Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels "Home" to Chicago

So many interesting buildings in Chicago!
You tell me what we have here. I don't know.
My last two short trips before I left Utah were to big cities, Chicago and Denver. I went to both for kind of business reasons, but did my best to enjoy each. I didn't succeed in doing everything that I had in mind, but both trips had real highlights.

Chicago was first, in order to attend the annual meeting of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, my professional tribe for my lifetime. I became a lifetime member this year even because they put in a special category for us retired folks. Several people have asked why do I want to keep going to work related things now that I'm retired? Well, midwifery is, for me anyway, am identity or a calling, not just work that I did. I'll probably never practice midwifery again, but I am a midwife until the day I die.
We lived comfortable in the downtown Hilton this time.

Because the meeting is expensive (mostly the hotel) and no one else pays my way now, I can't go to this meeting every year (well probably not. I could if this were the only travel I did for a year). So I pick the year to go based mostly on location.

Chicago is kind of my  hometown. It's only 90 miles from Rockford, and I grew up going into Chicago for special things my whole childhood. O'Hare is the airport of choice for going home. However, I don't know the city well as an adult. I have seldom been a driver there. I don't have the geography in my mind vey well. I feel like a need guides when I go there.

So I got me one, a guide I mean. One of my very best friends from early childhood, my dear friend Ann. I attended her parent's wedding, actually, because my mom was the matron of honor and I was inside her uterus at the time. You can kind of see me sticking out a bit in the wedding photo.

Like many of my peers, Ann went to U of I for university, headed for Chicago for her first job, and she's still there. She had all the life events there ...marriage, motherhood, divorce, working, retirement.

She has a lovely small, renovated house in an older suburb which still has a sense of itself as a town. Her town has a nice downtown with shops and restaurants and plenty of things to do to help you create community. But it's right on one of the commuter rail lines, and getting down to the Loop is really simple. Ann did that her whole working life. She worked for the same really large corporation , one you will have heard of, most of her career, in one downtown skyscraper or another.

She knows the geography, is not intimidated by the number of cars, and most importantly, she has this spiffy parking app that finds her spaces and pays for them too.

I had an afternoon and evening to spend with Ann before going to the meeting. I asked her if maybe we could take one of these boat tours specifically designed to look at and learn about the architecture. There are several different companies that offer these tours, but I think Ann selected the best one, done by a non-profit organization, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF). This organization's purpose is "to inspire people to discover why design matters" which I think is a very good purpose. They work to save certain old buildings and places, but most of their work involves education .... about architecture, Chicago itself and design of course. If you go to Chicago, and want to take one of the boat tours, head right to this one. It's the best.
Near the end of the tour when we were real close to going out
in Lake Michigan - but we stayed on the river and turned around.

Why? Well, the docent of course. She had to undergo extensive training by the CAF, and as a result she was able to talk non stop for 90  minutes with all kinds of facts, and stories in her head, and she was able to be charming and entertaining at the same time. (She would answer questions of course, but most of the trip she just kept talking and talking.) She knew all kinds of numbers (like exactly how tall in both feet and meters every building was, how many tons of whatever it took in the construction, when it was started and finished, what it cost at the time, etc. etc) and names (complete names of firms even if they had a rather large number). We just floated in the information as we floated up and down the river and kept looking up.

You can see all my photos here. As you see, it was a cloudy day. No rain really on the trip, but I was glad that I had some nice fleece and a hat and gloves, even though it was May.
The rooftop bar at the London House.
This is a great place to hang out on a cold rainy day.

The docent highly recommended that we go to a building called now London House, and take in the view from the rooftop bar. When we got off the boat, it was around 1630, and we needed a place to sit for awhile to see what we wanted to do for the rest of the evening. And also to catch up on our lives. So, going to a bar where we could get a great view of the city that was very close to where we disembarked sounded like a real good idea.

It was a superb idea. Do that too, when you find yourself in Chicago the next time. We visited the terrace, but it was cold and windy and even more dreary than earlier, so we spent most of the time indoors in a cozy nook in the bar. We started with wine only and talk. Then the server suggested that they had a really great menu of small plates. Would we like to try something? After a bit of debate (not much!) we said yes and decided this would be our supper.

OMG, the server was more than correct. The chef there is positively inspired. We had three small plates which proved to be more than enough for two of us for supper. the very best one was, of all things, the deviled eggs.
The crostini and the deviled eggs.
We also had some roasted asparagus with "lemon jam"

As you see, they are all different colors. they were supposed to be "eggs of the world" or something similar. Each had the white dyed with a colored food representative of a different part of the world, like green tea from Asia. Each was more delicious than the last. So, if you eat there, be sure to order that immediately.

