Friday, April 17, 2015

Local Brewery Tour - Spring 2015

In Northern Illinois winter and summer are usually only connected by a few weeks of a spring-like season. This is the period we take advantage of local day-trips that we kept putting off during the winter. So far we have fit in a trip to Chicago (highlights in another post) and visits to three breweries we have never visited before.

Piece in Chicago has been on our radar for years, but because of its location we never made the effort to get there. It's in a nice trendy neighborhood, but the nearby crazy intersection where three major roads intersect makes navigating the area nuts. Our adventures in parking proved once again why we can't go on The Amazing Race together.

Piece is doing many things right. Their bar felt like places we used to frequent in college: comfortable and slightly dilapidated. For some reason they were playing an entire album of Run DMC songs. After settling in we got to look over the beer menu which featured about 6-8 of their own brews on tap, a few guest taps, and many bottles. The house brews are mostly session beers and cover the ranges from hoppy/malty. We enjoyed their stout, kolsch, and dunkelweizen. Our server was great and helped us make the right decision in picking the perfect size and style of pizza.

As much as we are beer and brewery fans, the true star of Piece is the New Haven style of pizza. Being from the East Coast we have a hard time finding pizza we truly enjoy in this part of the country. Tavern style thin crust and pan/deep dish is all the rage in Chicago, but we don't prefer those types to New York (or now New Haven) Style. We choose one small New Haven pie with sausage (no mozzarella, but parmesan and garlic instead)  and a small white pie with mashed potatoes and bacon. Best pizza we have had in a long time. The ingredients were fresh and the crust was chewy with a bit of char. We did not miss the mozzarella on the sausage pie.  Ordering two smalls ensured we had leftovers!

The next brewery on our list was
Scorched Earth in the northwest suburb of Algonquin. Scorched Earth is located in a small industrial park near a creek branching off the Fox River. They don't do food, but invite you to bring in your own. The space they occupy is divided into two sections by a rail separating the brewing area from the tap room. At the time of our visit nobody was working in the brewing section. The taproom decor is a mix of industrial-modern with some natural elements thrown in.  Pleasant!
We started off with flights. We
had 11 beers to choose from. We found anything labeled hoppy was in fact a bit hoppy for our tastes, but still you could tell they were quality-made products. The clear winners here for us were the Hickster, Rugged Coalminer, Der Sommer, and The Bitter Choclatier. While enjoying our beers we got into a long conversation with a father and his 22 yr old son about beers and breweries. Our tastes could not be any farther from each other, which shows that craft beer is truly a diverse industry. Anyone can find a beer they will love.


Bonus: After visiting Scorched Earth we had lunch at Duke's Ale House, a beer-focused pub, in Crystal Lake. Nice beer list (but they needed a few more stouts) including a good selection from Chicagoland. The food was the star here.....Holly had her first burger topped with a fried egg and Dave tried fries topped with cheese and BBQ Pork.
Crystal Lake Brewing was the last stop on this tour. They were a short block away from Duke's so we reccomend parking once and visit both. CLB took over a stand-alone retail location in town, which makes it a bit more accessible to the general public vs. Scorched Earth which is tucked away in a corporate park. The taproom was a large open space with a lot of communal tables and a long bar. While there we noticed a family gathering with 3 or 4 generations in attendance. Food is not available in the taproom, but BYO is welcomed.

Eight beers were on tap that day and we sampled the blonde, hefeweizen, doppelbock, oatmeal stout, and marzen. Nothing really stood out to us. They all seemed very neutral within their styles. We didn't hate them or think they were made poorly, just overall neutral. They do get bonus points for the lifeguard chair inspired tap handles and life preserver flight tray.


The verdict:
  • Piece - Must go back to for the pizza alone. The beer is icing on the cake.
  • Scorched Earth - Would visit if in the area and would choose certain product if available at a local bar.  Too far for a stand-alone trip.
  • Duke's - Would visit again if in the area - best burger we'd had in a while.
  • Crystal Lake - Would visit Duke's down the road before returning to CLB, unless they had an event like a tap takeover.

