Chicago

It felt a little like cheating to fly to Chicago. Traveling by train and by bike (and even by car) you are so much more a part of the landscape. Getting all the toiletries to fit in the little plastic bag, cinching tight the straps of my pack to make sure it will fit in the overhead compartment, eating my salad before security so the dressing doesn’t set off any alarms – these are some of the challenges of air travel. On the other hand, it was fun to fly over the cornfields and soybean fields and more cornfields and soybean fields and the occasional town where I suffered in the heat on my bike this summer.

Cheryl, my friend from last summer’s NorthernTier, met me at the airport in her shiny VW bug. I was in good hands right from the start. Cheryl is the penultimate hostess, anticipating everything I might need before I knew I needed it. I slept in her Plantation Room, decorated with items from a WomanTour trip she took in the South.

On Wednesday, we lucked out with incredibly beautiful clear blue skies and temps in the high 70’s. We took the commuter train into the city. Walking through the streets, I had a sense of deja vue seeing the El go by on tracks ahead and crossing one of the many bridges over the Chicago River. We passed the Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve bank (with a demonstration outside calling attention to the inequities of wealth in the U.S.) on our way to the Segway tour.

If you’ve never had a chance to ride on a Segway, try it sometime. It took a few minutes to figure out how to balance, and make it move the way you want to go but it’s a really fun way to travel. Our first stop was in Grant Park where we stopped at Buckingham fountain.

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We toured around the water front, seeing Soldier’s Field, the Field museum, the amazing skyline and Lake Michigan. At the end of the tour, we were right near the Chicago Institute of Fine Arts. I had heard that they have a great lunch,and indeed, it was. There is a little thrill you get when seeing the original artwork of famous paintings. There was American Gothic,familiar paintings from the American Art class I took in college and many Impressionist paintings. We wisely decided to pick and choose which galleries to visit as there are so many.

Not far from the museum is the famous Bean sculpture that I first heard about from my daughter when she lived in Chicago. Cheryl and I had fun scoping it out from different angles.

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Back in the train station, we stopped at Garrett’s popcorn. I had seen long lines at another of their shops. The Chicago Mix is caramel corn with cheese popcorn. It sounds strange but it’s delicious. I’m taking mine with me on the train today. Cheryl ordered up Chicago style pizza for dinner that has a thick crust and the cheese on the bottom. Another delicious treat.

I had thought on this trip I would be checking things off on my list of places to visit. Instead, I’m finding that I want to come back to D.C. and Chicago to see more things.

Soon, I’ll be heading back into the city on the train, this time with popcorn in my pack. My train to Flagstaff, Arizona is waiting for me at Union Station. It’s hard to leave on another gorgeous day with temps reaching 80 but more adventures await!

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1 Comment

  1. Francie

     /  October 6, 2011

    so I’m imagining you right now chugging along on a train through corn and soybean fields…
    beautiful blue skies here – crisp fall weather – the JH picked up a huge pile of dropped apples for the Cider Sale this weekend

    Reply

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