06 June 2011

Third Week in May 2011

I'd just like to say, I know I somehow messed up the numbering for the weeks in May, sorry.

Monday was the end of on call. Hooray! I barely made it through to the end of the day. I bought dinner on the way home, and ate it while sitting out on the back deck with Troy. It was then time for lawn work. After lawn work I relaxed until an early bedtime.

Tuesday after work was the start of my 'spontaneous' six day vacation. I celebrated the start with a visit to CJ's and a session of the Disorder of the Stick Pathfinder group. As I've mentioned before, we take turns doing our best to die each session. This time, it was my turn. Evidently my character is too trusting, it almost made me very dead. I got caught in an alley with three people coming after me, and I was stunned ... it took a generous DM to not make me dead. It also made me rethink my Die Hard feat, the people chasing us aren't going to settle for a nice quick death for us, I'm have developed enough attachment to my (fictional, I know) character to not want a tortuous death for her. It's part of the charm of role playing, is getting an attachment to what is going on.

Wednesday morning I had tickets for the Omaha Stormchasers game at the new Werner Park. It was an 1105 game. All morning long I looked for a game cancellation notice for the game, but they didn't put one up. I met VK at the ballpark, we walked in, the tarp was on the field, and it was announced that the game would start at 1130. VK and I walked around for about 30 minutes, seeing the park, and waiting for Joe and his coworkers to show up. There never appeared to make any move to start the game, and of course the whole time they were taking money for parking, food, and beverages. Finally, just as Joe walked up, they announced the cancellation of the game. I thought the ballpark was nice, but the way the 'postponement' went down didn't sit very well with me.

So I did what I normally do when faced with disappointment, I went out to eat. We had lunch at Red Robin at Shadow Lake, then VK and I went shopping and walking around. Eventually we ended up at her house and spent the abnormally cold afternoon watching movies. After I left, I went home and packed for the trip. By that I mean I went home and overpacked for the trip.

Thursday morning I hit the road! I filled up on the east side of Council Bluffs for $3.49/gallon. I made a few stops on the way, lunch at the Outlet Mall in Williamsburg, IA, gas at the Worlds Largest Truckstop in Walcott, IA, and a couple of rest stops, but mostly I drove right through. I got to my mother's house around 1930, and we immediately went out to eat at the Olive Garden. After dinner I played Mr. Fixit for a few minutes, putting together a few items for mom.

Here I am being the hero! Just in case you are wondering,
my mother does not like being in pictures.

Friday morning I went out to eat with Mom at IHOP. Pancakes just sounded good. I left directly from the IHOP in McHenry and followed the route downtown that Google suggested: Highway 120 to Route 12 to Highway 53 to Interstate 90. I thought it was kind of counterintuitive, but it worked. I exited at Diversey in less than an hour and a half, and drove through the old neighborhood. I met Jen, got some parking permits, and unloaded the car.

We went down to have lunch at the original Potbelly. No, they don't have them in Omaha, and I've been craving one for months. It's a sandwich place, kind of a cross between Quizno's and Subway, only with better chips. After lunch I walked down to the lakefront and through the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

I had a very strange encounter with something called a sausage tree.

No complaints about Omaha area gas prices for at least three weeks.

I would have stayed in the Conservatory longer, mostly because it was warm, but I had to go up to Briar Street Theater to see Blue Man group. I haven't seen them since 2004(?) in Las Vegas. It was a fun show, some of the elements were the same as the last time I saw it, but somethings were different, such as the large boards with lettering on them had been replaced with "GiPhones". It was also much more family friendly than I remember. We left there and went for a dry, but cool, walk along the lakefront.

After some relaxation at my friends condo, we went to dinner at Andalous, which is a Moroccan restaurant on Clark Street. I had lamb (more like goat) shank with veggies and fries (!). It was a BYOB place, there seemed to be quite a few of those kinds of places, and although I know things change in 20 years, I don't remember there being that many BYOB places being around. It seems like a smart idea though. No liquor license, no needing to worry if the customer likes your wine selection, or listening to complaints about your weak drinks. They can get it themselves and have exactly what they want. After dinner, we went back to Jen's condo and sat around and talked, bedtime was early, after all there was about 7 miles of walking involved.

Saturday I woke up earlier than I intended, got my caffeine, and cat pictures ensued before the rest of the day took off.

102_1652 102_1660
Hey! This is our condo! What are you doing here?

I caught the 'el' downtown here at this stop, you know,
the one with the view of Ozzie Guillen's favorite ballpark.

We got off of the 'el', and surprise, Memorial Day parade ...
and Mr. Mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

First stop, The Art Institute. We wandered around the museum. Some things had definitely changed in the past few years. So I had to wander around to find some stuff, although it wasn't difficult, except I'm still wondering where some of the Georgia O'Keefe paintings wandered off to. I did think that the new location for Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte was not as interesting a location to walk up on as the old location. One thing that still amazes me is Peter Blume's The Rock. Our visit to the Art Institute was interrupted by this little thing I like to call 'lunch'. We walked up to Billy Goat's Tavern to eat, probably I would have preferred pizza (foreshawdowing).

While we ate it started to rain. When we walked back, we went via the lower level of the bridge on Michigan Avenue, and then climbed up the stairs when we had to. My umbrella was cleverly back in my car, so although it sounds like it could have been a wet, unenjoyable situation, the rain just made it more fun. We walked up to 'The Bean' at Millennium Park, and there were about 80 people underneath it. After a few shots, we went back to the Art Institute via the new bridge over Monroe Street.

Hey, The Bean is mirrored, it's all about me.

I could spend all day in Millennium/Grant Park, so much to explore.
My jacket dried out about ten hours later.

We headed back to the 'el', and headed back to the Lakeview area ... and Pizza!

We ate at Giordano's, I believe the correct term is 'nom nom nom'.

After dinner we hung out on the roof until we got too wet and cold.
Especially since we just got ice cream.

What better way to warm up than epic sushi at midnight?

Sunday morning was the day to start heading back, but it was also a lazy morning. We laid around, packed slowly, and then chatted. I noticed the sky was getting kind of dark in the west. Jen turned on the Weather Channel and ... it was time to go. I sprinted out of condo to the car, drove it up front, and loaded it up just in front of some epic rain. I headed out of town to Schaumburg and one of the two Ikea stores in the Chicagoland area. I think it's odd that I wanted to see what the Ikea experience was all about, but I still haven't been to Trader Joe's here in Omaha.

I had several plans for the way back, plan A was to see the riverfront in Davenport, Iowa and stay in the Quad Cities, plan B was to stay in Iowa City, and plan C was to drive all the way home. Davenport's riverfront didn't disappoint, it was very pretty.

Davenport has a pretty riverfront on the Mississippi. This picture was taken from a pedestrian bridge below.

No, I'm not nervous about the height, not at all, really.

Once night set, you could see that the bridge had cool lights that changed colors over time.

I had dinner at a nice restaurant at the other end of the pedestrian bridge, thank you to the nice group of people who pointed it out to me, saving me from dinner at the casino buffet. As it worked out, the trip was a combination of plan A and B. Visiting Davenport and staying in Iowa City. It didn't quite work out that way, because on the way out of Davenport, there was the same hotel I was going to stay at in Iowa City, Country Inns and Suites. I checked, and they were cheaper than Iowa City and they were right there. Good choice. After relaxing in the pool and hot tub for 45 minutes, I went back to the room where I fell into a deep hard sleep.

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