It's not quite like "That 70s Show" here, but I imagine it was a lot like it during the 70s!
We've been up here for just a few days, and we are currently baby-sitting our nieces and nephews. This weekend we'll be going camping for 3 nights at Veteran's Memorial Park in nearby Cameron, which is right on the lake and should be tons of fun. A bunch of Liz's extended family will be joining us, and we'll be fishing and boating, amongst other activities. But we'll tell you more about that after the fact, until then, here's news on our time in Chicago:
As mentioned, we arrived in Chi-town around dinnertime on Friday, and after a bit of relaxing with Jenn and Jake at their place, and then Brooke and Kevin arrived to start the evening. Our "couples crew" then headed to a small Thai restaurant, where we were the only table there (which forced them to turn the AC back on, thankfully), but the food was delicious, though the service was somewhat stereotypical for a big city. Afterwards, we headed to the rather ritzy 96th Floor at the Hancock Tower for some $11 drinks. Thankfully the view of Chicago-land was free, so that at least somewhat made up for the ridiculous prices. It should be mentioned that for $11, it should be a bottle, not a beverage. That's why we probably won't ever live in a big city... but who knows (not us!)?
Later that night, after Kevin and Jake parted ways, the four of us went to a latenight improv comedy show at a place called The Playground. We saw two comedy "troupes," one that used live diary entries to tie the show together, and the 2nd that emulated/partially mocked Dungeons & Dragons. There was split decisions on which group was funnier, but any real nerd knows D&D comedy is legit!
On Saturday we slept in "just a little bit" and then walked a few blocks from Jenn & Jake's place to check out a Greek street Festival. There were all sorts of vendors, a trampoline-tumbling group, live Greek music, more Souvlaki, Gyros, and Baklava than even any Greek could ever eat, plus Keo (a Greek beer) and plenty of cheap ($9/litre) Greek Rose wine. Both Liz and Jake won a Kronos raffle, so they were delighted recipients of free frisbees and t-shirts. Anderson was the sole loser, since Jenn was participating in a raffle boycott.
We spent the rest of Saturday relaxing and laying low, eating a delicious dinner prepared by Chef Jenn, and watching some episodes of "Strangers With Candy." If you've never seen the show, it features some hilarious comedians, perhaps most notably a pre-Report/Daily Show Stephen Colbert.
It should be mentioned that throughout our time in Chicago, we took advantage of the (relatively) cheap CTA mass transit, aka The El. Or "the the" if you speak Spanish. Train rides are enjoyable, though not as fast as they ought to be, but good preparation for our upcoming European travels.
On Sunday we checked out another Chicago street festival, this time an arts fest with hundreds of (mostly) local artisans, with art of all types and mediums - though the prices were rather universally outrageous.
Brooke and Kevin met us (with Jenn & Jake) down there, and then we went over to the B&K residence to admire all of their boxes. Brooke is moving to Colorado this next weekend for a new publishing job in Boulder, so they are in the midst of packing up all of their belongings. Kevin has a lease and a book that he's writing to finish, and then he'll be joining her in November.
We then went to a wonderful Korean restaurant, where we cooked our own food on a grill on the table. We split a tasty beef and octopus dish, and Jenn enjoyed a much-anticipated bowl of kimchi soup, much to the delight of Jake we're all sure. Monday was Jake's first day of law school at the Kent College of Law, so he needed a tasty meal to prepare himself.
Our Monday was enjoyably spent at the Indian Consulate downtown, in the midst of intensely pouring rains, which Jenn politely joined us for, though it was a time-consuming process, and we honestly almost did not get our travel visas. There are numerous options for visas for tourists, with 6-month, 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year options. The problem with tourist visas to India, however, is that they are all good for only 180-days per visit; one then has to leave India, and then re-enter, if you want to stay for more than 6 months at one time. There is an "entry visa" as well, which is good for up to 5-years, without the 6-month visit restriction. So we were hoping for an entry visa, to make our life easier, and to allow us to stay in India potentially for up to 2 straight years. So we were sent to meet with a "Mr. Roy" to discuss this possibility, theoretically to argue our case. But when we arrived in his office, we had our first (surely of many) obnoxious beauractric experience. Apparently we accidentally put our Colorado forwarding address instead of our former Iowa address for our residency, though we obviously have no residency at all right now, and thus Mr. Roy refused to talk with us all, simply saying he couldn't help us and we'd have to go to San Francisco, because they handle Colorado. Apparently, consulates don't like explanations, since he wouldn't listen to a word we said. It's very frustrating to be in a position where you have no control over anything, but obviously going to San Fran was simply not an option. So we refilled out our entire forms, got the third degree from the desk clerk, who then decided that we weren't able this time (like there would be a next time when we see him personally) we couldn't receive anything more than a one-year tourist visa. Funny how complicated trying to spend all of our hard earned money in India seems to be. But we can renew our visa (before it expires - and only outside of India since apparently they can't handle these issues within their own country), which we will most likely take care of in Nepal. Fortunately India itself will be more enjoyable, but we're not voting for Mr. Roy for consulate of the year (sorry, you were so close to getting our vote, sir). The funny thing is that of course the receptionist is the nicest lady ever, and even the desk clerk was helpful, it just seems unusual that no one could believe that we accidently filled out a form wrong. But whatever, we have our visas, and a wonderful story as well.
While waiting we enjoyed some Chicago-style pizza at a nearby Uno, as well as a few self-sympathy beers. They worked, in case you were wondering.
We then returned to Jenn's, got situated, and then went over to her friend Erin's house, for a BBQ that was a feast in disguise. Chicken, tiapia, beans & rice, and all other sorts of goodies got us stuffed, and then we went with Brooke & Kevin over to their friends Jade & Joe's house to watch the Showtime show "Weeds." Mary-Louise Parker (of Sex & The City fame) stars in the show, and if you've never seen it, you're missing out. So Netflix it, or BitTorrent it, and if you don't what those terms mean, do yourself a favor and get out of the 20th century!
It should be mentioned that we also witnessed Joe annihilate NES Tetris, shattering the 200,000 point mark. Impressive, to say the least.
After goodbyes to Brooke & Kevin, we then met Jenn for our last El ride home. It was arguably the best ride ever, since it was super late, so we virtually had the train to ourselves, and each stop took a maximum of 5 seconds.
We then tiredly said goodnight/goodbye to Jenn, and passed out for our last night on their comfortable air matress.
Tuesday morning, well, late-morning, we left the Windy City, grabbing some White Castle on the way, which ended up haunting Liz most of the ride to Wisconsin. They're not called "sliders" for nothing!
So now we're in Wisconsin, home of the 56k modem internet connection, but we'll post again soon!