Monday, April 13, 2015

FREEing Race Chase the Book

As most of our readers know, Holly runs marathons and Dave follows along the course trying to find her as many times as he can. Friends would tell Dave he should write a book on the subject, but he really didn't see a reason to do so until he thought of the charity angle. In 2013 he wrote the e-book Race Chase: Expert Advice on Seeing your Runner on Race Day and donated the proceeds to Avon's Breast Cancer Fund in support of our Disney running team, Team AllEars. We were able to raise a couple of hundred dollars, so all good.....

Race Chase was written for both the spectator and the runner. For spectators we offer tips on navigating a race course, where to look for photo opportunities, and how to use technology on race day. For the runners we give tips on how to plan for destination races and how to coordinate with your runner on race day.

We've kept the e-commerce page, along with dedicated website racechasebook.com, up for a while but feel it's now time to close them down and migrate things to this site. The good news is the book will now be offered as a free download. Go ahead and grab a copy!

Check out the new Race Chase Page here on Team Tizzel, click on the book image in the right side-bar, or use this link to get your copy today.

If you have one of those Little Rascal moments where you enjoy what you see and want to "pay as you exit" please feel free to donate any amount of money to our Charity of The Month listed in the right side-bar.



Monday, April 6, 2015

April Charity of the Month: John Paul II Medical Research Institute

Charity of the Month is the way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

March: We sponsored Stillbrave to help children that are fighting many form of cancers. We will be donating $125 plus a matching gift to Stillbrave through their online link at www.Stillbrave.org.

April's Charity:


John Paul II Medical Research Institute

jp2mri.org

Remember the excitement surrounding The ALS Association's Ice Bucket Challenge last year? Many people rallied around a worthy cause that raised over $115 million to help those with the disease and hopefully to help find a cure.

When we participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge we were doing so in the name of all people impacted by the disease. At that time we did not personally know anyone with ALS. A couple of days after we filmed our video Dave learned a friend of his from college had ALS. Five months later Dave's friend Bob passed away.

Bob wished that any donations made in his name would go to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. So to honor Bob we are dedicating April to his charity of choice.

About the institute:
The John Paul II Medical Research Institute is a 501 (c) (3) organization that was founded in 2007 by Dr. Alan Moy. It is a secular organization that is grounded in a pro-life bioethic that respects the dignity of every human life. The Institute has chosen a name honoring the late pontiff, blessed John Paul II, that clearly demonstrates this unwavering commitment to the culture of life. More than 300 institutes and organizations engage in and support human embryonic stem cell research. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute advocates for medical research that recognizes the dignitiy of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Also, the Institute advocates a new paradigm in research to address deficiencies in medical research and unmet medical needs.

Research Themes

  • Regenerative Medicine-Chronic pulmonary disease.
  • Neurodegenerative disease (e.g. ALS, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, ADHD, Autsim and other brain diseases). To review progress report of research on Alzheimer's, please download report.
  • Personalized Cancer Therapy Research.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Holly on The Mickey Miles Podcast Episode 262

Holly joins Mike and Michelle to talk about her decision to run her first marathon, and her decision to run marathons in all 50 States.

Holly's race reports and videos are available from the grey menu items below our site banner (look for the bear).

You can find Mickey Miles Podcast on iTunes and visit their webpage at mickeymilespodcast.com.

You can listen to Holly's episode directly from this page by using the widget below. Enjoy!

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Randoms 2 - March 2015

Please do not forget to check out our current Charity of the Month: StillBrave.

 
Star Wars Card Trader

We have recently discovered a fun new app from Topps (the trading card people). Holly and Dave are both playing the Star Wars Card Trader game. It's all the fun of collector cards without the rubber bands, bent corners, and costs. Upon sign up you are given a generous amount of credits to buy packs from different collections. Each collection features different numbers of cards and chances to collect rarer cards. Each day you log in you are given more credits. Navigation is a little clunky, but we have been able to trade with each other with little difficulty. Our current goal is to collect all 8 of The Force Awakens cards before the April 7th deadline. Completing collection tasks (like gaining all the Rebel collection cards) pays an added credit bonus.

