Helpful ReplyBillyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders

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billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/29 18:11:54 (permalink)
Monday July 30, 2018 - Day Four - AKA "Recovery Day".  Dayna & I had a fantastic time on the Evanston Crawl the day before but we were wiped out this morning and possibly still full from all of the terrific eats we shared with the group.  Today was just going to be low-key and taking it easy...for Dayna anyway.  I recovered much quicker and by mid-morning I was itching to get out and do some walking around for a bit of sightseeing and to check out some regional as well as iconic Chicago eats.  Dayna was just fine sleeping in til the afternoon.  While we never made it here, I was happy to find out that there was a branch of The Original Pancake House just a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Going on the list for the next trip!

 Another beautiful home in the Gold Coast neighborhood.  

 So, passing by Mister J's Dawg 'N Burger for the third time in four days I decided I needed an Italian Beef sandwich stat!  I didn't exactly get a great vibe from the looks of the inside but when I saw more than a few people, mostly blue collar guys, getting Italian Beef sandwiches, I figured I made the right choice.  I did notice an industrial-sized jar of giardiniera on the shelf behind the counter so I'm guessing that they don't make their own, which I understand is a point of pride at many sandwich stands.   

 Hot (spicy giardiniera), wet (dipped in the au jus) and sweet (with sweet green peppers).  The giardiniera was a good mix of spicy peppers, carrots, celery and cauliflower that I thought worked really well with the beef, which I thought was a bit too salty but overall was still good.  This was definitely a hot mess of a sandwich and required an irresponsible amount of napkins.  I'd probably return but there are many other spots I'd like to check off of my list first.

 Yeah, this is the same shot from a couple of nights ago,  Dayna called while I was out walking and said she was feeling a bit peckish but didn't want anything heavy.  Since I was right near Buffetbuster's pick, the Tempo Cafe, and he had said that their fresh squeezed juice were some of his favorites, I figured I'd get a couple and maybe something light to eat.  

 Don't see too many registers like these anymore.  While I waited by the front to check out the menu and get our lunch to go, I saw many orders coming out of the kitchen and they have what look to be some very inviting skillet breakfasts. When I commented to the host about how big one of them looked, he replied, "That's the half size."  Gulp!  Wow!

 My Casablanca (strawberry, cantaloupe and orange juices) and Dayna's apple, celery and carrot juice blend on the lower right.  Both of these were definitely fresh-squeezed and very refreshing.  A "Fine" find indeed!  Now that's Roadfood, Chicago-style!!

 Dayna was happy with the grilled chicken breast salad.  

 The open-faced avocado stuffed with white albacore tuna salad with sides of tomato slices, cottage cheese, crackers and fresh fruit was filling, yet light and exactly what I wanted before I even knew that I wanted it.  I'd love to go back and eat there.  Based on what I read of the menu and the dishes I saw in person, it'll be a must-stop the next time we're in town.  

 Dayna & I just relaxed in the room for a while, watching local new and sports and getting a sense of the goings on in the Windy City.  She wanted to sleep some more but I had plans to check out a small museum In had read about online and  a nice mile-long walk later, I found myself at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum on the banks of the Chicago River.  It houses many exhibits about the Chicago River, the many moveable bridges and their roles in developing the city over the decades and making it what it is today.  The museum is IN the birdhouse and goes up about 5-6 flights of stairs and there are multiple windows from which one can look out and get different views of the city and the river.  General admission is only $6.00 but it's not handicap-accessible to the upper floors, which is where most of the exhibits reside.  

 Through a door on the main level, I was able to check out the gears that raise and lower the bridge as needed when ships are passing through.  Pretty cool.  They raise and lower the various bridges about 40 times per years and for $10.00 visitors can buy a ticket to see it up close!

 Change is never easy.

 Very, very cool.

 And there are numerous types of bridges.

 The view looking westward.

 At one of the upper levels, I spotted the Redline Lounge Band jamming on the street.  I don't remember their sound but I do remember digging it.

 Looking east across the DuSable Bridge.  

 It didn't always look so pretty (or smell that great, either!)

 I guess not everyone was a fan.  It's like that though with any place first establishing itself.  There have to be people willing to come in on the "ground floor", as it were, and be willing to build and create something new, often times without seeing the actual benefit for themselves.  Many a neighborhood and even whole cities stand upon their shoulders and backs.  

 Change is a-comin'!!

 Breathtaking by the moonlight.

 Though Bubbly Creek probably didn't look so good in the harsh light of day.

 Time to devise a system of waste management.

 So many different styles for the Bridge Tender's houses.  Must have been a difficult, lonely job.  

 So much history...

 Selfie by the DuSable Bridge, with the Tribune Tower in the background to the left.  More on that later in the report...

As I began walking north back towards the hotel, I knew that I would be passing the Billy Goat Tavern, long on my list of must-visit places.  There probably was an easier way to get there, but I decided to go down below Michigan Ave. and cross Lower Wacker Drive to get to the northbound side of Michigan Ave.  Let's just say that the air quality down there leaves a LOT to be desired.  There seemed to be a very large amount of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks down there and I do hope that they are able to find better situations as exposure to the exhaust fumes from the constant traffic must have some serious effects over the long haul.  

 Looks like this sign has withstood the test of time.

 Many people, myself included, first heard of the Billy Goat via the now famous Saturday Night Live sketch.  

 While I did spot another tourist in here ahead of me (he was wearing a paper Billy Goat hat, I decided not to ask for one and instead just melt into the background) the place was pretty quiet and with just a smattering of people sitting about, watching the tube, having some shots & beers and enjoying the day.

 Step below street level, walk up to the counter and police your order.  

 Just a Coke for me today.

 And a little history.  

