(Reminder: this post is being published well after our visit, we are currently in Portland Oregon until Sept 4th)
After collecting our Visas from the DMV, ahem Chinese Embassy on Monday morning, we headed north from Chicago towards Mundelein Illinois to spend a few days with our friends Doug and Larry. Long time readers will remember that we all cruised together on our Athens to Istanbul (via Alexandria and Santorini) in 2008. Since then we have cruised with them to the Caribbean and they visited us in Raleigh.
Since they are both still working (poor things) they suggested we arrive late afternoon and mentioned that stopping to see the Bahá’í Temple in Wilmette.
Wow! I had never really heard of this faith nor of this building. It is one of 10 temples in the World and was built from 1921-1953 entirely by donations of the faithful. In fact today, one can only donate if one is a believer. The tenements of the religion are based on the unity of humanity. They believe all religions are worthwhile and support them all. In fact some of the symbology in the temple represents Christian, Muslim and Judaism. No sermons are allowed in the temple, rather only the reading of various scriptures and quiet contemplation. Similarly, it is a requirement that their temples be surrounded by gardens to assist in having the right mindset.
We were both impressed by not only the building but their humanistic beliefs. We were welcomed to visit and explore the temple, it’s grounds and even invited to participate in one of the regular discussion groups which take place. All free of charge. As Mike put it, “now this is a religion I can get behind.“
After our time at the temple we headed on to Mundelein. We dropped our luggage at Doug & Larry’s house (hereafter D&L) and Larry drove us to a local distillery where Doug met us on his way home from work. (Larry works from home). This was to be the first of many drinks during our four days (hence the title picture which was of a bar towel for sale at the distillery…I think I’m remembering that right!
This is Doug “cheers-ing” below while that is Larry driving further below. Those pictures are followed by some of the delicious drinks we all enjoyed before leaving there and going out for dinner.
The next morning, we all got up relatively early and went for a delicious breakfast in Kenosha, Wisconsin at Frank’s Diner. This is one of the original wooden diners and as you can see still does a big business. They are known for their “Garbage” plates-hash browns, eggs, cheese and your choice of meat all cooked together on the flat top and served with their restaurant made bread. So so good! And the huge cinnamon roll wasn’t too bad either! We each got a half garbage plate (can you imagine how big a full one must be? I only ate half of mine so I could fit some of the cinnamon roll in. The leftovers were quite tasty the next morning.
From Kenosha, we headed on to Milwaukee to visit the Museum of Art there. This building is highlighted by the entrance pavilion designed by Calatrava. You remember him, the same Spanish architect who designed many of the buildings in Valencia as well as the new transit center at Ground Zero in New York.
As with many of his buildings, this one moves-the “wings” open and close to shade the interior. While it is quite impressive, I was disappointed when I realized that they only shade the entry lobby, not the actual art.
Below is a time lapse of the wings closing- it actually took about 3 minutes.
After the museum we went to Milwaukee’s historic hotel the Pfister for, you quested it, a drink. From there we visited the Domes, Milwaukee’s botanical park. This facility was built in the 50s and included three Domes-one tropical, one desert, and one that is seasonal. All we’re interesting but we all agreed we enjoyed the tropical plants the best. Though I was equally enamored with the mid century architecture and lighting.
After a stop for a bite of late lunch, D&L took us to Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge. This tiny place on a residential street was originally a speakeasy during prohibition. Today, they continue to make custom cocktails using a Rolodex (anyone reading under the age of thirty can look it up) of over 400 recipes. While you can order a beer or a pina colada, the fun thing to do (since they have no menu) is to answer the bartender’s questions-bitter, sweet? Rum or vodka? Frozen or on the rocks? And then let him make you a drink from one of their 400 recipes. We had several. (Surprise!)
As you can tell from the looks on the boys faces, we all enjoyed ourselves.
On the way back to Mundelein, we stopped at the supermarket. One could tell we were in cheese country, the cheese aisle seemed almost endless!
D&L hosted a 4th of July bbq the next day. We had entirely too much food (and drink – another surprise). We shared the delicious pineapple liquor that Rebecca and Karol had brought us from their recent trip to the Azores with everyone as we toasted the USA.
We had a great four days in Mundelein with Larry and Doug and hope it won’t be so long before we see them again. They are discussing visiting Germany and Poland next year so fingers crossed we get to see them there.
Next up, more Frank Lloyd Wright!