Flat Ruthie Tours Chicago on my Birthday
After the glorious pre-birthday celebrations of the day before, we knew it would be hard to top them — but with Flat Ruthie here, we just had to try. So, despite the sub-freezing temperatures, overcast skies, and the occasional snow flurry, we headed to show Ruthie the newest gem within my city’s crown, Millennium Park. Completed in 2004, the sprawling site, located just East of the fabled Loop, is a must see for any and all visitors to our city, even in Winter.
Walking South on Michigan Avenue from Randolph Street, one of the first attractions you’ll notice within our Park is the The McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink, where young and old, visitors and Chicagoans alike, strap on the ice skates and glide for a few laps.
Just above the rink is the highly reflective sculpture, Cloud Gate, although few, if any, refer to it by that name. It is “The Bean” and no photograph can possibly do it justice nor relay the wonderment one feels standing before — or underneath — it.
Just to the South of the rink, you’ll find the Crown Fountain, a favorite of the very young set. These two 50 foot rectangular towers sit on opposite sides of an open plaza. Upon the towers, some 1000 individual images of fellow Chicagoans appear, fading to black every 15 seconds. Of course, now in Winter, there is little else to this space but, come Summer, the plaza is transformed. What is now snow-covered ground will become a shallow reflecting pool, just perfect for aching toddler and kiddie feet. Watch the facial expressions on the towers. When one purses its lips, a small fountain of water will spew onto the reflecting pool, much to the delight of the our young puddle jumpers.
Now, look out, away from the park, to see a few of our more iconic sky skyscrapers.
Aon Center, the 3rd tallest building in this City of Skyscrapers.
There’s so much more to see within our Park — i.e., the Pritzker Pavilion, Wrigley Square, theaters, and gardens — but with a stiff wind blowing in off of the Lake, we decided to leave Millenium Park. Continuing our walk South along a chilly Michigan Avenue, we soon came upon Chicago’s Art Institute and 1 of its 2 guardians.
We’ve but one more stop to make before returning to home base. A few blocks to the North, across from the famed Wrigley Building, a 26 foot Marilyn Monroe statue was erected last July. Located on Pioneer Plaza, Miss Monroe will be removed sometime this Spring.
Heading home now, we just had to stop at North Avenue Beach to give Flat Ruthie one last look at the skyline.
With an eye on the clock for there are dinner reservations to keep, we’ve one last bit of Chicago to show Flat Ruthie, the one and only Wrigley Field.
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After a brief stop home to freshen up, we were on our way to Francesca’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant whose original owner was a friend and fellow Detroiter. The attentive staff saw to our every need, quickly filling our order for a round of Godmothers — repeatedly.
Perhaps we overdid it on the appetizers for neither Ruthie nor myself wanted a full main course. We shared a delightful linguine made with scallops and a touch of spinach dressed with a tomato cream sauce. Even so, we still brought some home for a late night snack.
As we sat, sipping the last of our cocktails, the wait staff brought a profiterole, sporting 1 candle for my birthday. I later learned that Flat Ruthie tipped them off when I wasn’t looking.
And so my birthday celebrations ended for another year. As much as Flat Ruthie says she enjoyed herself, we all agreed that we were the more fortunate for having her, even if briefly, among us.
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