Chicago Blackhawks Training Camp Festival

First off, let me say, I love hockey.  The first signs of fall don’t make me think of Halloween or pumpkin spiced whatever.  It reminds me that hockey season is about to start.  Every September, the Chicago Blackhawks kick off the beginning of their season with a training camp festival.  It is a celebration of a new season and the fans who support the organization.

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Tickets are only $5 per person.  ONLY $5.00 people!  You do not need to be a season ticket holder to purchase tickets.  You don’t even need to know a season ticket holder to purchase tickets.  This ticket will provide entry into the festival and into the United Center for the scrimmage game.  You still have to pay for parking but even that is discounted.

The festival is an all-ages event but there is something for everyone.  From an adult perspective, there was a giant beer pong game, bags, and beer.  There was a band playing and plenty of opportunities for photo ops.

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In the parking lot, they had the Blues Brothers car, a Blackhawks race car, and a Hawks Zamboni.

Car collage

In the new atrium, you could get your picture taken in front of a mock-up of the locker room.

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There were plenty of chances for meet and greets as well.  Tony Esposito, Denis Savard, Troy Murray, Steve Konroyd, and Eddie Olczyk were all on hand this year for autographs and pictures.


Then there is the game.  First, let’s go back to the cost of attending.  Since everyone is paying $5.00/seat, the ticket is general admission.  The upside of this is that, if you get into the rink early enough, you can get a prime seat in the 100 level.  On the glass even.  The downside is that, since it is general admission, you need to get into the rink right when they open the doors to get great seats.

They play a full three period scrimmage.  Most would assume that, since it is just a scrimmage, you will not be seeing the top skaters.  Not true.  Not only are the big names (Kane, Toews, Keith) on the roster, they play through the third period.  While it’s great to see the regular players return to form, my SO and I like to see how the prospects/rookies look and maybe get excited to see what they could bring to the team this season.


And best of all, whether you are Team Red or Team white, at the end of the game you can still shout – HAWKS WIN!

Don’t forget to walk around the United Center (inside and out) at some point.  They have a new atrium area with a HUGE fan store.  Outside, you will find some great statues honoring some great players.  Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and the 75th Anniversary statue are all worth a visit.

Hull and Mikita statue

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The Cavalcade of Homes Tour

The Cavalcade of Homes Tour is a showcase of new homes and the creativity of the companies that built them.  It is a great way to visit a builder’s work if you are in the market to build new or remodel a room.  But you don’t have to be.  I love walking through model homes for decorating ideas.  My SO looks forward to checking out the finished basements (not available in all models).

The tour this year consists of 18 model homes.  You have to purchase a ticket to get scanned before you enter each house.  Tickets can be bought online or purchased at the entrance to the first home you decide to tour.  The cost this year is $12.00 but it is not limited to one day.  The tour this year runs from September 7-16 so if you didn’t see all of the homes on the first day, you can finish up the next day (or the following weekend).  We are hard-core and knocked them all out (with the exception of the homes in Ottowa) in one day.


One great thing about this tour is that, even though the houses are spread apart, they have a fantastic app that, once downloaded, you can pull up each listing and get directions to the next stop.  We started our day arriving at our first location in Sugar Grove around 11:00 am.  Shout out to our longtime friends, Greg and Rosie Millen with our favorite kitchen and bath company, Heritage Home Decor & Design.  They did the kitchen, master bath, and laundry room in this model.

Greg kitchen

We like looking at new improvements in the kitchen when we tour these homes.  It all goes on a bucket list for when we finally do remodel our kitchen.  One of the more popular attractions this year seemed to be the pull-out microwave.  Yes, you read that right.  The microwave is built into your cabinets, like a drawer.  Check it out in the photo above and in this close-up from a different house:

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Trends seem to change every couple of years with bathrooms as well.  Double sinks are great and seemed to be the norm in all of the master bathrooms that we saw.  Some had normal sized bathrooms with standard sized vanities and then some of them had this:

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I mean, come on.  It takes up a whole wall.  And it has a TV.  If I had this, it would take me twice as long to get ready.  Especially if I have Netflix on the TV and I am watching reruns of Parks and Recreation.  Or Scrubs.

Another big master bath trend is the open shower concept with multiple shower heads.  Walk-ins with benches.  Rain shower and massaging shower heads.  And stand-alone tubs.  Built in whirlpool soakers are dinosaurs now.

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Now for a couple of my favorites.  One of the models had a fireplace and a wet bar in the master bedroom.  If there was a TV over the fireplace instead of the picture, my SO and I would never leave this room.

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There was one home that had a stand-alone tub IN the walk-in shower.  It was like a spa.

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And finally, this walk-in closet.  What is this?  Maybe it’s what heaven looks like.

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This Cavalcade happens once a year in the Western Suburbs.  It is a fun way to spend an afternoon (or a whole day) together.  Even if you are not in the market to build or remodel, you would still have fun checking out the latest trends and maybe putting some of these on your “future” list.

Urban Adventure Quest – Chicago

Urban Adventure Quest is a scavenger-hunt using your smartphone.  But it is not your typical “find this item” type of pursuit.  That was my biggest concern before trying it out in Chicago.  I did not want to walk around the city just looking for the “most photographed sculpture shaped like a bean”.  Ok, that was on the “find” list, but at least the challenge that accompanied it made it interesting.

Anyway, as I explained above, this is an app that you download onto your phone.  The cost is $49/city hunt but, you can get it for a discounted price with a Groupon (of course) promotion code.  The game allows you to input anywhere from 2 to 5 team member names.  It gives you a specific starting location and, once you are there, you hit the “start” button that will take you to the first puzzle.  Here is what that puzzle looks like (and the only one I will be sharing with you):

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Two things I will recommend to you:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. This walking tour/adventure will take you 2-3 hours.
  • Bring a pen and piece of paper. We ignored this suggestion and regretted it.

The challenges/puzzles ranged from super easy to difficult.  The pen and paper will come in handy for a couple of different puzzles.  For one of them, you have to create a word find using words from a famous quote and then solve a riddle from it.  There is another challenge that requires you to fill in artists names in a blank crossword puzzle.


At Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, once the challenge was complete it was optional to take a selfie in front of this very famous sculpture.  Here is my incredibly cooperative family contribution:


What I appreciated about doing this in my own city was that we found things that we had no idea existed.  The quest showed us that there are some really cool stones embedded in the façade of the Chicago Tribune tower.  According to this article by Chicago Architecture, there are 149 of them.  Stones from the Parthenon, the Colosseum, and the Great Pyramid.  We wished we had more time to explore them all but, this was a timed competition and all.  And we were in it to win it.


The quest also took us to a beautiful piece of artwork on Dearborn Street called “The Four Seasons” by Marc Chagall.  Six Chicago scenes are created from hundreds of thousands of mosaic tiles.  It is a fantastic backdrop for taking pictures.  My photo below is a close-up of one of the clues to a challenge but does not do justice to the magnificence of the whole piece.

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Another great thing about this online game is that you are not limited to the city you live in/near.  They currently have 60+ locations to choose from.  I think this is a fantastic way to explore a new city and I can’t wait to choose my next adventure!