Chicago, A Test Run

Betty Lou Nichols came to Chicago as a young women.  World War II was just ending and Chicago must have been quite the happening place… for Miss Betty would make it her home for the next 60 years. Betty was my aunt.

She married once to become Betty Smith, but had no children. Towards the end of her years, Aunt Betty suffered from Alzheimer’s and left her beloved Chicago for Texas to be cared for by the only living family she knew- her sister, Pat, and me, her nephew.

Betty passed away in May of last year. Her body was cremated with the ashes put into my care. I knew I wanted to bring her back to Chicago and make it her final resting place. This trip is for her.

Might As Well…

Sometimes it’s okay to invoke the might as well clause. As long as I am coming to Chicago to spread Betty’s ashes, I might as well make a trip out of it and get Jessica to come with me. After all, she’s never been to Chicago and it certainly is one of the great cities of the world. Additionally, in less than six more weeks, our around the world trip begins. Much of our RTW success will depend on how well we pack.

As long as we’re going on a four-day trip to Chicago, we might as well use it as a practice run for our big trip. This means trying out many of the specialized items we bought specifically for the RTW- backpacks, packing cubes, lightweight shoes, the iPad (for blogging), quick-dry underwear, and the list goes on.

And finally, as long as we’re in Chicago we might as well have a great time.

Trip Highlights

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our first two days here. Between public transportation and the full-day bike rental yesterday, we’ve enjoyed the lake-front beaches, Navy Pier and Millennium Park, home of the famous Cloud Gate (more commonly known as, the bean).

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A brief but strong afternoon rain had everyone crowding inside of the gleaming art-piece for shelter.  We then took a good few pics of our brilliant reflections.

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We’ve been eating well, enjoying delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza and hot dogs (separate meals).  For the Chicago-style dogs, Murphy’s Red Hots was recommended to us by a local.  It was quite a tasty choice.

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Jessica fights for her dog!

WBEZ Chicago

Another adventure was greatly enhanced by nothing but pure luck.  One of the best radio shows EVER is called This American Life.   It can be heard weekly on your local public radio station.  Or, you can access any of their archived shows online.  www.tal.org

The show is produced at the WBEZ studios in Chicago.  Jessica and I went there just to snatch a photo in front of the WBEZ sign on the door.  At that moment, a well-dressed gentleman approached us from inside the office and asked us if we needed anything.  We explained we were visitors from Texas and just wanted a photo.  He invited us in and generously offered us an impromptu tour of the studios.  Jessica’s daughter (Mallorie) is a huge fan of This American Life and all we could think of is how jealous she would be that we were going on a tour.

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Their offices were set up like a news room. Daniel Ash, our guide, even gave us some sweet T-shirts and mugs out of the schwag closet.

 

New Cubs Fans…?

Wrigley Field is the 2nd oldest baseball stadium in the country. Only Fenway Park is older (by a mere 2 years). So much rich history is packed into this single square city block…and we soaked up a good dose of it by going on the Wrigley Field guided tour. We sat in the dugout, saw the locker rooms and visited the press box, too. Neither Jessica nor I are big fans of baseball, but this tour was fascinating!

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This pics we have posted herein are a small slice of all that we have done and seen.  And the exploration continues.  Today, we plan to visit the Driehaus Museum and the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower and Chicago’s tallest skyscraper.  The Driehaus Museum is not a traditional museum, but rather the preserved mansion of a man (Samuel Nickerson) who was the Great Gatsby of his day within the Chicago social scene.  Should be very interesting.
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I’ll conclude this post with our visit to Buckingham Fountain, one of the world’s largest and most elegant fountains.  At the top of every hour, it shoots a jet of water high into the air while patriotic music plays throughout the park.

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