to double up every day to make it to 35 classes in 35 days. Yikes! That’s probably not likely.

Oh well, such is life. While the goal is important, the journey is often where the lessons are found. At least, that is what my experiences have taught me.


  • Monday: Nothing! I was rather exhausted from travelling to Chicago over the weekend (I know – whoa is me)
  • Tuesday: Moksha 60 minutes
  • Wednesday: Moksha Yin 75 minutes
  • Thursday: Reduced Heat Flow 75 minutes
  • Friday: Savasana – 5 hours – morphine induced. Does this count?
  • Saturday: Savasana – 7 hours – non morphine induced. How about this one?
  • Sunday: I napped on the couch, thank you oxycodone. Even I can’t question whether or not this qualifies as yoga.

Last But Not Least

Our samplers. We had one of each (from left to right) of Bottom Up Wit, Cross of Gold, Rosa, Anti-Hero IPA, Coup D'etat, The Whip, and the Eugene.

While Sunday was the last day I would spend in Chicago visiting Ben, it was most definitely not the least. Since we weren’t as silly on Saturday as we were Friday – you know, where we unwisely matched a lack of food consumption with an increase in booze consumption – and since we had gotten to bed at a relatively decent time on Saturday, we began our Sunday the way that anyone might; with a 10km run. To be more accurate, we ran 10 km together and then I continued on for an extra 5 km or so.

The run was excellent. There were a number of people out and about enjoying what turned out to be another hot and beautiful summer day in the city. Some were running, others walking. Those that I envied the most were the ones sitting at a cafe enjoying their morning coffee. It wasn’t the sitting that I envied – the run was awesome, felt comfortable, and the scenery was fantastic – it was the smell of coffee. Thankfully, Ben had prepared us some Americanos prior to our run so it wasn’t too torturous to smell the percolating beans wafting through the air. Okay, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being I couldn’t care less as I’m not interested in coffee at all, and 10 being I would punch a dolphin in the face for a cup of joe right now), I was probably at a 4. Okay, maybe 5. Er, 6. Whatever.

Following our run we wandered to the local Farmer’s Market where we sampled various fares such as spring rolls (verdict: delicious), iced tea (quench-thirsting-ly awesome), dairy free strawberry rhubarb pie (I was clearly in heaven), chocolate croissants, and various other pastries. We also walked over to the Revolution Brewing Pub to sample the wide selection of beer they had available. Of the 6 different samples I tried, I have to say the Anti-hero, Whip, and the Eugene topped my list. The Eugene had a fantastically smooth chocolate and coffee flavour, while the Anti-hero was nice and hoppy.

Following our last beer, we headed back to Ben’s so that I could pack and make my way back home. Boo.

Anyway, thank you Ben for an awesome weekend. It was great seeing you again my friend. Erin, I promise next time that I’ll visit when you are actually in town. The trip was severely lacking in Erin hugs.

For those keeping track, I can know cross of item #129 on my Not-So-Bucket-List. I also have 7 trips in 7 months under my belt – meaning I’m getting closer to achieving item #195 (travel 12 times in 12 months).



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Show Me Your Downward Dog: Week 3

Week 3 of my 35 day yoga challenge is officially over. And while it started off really well, it didn’t end that way. But, I was in Chicago visiting my friend Ben and fighting off the advances of a 26 foot tall woman, so it was to be expected. I’m going to do what I can this week to make up for the 3 days that I lost.

Granted, this week will be much the same as last given that I go in for my surgery on Friday. That means no yoga for me over the weekend, and possibly (probably) longer. This could be the end of my challenge. I hope not, but I have to be realistic when surgery is involved (even when I foolishly choose to believe that surgery is going to be a walk in the park and thus I’m sure to be back to yoga, running, and biking in no time flat).

So how did week 3 go? Well, it started off with a double up session on Monday to make up for one of the remaining missed classes from the week before. That meant that I was in the yoga studio on Monday for several hours; and it was awesome. By the end, I felt so bendy I probably could have bent over and kissed my own ass. Ha. Not really though. But I did feel great.

Tuesday I was a big bag of exhaustion, as the biking and double session from Monday took its toll on my body. Plus, I also had sprint training on Tuesday, so by the time I arrived at yoga I was already excessively sweaty, dehydrated, and really tired. Regardless, I pushed through. Wednesday and Thursday were both Yin styled classes, so they were just what I needed. There’s nothing like restorative yoga to treat a tired body. Well, maybe that and a nice glass of scotch – but I digress.

