Archive for the ‘photoblogging’ Category

An Old Bear

Saw this sign at a shop in a beach town.

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Bell Guy is a somewhat early riser and when he tries to be quiet he is generally louder than he would be if he were not trying so hard to be so quiet. I call it him being a bull in a china shop. The bull got up fairly early, made his way through the china shop and then left for the lobby to get his coffee.

He returned an hour or so later and I got up and got ready to go. We had a big day planned: Hancock Observatory, double decker bus tour of the city, Art Institute of Chicago and meet an old friend.

We walked up Michigan Avenue to the John Hancock Building and Observatory where there was only one person selling tickets and she was also answering the phones (why wouldn’t they have more people working on a holiday?). They had an auto ticket machine and, although we had coupons, I became impatient with the line that was not moving and we went and used the machine. The cost was a little more but my blood pressure went down so it was worth it.

The elevator ride to the top is “the fastest in the world” or the “fastest in the US” depending on who is telling you the story. Anyways, it was fast and the view from above was terrific.

We spent awhile at the observatory and waited for some clouds to move so we could get a good view of all four directions.

After departing the observatory, we went and ate at a yummy French bistro a few blocks away. I cannot remember the name of it but we had a nice view of the street and I remember a shirtless guy walking by which grabbed my attention for a moment. He also caused a ruckus at a table of a couple of other gays nearby.

After lunch, it was time for the double decker city tour. Rosita was our tour guide and I thought she did a good job. It was a hop on-hop off tour but we hopped on near the observatory and stayed on for the entire two hour tour.

Wrigley Building with flag for the 4th.

Art somewhere downtown. I'm sure Steven or Justin will remind me where.

Soldier Field. I loved the '85 Bears and Jim McMahon. Hero.

Navy Pier. This was as close to the pier as we got this trip.

We got off the bus back at the observatory and went across the street so Bell Guy could get his free Hershey bar from the Hershey store (bus ticket had a coupon). We quickly ate the chocolate while looking at Bentleys through the windows of the Bentley store down the block. We continued around the corner and found an Italian place that we decided we wanted to eat at later in the trip.

We headed back to the hotel and were able to relax for about an hour or so before meeting one of Bell Guy’s friends at the Art Institute of Chicago. This museum is free on Friday and Saturday evenings. Bruno, Bell Guy’s friend, was quick to find us in the museum. He and Bell Guy were close pals in college but had not seen each other in 8 years! Bruno is a super nice guy and the reunion of the two old farts was nice as well. Bruno gave us an abbreviated tour of the museum, which was huge and had lots of works of art. Next time, I want to go back because it turns out the museum has the famous American Gothic painting and I only realized that after we were leaving. From there, we walked back across the river and ate at a decent restaurant we had found earlier on Open Table. I got to hear all about Bell Guy and Bruno’s “gay adolescence” in college. Bell Guy was quite a character. Wait, he still is.

After dinner, we walked around the Tribune Tower, which has pieces of different buildings from across the world built into the side of it.

Bell Guy and Stone from his Home State of Vermont

Bell Guy at the Tribune Tower and stone from his home state of Vermont.

Wrigley Building from afar.

After walking around a bit more, we were really tired and went back to the hotel around 10pm. Another good day. Has Chicago become my favorite Summer city (right now that title goes to Denver)? Or even my favorite overall city (that title goes to New York)?

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While my wife continues preparations for her impending move out later this month, Bell Guy and I took a trip to Chicago for the long weekend. He had never visited and I had been twice, just for a day each time, but not in ten or twelve years.

Happily our flight landed early and our luggage was landing on the luggage belt as we walked up. We quickly grabbed a cab to the Hyatt Regency and were there without any traffic issues. We were checked in early and the room was nice. The location was great, right downtown at the Chicago River and the Magnificent Mile. We used Priceline and only paid $100/night. The only annoyance were the elevators were packed and slow but that was made up for by the location.

We were starving so we ventured out to find some food. The weather was spectacular and I wore shorts and a light jacket. We walked up the Magnificent Mile, which was only a block from the hotel. We spotted a Grand Lux Cafe after a few minutes and decided to eat there as we had eaten at the Grand Lux Cafe in Las Vegas so we knew the food was good. The food was good and the service outstanding.

After lunch, we made arrangements to meet with Steven from Heterosexually Challenged at Shedd Aquarium. Unfortunately, traffic was horrible due to the Taste of Chicago and everyone coming into the city for the fireworks that night. So, we were unable to meet Steven this trip. It was a long walk from Grand Lux Cafe to Shedd but was worth it. That is the best aquarium that I have been to and I’ve been to many.

We spent a couple of hours at the aquarium before walking back towards the hotel at about 5pm. I changed into some jeans and we tried to decide on a restaurant for dinner, which is a chore because I am too picky.  We went to the concierge and he recommended Tavern at the Park, which was right across the street from the totally awesome Millennium Park. We only had to wait twenty minutes or so and the food, ambiance and service were great. (That is one of a few noticeable differences between Chicago and DC: Service was so much better in Chicago. People were so much nicer in Chicago. Ambulances somehow sound like firetrucks in Chicago.)

Chicago has its big fireworks display on July 3. So, after dinner we crossed the street and waited for the fireworks. We were not in a good area so once they started we moved a bit but then had a great view and did not have to wait around all day to get that great view.

After the fireworks we walked a few blocks back to the hotel and I lamented about how my feet were already hurting after only one day. So were his. We’re so old.

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Bell Guy, circa 1973.

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Pull My Hair

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