The morning of my second day began with a 2 hour drive from Michigan, through Indiana (short distance) and into Chicago. I considered leaving my car outside the city and taking the train in (to avoid the traffic) but decided to drive. So I reserved a spot in a parking garage close to Wrigley field, since I was planning to attend a Cubs game that evening. So I expected very heavy traffic, for a weekday, but was presently surprised when I drove straight in with no issues. My route took me down Lake Shore drive and right past Soldier Field (Soldier Field, Wiki). Like the parks I visited the day before, as a lifelong sports fan, Soldier field is one of those legendary places that you hear about your whole life and see on TV so of course I had to stop and get some pictures…..
So just to point out, I actually lived in Chicago at one time. My father had a job at a paper-mill in the Chicago suburbs for about a year. However, I only one at the time so, needless to say, I don’t remember a whole lot about it. 🙂 Since then, aside from a few trips through the airport and one, 1 day, business trip, I haven’t been in Chicago since I was one. So it was all new to me….again. 🙂
After Soldier Field I continued on Lake Shore drive (Wiki, Images) for a few miles. It’s a beautiful drive with Lake Michigan on one side and the city skyline on the other. A lot of the public museums and parks are located along the drive and there are a couple of harbors with many sailboats and yachts. There are (of course) quite a few hotels and apartment buildings looking out over Lake Michigan. I can only guess what the monthly rent would be for one of those….$6,000+?
Once I made it to parking garage and parked my next task was to find my way to the “L” and figure out where the heck I was going (note: I often get to a new city or place and have no idea where I’m going or what I want to see….I think it makes it more exciting and spontaneous). One quick step back, the “L” (Wiki, Images) is the Chicago metro train and it stands for “elevated”. It’s definitely different than most urban transit systems that are either underground or ground level. Anyway….I found my way to the closest station, bought a 1 day unlimited ride pass and set out.
My first stop was to see Guaranteed Rate Field. What? Never heard of Guaranteed Rate Field? Well, what if I said Comiskey Park (Comiskey Park). Ah, now you know. It’s the field/park where the White Sox play. Although they were not it town I wanted to see the park….or field….or whatever you want to call it. It’s a nice field but in a not-so-nice part of the city. It’s on the South side of Chicago, where (if you know your 70’s music) Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (the bad dude in the famous Jim Croce song) was from….yeah, that neighborhood. But it is a nice park and a stark difference from the Wrigley neighborhood on the North side of the City (not sure if there was anyone in a song from the North side…anyone know?).
After that I hopped back on the L (with my one day unlimited ride ticket in hand 🙂 and headed to one of the highest places I could find of course (if you know me or have read my blogs before you know that I love to find the highest places I can (buildings, mountains, etc.) so I can take in the view and get the lay of the land.
Now, in Chicago you have many options when it comes to tall buildings and most of them have observation levels. The most famous historical building is arguably the Willis Tower, previously known as the Sears Tower (Willis Tower, Wiki). However, I decided on the John Hancock building (John Hancock, Wiki) since it was closer to area I wanted to explore. Now here’s a tip for anyone planning to visit Chicago….as I mentioned most tall buildings have observation decks and the one at the John Hancock building is on the 93rd floor called the Skydeck (Skydeck, Wiki) It provides amazing 360 degree views of Chicago; however, it’s $23 a person. Now, while I will certainly pay $23 for tickets to things I really want to see or do, those of you who know me I will always look for “alternatives” before I pay (I can hear a few of you laughing as you read this because you know me too well :-). So, here’s you tip, there is a very high scale restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building called Signatures. It’s very expensive and has a dress code….so as much as I would have loved to have eaten there (ha ha), I unfortunately couldn’t get in with my cargo shorts and UNC Tarheels t-shirt. BUT WAIT, they also have a “lounge” on the 96th floor where people in cargo shorts and UNC Tarheels t-shirts (or anything, you don’t have to specifically wear cargo shorts and UNC Tarheels t-shirts, ha ha) can sit and have an overpriced drink or lunch, for less than the cost of the Skydeck. So, since I was hungry and needed to eat lunch anyway, I hightailed it to the Signature lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building and had a delicious turkey wrap with an amazing view of Chicago while I sat and chatted with two sisters from Toronto.