Overall, here is how the week stacked up.

  • Monday: Moksha Level II – 75 minutes and Yin Acuball 90 minutes
  • Tuesday: Moksha – 60 minutes
  • Wednesday: Moksha Yin – 75 minutes
  • Thursday: Yin – 90 minutes
  • Friday: Chicago – lots of walking and eating.
  • Saturday: Chicago – attacked by a 26 foot tall woman.
  • Sunday: Chicago – running, walking, and stretching.
That gives me 18 classes in 21 days. Only 17 more classes to go.

Attack Of The 26 Foot Woman

Day 2 in Chicago was filled with more wandering, eating, drinking (not all booze, by the way), and walking. The weather was perfect; there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, the humidity was low, and the temperature was just perfect.

Ben and I started our day off with breakfast at a local restaurant, before jumping on the subway to head downtown. We wandered the city, avoiding parts of Michigan Avenue so that we could avoid the crowds as best as possible. Our first stop was for some sort of coffee based beverage. We went to a Chicago born company called the Argo Tea Café. Based on the recommendation of one of the baristas, I ordered a 16oz small iced Maté Latte made with almond milk (which apparently only has about 90 Calories). Verdict: delicious and thirst quenching.

After satisfaction was found in the bottom of my Maté Latte, we moved on to the former library now known as the Chicago Cultural Centre to view the Tiffany Dome – the largest glass dome created by the company to bear its name. The building was beautiful, the dome was incredible, but I have to say my favourite part of the tour were the quotes from famous authors that decorated the walls. Specifically:

“A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” Milton.

“A library implies an act of faith which generations still in darkness hid sign in their night in witness of the dawn.” Victor Hugo.

“The real use of all knowledge is this that we should dedicate that reason which was given us by god for the use and advantage of man.” Bacon.

and my personal favourite:

“He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter.” Isaac Barrow.

Following the cultural tour we moseyed over to Millenium Park to see the giant Millenium Bean. And of course, play tourist by getting a bunch of stupid photos of ourselves in the reflection of the Bean. Awesome stuff.

The newly opened modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago offered up a spectacular lunch of olives, pickled vegetables, white fish mousse, and various deli meats. Oh, and a tasty Ebel’s Weisse beer.

Full and re-energized, we continued our tour of the town. Amazingly, we randomly stumbled on the Marilyn Monroe statue that I had blogged about here. It was like Marilyn was a siren and we just couldn’t resist her siren song. And just like a siren, she managed to crush me under her massive heel. Ha. I kid. Of course, I am proud to say that I was the only one (at least, the only person at the time that we were there) that thought to crawl under Marilyn’s giant foot and pretend that I was being crushed by her. Everyone else was doing the typical ‘look up her skirt’ shot, or ‘hold on to her leg’ shot. It might have been that I was just uber clever, but it was probably more that the ground was metal and thus a billion billion degrees. That is to say, I burnt my ass while I was pretending to be crushed by an angry 26 foot tall Marilyn Monroe. Regardless, the pain was worth the picture, in my honest opinion.

Wandering the city a little more, we made stops here and there to sample the local foods, drinks, etc. Eventually we ended up back at Ben & Erin’s place, tidied ourselves up and headed to dinner. Our dinner location is a newer restaurant that has opened up in Ben’s neighbourhood of Logan Square. Called Telegraph, the restaurant is a fantastic little wine bar with excellent food. We split an order of frog legs, and some lemon blueberry cake. This was paired with a 1977 Madeira that was so freaking tasty, the $20 per glass that we spent doesn’t seem enough. I am going to hunt this stuff down so that I can have a bottle on hand at home.

Oh, our dinner was also shared with one Rahm Emmanuel – you know, the Mayor and former Chief of Staff at the Whitehouse. Ya, that’s right. He heard I was coming to town and insisted that he had a seat directly beside mine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t up for having my picture taken with him, so he had to go home without the souvenir he wanted.

We ended the night at El Cid Number 2 where I had an espresso horchata (rice milk drink). So. Freaking. Good. Why are these not available everywhere?

Sadly, I leave tomorrow, but I still have an entire day of exploring Chicago to go. w00t!



