Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Hoofin’ It: Teenage Walks to Remember

Walking, Birds Flying
Walking: my version of flying. 

Before Wild and the blogger who walks the coast of Wales with a donkey, there was pre-teen and teenage me, who walked all over Chicago’s far South Side.

That’s right. I was way into extreme walking before it was cool.* Because I didn’t have a car until I was 19.

Walking is essential to my well-being. I’m not much of a hiker; I’m a city walker, a promenader and pontificator. Seattle is one of the best walking cities; there’s water everywhere, our gentle weather rarely interferes with a good stroll, and it’s only the most beautiful place on the planet.

But Chicago is where I learned to walk. First to our coffee table, then to the end of the driveway, then to my little brick school, and then to everywhere.

Ode to Travel on Foot

Greenlake-walking-Seattle
What’cha doin’ sittin’?

Sometimes, I didn’t walk, I ran down city streets, avoiding garbage cans, almost crashing into pedestrians. I ran so fast I thought my lungs would burst. I wish someone would have warned me that running would never feel That Good again. Sure, a run feels good and necessary, but it not like a teenage anything-can-happen run, a run where you’re laughing so hard tears stream down your face, a run where your only goal is to topple into your best friend or escape some kind of trouble.

I walked with friends, a big group of them. I walked to their houses miles away, in the next neighborhood. I walked in red Chuck Tailors or heavy black boots. Sometimes we’d meet at halfway points, usually a cemetery or a fast-food restaurant or a pizza place. We didn’t have enough money to do anything but walk. It led to the greatest teenage adventures. Screw the boring old scheduled parental drop-offs at the mall, we were wild and free. We strutted under star-sprinkled skies like we owned the world. We walked to train stations that would whisk us into downtown, where we’d walk some more.

I walked to Chicago’s South Side Irish parade, not the one where they dye the river green, the one where they start drinking at noon. It was one of those must-not-miss events where every.single.person you knew would be there and they would all be wearing Notre Dame sweatshirts, green wigs, and shamrock stickers. (Side note: this parade was cancelled because it got too rowdy.)

I walked before iPods, no Walkman, just me and a cracked sidewalk, sprinklers, sometimes yells from passing cars. I walked through my own perpetual inner dialogue, through corridors in my mind. I walked until I came to conclusions, epiphanies, inventions. All forgotten when I returned. (I wonder if Einstein was a walker?)

Chicago Travel Morton Arboretum
If you don’t notice this stuff, you’re doing it wrong.

I walked into characters; an old woman who fed about fifty cats in her yard everyday. Once she put down the food, they would come from all angles, mewing and rubbing against each other. Then there was the complete stranger who leaned over a fence and asked me if I wanted a job taking care of his bed-ridden wife. (I declined). Continue reading

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You Can (And Should) Go Home Again

I am sitting on a plane; it’s my worst flight since the bumpy one to NYC and the one when I tried to get the TSA to strip search a guy in a Hawaiian tee-shirt.

The flight is full of clamouring teenage girls fresh from basketball camp. Loud doesn’t begin to describe it.  Most of them spend the first thirty minutes before take off discussing where they will sit, then bursting into unexplained fits of giggles.

The brunette doesn’t want to sit next to the stranger. The tall blonde is texting, (I suspect) about another girl on the same flight. We soar through the air, a sherbet sunset over Mt. Rainier. The chattering doesn’t subside.

“I can’t believe the lady didn’t let me carry-on my bag,” the girl behind me whines, for the fourth time as she kicks my seat. Another one plunges her seat all the way back, almost destroying a laptop.

“Sorry,” she turns around to the panicked passenger, a teenage boy traveling with his mom. “Sorry,” again. Well at least she apologized.

I am headed home to Chicago to watch my best friend from when we were their age (15? 16)  get married. Were we like this? Continue reading


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48 Hours in Las Vegas, A Photo Narrative

In the past two weeks I flew from Vegas back to Seattle and from Seattle to my sweet home Chicago to be Matron of Honour in my best friend’s wedding. It was two weeks of summer dresses and giant sunglasses. Two trips, two weeks of fun. Finally feels like summer.

Lots of posts to come, including my flight from hell: how I discovered a plane full of teenage girls is far worse than a plane full of babies.

But for now, enjoy this photo mosaic.

What happened in Vegas

Vegas

Vegas

Neon sign at Vegas Neon MuseumIMG_1508 IMG_1511 IMG_1464 IMG_1478 IMG_1501

It’s already a neon blur.  The red desert sun hung in the sky like a giant ornament. 

Nevada-vegas-travel-desert-sun

Desert sun

I learned about Vegas’ sordid past through neon signage at the Neon Museum. I am now a Vegas neon sign expert. That was a trick. The signs aren’t neon anymore, they’re actually LED. I can’t wait to correct a stranger.

Actually [thought-gathering pause] they’re not neon anymore. They’re LED. And the sign designers own them, not the casinos. And Moulin Rouge was the first casino that allowed black performers. Just to let you know.

Vegas-travel-jackpot

I won $200 in slots/craps. If you want to squeeze the most fun out of Vegas, start with the free craps lesson (the Monte Carlo has one) and learn how to bet beyond the pass line. It’s a super fun, thrilling game and has a special vocabulary: the shooter, hard eights, aces, crapping out, playing the field. It’s rife with nickname material, but the game moves fast and so does the money. I start with $20 and see how fast I can double it.

