It all began one sweltering summer evening in 1994 somewhere on the north side of Chicago. Alan, Aaron & Bill were in the mood for some thick crust pizza. They wondered what was the best thick crust Chicago pizzeria. After much thought and then serious debate they finally agreed that a survey or "Tour" of the local thick/stuffed pizzerias was necessary. On a small crumpled piece of paper they jotted down a few of the best joints in town. Then something wonderful happend, people came from near and far to eat pizza together. When the year ended all agreed that Lou Malnati's had the best thick crust and Duo's had the finest stuffed. And so it was settled.
Another day the following summer someone was in the mood for some thin crust pizza. Once again there was much thought and then serious debate. It was then decided to continue The Tour (111kb acrobat file) but this time it was thin crust pizza joints and people continued to come out to eat pizza together. By the year's end all agreed that Papa Milano's took the crust and Gino's had the most unique approach to serving their custormers. And so again it was settled.
In 1996 someone wanted to eat out but they were tired of all the pizza. So the question was asked, "What is the best international restaurant?". And so it began once again, much thought and then serious debate until it was decided to continue The Tour but this time it was international restaurants and the people rejoiced. By the year's end all agreed that the best international restaurant was The Pita Inn of Skokie.
When 1997 came around we were all very full from the thick and thin crust pizzas and the heavy ethnic food. It was Matty who said "How about an Activity Tour?" Various activities were performed from bowling, to water parks, a music CD exhange to WhirlyBall. At this point we didn't feel the need to determine which was the best activity only that we try to set time aside to hang out with friends.
Nobody is really quite sure what happened in 1998. There may have been a disturbance in the force or perhaps the fabric of the space time continuum had a rift or maybe we just weren't as orginizized but whatever it was there was a brief lapse for the Tour this year.
It probably was because the new millennium was quickly approaching. We also remembered that there was an artist formally known as the son of a king that once said we should "party like it was...." Then it happend again The Tour was back in full swing but this time it took on a new dimension. It had entered the digital era thanks to the mouse clicks and keystrokes of JB. Twelve good people came forth from yonder and spoke "Come to our homes, spill your beers that will be fine with us as long as it is excellent beer." And so began 1999: The Keg Tour. Thanks to design work of Mr. B,Double A and Alan the Keg Tour logo was conceived for Mr. Bloom to use when creating the t-shirts which were made in blue and black.
The year 2000 was ambitious, for one tour wasn't enough. We were on alcohol cruise control with a monthly 2000: The Tavern Tour paralled by a quarterly 2000: The Wine & Spirits Tour. On February 13 of this year we created the Yahoo Groups Tour listServ which currently has 160 members. Thanks to design work of Pauli a logo was created for use on the Taven Tour homepage as well as on the pint glasses.
As before, after two years of pizza, two consecutive years of excessive drinking made us long for some variety. We also felt the need to review years past. Borrowing the theme of Kubrik's famed 1968 sci-fi classic we sampled some highlights from Tours to date, 2001: A Tour Odyssey was born. It may have taken two years to create but we finally got around to designing and programming a Shockwave intro movie for this tour. It was also during 2001 that we purchased the domain name www.TheTours.org.
2002 welcomed parallel tours as we saw in the year 2000. We attempted to theme the 2002: Well Seasoned Tour on activities that happen during each specific season. We also created 2002: subTOURanean for folks that live in the Chicago suburbs.
We decided to revisit the 1994/1995 pizza tours with the 2003: Pizza Tour Revisited. Also a few friends had moved so we thought it would be nice to have an excuse for a little get together in their new homes. We'd like to thank these people for opening their homes for the new 2003: House Warming Tour.
Last year we had 4 hosts who have offered to open their homes for an evening of dinner and a movie. There are photos and videos online for your viewing pleasure - 2004: Dinner and a Movie Tour.
Well that brings us to date. We have come to a point in the Tour when creating a theme has become too difficult. Also many of us have become quite busy in our daily lives with job and family. We do however find it important to stay connected so the Tour must go on. It goes on this year simply at Tour 2005. This means we will have Tour dates but the calendar may appear to be a last minute thing. Maybe we'll call it the "Last Minute Tour" wait as we just said no theme this year and we mean it. :-) So from time to time expect to see an email if you are on the list or simply check the calendar which should have some dates soon.
See you on Tour.