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My apologies for the drop-off in posting. I’ve written a little note about what and why over here at Pen vs. Sword if you’d care to read it.


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So I know that this is the third post in a row about Chicago attractions, and I have a whole bunch of restaurant posts coming up from various parts of Michigan and Illinois, so I’m sure it’s not very good blog structure to do them all in great clumps like this. But this one is written, and those aren’t, so I’m gonna post this one 🙂

Who’s been to Medieval Times before? Show of hands!

Yeah, it’s awesome, right? We have been going down to Chicago for years and hadn’t gone to the Medieval Times in Schaumburg, which was a shame.

The Medieval Times castle in Schaumburg, Illinois. It's actually much bigger than it looks here.

To be fair, both Sam and I had been to Medieval Times elsewhere, as has my sister Jen (high school orchestra trip to Florida…ahh, good times.)

Anyway, that leaves among our merry band Shaylyn and Andrea who hadn’t been, and both really wanted to. So on this trip, we decided it really was about time we experience this as a group. Besides, everything is more fun with a 9-year-old.

It turned out we didn’t need Shaylyn to invoke a childlike sense of roleplay and wonder at Medieval Times. We sat in the red knight’s section, which was fortunate, because he ended up being the total badass champion. We cheered him on with many shouts, screams, cheers and boos and hisses for his opponents. We even led a toast to our knight, and waved his flags and pennants around wildly.

The key really was entering into the spirit of the thing, cheering for our knight and suspending disbelief for awhile to enjoy the storyline and the feats of equestrian showmanship on display.

We had an awesome server, who said his name was Jelly. Sam took on the role of lord of the table quite readily, calling out for Jelly in a booming voice and hamming it up with medieval-inspired quips throughout the fighting. What fun!

A Medieval Times photo of the "Lord Chancellor," or announcer. I didn't get any good photos during the show; they're all dark and hard to see. But I am pretty sure this is the same guy.

As for the rest of us, we were hoarse from cheering on our knight at the end of the night, and pleasantly full with what was actually a decent meal for being served to hundreds of people at once. They’ve really got the particulars down at that place. Of course, you have to eat it all with your hands, but there are plenty of napkins.

For the more macabre-inclined among us, they also have a medieval torture gallery off the main hall, but it cost extra, and we didn’t feel great about taking Shaylyn through it anyway, so we opted out.

All in all, a worthwhile experience, and—I forgot to mention—we got a great buy one admission, get one free deal on the tickets, which is actually what put it on our radar for this trip in the first place.

If you can get a price break on the tickets, it becomes a pretty good deal, but for medieval enthusiasts or if you have kids who are really into knights or medieval stuff, it’s probably worth the admission whenever you go.

So, what was your Medieval Times experience like? Were you as delighted as we were? Which Medieval Times did you go to? If you haven’t been, are you interested?

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On an unrelated note, Sam & I are starting to look at routes and stops for our two-week, round-the-U.S. honeymoon this summer, so exciting! We’re using the AAA trip advisor site along with some other travel sites we usually go to. How do you plan long trips? Any great ideas on how to plot out such a long road trip?

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Wow, I’ve written two feature stories and five news briefs so far today. It’s like I’m still working at a newspaper! Yeahhh… That’s a not-fun thought.

But anyway, I think I still have the wherewithal to get another blog posty done.  I haven’t talked about any of the magnificent restaurants we visited yet, and the very first one must be Sashimi Sashimi in Evanston, Ill.

Me, eating sushi. What else did you think I'd be doing at a sushi place?

We chose it basically because it was right around the corner from my sister’s work, and we were hungry and had some time to kill while we waited for Andrea to arrive on the train.

So glad we did! Sashimi Sashimi serves fresh, made-to-order sushi and sashimi (I’m sure you couldn’t guess that from the name…) I hadn’t had sushi in a restaurant ever before, although Sam made it at home for me. So it was something new.

It’s small, definitely angled toward the walk-in, take-out lunch crowd, but we pushed a couple of tables together and ate in.

There’s an order form system where you mark down what you want from a checklist and hand it to the staff, which probably cuts down on both confusion and questions.

