America 2019: Day Twenty (Thursday 6 June)

I’m an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front lines
Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I’m an American soldier

                                                                                                                                  – Toby Keith

Thursday 6 June

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France that we now realise was the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. Whilst it’s an important day in the United States, Canada, France and Great Britain, I made an interesting discovery regarding Australian participants in the landings. Whilst there were no infantry storming ashore on Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold or Juno beaches, there were Australian crews flying with British bomber command, their missions helping the advance of infantry off the beaches – so a critical role that probably doesn’t get mentioned enough back at home.

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Sad to report that I woke up feeling absolutely terrible – to the point where, for a while, I was considering staying at home – but the tablets I had perked me up a tonne and by the time we left the house, I was feeling a little better. And felt better again when we were out walking in the warm sun.

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We spent the afternoon at Wrigley Field – the Friendly Confines, home of the Chicago Cubs – with Allan and Will. Wrigley is not the easiest place to travel to for a baseball game, but the atmosphere in the second-oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues makes it worthwhile. Allan, Nathan, Kat and I took a Metra train from Wheaton into downtown Chicago, to the Ogilvie Transportation Centre, and from there got on a shuttle bus that took us north to Wrigley for $10 that included beer if you wanted. I didn’t take the chance, and instead settled on some water.

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The great thing about Wrigley is that the entire area around it is bars and restaurants and other entertainment places, so there’s a wealth of options, and a fun atmosphere in the air. We went to a restaurant called Vines on Clark, where we sat outside in the coolish weather, a baseball’s throw from the front entrance to Wrigley. I ate soup and a fajita pizza, both of which were amazing. Just as we finished eating, Will joined us, fresh from a client meeting in the city, and we went in to take our seats.

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Look, by no means am I a Cubs fan – in Chicago, you’re either aligned to the Cubs or White Sox and there’s absolutely no wiggle room or middle ground – but the atmosphere inside Wrigley, whose 41,000 seats are crammed in like there’s no tomorrow, is unbeatable. It’s pretty much always sold out, and fans there treat each game, even a fairly meaningless one in early June against the Colorado Rockies, like it’s Game 7 of the World Series. There’s not much better in American sport than the classic day game at Wrigley.

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Fair to say it wasn’t the most entertaining game we’ve ever witnessed. The Cubs clearly forgot they had to hit the ball to score runs and win. They scored once, and the Rockies tripled that for a 3-1 win that kind of soured the day, but we still had a lot of fun. The company was fantastic.

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We took the red line subway back into downtown Chicago and hustled our way across to Ogilvie, trying to make the 5:04 express train that makes it’s first stop at Wheaton. We made it with three minutes to spare, and were back in the suburbs not much more than two hours after the final out of the ballgame. Not a bad run!

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Jamie and Connor met us for dinner, and we ate good Mexican at El Zarape right next to the train station. Fun to see those two again, but bittersweet because we won’t see them again for a year. It’s always hard to say goodbye…but nice to know it won’t be for too long.

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Okay, it’s 7:30pm and I’m going to sleep. Glad I didn’t stay at home because today was fun!


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