After nearly three days of driving covering around 1000 miles of quite boring flat landscape on the I90 we have arrived in Chicago. There is nowhere to camp in an RV in Chicago itself (according to the Chicago Tourist Board) so we have resorted to a couple of nights of relative luxury at a hotel near to the airport which welcomes you to park your RV in its car park provided you are staying at the hotel.
To get into town, we took the free hotel shuttle to the airport and then the Blue Line from O’ Hare
which takes about 45 minutes to get to the centre
and then we were able to ride on the famous above ground
section of the L with its iconic stations
and its right angled track corners around which the train squeels.
In my opinion Chicago has some of the best old
skyscrapers and artistic modern ones in the USA.
Some of the designs are pure history.
There is also a lot of modern sculpture scattered around which makes the city feel quite a lively place.
One of the best views of town is from the top of “The Sears
Tower” (now renamed the Willis Building).
1450 feet up
on the 103rd floor you get a very high up view of town
looking south towards a departing thunderstorm
north towards the business district
looking east in a view which includes the Buckingham Fountain which we have come to see from closer up – here just peeping around the red building in the centre of the photograph
and us with the fountain in the middle of the photo
It is also infamous for the fact that you can stand on a glass floor protruding out of the skyscraper at a height of 1450ft and look straight down to the ground held up by 1 inch of glass!
Lou Mitchell’s on West Jackson says it is at the official start of Route 66.
It is an iconic place which trades on its name, its history, its style, its menu (very long and complicated) and its good value. So we went there for lunch. Every customer who enters is presented with a Donut Hole (if they are male) – this is a donut made from the dough which presumably is punched out of the centre of a ring donut or a “Milk Dud” (if they are female) – this it a very soft toffee covered with soft chocolate.
The inside is classic
with counter seats
booths and long tables
with some Route 66 memorabilia
but it does not overtrade on its history unlike some other places we are due to visit over the next four weeks.
So why all this effort to get to Chicago?
To cut a long and personal story short, 43 years ago when we were both students, Pat and I went to Chicago for the weekend whilst she was working at Camp Dellwood in Indianapolis and I was working in Hamilton City California. I spent two days riding Greyhound Buses across America to see her. 43 years, two sons and two grandsons later, this is a visit to old haunts including the famous fountain in the park by the waterfront (the site of our first kiss) and a ride around the El.
Did we get to the fountain? No, we never got to it!!! When we got to the entrance of the park our progress was stopped by a large fence
and numerous security guards who would not allow us in to the park to go to the fountain because of a pop festival which was taking place that day.
No matter how much we explained the 43 year story, Lollapalozza won and we were not going to be allowed in. And so the closest we got were the photographs above where you can just pick out the fountain in the background but we did get to buy a postcard which featured the fountain!
200 miles south, Camp Dellwood was open so at least this part of
memory lane worked and we were able to visit old places which were virtually unchanged from when we were both 20.
And to complete the memory lane element, we visit someone whom Pat was working at the camp with 43 years ago who lives in the area but right out in the country down a long track through a field. It was nice to meet you again Debbie after all of this time
and to see the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in your garden.
We are thinking of returning to Chicago for a quick 4 day holiday sometime in the future, hopefully when the park is open!
Now it is back to Route 66 and down the road to LA.