Ray’s Bucktown Bed and Breakfast: Chicago, Illinois

Ray’s Bucktown Bed & Breakfast would, by its name, lead a traveler into thinking it’s just a regular bed and breakfast. What Ray should really call it, if he wants people to realize how different it is from other b&bs off the bat is Ray’s Bucktown Comfy Bed and Made to Order Breakfast. But really, I can see why he wouldn’t want to bother with a name change so… off-putting and inconveniencing. Nonetheless, this is the first thing about Ray’s you should know: he doesn’t just make you any ol’ breakfast. He also doesn’t just put food out on a counter for you to sift through yourself. Instead, he gives you a menu, a full-on menu filled with things like stuffed French Toast, poached eggs, and vegan sausage (you can have real meat too but the vegan meat? That’s a lot harder to come by at a bed and breakfast). He and his staff make your breakfast to order, a la carte if you wish or a serving of the daily special.

Outside of breakfast, Ray’s does the unique and yet clean and refreshing inn thing just right. Ray’s a photographer and his walls are decorated with framed pictures throughout. I’ll bet at least one of these images sticks with you long after you’ve checked out of Ray’s. The sloped white floor beneath the couches in the living room is no accident—that’s where Ray used to have his photography studio. The man has also written some books on pottery and gorgeous pieces painted in bright colors line the shelves in the kitchen. A giant curved map of the world is the first thing you’ll see when entering Ray’s. A bowl of tootsie rolls available for the taking is the second.

The rooms are all different from each other. One upstairs includes his old work desk—a huge hunk of a thing, giving any guest of that room the opportunity to have a real, functional desk. The room I stayed in was cool. Titled the Skylight Room, it did have a beaming skylight above the bed. The room itself had a couch, walk-in closet, tv equipped with every kind of cable channel possible, and a door that exited directly out to a two story drop into the garden. Luckily, the door is more or less covered in a fence and overgrown ivy. You’d have to really want to walk off of that ledge—it’s not gonna happen by accident. Down our stairs (yes, we had our own staircase in our room) was the bathroom. It had a jacuzzi bath tub and next to it sat Ray’s bath soap—made from olive oil.

I can’t think of a reason anyone who wanted to be near Wicker Park/Bucktown wouldn’t stay at Ray’s. It’s eclectic, more than accommodating, and conveniently located.


Cascade Drive-In Movie Theater: West Chicago, Illinois

I was in Chicago. I wanted to go to the movies. Passively–that’s how I wanted to go. I knew, somewhere in the back of my head, that I’d like to, well, maybe like to, see that new Twilight movie. You know. For shits and giggles. But I wasn’t going to go hunting down a movie theater when there was so much more to do in the big city. And so I didn’t hunt one down. It kind of fell in my lap.

“You guys wanna go to the movies tonight?” my friend, Kevin, asked Ben Britz and me. Kevin had pulled up the website for the Cascade Drive-In Movie Theater. It flashed on the computer screen in the studio basement of his office in Wicker Park.

“It’ll take 45 minutes to get there” he told us. And the movie started in 55 minutes. Hurriedly, we jumped in the car, grabbed some things at our apartment, and headed out toward the suburbs, West Chicago to be exact, guided by the iPhone’s NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE but still handy GPS app.

We arrived a few minutes into the DOUBLE feature’s first film, Inception. We paid $9 each for two movies and the ability to sit in our own damn car and do our own damn thing while we watched the movies. Infer what you wish. We talked through the movies without care and heard every line at top volume with a simple accurate tuning of our radio–88.5.

The night was perfect. It was summer. It was periwinkle, subtly backlit by the city’s faraway glow but alive with the twinkling white dots of a star-blanketed sky. The temperature was perfect enough for the couple that belonged to the straight ahead car–they were sitting on the car’s hood, arm in arm. The screen was massive enough that their silhouettes didn’t block our view.

All in all, I promise you this, traveling to the suburbs was never before such a good idea.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz

The Alley

Back in March, 2008, I went on a little spring break vacation to Chicago, Illinois. When you hear the word Chicago, also known as “The Windy City”, some thoughts that come to mind are The Sears Tower, or Millennium Park. These are both fun and popular places to visit while in the city, but there is one place that I think more people should know about. The Alley, located on 3228 North Clark Street, is one of the most interesting clothing stores that I have ever set foot in. With it’s big black and silver sign on top of the door, it’s pretty hard to miss! When you first walk into The Alley, you may be a bit confused. It looks like you just entered one of the biggest leather shops of all time! But don’t get too nervous, just keep walking! Once you pass that part of the store, you will go down a few steps and find a room full of T-shirts. Pick one that is already pre-made, or pick out a design and get it printed on any kind of shirt you want! Continue reading