Monday, September 16, 2019


One day in July we were driving down the highway, possibly in Nebraska, listening to one of our favorite podcasts, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.  It occurred to us that we were going to be visiting Illinois in August, and isn't Wait Wait normally taped in Chicago when they aren't on the road?  Maybe I should check ticket options, just on the off chance, wait! wait! they are on sale RIGHT NOW!

I quickly verified that the date would work and grabbed two seats before they sold out.  Woo hoo!

Eventually we ended up in Springfield for a couple weeks, set up train tickets to Chicago (I do like Amtrak a lot), and here we were.  In the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago on a Thursday evening.

We were pretty stoked.  Bill was there!  An all-women panel was there!  Including Paula Poundstone!

Peter Sagal was on vacation, but Tom Papa did a great job as substitute host.  The panelists were so much fun, also everyone who called in.  We would go back to see a taping of this show anytime.

And afterward!  We didn't know there would be a autograph session, now that was even more worth going to Chicago for.

Thank you Bill for your autograph and the little chat about living in an RV:

Paula stayed late to give every one of her fans personal attention and a chance at a photo - we love you Paula!

Also thank you Bim and Amy!

The next morning we took an architecture river cruise - not something we would have thought to do, but it was highly recommended by one of our friends.  And Amy Dickinson at Wait Wait the night before  :)

Cruising on the river, checking out all the interesting buildings - what made it so good was the continuous commentary by an architect from the Chicago Architecture Center.  She was wonderful!  Lots of great stories, explanations, making the buildings "talk", pointing out things we'd never have noticed.  If I had her commentary on tape I'd be able to better explain some of these photos!

Kayaking in the river - that looks like fun too:

A giant skyscraper supported by a crazy-narrow base, not quite sure how this works but it does (and this photo doesn't do it justice):

The "armchair" opera building:

The top of the Willis Tower is almost in the clouds:

A map of the city rivers designed into the side of the building, complete with a red "you are here" marker!

Cool parking garage:

Back on dry land, checking out some fun public art:

We took a walk up the new REI, which has a dock for river access in the back:

Something new - a pizza museum!  Too bad it will be closing soon; we were happy to make it here while it's still open:

Quite the array of pizza-related items:

Star Trek is everywhere!  Best pizza cutter ever.

My kind of artwork:

On Saturday we took the L up to Montrose Harbor for a fun little 5K race.  There's a pretty view of downtown from the harbor:

Something new!  An inflatable colon - well, the race is called "Get Your Rear in Gear," after all (fundraising for colon cancer awareness):

Racing is good for me.  I rarely run this fast in training, but a little competition really does "get my rear in gear" and I just had to try to pass the woman who looked like she might be in my age group (she was, and I did).  Phew.  Nothing like a 5K to work that lung capacity.

Way to run, John!

Having a good time on a Saturday morning:

So that's State #41 in our "race in every state" quest:

Nice beach on the shore of Lake Michigan:

We wandered out to the pier - seems odd that it's not salt water when it kind of looks like an ocean:

I normally try to refrain from posting food porn, but our post-race snacks at the Dollop coffee shop were so good that I can't help it - highly recommend!

Wrigley Field, a landmark that we were excited to see (even being a Red Sox fan):

Neat statue of Harry Carey:

Seats on top of the buildings next door, that's pretty cool:

I don't know what John's trying to say, but I'm like "yeah, Boston's no stranger to these":

John hopped on the L while I jogged over to the path along the lakeshore.  I'd heard that many area runners train here and it sounded like a good place to explore.  First sight along the way, called Kwa-Ma-Rolas - I believe this is a replica:

A beach for dogs, what a great idea!

I enjoyed an occasional detour to the tiered walkway along the lake:

Signal of Peace Monument:

The track is separated for running and cycling, plenty of room for everyone:

Great day for some beach volleyball:

City skyline getting closer:

No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to The Bean:

A less-visited piece of public art:

We popped in here a couple times - thank you TJ's!

In our AirBnB, someone had left a program from a previous Second City show.  Reading through it, then checking the website to see all the amazing acts they have, we figured we should look for tickets.  So that's how we ended up here on Saturday night, perusing all the old photos and looking for familiar faces on the walls:

More Second City alums - Harold Ramis, John Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd... so much to look at before the show started:

The set, i.e. the iconic sketch comedy chairs:

The show was great fun and hilarious - so much talent and creativity.

Our favorite photo and quote from the program - "Saying 'yes' begins things.  Saying 'yes' is how things grow"

One more bit of wanderings on our last day in the city.  We went back to the architecture center to see the inside, and it was small but packed with great stuff (our favorite type of museum).  Their highly detailed model of the city:

We need to return to Chicago with Kip to see Fulton Market:

They have models of very tall buildings around the world, including this one in Seoul that is covered in solar panels (another place to visit!):

One last look at The Bean, on a gray day that makes it blend in with the sky:

A fitting end - the start of Route 66 as we walked back to the Amtrak station to follow Route 66 back to Springfield:

Thank you Chicago, that was a jam-packed weekend of fun!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Land of Lots of Lincolns

Springfield Illinois - a place to pause for a couple weeks, and while we're here, we might as well explore!  Oh, and see where another president is buried.  President Lincoln, one of my favorites!

Apparently this is an acceptable way to greet him at his tomb:

An appropriately impressive monument:

We luckily arrived on the right date, and with a good tip from our campground manager, ended up at the tomb on the evening of a flag lowering ceremony.  Civil War actors and all:

We think it was closer to 24 guns, but who's counting?  Neat to see them load, fire, and clean/reload the old guns:

A replica from DC at the entrance to the tomb:

"Now he belongs to the ages"

A tall man of a different sort:


We enjoyed visiting the presidential museum, especially the hologram show with a combination of a real actor and holographic images.  But we didn't quite expect Mr. Lincoln to be this tall!

Having a chat:

Yay for bees!

John wandered around the woodcarvers show at the state fairgrounds and took some good photos:

I don't know what this is (tur-duck-elk?) but it won a red ribbon!

Blue ribbon cow:

Another state capitol, again by accident.  Another nice building, with a unique zinc roof:

A tribute to Martin Luther King:

Another tall Lincoln:

The Illinois Liberty Bell, always enjoy finding these in different states:

It was a little windy...

The Capitol building is very impressive and quite ornate (also very tall):

With a beautiful dome - they have done a lot of restoration.

Wandering through the site of Lincoln's home, we came across our next travel trailer (just needs solar panels):

Lincoln's years in this home included lawyering, politics, getting married, having sons - and getting elected president:

The old state capitol, also worth a visit:

I loved looking at all the artifacts from Lincoln's time.  Including some games because you can't work ALL of the time:

Well played, sir:

The chamber where Lincoln gave his "house divided" speech - amazing to think I was standing in the exact same room where that happened:

Lincoln's law office across the street from the old capitol:

The train depot where Lincoln gave his last speech to the town before leaving for DC and the presidency - he never returned to Springfield, at least not while he was still alive.  He said, "My friends, no one not in my situation can appreciate my feelings of sadness at this parting.  To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything."

Another little bit of history:

I ran the length of another Wabash Trail!  Happily, this one was a LOT shorter:

And finally, fittingly, at the train station as we were on our way to Chicago - where Lincoln did finally return to Springfield in 1865:

That's a lot of Lincoln!  Loved it.