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Chicago & Kentucky

We used some air miles to check out Chicago for a few days before Chris and her friend Heather were moving on to Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games.

October 2

- Chris 'lost' me at the airport as he went through the regular security line and then left me behind to look like a suspicious solo traveller and got selected for the full security screening. Half an hour later I made it to the gate.

- Arrived at the Chicago Midway Airport (MDW). Took the L train to our hotel, City Suites.

- Grabbed some lunch at Fox & Obel then made our way to the Navy Pier where we had planned to take a sightseeing cruise but the wind put a damper on that. We learned exactly why it's called the Windy City.

- Went to the hotel to meet Heather and then went for a birthday dinner at Coco Pazzo Cafe.

- Went to the Signature Room on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Tower to enjoy the views of the Chicago skyline at night and a very stiff martini.

October 3

- Went on a surprise birthday Segway tour. We rode past Buckingham Fountain, Soldier Field, and then on to the Planetarium/Aquarium area for some nice views of the city.

- Still windy!

- Then we went in search of food and somewhere to warm up! We found it at Pizzeria Uno. Everyone loved this pizza, the crust was quite flaky, in a good way.

- I walked to the 'Giant Eyball' sculpture while the girls were distracted by some Chicago shopping.

- Went back to the hotel and then took the El train to dinner. We went to Cafe Iberico, and spent several minutes outside watching people eat their tapas as we attempted to figure out how to get in. The door eluded us, but eventually we figured it out. The tapas turned out to be fairly average, although reasonably priced.

October 4

- The next day we woke up and met Heather's cousin for breakfast at Pierrot Gourmet. Then we made our way to the Museum of Industry and Technology, which was free that day. The first thing we saw was the coal mine exhibition which was very good. They also had a submarine, weather phenomenons, baby chicks hatching, and Chris beat me at mind relaxation.

- Made our way to the aquarium, and checked out the 'free level'. Chris didn't like anything at the aquarium.

- Saw some more of what we had zipped by on the Segway the day before, and then walked over to the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as the bean, which is a giant metallic sculpture in the shape of a bean, that looks really cool. Heather and Chris got bored after I took 51 pictures of the bean, so they went to get gourmet popcorn from Garretts Popcorn (caramel and cheddar flavored).

- I went and took a whole bunch of pictures of the 'Crown Fountain' but a better name would be the spraying mouth fountain.

- Went back to the hotel and headed out to dinner. No surprise, it was pizza again, this time at the Art of Pizza. This style was known as 'stuffed crust' which had all the toppings on it and then the layer of pizza sauce on top. A lot different than our deep dish pizza at Uno's but also very tasty. Heather tried to eat a giant deep dish pizza by herself.

- Walked around the shops near our hotel, which all seemed to be selling Halloween costumes.

October 5

- Went to check out Wrigley Field, from the outside. Then went to the Gold Coast neighborhood, which had some pretty nice homes, including the original Playboy mansion. After that we walked back towards downtown along the lakefront.

- Then we lined up outside of La Frontera, a Rick Bayless restaurant (Mexican food).

- After lunch we took a walk through Chicago downtown, and picked up the rental car. The girls were heading to Kentucky, and I was heading to the airport. First though, I just had to stop at Hot Doug's, which allegedly has the best hot dog's in Chicago. I had now officially completed all of my Chicago food goals.

- Not really knowing our way around, we drove through all the slums of Chicago, and past a few prisons, on our way to the airport.

- We parted ways at the airport, and the girls continued on, driving through some more ghettos and traffic jams, trying to get out of the city.

- We made it to Lexington at 1AM, and checked into the Baymont Inn & Suites. At least we didn't get a janitor's closet for our room, like I thought we might, after getting into a dispute with the manager over our room price 6 months earlier.

October 6

- Went to the Turf Goods shop for Heather to buy halters. Grabbed lunch at Whole Foods and made our way to the Kentucky Horse Park to watch the team final of the World Equestrian Games Show Jumping.

- Canada was 2nd going in, but with rails from both Yann Candele and Jonathan Miller, Canada dropped to finish 4th even with clear rounds from John Pierce and Eric Lamaze. Germany took the gold.

- Finally got back to the hotel after a long day at the show grounds, and made our way to a pub in downtown Lexington. It seemed like the place for all the horse show people to go, and Heather was excited because it reminded her of a scene from one of her favorite books 'Riders'.

October 7

- Slept in a little and made our way to the visitor info center to try and plan our day. Went to the Good Foods Cafe for lunch and then took a scenic drive past the thoroughbred farms.

- Went for a tour of the Woodford Reserve distillery. For dinner we drove to the town of Midway and had dinner at Bistro Labelle.

October 8

- Wandered around downtown Lexington and the exhibits in the convention center. Went for lunch at Stella's. Went to return our rental car and exchange it for a new one, because one of the tires kept going flat.

- It was opening day at the Keeneland Race Track for the October races, and we went to watch a few of them, along with a lot of other people! It attracted a huge crowd of people, all dressed up and tailgating in the parking lot. I won $16.

- Then we went back to the horse park to watch the last round of the qualifying for the round of 4 individual final.

- After 2 rounds of jumping, Eric Lamaze and Hickstead qualified in first place, followed by Phillipe Le Jeune. Rodrigo Pessoa, and someone from Saudi Arabia (Abdullah-something).

- After the show jumping we made our way back downtown, which was packed with people. Drink vendors were set up everywhere and we learned it was legal to drink on the street.

- We grabbed a huge slice of pizza from Goodfella's pizzeria. The slice was so big the guy had to serve it on two plates.

October 9

- Spent the day at the Horse Park watching the endurance phase of the driving event, where teams of 4 horses had to navigate cross country obstacles.

- Afer making our way across the course and watching all the obstacles in sweltering heat, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.

- We had a quick dinner at Dudley's, and then back to the Horse Park to watch the final 4, in which each of the riders had to ride each other's horses, after only a couple minutes to warm up.

- Eric + Philipe both went clear on their own horses, while Rodrigo had 4 faults and Abdullah had 8.

- However Eric had rails on Rodrigo's + Abdullah's for a total of 9 faults (3rd place)

- Despite a runaway with Hickstead, Abdullah managed clear rounds to finish in 2nd.

- Phillipe had clear rounds on all 4 horses and was the eventual winner.

- Hickstead won the Best Horse category with no faults.

October 10

- Hit the road back to Chicago with a little detour through Indianapolis to stop at Whole Foods for lunch.

- Finally made it to drop off the rental car despite a road closure and terrible traffic.

- Checked into the Howard Johnson downtown, definitely not the Ritz!