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Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Your Chicago Correspondent

Hello again, readers and friends. Do you believe it’s already February? This is typically a cold and very snowy month so our adventures will take full advantage of the fun to be had on snowy days. But before we get started: most of our activities and adventures this month require advance reservations. If you are planning to attend, please contact the venue online as far ahead of time as possible.

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

Heads Up, gentlemen! Valentine’s Day is almost upon us.  It’s on a Monday this year, (how boring is that?) and with the current restaurant restrictions in place we must be proactive. If you haven’t made your plans and reservations for Valentine’s Day, you really haven’t much time left.

My advice is to start early! She likes surprises, so meet her when she gets off work today, Friday, February 11th, and take her out for a romantic evening.  Romance means different things to different people. If your idea begins with live music and perhaps some stylish moves on the dance floor, then by all means head to Kingston Mines, 2548 N. Halsted St., https://kingstonmines.com/. With two stages, two bands alternating sets, and room to dance, it’s never a bad choice. If you prefer Chicago house music and dance venues, then a visit to Tao, 632 N. Dearborn St., , might be just the thing to put your romantic weekend on the right path. https://taogroup.com/venues/tao-nightclub-chicago/

Personally, I’m surprising my sweetheart with a visit to Le Colonial, www.lecolonialchicago.com, 57 E. Oak Street, for a taste of the fresh, vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cooking, served graciously in pleasant surroundings that celebrate “the seductive spirit and vivid flavors of 1920’s French Colonial Southeast Asia.” Hmmm, that sounds delightful.  I’ll indulge in the spicy chicken stir-fry called Ga Xao Xa Ot; I’m betting she will want the Bo Sate, a beef dish simmered in fragrant sate sauce.  After dinner? We’ll head home and watch an old movie, perhaps a musical, so we can dance where no one can see. Perfect.

Finally, today, Monday, February 14th, is officially Valentine’s Day. (Shouldn’t this be a National Holiday?) Yes, you surprised her on Friday, but, surprise her again. Do something that lets her know how much you appreciate her in so many ways. Help her with some indoor project she keeps putting aside. Hide a handful of light-hearted Valentine’s cards in places she won’t expect, but is sure to find. Rub the tension from her neck and shoulders after work. Build a smiling snowman outside her window.

Now open that nice bottle of wine, put the flowers on the table, and enjoy the company of someone you love. Have a great evening you two! Remember, next week is the ski trip!

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

You two are all packed and ready, right? We’re heading out right after work, today, Friday, February, 18th, and heading to Crystal Mountain, 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville, MI, 855-995-5146, https://www.crystalmountain.com/. It’s a long drive, and they already know we’ll be arriving late; we’ll check in around midnight, and get to sleep.  After some coffee and breakfast (it’s your turn to cook, as I recall…), we’ll grab our lift tickets, rent equipment, and be on the slopes within the hour. Getting the condo together was a great idea, thanks again. It’s really nice having a kitchen and being able to relax in such nice surroundings.

Crystal Mountain is huge. There are four distinct ski areas: Main, North Face, Ridge and Backyard. Everyone has runs and trails for beginners through experts, with 58 trails altogether. Nervous? Don’t worry, I’m really rusty, too. A few trips down the beginners trails, such as ‘Leo’s Legacy’ get us reacquainted with the balance, rhythms and sensations of skiing again.  See? You did it! Now we can head over to a green ‘easiest’ trail, like ‘Giggles’, let’s do ‘Giggles’. Here we can remember how to do some real swooping and turning while we ski. This is so much fun, isn’t it? Are you ready for an intermediate run yet? Yes? Let’s go!

All day, do you believe we’ve been skiing all day? I’m starving! Let’s head to the Thistle Pub & Grille and really eat. Look through the menu all you want, I’m having the Butcher Burger, medium rare, with a side order of blue cheese polenta, and I’ll finish it off with some coffee and crème brulee, before heading back out for some night skiing. There are twenty-seven runs that are brightly lit so we can get the most value from our rented skis and deplete the most energy from our bodies. It looks much different at night, doesn’t it, with the sky so dark and the trails so bright, lights reflecting off the snow. This is a lot of fun, let’s be sure to take on a blue trail or two. No, you can dare me all you want, but I’m not taking a black, expert, run at night.  Besides, it’s getting late and we all look exhausted, so let’s head back and get some well-earned sleep.

