You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
1-3 October 2021
A six-hour drive through Wisconsin's wonders, and now we're camping with Emily, Clinton, and Hazel in Chicago, IL, for a rest and a schmooze.
Hazel's welcome mat for Melvin and 'Shoopet', very thoughtful
We passed by here in June, and the home improvements since then are astonishing.
Pugsley, normally the expansive one, clearly doesn't remember us and is chary.
And Wednesday is always in hiding.
Choupette is so impressed by the welcome that he wants to sniff at it for a long time.
Choupette, after six hours on the highway, shows concern about where our car has disappeared to.
It's just down there, intact and hopefully safe for the night.
A foraging mission, victuals for the troops
The rail line, apparently the last stop for the local and a brief stop for through trains heading north. We're anticipating an authentic experience of the famous 'L' train tomorrow.
Acquiring provisions (the umbrella with 'Asti' on it makes us nostalgic)
Check cashing operations seem to be an important part of the local economy; they're nearly everywhere.
2 October, we're checking emails, reluctantly, and preparing for the day's adventure.
We've fallen in love with the arches.
Now, we're just a few blocks over for a hasty breakfast before proceeding to the train.
Charmers 'Food and Floral Cafe' is an interesting place, well recommended evidently, and serves to bring the neighborhood together. The patio ambience is convivial, luckily so in covid times, but just a few days later they began opening limited indoor seating, fully so by later in the month.
As some of our party are ordering through the window (background), we're noticing that there is a special event on offer.
It's their Fall Pumpkin and Plant Sale, featuring some very strange entries. The management hosts artisanal events periodically, and also a few days after our visit they opened an artisanal gift shop across the street called Horseplay ('cool fun pretty things').
Something for every serious pumpkin hobbyist
With a special selection of pumpkins and gourds in awful shapes
Now for the train to parts downtown
Our destination today is the Art Institute of Chicago, well known to most members of our party, not so well known to the other member, whose acquaintance with Chicago heretofore has been formed solely by O'Hare Airport.
Everything's so big!
Literature, and All Checks Cashed
The elevated railroad, called 'the L' since 1890, looms just above us.
It all looks safe enough, but let's not linger.
That, we're told, is the Art Institute its own good self.
Wow, big city; we've been dwarfed.
The Art Institute was founded in 1879, but the present building here near the lake front was opened in 1893, and additional facilities have been added on from time to time, most recently in 2009 with the Modern Wing. Over 1.8 million people show up to view the goods in non-covid years, and 'the goods' include some 300,000 art things of various kinds.
From our days traveling all over northern Italy, our cameraman has made a collection of photos of Kristin sticking her hand into statuary lions' mouths (the Venetians, in particular, stuck their lions all over their client cities in their 'Terraferma' period). This, alas, is a failed attempt.
Our tickets have been pre-ordered, for which many thanks, and we now proceed to see the goods.
Our souvenirs of the Art Institute visit are all on the next page.
We've left the Art Institute by the Modern Wing entrance, and are looking for the Bean.
We're in Millennium Park, near the 'Great Lawn' facing the Pritzker Pavilion, still looking for the Bean.
And there's the Bean, so-called in the patois, formally the 'Cloud Gate', constructed by architect Anish Kapoor between 2004 & 2006. It's surely not practical or utilitarian but will likely have many deeper meanings, or associations, or suggestions, and probably cost a packet.
It is a bit of fun to look at, and there really are clouds on it, on a clear day. It's 20m long, 13m fat, and 10m high, & weighs more than 100 tons.
Lunchtime: authentic Chicago hotdogs with everything on, pas mal du tout.
How prosperous a city like Chicago must be to be able to afford such a fun thing in this day and age.
Very pretty. At first we thought that the purple ones were spelling out a sentimentally improving message amongst the red ones, but we had to give that up after a while.
Amazing buildings. Technology is wonderful. It's hard not to wonder what it's like to work at your desk near the top of that one every day, looking down out the window, and speculating about how far it is to the ground.
Just in case.
Back out of the Millennium Park to Michigan Ave, bound for the Metro, or 'L' or whatever.
Street scenes on S. Michigan Ave
'Crown Fountain: Large LED sculpture with reflecting pool' (Google Maps)
A unmoving green cowgirl with a box out for donations (in Europe she would have been either an Egyptian mummy or Charlie Chaplin)
Scenic driving round Evanston the next morning -- just off the Sheridan Rd thoroughfare, that's the Bahá'i House of Worship ['1953 temple with intricate façade'], very impressive but we're looking for the Walker Bros. Original Pancake House.
Clinton's amazing truck
A post-breakfast exploration near the Lake Michigan shoreline
That's Lake Michigan, we've been reliably informed . . .
. . . and that's the Northwestern University 'sports pavilion'.
Walking off breakfast
That's evidently the 'Harley Clarke Mansion', seemingly abandoned but also seemingly, from the parking slots out front, occupied by city staff offices. Or something.
Classic poltergeist sort of setting
Loading up the bike for home. And now, with a fond farewell, we're off . . .
. . . through Chicago. Bound for Kokomo (said to be somewhere in Indiana)