May 22, 2012

Last week's birthday

Last Wednesday GABROEN was a birthday girl, and to celebrate the occasion we made a sunset cruise along Chicago's lakefront. Captain Chris came waggling like a true sailor to meet us at Dusable Harbor right in the heart of downtown and invited us onboard the "We're gonna need a bigger boat" motor yacht for a cruise with just GABROEN, the birthday girl's mom Marianne, Captain Chris and first man Patrick (who seemed to have come along mainly untying and retying the ship and for the captain's companionship). Not that the captain needed his companionship, as he found a capable navigator in Gabriella and a companion in Marianne.

The cruise came with champagne, and the captain outdid himself by bringing along bottles of the birthday girl's favorite Veuve Clicquot. It was our version of the Wednesday beer can race that is organized weekly by the Chicago Yacht Club - they were out till just after sunset, but after that we had the lake pretty much to ourselves. And our drinks definitely tasted better...............
It was a perfect evening: clear blue skies, a little chilly on the lake, and an orange/pink/indigo sunset. The colors made Navy Pier look like Venice, and anyone who has visited this in daylight knows that that is quite a feat. Captain Chris entertained us with old and new stories of the city, including the times when the Navy (and George W Bush) actually practiced landing fighter jets on the pier as if it was an aircraft carrier. Or that he was out on a cruise the day before us for the 30th anniversary of a Russian couple, where the groom with guitar and all serenaded the bride against the backdrop of severe thunderstorms, and Chris didn't understand a word but was very touched nonetheless.

The skyline's starkly contrasting silhouette against the evening sky was breathtaking, and made for a very peaceful and almost meditative experience.
The only disturbances were helicopters patrolling the lake front, and the US Coast Guard speeding along the lake in their strangely designed zodiac boats with machine guns, all in preparation for the NATO summit that took place over the weekend. But that only added to the experience of watching the vibrant city while bobbing quietly on the little waves of Lake Michigan. This is by far the best venture point to enjoy the skyline lit up with thousands and thousands of lights.
 And not only that, it's also a pretty good pastime for a birthday. Happy birthday, sweet Gabri!


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