America 2017: Day Thirty-Five (24 November)

I still dream of the Lake of peacefulness
The warm summer breeze
Cause my life was so much simpler then
Street corners and Tastee Freeze

Take me back to Chicago
Cause hustlin’s not my style
L.A. was just a bit too hard
I wish I could be a child

Livin’ back in Chicago, in Chicago
Why don’t you take me back
Take me back, take me back
To Chicago



– Chicago

Friday 24 November

Arlington Heights, IL

Great sleep last night. Woke up to blue skies and sunshine and warm temperatures. Well, warm in comparison to some of the weather we’ve seen these last six weeks, and definitely warmer than what it can be at this time of the year in Chicago.

We started our Black Friday – a big day for shopping, online and in stores, and college football – with a walk around Herrick Lake Preserve in Wheaton. Herrick is one of those places I’ve gone past a thousand and one times over the years, but have never really had the time to stop in. My friends here say great things about it, and the day after Thanksgiving, when we really needed some exercise, seemed like the perfect time to visit.

And it was great: beautiful scenery and plenty of walking trails. Conditions were just about perfect, and stretching our legs after eating a lot of food yesterday was a very good idea. Wheaton and the area around it are blessed with so many places to go out and exercise. There are literally dozens of miles of connected walking and cycling paths which you can take advantage of.

One thing that was strange: parts of the lake had frozen over, courtesy of the cold snap that hit Chicago last week, so we actually saw bits of wood sitting on top of the water, and the craziest thing of all? Ducks walking across the lake’s surface. Certainly not something you see every day back home…

Close to lunch, we headed around to visit my friends Allan and Mackenzie Rovik and their not-quite-one-year-old daughter, Emery. I met Allan about five years ago, at a very memorable party here in Chicago, and we’ve hung out at least once each time I’ve visited since. We always have a good time, and today was no different.

So, the Rovik’s are big into Mexican food – we’ve eaten Mexican with them in the past – and they know a great place in nearby Glen Ellyn called A Toda Madre. Allan’s younger brother is actually the general manager there, but that family connection isn’t the full reason why the Rovik’s go there as often as they do. The food is amazing. Like, absolutely amazing. We ate our way through a bunch of beautiful tacos, with sides of corn and rice, washed it down with alcoholic drinks and finished off with dessert. Great food and great friends – what more could you ask for?

We headed home early afternoon, via Mariano’s supermarket to pick up some more supplies and I spent the handful of hours before dinner watching football.

Three Rovik’s, three Kitchener’s and one Gray.

Speaking of football, big day tomorrow: Nathan and I are heading up to Michigan with our buddies Mike and Scott for what can only be described as the biggest sporting rivalry in North America. We will be amongst somewhere around 117,000 fans watching the University of Michigan taking on the Ohio State University for the 114th time! Cannot wait.

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