What an awesome summer. My first one in Chicago, and it went by so fast and kept me so busy I didn’t have time to write any blog posts. ’twas full of chicago biking, sunshine, friends, and music – my favorite things. I also worked on some good projects, and met many cool people. Besides Chicago, I took a few roadtrips around the midwest, ventured to NYC by train, Atlanta by plane, and spent almost a month in California and Nevada.
One of the biggest things I did this year was help start a community garden. Shayna wanted to grow plants for making fiber, and she found a couple other locals, Noah and Margaret, who were looking to start a garden. With some grant money from Shayna’s school and a lot of hard work, we cleared land, built some beds, and planted many edibles, a few ornamentals (flowers and such), and fibers for making paper. We busted our ass on the weekends in the beginning, but was definitely worth it. I enjoyed being outside, working with my hands, meeting neighbors, and of course eating tomatoes, basil, and other herbs and vegetables. We also made a smaller garden in our backyard, too, with our upstairs neighbor, Andy. You can read more on the website Shayna and I put together – chadnorwood.comC/a>.
Summer had a cold start this year. In fact, I think we only turned on the AC once this whole summer. But that didn’t stop us from having lots of fun. I already blogged about Indiana Dunes camping, but we also started out in may doing the Chicago critical mass bike ride. I spent way more time on my bike than in a car, bus, or train .. the way life should be. Chicago makes it easy – it’s flat and its never too cold at night. We rode to brunch, to the beach, downtown, to bars .. I even rode over 10 miles home at 4am from the south side of Chicago. I also rode crazy bikes at the Tour De Fat festival sponsored by Fat Tire beer.
Speaking of festivals .. Chicago wins. Every weekend, all summer long, there are several street festivals in various neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Blues festivals, House music festivals, Irish/Scottish/German/Polish Festivals, Beer Festivals, Ribs Fest, Wings, Taste of Chicago (biggest one ever), and the list goes on. Chicago city law requires them all to be free, but they usually ask for $5 or $10 donation. They always have street vendors – food, shirts, art, etc. They usually have 2-5 stages where bands, djs, or somebody performs. And the people go nuts if the weather is beautiful – unlike California, rainy days will keep you inside, but that makes the sunny days even more precious.
We also enjoyed many visitors – especially our SF friends !! Juan, Jason, Damian, Ramon, and Monica came out for a weekend making me feel at home. We showed them the beautiful Millenium Park, the view from the top of the Hancock tower (2nd tallest bldg in chicago), the beach, summer street festivals, and chicago deep dish pizza. A month or so later Checkoway visited and we had a similar experience – drinks, tall buildings, beach, and enjoying friends.
Shayna and I also loved the scenic and surprisingly comfortable 20 hour train to NYC for a wedding of an old friend, Sarah Bates, to Leo De Alvia . I’m very happy for them and enjoyed seeing all our friends in NY. In addition to NY, I also made it to Atlanta for Fathers Day. Got to give it up for good ol’ Dad !! And it was nice seeing my sisters families and nieces and nephew. They grow up so fast. heh.
We had lots of fun with our new Chicago friends – monthly dinner parties, rooftop BBQ on 4th of July, lots of biking around to bars, cubs game, and other summer activities. Best event with Chicago friends was the camping trip to Oregon IL. Oh man was that fun. We camped and made s’mores over the fire, told stories and went on hikes. But the main event was on sunday – the Demolition Derby. Oregon is the home town of Miss Amanda, and she showed us how they have fun in the midwest – crashing cars. Booya !!
One of my favorite trips this summer was Lakes of Fire – a regional Burningman in Michigan, about 3 hours from Chicago. It was about 500 people (instead of the 40,000 at burningman in nevada), and it felt more like home than i could have imagined. I met amazing people, saw some cool art, and had tons of fun. I especially enjoyed meeting the freakeasy and illmeasures peeps – they throw good parties in chicago for the bman crowd.
Last but not least was our trip to Burningman. We joined Brasstax (our SF crew) in the Boombox camp. It was my 10th year at bman, and altho i love it, i love my friends more, so i spent most of my time in the camp. We flew to SFO on thursday, drove up early (friday before it started) and left 8 days later (sat night as they burned the man). We assembled the boombox in 4 days and tore it down in 1. We “burned” it … altho most of it was good wood so it got recycled. I could go on and on about bman but pics are worth a thousand words. Anyway, it was great to spend some quality time with my crazy friends. After that I spent some time in California hanging out, Eumi’s and Lori’s bdays, a day hike at mt. tam, and did another trip to Tahoe for Fritz’s Bachelor Party. I love tahoe – could be my favorite natural place on the earth.
The summer ended with one final trip to St. Louis for Shayna’s 30th birthday. The main event was the city museum, which is my favorite man-made place on earth. If you haven’t been, and you are still part kid, you MUST go. It was also nice to do a road trip and see friends in another city.
Fall is supposed to be nice in chicago but pretty short .. in less than 2 months it will be cold for a while. Then spring and summer again !!! If you want to visit, plan now, cuz it’ll give you something awesome to look fwd to.