Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rumor Has It...

Back in the Prohibition Era, Chicago was home to many illegal speakeasies. John Barleycorn in Lincoln Park was a well known speakeasy regularly frequented by notorious bank robber John Dillinger.

Today, John Barleycorn's decorative door is surrounded by security cameras and door buzzers. Back in the 1920s and early 1930s, this door was boarded up, and John Barleycorn was disguised as a Chinese laundry.

The sale, production, transportation and importation of alcohol was strictly prohibited, so booze was snuck in underneath piles of dirty laundry.

Oh Pipkin! Look into those innocent eyes...who would have thought Pipkin capable of such dirty deeds?

The modern day John Barleycorn sells alcohol legally to those of drinking age, and you can find them at 658 W. Belden Ave.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Navy Pier at Sunset

The Navy Pier in Chicago is quiet in early May, which is fine if you're not fond of crowds, and normally, the Navy Pier draws a big crowd. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Navy Pier puts on a fireworks show twice weekly, all synchronized to music.

The pier extends nearly a full mile out into Lake Michigan. If you walk past the pier rides (including a replica of the world’s first Ferris wheel at Chicago’s 1893 World Columbian Exposition), shops, food, museums, fun house and theatre, you'll get to the end of the pier where you'll be rewarded with a nice view of the Chicago skyline. You can also look out over Lake Michigan to see the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.

The pier's the perfect place to indulge in a hot dog, but there's just one rule: no ketchup. A real Chicago style hotdog is said to be "dragged through the garden" - an all beef dog on a poppyseed bun, with yellow mustard and condiments like tomato slices, chopped onions, dill pickle spears, and maybe lettuce or cucumber slices. Pipkin ate all the greens off of the hotdog, leaving Domo with just the hotdog and mustard - "the important parts" in Domo's opinion. It's nice when vegetarians and meat-eaters can get along.

Pipkin found this giant rocking horse in a covered storage area at the end of the pier. If you've read Margery Williams' Velveteen Rabbit, you'll understand why this sight left Pipkin feeling a little sad. This horse is so handsome! He should be out where people can ride him! Domo assured both the horse and Pipkin, that the horse would be out on the pier when the weather got better.

And with that thought, Pipkin watched the sun go down, hoping for warmer days.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Do-Rite? Alright!

From L-R: Buttermilk Old Fashioned, Lemon Old Fashioned, Boston Cream Pie and Candied Maple Bacon
Pipkin and Domo don't normally indulge in donuts, but when they do, they head to the best donut shop wherever they happen to be traveling. In the past, that's included Voodoo Donut in Portland, OR, and Rachelle's Donuts at the Beast in Toronto, ON.

Diablos Rex, Voodoo Donut
Maple-bacon (so Canadian, eh?) by Rachelle's Donuts

Donut breakfast was in order, and luckily, Pip and Domo were staying in the Mather Tower (aka the "Gothic Rocket") just a couple blocks away from Do-Rite Donuts.

Domo's got the address info here for you: 50 W. Randolph St. between Dearborn and Clark. Look for the giant donut!! 

This giant donut!

Do-Rite Donuts makes their donuts fresh every morning, in small batches of no more than 36, with vegan and gluten free options, and daily specials. Officially they're open until 2 PM or whenever they run out, and believe me, if you don't get there early, you might miss out on your favorite donut!

For busy bees in the Loop, Do-Rite Donuts has curbside service (since there's not space for a drive-thru in downtown Chicago). Call ahead with your order and they bring your order out to you when you get there! Sweetness!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Second City, Chicago

A visit to Chicago wouldn't be complete without a night at The Second City, the comedy club/improv school that's famous for alumni like Tina Fey, Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Jane Lynch...the list goes on and on!

The Second City is in its 50th year, with several shows every day of the week. Pip and Domo saw the hilarious sketch comedy show Depraved New World, which takes you inside the minds of people and what they're really thinking. There was a lot of amazing talent on stage. They can't wait to see more from Tawny Newsome.

Buckingham Fountain

In the last post, Pipkin and Domo were at the observation deck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. From there, they could see Chicago in all directions. Looking west, they saw this:

It's Lake Michigan and the waterfront parks. Just beyond the red CNA building is a partial view of Buckingham Fountain. The photo at the top of this post is a view in reverse! Pip's at the fountain, with the red CNA building, and the tall, black, bundled tower structure in the back is the Willis Tower.

Buckingham Fountain is one of the world's largest fountains, built in the late Baroque "Rococo Wedding Cake" style. It reminds Pipkin of the fountain at the Palace of Versailles.

Located in Grant Park, the fountain operates from mid-April to mid-October, from 08:00 to 23:00. On the hour, the fountain's peak will shoot water to a height of 150 feet (46 metres). In the evenings, the water show is choreographed to music and lights.

Domo and Pipkin didn't have time to visit the park again at night, but if you can manage it, visit at dusk to see it during the day and at night when the lights come on in the city. It is incredibly pretty!

Nice try, Pip!

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Guess where Pipkin's posing?? 103 is the first clue!

Here's the second clue. Pipkin's looking to the north.

And now Pipkin and Domo are checking out the southside.

Facing west.
Recognize it yet?