After lunch I made my way back to ground level and headed down to the Lakefront Trail (Lakefront Trail, Wiki, Images). If you think you’re not familiar with the Lakefront Trail I’ll bet you are and don’t even realize it as it’s been in countless movies and is the location of many of the public landmarks in downtown Chicago. Although I didn’t have time to do most of the museums or the aquarium I took some time visit each and generally wander around the parks and take everything in……
As I was wandering around I could live music somewhere in the distance, so of course I quickly decided to wander in that direction….and boy am I glad I did! I came across a some people rehearsing in Millennium Park (Millennium Park, Wiki, Images) for something and man was it good. So I asked a very nice lady named Sharon who worked in the park and she said they were rehearing for a free concert for that evening. I would have loved to have stayed but, of course, I was attended the Cubs game that night. So I stood in the park and listened until they finished. Here is a small sample…..
Once they finished rehearsing I headed over to the famous Chicago Riverwalk (Riverwalk, Wiki, Images). It’s a pretty cool area along the river (duh) but right though the center of downtown Chicago. It’s like a little oasis in the middle of a hustling, busy city. Here are a few pics from downtown Chicago….
After walking along the river for a while I found the closest L (the Red line) and headed back to the Wrigley Park area for the game. When I walked out of the train station the street was filled with Cubs fans headed to the game. It was pretty exciting walking down Waveland Ave and seeing all of the places and things that I’ve heard of and seen on TV throughout my life. I’m sure you probably have to be a sports fan to appreciate this fully but as I walked into the park and through the hallway I was very excited just to see the field…and it didn’t disappoint. I just stood for a moment and soaked it all in….the ivy on the outfield walls, the bleachers on the roofs of the buildings along Waveland and Sheffield and the announcers both where Harry Caray (Wiki) leaned out the window and sang “take me out to the ballgame” for 40+ years. Here I was standing in history….and I have to say it was pretty cool. Like many sports fans, while the new parks with all of their amenities and beautiful architecture are very nice, I definitely have a sentimental place in my heart for the old, nostalgic parks like Wrigley and Fenway. So bring on the game!
Note: In the picture of the press boxes you can see an outlined drawing of Harry Caray. The really dark statue is also of Harry Caray. In case you did not know he was a very important part of this organization for many years.
It was a good game and the crowd (of course) was really into it….on a Monday night. It was cool watching the crowd and listening to all their chants and rituals…like throwing the opponents home run balls back onto the field. During the game I walked around the stadium (as I always do) to get views from different parts of the park and to take some pictures. During this time something really cool happened…..while I was in the upper deck right behind home plate trying to get some pictures I was kneeling down to stay out of everyone’s way. After several minutes of kneeling there the usher tapped me on the shoulder. Of course I was sure he was going to say I had to move on, as they always do (hey, it’s their job), but instead he said he had noticed me kneeling there for several minutes and he was concerned my legs might cramp so he handed me a chair! I was not only surprised but literally blown away. What a nice gesture. It just goes to show that there ARE nice, kind and thoughtful people everywhere. I happily thanked him, finished taking my pictures and then spent some time talking with him. He’s name was Ray and we had an awesome conversation…between pitches of course. 😉 What a great guy! A brief encounter that I will always remember.
The Cubs won 4-0! And they finished the evening as they always do at Wrigley by singing “Go Cubs Go”. I tried to video it but it didn’t turn out well so this is a video I found on Youtube to give you an idea what it’s like…..
It was a great day & night in Chi-Town! Definitely a city I plan to visit again.
Join me tomorrow as we’re on to Milwaukee!
To view ALL pictures related to this blog click here: Chicago – US & BC trip 2017
To view ALL videos related to this blog click here: Chicago – US & BC trip 2017