I need 2 more
Cards have fronts and backs

--------

Bloodline

We just finished watching the first season of the recently-released Netflix drama Bloodline. Excellent show! 13 episodes were released on March 20th and it was not hard for us to watch two or three episodes in a row. The basic plot is a well-respected family has to deal with the black sheep returning and he doesn't make things easy. Flashforwards and flashbacks are used to fill in pieces of the story, as well as to keep you glued to the set. Just in case you want to stay at the beautiful Rayburn House, it is actually the Moorings Village of Islamorada, FL

----

To close this post out, here's a monkey meeting puppies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Randoms - March 2015

Once the weather report is over on the 10pm news we normally flip channels for a bit, or if it was Monday Dave would torture Holly with "Love It or List It" (they never list it). Now, we've settled in on a post-news favorite: Cops or Cops Reloaded (the remastered edition). The show's concept remains highly entertaining even after 25 years since its inception. The overlooked aspects of the show are the level of compassion often displayed by the officers in warranted situations and how difficult their jobs truly are. Check out Cops on Spike TV or Country Music TV for Cops Reloaded.

One night we discovered the show Food Fortunes. It was good, but won't replace Cops in the same time slot. Food Fortunes is a knock-off of Shark Tank on Food Network. Aspiring moguls present their food items or kitchen gadgets to a panel of four financiers and a studio audience. The audience samples the product and votes whether they would buy the item or not if available in stores. Then the panel decides if they want to consider making an investment. At the end of the show they go through the investment rounds. The episode we watched featured spaghetti sauce, plastic plates, a ravioli maker, and cricket crackers (exactly what it sounds like).

We recorded the recent round of TMC's Treasures from the Disney Vault but have only watched two items: I Captured the King of the Leprechauns (a Disneyland tv show episode where Walt gives away most of the plot to Darby O'Gill and the Little People) and the short Babes in the Woods. Babes is worth the watch because it's one of the first cartoons in color, has a scary-fun storyline, and a lot going on from an animation standpoint:

---

We are almost 60 days out from our May Memorial Day Weekend trip to Walt Disney World. It's not our favorite weekend to hit The World but we are keeping vacation days to a minimum for use later in the year. On the plus side we are hitting a Star Wars Weekend and we will be there during the Magic Kingdom 24 hour event (5% chance we'll attend the event).

Sixty days out means we can book Fastpasses through My Magic+. Unfortunately Disney has not released the Star Wars event schedule, which includes Fastpass eligible presentations, so we will be booking blind and end up grossly disappointed when we have to shift things around.

We have a split stay this trip: A few night at The Boardwalk (convenient for Star Wars access at The Studios) and a couple nights at The Polynesian. Disney is opening their Vacation Club (DVC timeshare) rooms at this resort and we lucked into getting a few nights here. We imagine we won't get this lucky again. We've always wanted to stay here, but we weren't willing to pay the high price. The flexibility of DVC is making this a reality. We are looking forward to seeing the renovations, the over-the-water bungalows, and the new Trader Sam's bar.

One event that was open to book, but we were closed out of, was the Star Wars Galactic Dine-in Breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine-In.  At this event you get a photo opp with Boba Fett and Darth Vader together, a fixed breakfast menu with several entree options, and other walk-around characters to visit with while you watch a special Star Wars film package. If you are very vigilant you may catch a canceled reservation when checking the website, or you can farm out the work. Holly found the Disney Dining Buddy, a service that checks specific Disney Dining Reservations for you. She entered our request into an online form and paid them a few bucks. A day later she got a text notice that a reservation was available. She then went on Disney's site and secured our breakfast.  Very handy!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Epic Anegada Post - 2015

A few weeks ago we returned from our second trip to Anegada, a small island that is part of the British Virgin Islands.  The good thing about a second trip here is you are likely to take less pictures.   Things don't change that much since there's really not a lot of development on the island.  There were two new restaurants, a bar re-opened, and one of the hotels started setting up 7 safari-style tents on the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.