Shaylyn got some fresh edamame to snack on, and Jen and I split a lunch combo of the California rolls (here they’re made with crab, avocado and cucumber) and the shiitake mushroom rolls, which were nicely substantial. The combo came with fresh ginger, wasabi, miso soup and a ginger-dressing salad, and you’d really have to be hungry to eat all that, so it was good that we split. $7.50 for the lunch meal, BTW.

We also had a lychee-green tea smoothie with tapioca pearls, as you can see in Shaylyn’s photo. (She really liked taking pictures of everything.)

Lychee smoothie and edamame, by Shaylyn

Sam got the special, which was advertised as “Must Try.” So he did, and kindly shared with the rest of us, cause it was really, really, tasty.  It was called Sumo Gigantor Meal or something along those lines… Oh ok, it was called the Sumo Godzilla. Probably more apropos.

The Sumo Godzilla. We were so excited to eat this we forgot to take a photo first, so some is missing...

It was $12.95 and was 10 pieces of this perfect, huge sushi roll. There was shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, scallions and cream cheese, tempura crunch, wasabi and spicy mayo, all topped in a sweet-spicy sauce I found out later was eel sauce. It was AWESOME! Definitely something to split with a friend though, there was a lot of food there.

Sashimi Sashimi is located at 640 Church Street in Evanston, right on the corner of Orrington and Church, and is not to be confused with the other Japanese restaurant kitty-corner from it. That’s probably a perfectly good place to eat too, but I wouldn’t know personally.

If you live in Chicago, they do deliver, and take online orders, for which I recall there was a nice discount promotion at the time 🙂

Ever been to Sashimi Sashimi? How was it? Do you have a favorite sushi place?

And… stay tuned, cause the next blog is a guest blog from The Driver, a.k.a. Sam, a.k.a The Real Foodie in the household 🙂

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Well, I fear I’ve committed the first sin of travel writing by not updating more often. My only excuse is that I’ve been busy on vacation! We really packed our days full-o-stuff. But now we’re back home and there are seriously about a million, or maybe 20, things I want to write about. I would have wanted to get them all in before we get on the road again this weekend, but that would mean three posts a day, hmmm. Maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll just be perennially behind. Yup, that sounds likely. 🙂

Yup, there it is.

I’ll start off with the first major stop on our trip, the Milwaukee Public Museum. As I think I mentioned earlier, we’ve all been there before, in 2009.It was me, Shaylyn, Johnny and Grandma Sue, but no Sam, as he had work to do.  This time around was different mostly because we beelined it straight for the special exhibit, which was called Mummies, and featured a ton of different mummies from around the world, from the oldest known mummies up to fairly modern day ones. It was flat out fascinating! Shaylyn and I spent a good hour and a half lost in mummy-land, reading each display and watching every video exhibit. Grandma Sue was nice enough to get the audio tour for us, which had a ton more info too. However, Grandma and Johnny weren’t quite as enamored of the mummies as the kiddo and I were, so they were ready to go pretty quickly. Oops 😦 We were bad museum companions, but there was just so much to look at!

The Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit is awesome. And it has a real candy store!

If you’re one of those who isn’t into examining mummies, there’s still plenty at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The museum has been around since the 1880s, and has both historical and scientific collections. The natural history and world culture exhibits are pretty impressive,with lots of “Whoa! Look at this!” and the Streets of Old Milwaukee and the European Village are the perfect playground for imaginative kids — and grown-ups who don’t mind putting on silly accents in public. (Not me, of course… *whistles innocently*)

If you have the time, budget and inclination, IMAX and planetarium shows are another offering at the museum, which we didn’t manage to pack into our day, although we did see almost everything else.

Finally, no matter how tired you are at the end of the day, don’t miss out on even a short walk through the museum’s butterfly wing. It’s a humid tropical greenhouse with literally hundreds of butterflies of every stripe fluttering lightly through the air or sunning themselves on plants and rocks. The fragile creatures aren’t averse to landing on you if you stand still long enough. Photographers might be tempted to spend a few hours in there just trying to capture the beauty and the bubbling-up of joy you feel when a cloud of butterflies surrounds you . You’ll just have to try it to know the feeling, I guess.