 My Double Cheezborger.  If a thick, juicy, medium-rare burger is what you crave, then the Billy Goat is NOT the place for you! The burger patties here are pretty thin and given that a pinwheel Kaiser roll is the vehicle of choice for the burgers, I strongly suggest that two (2) patties be the minimum order, otherwise the meat-to-bun ratio is off-balance. I believe, yellow American cheese comes standard on the burgers (I didn't think to ask if there were other options) and this is a griddle-cooked burger, so if open-flame is your passion, you may be out of luck. Was this the best burger I have ever had in my life? Honestly, I don't know. I find it difficult to compare burgers but in that moment, sitting at that bar, I LOVED the taste and every bite of it and it really reminded me of some of the homemade burgers I had at my grandma's house many years ago and of some I have made from time to time. I would come back here again in a Chicago minute and order two, without hesitation.

 That double cheezborger looks so tiny next to the toppings bar! I love that they let customers decide what and how much they want. I went with mustard (at the bar), chopped raw onions with some pickle chips on the side.

 I wonder just how many have been "lost" over the years?

 Article about Billy Goat owner Sam Sianis by Mike Royko.  Looks like this article has seen a lot of griddle grease in the air over the years.  Sorta like business cards tacked to the walls getting all dark and smoke-laden in a Hill Country barbecue joint.

 More words of wisdom from Sam Sianis.

 The menu.

 By-lines of reporters from days gone by and a barely visible billy goat head above the bar.

 Hehehe!!

 For a Double Cheezborger?  You bet I will!

 The only complaint I had about the Billy Goat is I realized about halfway through eating that I would need to save a few bites for Dayna.  Drat!  She did like it so it was worth it.  Part of me just wanted it polish it off and never tell a soul!  I made a beeline for the stairs just under Michigan Ave. and got back on street level where there was sunlight and fresh-ish air.  As I made my way back to the hotel, I kept seeing these lighthouse/art installations along the the sidewalk.  I didn't get the story on all of them but each one has something to say and they are quite lovely, especially since I am a HUGE fan of lighthouses!

 Many of these lighthouses were designed to bring light and awareness to various issues that people face every day. This one is titled "SILENCENOMORE", by Kristine Koller-Metoyer and addresses the invisible nature and stigma surrounding mental health issues and reminds people that those struggling with such issues have worth and value and that their lives do matter.

 This one is "EVERYBODY HAS A STORY", by Matthew Kopp - Tellin' Tales Theatre and Louis Demarco - Project Onward. Stories and triumph and adversity from people with disabilities reminds us that many people face challenges that we never would have imagined human beings would have to deal with and despite that, they persevere and are some of the strongest people out there.

 

I saw this jumping out at me from the local Under Armour store and it reminded me of how I felt when the Red Sox finally broke the curse back in 2004. 

 The John Hancock Center.

 The John Hancock Center. My, that sure is a tall building. Hope I didn't look like a tourist when I took this shot!

 Some more really beautiful homes in the Gold Coast.

 Ahh, here's one for sale in the Gold Coast, right near our hotel. Only $5,400,000! What a bargain!

After getting back to the hotel and relaxing for a bit, Dayna started yelling at me, "Your cousin is on TV!  Your cousin is on TV!"  My cousin, Drew, has been competing on American Ninja Warrior and had made it to an advanced round and his episode was airing that night.  We were so excited for him!!  

 Drew, his wife Heather and their baby girl, Violet.  

 Drew got through the first few obstacles with ease and he was looking strong when he smiled and waved at his family.  

 Heather, with Drew's mom & dad, Pam & Bob.  Pam's mother and my grandfather were brother and sister and I stayed with her and Bob a few when I reported on a trip to Florida that Dayna & I had taken to see her dad in 2015.  Here:  http://forums.roadfood.com/February-Fun-in-the-Florida-Sun-NEWEST-UPDATE-081117-ON-PAGE-2-m800702.aspx

 Tis was a tough obstacle but Drew nailed it!

 The same goes for these bars that he had to move up to higher and higher levels.  

 Little Violet!  Drew didn't make it all the way to the end as there was one obstacle that was tough for many of the contestant and he splashed down into the pool below but he may have qualified for the next round.  Sorry to break into  the report with such a non-Roadfoody interlude but we were so excited for him!!

 After what felt like an exhaustive online game of "Where Should We Eat Tonight?", Dayna and I settled on a place right across the street from our hotel, Carmine's, and as it turned out, it was ChiTownDiner approved!  I wasn't super hungry but was pleasantly surprised to find an iconic Chicago dish on the menu.

 I considered lasagna or chicken parmesan but what to my wondering eyes should appear but Chicken Vesuvio and maybe one tear! I'm so happy!

 Dayna's homemade pasta squares had a wonderful chew to them that only accompanies fresh pasta. As good as they were and as rich as the tomato sauce was, I was truly blown away by the depth of flavor in those meatballs. I can't remember the last time I had a meatball that incredible. Not a ball of ground meat packed together but layers of flavor. Outstanding!

 Sauteed spinach with roasted garlic and lemon. I love the little touch of the wrapped up lemon to keep the seeds in place. Earthy and wilted with just a bit of crunch. I was a spinach lover at this meal.

 I had been aware of Chicken Vesuvio for some years but my interest was really piqued when my sister gave me the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que cookbook for Christmas many years ago. In it, owner and author John Stage professes his love for this iconic Chicago dish and offered up his own recipe. I was very impressed when our waitress asked if I wanted it bone-in or boneless. Bone-in, please! Much more flavor that way! About a half chicken, rubbed with herbs, roaster potatoes and what appears to be a whole bag of peas, all cooked in white wine and garlic, which when combined with the chicken juices made for one deep and rich pan sauce. A beautiful night out on the town with my lady and a classic dish to boot! Now that's Roadfood, Chicago-style!!  Seriously.

 As great as our meals were, they were MASSIVE!!  We gave a hearty portion of it away to a homeless man sitting on a bench at a nearby bus stop.  The waitress asked us if we wanted dessert but we passed on it and later on that night, craving something sweet, we broke into the apple pie baked in a bag from the Elegant Farmer.  
 
