Happy St. Patrick’s Day from CHICAGO!

8BF7374E-9223-490E-B952-5BC3D488D751For those of you not in Chicago, you can see we take St. Patrick’s Day very seriously! Every year, they turn the river green. It’s a site to see!

I wanted to share with you some photos of the river from different angles. We were lucky and had wonderful weather. Fun to see people dressed in green. The Irish are a lively bunch.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chicago: Below zero temperatures, Polar Bear was happy at the zoo

4EDAB912-2017-4E62-BC73-BA2875FD89F2This has been a COLD winter in Chicago. In the 20s Fahrenheit, not bad, but below zero temperatures are tough. For those of you who have never experienced below zero wind shield factors, I can tell you that your eyeballs hurt. I highly recommend staying in your warm climate and visiting Chicago in the Spring or Summer.

Yesterday, I took a walk at the zoo. I got a great photo of this polar bear swimming. I believe this was the female, the male was much larger and grumpy. She was trying to coax him into swimming, but he was not interested, so she had the pool to herself.

Here you see the BIG SPLASH when she dove in. Then she was swimming toward me, did her swimmer’s flip, turned around and re-circled the pool. After all this exercise, I could tell she was going to sleep very well.

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Next, I saw the penguins. These three were charming. Looked like a child trying to convince his Mom/Dad to let him go out and adventure, the father saying, “ABSOLUTELY NOT, and the mother winking to the child and working her magic on the father to let the child go.”

I must tell you, penguins do waddle in a very cute way. I also noticed that they each have a “distinct” waddle and some jump a lot while they walk, others do not.

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Finally, the lion. He was out. I went inside the lion building and it was SO HOT, I think he must have come outside to “cool off” from the unbearable heat inside.

I hope this makes you smile!

It’s March, the birds are chirping, Spring is ALMOST here!

Visit Atlas Obscura -> An adventure guide to hidden wonders in the world.

Travel the worldLast week I was going through my Junk folder on Outlook. As expected most of it was junk; however, I came across an email from, “Atlas Obscura.” Normally, I would not open an unknown email, but the subject header said, “You can spend the night in this formerly abandoned Scottish village.”  This piqued my interest, I want to visit Scotland one day.

Before opening the email, I decided to research “Atlas Obscura.” Turns out it is an online magazine created in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras. They wanted to create an atlas / guidebook for people to learn about and explore obscure places around the world. They certainly have done that.

If you sign up for their weekly newsletter, you’ll be amazed at the different places you can explore. On their website, you can choose a country (Germany, for example) and you’ll be brought to a map of Germany where they have pointers you can click on with stories for that particular area, i.e. the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Worms, the “floating railway” to name a few.

On Eventbrite, I noticed they have Atlas Obscura Society Chicago. For the remainder of February and into March, they have some interesting events going on, i.e. learning about volcanoes and the birth of the most precious stones, interactive history of comics, murder mystery soiree, scavenger hunt, roller skating in the movies, immigrant stories and connections. I wrote to one of the field reps to see what the age range was for people attending. Have not heard back yet.

If you enjoy traveling and you’re getting bored with the normal tourist attractions, I highly recommend visiting “Atlas Obscura’s” website. You’ll definitely find obscure things to explore on your next adventure.

Did you know Tootsie Rolls are made in Chicago?

4808E90E-6DE6-4429-A5C0-6D35C99382C0This week I got the biggest surprise. My daughter and I were entering the freeway when she yelled, “Mama, LOOK, it’s the Tootsie Roll truck.” As I was driving I couldn’t take a look, so I said, “Quick, take a picture, my blogging friends will enjoy seeing this.”

As you can see, she was quite the photographer, she got a GREAT shot of the truck. Then one night she was “behind” the Tootsie Roll truck and got a picture of the Owl and the famous saying of “How many licks in a tootsie roll pop?”

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Why the smiles and excitement? With our changing world, it is nice to know there are a few things from our childhood grade school days that still exists — AND — that is the Tootsie Roll, which has been produced in the United States since 1907.

Oh, and Leo Hirshfield (an Austrian immigrant) created this candy for his five year old daughter whose nickname was “Tootsie,” and there you have the name “Tootsie Roll.”

American soldiers ate tootsie rolls as field rations during WWII, because of the hardiness of the candy in different environmental conditions.

So, if you are ever in Chicago, keep your eye out for the Tootsie Roll truck. When you see it go buy, you’ll have to smile and THINK, “How many licks ARE THERE in a tootsie roll pop?”

Chicago: Take the Untouchable Tours, learn about Al Capone in the 1920s/30s

Untouchable Tour BusI was on a street corner one night when this “Untouchable Tours” bus went by. I whipped out my camera to get a picture. Clearly this was a gangster tour bus. You can see they have pictures of some of the gangsters in the windows.

Visiting the website, “Gangster Tour,” it sounds like this tour makes learning about Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s (Prohibition Era) entertaining, because the tour guides are actors that dress the part of a gangster. They say this tour has been going on for 30 years, I had no idea. This was not a nice time in Chicago history. It was the Italians in the South (Jonny Torrio/Al Capone) against the Irish in the North (Dion O’Bannion, Hymie Weiess, and Bugs Moran) fighting to control illegal vice in the city.

On their website, you’ll see a great picture of the actors! Their tour sounds like the Irish tours, where the tour guide has you sing a song too. Trip Advisor has excellent reviews on the tour, so I guess I’ll be booking my tour very soon.

Wouldn’t it be amusing if I dress the part?!! That would throw the tour guides off. I might just get a front row seat!

Chicago to Mackinac Island – Sailboat race starts tomorrow…

sailboats-1375064_960_720The race from Chicago to Mackinac Island starts tomorrow (Saturday, July 21, 2018). If you are in the area, head down to Navy Pier. It’s exciting and beautiful to see all the boats lining up to take off. They have different sized boats, so they leave at different times to make the race fair.

The reason this is exciting is because this is the oldest freshwater race in the world, it started in 1898. If you enjoy sailing, you might like to see this online tracking of the race. If you click on the “online tracking link,” you can see a picture of Lake Michigan with a line showing you how they will sail from Chicago to Mackinac Island. They sail nonstop, so they use spotlights at night. I believe there are about 340 boats and approximately 3,000 sailors.

Weather forecast not looking so good, rain and high winds.

So, you see, Chicago is known for a little bit more than just “Al Capone / gangsters.” Ah, I’m kidding, but did you know that Walt Disney was born in Chicago, 1901, and grew up here? He studied drawing at the Institute of Fine Arts. I leave you with Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Kind of Town (Chicago is)!”  AND The Blues Brothers with “Sweet Home Chicago.

Let the race begin!