America 2017: Day Forty (29 November)

Come on, baby don’t you want to go
Come on, baby don’t you want to go
To the same old place, sweet home Chicago

Now, one and one is two, two and two is four
I’m heavy loaded baby, I’m booked, I gotta go
Cryin’ baby, honey, don’t you want to go
Back to the same old place, my sweet home Chicago

Come on, baby don’t you want to go
Com on, baby don’t you want to go
To the same old place, sweet home Chicago


– Eric Clapton

Wednesday 29 November

Arlington Heights, IL

Well, tomorrow is our last day in Chicago and our last proper day in America. Crazy that it’s come down to that, after a solid year of planning and organising and actual doing. In some ways, the trip has seemed short, over in the blink of an eye. In other ways, it’s felt longer – in a good way. We arrived on October 21 in Los Angeles and November 29 seemed a lifetime away. But talk about closing out strong.

Beautiful day today. We woke up to the news that Matt Lauer, the American equivalent of Karl Stefanovic (if Karl had been on Today for twenty-plus years) was fired overnight amidst allegations of improper sexual behaviour. That’s a major, major scalp. Lauer has been a huge part of NBC for a long time, not just on Today but also hosting Olympics and stuff like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Bottom line, though: don’t be a creep.

The weather as good as it is, we headed out to the Ned Brown Forest Preserve in Busse Woods near Arlington Heights, and walked the path there for the best part of 10km. Perfect conditions for walking: warm and sunny, with very little breeze.

After that, we were definitely ready for lunch. We ate at Eros Restaurant, where we had lunch yesterday and where Mum and Dad went for morning tea the day I was up in Michigan at the football game.

We’ve become big fans of this place. As Mum said, “They’ll think we’re going to become regulars, then we’ll disappear off the face of the earth”.

My new favourite Christmas tree: Medinah.

Even though I know I’ll be back in Chicago, I don’t know I’ll ever be back in Arlington Heights, but Eros Restaurant is a good place to file away as a go-to if we happen to be around. And guess what? We’re out of cereal so we’ll be eating breakfast there tomorrow morning!

A bit dark, but not a bad photo of all of us.

Spent the afternoon reading, catching up on podcasts and packing. Then, dressed to the nines with no denim to be seen, we drove over to Medinah Country Club, meeting up with Matt, Jaimie and the kids (minus Graham) there for dinner. I’ve been to Medinah twice before: once two years ago for the Longhini wedding and once last summer to enjoy their amazing pool complex with the Alley’s. So this was my third go-around, and the experience was as good as you’d expect from a world-class establishment that recently famously hosted the Ryder Cup golf tournament back in 2012 where the American team had a huge lead and blew it in spectacular fashion on the final day.


Bottom line: it’s a very, very nice place, with great food, great service, and a lot of very beautiful facilities. Oh, and did I mention they have one of the best Christmas trees that I have ever seen in at their main entrance, and lots of really nice, smaller ones dotted around the place. It really is beginning to feel like Christmas over here, and I love it.


I ate incredibly well – calamari and shrimp for starters, sausage ravioli as an entrée and apple pie for dessert – and washed it down with a couple beers. I think I set US-Australian relations back a few years by ordering a Bud Light, but redeemed myself with a Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, a local brew, on my second go-around. And, of course, the company was stellar.

Always “Good Fun” with this guy!

So, I am told that Matt reads these blogs which leads me to the conclusion that I’d better say something nice. US page views are very important, after all. But seriously: thanks for organising the dinner, Matt. We had a fantastic evening. I appreciate it!

It was sad saying goodbye to Jaimie and the kids – always is. But I’ll be back sooner rather than later, so that’s at least something. And we’ll see Matt tomorrow on our last day in town, for what’s now becoming a tradition of coming to Wheaton/Chicago: lunch at Shane’s Deli in downtown Wheaton.

Tomorrow will definitely be bittersweet.

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