After a long night driving across South Dakota and Minnesota, luckily, I didn’t have too far to go before reaching Chicago on day four. It was a quick trip to drop off my friends at their Improv Retreat in Mukwanago, Wisconsin, and then I was off to the Windy City. After leaving the camp, I took my time through the backroads, leading past old dairy farms, on my way to my hotel outside Chicago in Deerfield. It had been a whirlwind few days of driving and I needed a break.
After a nice long nap at the hotel, I woke up just in time to head down to the city to catch sunset at Willis Tower. As I lugged my camera equipment through the parking garage and across the street to the tower, Chicago gave off a vibe true to its reputation. With the streets sparsely populated, it felt a little edgier, a little rough, especially for a Friday night. But once I reached the top of the tower, the city glowed. As the sun lowered to the haze, it reflected off the architectual jewels that create Chicago’s skyline. I inched out onto the glass Skydeck and gazed at the specks below. A red haze surrounded the glass box on all sides. I stayed in the observatory until the last light began to fade and then headed back down the elevator, grabbed a piece of pizza and ate in the gift shop lobby on the way out. Watching the last remaining tourists leave the tower, I relished the feeling of vulnerability being alone in a new city. I often miss the need to be hyper alert in the moment and more aware of my surroundings when I’m not challenging myself in a new place. But I finally hurried to my car and sped back to the hotel to rest up for exploring the city the next day.
I had a plan. With only one true day in Chicago, there were definitely places I couldn’t miss. I walked through Millenium Park by the Cloud and then over to a street art fair where I picked up a few local keepsakes; a chain with skeleton keys etched with inspiration and a pocket size picture of the skyline mounted on wood.
I next picked up a ticket from the Chicago Architectual Foundation for a boat tour later that evening and then headed across the street to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute has a wonderful Impressionist collection, which I could of spent the whole day enjoying, but I was determined to see the Field Museum as well before my boat tour that night.
I walked down through Millennium Park past Buckingham Fountain and had just enough time to enjoy the musuem exhibits before heading back up to the river. The Field Musuem was chocked full of every creature imaginable brought to life in their own exhibits include Sue, a full size T-Rex skeleton.
I strolled back up to the river through the parks once more, snapping a few shots along the way.
Finally, sitting on the boat, the buildings towered above, each with their own unique characteristics. Chicago is certainly not one to be considered dull. Up and down the river we went exploring each section of the city. The tour was rich in history and explained the development of Chicago’s distinctive look.
After being chauffeured by boat for a bit, I drove up North Lake Shore Drive and stopped along Lake Michigan to enjoy the city from yet another perspective as the day drew to an end. In just one day, Chicago had won me over. There was still so much left to see, but that could only mean one thing; I couldn’t return soon enough.