Tahlequah Daily Press

July 14, 2010

While in Chicago, take in a game or two

Press Managing Editor

TAHLEQUAH — Thursday was our last full day in the Windy City, and once we finally rolled out of bed, we were en route for U.S. Cellular Field to take in a White Sox Game. Not that we’re Sox fans, mind you – they just happened to be playing the Angels, which my son considers “his” team.

Keith Cornelius, a friend of my son’s from Joliet (about 40

minutes away, where is also located the prison of “Blues Brothers” fame),

joined us for the day and the ensuing weekend. The two have been friends since high school; they met at the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, which was held in Chicago, when Cole was a junior and Keith a sophomore.

While Cole is pursuing a career in paleontology, Keith is following a course of study to become a speech pathologist, with a special emphasis on premature babies and the special speech issues many such children face later on.

We took the Red Line to the gargantuan stadium, for what I believe was the hottest day on record. After 20 minutes in my seat, I already had a sunburn. For the most part, the game was three-up, three-down for both teams, but due to an unfortunate Angel error, the Sox skeezed by for a run, and the score was ultimately 1-0. But the experience of simply being at a Major League ballfield is one every individual should have at one time or another.

The exuberance of the crowd, the traditional organ riffs, the smell of brats

roasting, the crowd “waves” – all made for an enjoyable afternoon. I just wish

it had been a bit cooler! Chris and I left early, but Cole and Keith stuck it

out until the bitter end. (By the way, Major League Baseball tickets range in

price from $10 to around $300, but the experience is worth as much as the game itself.) My husband ate one of the brats, and deemed it superb.

We intended to go to the Art Institute for a few hours, but the line to get in was so long (admission is free Thursday nights) that we decided to forego that for another mandatory Chicago activity: shopping at Filene’s Basement. Anyone who’s lived in Chicago (such as Chamber Director David Moore) can tell you about Filene’s – designer clothing at super-low prices. Sorry, Ross Dress for Less fans: Filene’s is several cuts above. I picked up a few cheap

shirts (including one for Teddye Snell, who’s filling in for me at the Press

while I’m gone), and we also got some dress shirts for my husband and a couple of pairs of jeans for Cole. Where else can you get perfectly good Lucky Jeans for $20?

We dropped back by the Sable Bar and Grill for another of Dejorn’s enticing cocktails, and then it was dinner at Volaré, one of our favorite Italian restaurants anywhere. Keith’s girlfriend, Sarah Nash, joined us for the evening. Volaré is a neighborhood restaurant, although a lot of tourists also get pointed in its direction, and it’s always jam-packed. If you prefer quiet intimacy to loud, animated, boisterous crowds (as tends to be the order of the day whenever “real” Italians are involved somehow), Volaré is not for you. I always have the homemade four-cheese tortellini with cream sauce, prosciutto and peas – simply scrumptious – and we shared an antipasti tray with meats, olives, cheese and other delights.

Chris had the special, Chilean sea bass, which he said was some of the best he’s ever eaten. We didn’t eat dessert, but Cole says the tiramisu is to die for.

Later that night, we went back to get a photo of the Stretch Bar and Grill, for Tahlequah’s arguably funniest man, Kevin Stretch (he used to have that title in Fort Gibson as well, but he MIGHT have a little competition from a Muskogee transplant these days). Then we were done for the evening.

Friday morning, we were consumed with packing, which is always a

stressful experience. Packing FOR a trip is my job, and packing for the trip

HOME belongs to my husband, so you can imagine the gritching that ensued:

“Where’s my such-and-such?” “What did you do with my widget?” “Someone’s taken my thingamajig!” “If my doomaflitchy isn’t found, someone’s getting punched!”

OK, he never offers to punch anyone (that particular threat is peculiar to another individual previously mentioned), but he sure doesn’t enjoy the chore.

Other morning activities included settling the rental car affair (which had to be upgraded due to the presence of Keith and the tendency of Cole to take everything he owns on his travels); the exchanging of our train tickets, which we’ll be using Sunday; a quick trip back to a cigar shop to pick up a couple more “gifts” for friends (other such gifts had already been purchased the day before by Chris and me for a couple of favorite friends and co-workers); and then a six-hour drive to Cedar Point.

But before we embarked on the drive, we stopped in at Giordano’s, home of the famous Chicago-style stuffed pizza. Giordano’s (www.giordanos.com) is not one of the originals (that would be Pizza Uno or Pizza Duo), but Giordano’s serves pizza with ham and pineapple, which is what I always have. (Cole always has the shrimp pizza; don’t ask.) The closest thing you can get in Oklahoma is Savantano’s Pizzeria in Bixby. Failing to try deep-dish pizza in Chicago is like failing to at least see the Statue of Liberty from a distance while in New York. It can’t be done by any reasonable person, tourist or otherwise.

And there’s lots of food – plenty to share on a six-hour drive to Ohio. Tomorrow, it’s roller coasters!!!!