Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Restaurants of Chicago, Illinois





Well, if you’ve been following our camping and travels much, you know we love to eat – and we found out that Chicago is a great place for good food! We went to three places of note while in Chicago:

Wolfgang Puck Express in O’Hare Airport ~ We were starving after flying into Chicago, and happened upon this restaurant in the O’Hare International Airport. Suzanne had actually heard of it and heard it was good, and we were hungry, so off we went. We both ordered individual pizzas and both were very good. Now, they weren’t the greatest pizza we would have in Chicago (that’s coming up), but it was good.

Giordano’s on Rush Street ~ We wanted to get some of that famous Chicago deep-dish pizza, and this was the place recommended by Brad’s brother Brian (say that 3 times fast) and it happened to be a few blocks from our hotel in Chicago (The Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown). It was “Oprah Eve,” and we luckily got there a bit early, since each deep dish pizza takes 35 minutes to make, and this is a very crowded place. We ordered a salad to hold us over and ordered a fabulous pizza (pictured above) that we could barely finish and ate for breakfast the following morning and still left some uneaten! Now one fun thing that happened was that we were carded when we ordered some wine (the waitress told us that it’s a rule in Illinois, to card everyone) – Brad had his wallet, but Suzanne, who is notorious for never bringing a purse or her wallet, did not have hers. Suzanne was feeling pretty good, you know, about still looking 21 (yeah, right!), but still begged the waitress to bring her the wine. After “checking with the manager”, Suzanne got her drink! Tip: check out their website – when we were looking for directions, we noticed coupons – we printed one and saved $5 on our dinner!

Rosebud on Rush ~ As we walked back to our hotel after stuffing ourselves with the deep-fish pizza from Giordano’s, we passed by some very happy people enjoying some great looking Italian food – and we knew this was where we would eat dinner the next day, also known as “Oprah Day!” Now, not inexpensive by any means, but we sat outside on the corner watching people drive/walk/bike by, enjoyed a leisurely drink before dinner (where, come to think of it, we were not carded…..hmmm….must have aged a bit in the past 24 hours), accompanied by some incredible bread with olive oil and parmesan cheese, ate a great meal (Chicken Bracciola for Brad, Cheese Ravioli for Suzanne) and shared a huge dessert which stuffed us even more. All the while, we chatted with the women seated next to us who had also gone to Oprah that day, enjoyed not being rushed to leave our table (we were there for a couple hours – very unusual for us), and had a great last evening in Chicago (and again lamenting how full we were as we ambled back to the hotel).

One word: YUMMY!



Monday, September 28, 2009

We Went to Oprah!!! Chicago, Illinois





So what was Oprah like? Well, it was quite the experience ~ and we actually saw two shows! Here’s the scoop………..

So when Oprah tapes, she usually takes two shows, A and B. The A show requires you to be at Harpo Studios between 7 and 7:30 am (however when we showed up at 7am, there was already quite the line – lesson learned – go early!) and the B show starts processing people between 11 and 11:30am. So after showing ID (and realizing that Brad was maybe one of 5 men in that audience), we sat upstairs for about an hour watching Oprah show moments and chatting with other audience members. Finally, we were let in and give seats in the studio. What to say about the studio – well, there’s her light yellow couch, and as in the other studios we’ve been in, it’s much smaller than it seems on television. We listened to a women chat about what to do when talking, how to act, etc…, then out of nowhere, Oprah appeared (carrying her shoes). There was no, “Heeeerrrrreeeee’s Oprah!” announcement – just Oprah, her shoes, and a bunch of people fussing about her hair, clothes and make-up. Pretty quickly she put on her very high-heeled shows and did the monologue into the camera as you see on television. Then during the commercial break, she walked the 10’ to her couch, the guests sat as well, as the show began, with commercial interruptions planned, and all that.

The first show we saw (actually both shows) wasn’t a happy – it was about a man on Indiana death row for the mid-1990’s killing of his wife, her brother and brother’s wife while the children slept in the bedrooms. The children of the brother and his wife, as well as a niece who lived in the house at the time, were on the show, and the killer (their uncle) was shown from prison in Indiana, with his son by his side. Since the man was on death row and slated for execution in a few weeks, the family (those mentioned, along with other aunts, uncles and grandmothers) were torn with whether or not he should be executed. To be honest – it was very “Jerry Springer-like” – not really to our liking, and not a show we would watch if we were flipping channels in the comfort of our own home (or RV, whatever the case may be).

One thing that was very interesting to watch was Oprah watching the family members for reactions (off camera) and asking questions/following-up with the convicted killer, in response to those reactions. It was interesting to see her mind working, and to see the interviews progress.

The BEST part was that after the show (maybe because Oprah was in the mood, or knew the show wasn’t going great – no one could answer a question with more than 5 words) she took off her shows, kicked up her feet, and chatted with the audience for a good 30 minutes! People asked her about her recent interview with Whitney Houston, her season premier with the flash mob dance, and more. She was very chatty, sharing stories of her own life, asked us questions – it was all very cool to see her in this light.

