Monday, July 23, 2012

A Belated Recap of our July Fourth Chicago Trip

One word can describe the trip - HOT.

And not in the Paris Hilton way. It was steamy and nearly unbearable heat. We still managed to have a lot of fun exploring the city while ducking in to shops to stay cool.

After a 102-degree Fourth of July, I longed to get back to the 90-degree days of southwest Florida.

When we arrived on Sunday morning, July 1, Jack took the train from Evanston to meet us at our hotel, The Palmer House. He took us on a mini tour of the city.

First stop - Cloud Gate, aka The Bean.....

Then we went over the BP Bridge, which was really cool.

And then up toward the river. This is a cool building designed so each condo owner could have a nice view from their balcony.

We stopped at the Wrigley Building...

And we nearly got caught in an afternoon storm, which mercifully cooled us off. Very scary clouds here.....I thought for sure we'd see a waterspout over the lake.

After the rain passed, we headed back toward our hotel crossing the river again.

Here's the ornate lobby of our hotel. Notice the bride and groom on the second floor having a portrait taken and Scott walking below. It was a really nice hotel with really reasonable rates and a great history. It was the first "fireproof hotel" after the Great Chicago Fire. The candelabras were made by Tiffany.

That night we headed out to dinner and visited the Bean again. Here's us reflected in it. Our hotel was a block away, so we visited often to people-watch.

Here's a photo from underneath The Bean. So cool.

This is the fountain at Grant Park. It was in Married With Children.

Right beside The Bean was this piece of interactive art. The insides have faces of Chicagoans with water fountains perfect for kids to play under in the stifling heat. It was another fun place to people-watch.

The next day we planned to go to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, but it was closed since they were installing a new exhibit, so we wandered a bit. Here's the public library. I tried to pay attention to all the interesting architecture.

Then we hopped on the train down to Hyde Park to see the University of Chicago. It has really beautiful buildings, but we didn't stay long because it was about 100 degrees.

Here's Rockefeller Chapel, which was a bit of an understatement. It was grand and gorgeous.

We returned back to downtown and made our way to Navy Pier to take an architecture cruise on the river. We mistakenly thought it would be cooler by the water. The tour was informative, but the guide didn't shut up the entire hour - not once. Between the extreme heat, the crowded boat and the constant loud talking, we were happy to sit quietly by ourselves by the lake when we got off the boat. Here's a few pics from the tour.......

That night we walked several block south of our hotel to Lou Malnati's to enjoy some REALLY GOOD Chicago-style pizza. After we walked over to the park to check out Agora, a large area of headless and armless sculptures. pretty cool.

We made our way back up to Millennium Park only to realize we'd missed the free concert by a few minutes. oh well.

So we went back to the fountains to watch the kids play.

The next morning, we wanted nothing to do with the heat, so we headed a block over to the Art Institute of Chicago. We could have spent all day there browsing through thousands of years of art, but we had plans to meet Jack and his family for an afternoon at a private beach on Lake Michigan and then dinner. I didn't take many photos inside the Art Institute because I wasn't sure what was "legal" to photograph. Bit these two kind of show the mix of old and new there.

Back on the street for lunch.....

And finally we got on the train to Evanston to hang out at the lake with Jack and family and his dog Mary, who lived with us for many years. I didn't realize how much I missed her until I knew I would see her again. She was pretty excited to see me too and didn't leave my side for most of the day. It was a good time and the water was cold but very refreshing.

The next day, July 4th, we made the mistake of walking toward Lincoln Park - almost 3 miles. We stumbled into the water with our clothes on to cool off. Talk about heatstroke. It was 102 degrees. We should have planned better and taken a cab there, worn our swimsuits, and then walked around the park. Instead we endured the heat all the way there and left quickly in a cab to head for the Sears Tower observation deck where it was nice and air-conditioned.

And it had a great view.....

Then we sat in the heat waiting for a less-than-impressive fireworks show.

I leave you with two of my favorite photos from the week. My cartwheel.....

And this shot of Cyon Flare, a drag performer. I had just told Scott that I needed an interesting silhouette to complete my photo, and here came Cyon walking by in all her glory. Priceless.

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