This is definitely destination-worthy pie. The filling is symphony of tart-sweet apples and cinnamon that leans more toward the tart end of the pie spectrum, which we both prefer. The crust is the love child of a pie crust and a sugar cookie, though not too sugary sweet. The famous saying, as seen on the side of their trucks is "Best Pie You Ever Hung A Lip On". While Green Acres in Hudson, NY still holds that title for my taste buds, the Elegant Farmer comes pretty darn close.

 
 
When we rejoin our Roadfood warriors in tomorrow's episode, we have a truly wonderful day with Mr. & Mrs. Roadhouse, exploring different neighborhoods, finding a hidden gem of a museum, a great Chicago-style dog and a pair of dreamy Italian Beef sandwiches, going back in time at a local bank, a passport to Vietnam and China, a photo op at the "Friendly Confines", my big break at Second City, Travelin' Manned TWICE in 10 minutes, some roadside Roadfood, so church chat with the locals, eggplant "crack" and finishing off the evening with some Thai "rolled" ice cream.  Whew!  Much, much more to come...
 
The 411
 
1.)  Mister J's Dawgs 'N Burgers
      822 N. State St.
      Chicago, IL 60610
      Ph# (312) 943-4679
      Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mister-Js-Dawgs-and-Burgers/131766500213794
 
2.)  Tempo Cafe
      6 E. Chestnut St.
      Chicago, IL 60611
      Ph# (312) 943-4373
      Website: http://www.tempochicago.com
 
3.)  McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum
      99 Chicago Riverwalk
      Chicago, IL 60601
      Ph# (312) 977-0227
      Website: http://www.bridgehousemuseum.org
      
4.)  Billy Goat Tavern
      430 N. Michigan Ave.
      Chicago, IL 60611
      Ph# (312) 222-1525
      Website: http://www.billygoattavern.com
 
5.)  Lighthouses On Mag Mile
      Website: https://lighthousesonmagmile.com/gallery-artists
      (The display ended on August 11th but the website is still up as of August 29th and has some great stories from the artists!
 
6.)  Carmine's
      1043 N. Rush St.
      Chicago, IL 60611 
      Ph# (312) 988-7676
      Website: http://www.rosebudrestaurants.com/restaurant/carmine/
#31
Ram4
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/29 19:29:53 (permalink)
Billy I am loving your trip report to my wonderful city and especially all the pictures.  If it were in real time I'd tell you not to go to Mister J's for a beef, but alas that was a month ago.  Glad you got a Vienna hot dog (without ketchup!) at Poochie's which is probably as good as a Vienna dog can get along with excellent fresh cut fries.
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/29 20:52:09 (permalink)
"This was definitely a hot mess ... and required an irresponsible amount of napkins."
 
That is indeed an accurate description of The Contingent. We take both pride and offense in that statement.
 
BillyBob - Did you get to ride the Water Taxi???? If not, we did you a big wrong.
#33
rumaki
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 11:48:30 (permalink)
I found myself at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum on the banks of the Chicago River. 
 
I never even knew this museum existed, and I love bridges!  I went to a wonderful concert inside the bascule in Tower Bridge in London as part of the Thames Festival last year -- fascinating and unique experience which I highly recommend (and it appears to be an annual event): http://totallythames.org/event/bascule-chamber-concerts-2018
 
I will be back in Chicago next May (2019), and will be nearby at the  American Bar Association for a meeting, so I will definitely check it out. 
 
Thank you!
#34
leethebard
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 12:09:59 (permalink)
Billyboy, about Dayna's meatballs. Anyone who'd make a meatball that tasted like a hard ball of beef isn't a true Italian. I've been making and eating meatballs for most of my 72 years..me, my mom, and my grandmas, aunts and uncles. A real Italian should know the art of making a good meatball. I wouldn't have been shocked I got a properly made one at a quality restaurant. It's Italian magic when you blend meat,bread and spices. Recipes may vary,but in the hands of a quality cook,it should be juicy and delicious. If you ever get a bad meatball...never go back to that place.If they can't make a proper one,you should eat nothing ever again from them. Glad this was a pleasant experience. They sure look good!
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 13:45:45 (permalink)
Always a great read, with great photos..nailed it again, Billyboy.
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billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 14:34:41 (permalink)
Thank you all for the most kind comments!  
 
ChiTownDiner, it was a pleasure walking around the neighborhood of the hotel and sharing dinner with you and Patti.  And many, many thanks for introducing me to the joys of Firecakes!  While all of the food was great, it was the company that made it truly special.  Until we meet again...probably in Lil Rhody at the end of October.
 
 
buffetbuster
Billyboy and ChiTownDiner together on the loose?  Chicago hasn't been this afraid since Joe Walsh and John Belushi were wreaking havoc!
 
Wonderful report BB and beautifully photographed.  But it's your attention to detail that really make me appreciate and enjoy your reports so much.


Rumor is that Joe Walsh learned all he ever needed to know about trashing hotel rooms from Keith Moon!
 
 
wanderingjew
What I want to know is whether David Sander's house is shaped like a Violin? 
You hit some find spots- but that Char Salami at Poochie's really through me over the edge.
Oh....and 
Ack!  a chain!!! " />" />" />" />


WJ, No, no violin-shaped houses on the crawl, though I do believe that David plays the cello, so maybe he has a summer home shaped like that we don't know about!  
I fell hard for the Chicago-style dogs over the course of this vacation but that Char Salami was unlike any salami I've ever tasted and it was amazing!
As for the chain, I was lobbying hard for breakfast at Lou Mitchell's but we really were running behind so we had to go with a spot within walking distance of the theatre as there was no late seating and those tickets weren't cheap.
 
