Chicago the Spectacular

After my initial success with WiFi there have been disappointments so I’ve saved everything – the Herald column, the blog, the bill payments, the emails – for one day. The day before we left San Francisco the sun came out and we took a walk up Nob Hill and around Chinatown. It was Sunday, so crowded with dawdling tourists which always drives me crazy, but a fountain donated by Mrs James Flood on Nob Hill, which features three dancing cherubs, captivated me because of their darling faces turned to the sun:san fran wine tasting & nob hill 025

Then before we departed, I insisted on being photographed outside the San Francisco Press Club. press club 001

And I took a photo of the wines you can taste at the Press Club. If you look carefully at this photo you can see me taking a photo of me:press club 002

Then it was off to O’Hare, Chicago airport, where we arrived at around midnight. Must say, domestic first class United Airlines is only the equivalent of economy Air New Zealand, just with a little more space. We should be proud of our national airline. The Krsuls – John and Justine – our friends whom we met last year at the ABA (American Bar Association)meeting in New York when they were assigned to host us and who live in Bridgman, Michigan State, collected us next morning from our airport hotel and drove us to their place. First we went to Mount Baldy, Indiana State Park,  in a somewhat roundabout way. Not deliberately, we went through Gary, Indiana, one of the poorest towns in the USA. This is where the Jackson Five were born. I was pleased we drove through here, it’s tragic and sad. It once was a thriving steel worker town but no longer. To cut a long story short we did end up at Mount Baldy, a huge sand dune on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, had our picnic lunch, then drove to the Krsul’s daughter and son-in-law’s property, Longacres, on the lake, where we had a lovely traditional American beach family barbecue (grill) complete with swim, fireflies, chit-chat, children, organic beef burgers, Michigan wines, beautiful salads and just good old American hospitality. Americans, I swear, are the most hospitable nation on the earth. These are some shots of that lovely family:Krsuls2 010Krsuls2 009

Krsuls2 011Krsuls2 013Next day we went for a walk through the woods by John & Justine’s house, Krsuls2 014

down to and along the beach.Krsuls2 017

This area of America is so beautiful, it’s like stepping back in time. Everywhere we went, they never locked the car. On our third and last day, we went to visit some wineries and vineyards and it was interesting to see the different viticulture from ours, much more relaxed. No netting was required because there is no bird problem. There are no strong poles required for trellising like ours. The canopy is not trimmed like ours, but much more relaxed and allowed to grow longer, as you can see by this photo. Krsuls2 027One of the wineries, Round Barn (with this delightful old barn where they hold wine tastings) also makes beer and vodka.Krsuls2 028 And here we are outside the Krsul’s cool car.Krsuls2 029

Then it was packing bags again and driving to Chicago for the ABA meeting – a fantastic time with great speakers in that architecturally spectacular city. You can read about one of the highlights for me, a speech by retired Justice David Souter in the Herald on Sunday, next Sunday in my column, and later I hope to write about another high, when we listened to the American Attorney General talk about solutions to crime (not three strikes policy which isn’t working here) and we sat just in front of Bill Gates’ family when Bill Gates senior received the ABA medal. Last night was the black tie dinner and we sadly  farewelled the Krsuls who were driving home to Bridgman.chicago black tie 004

One more day, then tomorrow we leave for London.

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