Sunday, August 16, 2009

Date Day: Cantigny

My online time was a bit limited last week, so I have several days' worth of posts to do. Guess I'd better make them short and sweet.

I'll start with last Wednesday, which was a Date Day for Eugene and me. Earlier this year, we decided that since we're not going anywhere on vacation this year, we should take some day off each month, drop Alex off at daycare, and spend the day together. Well, work has been so busy for me I didn't take a vacation day since late April, even though I needed some time off. I finally took Wednesday off so I could recharge.

The last time we had a Date Day, we knew in advance what we wanted to do. This time, however, we knew we wanted to do a wine tasting at Lynfred Winery, but we couldn't figure out what else to do. After looking at some of the local forest preserves, we decided instead to visit Cantigny, the home of Robert McCormick, late editor of the Chicago Tribune. The estate includes several gardens, a military museum, and the house (which is also a museum).

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the gardens. I really wanted to just sit by a body of water and stare at it for a while until I absorbed some tranquility. Although they did have a reflecting pool and some nice ponds, they were all surrounded by tall grass and other plants so you couldn't contemplate the water. How disappointing! Still, they had a gazebo and some other shaded areas that did make nice places to sit. Of course, the gardens were smaller than those at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the plants weren't identified. I guess I'm too used to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

They had an array of tanks from various wars on the ground, but we skipped the military museum. (Eugene will probably return there on his own sometime.) We did take a tour of the house, which was pretty interesting. The decor was mostly from the 30s and 40s, with Asian and European influences brought in by McCormicks' two wives. They actually had a dishwasher and a specialized ice cube maker (not a regular freezer) in the kitchen, items I didn't think existed in that era. Among other interesting items were a 70-fo0t rice paper mural in the dining room (it had been custom-cut to act as wallpaper), a concealed bar in the library (which had 22' high walls) for entertaining, and a bookcase filled with signed first editions of books by, among others, Winston Churchill and Charles Lindbergh.

After lunch at the restaurant, we drove to Lynfred for our wine tasting. Eugene had won a free tasting for two in a weekly contest. We tasted about seven wines, ranging from white to red. There was also a pear wine; Lynfred has a great selection of fruit wines, and we're joining their fruit wine club when it starts next month. By the time we made our way home, we only had about an hour to relax before it was time to get Alex.

Here are a few photos from Cantigny:

I hope I won't have to wait another three and a half months for the next Date Day!

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