3 letters to describe what was one of the best times of my life – OMG! And I will warn you now, there’s a fair few pics to peruse through, so if you don’t like photos – look away now 😉
I had originally planned several things for my Spring Break (one week), starting with a trip down through Great Falls Montana to Mt Rushmore in South Dakota, then I was going to head over to Seattle and BC (British Columbia), but then came up with an idea that turned out to be an absolutely stellar week. I made some enquiries, did a little research (google) and booked my flights.
I headed to Chicago for 4 nights/5days for a sporting fix. However, the sporting fun started before I even got to Chicago. A few months before that I booked a ticket to my first NHL match to see the Calgary Flames V Vancouver Canucks, and that was on Easter Thursday. That morning, I got a phone call at school from a friend (husband of another teacher) who offered me two wicked tickets to the game as he couldn’t go. So I invited another teacher and her husband and off we went. Kenny sat up in my second tier seat, and I sat down by the sidelines in some of the most amazing seats.
Flames Goal Keeper Miikka “Kipper” Kiprusoff
I enjoyed the fact that you didn’t have to leave your seat for either some food or a beverage (adult & children style beverages), but apparently that’s only the case in the awesome seats. I was even asked to put my camera lens away, and of course I did (then got out my other camera). I asked the security why and he said that removable lens cameras aren’t supposed to be used as the quality is too professional and we were close enough to get good shots. Ok no argument, it went away, not before I managed to score some really great shots.
Enjoying our sweet seats – thanks Craig 🙂
Flames Captain (and eye candy) Jarome “Iggy” Iginla
Thirsty work being as good as Kipper
Nothing wrong with a bit of biffo, even if you are the skipper
Straight to the sin bin for both
Case of “push me – shove you”
Another hockey biff
Great game, awesome atmosphere – especially when you beat the Canucks 3-2. And in true Aussie style, had a bet on the game with my cousin at home – bad luck Nic 🙂
As you can tell, I have plenty of pics “Ali Collins – Papparazzi Extraordinaire” 😉
Bucket list item crossed off, a hockey fight. Afterall, isn’t that what NHL’s all about? Also, as one of my students proudly wears on his t-shirt “Hockey is where we live, life is just a place where we spend time between games”.
After a lovely Easter Sunday at a friends place (my extended Canadian family), I was ready to head to Chicago. Shocker of a plane ride but eventually arrived. I am getting used to eating out by myself and often get even better service. The next day I met up with a lovely gentleman Matt, who was a work friend of Craig’s. Matt and Craig had pulled some strings and gotten me a personal tour of the Chicago Board of Trade. Through a big security checkpoint, they decided that this Aussie was safe enough to enter Manland aka Board of Trade. I actually managed to listen to the guys talking about the way a trade centre operates, and even know that the best way to trade is “options”.
Chicago Board of Trade
I spent the afternoon walking around Chicago and discovering that it is indeed a very pretty city. So many flowers, even in the middle of the road. Some beautiful parklands and grounds situated along Lake Michigan.
Lovely old fountain in Grant Park – pity the water no longer flows
Beautiful Millenium Park
So many exquisite tulips, just gorgeous
Always time for a little shopping 😉
Well I guess I could share all of the pics from walking around that lovely city, but I hope I’ve been restrained enough. Next on the agenda was the NBA. FINALLY, this girl was going to actually watch a Chicago Bulls game live. Even though my personal basketball skills leave a lot to be desired, I am from the generation where the Chicago Bulls were just THE sporting team of the world. I was originally only going to one match, Chicago Bulls V New York Knicks but ticket master told me that I “needed” to also see the other NBA match that was in Chicago at the same time I was going to be there. The Bulls were playing Miami Heat, one of ‘the’ teams to see. Hmm, not really any cheap seats left 😦 Kept looking just to see and although I debated going for a courtside seat, deep down I knew I was going to get it, but to avoid an instant heart attack I delayed and bought it a few hours later. Wow! What a decision that turned out to be! Such an amazing view, omg it was like sitting on the bench. I could’ve just about reached out and pinched them, but didn’t because I didn’t want to be kicked out and miss the game. Some absolute cracker photos too. I was on a mission to get a photo of LeBron for an old mate who worships #6 for Heat. And yup, I got plenty. I had also ordered a new camera lens that borders on telescopic, and that had arrived a few days before I left, so that was just the icing on the cake. If you don’t like basketball, look away now.
First batch from the Bulls V Knicks game Tuesday 10th April, 2nd tier seating
I thought Derrick Rose (MVP last year) looked short on court, probably because the others are giants! (and I’m the short one)
- Benny the Bull floating around the air in the stadium
Pre-match entertainment – talk about atmosphere!
Pre-match warm up
Crowd of 22131
Time Out entertainment
Get a ticket before the game, and during one of the time out breaks, they have a little game and if your Dunkin’ Donuts character wins the race, you can claim a free one at a local store
I also went to a MLB game, Major League Baseball. Chicago Cubs V Milwaukee Brewers. Sat in a reasonably good seat with a great view. Fabulous atmosphere at Wrigley Field. The crowd goes crazy indeed. The speed of baseball is a little slower than that of the sports I normally enjoy, but I am still glad I went. Great experience.
