on the road...part 3...

this is the third (and final) part of what i sometimes referred to to my friends as my 'midwest tour'. it had been four years since my last trip to the midwest, so i decided to take advantage of the work assignment by staying an extra week and see my friends that live in the area. another perk of traveling for work. if i didn't travel for work, i wouldn't get to see a lot of people that i know.

first stop, Dayton, OH. while Dayton isn't exactly a tourist hot spot (but my friend John sure likes to talk like it is), i like to visit Dayton because of that fact. little traffic, clean air and a sense of safety. of course, if John and his family didn't live there, i would never go there, but that's besides the point.

the highlight of Dayton isn't the Wright Museum, but playing with the kids. sorry John and Ellen, it's all about the kids. it's amazing how much they grow up in four years. the last time i was there, Matthew could barely talk and Brooke was still in a cradle. now Matthew is throwing spirals and Brooke is on her way to becoming the mini golf queen.

i elected to drive because it's cheaper and i get to see the different sights and small towns along the way. did you know that Mexico is located just a half mile off of highway 31 in Indiana?

hitting the road lets me see things that i wouldn't normally get to see. like the Point Betsie Lighthouse

or the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

but the best part is hanging out with my friends. i even got to see an old friend that i haven't seen in over 15 years! she found me on facebook. so i got to meet her husband and two kids and explore the small town of Holland, Michigan. something i would have never thought of doing if she didn't live there.

the final stop of my midwest tour was Chicago. it has been over 10 years since i last went to Chicago. a few things have changed, but much is the same. the difference now is that i have a friend with local knowledge to show me around! nothing beats local knowledge. especially when it comes to local cuisine.

if you like vodka and you like spicy, you gotta try the Horseradish Vodka at the Russian Tea Time or any of their 50+ house flavored and premium vodkas. it packs a hell of a kick! or if you need a snack, Wow Bao should do the trick. this ain't your typical bao from sam woo's. spicy kung pao chicken, thai curry chicken or spicy mongolian beef are da bomb! and nothing beats a Bailey's and hot chocolate at the Signature Room Lounge located on the 95th floor high atop the Hancock building with it's breathtaking city view. sorry, i didn't bring my camera. shocking, i know.

this is a reflection of my friend (and tour guide extraordinaire) Wendy and I in the Cloud Gate sculpture aka: 'the Bean' designed by Anish Kapoor.

it's a very interesting sculpture. if you go underneath and look up at your reflection, it's difficult to figure out which one is you. unless you cheat, like i did, and use the flash on your camera, then you discover that there are more than 30 reflections of yourself!

while we were at Millenium Park checking out the Bean, i told Wendy i wanted to go check out the train station that i heard in the distance toward the lake. what i thought was a nearby train station turned out to be just the sounds of a train station blaring from a multitude of speakers mounted to the arches that criss-cross over the grassy field at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Wendy and i got a good laugh out of that.

so in addition to going to Raleigh, South Bend and Pittsburgh for work, i managed to see my friends in Dayton, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Holland (MI) and Chicago for fun. so even though traveling can be a pain the butt, sometimes it can also be a trip to remember. hopefully it won't be another four years for the next midwest tour.

happy travels!