Bartlett’s and Beverly Shores — The Indiana Dunes

I’ve passed through the Indiana Dunes many times while driving between Iowa and parts east including my home state of Michigan and  beloved East Coast spots (Ithaca, NY; Easton PA etc.) and stopped briefly a time or two but never really explored. Michigan City struck me as fading. But I gather the place to eat is Bartlett’s and an interesting place to explore is the community of Beverly Shores. So duly noted here, for future reference. I’ve also heard, unfortunately, that the dunes have potentially deadly sinkholes – including at the main state park Mount Baldy, where the beach but not the massive dune (that I remember running up and down with our kids), recently reopened after a sinkhole situation that gobbled up a young boy (he survived…) More here.



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Poke at Revival Hall, Italian at Nonnina — Chicago


I visited Revival Hall, an upscale food court in a stately early 1900’s building due west of the art Institute, at the right time, this time. It was lunch time on a weekday and the place was packed with young downtown workers, ncluding my stepdaughter. the line for poke was long but moved swiftly and we easily found a seat at a high top table since the place is designed for people to eat and run. The last time we visited was in the late afternoon on a bitter cold weekday during the quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s. The place wasn’t hopping. Other options that looked good include the BBQ and the hot chicken places.

Dinner was classy But friendly Italian (a Chicago specialty) at Nonnino on North Clark near Wacker, west of downtown near The River. We shared a Caesar salad and two entrees (spaghetti with meatballs, veal Marsala) which was too much. Next time, one shared entree…good spot though! The night before we went a little more casual at a longtime fav, Santorini in Greektown and MAT showed me around all the new West Loop development including the Fulton Market District, which has lots of restaurants and a little retail.

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North Dakota destinations!

After a travel story I write about the Midwest is published, I often get invites from tourism folks in the Midwest (and beyond…my favorite was an invitation to a Bora Bora hotel….) Here’s some North Dakota ideas from a PR person there. The state is actually on my list because it’s one of the few I haven’t visited and it’s not that far from Iowa, where I live… One heads up: the U.S. News report mentioned below ranked Iowa as the Number One “Best State” overall. North Dakota was #4. (For what that’s worth…).


North Dakota’s rich history lends itself well to the emerging art scene found in nearly every corner of the state. Recently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the number one state in the country for the highest quality of life, North Dakota is the perfect place to mingle with locals, stroll city streets and enjoy fascinating art and culture venues. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bismarck: Experience the beauty and wonder of new art galleries and exhibits, including The Capital Gallery and the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. Spend an afternoon exploring the center’s interactive exhibits filled with high-tech displays, such as life-sized dinosaur casts, exquisite Native American textiles and early farming tools of European homesteaders.
  • Fargo: The largest city in North Dakota, Fargo boasts a vibrant downtown fit for art lovers, craft beer lovers, film fanatics and curling enthusiasts. You can see Olympic gold medalist John Shuster and his team in action during the 2018 Curling Nationals in Fargo from March 3 – 10. A few weeks later at the Fargo Film Festival, a four-day celebration kicking off on March 20, you won’t want to miss the electric atmosphere and occasional peep of a movie star. You may even see Alison Becker – NBC’s “Parks and Rec” star – this year! After a day well spent at the festival, relax at Hotel Donaldson, an artsy boutique hotel with beautiful works of art, incredible food, rooftop yoga and some of the best views of downtown.
  • Grand Forks: Grand Forks is a charming college town with remarkable art galleries and fascinating food venues. Get your caffeine-fix at Urban Stampede to sip on freshly brewed java while taking in the world’s smallest art gallery. Then, head to the North Dakota Museum of Art, where you can see one of the Museum’s permanent collections which includes more than $1 million in African, Egyptian, and contemporary art.

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Visiting the Hotel Grinnell – Grinnell, Iowa

Hotel Grinnell: a schoolhouse turned hotel in this Iowa town

In this college town, a boutique hotel holds old schoolhouse charm.

JIM KRUGER • PROVIDED BY HOTEL GRINNELLModern furniture meets old-school charm at Hotel Grinnell, a recently opened schoolhouse-to-hotel conversion in Grinnell, Iowa.

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C14 — the decent food gate at Las Vegas airport

I appear to be at the gate (C14) where the decent dining options are which may be handy for future long layovers (Ian almost done with a three hour one after arriving bleary-eyed from a 7:20 am flight from Burbank) at Las Vegas Airport. When we were last here about 10 days ago we searched in vain for a good dinner option.

Now I am sitting, stomach already full from a decent and relatively healthy açaí fresh fruit bowl at Jamba Juice, in front of several seemingly viable options including a BBQ joint, a “tequileria” and LAS/MRT that appears to have a good tuna sandwich.

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Superba Food & Bread, walking the Places (Nowita, Marcos, Amorosa), Salt & Straw Ice Cream – Venice (California)

Baby Benji — my cousin’s so sweet four-month-old son- was the highlight of (and reason for) my trip to Venice but I was reminded of how cool and pretty and pricey this seaside community is. I loved strolling along the narrow pedestrian-only lanes of the Places, “walk streets” each lined with usually small (but sometimes large) houses, some old bungalows and cottages (my favorite) or sleek flat-faced modern newcomers, most with gorgeous overgrown foliage and lush colorful flowers. (Nowita, Marco, Amoroso Places)

I had a delicious (but almost $20) Niçoise salad and green apple lemonade ($4 but u was relieved to learn, after-the-fact that the refill was free) at trendy Superba Bar and Grill. I drove around until I found Rose Street, which I decided was the emerging area I visited a few years ago. It appeared to still be emerging.

I also wandered a little along Abbott Kinney, window shopping and people watching and since I happened to park around the block from the superb ice cream shop Salt & Straw, I decided it was a sign from above and had a large (almost $5) scoop of “freckled woodblock chocolate,” which was delicious although I didn’t really understand the name. (I choose it in part because it was the rare chocolate flavor without salt as a touted ingredient.)

After a ridiculously long drive back to Burbank in rush hour traffic (I started my drive at 4 pm, not 3 pm as planned) I went for a burger with my family at a local place, Simmzy’s (3000 W. Olive) …yet another newish and bustling Burbank restaurant.

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Tallyrand Breakfast, Stough Canyon hike, It’s a wrap/Romancing the Bean – Lucy Day in Burbank


Golden Morning in Burbank

My favorite meal at the Tallyrand (a diner opened in 1959 ) here in Burbank is the thanksgiving special – turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes – but that wouldn’t fly at 10 am so I went with the more traditional poached eggs, sausages, hash browns— good food but even better ambiance and people watching. We walked some of the meal off, I hope, at Stough Canyon in Burbank which looked more like Arizona thanks to the recent devastating wildfires that have scorched green grassy hills into brown dirt hills, and left trees charred black. But hopeful tufts of green grass dot the dirt, reminding me of the regeneration that happens on the Kansas range after the annual spring burn.


sweet pea and her favorite purple bouncy ball

Later we strolled along Magnolia Street in Burbank which had more interesting shops than I remembered. Among the resale and vintage clothing shops is the cavernous “It’s a Wrap,” so named because it sells cloths worn in TV shows by actors. Some of the racks and tags have clothing with codes that refer to the show they were worn on which is fun. The upper floor has the classy designer stuff, most of which was too pricey even with a 40 percent off storewide sale. An amazing Missoni wrap I admired would still be about $200, we calculated — better than the $700 original price but still $200. We stopped at Romancing the Bean, a trendy coffee cafe and passed the surprisingly long line at the Cuban Bakery Porto’s.8097B18B-651B-44F6-90B0-627B158796CA

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