Wrigley Field Scoreboard
Me at the Cubs V Brewers match @ Wrigley Field
I even managed to receive a certificate for being a first time visitor. Mind you, I think they’re primarily for children but ah well, I’m a big kid – that counts. I even remembered to eat the expected hotdog, but passed on the beer.
Next on the agenda was a massive big souvenir shop along Michigan Avenue and then across to the Shedd Aquarium. Wow, what a beautiful place. So many gorgeous aquatic animals and also a great 4D movie. I saw the one about Happy Feet. I thought huh? what’s 4d? As you are watching a little spin off movie about the Happy Feet characters complete with 3D glasses, as it rained on the screen, little bits of mist came down from the ceiling. Ahhh what a nice touch I thought. When a few of the little penguins had a bit of a barney a big *whack* came out from the back of my seat straight into the middle of my back! Gee thanks. Scared the audience big time. Ah ok, 4D we get it. Um no not quite. as one the penguins jumped into the water to create a big splash, water from the back of the seat in front of each of us squirted us bang straight in the face! OMG! That gave me (and everyone else) a massive fright, yet so funny. And low and behold, it happened again! Nasty 😉 The dolphin and Beluga whale show was just a huge wow factor. All I kept thinking was gee Tia would love this place. I am still totally mesmorised by the Jellyfish display. Such cool looking critters.
Seahorse @ Shedd Aquarium
Japanese Sea Nettle @ Shedd Aquarium
“Hairy Jelly” @ Shedd Aquarium
“Spotted Lagoon” @ Shedd Aquarium
“Leafy Sea Dragon” @ Shedd Aquarium
Starfish waving at me as the one in the tank in Finding Nemo did @ Shedd Aquarium
Found him! Nemo’s alive and well @ Shedd Aquarium
pretty boy @ Shedd Aquarium
Beluga Whale @ Shedd Aquarium
Dolphin jump @ Shedd Aquarium
Ok, only a couple more stops before my Chicago trip was to come to an end. The night before I left has left a footprint on my memory forever. I saw Bulls V Heat from a courtside seat, which meant I was sitting extremely close to the action. TOTALLY different atmosphere from the first game, which in itself was sensational. But this certainly stepped it up a notch. As I was sitting on my throne (well it may as well have been), I was just in awe of the surroundings and lapping up the entertainment. when I look down at the Bulls bench and consequently nearly fell off my chair. Paramedics, someone call the paramedics, my heart was flip flapping about. Nah surely it couldn’t be, but after picking my jaw up off the ground and fumbling to operate my camera, I realised that the guy standing 20 metres away from me was in fact the god of all basketball courts, the number one player to this day, none other than Mr Michael Jordan! I was absolutely gobsmacked, as you might’ve picked up. By the time I breathed, picked up my camera, I managed one shot before he left the floor. But maaaaan that would have to be the single biggest and best sporting moment of my life thus far! Big call, yes I know but wow so true. Even though the night Andrew McLeod put his arm around me at a black tie dinner is a favourite, unfortunately I don’t have photographic evidence anymore, but this moment I do.
The god of basketball Mr Michael Jordan himself 😀 (no totally clear, but I couldn’t really concentrate)
Chicago Bulls V Miami Heat
Nice attendance (more than some other sporting teams I know 😛 )
There you go boys (and I can happily say, they did dance well for their age – some looked not that much younger than me)
One of the timeout entertainments. They had to race to build burgers. Not sure what they were going to win, $1000 I think, but was laughing too hard to listen properly.
Joakim Noah – a new favourite
Derrick Rose – Bulls captain and MVP last year
Me and the Westmount mascot Westie
Me and my mascot Macca (Wally the wombat was having a rest)
LeBron James staring straight down my lens 😀
Well, there’s one more stop until this dream weeek came to a close. NFL Chicago Bears stadium, Soldier Field for a tour. Not a huge fan of the game, but a good friend back home is a little more than obsessed with them, so I booked a tour. And am I ever glad I did? So much history in this stadium, I really enjoyed the tour. Unfortunately I have lost some of the pictures (not happy Jan), but I do have some left to share.
Chicago Bears home ground (& Macca)
Part of original building @ Soldier Field
Me standing beside the turf @ Soldier Field. You weren’t allowed to touch the grass, as the guide had given the security a licence to shoot if we did. (of course we then did it as soon as the guide wasn’t looking, and no bullets came our way)
Well I hope you enjoyed the picture story of my sporting visit to the windy city of Chicago. I know there’s a lot of pictures, but trust me I restrained from putting a heap more up, there’s literally just over 900 pics from that week!
I am also saddened to discover that some of the photos are possibly gone forever. I make a plea to each and every one of you, please double save your photos, before they become memories. I had been really careful saving all of my photos from this year on to a separate usb, as well as on the camera memory card. However, shortly after I returned from this magnificent trip, and before I had done the ‘double save’ there was an incident. One of my memory cards was destroyed 😥 Irretrievable. I am lucky I had double saved many but unfortunately not all of the photos. A data retrieval specialist company can have a try at retrieving the pictures, but at what is close to a week’s wages, and even then it’s not guaranteed. So yes, it may be a pain in the behind, but do yourself a favour and please double-save your memories.