Chicago – My Kind Of Town

 Yesterday I continued my quest to travel 12 times in 12 months. I’ve successfully passed the half-way point; that is, I’ve been on 7 trips so far this year. For those who may have forgotten, the list includes Hawaii, New York, Ottawa, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax & Wolfville, and now Chicago.

I arrived in Chicago yesterday morning after a 3:30am pick up by Red Car. I’m pretty sure no one should have to get up at that time. Ever. In fact, the only way anyone should see that time of day is if they are going to bed at that point.

The flight itself was uneventful, included a 10 minute cat-nap, and thank the FSM no screaming children. The woman next to me had doused herself in what I can only imagine was some sort of perfume you might find in the dollar store, but she was nice and I was too exhausted to really care.

It was great to meet up with Ben. He took the day off of work so that we could wander about and enjoy the city. After a quick but necessary shower to remove the staleness one tends to have on their body after flying, we headed out to a local eatery for some food. We spent the morning catching up and chatting, drinking coffee, sampling some local beers (specifically Goose Island Sofie and Goose Island Matilda), and then meeting up with some of his colleagues.

Of course, being the light weight that I am these days, I was drunk after 2 beers. That didn’t mean I was out for the count. It did, however, mean that feeding me more booze-y goodness wasn’t difficult because my ability to say no had apparently been drowned by the first two beers. Thankfully the booze consumption was spread out over the day, so while I had a great buzz going, I wasn’t (at least to my recollection) stumbling all over the place.

Note to the readers #1: I don’t get stumble-drunk, I get charming. Riiiiiiiight.

Note to the readers #2: Ben has informed me that I was trying not to stumble while walking home last night. Clearly the ground was uneven, as Note to the readers #1 clearly indicates that I don’t get stumble-drunk. Ha. Right.

I have to say that my favourite beverages of the night were found at a little bar called The Whistler. This place was amazing. All of the drinks were designed by the owners, and they were absolutely tasty. The two drinks that I particularly enjoyed were The Whistler Punch and The Viking Funeral. The Whistler Punch was light and refreshing – definitely a winning drink for a hot summer day. The Viking Funeral wasn’t as light, but it had an incredible spicy flavour. I’m going to have to go back to try them again so that I can better describe them both (and without the influence of the beer I had to start the day).

Anyway, we are off for food and further adventure.


Dear Windy City – I’m Coming For You

The Chicago skyline at night. Image via Wikipedia.

Dear Chicago,

I’m coming for you.
Consider yourself warned.

Love me.


As you are likely aware, one of the items on my Not-So-Bucket-List list is to travel each month for a year. And up until this month, I’ve managed 6 trips in 6 months. Not a bad first half of the year. Anyway, not wanting to ruin my run at this particular Not-So-Bucket-List item, I’ve scheduled my July trip. And as you’ve guessed from the title, I’m heading to Chicago.

Why Chicago?

That’s easy. Chicago is an amazing city (I’ve been there numerous times before). It’s partly amazing because it has an incredible waterfront, an excellent jazz and art scene, amazing neighbourhoods, great food and drinks, and an ample supply of awesome. But it’s even more amazing because that is where Ben and Erin live; Ben being a most awesome friend who moved there several years ago, and Erin being his most awesome wife. Given that I haven’t seen Ben since last year during my PhD prom, I figured it was time I got off my ass and visited. And I can’t wait. Ben has already informed me that he’s going to take the Friday off when I arrive so that we can get into trouble enjoy the city and all of its wares.

At this point, I have no specific plans for Chicago except for one. That is, I’m going to want to visit this new art installation. Now, what I do when I’m visiting this installation is up to you, dear readers. That is, I’m putting it out there – what should I do while here? It needs to be epic (and legal, or at least legal-ish).

Anyway, as I mentioned – I have no specific plans. I’m really just looking forward to hanging with Ben and Erin, eating some good food, drinking some good wine/beer/port/whatever, and wandering an amazingly beautiful city. We’ll probably visit the Field Museum (that’s where Sue lives – and if you know me, you’ll know I love Sue), the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley field, the millenium bean, and who knows what else. And if the weather cooperates, perhaps I’ll get some tanning time in too. W00t!

Wherever we wander, I know it’s going to be awesome.


P.S. Thanks to Tweeter @FCPenno for setting me up with a sweet deal. If you are thinking of travelling, give him a call (or follow him on Twitter):

Joel Pennington, International Travel Consultant,
Flight Centre
519.893.6599