Nina, one of my friends since preschool, and I toured Sonoma County for some wine tastings, with stops at Chateau St. Jean, Benziger and Viansa wineries. We took some photos “senior portrait style” in the garden. The drive through the countryside was beautiful and wineries dotted the hillsides. Most all the wines we tried were great. When tasting wine, I learned that my nose is an instrument and that one should look for varietal character. Solid advice, I’m sure, though I still only have two indicators: tastes good, or it doesn’t. We had dinner in Berkeley with my friend Natasha, a fellow 3M summer intern from 2002, at Angeline’s for some Louisiana cookin’.
Situated at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan, Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms (44, with 67 tracks along them). It opened in 1913 and covers an area of 48 acres. Today, about 750,000 people pass through Grand Central daily and over 1 million people daily during the holidays. I’ve actually ridden the New Haven line many times to visit my friends in Connecticut, though there wasn’t time on this trip.
A quick trip to NYC meant that I got to see my ND friend Katie, who also happened to be in the city. It was 10:30pm in Times Square (and still with hundreds of people milling about), and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of McDonald’s. This restaurant went a little overboard on the signage…the Arch is used on the exterior 36 times!
My friends’ daughter Erin smiles for the camera. It’s been an amazing four days in Chicago and visiting friends and former colleagues with stops in Elmhurst, Oak Brook, Lisle, Naperville, downtown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park and Oak Park.
Oak Park is one of my favorite villages with its balanced mix of city and suburban charms. I attended Mass at my old church Ascension, and the choir sang with vibrant harmonies that elegantly rang from the choir loft to the nave and apse. After lunch at Poor Phil’s, my friends Jim and Melissa and I walked to Petersen’s Ice Cream, where they serve peppermint stick ice cream all year round. A deliciously sweet way to end a perfect weekend of reunions.
Chicago celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a way unmatched by other cities. For 50 years, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers have turned the Chicago River a breathtaking green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration. Forty pounds of vegetable dye are tipped into the river on a Saturday morning. When the dye hits the surface of the water, it appears bright orange, but as it dissolves, the river transforms into an electrifying green as the crowd erupts into cheers.
So electrifying (and so green!), I haven’t missed the event in seven years. And for the past five years, my friend Lisa has hosted brunch from her condo in Marina City, a corn-cob shaped high rise along the river. This year’s celebration was the busiest and most spectacular one with nearly 80 degree weather. Slainté, I say, to my friends near and far!
Home to the world’s largest Tiffany dome, today’s Chicago Cultural Center opened in 1897 as the first Chicago Public Library. The Tiffany dome is approximately 38 feet in diameter and spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains some 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections held within an ornate cast iron frame. If you find yourself in the Loop in Chicago, it’s worth a quick visit at Michigan Ave and Washington Street, and it’s free.