Beer Here

Today we finally got to a bar. It is in Hyde Park and had cheap but good burgers and a decent selection of beer. I had a Fat Tire, which I had never tried before. It was good. Besides going to the Woodlawn Tap tonight, we have bought two different six-packs while in Chicago. The first was Leninenkugel’s Classic Amber, which I liked a lot. They don’t sell it at home, so I was interested to try it even though I know Miller owns the company. The other six-pack we bought was Goose Island IPA. Goose Island is the biggest craft brewer in Chicago. I liked that as well.


We did go back to the Rockefeller Chapel today for the organ concert. The biscuits were only store bought cookies but the tea was strong and the music was glorious. The chapel is awe-inspiring; the ceilings are so high that you feel like you are outside while inside.

I forgot to mention that the day we were at the game was the fortieth anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 13 space mission. The Adler Planetarium has an exhibit on it and Jim Lovell, the commander of the mission, was at Cellular Field. Tom Hanks played him in the movie.

On Sunday night after the game and dinner, we went to hear jazz at a church. The Hyde Park Jazz Society usually has jazz on Sunday evenings at a different venue. For a few weeks they will be at the church instead. A group of high students performed and were very talented. The headliner was the Tammy McCann quintet. She is local and had a lovely voice.  The crowd was diverse although not particularly young.


Today we went to the library and then we walked to the Rockefeller Chapel, which is on the campus of the University of Chicago. The building is very large and very beautiful. When we got there, the organist was practicing for a concert tomorrow. He played beautifully so we are tempted to go back. There will also be tea and biscuits, which provides added incentive.

At 5:30, we went on a “tour” of the carillon in the bell tower. Both the carillon and the chapel were gifts of John D. Rockefeller and his son John D. Jr. The tour guides were the bell player (the fancy name is carillonist ) and her husband. It felt like it was a million steps up and across a couple of narrow catwalks. The carillon is the second largest in the world. The first, at Riverside Church in New York, was also a Rockefeller gift.

The view from the top of the tower was amazing. You could see the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. The music from the bells was very enchanting and had a unique sound. It is essentially a keyboard; she used her fists and feet.

Yesterday we went to the White Sox game. It was a lot of fun and they won. Their slogan is The Chicago White Sox: It’s Black and White. Most people at the stadium, even if they weren’t wearing White sox paraphernalia,  were wearing white and black. It’s a great color scheme. Very modern.

Cellular Field is nothing to look at from the outside. It doesn’t have the old-fashioned feeling of the new Yankee Stadium. It is more like the old Shea Stadium – mostly parking lots and no neighborhood.

Inside it was pretty nice and the crowd was very well behaved. No drunken outbursts. Of course, it is possible that the Twins are not major rivals. I’m not sure about that. The people in Chicago are really friendly and the atmosphere in the stadium was probably due to that.

To get to the stadium we took a bus and the train. That made it feel much more like we were in the city. We even got a transit card. Coming back, the train wasn’t even crowded; I think more people go back to downtown – north – than south to Hyde Park, which is what we were doing.

A Better Day

Today we took a bus to downtown Chicago and it did not take as long as I thought it would. We went on a two-hour walking tour that the Chicago Architecture Foundation does. It was about Art Deco style buildings but Tom, our guide, talked about and showed us lot of different kinds of buildings. It was a great way to see some of the downtown and Tom did a very good job.

Then we walked through Millennium Park, which has some very interesting outdoor sculptures and was very pretty. The weather was also great. We walked down to the lake and then took the bus home. The whole day was a lot of fun. I would post pictures but we left the cord to connect the camera to the computer at home. When I get home, I will post them.

Hyde Park Is Not That Convenient

We are staying in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. It is pretty with tree-lined streets and several parks. The apartment is about a twenty-minute walk to the University of Chicago. The problem is that there is no subway here and so far, everywhere we have thought about going is a long bus ride away. Also, I am used to college neighborhoods having restaurants, bars, bookstores, and pizza places. We have not found anything like that yet. It seems more like Raleigh than a first rate city. Maybe I am just used to New York. However, even Amherst, where the town is about three or four blocks, appears to have more going on.

A short walk from the apartment is a little strip mall with a small market, two restaurants, some stores and a CVS.  We ate at Cedars tonight and it was good. Tomorrow we are going downtown – long bus ride – and maybe we will see the real Chicago.

Craft Brewers Conference – Chicago

The 2010 Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) and BrewExpo America started Tuesday and runs until April 10. I didn’t know that it was  in downtown Chicago until we got here. Rep. Pete DeFazio and Rep. Richie Neal (from Western Massachusetts) were the keynote speakers. They are both part of the Small Brewers Caucus which I discussed here.

The conference is primarily a trade meeting, but there are some events connected to it for the public. Tonight I could have gone and seen Fritz Maytag in another part of town but I didn’t. On Friday and Saturday Stone Brewing will be taking over eleven taps at a taqueria. I am going to try to go to that.

Chicago via Indiana

We have arrived in Chicago. We are staying in a one-bedroom apartment near the University of Chicago. The neighborhood seems vey rice with shops and restaurants. We are very tired from three days of driving, so we made dinner and are watching the Yankees- Red Sox game.

Most of the drive today was in Indiana. It was very rainy and the temperature dropped by thirty degrees. Indiana seems flat, certainly flatter than Western Massachusetts. We drove past Elkhart, which is the city that President Obama talks about in a public service announcement. As we were driving, I remembered that Indiana was the center of Klu Klux Klan activity in the 1920’s.

There were several signs for casinos. One appeared to be for a resort, similar to Foxwoods. The gaming center in Batavia left a lot to be desired. It reminded me of a video game arcade in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. The place in Batavia did not have any gaming tables, just rows and rows of video slots, poker, and other games. Monday was senior day; it was definitely an older, retired crowd. I do not see how something like that does anything to increase tourism or help the economy of the town.

Day Two: Rutherford B. Hayes

Today we are in Fremont, Ohio. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center is here. It is his family home, Spiegel Grove. There is also a museum and a library. I always think of Hayes as one of a fairly undistinguished group of presidents from the late nineteenth century. He became president following a disputed election. Once in office he ended Reconstruction and any federal support for Southern blacks.

His wife was Lucy Webb Hayes. She was the first presidential wife the press and others called “first lady”. She was also the first to have graduated from college. Like many other women  during the 1870s,  she was a temperance advocate. Her opponents called her “Lemonade Lucy”. President Hayes shared her temperance position; however his grandfather owned a tavern in  Vermont.

The house  and grounds were beautiful and the weather was warm but windy. It was nice to get out of the car and walk around. Tomorrow onto Chicago.