Late summer storm

We had a wonderful view of the late summer storm that rolled into town this afternoon. Bolts of lightning lit up the sky as the thunder rumbled menacingly and thick, billowy clouds enveloped the city.

I grabbed my iphone and hastened to the window in hopes of catching a flash of lightning and was rewarded with this picture.

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

In the late afternoon, the rains let up for a bit. Forecast is for another wet week ahead though. Gah.

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

A trip down a foggy and rainy memory lane

J&S were in town this past weekend, and stirred by memories – some fond and some cold – of our years down in Hyde Park, we paid a visit to the U of C campus on Saturday afternoon after dim sum.

It was foggy – the foggiest day yet in a series of foggy days this summer. We could barely make out the top of the John Hancock from Lake Shore Drive, and once we were past the Museum Campus, the skyscrapers north of us were completely obscured in the thick, low-lying mist.

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This mist gave way to an intense lightning and thunderstorm not long after we started strolling around the campus. As we walked from the ever lovely Ida Noyes to Rockefeller Chapel, we felt what we thought were droplets of mist condensing on our skin, but these droplets quickly grew in size and frequency. Thankfully, the doors of the chapel were wide open, and we, along with a few other folks, sought shelter as the wind started howling and sending sheets of rain into the entryway.

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago
From 2014 Summertime in Chicago
From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

We were stuck in the chapel for half an hour or so, the longest we’ve probably spent in all our years at the university. It gave us the opportunity to explore its every nook and cranny at our leisure though, which was fun.

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago
From 2014 Summertime in Chicago
From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

After the rain slowed down to a drizzle, we saw our chance and sped walked over to the next nearest building, the Oriental Institute, where we spent another half hour wandering around the exhibits. I’m always blown away by the incredible trove of artifacts the university has managed to assemble together into this small space – and which is free for all visitors to wander through. It’s tremendous. It was S’s first time visiting too!

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

We took a stroll across the quadrangle next, where we tried in vain to visit Harper Memorial Library. First, we wandered down the wrong end of the building, and when we finally found the library, we saw it was closed for the summer quarter.

From 2014 Summertime in Chicago
From 2014 Summertime in Chicago

After finding that Reynold’s Club was also closed, we crossed the street to the Reg for a quick peek at the new library extension before unanimously agreed to go by Medici for another one of its famous Gracie’s apple pie – honestly one of the most delicious pies I’ve had. Ah memories!

Misty morning sail

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Early morning last Sunday – 6am to be precise – my alarm rang and I sleepily propped open one eye. The sun should have been rising at that time, but I couldn’t see any rays streaming in through the blinds. I’d wanted to go out to the lake to take yet more pictures of the Chicago skyline, but the lighting, from my vantage point in bed, didn’t seem too promising, so I rolled back over to sleep.

The second alarm rang again at 730. We’d booked an early morning sail. Groggily I trotted to the window this time and peered out. It looked gloomy. Jeff was already up and on the phone with Chicago Sailing, enquiring about the conditions out. It was foggy but the office didn’t seem inclined to let us change our reservations so we decided to just suck it up and get out on the water.

To be honest, I was quite grouchy as we pulled up to the dock on our bikes. Not only was it completely foggy, the air was damp and chilly. But we were already awake, so we rigged up the boat and pushed off.

Given the conditions and the time of the day, we were the only boat out. The wind was a steady 10 plus knots north east, and because we couldn’t see the downtown skyline, I decided to point the boat north towards Montrose Harbor on a close haul.

It was fun sailing! My grumpiness quickly dissipated as the boat moved along on a steady clip, buoyed by the persistent breeze. We amused ourselves pretending we were halfway across the ocean, searching for new land.

At the end of the two hours, we eased our way back to dock, only to learn that the sailing office had allowed everyone else the option of canceling their reservations because of the fog. Glad we made it out though – it was the best sailing we’d had in a long while!

Visiting New Orleans

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

Flying into the sunset

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

The storm below must be a big one

Checked off my 48th state last weekend, when we visited New Orleans, Louisiana. Possibly, it’s a more pleasant city to visit in the frigid winter months up north, but the August weekend we were there, we were – save for M who couldn’t stop reminiscing about his booze-and-weed-filled time in the city – quite a miserable bunch. The weather was oppressively muggy, and reminded me of the worst Singapore could offer, with its intermittent heavy summer downpours that thankfully we somehow always managed to miss.

Activity-wise, Jeff, L and I aren’t really into the dive bar and music scene, and so weren’t particularly enamored of the French Quarter. It so happened that the weekend we were there coincided with the New Orleans Red Dress Race, so the entire French Quarter, particularly Bourbon Street, was filled with crowds of men and women dressed in brilliant red dresses plastered to them.

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola
From 2014 August Weekend in Nola
From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

We had a blast on the alligator swamp tour though, where we cruised down the swamp in a high powered flat bottomed boat. According to our guide, August is the best time to visit the swamps, when the water level is at its lowest, forcing all the alligators to congregate together. We saw over a dozen, and they eagerly came up to our boat for some tossed treats of sausages and marshmallows. Boy, can they jump! I’m not sure if I have the heart to canoe or kayak down the rivers in these alligator-infested waters, nevermind assurances from the guide that there’s never been a fatality from alligators in his memory. Still, it was fun to motor down the narrow tributaries to explore.

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

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From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

Food-wise, we gorged ourselves the entire weekend. Beginning with two dinners on Friday. On Saturday, we hit FIVE different restaurants. Loads of fresh seafood – charbroiled oysters, fish, crab, crawfish. Mmm.

Loved the architecture of the city, particularly in Marigny, where we rented a house via Airbnb for the weekend. The neighborhood supposedly isn’t the safest, but I took an hour and a half stroll around in the morning by myself while the others were still sleeping, and found it peaceful – and thankfully not too humid yet. Beautiful Spanish-colonial style houses.

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola
From 2014 August Weekend in Nola
From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

Our beautiful two bedroom apartment in Marigny, where we sought cold air-conditioned comfort from the sultry summer

From 2014 August Weekend in Nola
From 2014 August Weekend in Nola

Camouflage!

Contentment is

On a rainy summer evening, a riveting book in hand (currently reading Battle Cry of Freedom, about the events leading up to and the Civil War), and a mug of thick homemade hot chocolate liberally doused with bourbon.

Mmm.

Water taxi ride

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One brilliant Thursday, a group of us at work decided to take a long siesta and took the water taxi down to Chinatown. What a glorious day to be out on the water. Clear blue skies, but not sweltering hot. It was an enjoyable 15 minute ride down to Chinatown, where dim sum awaited.