~~~~~~ My Kinda Town ~~~~~~
Chicago at night. These were taken the second Wednesday of our holiday when we spent the afternoon at Navy Pier and stayed on till the evening to watch the super fireworks display. We spent the afternoon browsing around the pier. There was a super stained glass window exhibition that I thought was really good. Clearly though, neither Mike nor Peter felt the same ... kicking their heels and looking bored ... until the offer of coffee, when they both perked up.
I also managed to get a few souvenirs and after two weeks of searching I managed to find some car stickers, and some key rings, and some fridge magnets, and some other souvenirs. I also saw a couple of amazingly fantastic Blues Brothers t-shirts but I didn't buy them cos they cost $25+tax and were a rip-off cos the quality was appalling. I also found some Blues Brothers type hats, but there was clearly no way I was going to be able to bring them home, unless I wore them, and then I would have looked silly wearing shades and a Blues Brothers hat whilst travelling Posh Class. Mindful of not giving a bad impression of Scotland, I decided not to buy the hats, even although Peter said I suited them. Whilst browsing the shops and stalls at Navy Pier, I experienced that unique feeling of being an 'alien in New York' (or an alien in Chicago as was the case) where no one could understand my Scottish accent (despite them all loving my accent and always wanting to visit Scotland). I frequently got that nice, but knowing, little smile that says to me in a very kindly way ... you're a strange little lady, I don't understand a word of what you're saying, but you're Scottish, and I like you, so I'm going to smile nicely to you ... just cos your Scottish and I like you. I suppose I started to see this little smile as a modern day variation on the old American saying ... have a nice day!
~~~~~ Run Forrest Run ~~~~~
That evening, before the fireworks display, we had dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant, yes, Bubba Gump of Forrest Gump fame! Mike had a mega plateful of shrimps ... I had, as usual, a chicken dish (this was probably one of the few days that I didn't have either donuts or ice cream). I also got myself some nice Forrest Gump / Bubba Gump t-shirts and once I've lost the 10lbs I gained whilst on holiday, I shall model them for you all to see. You might notice the Run Forrest Run and Stop Forrest Stop US style number plates that I am holding in the two photos. These are used to tell the waiting staff if you need assistance. Run Forrest Run means that they can continue going about their business serving and waiting on other diners (ie running around), and Stop Forrest Stop means that we are requesting service and therefore they have to stop at our table as soon as they can. I have to say that I found the whole Downtown Chicago / Navy Pier / Forrest Gump - Bubba Gump Shrimphouse / Chicago at Night thing a wonderfully exciting experience (OK I'm sad, I don't go out much at night!). It all just seemed so vibrant and cosmopolitan and terribly exciting. It was just a super fantastic experience. It just doesn't happen like that over here.
LongHorns Steak House
Before and After
On the middle Friday and last Friday of our holiday, we went to a LongHorn Steakhouse for dinner (Mike's treat for all of us each time). They serve you HUGE meals and after the HUGE starters (for sharing!) I struggled to eat my meal. The first Friday I managed not too badly, but still managed to save some chicken for Raleigh. On the second Friday, well we had starters for sharing, as usual. I then ordered chicken tenders and baked potato. I have to say that the baked potato was surprisingly small. As for the chicken tenders (all 12 of them!), well what can I say about the portion size. I managed two forkfuls of baked potato and two of the chicken tenders. The photo on the left is the 'before' photo and what the nice waiter (I'm Sean and I'm your servant for the evening) served up to me. I actually thought that this was a starter that they'd forgotten to deliver, but nope, not to be, this was my dinner. The photo on the right was taken when Sean brought me a LARGE doggie bag for me to take my dinner home with me. You know, I was the littlest (and youngest) person at the table and they brought me the BIGGEST meal. Mike, Peter and Diane all had piddly wee steaks (well, actually they were a fair size, but compared with the plateful they served up to me ... well the steak just paled into insignificance) and their whole meal barely covered half of their dinner plates. Mine covered the whole plate and some. Sadly, and much to my disappointment, we didn't have pudding (you didn't eat your dinner, so you're not having pudding). However, my buddy Peter whispered in my ear as we were leaving the restaurant, "don't worry, I'll stop off for ice cream on the way home". Now you may not know this, but it's amazing how an extra 15 minutes can make all the difference to whether you can manage two HUGE scoops of ice cream or not.Well, believe me, it makes all the difference.
I should also say that I understand that Raleigh ate very well whilst we were in Chicago. Single-handed, I supplied his additional food rations and I believe that he only finished off the chicken tenders on Wednesday of this week. I also understand that he didn't have much doggie chow in the whole time we were there.
House-hunting US style (only kiddin' - honest!)
During our stay in Olympia Fields, we decided to have a look at a very snazzy looking show home just along the road from where Diane and Peter live. It's a very nice looking house, and I have to point out that it was about the smallest house in the estate. That said, by our standards it was fairly huge, and cheap. It was only around $350,000 (£220,000 approx) and I reckon that over here for this standard of house you'd pay around the £500,000+ mark. Keep in mind that the house also has a full size basement area, which covers all of the house, except for the garage area. The master bedroom is the area with the two sets of windows above the garage.
It has a HUGE walk-in wardrobe area, and a HUGE HUGE ensuite bathroom (in comparison the family bathroom was absolutely poxy and was barely as big as our bathroom is). The walk-in wardrobe is the little white bit you see tucked in behind the left hand side of the upper floor of the house. The ensuite bathroom is the window at the top left hand side of the house (see photo to the right). So, it was pretty, pretty impressive and I would like a bedroom like that. And I could have it too, but it would take up all of our house! And I would have to sell both Mike and Lucy to help pay for it all! Don't think that would go down very well!
And the piece de resistance of the whole house was ...... DRUM ROLL ...... the amazing kitchen / dining / family room area. See the photo on the left. This was taken from the far side of this HUGE room. The kitchen was amazing and the family / dining area was ginormously HUGE. The only two things about the whole house that I didn't like were the downstairs toilet was off of the kitchen / dining / family room rather than off of the hall area and the small family bathroom (bearing in mind it's a 4 bedroom house, and all the bedrooms were double bedroom sized, and the smallest was probably bigger than our bedroom). It was very, very, very nice and it was close to the train station. The nice lady did try to talk us into going to see a house she had available on another site and was sure she could give us a good price (Peter explained that this meant that she'd probably had the house on the other estate on her books for a long time and had been unable to sell it and was therefore prepared to do a deal and make minimal profit on the house in exchange for getting it off of her books). We declined her kind offer.
Once I get some more photos onto my PC, I'll upload some more for you all to see. But for now, well, that's all folks!
And ...... in true Forrest Gump style ...... that's all I've got to say about that.