An actually excellent Friday the 13th

After a week of 90+ temperatures, when the air cooled off and the clouds were racing across a bright blue sky, Julie and I finally decided to do it. We’d been saying we would bike to the Chicago Botanic Garden for weeks, if not months: with conditions like this, there was no time like the present.

The day got off to a promising start. Spoiler alert: it stayed pretty perfect.
The day got off to a promising start as I left my apartment building, bike in hand. Spoiler alert: it stayed pretty perfect. This post is actually not a tragicomedy!

I’ve been happily doing my running thing for about a month, but my bike has, unfortunately, spent a lot of time in my apartment building’s laundry room this summer. No worries, though, right? We had a map and an open schedule, and Google said we’d be there in an hour and a half.

Google makes some funny jokes sometimes, fyi.

The original plan was to take the North Branch Trail, which has some occasionally confusing bits that we were totally prepared to tackle, thanks to this helpful comic. We fumbled our way through a number of interruptions and detours, but figured this was probably the last hiccup that would bother us; it appeared that we’d have smooth sailing as soon as we passed, say, Devon Street.

Not actually the case! All through Lincolnwood, Wilmette, Skokie and into Evanston, we had to start and stop at very busy street crossings (though we did get to enjoy some interesting public art along the trail). By the time we made it to Evanston (more winding through streets, at which point we nearly hit the football stadium, distressingly close to the lake), it was nearly 2 o’clock and both of us had been counting on eating lunch at the Botanic Garden by then.

Enter Walker Bros.

Oh my god.

I learned that corned beef hash is something that looks like it will give you mad cow disease, but tastes like heaven. Hurrah for culinary daring!
I learned that corned beef hash is something that looks like it will give you mad cow disease, but tastes like heaven. (It’s hash browns or potatoes plus corned beef, all fried together.) Hurrah for culinary daring!

The whole interior of that place is well worth a photo essay all its own, but a little Instagram will have to suffice for now: we had better places to be.

Continue reading “An actually excellent Friday the 13th”

Come visit historic Pullman, Illinois!

When a friend asks if you’d like to join her on a trip to a place as steeped in history and interest as Chicago’s Pullman District, you don’t turn her down, especially not on a day as lovely as this past Sunday was. We’re both nerds and we’d both always been curious about Pullman, which was, in short, the original planned corporate community, built for employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company, about a decade after the Great Chicago Fire. The backstory is fascinating — apparently Clarence Darrow and Eugene Debs both got their starts organizing in the Pullman rail strikes of 1894 — but what you can see today is a strange little shell of what was clearly a truly impressive town once upon a time. Continue reading “Come visit historic Pullman, Illinois!”