Chicago (AKA Windy City) Adventures

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago, Illinois AKA the windy city.  My son was to be a member of a good friend’s wedding party in Chicago.  The problem was, my daughter-in-law wanted to go too but did not want to leave their eight-month-old daughter at home.  That’s where I came in Grandma to the rescue.  Of course, I was thrilled with the chance to spend five full days with my baby granddaughter, (and her parents).  As a bonus, a few extra days of sightseeing in Chicago were included too.

We arrived in Chicago from Ottawa (via Toronto) Wednesday evening. As the wedding festivities did not begin (officially) until Friday evening, the four of us had all day Thursday and Friday morning to tour the city.  We walked and took the train for hours each day, learning all about the city.  When my son and daughter-in-law spent time with their friends Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, my granddaughter and I spent quality time together at our Airbnb home.

A boat cruise, #ShorelineBoatTour aptly named an architectural tour, taught us everything we need to know about Chicago.  On this guided tour along the branches and canals of the Chicago River system, one cannot help but be amazed and impressed by the artistic beauty of the skyscrapers, old and new.  The background of a strikingly blue sky on a beautiful sunny day added to the majestic scenery.

Here are a few facts I learned:

  • Believe it or not, Chicago is not named the Windy City because of the wickedly cold winds coming in from Lake Michigan.  Instead it picked up the nickname years ago (1892) when Chicago was awarded the right to host the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World.  Other contenders like NYC, Washington DC, and St Louis were envious as the event was sure to be a huge cultural and social success.  So envious in fact, that a popular NYC editor dubbed Chicago politicians and architectural leaders “windy” in their 8 year pursuit of the prestigious award.
  • The Chicago River was once so disgustingly polluted that the city was sued by other states and even Canadian provinces because of its adverse affect on connecting waterways.  Linking Lake Michigan (one of the Great Lakes) to the mighty Mississippi River system and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, it’s restoration was vital to millions.  To do so,  civil engineers designed and created a new series of canals around the turn of the century into the 1900s,  then reversed the flow of the river by increasing the volume of water available from Lake Michigan.
  • “The Loop” refers to Chicago’s downtown business section, the second largest in the USA, second only to Manhattan in NYC.  The Loop also refers to the hub of the  elevated railway system where eight separate train lines intersect downtown.  This train system appears to run as efficiently as the subway system in NYC.
  • A massive fire destroyed a huge chunk of Chicago in 1871.  Igniting on the southwest side of the city, the abundance of wooden streets, sidewalks and buildings fueled the fire for two days, killing an estimated 300 people and costing close to 200 million (1871) dollars in damages.  However, there are people that believe the fire turned Chicago into the successful, thriving city it is today, the second largest in the USA.  The fire established new building standards so wood was replaced with brick, stone and metal.  Innovation thrived as the economy and population soared to new heights and never looked back.
  • The Chicago Outfit refers to (Italian/American) members of organised crime (AKA the mob or mafia) dating back to the early 1900s.  Do you remember the 1974 song “The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace?”  It was reportedly based on a shootout between police and Al Capone’s gangsters.
  • My granddaughter travelled like a pro, I’m sure her passport will be well used.
  • And last, but not least, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at the Navy Pier makes awesome watermelon margaritas!
Windy City

Well, you can see I learned a lot in five days, did you learn anything?

Fate or Destiny: Do you Believe?

The words fate and destiny are used interchangeably.  Do you believe in fate or destiny?  I definitely do.  So many things have happened in my life that I feel fate or destiny had a hand in.  A minor change in any of the details would have resulted in a totally different lifestyle.  Here are just a few examples, all major events in my life.

I met my husband on my 21st birthday when I was celebrating at a college pub in Kingston, Ontario.  Less than a month previous to that we were both in long-term relationships with other people.  A month after we met I would leave Kingston to return to my hometown of Cornwall to finish my college program.  Had we not met that night of my birthday, our paths would probably have never passed, and both of our lives would be very different now.

We dated for three years before marrying, but I knew within a month of meeting him that he was the one for me.  In our attempts to start a family, we suffered three stillbirths, all of which were boys.  We persevered, eventually having three healthy baby boys. 

Now a bit of an expert on the subject of pregnancies, I have since written a book:


One Sunday, because it was pouring rain and cold at my husband’s family cottage, we returned to Ottawa earlier than usual, stopping to view a model home in a new subdivision in Kanata.  We loved the house so much, we made a down payment on the house that same day.

These are all examples of significant events in my life that I feel were destined to happen.  A small change of detail in any of these events and none of them would have happened.  Without the first one happening, the next two would not have occurred.

The latest example of fate happened very recently.  To support a friend’s daughter,  I had planned to drive from Ottawa to Barrie to pick up my niece, then drive to Orillia to see the musical Chicago.  Because the weather was bad with snow and freezing rain, I canceled my plans for the long drive.  I was, however, able to phone the box office of the Orillia Opera House to transfer the tickets to my niece’s name.   She invited her college roommate to go with her, but those plans did not work out either.  She then asked a contact on Tinder to go with her.  They went to the show together, had a great time, and have been dating since.  She too had been dating someone else until recently but was ready for a new relationship.  If Mother Nature had not stepped in with lousy and dangerous weather for driving, I would have been her date that night.  She may or may not have connected with this new man on Tinder at some other time, but fate intervened to make it that night.

I’m a huge believer in fate, are you??

Chicago the Musical

Chicago the musical

I almost made it to Chicago. The musical that is. I had tickets to Chicago the musical for last night’s performance but had to miss it due to the lousy weather here in Ottawa. I had plans to drive to Barrie from Ottawa to pick up my niece and head to the evening show of Chicago the musical.

Environment Canada changed my plans:

Environment Canada is predicting patchy freezing rain across eastern Ontario on Saturday afternoon.  After that ends, another round of freezing rain will develop this evening and persist for much of the night. Freezing rain will slowly change to snow overnight as colder temperatures move in. Snowfall accumulation of 5 to 10 cm are possible by Sunday”    

Even though I left Ottawa in the morning, with the hope of missing the freezing rain, it started earlier than predicted.  I only got as far as Carleton Place then turned around and came home.  What should have been a 15 minuted drive, turned into close to an hour with too many cars in the ditch.  An ordinarily long drive to Barrie and back would have turned into a nightmare.

The daughter of a family friend plays Velma (front center, with short dark hair).  Reviews have been awesome; I am so disappointed that I did not get there.

The good news is I was able to transfer the Chicago tickets to my niece’s name, so she and a friend were able to enjoy the show.  Lucky for them, the drive from Barrie to Orillia was much quicker (with no freezing rain) than Ottawa to Barrie to Orillia.

That’s Canadian weather for you, unpredictable! I hear it’s just as unpredictable in Chicago too.