Visiting Madison, Lake Michigan and Chicago

Trip Start Jul 05, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Comfort Suites Merrillville
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Indiana
Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 24 - We begin the day in Madison, Wisconsin and we head down to State Street. The girl at the hotel desk had told us if we visit one thing in Madison, it needed to be State Street. Every Saturday and Wednesday from 6am - 2pm, the town blocks off streets and it becomes one of the largest and oldest outdoor farmer's markets in the country. (Dane County Farmer's Market

We enjoy the drive along the waterways of Madison and find a place to park downtown and walk toward the blocked off streets. We hear music playing and find a band playing right where we enter the street. We look around and see tents and booths set up as far as we can see. There are people everywhere talking and eating and enjoying the day. It reminds us a lot of Bele Cher. However, the atmosphere is somewhat different. This event happens every Saturday and Wednesday from April until November, rain or shine. Therefore you can tell that people are coming and going in a very relaxed manner like this is something they do everyday.

The market is very busy and crowded and I see so many people carrying flowers they have just purchased. A lot of sunflowers must be sold here. There are jewelry tables and other vendors who are selling their wares. Then we spot the tents with the fresh fruits and vegetables. There are a number of them here and you can hardly walk in this area.  We walk from one end of the street to the other, enjoying the sights and seeing the people.  We are hungry, so we continue looking around until we find a restaurant for lunch. We select Nick's and stop inside for a great burger. This is a downtown restaurant and from the pictures on the wall you can tell that this place has been in business for many years. Lunch is great as we had expected.

After lunch we head back to our car and feel lucky we were able to spend time in Madison enjoying this market and this city. We head out and set the GPS for Milwaukee. It is directly east of us and on Lake Michigan. As we enter Milwaukee we get to see Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers Stadium.

We continue driving until we eventually reach Lake Michigan. We drive around a bit until we can get close to the water to see the lake. Everywhere we look people are walking on paved walkways that border the lake. We park for a few minutes to enjoy seeing the lake and take some pictures. This is my first view of the Great Lakes! And as I had anticipated, it looks just like the ocean, but without all the waves.  We pass through the Milwaukee neighborhoods. Very clean and beautiful homes sit only feet from each other. We then turn the corner and can't believe the house we see. There is a Pink Cadillac sticking up out of the ground! We drive around the block to get another look. We laugh and Art says, "I bet the neighbors just love this house!".

We then head south toward Chicago. As you can imagine, the traffic is getting heavier and faster. We do not enjoy driving in this traffic. We have been very lucky in our travels across the US to steer clear of traffic (with the exception of Las Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.)  

While we are driving Art has me look up the Food Network website and the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives list for Chicago. I find the list and we pick a restaurant in downtown Chicago to go for dinner. White Palace Grill.  I set our GPS and we navigate through the maze of roads until we find the restaurant. We park on the side of the road then figure out how their parking system works. There is one parking post about 6 food high there on the street with a sign that says, "PAY TO PARK". It is here that you buy a parking ticket and then place the parking ticket in your window with the time you purchased stamped on it. Pretty cool! They must save a lot of money there by not installing parking meters at every spot.

The restaurant doesn't look like much on the outside, but inside it is very clean and charming and retro. We sit in the back where we can see the mural of Al Capon, Blues Brothers, Michael Jordan and several other famous people to Chicago.  We order steaks and our food is wonderful. 

We then head out and plan to drive as far as we can go tonight. We get back on the I-90 interstate we have been traveling for miles, only to find it has now become a Toll Road.  We pay the toll and keep traveling. After stopping to pay three tolls in a short amount of time we decide to find a place for the night and reevaluate our route. However, all the hotels are full for miles (something I hadn't anticipated in this large city). It is dark and the traffic is bad and we are feeling frustrated for the first time since we started the trip. We have been very lucky to have great places to stay everywhere we have been. Finally I locate a Comfort Suites hotel with a room available. These Choice hotels are always super nice, so we are happy to stop here for the night.

Tomorrow we will figure out which is the best route to take to continue on our trip without paying so many tolls!

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