 
Davidsanders
Billy, I'm really enjoying your report. I had a great time meeting you and Dayna and was so happy you could make it to the Evanston Day Crawl.
David
 
 


David, it was great to meet you to and we can't thank you enough for doing all of the advance legwork (and taste testing!), organizing and hosting us at your home!
 
 
bigbear
I am really enjoying your report, billyboy. Thanks.
 
How did you get Louis C.K. to pose in The Scream photo?


bigbear, I've been compared to Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Kevin James and Mark McGwire in my younger days and I didn't realize it until I looked again at the photo,  I kind do look like Louis C.K. Dammit!!  I used to be a HUGE fan of his comedy but I just can't listen to him anymore without getting skeeved out.
 
 
buffetbuster
JRPfeff
Great start billyboy. Maybe you'll be the first person not named DavidSanders to finish a Trip Report this decade.

I take umbrage at this hurtful, yet accurate remark...


 

Buffetbuster, I know the feeling well.  Sometimes it takes months for me to post a trip report!
 
 
post edited by billyboy - 2018/08/30 14:46:41
#37
billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 14:45:36 (permalink)
Ram4
Billy I am loving your trip report to my wonderful city and especially all the pictures.  If it were in real time I'd tell you not to go to Mister J's for a beef, but alas that was a month ago.  Glad you got a Vienna hot dog (without ketchup!) at Poochie's which is probably as good as a Vienna dog can get along with excellent fresh cut fries.


Ram4, thanks!  I just couldn't resist Mister J's as I kept walking by it. I forgot that Downtown Dogs was just a few blocks away!  
 
 
JRPfeff
"This was definitely a hot mess ... and required an irresponsible amount of napkins."
 
That is indeed an accurate description of The Contingent. We take both pride and offense in that statement.
 
BillyBob - Did you get to ride the Water Taxi???? If not, we did you a big wrong.


JRPfeff, I don't believe we did get around to the Water Taxi.  What is it exactly and where does it go?  
 
I wear my napkins, AKA the Roadfooder's Pocket Square, like a badge of honor!

 
 
rumaki
I found myself at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum on the banks of the Chicago River. 
 
I never even knew this museum existed, and I love bridges!  I went to a wonderful concert inside the bascule in Tower Bridge in London as part of the Thames Festival last year -- fascinating and unique experience which I highly recommend (and it appears to be an annual event): http://totallythames.org/event/bascule-chamber-concerts-2018
 
I will be back in Chicago next May (2019), and will be nearby at the  American Bar Association for a meeting, so I will definitely check it out. 
 
Thank you!


rumaki, that sounds amazing!  You really do travel to some wonderful places have wonderful stories.  My girlfriend & I really love the musical "Hamilton" and we're thinking of seeing it again in London in 2020.  I'll have to keep this in mind so we can try to go at the same time as the Thames Festival.
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JRPfeff
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/08/30 15:28:00 (permalink)

billyboy,
 
The Chicago Water Taxi is probably more of a Water Bus, a river-based means of mass transportation in Chicago. abe_froeman organized a Contingent outing last summer centered around the Water Taxi. This was one of my favorite visits to Chicago and something I never would have imagined doing. The all-day pass is really inexpensive, just $9.
 
You can see bridges, too.
 
Jim

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billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/02 20:29:01 (permalink)
Tuesday July 31, 2018 - Day 5 - A couple of days after the epic Roadfood Crawl, Jeff (aka BuddyRoadhouse) and Susan (aka Mrs. Roadhouse) took us an amazing all-day tour of the different neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Dayna & I took the Blue Line to Rosemont where the Roadhouses picked us up.  I saw this ad on the train.  Man, I wish we could have stayed to check this out!

 Bob-O's Hot Dogs was just the first of many stops that day and it served up a classic one-two punch of a Chicago-style hot dog and an Italian Beef sandwich.

 Classic black & white interior and red stools.  There were some other customers but not too busy.  

 A must-read!

 Love this classic sign.

 One thing I discovered during this vacation is that many hot dog shops (and hamburger stands as well) take their fresh-cut fries pretty seriously.  

 And locally baked buns are important too.

 We ordered a aside of fries as we did;t realize that the CSD came with fries.  More fresh cuts?  What ever shall we do?  Hahaha!!

 Our Italian Beef sandwich, dipped in au jus, with hot giardiniera on the side. This was an excellent version of the Chicago classic and my favorite of the three I tried on this vacation. The beef was tender and the giardiniera was a blend of carrots, celery, cauliflower and hot peppers with a tangy heat that danced on the tongue. 

 While the bun wasn't of the poppyseed variety, this dog hit all of the other classic CSD notes: Vienna Beef hot dog, mustard, bright green relish, chopped onions, hot sport peppers, tomato slices a pickle spear and a liberal dash of celery salt. Another solid dog and in a tie for first place with the other two I tried on this vacation.

 Three of our quartet.  Dayna, Susan and Jeff.

 Jeff & Susan had recommended checking out some art and this gallery was a true gem. I feel as though I have seen Ed Paschke's art somewhere before and Dayna & I really connected with many of his pieces and with his vision, especially his affinity for Muhammad Ali.  The artist's classic "EP" signature can be seen just to the left of the nose.

 I'm not sure if this is an Ed Paschke piece but I love metalwork.  

 The Ed Paschke Art Center.  

 More about the artist.  

 I love this piece.  When I saw this, I had a flashback to 1998 and to the charity auction that the Massachusetts Coalition For the Homeless held at Faneuil Hall. I worked at MCH and we would enlist local artists to take a small piece of broken down furniture (end table, chair, etc...) and transform it into a work of art to be auctioned off, with the proceeds to fund the various programs to benefit the (far too many) homeless individuals and families dealing with homelessness across the state.

 Art can be inspired by the most unlikely sources.

 Inspired in part by "Sunday In the Park With George" by Georges Seurat and by many other stimuli that crossed the artist's path.

 More "Sunday In the Park With George" influence.

 I've always imagined that The Babe felt trapped, like a prisoner, after his sale to the Yankees.

