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CAF: Open House Chicago – 2014

Edgewater Beach Apartments
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Last Saturday Julie and I took advantage of the Chicago Architecture Foundation‘s Open House Chicago and made it to six locations. Once again the weather was pretty rough but we had a mapped out plan and kept moving.

We started at the Edgewater Beach Apartments on the far Northside of the city. The building was completed in 1928 as part of the Edgewater Beach Hotel. The building has been well maintained and has many of the original features including the indoor pool.

Polish General Consulate
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We had to make an appointment for our next stop at the Polish General Consulate Chicago. The Consulate is housed in one of the seven remaining Lake Shore Drive mansions.

The Allerton Hotel’s Tip Top Tap
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The Allerton Hotel’s Tip Top Tap room was probably the only disappointment of the day. The Tip Top Tap used to be a lounge but is currently just an event space. The views aren’t that good because of how the windows are situated and other than that, it’s simply an empty room.

The Blackstone Hotel
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The Blackstone Hotel had opened their Presidential Suite which has actually been used by many a President over the years.

Hilton Chicago (Formerly the Stevens Hotel)
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The Hilton Chicago Hotel, which was originally the Stevens Hotel, opened one of their two Imperial Suites for the tour. The suite is located on the top of the Hotel with views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.

Cliff Dwellers Club
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The Cliff Dwellers Club is located on the top of the Borg Warner Building on Michigan Avenue. The club has a roof deck patio that looks out over Grant Park.

Side Notes:
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*  With Julie’s CAF Membership we were able to access the Member’s Only sites as well as skip all of the lines at any sites.  This is really key if you’re trying to make a day of Open House Chicago.
** Julie’s photographs are here.

B1G Championship: OSU – MSU

This past weekend Julie and I headed down to Indianapolis for the BIG Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium between Ohio State and Michigan State. The outcome was not what we had  hoped for. Michigan State took an early 17 point lead in the first quarter and while Ohio State came back and took the lead in the 3rd quarter it wasn’t enough. Michigan State scored the final 17 points to win the game 34-24. It’s really hard to get a feel for everything that is going on during a game when you are in the stadium. I would like to know the crowd breakdown, but from our perspective it seemed about 65% Ohio State, then again we were in the 200 level and couldn’t see anything above us.

Pre Game
Last time we were in Indianapolis for the Championship Game it was almost impossible to get into any place downtown, outside of a hotel bar, and if we got into a bar it was probably one that still allowed smoking.  This time around we decided before heading to the game that we would spend some time at a couple of the breweries in Indianapolis’ growing beer scene.

Flat 12 Bierwerks
Our first stop was Flat 12 Bierwerks which is doing a ’12 Beers of Christmas’ releasing a new specialty beer each day. I tried their Pale Ale, IPA and their Porter, Pogue’s Run Porter which I liked the most. Flat 12 has a simple tap room and a growler fill station but by no means is a bar. Like most of the breweries in Minneapolis there was a food truck stationed out front, the Pierogi L❤ve Indy truck. We tried the pulled pork pierogi which was perfect.  The tap room was in what seemed to be an unheated garage so we really weren’t able to stay more than a couple beers without freezing.  During our time there, we saw a couple of the Beer Bus Tours that operate in Indianapolis making stops at Flat 12.  There was  also a holiday sweater brewery run that was making its way to the brewery.  The place was always busy from the time the doors opened at noon.

Fountain Square Brewing
From Flat 12 we headed over to Fountain Square Brewing which was about a 10 minute ride across town. Fountain Square is more of a bar with people ordering in food and a couple of televisions. Once again I had their Pale Ale, IPA and the porter. The Backyard Porter being my favorite.  The temperature outside could be why I was leaning towards Porters all day.

Side Notes:
* B’s PO BOY is located directly across the street from Fountain Square Brewing so we picked up an order of Beignets.

** A couple months back I had the foresight to make an Open Table reservation for St. Elmo Steak House.  Considering the line out the door it was a good move.

*** The view from my seat.

Upstate New York

Julie and I were in Upstate New York a couple weeks back for a wedding and we managed to hit a couple of spots. On the list was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum which as fate would have it was closed due to the Government Shutdown of 2013. Since all Presidential Libraries are considered National Parks they’ve all been shuttered. Including the Martin Van Buren House which we also happened to drive by. We decided to go up to the FDR House anyways and make our ways around the grounds. Besides driving past the barricades we didn’t have any issues getting around.

Directly across from the FDR House is the Hyde Park Brewing Company. For a Thursday afternoon the place was completely empty due to the FDR House being closed. The bartender explained how a good portion of the tour groups stop in for lunch and drinks after seeing the house. I enjoyed their Black Lager the Von Schtupps.

We also checked out the Poughkeepsie Bridge which has been turned into the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. Similar to a Rails To Trails, the bridge has been converted to a footbridge for walking, running and biking across. We made it about halfway over before we decided to head back. The bridge is considered one of the longest footbridges in the world.

The next day we spent the better part of the afternoon at Keegan Ales in Kingston. They had a decent beer selection and are known out East for their Mother’s Milk stout. We were supposed to make it back here after the rehearsal dinner but that didn’t pan out. I believe there’s decent live music most nights.

Side Notes:

* We rented a Chevy Spark for the day and I believe it is the worst car ever made. The one positive I can say about is that the Bluetooth connection worked. Other than that, it was a horrible experience. The car in total weighs about 37lbs. The dash board is full of sensors telling you all kinds of things are not working when in fact they are. For example the Flat Tire sensor or the Gas Gauge, neither of these were anywhere near accurate. When we returned the car the rental place kept insisting I fill the gas tank until the final bar showed on the display. Meanwhile the pump was spitting out gasoline because the tank was full.

In summary the car felt like it was disposable.