We left Minesota after driving thro' scenic tree-covered gorges to the Missippi. The Mississippi was high due to recent rains and flooding. It seemed no time at all till we were entering the outskirts of Chicago. I 90 heads into the heart of the city. As we drove along Ohio Street we spotted a motel...Ohio House Motel with free parking for guests. Rooms are basic, clean and quiet. We found ourselves 2 blocks from the Hard Rock Cafe, the 3rd largest McDonald's and the Rainforest Cafe. And the Big Bus...hop on, hop off....stopped in front of the Hard Rock Cafe.
We walked the mile to the Navy Pier...a must see. Here there is a park, fountains that sqirted water high enough to ride a bike under, an amusement park, restaurants and many different Halloween carved pumpkin and skeleton displays. Fun.
We tried a Milwaukee hot dog here...loaded with carmelized onions, a very mild sauerkraut and mustard cheese sauce. Apparently those at Portillo's across from the Hard Rock Cafe are better. (Most kinds had hot peppers on them)
It was after 4p when we took the Big Bus and listened to Lance's humerous descriptions of places. We wound through many modern highrises sprinkled with old buildings from the 1800's and early 1900's like the Wrigley building, the limestone Water Tower and Pumphouse, Trump Tower and the 'corncob' highrises (seen in many movies where James Bond or others race up through parking garage and soar out into open space and land in the river). Due to rush hour traffic we missed the connection at stop 1 to see the first half of the tour.
Soooo we went down to O'Brien's on the Riverwalk....along the Chicago River and had a quick dinner.
By 6:15p we were lined up for the Night Tour to see the lights of Chicago. Beautiful. It seemed that most highrises had lights on. Fountains were lit although some left much to be desired. The highlight was seeing the Chicago skyline from the planetarium sitting out in Lake Michigan.
Once back to stop 1 we walked the 10 or so blocks along the river to LaSalle, crossed the river and stopped at the Fado Irish Pub for a Smittick's. We met Dave, Eric and Sam...all bartenders. Sam gave us several restaurants to try. It was after 11p before we wandered home.
9a found us having a McD's coffee while we awaited the Big Bus at stop 13. At stop 1 we walked to Michigan and across the bridge to the Shoreliner Tour Boat. We cruised the t-shaped Chicago River listening to an architect describe what we were seeing. It is amazing how many different shapes of highrises there is....from the marble facaded Wrigley building, Tribune Tower to the tall black rectangular and glass fronted buildings that mimic the river water. Some are mirrored and reflect surrounding buildings. Some like the old Post Office are huge...and empty. There are curved buildings, stepped buildings, buildings with wavy balconies to mimic waves on Lake Michigan. One is green with gold decorations said to mimic a champagne bottle. There are triangular buildings like the Intercontinental Hotel. Some lean out over the road. All shapes and sizes are here.
The water flow of the Chicago River has been reversed, a canal built to link it to the Illinois River that flows to the Detroit River and into another before emptying into the Mississippi River so Chicago's sewage is diluted more before it gets to the seas. It keeps Lake Michigan cleaner. St. Louis sends it back to Chicago as Budweiser.
As we came to the 'mouth' of the river a fire with lots of smoke was happening. We went by but were trapped by the locks along Lake Michigan and could not land alongside the Navy Pier. Once things settled down a bit we disembarked and walked acrossthe park to catch the bus back.
We got off at the old Water Tower, found our way back to Superior Street and went to Giordano 's to try a deep dish pizza....different to what we expected with its thin crust and high stuffed sides and thick thick toppings...delicious!
From here it was a short few blocks back to the Hard Rock Cafe and the Big Bus to go to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate or the Big Bean as it is affectionately called.
The Big Bean is a giant reflective silver colored bean shaped sculpture that sits at the entrance to the park.
Not far away is the Pritzker Pavilion, a swooping silver bandshell were outdoor concerts are held.
Plensa's Crown Fountain is also here. Video images of locals spitting water gargoyle style is a tourist attraction.
Nichols Bridgeway arches from Millennium Park over Michigan Ave to the Art Museum with its lions at its doors on Michigan Ave.
We caught the second last bus back to stop 13. It wound past Millennium, Grant Park and Maggie Daley Park. We stopped briefly at Adler Planetarium and listened to the info about the Shedde Aquarium as wellas the Navy Peir and the architecture.
Once back home we changed for dinner and went to the Chicago Chop House for steak....the best steak in town. Gord tried a 'dry' aged steak while I had a 'wet' aged steak. Gord's had an entirely different flavor, was saltier.
After we found ourselves back at the Irish Pub talking to Sam.
Today driving out of Chicago was a snap. We followed I 90 to I 65 and went south through Indiana to Indianapolis where we took a ring road around to I 74....and drove on to Cincinnati. I 74 took us into town. We were not impressed. There are some high rises and clusters of buildings but....We crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and found a neat little area of turn of the century houses converted to little shops and restaurants but no nearby hotels. We went on.
We followed I 75 to Richwood and are in the Econologdge. Somewhere the clock skipped ahead another hour to Eastern Daylight Savings time.
We have eaten, journalized, done laundry and are settling for the night.