Chicago to Windsor

I’m writing this on the VIA train while heading back to Oakville. There’s free wifi available on the train. I’ve never travelled at about 150km/hr (relative to the earth, of course) and had wifi before! Cool.

We slept in a bit the next morning and only woke up at 9. This isn’t usually too late, but we wanted to get a lot done in Chicago today because we were only staying for one day and still had to make it to Windsor tonight. After getting ready pretty quickly and checking out of the hotel we went to the car and put our stuff away. Then we started our walking tour!

Walking down Michigan Ave. we saw the Chicago Tribune building, the Trump Tower, the Chicago river, and many other buildings I didn’t even know the name of. Also, near the parking lot is a Bloomingdales shop, but the outside looks strikingly like a mosque. When I got back to Windsor I looked in a 1961 encyclopedia the Gaspar’s have and found out it was called the Medinah Temple back then.

Our first stop was a hotdog joint right inside the Loop (the tram that floats around downtown Chicago). This one is also pretty famous and making their hotdog is a very precise art. No ketchup allowed! Will got one, but Anne and I refrained. Then we went to go see Grant Park and the Millennium Park. Oh! I forgot to mention, I basically know Chicago like the back of my hand. Psychic some may say, but in reality – I played the Microsoft game Midtown Madness, set in Chicago, so much as a kid. I knew where the pier was, the park, the Sears tower, and a mysterious, red, curvy sculpture sticks out in my mind. I’m determined to find it.

In Millennium Park we had a fantastic time! There is so much to do and the art and sculptures there are out of this world. They really look like alien objects scattered about a lush green park. The park rangers (and police) in Chicago all roll around coolly on Segways. I felt like I was in a live-action recreation of RoboCop. I added a bridge to my list of Frank Gehry designed structures. It’s called the BP Bridge, and is currently highly unpopular in America. That big orb thing you see below had no real sign or marking on it. No idea who made it or why – but it’s awesome. In the amphitheatre in the park they had set up a squash court because it was the US Squash Open. I wanted to stay for a game, but there really wasn’t much time.

Just before we left the park we came across a wonderful fountain. It had two gleaming towers made of glass bricks with water flowing down between them. Each tower had an animated screen on it where it displayed videos of different people’s faces moving slowly! In between was an obsidian battlefield where the water from the two towers met. It took me no time at all to tosss my shoes and roll up my jeans and go running in the water. After a while the faces on the towers purse their lips and water starts coming from a fountain between their lips! Coolest. Fountain. Ever. (Comic book guy voice).

We left the park and walked to dry off. We wanted to make our way towards the Sears Tower because I knew the red sculpture was somewhere around there. Anne and Will humoured me a bit, it’s nice when they do that. Finally I found it! And here it is.

Then I noticed my camera was out of battery. I should conserve! So I turned it off for a while, while we made our way to the Sears Tower. When we got there we realized it was renamed the Willis Tower, so that’s why it didn’t show up on any of the maps. It was also here that I realized that people in Chicago have three things that stand out. In general, they’re all very tall, very fit, and very well dressed. This held throughout the city as we walked through it, not just the downtown park. A huge percentage of people I saw were over 6 feet tall.

After some humming and hawing we decided to pay the $16 and go up the tower to the “Skydeck”. When we got in the elevator I took out my camera to take a picture of the buttons. There was a ground floor, 99 and 103. Thought that was quite funny. When we got to the top I did a quick run around to check the sky for planes (I was actually really paranoid about this because the last time I had been up in a building this big was the World Trade Center back in 2000). Calmed down a bit, I came back to take some pictures with Will and Anne. Clicked the “On” button and … “Please Change Battery Pack”. Noooooooooooooooooooo! So that’s the reason why I don’t have a single photo from the top. Rats! One funny thing we saw was that one of the buildings in the city is actually a prison and you can see people in orange jump suits playing basketball on the roof of the building. Only escape there is a long drop and a wooden coffin. Anyways, here’s the damn picture of the elevator button.

After the tower we decided to walk back to the car. We all stopped at the hot dog place again and got food. It was a really good hotdog, but a bit small. I should’ve ordered two. Back at the car we prepared ourselves for the last long drive. IT was going to be about 5 hours from Chicago to Detroit, and then we were basically back home in Windsor.

The drive was uneventful mostly, and I read Brief History of Time (phew, it doesn’t feel so brief after all this time). I’m almost done it though … it’s very good! I think I’ll finish by tonight. I think I slept some of it to, but I can’t remember. When we saw the highway signs start to say Detroit, about 100 miles away we took extremely preventative measures and locked the doors. After some wrong turns, we finally made it onto the right highway that took us to downtown Detroit, and then subsequently the tunnel to Canada. Not a big hold up on the Canadian side, I handed in my green form which the people in Montana told me to give back when I came back into Canada (or else!). After that we went through the cool tunnel to Canada under the Detroit River. When we came out the other side I finally breathed in some Fresh Northern Air®. Hurray! Back home at last! Well, not for me, but for Will and Anne at least.

When we got to their house we saw there were visitors. Marion (the groom’s mother) was there! I hadn’t seen her since the wedding, so we had some catching up to do. Also Doris’ brother was there as well … unfortunately I forgot his name! Doh! We had a lovely dinner and it felt really good to relax finally.

I think I’ll call the journal quits at this point. I’m essentially home, it will just be a train ride away. I’m going to hang out in Windsor tomorrow. Sleep in, go shopping, and have tea. Then on Saturday I’ll get the train home in time for my Nana’s birthday.

It’s been a wonderful trip that I didn’t expect to go on. From the mountains, rivers, forests, plains, and cities – it has truly been a memorable experience. Oh, and what was our final animal count? 12. I think the bear would have made it an unlucky 13, so I’m glad we didn’t run into him!

G’night! Thanks for listening.