Quick Chicago Vacation

Chicago as viewed from the Willis Tower looking south.

Quick Chicago Vacation

Color photo looking west up the Chicago River at dusk.

Last weekend Grace, Gwen and I along with Gwen’s friend Alica took a whirlwind tour of my old stomping grounds in Chicago. We were only there for four days, so it was really a short time, but it was nice to see the place again and it was fun to act as a tour guide for Gwen and Alica on their first trip to the city of big shoulders.

With four people, it made economic sense to drive this trip which, on the way there, we split into two days to save energy, though given the sleepy nature of my passengers, I needn’t of bothered, they mostly slept (or were otherwise occupied) all the way there:

Color collage of photos from inside the car on the way to Chicago.

Our hotel was right off of Michigan Ave and the River, so naturally we spent the first day wandering up Michigan Ave as all good tourists do and making sure we stood out as such:

Color photo of the group standing on bridge over the Chicago River.

After letting Gwen look at clothing no one in their right mind would consider affording, we headed to Wicker Park for some more affordable options. Of course, this neighborhood isn’t nearly as “affordable” as I remembered it. Wicker Park/Bucktown was pretty well gentrified by the time I left, but boy, it has truly finished off the process. It’s now a pretty and slick neighborhood for the young, hip and upwardly mobile. Even so, it was a fun stroll and I even got to visit the home of my one venture into theatrical production:

Color photo of the Chopin Theater in Chicago.

The next day we continued the tourism festival by braving the extremely long lines at the Willis Tower, an ordeal that I hadn’t suffered through since I was a freshman in college, and as my knees began to ache from standing in once place, I remembered exactly why I hadn’t been back. However, the girls got a great big kick out of it, especially standing on the glass boxes hanging out from the west side of the building. And I at least was able to acquire an obligatory Willis Tower picture:

B&W photo of Chicago looking south from Willis Tower.

We had planned on hitting the aquarium after the tower, but I really couldn’t imagine handling any more crowds so instead we grabbed some Chicago hot dogs and wandered around Millennium Park before heading to my favorite restaurant Rose Angelis for dinner.

Grace’s knee had been hurting her from the hiking of the day, so we took the car out for dinner which let us take a big Chicago driving tour/nostalgia trip after dinner. After doing some of the big land marks, including Wrigley Field, I went back up to Roger’s Park to see if I could find my last apartment. Wow, talk about a neighborhood that has changed since I left. It wasn’t exactly an awful neighborhood when I lived there, but I think you could call it a rough neighborhood. Now it was filled with neon signs and upscale coffee shops and stores. It’s nice to know that the city doesn’t stand still. We then headed south and did drive out to the planetarium to take in the skyline view. Though, at this time some passengers were needing to get back to the hotel room quickly so we didn’t get to stop. ;)

Color photo of the Chicago skyline at night.

The next morning, we meet up with my old friends Dennis and Maria and their darling son Riordan for brunch before heading out on the road for a 13 hour straight shot home. Not exactly and exciting drive, but given that almost everyone else was asleep for most of the trip, I finally was able to get caught up on This American Life and several dozen other podcasts that I’ve been falling behind in. All in all, it was a great trip, albeit a short one. Hope to go back again in a few years for a longer stay

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