Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 6 Chicago Adventure June 8, 2009 Monday

Captain’s Blog

Chicago Adventure, Oak Park Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and Studio, Fallingwater
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I will preface this entry by stating that by the end of this day I was in pain, exhausted and obviously experienced temporary amnesia relative to who I am traveling with – ROBOT MAN!!!!!

The day began bright and early at 6 AM. Ron took Jewel out for a walk while I set our clothes out for the day. While we were getting ready Jewel became very quiet and sulked on the couch. I’m not sure how, but she knows when we are going to leave her behind.

We caught the train at Beverly Shores and
began our adventure. The train was very nice, clean and comfortable. We opted to sit on the second level to get a good view of territory we have not seen before. En route to the city we were amazed at how depressed many of the communities surrounding Chicago are. Many areas were either fully or partially in ruins with many residents living in houses that looked like they should have been condemned.

Closer to the city and in the city proper were high end high rise apartment buildings with roof top gardens. Manicured parks were evident everywhere - a huge contrast to some of the outlying communities.

We arrived in downtown Chicago at 9:45 AM stopped for coffee (I had water Kelly) and shared a small cinnabon. Then the fun began.

We had done research and knew we could not see every thing in one day (or so I thought). We planned to skip the museums and headed down Michigan Avenue “The Magnificent Mile.” Downtown Chicago is absolutely beautiful with magnificent architecture, wide sidewalks with an impressive variety of plantings in an equally impressive variety of planters all along Michigan Avenue.

Some of the buildings were reminiscent of the architecture we saw in Barcelona, Spain. Only later on an architectural boat tour did we learn that the designer of those buildings originated from Spain. The newer buildings were the usual square, glass and mostly flat but beautiful anyway.

The city is immaculate and the storefronts unique. If one were a shopper with endless amounts of cash, every whim could be fulfilled. Everything was little too pricy for me.

We took a right hand turn onto Oak Beach and admired the view of Lake Michigan in front of us and behind us the skyscrapers of the city. What a unique experience big city and beach separated by a highway.

Also unique to us was the palm trees on the beach. Yes, I did say Palm trees. They were small but definitely Palms. They were in huge planter boxes so I will assume they are kept inside during the frigid winters here on Lake Michigan.

Shortly after passing the Palm trees and one hour into our city walk I developed some pain in my right foot at the Achilles tendon. Oops, did I forget to mention I was wearing new sneakers – not too bright of me since we will be covering lots and lots of territory.

We continued our walk along the beach utilizing a combination walking, biking, jogging trail. It is posted that pedestrians have the right of way but some bicyclist did not see it that way so we dodged bicycles for the rest of the day.

We continued to walk and as the pain in my foot worsened we slowed down considerably. We arrived at the Navy Pier but opted to forgo entrance because we were skipping amusement parks and museums. The area is beautiful and a fountain sits in a park across from the pier. When Ron was working in the family moving business he did some work for the military at the Navy Pier so seeing the pier as it is today was shocking for him.

Our next stop was at the boat launch for an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River. The tour lasted one hour and was very informative. The individuals who designed and rebuilt Chicago after the fire were visionaries. They looked to the future and planned accordingly. There are several moveable bridges along the river and double - decker roadways that were not common to the era. The boat tour gave a different perspective of the city. (It also gave my foot a rest)

Contrary to thinking the “Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue does not equate to one mile on Lakeshore Drive – it is more like 5 miles. Ron did offer to stop the walking tour and get me back to the train but of course I declined.

Our next planned stop - the Buckingham Fountain was a considerable distance and since we were on the wrong side of Lakeshore Drive we had to consider crossing a six-lane highway where no crossing is allowed. I walked all this way and I was seeing that fountain up close and personal.

Luck would have it that all six lanes of traffic were sitting at red lights so I made an executive decision and hit the road running or should I say limping to the center medium. Ron was shocked but hit the road and got to the medium ahead of me. While we were making our way to the medium the lights turned green – both ways and we had to stand on this three - foot strip of concrete waiting for the light to change – it did and we crossed the second three lanes heading for the fountain.

The fountains sits in a wide-open expanse, is enormous and quite beautiful. Of course, the winds had picked up and the spray from the fountain gave us a shower. It was worth the trip.

It is now 2:30 PM and we have been walking on and off for a little over four hours. I’m thinking I’m done but Ron has one more place to visit, Oak Park, home of Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to his home and studio the Oak Park neighborhood has many of the homes he designed. It is designated an historic area and we both wanted to see what it had to offer.

OK, I’ll go but not without concern- will I be able to make that walk. First we had to find and board the city train for a 30 - minute ride to Ok Park. Again we were taken aback by the poverty and disrepair of the neighborhoods on the periphery of the city. I was not sure if Oak Park would be a pristine neighborhood or in disrepair as well.

When we arrived in Oak Park there was a map in the station indicating the location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and Studio. It didn’t look too far away but it sure was. We arrived at 4:20 PM and the last tour was at 3:30 PM. Yep, we missed the tour – now it’s walk back to the train station but not until we see and photograph at least some of his homes.

The day was beautiful as was the neighborhood, although the walking became a chore and not enjoyable for me but my robot man kept on trucking and would have walked many more miles if I had been OK. Again, he offered a cab ride to the train station and being a mule I declined – again.

We caught the city train then the train back to Beverly Shores at 5:30 pm arriving at the campground close to 7:00 PM. I made dinner and believe it or not was in bed sleeping at 8:30 PM.

Oh yes, Jewel was very happy to see us both.
I wore my pedometer for the day and it read out at 16.2 miles. I’m not sure if that is accurate – I think it was more like 10 miles but felt like 100.

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