They're at the observation deck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago, Illinois! In the photo above, they're in the glass box known as the Ledge, which stands 1,353 feet up, and 4.3 feet out from the building.

You can see the north branch of the Chicago River here.
There are two boxes on the west side of the building, and it's fun to watch peoples' reactions getting into the box. If you're not fond of heights, you might not want to step in.

Clearly, Pipkin and Domo have no problem with heights.

Looking east at Lake Michigan
It was a beautiful day when they went up the Willis Tower, so they got amazing 360 degree views of Chicago. They can't wait to explore more of the city. So far, they've found Chicagoans to be polite, friendly, and the city is very clean.

Pipkin's favorite thing about Chicago so far is the waterfront, more specifically, the public's access to the waterfront. What you see above is Lake Michigan, and all that green space downtown along the waterfront is a series of gardens and parks, all free to the public. Look at all those baseball diamonds! It so easily could have been high priced waterfront real estate, but instead, the City of Chicago has beautiful green space for everyone to enjoy.

Just behind the red CNA Center building is Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Pipkin and Domo are headed there soon, so you'll get a closer look. You can also see the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium jutting out into Monroe Harbor. Click on any of the photos above for a larger picture.

Keep coming back to the blog to see more of their adventures. Chicago!

More Mystery Guests!

There was a loud knock on the door early the other morning. The house kitty went to the door but no one was there. Just this box, with high-pitched peeping noises inside.

The last time the warren received a box at the door, the box had warnings on it. This one simply said, "Chick transport box". The cat opened the box and inside...

...were three little chicks! Kitty took the chicks to Chief Labbit Uncle Warren, who knew exactly what to do with them. He set them up with all the things three baby chicks need to grow into strong laying hens.

At the bottom of a large plastic bin which he purposed as a brooder, he laid down clean, fresh pine shavings for bedding. In one corner, he put chicken feed into a feeder, and into the other corner he would put in a waterer.

On top of the brooder, Warren placed a work light with a warming bulb so the chicks can stay warm. They need temperatures of about 90°F while they're at this young, growing stage. Warren also placed a screen of chicken wire over the brooder so the chicks couldn't fly away. You might think of chickens as poor fliers, but at this age, their wings grow quickly and their bodies are still small, so they are quite excellent fliers. If you're not watching, they'll fly the coop!

The three girls are, from top to bottom, Willow, Martha and Francine.

Baby chicks are easy to care for, even a cat can do it. (The warren's cat respects all animals and has no hunting urge. Don't worry, she never tried to attack the chicks.) For the most part, chicks need to stay in their brooder, but on a really nice, warm day, they can go outside, as long as they are supervised.

Hawks, eagles, turkey vultures, neighborhood cats and dogs - all of these are potentially dangerous to baby chicks. It's not safe to leave them unattended and defenseless, so Uncle Warren and Patrick took up guard duty to ensure their safety.

Willow, Francine and Martha are quite happy at the warren and get along well. Willow's the smallest, and she's happy to be friends with everyone. She follows everyone around, but mostly she is Francine's best friend. Francine is the smartest, most adventurous and most curious of the bunch. She's the first to roost, the first to fly, and the one who leads the chicks on explorations of the lawn. Martha's the biggest of the bunch, and she's very active and asserts her size and power. She likes to kick up the bedding, run around fluffing up her wings and lead the chicks at chow time. They're a good group.

Aren't chicken butts the cutest?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fun in the French Quarter

Ted and Clover had just one more day in New Orleans so they spent it together in the French Quarter. They started out with a giant waffle from Magnolia Grill, a fantastic, lively diner on rue Decatur.

Walking around the French Quarter is a lot of fun. It's a mix of retail, commercial and residential, so there's a lot to see. There are unique shops, lots of places to eat and drink, random cats, and it's rich with history and architecture.

There's so much in the French Quarter, you have to get creative with the addresses.

A lot of the balconies in the French Quarter have plants and cozy seating, so residents can people watch from above. But the real beauty of these residences is in their courtyards, which are hidden from street view. What you see walking around the French Quarter is the back of people's homes. You'll have to befriend someone to see what's on the other side! It's usually something very cooling with a fountain and filled with plants for shade, like this:

Ted and Clover walked from Magnolia Grill down to Woldenberg Park, which runs along the muddy Mississippi River. 

At the east end of the park you can find your way to the French Market for fresh produce, food, books, clothing, local arts and crafts...pretty much anything a vendor wants to bring to the market.

If you're interested in learning more about the French Quarter, you should take a guided tour in one of the horse drawn carriages at the south end of St. Louis Park. Ted's Uncle Rick and bride Lisa treated them to a romantic evening tour. It's a great time to do a tour when the streets are quieter but the parties on Bourbon St. aren't yet in full swing.

If you visit St. Louis park early in the morning or late in the evening, you'll find many a psychic, tarot card reader and voodoo practitioner set up in the park. Just another fun thing to do in the French Quarter.

Ted and Clover would like to thank Lisa & Rick again for the invite to their beautiful wedding ceremony in New Orleans. Ted was so happy to re-visit his hometown, and spending time with family and friends in New Orleans is something he will always remember and treasure. There's so much to see and do in New Orleans...they're looking forward to the reunion. ;)