200 Things To Do In Illinois – Chocolate Cake Shake

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Drink category: Chocolate Cake Shake, from Villa Park, IL.

Portillo’s chocolate cake is legendary, and it’s a treat made all the more lip-smacking when jacked up with ice cream and given a run in the blender.  Indulge at the Portillo’s in the western suburb where the hot dog empire was born in the early ’60s.

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a chocolate cake shake.  I’ve certainly purchased my fair share, though, as it’s a favorite for both Danny and Michael.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Fighting Illini Basketball

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018. To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities. With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Sports category: Fighting Illini Basketball, from Champaign, IL.

Get swept up in Big 10 school spirit at the University of Illinois’ recently renovated State Farm Center.  The space-shiplike dome contains an intense student section, the Orange Krush, created at the urging of former coach Lou Henson in the mid-1970s.

Decades later, the Krush conyinues to put the squeeze on opposing teams with an intimidating sea of orange and trademark cheers.

I’ve attended 2 Fighting Illini home basketball games, one in 2016 and the second this past January.  In both cases, I’ve left the State Farm Center disappointed as the Illini managed to defeat my beloved Purdue Boilermakers.  With Danny now committed to Purdue, there probably isn’t a reason why I’d need to go back to Champaign to see another game.

Hail Hail To Old Purdue

Friday night, I got a phone call that brightened my day.  After much deliberation, Danny had decided that he will be attending my alma mater, Purdue University, in the fall.  We’ve made numerous trips down to West Lafayette over the years, for football and basketball games and, most recently, for a campus visit.

Assuming he joins the band, there will probably be many more trips over these next four years and in increase in football game attendance.


Continue reading →

Fitbit 6: Week 6

Another crap week, as I continue to struggle to come anywhere near my goals.  The week got off to a characteristically slow start, with the continuing Remington Steele marathon, interrupted by a band concert for Danny and Michael, leaving me with 1 step over 2800.  Monday surpassed 7000 steps by a whopping 4.  Tuesday was back down to 6700 steps.  Wednesday was a bust, with only 5300 steps.  Thursday was another bust of a day, with only 5900 steps.  Friday was the lone highlight of the week, where another band concert, this one at the Tinley Park Convention Center, put me over 8400 steps.  Saturday was another bust, barely surpassing 1660 steps.

Total steps: 37,866

Daily average: 5409.4

The 10,000 Step Club – 2020 Edition

Last year, as I was finishing up my fourth year with the Fitbit, I took my last look at my 25 best step days since I first started tracking my steps way back in July of 2011.  At the time, I had surpassed the 10,000 step plateau 217 times.  In the past year, I have managed to add an additional 45 occurrences, my 3rd best year to date, for a total of 262.  With my fifth year using the Fitbit coming to an end last week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a new look at my top 25 step days over the past 8 1/2 years, featuring only 3 new entries.

1: 4/14/2018 – 27,470 steps

My best single day total is from my April 2017 trip to New York to see Angelina.  The day’s excursions included trips to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, Central Park, the Guggenheim museum, and the Empire State Building.

2: 7/21/2018 – 27,278 steps

My July 2017 trip to Virginia, to hike up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob with Jeff and Val, fell just short of the top spot.

3: 6/6/2013 – 24,988 steps

2013’s trip to Disney World, which spent 5 years as my single day best, included excursions to both Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, and yes, falling 12 steps short of 25,000 still irks me.

4: 6/3/2019 – 24,665 steps

The first new entry comes thanks to last summer’s trip to Washington DC, and the day spent at the Smithsonian Zoo.

5: 8/8/2019 – 23,866 steps

The second new entry is from last summer’s work trip out to San Francisco and the day I walked to Pier 39 and then back to Oracle Park to see the Giants take on the Phillies.  It would have been even higher but I was dead tired and took an Uber back to the hotel after the game.

6: 3/18/2018 – 23,780 steps

Dropping out of the top 5 after only 1 year is my first day in Las Vegas for the 2017 IBM Think conference.  The day’s totals include gallivanting around town, including a trip up to Caesar’s Palace from the MGM Grand to see Absinthe.

7: 10/24/2018 – 23,362 steps

My October 2018 trip to Boston to see Angelina for our birthday gives us our next entry.  While she was in class, I took tours of Fenway Park and Harvard, before meeting up with her for a late lunch and then heading to the airport for the trip home.

8: 3/22/2016 – 22,493 steps

My one-time second highest day took place during the ill-fated trip to Disney World in March of 2016.  The day’s excursion started at Hollywood Studios before heading over to Epcot Center with Jeff and Val.

9: 7/27/2013 – 20,592 steps

Still my highest total at home in the state of Illinois, the next entry comes thanks to the 2013 BTN 5K and a, for lack of a better word, misunderstanding about where I should be picked up after the race.

10: 12/29/2018 – 20,374 steps

We wrap up the top 10 with 2018’s trip to California and the trip to Disneyland to see Danny perform with the Lincoln-Way Marching Band.

11: 8/5/2017 – 20,218 steps

The next entry came in August of 2017 on the first day of my trip to Boston with Danny and Michael.  After landing in town, we traipsed to the Science Museum, a breakfast joint, our hotel, and, finally, Fenway Park.

12: 7/14/2017 – 20,208 steps

Down to #12 is my 2017 trip to Disney World, a one day journey with Angelina to celebrate her high school graduation. Continue reading →

2019: The Year In Travel

Once again, I thought it would be nice to look back at the many trips I took this year.  As you may recall from last year‘s wrap-up, the year began in California.

New Year’s Day was spent in Pasadena for the Rose Parade, where Danny and the Lincoln-Way Marching Band were performing.  Lucky for them, they were slotted right after the float that caught on fire and eventually mucked up the entire end of the parade.  However, they were able to march around the disabled float and keep things moving for the time being.  The next day we went to the California ScienCenter, where we were able to see artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and the space shuttle Endeavor, and the beach before heading home.

And home is where I stayed for a whole month before heading out to Hawaii in February.  I arrived that first Saturday in February, checking out my surroundings around the resort and down Waikiki Beach after the long flight.  Monday, I took a tour of the island of Oahu, with stops at Hanauma Bay, Nu’uanu Pali lookout, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Sunset Beach, Waimea Falls, and the Dole Plantation.  Tuesday, I took in a whale watching cruise, where we were able to see multiple whales surfacing during the excursion.  Thursday, I traveled over to Pearl Harbor and all of the associated attractions and museums.  Come the following Saturday, it was time to head home on an overnight flight that got me in town very early Sunday morning.

Come June, the whole family headed east to celebrate Michael’s graduation.  We flew into Baltimore, where Dennis, the boys, and I went to breakfast before heading to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Giants.  On the way to the stadium, we stopped at the grave site of Edgar Allen Poe and the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum.  After the game, we walked to the local bus depot, where we caught a bus to Washington DC for the remainder of the trip.

Continue reading →

And Never Brought To Mind

A new year is upon us, and, with it, a new decade!  We kick off 2020 with the first group of photos from this year’s calendar, featuring Danny, Angelina, and Michael from last year’s trip to California.  Appropriate for New Year’s Day, Danny is shown from last year’s Rose Parade and at the marching band festival 2 days prior.  Angelina and Michael are posing in front of a Happy New Year sign we came across in Beverly Hills on New Year’s Eve.