Onward to Chicago, IL- Definitely a Windy City!

April 18- 24th

Yikes, it’s now May 6! Guess I’ve been a little negligent of my travel blogs. Everything seems to be running together now that we’re homeward bound. Hopefully I don’t forget any good parts of this north central trip across USA.

The terrain into North Dakota changed little from southern Saskatchewan- wide open skies over flat farmland and pumping oil rigs, slowly giving way to rolling hills as we entered Jamestown, ND where the buffalo still roam, so to speak. We visited Buffalo National Park and historic town hoping to see one of the 3 sacred white albino buffalo, but we weren’t so lucky despite all our trapsing thru the fields. But then again, the world’s largest buffalo (statue) was still a sight to see! (pics)

The next day we crossed the upper end of the Mississippi River for the second time since New Orleans, as we travelled east to Eau Claire, WI for a quick overnight. I’d never have known that this mighty river travelled so far north almost bisecting the US East-West! It seems this geographic fact seemed to indicate the circular nature of our trip and that we were coming almost full circle!

Then on to Chicago!! What a great 4 days we had in this architecturally diverse city- And yes, it is windy. Without our trusty bikes to explore, we depended on our feet to see the Lakeshore, The Loop, Magnificent Mile, Old Town, China Town, etc. , then resorted to their extensive bus and subway travel. It was hard to chose with so many museums, parks and historic points to see it, but we focussed on:

The Alder Plantarium (The 1st in NA built in 1920's-a full day adventure) and Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge (formerly Sears Tower, tallest structure but not bldg, in the world) where we walked out over the city at 103 stories above ground-breathtaking views in all directions of Chicago River, downtown, waterfront. (pics)

We probably spent most of our days along the Lakeshore with its beautiful green space, water views, museums, Solders Field, Navy Pier (forgot to go back for ferris wheel ride though). And you’d never guess what ferry is now home to Chicago Yacht Club!(pics)

Millenium Park -outstanding outdoor exhibits, scupture, art, esp much talked about Bean with its unique reflective qualities- well deserved praise.

It is hard to believe the city is still basing its outdoor space design on the early 1900's visionary architect Daniel Burnham who wrote the redevelopment plan after the Great Chicago Fire! (pics)

While in Chicago we ate at one of our (younger) family stomping grounds- McDonalds. I didn’t know that the first McDonald’s was opened in California by McDonald brothers in 1948 but was bought out by a business man. So when we saw the signature Golden Arches of the McDonald’s Chicago flagship location, we had to have breakfast there, just for old time sake! The upstairs museum captured a timeline of changes/events in world, USA and McDonalds memorabila since 1953 when the 1st restaurant was opened. Have they really been around that long? Not sure what Mr. Burnham would have thought of this architechture! (pic)

China Town we should have left out, in exchange for an architechtural tour that people have since have told us was the highlight of their Chicago visit. Don’t make our mistake! However, we gained a lot of information just walking about and reading the many informative historic markers in the city. If only we had taken a river tour or even a water taxi ride along the Chicago River, we would have appreciated the water side view!

Like all big cities, we saw evidence of homelessness and poverty. It soon became apparent to us as we walked the familiar route back to our hotel on the Magnificant Mile each night, that many people seemed to ”own” certain street corners. I don’t know what was more upsetting to me- the lack of social system/situations that left people with no other options, or the fact we passed by too many times without offering something in response to their cardboard signs stating- “I’m hungry. Anything appreciated!”. Finally our last night after a delicious meal of “Original” Chicago style Deep Dish Pizza, we sought out a familiar face near our hotel and shared our left over meal and coffee money with her. A small contribution to offer- heartbreaking, emotional!

Despite this, we’d definitely like to return to Chicago perhaps in warmer weather and with a group of friends/family, as there is so much more to see! Let us know if you’re interested!!

Onward to Toronto, ON April 24-May 3. Can’t wait to see our ”kids” and fambly!!

Ann and Don

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