Chicago | Always Fun to Visit

by Melanie and Jim

On our way back to Iowa from southern Ohio, we made a two-night stop in the Chicago area. Before we moved to Iowa in 1992, we lived and worked in the Chicago area. Though we’re glad we don’t live there, it’s always fun to go back, like visiting an old friend.

Chicago offers much to see and do. We had a big day ahead, with some firm plans and a lot of time for spontaneity. Under blue skies and in low 70s temperatures, we were ready to enjoy it.

To make getting around simple, we stayed in the suburb of Oak Park at the Write Inn. It was one block from the birthplace of Hemingway, three blocks from some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, two blocks from eateries, and three blocks from the ‘L’ train station, our means of getting into the city. Oak Park is also short miles from Brookfield Zoo, where we spent the day before.

First we needed breakfast. The day before we asked a waitress at a Vietnamese restaurant where to get breakfast. She said go to George’s. That was good advice. We had breakfast, dinner, and breakfast the next day at George’s.

To use the L trains, we each bought a 24-hour pass for $10. That allowed us to leave our car parked in the garage used by the hotel. We were at the Loop on State Street within 25 minutes. After a walk of a few blocks, we crossed Michigan Ave and entered Millennium Park to enjoy the beautiful morning and do some people watching.

One of the features of Millennium Park is the sculpture Cloud Gate, also commonly known as The Bean. It is the work of Anish Kapoor and was the winning entry out of 30 submitted. The bright shiny surfaces are curved in convex and concave ways, giving countless distortions of the skyline and the people. As with many successful public sculptures, people seek it out, interact with it, and feel moved by it.

We sat for a long time in the shade watching people come and photograph themselves in many ways. Some stayed outside of the Bean in the bright sunshine. Others walked under it. It was almost like pilgrims coming to a shrine to pray. The whole plaza had the sense of a celebration.

We noticed a building with window washers at work on a scaffold about halfway down its face. Fortunately, disaster was avoided when the two workers quickly scurried onto a balcony just in time.

That evening, we took the L up to Wrigley Field, home of the World Champion Cubs. Our children gave us tickets to see James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt. It was a memorable evening. Great music, perfect temperatures, and seats on the field in right-center. The place was full with over 40,000 fans.


The Tally

We have done a lot of traveling this summer. Melanie tallied the numbers the other day and came up with this.

“5200 miles since 6 weeks ago. Iowa Missouri Nebraska Wyoming Montana Colorado Illinois Indiana Ohio. I don’t think we were in Kansas, but that’s possible. We’ve been to several museums, a MLB game, hiking in the mountains, swimming, soaking in hot springs, a pork throw-down, a family reunion, the James Taylor-Bonnie Raitt concert in Wrigley field, Brookfield Zoo.

We’ve spent time with all 3 of our children (and Perry) and all 7 grandchildren and nieces on both sides of the family and other assorted family members and other assorted non-family members. We’ve stayed in — good grief — I don’t even know how many different places overnight, including our car. We’ve eaten way too much and worked most of it off. We’ve danced and laughed and cried and reveled in the wonders of our travels.”

We aren’t finished. On August 21, we meet our daughter and two grandkids to drive into Missouri for the eclipse. That will add 500 miles. In September, we have a long train ride scheduled. We’re looking forward to someone else doing the driving on that trip.


8 thoughts on “Chicago | Always Fun to Visit

  1. shoreacres

    Now, wait. Is that praying mantis a sculpture, or an after-the-fact addition by some creative photographer? In either case, it’s hilarious, and really well done. That was a giggle.

    I’ve seen many photos and entries that revolve around the Bean. I liked the alliteration in the video title, too. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time, and I know you’ll enjoy the eclipse. I certainly do hope you have good weather for that!

  2. Jim R Post author

    The mantis attack was intended to give a giggle. Glad it worked. We sat and looked up once in a while as the scaffold and workers slowly progressed down the building. I imagined the crane structure holding them as some sort of giant insect reaching its arms out. Well, it had to be a mantis. I told Melanie I needed to get a picture and photoshop a mantis into the scene. She looked at me kind of funny.

    Three weeks until the eclipse. I have been waiting a long time. It has to be good weather. 🙂

      1. melissabluefineart

        Back in 1974 my parents probably could have chosen that but they preferred to head for the open spaces at the end of the train line. All these years later I’m sorry to say that the open spaces are filling in, and not well. We live in a rising tide of uncouth development and are anxious to be able to leave.


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