We parted after that (well, we sat at the bar for over two hours talking. No one seemed to care.) And the next day I descended into the world of midwifery.

The problem that come up for me was that the next morning it began rain and essentially it kept raining the whole time I was there. I did not travel with good rain gear especially not shoes, and as a result I did not go out walking to any of the many great Chicago places that were right close to the hotel. No museums, no walk along the lakeside, no selfies with the big mirrored bean. I investigated the possibility of going to the newish national monument, Pullman, but the weather just put me off, and also I knew I would have to give up an afternoon to go there. Another time.

Chicago Botanic Garden is huge.
There are many formal spaces here
and a beautiful Japanese garden on an island.
And I have been before to the Chicago Botanic Garden. That too would have been at least a whole afternoon, maybe even longer, trip. Pullman and the botanic gardens are in opposite directions from where I was. And walking through gardens in the pouring rain? Not a great idea.

I ate all my meals inside the hotel. A lot of that had to do with the meetings schedule. Little time to go out and get a decent meal after or before events. And a fair number of meals were provided as part of the meeting.

BUT I did go out and find my yarn shop. It turned out that one was just a few blocks from the hotel, called Yarnify!. It's  a sweet little neighborhood shop with a good selection of basics and some special stuff too. Great helpful staff. Of course, a big table for sitting and knitting. I think there are bigger shops in the greater Chicagoland area, but this one is so close to the loop and well worth a stop.

Next year's annual meting will be in Savanah Georgia. I would actually like to go because that is a city I have been fascinated with for a long time. When I was in grade school we had an assignment for writing lessons or something where we had to write a letter to an Chamber Of Commerce in some city and ask for visitor information to be sent back. I wrote to Savanah Georgia. They were very gracious and sent me some real nice pamphlets which I treasured of years. I drove through Savanah once on my way from North Carolina to Orlando Florida, but I can't say I ever really got to go there. So I'm thinking about it. Maybe I could actually get out and about this time. They have a botanic garden, a national park, close access to the seashore, and at least two yarn shops. I might rethink this.

At Yarnify! in Chicago you can get this lovely
alpaca yarn made by a local artisan /farmer.
each skein has the name of the animal on the label.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: Le Tour d'Idaho

Idaho is a good place to visit!
Idaho is an underrated state, I think. I mean what does anybody know about it besides famous potatoes and white supremacists, if you're old enough? It's shaped funnily what with that real skinny part at the top which seems like all it does is to separate Montana from Washington for no apparent reason. I imagine that if you drive it through the pan handle from Montana to Washington, Idaho must be a big yawn. Or a tiny blink. "Oh, did we just go through another state? I guess we did. Oh well."

But Idaho is right on top of Utah, and people from Utah go there from time to time, not just when they are driving through to Oregon or Washington. Fly fisher people know it as a kind of paradise. It has more natural hot springs than any other state (who knew?).

And they say that Boise is "the new Asheville".... or that Boise is a trendy place to live now that all the other places are "filled up" and maybe even "spoiled." Like Prescott Arizona, Boise shows up regularly now on lists of good places to live for a variety of reasons.

So a visit to Boise and therefore surrounding areas in Idaho has been on my list for some time now. Time was getting short in Utah for me, and I just decided to do it NOW. I told my knitting friends of my plans. Two originally signed on to go with, but one cancelled, so it ended up being my friend J and I taking this trip. J drove her car which was fine with me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels to a Blue Land

This time we did not see any orange groves.
California! Yes! I love California!

It began years ago when my friend at Red Butte Garden who used to  live in southern California told me about The Huntington Gardens and Museums. L. lyrically described the gardens and insisted that I must go there and see for myself. I was convinced; the only question was when.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels to Meet Some of Her Tribe at The March For Science

The president was in residence on Earth Day.
He tweeted something about loving our wonderful rivers and things like that,
and went to Walter Reed to present a Purple Heart to someone.
BTW, the garden is protected. It's under the care of the
National Park Service.
As soon as I heard it was going to happen, I knew I wanted to go. A March FOR Science on Earth Day in Washington DC. I did not make arrangements to go to the Women's March the day after the inauguration. I would have liked that, so I felt the need to do something similar at some other time. Bingo! Let's go to DC in April. I got a plane ticket and a hotel immediately.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands - A Tiny Vacation to Dinosaur Land

