Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chicago, Illinois

To flee the cold, we headed south,
Chicago was the spot.
From Minnesota, full of snow,
to spots where there was not.

We camped downtown, the northern end
of famous Michigan
Avenue, and found rest at
each day's cold, nasty end.

First night in, we gorged ourselves
on macaroni and
supreme nachos, and we agreed:
our entrance there'd been grand.

The Bean! The lake! Old college friends!
The Park Millennium!
The Windy City's staple points;
our plan: see all of them.

Cassie and her husband Justin
live quite near this town.
So just to hang a little while,
they drove on over/down.

We all strolled through that big ol' park
and ogled stuff therein.
A lovely day, new places snapped
within Millennium.

And after lunch, Ellen and I,
we wondered to the lake.
So full of ice, like diamond skin;
our thirst for beauty slaked.

And after that, a long walk took
us to the Tower Sears.
Or, some say, the Willis Tower,
That giant without peers.

Miss Ellen said, "Let's go 'round 3,
and catch the sun's descent.
And see the city glow at night."
And so we freakin' went.

It's true that it took almost two
long hours to reach the top. 
And then the pictures started, and
they did not really stop.

It was lovely; rows of lights,
and building tops galore.
I looked, she looked, we lost ourselves,
and then we looked some more.

And at long last, our stomachs called,
and, famished, we consumed
some classic deep dish pizza pie,
an entree born quite doomed. 

Day 2, it rained, and that worked well;
it fit right in our plan
to conquer the big ol' Science
and Industry Museum.

Weather stuff, like tornadoes,
and avalanche chaos,
Some history, some airplanes, too;
the winners this day: us.

The Christmas things were still at large,
and there were cows as well.
And models of the cityscape,
and body parts from hell.

Ellen liked it, very much, and I
too liked the place.
We felt quite smart and learned so much
'bout earth and sea and space. 

The culminating act we saw
involved some basketball.
The Boston Celtics vs. the Bulls.
Pricey, but a good call.

The Celtics stink; I didn't know
one player on their team.
The Bulls, with Rose and Pau Gasol
are now quite good, it seems.

But nonetheless the game was close,
went into overtime.
Eventually, Chicago won,
104 to 109.

My favorite part: Kirk Hinrich! Yes,
that Iowa boy can play.
With hustle, strength, good looks, and poise,
He blew the Celts away.

Ellen's favorite parts? They were
the infamous Kiss Cam*,
and every time the crowd got loud,
and every dunk and jam.

Adventures we sought out, and thus
adventures we dang found.
But truth be told, it was okay
to then be homeward bound.

Chicago had been unlike home...
a wee bit different.
And unlike Minnesota, too,
less time with friends we'd spent.

So packed with faces, food, and fun;
the trip'd been a success.
I'd known that Christmas in the States
for sure'd be nothing less.

*No, we did not get on it...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Twin Cities Are Amazing Because...

The Twin Cities - Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota - are awesome because...

...they are - I know this is going to be hard to believe - more stimulating than where Ellen and I spent a week of Christmas. Don't get me wrong: we had an amazing Christmas with my family in Rock Rapids and Sioux Falls, and I wouldn't change anything about that. But there is more to the Midwest than Iowa and South Dakota. There is also Minnesota. So we went there for a few days.

...of the myriad of activities that can be found there. The highlights for us were the Guthrie Theater (just exploring and taking pictures and drinking hot chocolate, not actually seeing a show), the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mike Moravec's recommendation over the Walker; I had never been there before but loved it, as did Ellen - namely because of the Impressionist section), the Cathedral of St. Paul (Mike and Hilary Moravec's recommendation; I'd also never been here but was quite impressed), and the Mall of America (I thought of this on my own; Ellen and I went on the Log Chute and then met Clayton and his fam. Win.).

...they're beautiful. Picturesque. Easy on the eyes. I have also known this always, but to prove it to Ellen, we went to a few different vantage points to take it all in.

...of the balmy temperatures and warm breezes.

...of Target. Yes, the store. Ellen had heard a lot about Target from different friends of hers and really wanted to check one out. So we did, the one on County B2 on Snelling. Now she feels about the same as the rest of us about the ol' place.

...many good friends of mine were there during Christmas. There was Dawna, who now lives in Philadelphia, with whom I caught up while Ellen explored Target. There were Cole and Kristin, who now live in Melbourne, Australia, with whom I spent some good moments at a big New Year's party. Sweet to see them, to discuss some life with them, to connect with them. Lame that we can't hang out more.

...many members of my family live there. For example, my cousin Rebecca and her husband Scott peacefully reside out in Cottage Grove, in a very nice new house. And we went there. And it was great. We also spent a significant amount of time at my aunt and uncle's house - Fred and Lynne - by sleeping in their basement, eating their food, and petting their small cute dog. These people and their kids are amazing people: hilarious, kind, curious, insightful, hospitable to no end, and awesome. We loved staying with them and spending so much time with them. 

...many good friends of mine live there. Clayton, who met us with his family at the MOA. Micah, who - with his wife - hosted just the right New Year's party north of the metro area. T-Duck, who was here and there and everywhere, sharing tales of Italy and downloading Wechat. Andy, with whom I've exchanged hundreds of postcards but whom I haven't actually seen in at least six years. Orvis, who had big news and cool stories. And of course Mike and his wife, who made sure Ellen and I met them at a delicious restaurant, made sure we got to see cool places, and made sure we felt valued. I don't know what I am going to do this February during Chinese New Year, since Mike and Hil are not in some exotic place abroad that can be visited. But they made it count during our few days in the same city this winter. Miss them, and everyone else, a whole bunch.

...Ellen is now in love with them and wants to move there as soon as possible! Just kidding. But she did issue this important statement about the metro area: 明尼阿波利斯这名字太长了,我想叫它“樱桃城”,因为我真的很喜欢这城市里著名的(却又不知道到底叫什么名字的)那只大勺子上的大樱桃. Which, loosely translated, means, "I want to grow old and be buried in Minnesota" and "Dang, no Twins game?" and "You're right, Reub...your friends are the best!"

 Just kidding. But she did have a super time, and so did I. For real.