Welcome The New Year. Chicago in January
Well, friends, the celebrations have quieted down, and we are now into January. This is typically Chicago’s coldest month, so be prepared as we head out for our new adventures, both indoors and out. Be mindful that several of our adventures this month require advance tickets or reservations, including St. Luke’s Church on the 20th, skating at Maggie Daley Park on the 21st, and especially Buddy Guy’s Legends on the 22nd. These events are filling up already, so please get tickets and join us.
Tonight, Friday, January 6th, please meet us in Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington St., right after work. We’ll take the obligatory photos in front of the Picasso statue and stroll around downtown, just to enjoy the brisk weather and bright lights on Madison, State and Wabash streets. Then we’ll take Randolph east to Michigan Ave., into Millennium Park, past the city’s Christmas tree, so colorfully lit (it all comes down on Monday). No walk down Michigan is complete without a stop at Kilwin’s Chicago, https://www.kilwins.com/, 310 S. Michigan Ave., one of our favorite chocolate and ice cream shops. We’ll watch someone make a fabulous treat, take a sample bite of today’s fudge flavor, and naturally, eat some delicious chocolate and delectable ice cream. No, it’s never too cold to eat ice cream; in the winter, it doesn’t melt. Thanks for joining us, see you soon.
This evening, Sunday, January 8th, how about an early dinner trip to Tre Sorelle, 1111 Lake St., Oak Park? They open at 4:00pm, and have a Sunday Jazz Jam that’s sure to add to the sensual delight of a good Italian meal. Instead of appetizers, would you like to share a small pizza before diving into our entrees? So, you want to try the Quattro Stagioni Pizza? That sounds great to us; mushrooms, black olives, artichoke hearts, and prosciutto cotto, what’s not to like? You’re right, these musicians are rather good, especially for a casual place like this. For dinner, I’m trying the gnocchi alla sorrentina, with mozzarella and tomato basil sauce. Yes, each of the different raviolis are tempting, just pick one. Who said they want the grilled salmon? Yumm, that, too, sounds delicious. Isn’t this all just wonderful? Buon appetite!
It’s that time of year again, so this morning, Saturday, January 14th, please meet us at the Camp Sagawau lodge, 12545 West 111th St., Lemont, where we can take up cross-country skiing again on the flat, groomed trails that surround us here. Do you think you want a lesson beforehand? There’s a PSIA-certified instructor right here to help us get re-acquainted to both skate-style and stride-style skiing. If anyone needs equipment, the lodge has rentals for children and adults, starting at 9:00am. The trails close at 4:00pm, so let’s get our free trail passes and head for the snow.
Isn’t this invigorating? Ski at a moderate pace, feel your breathing match the rhythm of your legs and arms as we cruise and almost float along these well-maintained paths through the woods. Marvelous.
Hey, is that a fox? What else might be out here, we’re in their world, after all. The winter austerity is quite beautiful, isn’t it? The bare trees, all dark and skeletal against the white snow and rich green of the pine and fir trees, along with the way you can see so much farther through the woods, make it such a visual splendor.
Back at the lodge after a few laps, let’s chew our snacks, drink some coffee, and relax before we do it again. This really is fun! But four laps of this short trail are enough for now. We’re heading home to clean up, before you catch us again this evening, at the Mines.
Yes, that’s right, we’re meeting here at Kingston Mines. https://kingstonmines.com/, 2548 North Halsted Street, where we can get some delicious food, good drinks, and an evening of great blues music. I love their burgers, “a flavorful mix of chuck, brisket, and ribeye, grilled to perfection and served with lettuce, onion, mayo, & tomato and a side of fries” as their menu says. Put a slice of Swiss cheese on mine, please, while we select from the drink list, get comfortable, and await tonight’s show.
Kingston Mines has won multiple awards for being “Chicago’s Best Blues Club”, “Most Popular Blues Club”, “a Chicago Concierge Favorite” and even “Torchbearer of the Blues”. Their motto says it all: “Hear Blues – Drink Booze – Talk Loud – You’re Among Friends!” ™ So here we are, among friends yet again, putting some great final touches on the end of a wonderful day.
Today, Monday, January 16th, is Dr. Martin Luther King Day, honoring a true American hero. Today is also an official National Day of Service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. More than a quarter million Americans, and more every year, volunteer for the day to help strengthen their communities, act on America’s promise of “justice for all”, mentor someone who needs help building life skills, or just clean up a public space. To get involved (let’s all get involved), take a look at https://americorps.gov/newsroom/events/mlk-day, and go from there.
