The Windy City - and more police!

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, November 4, 2011

Usual early start, and we again followed State roads instead of Freeway, more enjoyable by far.  Made our way into Chicago, with a mixture of satnav and map. The satnav wanted to send us on the Toll Road, whilst we preferred a more direct, scenic route. However, having the satnav tell us how far we had gone was handy. I wouldnt like to do it without. Occasionally we managed to stray off the road we thought we were on, and its good to know so quickly where you have actually gone.
Chicago skyline is impressive, but so spoilt by passing trucks and overhead gantries, so the photos dont really do it justice. Just bear with us. Things wont get better!

Made our way to the hotel we'd chosed. Jane had recommended another one north of Chicago, but when we phoned it was already booked, so we stuck to our original (uninformed) plan to make our way to the South side. That way we dont have to cross the Windy City first thing Monday morning on our way out. So we chose a hotel that we could identify as being close (?) to a train station to give us easy access. Booked in and walked the mile and a half to the station, caught the train and we were there. But exactly where, we didnt know.
Spent a bit of time getting maps, trying to understand the transport system, etc, and haaving lunch.
The Info office was in the Preston Bradley Hall, which used to be the library. Very impressive building. There was also a display of modern art and other art, which Martin dragged me round. Dragged, because I thought it was a load of .... There was a room of displays which were books. One book had pagees about 8 ft wide, and nothing on them. Another was a video of pages being turned by wind. We had long discussions of just what constitutes art, and I'm afraid Martin has done nothing to educate my philistine views. However, I was impressed by the building, and I hope the pics do it justice.

Wandered around gazing at the buildings and soaking up the general atmosphere. We were looking up at the Chase building and I was saying how I liked it, when a voice behind us offered that the view from a block away was even better! And we'd expected people in cities to be more standoffish than those in rural areas. We went to where he indicated and the view was great, but there was also a mural by Chigal
Also saw where the subway/train is overground and runs on a platform above a street. Quite impressive, but I'd be happier if they pained the structure to keep the steel good!

Took the train back home, and walked along in the dark to the hotel. On the way a police car did a u-turn in front of us, nearly knocking Martin down. Wanted to know who we were what we were doing, etc. Took my passport and Martins driving licence back to the car and radioed in to check on us. Just what was he checking against? DVLC records and Peterborough? Had a dog in the car (we had just been discussing how few dogs we had seen over the past weeks!). A secong cop car pulled up, lights also flashing, and eventually they were satisfied. Thought of asking if we could photograph them, but decided against it!

So back home safe.

MIles 214, but that includes about 45 on the train. Max speed was 66mph, but that was also on the train!

Martin's mid-west moment:
The thing with sat nav is that,like most digitally inspired things,it tends to place you in a spot and deals with a narrow aspect - bit like the old digital watch v. analog watch referring to a map you get a sense of perspective and that alows selection.Where the machine is at its best is when you are looking to get the right line out of a complex traffic configuration.Our success in that area s all to do with Roger's skill in loading on the right maps.
So the journey diagonally from Madison down to Chicago was a joy.A whole series of well kept farmsteads - calapboard house and well maintained reddish brown farmbuildings just next door.And then you come across a bank building standing all alone.The trees are a glorious mix of golds and reds - better again through my rose-tinted sunglasses.
The towns are equally pretty and well ordered.Strictly observed speed liimits and that peculiar thing - no fences between properties.It seems to have the effect of preventing build up of personal rubbish.Or is it the absence of that which gives rise to there not being a need for fences?Did we tell you that we had been through at least one town where there had been a curfew time posted?
So the art thing.I made no attempt whatsoever to influence Roger.He knows what he doesn't like.The thing about the old library he mentioned was that it contains probably the largest installation made by Tiffany's - a 38 foot diameter dome,which tends to put the old lampshade part of the business in its place.And the marble staircases ..well.
I was thinking about Dave 's comments about the blues singers that had influenced him and remembered that when we were in the hallowed halls of one of the Mormon buildings in SLC there was rather a formal looking lady playing some Scott Joplin rag on the piano.In my youth I used to listen to Jelly Roll Morton and Hudy Leadbetter and recall that a feature of the recordings (bearing in mind that there was not much thought given to public and commercial release of these recordings) was the cursing and blaspheming that used to accompany the playing.A contrast to the recent rendition.
We find ourselves in quite a black part of Chicago and our train journey home this evening was enlivened by some youngsters,natural successors to Huggy Bear,one of whom rapped for what seemed like 30 minutes.I could not understand a word but was amazed at his skill.Perfectly harmless stuff. This City could yet be the surprise of the trip, I think with time you could dig out a lot of stuff here.There is of course a Symphony Orchestra and the theatre quarter seems quite lively.Don't get me started on the art and the architecture.More tomorrow.

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Trevor and Eleanor on

Happy Birthday Roger.

May on

Happy birthday, Roger! Hope you get to see your game.

Lorraine and Roy on

Happy Birthday Roger!! Hope it's another enjoyable day in Chicago!!

Jesmary on

Happy Birthday Roger, Hope you have a good day.

Francis Sharp on

Happoy Birthday, Roger.

David Mitchell on

You seem to have picked a good place for a birthday weekend - Happy Birthday Roger! Both of you enjoy the rest of the trip.
Best wishes

Sue and Rob from Bryce Canyon Utah on

have a great day!! Hope you continue to have a wonderful adventure in America We are in Buffalo NY now..time to rake all the falling leaves etc. We are followong your blog with great interest and so enjoy the way you write. Also enjoy and hope to learn about how you perceive the US and our population. Also love your pictures..esp. the ones of the architecture of the old library.

Tony and Diana Longson on

Happy birthday Roger! Have a great time both of you in the Wndy City!

bob from tire world in slc on

hope stanley's hub is holding good for you blokes... hope things r well for you also ... let me know.. thanks

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