Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rest in Peace, Ragan

Michael James Ragan, born January 13, 1974, died June 18, 2008. He was 34 years old. Ragan was my brother's best friend, a brother to my brother. My heart breaks at the thought of such a young, promising life cut short, for the person he could have been, for his kids who will grow up without their dad, and for all the friends and family who loved him.

Rest in peace, Ragan. You will be missed.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More wakeboarding pics...

...courtesy of our friend B.

On your mark....

Get set...


Down for the count.

I got up on a wakeboard!

That was the exciting part of our trip to Bartlett Lake yesterday. We first went out there on Memorial Day with friends, J & B. J owns/operates the boat and is the resident wakeboarder. He went first and gave us all tips. Che went second and got up on his first attempt. Bastard. B went next and finally got up. On his first trip out, he wasn't able to get up but the second trip for him was a success. Me, I tried probably 20 times on Memorial Day and never got up. By the end of the day, my hands, wrists, and forearms were so beat up that I couldn't even get my car's gearshift out of park.

I tried to blame the fact that the bindings were way too big for my feet (and that I generally suck at sports), so before yesterday's trip, I rented some bindings that actually fit my feet. The boys all took their turns first, then it was my turn. With the smaller bindings and some new and different tips I read online, and about 4-5 attempts, success! I got up on a wakeboard!!! And I was so excited to be up, that I freaked out and promptly fell down. Who knew that staying up would be so much harder than it looks???

I took a few more passes and managed to stay up for a little while each time, but the crappy part of yesterday's trip is that I totally jacked up my right knee. I don't even know how or when it happened, I just know that today, I can't bend my knee without excruciating pain. I guess I'm off to the doctor tomorrow to have it checked out. I'm hoping I just twisted or strained it and that it's nothing more serious. But I got up!! :D

Ready, set....


Aaaaaand, then she's down.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chicago Trip Report

We looooooooooved Chicago!! What a great city. Not for us to live in (too cold!) but to visit? We will definitely be back. There was so much to see in just four short days.

Thursday morning, we got up early, grabbed coffee at the Corner Bakery & Cafe, and headed out the roughly 2.something mile walk to the Shedd Aquarium. It was a gorgeous morning for the long stroll. We met up with a group from Che's conference for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium, which was mostly technical stuff that didn't interest me. Getting to see the breeding seahorse and seadragon tanks, though, was really neat. After the tour, we spent another few hours going through the exhibits at the Aquarium. The Komodo dragon was very cool, in a large creepy reptilian sort of way:

And who doesn't love a cute penguin?

This is us outside the Shedd:

The walk back to the hotel was long after being on our feet all day so we took our time walking up along the lake and through Millenium Park, stopping at Caribou Coffee for an afternoon break, where we met up with my friend Debie. That night we had a quick dinner at Bella Bacino's before heading to the Oriental Theater for Wicked. If you have not seen that show yet, you MUST. It was FABULOUS. Loved every minute of it.

Friday, Debie & I set out for shopping in Wicker Park/Bucktown, but we bailed with the crappy rainy weather and headed for the Michigan Avenue malls and indoor shops instead. Had a light lunch at Friends Sushi, which was fantastic. Then met up with the other CL girls for tea at the Drake:

Friday night was dinner at Everest, which turned out to be a great choice. Everest is on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, so the views were incredible. We weren't able to get a window table for dinner but they generously moved us to one for dessert/coffee.
We had the option of Chef Joho's 8-course (or something like that) degustation tasting menu, but a few of the choices (like the sweetbreads) turned me off. Plus it required the entire table participation. Instead, we each opted for a four-course menu, not thinking the portions would be as large as they were. The four-course menu gave us each a choice of two appetizers, an entree, and a dessert.

The meal started with three amuses bouches (from left to right: something I can't remember but was a blend of different seafoods and had a spongey-like texture in some kind of lobster sauce, warm asparagus soup with creme fraiche and lobster, and broccoli emulsion with parmesan cheese that had the consistency of mousse):

My appetizer choices were the peeky toe crab cocktail and the Casco bay sea scallops:

DH had the warm asparagus with poached egg and the roasted Maine lobster with ginger butter:

My entree selection was the filet of Dover sole with lemon and capers:

DH had the tenderloin, of course:

And for dessert, I had the chocolate crepes layered with banana brulee, which was TO DIE FOR:

DH had the Five Tastes of Chocolate:

And after dessert, the server brought out this lovely selection of petit fours:

The best one (that even rivaled my delicious dessert) was the little cone-shaped one, which was a dark chocolate-covered mint marshmallow.

Our hotel had a gorgeous view of the Wrigley Building and the Tribune building:

Our hotel itself is the building to the left:

I wasted a gorgeous Saturday sleeping in my hotel room, but we did head to the Hancock Center that night for drinks in the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor. A beautiful view of Navy Pier:

We capped off the trip on Sunday with a long walk all over the city, ending at Navy Pier, where I thought my feet were going to fall off from all the walking and insisted on taking a water taxi back to the hotel: