Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well, as the old saying goes, third time's a charm.

Greetings yet again from Chi-Town, it is currently day six on our trip and my computer must be broken. As you might have gathered from the previous statement and prolonged absence, my blogs have not been coming in. I don't really know if this one will either, but I figured you would like an explanation so... c'est la vi.

This "expedition" has truly been one of the most invigorating and memorable experiences of my life. Never have I had so many wonderful experiences and seen so many amazing things! The only reason this has been as memorable as it has been is due mostly to the people I have had the pleasure of traveling with. Before I continue, I think it is only fitting to give these people a shout out...

First, our noble guides:

  • Dr. Greg Thompson, the "Founder of the Feast". Doc T is a native Chicagoan and this trip is the product of his brain. He designed this trip to be a cultural exposition to introduce RSU students to the humanities, most notably architecture, cultural cuisine, and theatrical experiences.
  • Dr. David Blakely, all around good-guy. David is an intrigal part of this trip due to his position as the director of the RSU theatre program. He adds the scholarly views on any and all of the performances we see and never allows anyone to be left in the dark.

Now for our Dramatis Personae:

  • Katie Hendrickson: Katie is a senior majoring in Communications. She was most recently seen as Queen Rachel III in the school's production of R3: William Shakespeare's Richard III.
  • Cristen Burdell: Cristen is a wee fresh/sophomore majoring in Communication Arts. She was also in R3 as Queen Anne.
  • Garrett Shilling: Yet another fresh/sophomore majoring in Environmental Conservation. I would tell you more but you can read his blog for all that.
  • Bree Elwell: Bree is a newcomer to our "band of brothers". She is currently a junior at USAO majoring in History. We were all happy to have her join us an keep us (somewhat) down to earth.

Yes, this trip would have been nothing with out this merry few. I just want to add my own personal thank you for accompanying me on this trip. I also want to congradulate them for not raising a mutiney in the van when we were all being jostled around by all of those road bumps.

As to the rest of the trip, sparing the finer details for now (yes, there's still more coming), I believe that I can speak for all of us when I say we've had a blast. Every single day was an amazing experience. From the "March of the Rainy Death" to us chilling out on the steps of the Natural History Museum, it has been truely amazing.

I might be a history major, but my writer's instincts are telling me how much you all still want to know. So many details... well, do not fret my fellow Hillcats, like I said before, the best is yet to come. I will follow this up with specific stories. All good things to those who wait...

Until then, I reamain faithfully yours.


The Last Day in Chicago May 19

To day was a pretty easy day we went to the Field Museum and went to LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL!!!!

The Field Museum was cool i really enjoyed it. We got to see Sue, the only complete T Rex, and a lot of other dinosaur skeletons. Katie and Cristen talked with minnesotan accsents the whole time we went throught the mammal exhibit...we got some strange looks. We saw mummies and pirates also. I really enjoyed the native american exhibit I particularly enjoyed the pacific northwest part of the exhibit. They also had a Maori meeting house they transfered to the museum. When you went inside you had to remove your shoes in a sign of respect. There were TONS of kids. They must have been on a field trip cuz they were like cockroaches in a cheap apartment. I also got to play on the handrails on the front steps. I was super happy...and looked like a five year old. Also on a side note when we were in the evolution exhibit we notcied Cristen is the same size as Lucy, the first human ancestor.

Also we saw Buckingham Fountain its in a giant square by the lake. The space kind of reminded me of Red Square. The Fountain was massive and had great sculpures all over it. The park it was in was really cool also. I saw what i thought was a guy getting mugged, but they where just practicing Karate.

Legally Blonde was......good. Im sad to say I actually did not feel the need to stuff tissue in my ears and gouge out my eyes. It had some really catchy tunes. But i swear if the phrase" OMG! OMG you guys!" in high pitched valleygirlenese doesnt stop replaying in my head i AM going to do something drastic. But the musical was good, not quite up there with West Side Story, but still really good.

Afterwards Colter, KAtie and I had victory cigars for surviving said musical and we walked back to the hotel. Tommorrow we leave and it seems like to soon. I really would like to stay a little longer but my summer job in the Rocky Mountains is acallin and I am sure i would go homeless in another week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Missing Links

Sorry I did not blog yesterday i was bone tired and needed to sleep. so sit back and let me tell you a tale the includes not one buts to days of Chicago sized adventure.

15 May

We started the day with a visit to the Chicago Cultural center. One of the scenes from The untouchables was filmed on the steps here. It was quite breezy on the way there so i had to break out my rain jacket which might have jinxed our day. the Cultural center had an exhibit of art prepared by special needs citizens which was really quite good. There are two exquisite domes in the Center that we saw. The first was all stained glass and had a wrought iron chandelier in the middle of it. The Second Dome was the best out of the two. It seemed to be laid entirely of Italian tile and had the names of important literary figures laid in it. There was a quote in the hall that bewildered me. It is by Isaac Barrow;

I love to read there is nothing better than a good book sometimes, but a book cannot do all of the things listed above. A book cannot console like a mother, or laugh like a good friend, be faithful like a dog, or come close to the counsel of a Fathers wisdom. It can do these things to some extent, but i say man needs more than pages he needs the companionship of another living breathing creature.

Next we went to the Billy Goat Tavern under the Wrigley Building. I was lucky enough to interview Sam Sianis, the original owners nephew. He is a kind and funny man who is hard to understand at times because of his accent. When i asked him if he has lifted the curse of the Billy Goat off of the Chicago Cubs he simply said that he has tried but the Cubs are not helping. He said he has had many people from all over the world and that he has had Actors, Mayors, Governors, and even Presidents visit his tavern. He also said that he and Mike Royko were like brothers. After we talked he gave me a free cheeseburger and a coke, which was nice of him and i was quite hungry.

We moved on to go to the Cubs game but sadly we got rained out and went to a rather large mall instead. As the girls shopped i wandered of into the wet streets to see what i could find. I walked past at least three BEAUTIFUL churches. Along this walk i almost got hit, was mistaken for a bum, and decided wet converses are horrible to walk in.

After we all got back together we headed to a restaurant called Ann Sathers that Prof. Tomlinson said has the best cinnamon rolls in Chicago. Sadly the restaurant was closed and we were all pretty hungry so we started walking toward the Biograph Theatre were our play was at. I was under the assumption that we were going to stop and eat but nay the great Greg Tomlinson said to march on. So thus began what would be dubbed the Greg Tomlinson March. This hell march had to extend two and a half miles past many food establishments through rain and on wet cold feet. It did not help that we were cold wet and hungry and Prof. Tomlinson made us carry him, took my rain jacket and used poor Kristen as a pack mule. Ok he didn't do that i was just making a funny.. When we finally reached the promised land that was the Biograph we ate at a near by restaurant. Sweet potato fries have never tasted so good.

May 16

So today we went on an architecture tour of the Auditorium Theatre, went to the Art Institute of Chicago, The Tempest at the Steppenwolf Theatre, and Macbeth.

Today was clear skies and a wonderful temperature with a pleasing breeze. We bought our tickets for the architecture tour at a local architecture store, ironic. I lost my ticket while we were looking in the shop so i had to go and charm the women there to give me another. They did. It might not have been so much my charm rather than the green wrist band that proved i had already paid to get in. Anyway the Auditorium Theatre is amazing. It is the biggest man made space i have ever been in. the stage can be made into 23 configurations that can extend up to 93 feet across. It seats up to 4500 and has seen everything from Phantom of the Opera to the Greatful Dead. There are lights all the way across the three giant arch's that are gold painted. there are murals on both walls and an arching one above the stage. It is 127 feet across and the acoustics are PERFECT. It was an amazing theatre. I would love to see a play there.
The Art Institute was our next stop on the perfect blue day. We were greeted by the bronze lions that are on either side of the front steps of the institute. These lions are adorned with Bears helmets whenever the team goes to the Super Bowl. Inside you are automatically greeted with a grand set of marble stairs. I made my way to the top of the stairs and started in the the Medieval arts section. This area is dominated with catholic influenced art that i did not really care for. The European modern art section was really interesting. I saw Picasso's and other famous paintings. I really enjoyed the photography section. The photos that i saw really showed a lot of feeling. Then there were others that showed enough to be interesting but left you feeling that their was more to the picture. The sculptures in the Institute were amazing. I saw Samson and the lion and a Adam and Eve painting i really enjoyed. The Institute is so huge though. There is no way that you could see everything without a guide. I got lost multiple times even with a map. Although while i was lost i saw amazing works of art. I saw everything from Hindu religious statues to a statue that was just a pile of chalk.
The Tempest at the Steppenwolf was and amazing play. The theatre kind of reminded me of pictures of the Globe theatre the way the seating was, it just wasn't as big. The play was amazing though. They Incorporated a projector to convey colors and feelings onto the blank stage. There were a lot of vibrant colors to contrast the grays and blocks of the stage and black wall. I most enjoyed the scenes with Ariel in them. I just really liked that character and seemed to connect with him. His main motivation to complete Prosperos tasks quickly and efficiently is to be set free and be able to return to the elements. This is really how i feel in the school year with all my work, i just want to finish it so that it is satisfactory so that i may be set free. After the play we took the elevated train way out into a neighborhood and walked to see Macbeth. The show was in a very small theatre and was an all woman production. I liked the acting and it was good, but the set had a very high school feel. That was the aspect i was disappointed with was that we traveled so far and the play had a high school feel to it. I would like to reiterate that the acting was good though. Afterwords we traveled back to the hotel and hit the sack.
It was defiantly an eventful two days and we had fun and experienced many things. Colter will fill y'all in on what happened today. I am excited though to see were our travels will take us in the coming days.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Day of Driving (Garrett)

We left this morning at the ungodly hour of seven o'clock. I Know some of you have real jobs and get up at five and six, but i sleep till nine. Everyone was on time...ish except Colter and Prof. Blakely. Colter was entirely to peppy as we all noticed when he practically pranced out of his car. But we left around seven thirty and began the ten hour drive to Chicago, culture, and Gino's Pizza. As we got on the highway and headed north everyone promptly went to sleep. Or at least that's what i think happened because that's what i did. They could have all been awake and making fun of me and i would never have known.
We arrived in St. Louis around noon and proceeded to find a place to get our grub on. When we pulled into an old warehouse district Colter promptly pointed out the Mississippi and brought up Mark Twain. This put ideas in my head of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and building a raft to sail the river on. Which would probably have been a bad idea because i would have been run over by a barge. Anyway the streets were made of cobblestones which really interested me for some reason. In our search for food we did find Big Daddy's "The Best Bar in the Whole Wide World". Which must mean that it is the best bar because it is in writing...right? We did not eat at Big Daddy's though. We ended up in front a place called Show-Me's, ironically this restaurant is located in the show me state, a kind of bar and grill from the looks of it. It looked innocent enough and as we walked in i was going to make the comment it was like Hooter's without the girls, then i saw the waitress's and realized it was basically Hooter's except the girls were in hot pink shorts. Well we had gone that far so we stayed and ate. I ordered what i thought would be a decent sized chili dog but instead got the Hogzilla of hot dogs. this thing had to be a foot long. After i proceeded to devour the monster dog we noticed the ceiling was covered in dollar bills signed by different groups. We left one from RSU for the Show-Me girls to put on the ceiling.

After the great Show-Me's experience we headed over to the Arch. The park on the way that you walk through is beautiful. The Arch is pretty amazing itself. It is entirely stainless steel and is amazing to see on a sunny day. we took a lot of pictures and i even got to climb the steps on the river side that made me feel like i was in Rocky.
After the Arch we continued on the road and i proceded to sleep most of the way to Chicago. We ordered Gino's while we were still in the suburbs of Chicago so that it would be ready when we got to the hotel. Prof. Blakely and I went inside Gino's to get the pies and the pizzeria did not disappoint. Every inch of the inside of the restaurant is covered in signatures and writing. Even the Asteroids machine was written on. As we waited for the heavenly aroma that was or two pies we gawked at the sheer magnitude of scribbles on the wall. Sadly i had forgotten my Sharpies in the van so we had to go without leaving our mark on Gino's. We took a few pictures of the pizzas and then waited with watering mouths for the chance to taste the steaming morsels in the Gino's boxes. The hotel was nice and as we unloaded out of the van everyone eyed the Pizzas as if they might be stolen. when we finally got to dig in we were not disappointed they were delicious. It was like a slice of heaven covered in a single sausage patty with a corn bread crust had fallen into my mouth.
We then decided to have a look around Chicago before turning in. We went and saw the Picasso which had a hockey helmet with the numbers "09 on it to stand for the city wanting their hockey team to win the Stanley Cup this year. The Red Wings are going to win so this gesture is futile. We also walked through the theatre district and tried to get rail cards, key word there is tried. We saw our reflection in the cityscape lit Cloud Gate or as it is locally known as the Bean. There was a place were they had taken out a building from in between two other buildings. The silhouette left on the two standing buildings looked like the outline left from a burn victim. We all looked and tried to absorb as much as possible. The the lord we are here for more than tonight because the little taste was not enough.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

All That Jazz!

Shalom and good day to you, my fellow Hillcats!

I am Colter Sharon and I am a sophomore majoring in History and I am reporting live from Gotham...uh...Chicago.

The time is now 12:35 at night and while this is technically the second day of the trip, I'm just now getting to set down to tell you about the beginning of this journey. We left our little Harvard on the Hill at precisely 7:30 am (after I arrived late) and began the long and trying journey up into the section of the country that we Oklahomans simply refer to as "up there". After a few hours of dozing, horsing around, and trying to pass time, we heard the valued words "We're here." Here, of course, was our first stop: St. Louis.

After having lunch on the banks of the Mississippi River, we took a little detour and took pictures of the famed Gateway Arch. To me this amazing experience was also an ironic one. This arch symbolizes the opening of the great frontier, our land, Okie land. Once we crossed the river, we would be in "Old America". Suddenly, everything changed for me as I had a startling revelation: this is real.

After another agonizing period in the beloved (cough) RSU van, we finally reached the Chicago Metropolitan Area at about 7:00. This was pretty funny as we had yet to see one sky scraper and were finally informed that we were still forty miles away from the Loop (downtown). Epic fail! With that in mind, we decided to make the best of a bad situation and ordered two pizzas from Gino's. Now, most of you might be wondering why this is so special. Well, let me just say that Gino's is no Pizza Hut! This pizza is quite possibly the best pizza on the face of the planet. Deep dish, corn meal crust, and one big piece of Italian sausage covering the whole pie! Three words: Oh. My. God.

After getting our pizza and hotel rooms, we set out for a introduction to the Windy City. In the course of an hour and a half, we saw the Sears Tower, Millennium Park, The Chicago Theatre, the Picasso in Daley Plaza, and much, much more. As one of my classmates recalled, "You could write a novel after this one night." Indeed, she was right, and we've only just begun...

I'll be filling you guys in later if I don't pass out from all of this first.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Night Before (Garrett)

Hi my name is Garrett and along with Colter I will be writing about the Chicago at Large trip.
We started class on Monday and were issued our Chicago "Bibles". These things were MASSIVE. I took Zoology last semster and the book for that class wasn't even as large as the print out Prof. Tomlinson gave us.
The group who decided to come seems pretty cool. I havn't learned everyones name yet, not because they're not memorable but because I am bad with names, but i'll get on that. Prof's Blakely and Tomlinson are leading the group which should be pretty cool. This is my first expierance with them and the RSU theatre people and so far its been great (did i mention i was an Environmental Conservation major?).
We have had to pick out a subject about Chicago to write a presentation and paper about. I chose the culinary aspect. There are some really cool places with some intense history in Chicago. For instance the Billy Goat Tavern's original owner and his goat are the reason the Cub's are so horrible. Or there is a deep dish pizza place called Gino's were the original owners hired a cook from a rival resturant and used the other resturant's recipe to create their deep dish recipe.
There are other cool stories about the resturants we will go to that I will write about later.
I am real excited for this trip. I have been to big west coast cities before like Oakland and San Fran but never to really see what the city is like. I'm super psyched about all the theatre we will be seeing i think we are seeing somewhere around ten shows in half as many days plus site seeing, museums, resturants, and a Cub's game. Either way this will be a cool trip and i will fill you in as we go.