5 August 2010: Chicago family reunion

Chicago's Willis Tower

On Wednesday, 28 July 2010, Janice and I took a JetBlue Airways flight from Boston’s Logan Airport to Chicago O’Hare to visit part of my mother’s side of the family. We rented a car and drove to the Marriott Northwest before grabbing dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. The dry-spiced boneless Buffalo chicken tenders were particularly good.

The next morning, Janice and I drove to the Barrington station of the Metra (commuter rail), which we took into the city. When I helped out at BriForum in June, I noted how Chicago’s urban density reminded me favorably of my hometown of New York, just as San Francisco is a bit like Boston. Unfortunately, the sprawl around Chicago, in which good arable land is being turned into subdivisions and strip malls, reminded us of Northern Virginia.

Janice and I walked through “the Loop,” Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, and we saw the giant bean sculpture at Millennium Park. We also enjoyed the galleries and café at the Art Institute before heading back out to the suburbs, stopping at a Graham Crackers, a comic book shop, on the way.

My younger brother Peter, his wife Kelly, and their children arrived from Virginia that evening. We went to my cousin Cristina‘s home for dinner, meeting her husband Arnold and their daughters Marjorie and Meg, plus Marjorie’s boyfriend Joe. For the first time, Janice, Kelly, and the girls got to partake of a Filipino feast, including Pancit Molo (a variation on wonton soup), not prepared by my mother. It was great to reconnect with some family members after more than two decades!

The next morning, Peter and I picked up our parents, who had been delayed by bad weather. Although plans to go into town had to be postponed, we rejoined the Tan family for lunch. For dinner, we dined at Le TiTi de Paris, a fancy French restaurant. I had steak stuffed with prosciutto and cheese.

On Saturday, July 31, we drove to the Navy Pier, whose attractions included a carousel, a Ferris wheel, jugglers, a stained-glass exhibit, and a large food court. I had a proper Chicago hot dog. By now, you’ve probably noticed that, like most families, eating is a major activity during any reunion. We took a river cruise focusing on the city’s diverse and historic skyline, followed by deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. Marjorie proved to be indispensable in getting us around.

On Sunday, Janice and I returned to Boston after just scraping the surface of the things to see and do in Chicago. We mowed the lawn, bought groceries, and began catching up on e-mails and recorded television. Our travel done for now, we’ve gotten back to work.

As you may have seen from other posts, my role-playing games have also kept me busy. The Sunday night Pathfinder teleconferencing team has started a new adventuring party in my long-running “Vanished Lands” homebrew fantasy setting, and the Monday night local face-to-face group is gearing up for my “Vortex” space opera campaign. I’ll try to blog more about them, comic books, and other stuff soon!