I went to Michael Jackson’s One. I highly recommend it. I had forgotten how much I liked MJ. When he was a kid, he was perfection and the world twisted that perfection into something horrible. It’s a fantastic tribute, well worth the money. My only criticism is I want more Jackson5 or 80’s Jackson, less of that slower new stuff he did in his getting-naked-with-Priscilla phase.

Unseen Vegas

Vegas-travel

There’s a tarnish just beneath the bright lights and if you’re observant, you’ll witness some sad things. A woman strutted through our hotel lobby in nine-inch heels and a pair of daisy dukes completely unzipped like it was a fashion statement.

I walked past a homeless lady on the bridge who held a cat.  It wore retro sunglasses and looked near death. I closed my eyes and half-prayed it was fake. It couldn’t have been.

Later, I encountered another woman who sat with her child and had a sign that said, “my other job is better than this.” I contemplated kidnapping or giving the girl a wad of cash. But I just shook my head and kept walking. No one gave them a second glance. We were all onto the next glittering casino.

PRO TIP: There’s a pizza place on the third floor of the Cosmos that’s so secret it doesn’t have a name. I call it The Clandestine Crust, though it really just goes by Secret Pizza. Delicious, fast, perfect after-midnight bite.


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Travel More, Write More, Exercise Sometimes

I traveled back to Chicago for the holidays. I’m currently writing a post on why you should visit the southside of the city, complete with what to wear to an over-crowded jazz club and where to find the city’s best hotpot.

Note: I didn’t say hot dog. Just walk to the nearest hot dog stand. Order everything but ketchup.

If you’re a tourist, it will be the best hot dog you’ve ever had.

What I did on my Christmas Vacation

travel writer eats chicken tenders

Pinkie out. The only way to eat chicken tenders.

  • I saved Christmas, Martha Stewart-style with a signature cocktail. You could put dishwater in a fancy glass and add a candy cane stirrer and people will like it. Picture to come.
  • Got treated to a private performance by a burgeoning pianist that nearly brought me to tears.
  • Lost in a Big Buckhunter family tournament. The game’s just too realistic for this animal lover. Also, I have a habit of shooting female bison.

While I enjoy the beginning of a new year, I don’t make typical New Year’s resolutions.

I am damn-near perfect. So what if when I don’t have coffee, I go through Trainspotting-esque withdrawals?

So what if I swear in front of eight-year olds (whoops)? So what if I don’t have a robust retirement account? It’s not like Suze Orman will be coming over for dinner tomorrow. I find resolutions too negative. Don’t do ____. Instantly, the blank becomes so much more intriguing. Something in my brain rebels and I will do whatever I can to eat bread, to watch more TV, to spend money.

Not really resolutions, resolutions

  • My first resolution is to love myself a little more. The more I appreciate my health and know who I am and what I can achieve, the more I am naturally drawn to doing good things for me. I know it sounds so trite, like something Oprah would say. But this is where to start.
  • Respect dry cleaning tags. I have a tenancy to just toss and go and lost a lot of great shirts to my over-enthusiastic dryer.
  • Not to eat more than three Lindor truffles in a sitting.
  • Write everyday, but not for work.
  • Practice French at least once a week with real people, even those awful pretentious types I keep running into.
  • And to find a way to make a living doing exactly this.


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Never Buy Underwear at a Thrift Store (And Other Advice)

There’s no manual to life, but I am lucky enough to have the next best thing: my grandma. You’d be wrong in picturing my grandma as a sweet, cookie-baking woman. My grandma, petite with black eyes and (now) cotton-colored hair taught me to play poker and shoot dice when I was just eight. She has fought off muggings with her booming voice. She’s lived in Chicago her entire life, was born the year the stockmarket crashed and was raised in the “back of the yards” as they say there, referring to the neighborhood behind the stockyards.

She is sharp, witty, and sage. I don’t take advice well, but hers is always welcome.

Stuff my Grandma Says

life advice, stuffmygrandmasays, chicago, lifestyleblog

Scarves instantly make an outfit better. Just another lesson. 

“Convince yourself you like whatever it is”

This is something she said to me recently, when I told her about my new gig as a contract copywriter for a major cellphone company (yay! to jobs).

“If you don’t like it, just convince yourself you like it.” My grandma has taught me this again and again. If we didn’t want to eat something, she’d scoop it up in her fork and talk about how great it was until she had us almost convinced she was eating Skittles instead of canned green beans.

When she talks about her own childhood, it’s never negative, never whiny, although I am positive she’s been through some of the hardest times the country has ever seen. She prefers to reminisce about how the entire family would push the tables aside on Thanksgiving and dance the jitterbug.

Why am I not dancing the jitterbug right now? Oh, because I am on the internet. 

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Landmarks: Not Just for Tourists

seattle travel blog, expat blog, expat advice

Part of me will always belong to my first love — Chicago. It’s why I am a Bears, Bulls, and White Sox fan, why I say things like gym shoes, bed clothes, and food shopping. It’s why I feel most comfortable in big, metropolitan areas, why I go crazy on St. Patrick’s Day, why I never order hot dogs with ketchup, why I hate soccer.

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