I wonder what the story is between the matador and the bull.

 Pretty much how I've always felt about art.

 I don't know the story behind this one.  

 Interesting story.

 Beautiful piece.

 Very inspired.  When I put together a food crawl in NYC in 2013, I told the Roadfooders who attended that just look around you and you'll see the theater of life going on all around and we came across a couple of life's dramas unfolding right before our eyes.  You never know where it's going to happen but it's all around us.  

 A recreation of Ed Paschke's studio.

 Billy4x (2018)

 A portrait of the artist.

 Thousands of tiny LEGOS.

 Jeff & Susan gave used this painting to give me a geographical primer of Chicago and Illinois.

 After our tour of the Ed Paschke Art Center, Jeff & Susan took us to the Uptown neighborhood to check out a classic pre-Dperession era bank, the Bridgeview Bank Uptown (formerly known as the Uptown Bank Building (1928)). They didn't permit picture taking on the main bank floor or in the vault, but I assure you, it was very cool and definitely worth a visit. The vault reminded me of the scene where James Bond and Oddjob get locked inside of Fort Knox in "Goldfinger" The main floor had tables with wrought iron lamps and stained glass and the teller windows had wrought iron gates. It was like stepping back into an old movie from the 1930s. Thanks for this unexpected gem of a stop!

 I felt as though I should have been making a big deposit in order to have the right to be here.

 Don't see many banks that look like this anymore.  The teller windows had ornate wrought iron grates, the tables for filling out deposit slips had stained glass lamps on them.  Even the tiniest details had been given attention.  

 Feeling a bit peckish, we drove a neighborhood in Uptown that was populated by many asian businesses, many of them Vietnamese. I'm so glad that Jeff & Susan took us off of the tourist trail and into the local neighborhoods to walk the streets and taste the foods that we might not have found on our own.

 I'm not sure who this is or what it represents but it a beautiful.

 We decided to split two banh mi; a #3 Chinese Pork and a #5 Vietnamese Chicken. Not being a fan of cilantro at all (it tastes like soap to me), the gang kindly decided to have them "hold the cilantro". Thanks!

 Our #3 Chinese Pork banh mi. Look at the crust yshards of bread on the paper. That baguette was FRESH! Crunchy vegetables, spicy fresh jalapeños and sweet/savory pork made for one terrific sandwich.

 The Vietnamese Chicken was a winner as well. Salty, spicy, creamy, crunchy, crispy, tender, this just had so much going on and hit my tastebuds in the best possible way. On our way out, I told the staff that they were doing some great work. This experience made me a fan of banh mi!

 Very sweet and satisfying Thai iced tea. That sweetened condensed milk packs a sweet punch.

 If you want to explore the different Asian cultures in Chicago, this neighborhood is a good starting point.  

 We decided to walk around for a bit and explore the area.  Wanderingjew, this is some serious regional Roadfood in Chicago! All around were Vietnamese and other Asian eateries and bakeries as well as travel agencies, dentists, nail salons and many other businesses. I just can't resist seeing what a local bakery has to offer.

 We knew that splitting a few pastries would be in order.

 One of each, please!

 Clockwise, from top left: BBQ pork bun, Pork Sung bun, Coconut roll and a Cream bun. The Coconut roll was good, if a bit doughy with a sweet coconut topping (not a filled roll). Would go great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

 The BBQ Pork bun is just as good as any I have ever had. Sweet, porky and a bit fatty, as it should be. I think Jeff really like the topping on the Pork Sung bun though I think he and Susan would have preferred less dough. I wasn't a fan of the dried shredded pork topping as it reminded me of the short-lived foodstuff of my youth that was shredded beef jerky in a tin that was made to look like chewing tobacco and was dry as the desert! That cream bun was rich and the filling tasted as though someone had stopped whipping the cream just a couple of seconds shy of making butter.

 Seen on the streets of Chicago. Words to live by...

 While planning our trip to Chicago, I KNEW a baseball game was a must and I had hoped to visit Wrigley Field but as luck would have it, the Cubbies were away the entire week we were there. Travelin' Manned!!  And it wasn't even a restaurant.  However, Jeff & Susan were SO kind that they drove us to Wrigley Field, dropped us off and then circled around the park while we took photos. Now THAT is generosity!!

 My "Marla Hooch" photo.  What a hitter!!

 I don't know if the faces at the base are players or fans but I love how they are lifting him up.

 Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

 To the far left is one of the Wrigley View Rooftops, a cottage industry just outside of the Friendly Confines with good views of the ball field, though Jeff mentioned that the stadium owners are trying to put up more billboards to obstruct the views and gradually put these places out of business. I don't imagine that the park is losing scores of fans over this so it seems they should be able to co-exist, no?

 Ever since I was a little kid comedy and improv have been a HUGE part of my life. Friday afternoons at KidStage in the Children's Museum in Boston meant rehearsals and we spent a lot of that time using improv to sharpen our skills and it was some off my most cherished time onstage. I've always loved making people laugh and telling stories for an audience so this was a place I've long wanted to check out. Unfortunately, Dayna & I had a pretty busy week and we just weren't up to attending any shows that began at 10 or 11pm. The Second City is a MUST on our next trip!

 Next time I'll actually make it inside!

 I was able to name 4 out of 5. How about you?

 Today was filled with lots of great food and great conversation as we drove around through many different neighborhoods in Chicago. A stop in Little Italy meant Italian lemonades at Mario's Italian Lemonade and I just had to try another Italian Beef sandwich at Al's #1 Italian Beef (arguably the best known spot outside of Chicago due to the press it gets on the food and travel channel shows). I never realized how diverse and how sprawling this city truly is. Jeff & Susan gave us quite an education on local architecture, politics, sports and the ever-changing landscape of the various ethnic neighborhoods as seen through the eyes of those who have spent decades living here. Thank you both again for a wonderful day!