Check out some of our posts from last year to see some pictures and get our general descriptions of the locations:

------ 2 0 1 4  ------

Anegada overview
Cow Wreck Beach
Loblolly Beach

Last year's video:




------ 2 0 1 5  -------
Getting There

What a mess.   We originally were booked to fly out on a Saturday morning to Charlotte, then change planes to San Juan, and then change planes again in San Juan to fly to Tortola.  We would stay overnight on Tortola and take a small (9-seat) plane to Anegada the next day.   The flight schedule kept shifting, which always messed up our connections.  We ended up flying from Chicago to Miami on Friday, staying overnight by the MIA airport, getting an early flight to San Juan, and then flying over to Tortola.

We spent the Tortola day at the Tamarind Club, a small hotel on the East End that had a great bar and restaurant.   Lots of fun!

The next morning we got to the airport before 7:30am as instructed for our 8am flight to Anegada.  At 8am no one was at the VI Airlink desk.  We of course start panicking.  Luckily, the lady at another airline desk told us they were never on time.  A few minutes later a woman with a VI Link shirt comes over carrying a toddler on her hip. She hands us a slip of paper and tells us to proceed to security.  We go through security with a hand-written credit card slip as our boarding pass.  That's not the most bizarre thing.   She came and got us on the other side to escort us to the plane, which was an easy walk from the door.  However, we had to get into her car, with the kid in the backseat (no car seat), and ride over to the plane.

Our flight lasted about 10-15 minutes and we lucked out with a clear day for some great views.   One nice thing about the flight is the cost is not that much more than the price of the ferry from Road Town.  We have more scenes from the flight in the video.  Our flight back was a little worse.  We had to land at Virgin Gorda first and go through a few rainstorms.




Getting Around

We rent a car for the entire time we are on Anegada.  We use D&H Jeep Rentals.  The "D" stands for Dean and he is full service.  When he heard the plane fly over his house he got in the car to head to the airport.  He showed up about 4 minutes after we landed.  We rode with him to his office and filled out the paperwork.  we were given the car we rode over in, a Subaru with the driver side on the right.   On Anegada they drive on the left.  At first Dave thought this would be too weird, but it's the same configuration as a boat so it wasn't hard to get used to.  The car was actually from Japan with a lady's voice giving us some kind of notice in Japanese each time we started.  The radio was Japanese format so the FM bands did not match up with the bands we use on this side of the globe.  We relied on AM, which most of the time meant church music.

Staying and Playing



We stayed at Neptune's Treasure, which is on the south side of the island near the anchorage and ferry dock.  Neptune's is a small 9-unit family-run hotel that has a great bar scene and full service kitchen and bakery.  We received a very pleasant room on the second floor that overlooked the bar and the anchorage.  Usually we would walk along the beach that Neptune's Treasure sits on, but there was a massive invasion of seaweed that made sitting by the beach unpleasant let-alone walking through it.

This was early in the trip.  By the end of the week all that sand was covered in weeds.


Remember there's not too many activities offered on the island.  Diving, snorkeling, sail boarding, and kite surfing are available, but we did none of that nonsense.  We almost rented paddleboards... Our typical days started with a car ride either to Cow Wreck or Loblolly.

If we went to Cow Wreck the first thing we'd do is read our books for a while then get in the water with some beers until lunch.  Then we'd eat at the Cow Wreck Beach Bar (ALWAYS the fish burger.  They make a great fish sandwich with either broiled or fried flounder - either way it fantastic), go back to the chairs and read some more until around 4pm.  Our next stop would either be the Anegada Beach Club for Bushwackers, Anegada Reef Hotel for their fun Happy Hour, or our hotel for sunset and Happy Hour.











The water color would change from a light blue to a green as the sun changed position 


We brought these floats from home and hauled them around in our car.  We left them for the kids that belonged to the owners of Cow Wreck Beach Bar.

On a cloudy morning we took a three-mile walk from Cow Wreck towards Keel Point.  We did not run into another person.