Got myself some fine new luggage mostly from Target,
pretty and just the right sizes,
so Sock Monkey & I can start to hit the road together.
I'm ready to get out of town again. This was the first of several upcoming short trips to a number of places. This time it was a driving trip in my little green car with my friend Jan Mi. We went east up into the Uintah Mountains to the small city of Vernal. We left on Saturday and returned on Sunday. The reason for the trip now was to attend the annual spring concert of the Uintah Basin Orchestra and Chorus. Two members of the Z family, who are friends of ours, were playing and singing.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: A Short Trip to Kansas City

Sorry, but I did not actually see any real fountains on this trip
Randy, my former TIAA advisor, told me, that in his experience, new retirees do a fair amount of traveling at first, and then kind of get tired of it and settle in someplace for the long haul. So be it. Right now I'm just barely into the "early travel phase."   I have quite a few trips planned in the next months. And lots of ideas for where to go after these already arranged excursions. I'll write about them as they happen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Blue Lady Actually Talks to Someone in Washington


Best time of year in DC coming up soon.
I hope he has time to get out and smell the flowers sometime.
Gentle readers, I do have plans to write about some other subjects, but, as I say later, I can see I need to be in this game over the long haul. Ok, next chapter. 

I can't get tired of this, but I am already. He made a big deal in the campaign about stamina. Apparently he has it in abundance. (Stories are that he really does not sleep much hence all the tweet storms at odd hours.) And he is over 70 for heaven's sake. Can't let him see any weakness I guess. So here we go.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sundance Again!

I got the pin this year. I thought it was coming next year.
I'm not arguing with them. They even put it in the yearbook.
So, as we were fed one bit of distressing news after another that are all designed to make us jump up and demonstrate no matter what the weather, I took more than a week to volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival. I got my 10 year pin this year! Yeah. And the jacket was reversable like last year, this time dark gray and bright yellow. My friend Jan says she can use it now.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Time to write to the new man in Washington again

Will there end up being a candidate for a new face on the mountain?
Well they wouldn't put up a new one anyway, no matter what.
Oh so much material to work with and so little time! What should I write about next?

I know that many people are taking up the gauntlet about health care so I decided to let that one go for the moment although the idea is rich with things I could and should say. I'll get to it.

I was thinking about what he said about the forgotten men and women who will now be heard. Well that's good, but there is another really large group of people whose lives are very directly affected by federal policy who are almost totally voiceless. I'm talking about employees of the federal government.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands. She visits Two Small Cities in Arizona


Winslow Arizona .... I know the song, of course, but I had never been aware that standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona is something that people actually do. Someone mentioned it to me when I said I was going there. "Nothing much to do there except stand on the corner." What?

Well there is a corner with statues, and it's even "official." You can go there. And stand. On the corner. And have a picture taken. And stand there some more. Now isn't that thrilling? We, as a people, are easily pleased quite often.

I got into town at the end of a long day. I noticed that out on the highway were the Safeway, Walmart, etc. etc. The town was mostly south of the highway. I did not find the town to be very impressive. I didn't see anything that would make me think living there would be a good idea. Corner standing will only get you so far.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Blue Lady Decides to Enter into Correspondence with Some Red People

Taking the long view. Drop by drop, gust by gust,
just water and wind make great changes. 
The big change is approaching. I listened last night to President Obama in Chicago and came away both inspired and hopeful. He does that to me.

I decided that I have to start doing some things as a citizen or I will just go crazy. I can't possible run for office or get involved in actual politics myself. That's just not me, and even trying would make my life very very unhappy. So what can I do?

I can start by writing. I'm a writer. I can write. Writing lasts. Writing is powerful. Writing makes a difference.

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red lands: She Visits Some Places in New Mexico


Meanwhile back on the road, I stopped to visit two different friends in their new cities, and I stayed overnight in four other places. Two places each in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

I don't have much to say about Albuquerque. Of course, the people are lovely and the university excellent. But I was pretty much working all the time there and did not get out and about a whole lot. But I did make a couple of observations.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands. She Visits Places Where Nature is Awesome

So, Bears Ears is a GO. Thank you President Obama. I'l be writing you a personal note about this soon.

Meanwhile it's time to finish up this whole series. I drove right by Bears Ears this fall on the way to Natural Bridges. Next time I'm headed that way I hope I can visit both.

Natural Bridges is not terribly far from Hovenweep. You can easily see both places in one day unless you do a lot of hiking. It was a very early monument, the first one in Utah established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.