A butterfly that is not at the Milwaukee museum, because I like it.

Bad blogger that I am, I have so far neglected to download the photos from our trip, so we’ll have to make do with other people’s photos for now. (Anyone’s guess whether I will be organized enough to replace them later.)

So have you ever been to the Milwaukee Public Museum? What was your favorite thing? Where else would you go in Milwaukee?


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On the road

Wow! We’re having early mornings, late nights, and busy days. We are in Chicago now and, having accidentally left one laptop at home, I haven’t had a chance to post a real blog entry. Typing this from my phone in fact, which is a lot more of a pain than Apple would like you to think. Anyway, today is the Field Museum & Medieval Times, and I already have 4 earlier blog topics, so expect plenty of posty-ing when I finally get the chance! Talk later, hope your week is as awesome as mine is being 🙂

Now scuse me, I have Cinnabon to eat for breakfast! (Hey, I never said this would be a foodie blog.)

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… Well, not all that far south, really. Tuesday morning we are driving to Milwaukee, where we’ll spend a day and a half-ish before heading onward to Chicago.

This is Shaylyn’s annual week off from school for spring break, and it’s a trip we’ve made, actually almost exactly, before.

The first leg of the trip, Milwaukee, is with some yet-to-be-introduced family members; Sam’s mom, a.k.a. Grandma Sue, and Sam’s nephew, Johnny, who is seven-going-on-eight this month.

The Kid and Johnny at the Milwaukee Public Museum in 2009, our last trip with this motley band of travelers. Grandma Sue is behind them.

Grandma Sue took all of us to Milwaukee once before, in 2009, which was a lot of fun for everyone. We went to the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Discovery World museum right on Lake Michigan, which was way cooler than I thought it would be, since it’s primarily aimed at kids. Maybe I have enough of a child’s heart still to enjoy it! And we all felt right at home with the cold spring wind whipping past us on the lakefront.

Me, Shaylyn and Grandma Sue at Milwaukee's Discovery World in 2009. We were in a simulated Great Lakes storm, and a really loud clap of thunder had just happened, in case you're wondering what on earth we are doing in this picture.

This time, we’ll be skipping Discovery World and just hitting up the Milwaukee Public Museum, because it has a planetarium show and special exhibit on Egypt, which is Shaylyn’s greatest love and fascination.

I’m pretty sure there also will be kid staples like Chuck E. Cheese and Build-a-Bear happening, because when Grandma and the kids go out of town, well, that usually happens 🙂

Later in the week, Sam, Shaylyn and I will drive a little further down the road to Chicago, where we’ll stay through the weekend. We’ll get to see my sister, Jen, and her partner, Andrea, which, as much as I love Chicago, they are still the best thing about going there. We have crazy amounts of stuff planned for this trip, including a required visit to the Field Museum (they have mummies and Egypt stuff, which is why this is required), and a first-time visit to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago (because they have mummies and Egypt stuff and we’ve never been there!)

Aww, here's Andrea and Jen at Christmas 2010 in Marquette. Aren't they cute? Except for Jen, she's got that one lazy eye. Tsk, tsk. Well, the poor thing can't help it.

All this will be rounded out by a stop for Chicago gyros, which Sam has been promised for several trips and has never gotten, at least one White Castle pilgrimage (scroll down on that link and you’ll see why it reaches religious status), dinner at Medieval Times in Schaumburg, and a morning at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

We always like going to Chicago, and we’re doing a few things this time we haven’t done before, so it should be a pretty fun week. Of course, Sam has to work a little bit (the curse of the self-employed, as we often say), and I’ll be posting as often as I can manage throughout the week. But I can’t wait to see my sister dear, and we’ll all appreciate the break from the U.P winter drearies, which are not helped by the fact it is snowing today, and supposedly will continue to snow tomorrow. Sigh.

What do you all think? Where are your favorite places in Milwaukee and Chicago? What can we do about that lazy eye of Jen’s? Heheheee, just kidding…

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