As said, we saw two shows. As the audience was being dismissed from this show, there was an announcement that there were stand-by seats for the second show of the day, so Brad ran and got our names on the list – out of 4 seats available, we were numbers 3 and 4! The second show was more interesting, but not any more light-hearted or fun, and was about a group of 5 women (ages ranging from early 40’s to early 60’s) who were among a group of nine women who unknowingly dated the same man for years who infected all of them with HIV. Since he knew he was HIV positive and with reckless abandon infected these women (and maybe more), the women took him to court on the grounds of endangerment with a deadly weapon and won! He is now in prison and serving a 20+ year sentence. As said, this was much more interesting, especially the legal aspects of the case, and the stories were hear-breaking, but it really would have been nice to see Oprah on a day where the topics were a bit more casual and fun, and not so serious.

When done with all the Oprah watching, we went to the Oprah Store! More on that in the next few days (as well as the GREAT food we ate, tip for getting tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and our trip 4 hours south to Springfield, Illinois).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We're Going to Oprah!!!! Chicago, Illinois Part 2

So how do you get tickets to Oprah?

First, you have to be a member of her website at http://www.oprah.com/.

Then you need to go to the audience reservation page: http://www.oprah.com/audience where about half-way down the page is information about current availability. Most of the time, the reservation window is closed, but for about 48 hours each month during the taping schedule (September - May), the window opens and you need to go in and request tickets for the show(s) you can attend. Oprah generally tapes two shows per day Tuesday - Thursday, and Suzanne requested about a dozen shows. About 24 hours after the window closes, you'll get an email stating either "Sorry, not this time." (which we've gotten) or "Great News!" (which we've also gotten) with information about confirming your reservation. You have a limited time to confirm, and once you do that, you are a ticket holder to an Oprah show! (You don't actually get a ticket, but your name, and any guests, will be on a list when you arrive at Harpo Studios.) Also, you do not know who/what you'll be seeing until you get to the studio, and there's always the chance of a cancellation (which would be a major bummer).

So we never expected to actually get tickets, and this was a great surprise...............we'll share more as the experience unfolds ~ check back soon ~ and keep your fingers crossed for David Beckham - or - Matt Damon - or - Brad Pitt!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're Going to Oprah!!!! Chicago, Illinois

Guess where we’re going next week????? (Of course, the title should be a big clue.........)

To see Oprah in Chicago!

On a whim, Suzanne tried for tickets online and got them!



Suzanne’s hoping for Matt Damon………..or David Beckham……………or Brad Pitt………….or all three!

Brad’s hoping for Haley Barry………….or Salma Hayak…………..or Charlize Theron……………..or all three!


We’ll write more about how we got the tickets in the next day or so, then will be sure to write about our experience.

Oh, and if you have forgotten - we did check out Oprah's house when we were in Santa Barbara last November ~ here's the synopsis and a picture of her gate!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riverhouse Restaurant, Pacific City, Oregon

One of our favorite places to eat when we’re staying at Neskowin Creek RV Resort is the Riverhouse in Pacific City, about a 10-15 minute drive up the coast. The Riverhouse doesn’t look like much on the outside, in fact, it doesn’t look like much on the inside either, but the food – fabulous!! Our favorite is their Dungeness Crab Open-Faced Sandwich – YUMMY! This is definitely our go-to meal when we’re here, and the few others things we’ve tried on their menu – such as their clam chowder – is equally fantastic! Oh, their desserts – great again! When we were here last weekend, we split their cheese blintz - a crepe with a sweet cream cheese filling topped with strawberries and whipped cream – can we say FABULOUS again without sounding too corny? Now, it’s not your least expensive place to go, but on the coast, that’s to be expected. If you’re around the Pacific City area, definitely treat yourself to a meal at the Riverhouse.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Neskowin Creek RV Resort, Neskowin Oregon

Hello Again!

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve posted. As you may know, we arrived home and decided to stay for a while……….and after a loooong time, we finally had the opportunity to take the ‘ole rig out again, and we headed to our “home resort” ~ Neskowin Creek RV Resort in Neskowin, Oregon on the beautiful Oregon coast. We’ve been here a few times before – it’s very big rig friendly with lots of pull-through sites and is very accessible to the ocean – either by a short walk (~1/2 mile) through the nearby neighborhood, or you can take a short drive to the public access just one mile north of the campground.

Neskowin Creek RV Resort offers an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, club house with some activities and meals, wifi ($1/day) a decent bathroom with showers, laundry, tennis courts, shuffleboard, basketball, volleyball and horseshoes. Every time we’ve been here, the staff has been incredible friendly – it’s the same workkamping couple that’s been here over a year and a half now (since we started coming).

One thing about the RV Resort which some may find charming – and others many not – is the abundance of rabbits roaming the campground – there were probably 200+ (more than last year, and you know what they say about rabbits……). They’re cute and all, but their droppings are everywhere……….

This is a great place to come if you want to spend some time along the Oregon coast – it is RPI and Coast-to-Coast, and there’s a great restaurant nearby ~ more on that in a day or two!

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