 I love the presentation here. A spoon for eating, a straw for sipping as it melts, with plenty of cantaloupe mixed in and chunks strewn throughout. And that whitish.yellow strip on top? Fresh lemon rind to amp up the lemony/citrus flavor. This must be one of the best things ever on a balmy summer night!

 Yeah, like a stop here wasn't going to happen!

 I forgot to ask and now I am very curious...what exactly is an Italian Soaker and what are Gypsy Fries?

 Pretty bold statement.

 My small Italian Beef sandwich, wet (dipped in au jus), hot (a side of spicy giardiniera) and sweet (sweet green peppers). The beef was fall-apart tender and the au jus was very, very rich and brimming with beefy flavor. the only weak spot for me was the giardiniera. While I did like the spice level, the flavor seemed somewhat sour and a bit oily to me and it leaned more on celery whereas the other places I tried had a nice mix of celery, carrots, cauliflower and spicy pepper slices and were also redolent with a vinegary tang. I'm sure there are legions of fan who love this giardiniera and I think it is just a personal preference.

 I spotted this mural outside of an "L" station during our travels. Street art is always a joy to find.

 Jeff suggested we go for carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan and since Dayna & I are both big fans and we heartily agreed. Unfortunately, the limitless powers of The Travelin' Man were strong on this day as they were closed for some type of renovations. Jeff called a second carnitas spot but as it turned out this was the one day they weren't making carnitas! TTMed TWICE in 10 minutes!! This is a new record.

 An unexpected roadside find: juices, fresh cut fruit, crisp chips (I have seen them before but I'm not sure what they made of. And in the cooler?  Warm ears of corn, cut to order for elotes (Mexican street corn). Mixed with crema, cotija cheese, mayonnaise and chili powder and accompanied by four spoons, this is roadside dining at its very best!

 Big chunks of mango and watermelon. I wonder if they'd put chili powder on it to make pico de gallo type fruit salad?

 Portrait of BuddyRoadhouse, with elote (2018).

 I forget the name of this church but it is really just a facade at this point. Must've been quite the gathering place at one time. Love the brickwork.

 Not sure if this rendering of the Crucifixion was once a part of the church but I think it is metal and looks different than any I have seen before.

 Another great pick was the Potsticker House for dinner and our last meal of the day. Great little local Chinese spot with dishes I hadn't even heard of before.

 

 The bland sticky white rice was a perfect complement to the stir fried eggplant. A blank canvas upon which to layer the many flavors and textures.

 I believe that this is the #C511 - Stir Fried Eggplant Beijing Style. I have never, ever been a fan of eggplant in any preparation but Jeff told me that Elaine (Roadfooder Irisarbor) described this dish as "eggplant crack", if my memory serves me correctly. I cautiously took a teensy-weensy portion (not an itsy-bitsy, as Ed Norton might say) to sample and it was amazing! Spicy, sticky, sweet, crispy and not at all what I was expecting. The crunchy vegetables strewn throughout were a nice touch too. Thank you Jeff, Susan and Elaine for getting me to try this. Despite some of the food crawls and tours I go on from time to time, I really am not an adventurous eater but I can be coaxed (usually) into trying something new to me at least once.

 I believe that this is a scallion pancake with pork belly and hoisin sauce. Delicious.

 When you REALLY gotta go!!

 The community center in Chinatown.

 Some of the ornate artwork on the Pui Tak Center.

 Time to split a dessert of Thai "rolled" ice cream. Something I have wanted to try for a while.

 This place was packed but the line moved quickly.

 Key Lime Pie ice cream with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and Fruity Pebbles. Interesting combination. Not sure the cereal was necessary but the tart ice cream had a good key lime flavor to it. I'd love to go back and try banana/Nutella and tea flavored varieties. The durian fruit version? Not so much.

 Wanderingjew, BuddyRoadhouse and I saw this place and thought it looked like a very regionally inappropriate Sonoran-style hot dog.  

 We debated splitting one in your honor but decided against it!

 
Wow!  What an amazing day full of hidden gems that we most likely never would have found on our own.  Jeff & Susan, thank you again for an incredible day!
 
The 411:
 
1.)  Bob-O's Hot Dogs
      8258 W. Irving Park Rd.
      Chicago, IL 60634
      Ph# (773) 625-9840
      Website: http://boboshotdogs.com
 
2.)  Ed Paschke Art Center
      5415 W. Higgins Ave.
      Chicago, IL 60630
      Ph# (312) 533-4911
      Website: http://www.edpaschkeartcenter.org
 
3.)  Bridgeview Bank Uptown (fka Uptown State Bank)
      4753 N Broadway St.
      Chicago, IL 60640
      Ph# (773) 989-5728
      Website: https://www.bridgeviewbank.com/locations/uptown?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=uptown
 
4.)  Ba Le
      5014 North Broadway
      Chicago, IL 60640
      Ph# (773) 561-4424
      Website: http://www.balesandwich.com
 
5.)  Lucks Food
      1109 W Argyle St. #11
      Chicago, IL 60640
      Ph# (773) 878-7778
      No website
 
6.)  Wrigley Field
      1060 W. Addison St.
      Chicago, IL 60613
      Ph# (773) 404-2827
      Website: https://www.mlb.com/cubs/ballpark/
 
7.)  The Second City
      1616 N Wells St.
      Chicago, IL 60614
      Ph# (312) 337-3992
      Website: https://www.secondcity.com
 
8.)  Mario's Italian Lemonade
      1066 W. Taylor St.
      Chicago, IL 60607
      No phone
      No website
 
9.)  Al's #1 Italian Beef
      1079 W. Taylor St.
      Chicago, IL 60607
      Ph# (312) 226-4017
      Website: https://www.alsbeef.com
 
10.)  Carnita's Uruapan - TTMed!!
 
11.)  roadside Mexican street corn - ???
 
