Good evening Lj readers,
how are things? Hopefully well. I : am back! from a recent trip I had a chance to take to Chicago. My friend Eric had a general plan to head up and visit his brother (Jeremy)'s family, who lives up there, and I was specifically planning to go. So we combined them and were all set.
An original plan I had was to fly, and Eric to drive. Instead I just drove up to E's (and my old college town) place in Bowling Green and then he drove the rest of the way, largely via toll roads. E's family nicely had an i-Pass
, one of those self-playing toll scanners in the car, so we did not stop often.
After getting some gas at a Circle K
which not only was across the street from another Circle K
but also had multiple signs helpfully explaining that gas was $2.22, but if you had a gas membership card it was only $2.23 (yes, a penny more!) we were off. The fields of Indiana held several enormous irrigators, those over-sized sprinklers designed to water entire crops at a time. I had never seen so many - one or two were even on.
We stopped in a Starbucks
at a rest stop E, having driven this route before, was familiar with. The store nicely had a drink I had not yet tried in Ohio, a lime-flavored refresher
(complete with real lime slice, on top!).
* Sunday (part 1 of 2)
Today was an "explore downtown" day. I had printed off some coupons to local eateries, so we drove downtown (about 20-something miles from their suburb, southwest of the city) and parked 'underground'. We walked to an Indian place for which I myself had a coupon, however alas a special event was going on so we instead went to the place I had a 'dinner' coupon for just down the street. I was fortunately able, in the same lobby (it was a 'hotel' eatery) to swing into a Starbucks
to get a since-discontinued "local" gift card (one made just for whatever city is on it) to add to my collection.
* Sunday (part 2 of 2)
From there it was on to Cloud Gate
(i.e. "the bean", as locals call it), the huge mirrored sculpture in the downtown park. Lots of people! Nearby towering monolith fountains had their trademark unusual electronic screens behind the water, with projections of giant slowly-moving faces on it as well. At a nearby tea place I tried rare purple Yunnan tea and a tasty buckwheat-flour-based scone which was also good. Then it was on to a Starbucks Evening
store (near the car), which serves wine & pizza after 4! I myself don't usually drink wine, but did get a glass of white and a pizza.
Nearby was the (free!) Museum of Contemporary Photography
, whose current exhibit was pictures from day to day life in North Korea. After that we headed back to the car, and home.
On this day Eric stayed at the house to socialize with his brother Jeremy, wife Holly and their two children, Connor and Cayden. Cayden was almost 3 and was fun to play with. The whole family was nice.
Earlier, E nicely dropped me off 'south' of downtown, at the University of Chicago. It was Labor Day so not a lot of students were out. I walked around the old part of campus, with its many church-steeple-based buildings and ivy-adorned walls. This 'quad' area had two gates leading into / out of it, and a small lake with a stone bench, fish and pathways inside. The physical sciences building was open, so I poked around there.
Afterwards I walked further east, looking for the Osaka Japanese garden on the west shore of Lake Michigan, however instead just finding a nice landscaped beach area. I rested for a moment, then gave Eric a call to swing by and pick me up.
* Tuesday / overall
Although it was rainy, Today E and I headed out to the 'north' part of the city. The Lincoln Park suburb of Chicago is nice - old trees and fancy homes. We had lunch at a local eatery, then headed to a record / (free!) pinball store, Logan Hardware
. Alas the game room was being worked on that day.
From there, it was on to the (also free) Lincoln Park Conservatory
, a pretty series of greenhouse rooms with a number of colorful flora and fauna, including a koi pond and even a rattlesnake
plant, a flower whose leaves have a leaf pattern embossed within them!
Just south of the greenhouse was the Lincoln Park Zoo
, also free and with a number of animals (including sea lions, lizards, panthers, frogs, lemurs, desert cats, snakes, monkeys and even a lion). It was raining, but we ducked around and later each bought a rain poncho before leaving. The next day, Wednesday we drove back to Ohio! (and then me home, from Bowling Green).
Overall it was great to visit. Jeremy and Holly's house is the first / last on the block and their backyard is literally a pretty, slow-moving river. Holly's garden does well there also.
For a gallery of all 12 pictures, one may click here
Okay. Have a good night!