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Misty Ferris Wheel & Uncommon Ground, Our Anniversary Bike Date

May 29, 2011

OK, so just like most everything else in marriage, plans for the perfect bike date and the actual date itself are never quite the same thing. My husband and I just celebrated our wedding anniversary and we had this great plan for a bicycle trip down memory lane. We were going to visit all the significant places in our relationship…the college where we met, the first date, first kiss, the church where we got married, etc.

But life being it what it is, we got a late a start and had to change a few things.

However just like most everything else in marriage, what actually happens is ten times more wonderful than all the plans in the world.  Because the important parts; you and him  are all that matter and when it comes down to it no matter what you do together, it turns out to be an insanely good time.

We decided to play tourists and go to Navy Pier, stop off at North Avenue Beach where we took pictures on our wedding day and have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Uncommon Ground. I had never been  to Navy Pier before and I fancied riding the Ferris Wheel holding hands,

We dressed up, packed a picnic lunch in my baker’s basket, got on our bikes and headed south. It was a beautiful sunny day in the 70s when we left our neighborhood on the northwest side of the city but as we approached the lake, it got colder and misty. There was a cool breeze coming off the lake and a fog was rolling in. We paused to take some photos.

It was still clear before lunch and the Ferris Wheel ride.

Here I am doing my best impression of Cycle Chic:

After locking up our bikes at one of the many secure racks located at the entrance of Navy Pier (talk about rock-star parking, why on earth would you arrive any other way?!)  we sat down at a table for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, goldfish crackers and granola bars. We bought some fruit juice from inside and added in a shot of  “warmth.”   It was lovely. We toasted our love, all the years of our marriage and all the ways we had grown as a couple in the past year.

A quick kiss and then we were off to the Ferris Wheel, our hands swinging between us.

By then a thick blanket of fog had come on in tiny cats’ feet. It made for a magical atmosphere.

Here we are up on high looking down.  The fog obscured much of the skyline, but it was still a stunning view.

Overtaken by the mist, even the skyscrapers were ghosts…

Next we set off on the Lake Front Path  which is one the reasons why Chicago ranks high as a bike-friendly city.  It’s a beautiful paved path with two lanes for north and southbound travel that stretches for 18-1/2-miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It was quite chilly, but we warmed up as we got going.

Here’s a picture of one section of the path on a much sunnier day.  It was featured in a PBS article about the Lake Front Path.

We made a quick stop at North Avenue Beach and looked out at the fog over the lake.  We couldn’t see the skyline at all.

We traveled north along the path for about four or five  miles until we got to our exit point, heading west to Uncommon Ground.  It wouldn’t be an anniversary date without a romantic dinner!  Uncommon Ground is a one of kind restaurant dedicated to locally grown, organic foods.  Some of their produce is so local it’s grown on the roof-top garden of their sister restaurant.  We celebrated our anniversary dinner there last year and had a great time.  So often when you go out to eat you have to choose between your eco-conscience and your appetite. There is no need to compromise at Uncommon Ground.

Here is what we had:

Me: Steak ( a rare treat since I only eat grass-fed, hormone free, free-range meat) served with asparagus and a tiny side pasta made with goat cheese and fresh spring herbs.   I thought the steak (medium rare) was the perfect balance of soft and crunchy. The pasta was a cheesy nirvana and the vegetables were crisp, lightly steamed, just the way I like them.  For my beverage, I went with J.K.’s Organic Scrumpy Hard Cider, the best hard apple cider I have ever tasted.  It has a light sweetness.  The delicious apples take center stage, giving it more of juice-like taste.   Best of all,  it’s made in the Midwest, just a stone’s throw away in the state of Michigan.

My Beloved: Jerk rubbed duroc pork loin: organic brown rice & beans, apple, arugula, spinach, pickled red onion, capriole goat cheese salad, tomatillo cream (description from the menu).  He thought the pork was a little dry on its own but once he dipped it in the tomatillo cream, it was delightful.   To accompany the meal he drank a Goose Island ‘sofie’ Belgium Golden Ale.  He described it as phenomenal and wouldn’t hesitate to take home “several” six packs…

I tasted it and was surprised at the layers of flavor.

We topped it all off with a delectable brownie sundae. Here’s the menu description: warm housemade dark chocolate brownie sundae
banana gelato, fresh bananas, whip cream & caramel sauce

My god was that tasty!

We toasted some more, tucked into our scrumptious meals, chatted and reminisced.  All and all the perfect end to a perfect anniversary date.

We learned a few things along the way about bike dating.

1) Dress for the occasion AND the weather.  It’s a good idea to have some warm weather gear just in case it cools down while you’re on the road.  Also, ladies go with tights and not thigh-highs…trust me on this one.

2) Routing is everything.  Playing “Frogger” with traffic is not my idea of a romantic ride.  We advise picking a route involving side streets and bike lanes.  If you pick quiet enough streets you can even ride side by side and have a conversation, imagine that!

3) Pack carefully, don’t bring too much cargo.  It will only get in the way of the fun. That basket was cute for the pictures but proved to be a little cumbersome to take on and off the bike at each of our destinations.  I’ll save it for picnic-only dates in the future.

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