Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ready to get down, you funky party weasel? - Xander

344 Days to go: 335 Things to Do: Day 15 in Chicago

31. Lunch at Deli Boutique
32. Lincoln Park Conservatory and Grandma's Garden
33. Lincoln Park Zoo
34. Sex And The City Party at Mary Grace's

I was promised 80 degrees and sunny. But I awoke to clouds and...less than 80 degrees. Sad.

Never fear, however. We braved the less-than-perfect-but-still-nice-enough-to-wear-flip-flops weather and headed to Lincoln Park Conservatory to check out the pretty flowers. Now, those familiar with Chicago are going to cringe at this confession. I've never before been to Lincoln Park. Gasp. I know.

When I first moved here, I was staying with friends in Andersonville and would often drive up and down Lake Shore Drive so, you know, I'd seen Lincoln Park. But had never really gone. Now that I have, my most notable conclusion is that I need to continue exploring because Lincoln Park (both neighborhood AND park) are huge. And seem to have a lot going on.

First stop, we need sustenance for our adventures. I've never been to France, but Deli Boutique 2318 N Clark is what I imagine a little parisian cafe would look like. With a salad and a caramel brownie in hand (balance is important), we head to the park.

We walk around the grounds first, then head inside. The Lincoln Park Conservatory 2391 N Stockton is part of the Chicago Parks District and is made up of four rooms. It's free and open year round. In front of the Conservatory is a formal garden - unfortunately it's apparently not 'in season' just yet - and across the street is Grandma's Garden. I think it was still early in the season for Grandma's Garden as well, but there was still some beautiful flowers blooming. I'll just have to visit again later in the summer to get the full effect. The two gardens are supposed to represent contrasting styles - the formal garden more structured and Grandma's Garden more free form.

For your viewing pleasure - a tour of the Conservatory.

The Palm House - "It takes a really big greenhouse to grow a palm."
Before getting to the eye candy, I do need to say, it's worth it to read the signs. I don't know who writes them, but they were pretty hysterical.

Things I learned in the Palm House: Palms were originally referred to as the 'Prince among plants'. Almost every part of a palm can be used (so they're smart AND pretty).

The Fern Room - "A small dinosaur would feel at home in the Fern Room."

Fun facts from the Fern Room: Before Illinois was covered by prairies it was a wet tropical forest.

The Orchid House - "Historically this room housed orchids."

I didn't really learn anything new in the Orchid House. Except that Lady Slippers (Minnesota's State Flower) is an orchid. Growing up, I just thought they were pretty flowers. And that I'd get in trouble if I picked them. And I sniffed an orchid that smelled like coconut. There was a giant arrow that said 'SMELL'. So I did.

The Show House - Apparently there isn't anything funny about the Show House. Serious Business.

And you finish up again in the Palm House.

Then we went to the Zoo. We didn't head over until 4:30 and technically the zoo closes at 5, although come 5:10 no one seemed all that concerned about kicking people out. I am like a little kid at the zoo. Which, would have been embarrassing but - I don't know. Just wasn't. I was giddy but felt justified. The first thing I see when we walk through the entrance? A RHINO! Who WOULDN'T get excited. And right next door? GIRAFFES!! Lions! Penguins! Sadly all the bears were napping inside. And it was too late to see any of the monkeys or gorillas. My favorites. Yet ANOTHER place I will have to return. Such is my lot in life.

But the real excitement of the evening is, of course, Mary Grace's Second Sex And The City Party. Happy to report last time was not a fluke and I again dominated the trivia game. More prizes! Lots of cosmos.  And dancing.  Not shockingly, MG had to ask us to leave.  She also invited me to be a judge for the next trivia contest (assuming a SATC 3).  Which is a thinly veiled bribe since I was also forbidden to play next year.  It's not my fault my brain absorbs Buffy the Vampire Slayer quotes and Sex And The City facts better than most people remember their favorite coffee order.  It's a gift and a curse.  PRIZES!

343 Days to go: 331 Things to Do: 15 Days in Chicago = 22 new experiences

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