12.)  Potsticker House
        3139 S. Halsted St.
        Chicago, IL 60608
        Ph# (312) 326-6898
        Website: https://potstickerhouseil.com
 
13.)  Legend Tasty House
        2242 S Wentworth Ave.
        Chicago, IL 60616
        Ph# (312) 225-8869
        Website: http://www.legendtastyhouse.com
 
 
Two more days of vacation left but a LOT more to come!!  For my next magic trick, I'll make a Chicago-style dog at the  Vienna Beef Factory, a burger with smoked rib meat, a hearty Polish at the ballpark and more Firecakes donuts disappear!!
 
post edited by billyboy - 2018/09/02 22:55:19
#40
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/02 20:44:18 (permalink)
Holy sensory overload, Batman!
 
I've noticed that you ate a fair number of Italian Beefs during your visit, but did you happen to have a beef 
& sausage combo?  Just my opinion, but a good Italian sausage can really take the sandwich to a higher level.
 
Once upon a time Buddy told me that he's a Sox fan. Based on his actions as chronicled your report I've already acquired an untraceable .22 and a couple of shells, with which I will explain to him my dissatisfaction with his deliverance of you to the World's Largest Urinal.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/09/02 20:59:39
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/03 01:30:59 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
Once upon a time Buddy told me that he's a Sox fan. Based on his actions as chronicled your report I've already acquired an untraceable .22 and a couple of shells, with which I will explain to him my dissatisfaction with his deliverance of you to the World's Largest Urinal.

This is why The Contingent has strict rules governing conversational topics.  Politics, religion, and sex are all fair game, but sports is absolutely forbidden.  FWIW, I am an unwavering fan of no sports team anywhere in the known universe.  I proudly proclaim myself a fair weather fan of any team willing to prove itself worthy of my love.  If a team doesn't care enough to be a winner, I won't make an emotional investment in their lackluster play.  "Gotta support the team"???  Pffft!  Let them start supporting themselves, then I'll give 'em a little boost as they head into the post season.
 
billyboy
I forgot to ask and now I am very curious...what exactly is an Italian Soaker and what are Gypsy Fries?

Bill, I can't say for sure, but based on the $1.85 price tag, I'd say an "Italian Soaker" is the crusty bread used for an Italian Beef Sandwich, dipped into the au jus (locally known as "gravy") long enough to become a soaking wet mess.  I will also guess that it is delicious.
 
Gypsy Fries I'm not so sure about, but again, based on the $7.99 price, it's probably a mess o' Fries covered in Italian Beef, generally, but not necessarily, eaten with a fork.  Just a guess.
 
billyboy
To the far left is one of the Wrigley View Rooftops, a cottage industry just outside of the Friendly Confines with good views of the ball field, though Jeff mentioned that the stadium owners are trying to put up more billboards to obstruct the views and gradually put these places out of business.

Actually, Cubs ownership is being fairly accommodating with the billboards, but only because they want to buy up all the buildings surrounding the park for their own rooftop use.  No point in putting up a visual obstruction for a property you one day hope to own.
 
billyboy
Jeff suggested we go for carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan and since Dayna & I are both big fans and we heartily agreed. Unfortunately, the limitless powers of The Travelin' Man were strong on this day as they were closed for some type of renovations. Jeff called a second carnitas spot but as it turned out this was the one day they weren't making carnitas! TTMed TWICE in 10 minutes!! This is a new record.

The other Carnitas place was Don Pedro's, another Contingent favorite.  Who knew Tuesday was the traditional day off for Carnitas Pitmasters?
 
billyboy
Big chunks of mango and watermelon. I wonder if they'd put chili powder on it to make pico de gallo type fruit salad?

Absolutely!  That's what they're there for.  Wish you would've said something; we could've gotten a cupful for the ride.
 
billyboy
Wanderingjew, BuddyRoadhouse and I saw this place and thought it looked like a very regionally inappropriate Sonoran-style hot dog.

Don't drag me into this.  If you want to poke the bear, use your own finger.  The Roadfood community already thinks I've got feuds going on with half the population (really just 25%). 
 
Bill, very nice report.  It was a lot of fun to relive our day in pictures, while reading your impressions of Our Town.  It's a helluva big place with lots more to see and do next time you come a'callin'.
 
Looking forward to getting the lowdown on that Smoked Rib Meat Burger.  Don't leave me hangin'!
 
Buddy
#42
billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/03 02:11:29 (permalink)
JRPfeff

billyboy,
 
The Chicago Water Taxi is probably more of a Water Bus, a river-based means of mass transportation in Chicago. abe_froeman organized a Contingent outing last summer centered around the Water Taxi. This was one of my favorite visits to Chicago and something I never would have imagined doing. The all-day pass is really inexpensive, just $9.
 
You can see bridges, too.
 
Jim



JRPfeff, that Water Taxi sounds pretty cool.  Added to the ever-growing list of things to do on our next visit!
 
 
ScreamingChicken
Holy sensory overload, Batman!
 
I've noticed that you ate a fair number of Italian Beefs during your visit, but did you happen to have a beef 
& sausage combo?  Just my opinion, but a good Italian sausage can really take the sandwich to a higher level.
 
Once upon a time Buddy told me that he's a Sox fan. Based on his actions as chronicled your report I've already acquired an untraceable .22 and a couple of shells, with which I will explain to him my dissatisfaction with his deliverance of you to the World's Largest Urinal.


ScreamingChicken, I have long been aware of the Italian Beef & Sausage combo but it seemed that every time I went for an Italian Beef I was at 1.) the start of a long day of eating, 2.) in the middle of a long day of eating, 3.) at the end of a long day of eating, or 4.) recovering from a long day of eating!  That combo is one that I do want to try sooner rather than later and while Hank's Juicy Beef offers up a combo in the TriBeCa neighborhood in Manhattan, I think I'll wait until I'm walking the streets of Chicago.
 