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

Wake up, sleepy heads! It’s, Sunday, February 20th, our last day. I’ve got the coffee started, a heap of eggs scrambled, and a small pile of toast waiting, so dive in. Don’t worry, there’s more. All done? Great, let’s get packed up and get skiing.  I’m taking things a little slower today, because I want to take time to indulge my eyes in these beautiful slopes, forests and glades. Everywhere you look is just so fresh, white with snow, rolling up and down. Don’t you love it?

Sadly, it’s getting a bit late and we have the same long drive home. Thank you so much for weekend!

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

It’s almost the end of the month, but we all know that winter weather will still be with us for a long while.  I think we need some comfort food, by which I mean soul food. So, today, Friday, February 25th, it’s time to head to Luella’s Southern Kitchen, https://www.luellassouthernkitchen.com/, 4609 N. Lincoln Ave., Meet us after work and we’ll get a table where we can sit, relax, warm up, and enjoy the wonderful company of good friends, while we equally enjoy spectacularly good food. I’m guessing that you’ll order the buttermilk fried chicken, but I’m having shrimp & grits, beyond any doubt, no matter how tempting the chicken gumbo might be. Yes, I’ll have the biscuits with that, you say you’ll have the baked mac and cheese? Good choice. For dessert I think I’ll go with the beignets. I see the Mississippi mud pie has caught your eye. This is all so good, isn’t it? Leave it to tomorrow to work off the calories.

Yes, we have calories to burn, so let’s go back outside for the day, shall we?  Today, Saturday, February 26th, the Chicago Park District is hosting Polar Adventure Days, at Northerly Island, 1521 S. Linn White Dr. off of the Museum Campus. We’ll spend time snow shoeing the Northerly Island Natural Area. It’s much different during the winter months. The views of Chicago’s magnificent skyline are breath-taking, just look. We’re south of the Loop, near the museums, with Grant Park stretching in both directions. The beaches look far different covered in snow and ice, don’t they?

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

For today’s Adventure, we’ll be able to watch “mushers” guide their teams of Husky sled dogs around the peninsula. Those dogs love to run, don’t they? Look how excited and eager they are when they’re pulling those sleds around. WOW.

While this is going on, keep your eyes open for some birds of prey, such as the Northern Shrike and the Short Eared Owl that are known to inhabit the island. Did you see an owl? Cool.

There are some craft making activities, and we’ll all get to help when it’s time to build a shelter in the Nature Play area. The day finishes up with toasting marshmallows over an open fire. Don’t let yours burn! Mine looks almost burnt, I’d say, but still really good. Let’s toast a few more before we head for home, because I really feel like a kid again getting drippy, oozy marshmallow goo on my fingers, and yes it’s a mess. So what?  Drive home safely, we’ll meet again soon.

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago

It’s Saturday, March 5th. Yes, we’re into the next month, but it still feels like February, so let’s finish our adventures with a quiet, pleasant stroll through the pavilions and greenhouses at Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N Central Park Ave., https://garfieldconservatory.org/, and just take in the natural surroundings so carefully crafted by master architect Jens Jensen, in 1906-1907. It was, and probably still is, “the largest publicly owned conservatory under one roof in the world”, and was considered revolutionary in its time. It still is. Here is where millions of Chicagoans, and visitors from around the world, come to learn of our connections to nature, in buildings that sustain different environments, from different climates around the globe. My favorite, you ask? It’s always The Fern Room, which will bring you back to glimpse the natural landscape of the Chicago area in prehistoric times.  Every time I walk through here I somehow expect some ancient lizard or giant winged dragonfly to come crawling or buzzing about.

Is this a great way to finish up our ‘winter’ adventures? The days are getting longer, spring will be here eventually, and we’ll be ready. So until next month, readers and friends, adventure on.

Snowy and Cold? It’s All Good in Chicago