Tonight, Friday, January 20th, let’s have dinner after work and then head to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman Ave, Evanston, for a completely different musical experience: a Candlelight Concert. The Listeso String Quartet, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNU1JJFaucs, will perform all four movements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and four additional pieces. Two of those are actually tangos by the famous Brazilian composer, Astor Piazolla. The entire event lasts just over an hour, our show begins at 8:45pm, with the doors opening at 8:00, so don’t be late!
Look around at this! Candles everywhere! Isn’t this amazing? The quartet is truly excellent; just listen to the Brazilian take on the Argentine tango, so similar yet subtly different. I trust you’re enjoying this as much as I am; Vivaldi’s Four Seasons served as my starting point for really appreciating classical music. Hearing it live, in this intimate indoor setting, is thrilling.
It’s Saturday. January 21st, and time to go ice skating. Meet us about 10:00am at Maggie Daley Park, https://maggiedaleypark.com/, 337 E Randolph St. That will give us time to gather, rent skates, and be ready for the 11:00am start. We’ll get on the ice, and (speaking for myself) get reacquainted with the balance and coordination those skinny little blades require. The Skating Ribbon is a winter attraction that’s unique to Chicago; it’s shaped like an “infinity loop, ∞” complete with a small bridge to keep us safe and add a bit of challenge. It really is a ribbon of ice that’s about twice the distance of a lap around a traditional rink.
It’s only in January that the living Blues legend, Buddy Guy, can be seen on stage at the club that bears his name, so tonight, Sunday, January 22nd, we are definitely going to Buddy Guy’s Legends, https://buddyguy.com, 700 S. Wabash Ave., where he will be on stage with Corey Dennison, a powerful singer and guitarist who has been playing guitar since he was six. Is this cool or what? Good music is always worth it and good blues is truly a cause for celebration. They’re playing “The Deacon”, that’s one of Corey Dennison’s signature songs. Don’t you love it?
It’s almost the end of our first month, but today, Sunday, January 29th, marks another beginning. It’s Chinese New Year, 4721, and in the twelve-year Zodiac cycle this is the Year of the Rabbit. Rabbit people are naturally kind, with a quiet confidence. They frequently become scholars, with good reasoning and attention to detail. This year the parade will begin at 1:00pm at the intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue and travel north on Wentworth towards the viewing stand at Cermak and Wentworth. Let’s find a good place to stand and watch. Look, here come the waving and dancing lion and dragon teams, with the first marching band and floats. They are all so colorful and the bands, all of them, play so well, don’t they? There are a number of marching bands; it seems they come from all over the area. Decorated cars and floats, surrounded by martial arts students, or high school color guard, another marching band, even a few equestrian teams are here, their horses prancing with heads held high. Magnificent. The fireworks at the conclusion are always a great touch.
Let’s stroll around for a while; there are so many interesting and different shops, book stores and galleries that we can’t possibly rush through the afternoon. Besides, look, right here is a bakery and the pastries are so delicious, I can’t resist. But don’t eat too much, we’ll have dinner at Ming Hin, 2168 S. Archer Ave., https://www.minghincuisine.com/. The dim sum here has been voted the best in Chicago, so pass the menu around and we’ll order more than enough to share. This food is great, isn’t it? Very delicious and satisfying, and good drinks, too. This has been fun, have a great week.
It looks like more snow, so let’s go skiing again. At Rock Cut State Park, 7223 West Lane Rd.,
Loves Park (near Rockford), the “winter program” grooms and maintains cross-country ski trails throughout the season. So today, Saturday. February 4th, we can take on the longer (18 miles) and somewhat more challenging trails that loop through the park. You still don’t have skis? Never fear, you can rent them at the park concession. Ready? Off we go!
There’s a lot more snow now, isn’t there? The trees are all decorated in white, and this trail is a white ribbon, rolled out under the glistening white snow on the branches above us. The rhythm of skiing is soothing, even though it’s strenuous, especially uphill. I just love this; the whiteness, the bare tree trunks, the cold air, and the swish of our skis gliding along is just deeply engaging and satisfying. But yes, I agree, 18 miles is enough for today, and it’s a long drive home. Be safe, my friends.
As it turns out, today, Sunday, February 5th, marks the official end of the traditional lunar new year holiday. While there seem to be no recognized celebrations in Chicago, let’s go back to Chinatown anyway. We’ll eat at my favorite place, Lao Tze Chuan, https://laoszechuanchinatown.com/, 2172 S Archer Ave., and ask our servers about “the Chinese Lantern Festival”. Maybe we’ll learn something new about Chinese culture as we dine on world class cuisine.
Friends and readers, we’ve done it again. It’s already February, usually the snowiest month of the year. Well, let’s rest up a bit after January’s whirlwind of fun. Until next month, fill your life with your own adventures.