I do plan on attending a game at said "urinal" on my next visit.  I have always wanted to sit in the "Friendly Confines".  I did enjoy the Sox game at Progressive Rate Field (that has to be the most uninspiring name for a ballpark I have ever heard) but the park itself didn't really "pop" for me.  No Green Monster, no ivy-covered walls, no dramatic views of the city skyline.  Just meh.  
 
 
 
#43
billyboy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/03 02:25:59 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse
ScreamingChicken
Once upon a time Buddy told me that he's a Sox fan. Based on his actions as chronicled your report I've already acquired an untraceable .22 and a couple of shells, with which I will explain to him my dissatisfaction with his deliverance of you to the World's Largest Urinal.

This is why The Contingent has strict rules governing conversational topics.  Politics, religion, and sex are all fair game, but sports is absolutely forbidden.  FWIW, I am an unwavering fan of no sports team anywhere in the known universe.  I proudly proclaim myself a fair weather fan of any team willing to prove itself worthy of my love.  If a team doesn't care enough to be a winner, I won't make an emotional investment in their lackluster play.  "Gotta support the team"???  Pffft!  Let them start supporting themselves, then I'll give 'em a little boost as they head into the post season.
 
BILLY: I can understand that but I'll always have undying love for my Red Sox, even when they break my heart and "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" in the later innings.
 
billyboy
I forgot to ask and now I am very curious...what exactly is an Italian Soaker and what are Gypsy Fries?

Bill, I can't say for sure, but based on the $1.85 price tag, I'd say an "Italian Soaker" is the crusty bread used for an Italian Beef Sandwich, dipped into the au jus (locally known as "gravy") long enough to become a soaking wet mess.  I will also guess that it is delicious.
 
Gypsy Fries I'm not so sure about, but again, based on the $7.99 price, it's probably a mess o' Fries covered in Italian Beef, generally, but not necessarily, eaten with a fork.  Just a guess.
 
BILLY: Those both sound amazing and Gypsy Fries could be considered as Chicago's answer to poutine!
 
billyboy
To the far left is one of the Wrigley View Rooftops, a cottage industry just outside of the Friendly Confines with good views of the ball field, though Jeff mentioned that the stadium owners are trying to put up more billboards to obstruct the views and gradually put these places out of business.

Actually, Cubs ownership is being fairly accommodating with the billboards, but only because they want to buy up all the buildings surrounding the park for their own rooftop use.  No point in putting up a visual obstruction for a property you one day hope to own.
 
BILLY: Good point!  I don't think that I'd ever want to pay for one of those deals though as I do love to sit in the actual ballpark and soak in the history and walk around to find the interesting little details that make it special.  
 
billyboy
Jeff suggested we go for carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan and since Dayna & I are both big fans and we heartily agreed. Unfortunately, the limitless powers of The Travelin' Man were strong on this day as they were closed for some type of renovations. Jeff called a second carnitas spot but as it turned out this was the one day they weren't making carnitas! TTMed TWICE in 10 minutes!! This is a new record.

The other Carnitas place was Don Pedro's, another Contingent favorite.  Who knew Tuesday was the traditional day off for Carnitas Pitmasters?
 
BILLY: I'll just bet that The Travelin' Man knew all along!!  
 
billyboy
Big chunks of mango and watermelon. I wonder if they'd put chili powder on it to make pico de gallo type fruit salad?

Absolutely!  That's what they're there for.  Wish you would've said something; we could've gotten a cupful for the ride.
 
BILLY: I think I was getting full at that point and didn't want to overdo it and as beautiful as that fruit looked my brain didn't even make the connection to putting chili powder on top until much later.  
 
billyboy
Wanderingjew, BuddyRoadhouse and I saw this place and thought it looked like a very regionally inappropriate Sonoran-style hot dog.

Don't drag me into this.  If you want to poke the bear, use your own finger.  The Roadfood community already thinks I've got feuds going on with half the population (really just 25%). 
 
BILLY: Sorry, I just couldn't resist!  
 
Bill, very nice report.  It was a lot of fun to relive our day in pictures, while reading your impressions of Our Town.  It's a helluva big place with lots more to see and do next time you come a'callin'.
 
Looking forward to getting the lowdown on that Smoked Rib Meat Burger.  Don't leave me hangin'!
 
Buddy


Buddy, I already have a HUGE list of things to do and places to eat for next time.  33 spots of Chicago-style dogs, 19 sights to see, 8 for Italian Beef sandwiches, 7 for skillet breakfasts, 6 deep dish pizzas and 5 GOLDEN RINGS...!!  Plus an extra list for Milwaukee if a side trip is possible.  The Smoked Rib Meat Burger is coming up in the next installment!
#44
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/03 14:24:05 (permalink)
Thank you for this report.  I really enjoyed reading it. (I can't wait for your next Central New York report!)
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/03 22:05:18 (permalink)
Billy, you can certainly go to many hot dog joints, but remember that most of the best all serve the same Vienna Beef hot dog (hopefully in a natural casing on a Rosen's poppy seed bun) so it's not as unique as say hitting 15-20 beef or pizzerias.  Your post has me craving Chicago food.  I've been staying in the Detroit suburbs since June and I'm finally going home (albeit for a week) tomorrow so of course I am going to have pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef before I go back to Detroit.
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/04 08:59:27 (permalink)
Ram4
Billy, you can certainly go to many hot dog joints, but remember that most of the best all serve the same Vienna Beef hot dog (hopefully in a natural casing on a Rosen's poppy seed bun) so it's not as unique as say hitting 15-20 beef or pizzerias.

You'd think that would be the case, but remember, the whole reason Doug Sohn created the late, lamented Hot Doug's was because more than a few of those places were getting it wrong, in spite of the common ingredients.
 
Buddy
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Re: Billyboy Blows Through the City of the Big Shoulders 2018/09/05 07:26:59 (permalink)
Billyboy - love your view of our city...and an excellent choice in tour guides!  Mrs Roadhouse knows her way around town!  
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