Found this weird trash thing along our walk




Around 3:30 the cows come home


We prefer Cow Wreck to Loblolly because Cow Wreck has less rocks and the water is typically calmer.  Loblolly was also a bit of a further drive for us.  Since it's a little farther, you get fewer people at Loblolly.  By fewer, we mean a dozen people at one time in one place.  Since there are three bars on Loblolly people tend to spread out more.  The most popular place is Big Bamboo.   Great menu with lobster, shrimp, and BBQ items.  Crazy Richard, a hippy that comes down for 5 months from Traverse City, Michigan and sleeps under a bush, juggles for tips and will burn your name into driftwood with a magnifying glass.  This tends to draw a crowd.  The staff here (like at most places) is fun and friendly.  Flash of Beauty is the other lunch spot on this beach.  Our favorite feature there is the honor bar/fridge.   Say hello when you arrive and let them know you are going to take beers during the day, pay-up at the end.   Most of the places will run day-tabs for guests.  The final bar, which we think is named Potter's II, just opened up a few weeks ago to serve beverages only.

Loblolly Beach from Flash of Beauty


A crowded morning





By Big Bamboo



Holly makes fun of Dave for using the pole......
But the results are this...



Big Bamboo keeps their lobsters in traps and grabs what they need throughout the day

Small lobster.

We would spend a lot of time walking Loblolly in the morning exploring the rocks near the beach where tiny fish were trapped in their crevices and unusual mollusks hung onto the rocks.  We found a treasure trove of sea glass and collected quite a bit during two treasure hunts.


Happy Hours

Bushwacker
Around 4pm we usually are ready to stop lazing around the beach to start lazing around a bar.  Most restaurants want you seated and eating no later than 7:30 so you had to pack it in at some point.  We typically would grab Happy Hour drinks at Anegada Beach Club, mainly because they had awesome bushwhackers and reliable wi-fi (we know of only 4 wi-fi spots on the island).  Another favorite was the Anegada Reef Hotel.  Since they were close to the ferry dock a lot of people would stop there before heading on the ferry or onto their boats.  It was always lively and they played good soca music.

We also enjoyed our hotel's happy hour.   We would either sit near the water or at the bar.  Mark, the owner, often told stories about growing up on Anegada in the early seventies.
Took this on a cloudy night from Neptune's.  Instrgraming the photo gave it a nice quality.
Potter's was the home of the nightlife on the island.  After we had dinner there one night we moved to the bar and watched as the new bartender from Anegada Beach Club was moonlighting (or this is his full-time job) as a DJ playing a mix of reggae, current hits, and wedding favorites.  It was fun to watch a French teenager get excited about winning a bottle of rum in the limbo contest.

We visited Pomato Point Restaurant twice for drinks, but mostly to go sit on the beach outside their doors and take in the west-side view of sunset.  The first visit there were eight others on the beach.  The second visit, just us.





Dining

Last year we ate most of our meals at our hotel, Neptune's Treasures.   It was easy and most of the menus around the island are very similar.  Big lobster, several fish entrees, shrimp, and other various island favorites can be found everywhere.   This year we went to three places!!!  We ate two meals at our hotel, one meal at Potter's by the Sea (they are known for their Lobster Alfredo), and five at The Wonky Dog.  Yes, The Wonky Dog is our new favorite place.  The owners are super fun and friendly and the food was fantastic.  The Wonky Dog is not the typical Anegada restaurant because its chef-owner Peter is actually an honest-to-goodness trained chef.   Culinary treats!  We had everything from jerk chicken pizza, to cracked conch, to lobster, to bacon corn ice cream.   Goodness all over.   Their multi-course Valentine's menu was fantastic and featured an optional wine pairings.  Oh, and dinner is served at tables on the sand near the water.  After dinner one night we were the last ones left and ended up having some champagne and singing karaoke (yeah we don't do that usually).   Really fun.






Anegada is definitely not for everyone.  It's a pain in the neck to get to.  There aren't big resorts, chain restaurants, or many activities or sites to see.   Visitors have to be comfortable with a very relaxed pace, rigid dining hours, and limited selections for groceries and other sundries.   If you can handle all that along with beautiful beaches, minimal crowds, friendly people, and great food it may be a place worth visiting.  We will be back.

Here's this year's video.  We focus a bit on driving around the island so you see more than just the beaches: