1127.28 miles (1 814.18 Kilometers), or in understandable terms – about 22 hours of driving from Toronto to Chicago and back again, and I sure glad I’m home.
We had a fantastic time. Chicago is a beautiful city, I really was blown away by all the fantastic looking buildings and beautiful sights. Maybe that’s what they really mean by “Windy City”? It’s not the wind that blows you away it’s the beauty.
The Bruce Cockburn concert was great too. I’m not a huge fan but I do appreciate seeing such a talented musician. Chris, my husband, was glued to the edge of his seat watching Bruce’s every move on the 6 different guitars that he played. Chris was trying to figure out if he plays Bruce’s music the same way, and except for a few chords here and there, yes he does.
The two people who came on our trip with us weren’t the greatest choice to have brought along. The one guy was someone that Chris works with and he’s supposed to be a musician too, but I think he’s more interested in producing than performing these days. Needless to say he didn’t bring any instruments. He brought along a girl that we hadn’t met before … a different person than who he’d told us he was bringing. We learned in the car that the girl was only 19 years old. That meant no going out to the Blues and Jazz clubs ’cause she wouldn’t be able to get in. Wish we’d known that before we started out.
I guess Chris and I must have “Mr. and Mrs. Doormat” stamped on our foreheads lately, because these two people really stiffed us on the cost of the trip. They only put in $40 for gas (Total cost of gas was close to $200), didn’t pay for the concert tickets, and didn’t really hang out with us in Chris’ brothers home or when we went downtown sight seeing. Every time we asked them for money they kept saying oh we have to go to the ATM, oh we’ll stop at an ATM on the way home and pay you, Oh we don’t have any money in our bank accounts- sorry. GEEEEEEEZZZZZZ
Anyway, I wasn’t going to let them ruin my trip. I had a great time.
We arrived at about 9:30 pm Chicago time (10:30 pm Toronto time) and a friend of Chris’ brother showed up and took us to his office to show us around. Not really what I wanted to do right after driving for 12 hours (we hit a lot of construction on the way so the trip was longer). He’s an architect and his whole office building was a beautifully restored old house. I wish I took pictures of that. It was worth the visit, and it was a short outing.
Chris’ brother cooked us up a fantastic meal of steak and grilled veggies when we got back. Mmmm that steak was so good. Then we all went outside onto the deck and Chris pulled out his guitar and entertained us for a few hours. He was so tired after doing a good portion of the driving, plus he was trying to match his brother drink for drink – which is an impossible task, so his playing stayed good, but the singing faltered after a while … he could only stumble through the songs if he had to sing along, but he did fine when we all sang. I eventually herded him towards the bedroom and we got some much needed sleep.
We didn’t get up all that early on Saturday – maybe 10:30, and by the time everyone had had the wonderful breakfast that they made for us (two types of sausages, pancakes and lots of fruit) and we all got ready to go it was getting close to 1 pm.
We drove downtown, driving by the lake shore as we went. Their beach area reminded me very much of Toronto’s beach area. We spent the afternoon walking around the downtown core. Well, Chris and I and his brother did. The two kids we brought along went shopping.
Millenium park is beautiful. What Chris’ brother was calling the Bean, I’ve since found out is called the Cloud Gate. It’s a huge metallic elliptical object that reflects everything around it. It’s quite the experience to walk up to and view yourself and the crowds surrounding you on the face of the sculpture. When you walk under it everything gets distorted and the shiny mirror like sides almost disappear to the point that you can easily walk into the walls. Which I did of course, klutz that I am! I took a lot of pictures of this sculpture and I’ll put some up over the next few days. We must have spent an hour and a half to two hours just in that park alone.
When we left the park we headed over the House of Blues. Unfortunately the bar was closed for a private party. The inside of the building was amazing to look at though, as was the outside. As I said Chicago has some wonderful architecture and you could go there and just walk around looking at all the fantastic building shapes and art work for hours. Which I guess, is pretty much what we did.
We ended up in the Harry Carey bar for a few drinks and some appetizers. We saw the baseball that was blown up last year. It’s just shreds. I love the outside of the bar, it’s really interesting looking. Pictures coming soon. Then we met up with the people that came with us on our trip and frantically drove around trying to find North Lincoln where the concert was taking place in the Old School house. We made it just on time and had a great time watching Bruce Cockburn entertain us for 3 hours or so.
After the concert Chris’ brother wanted to take us for some Chicago Deep dish pizza at a restaurant near his house- in the burbs. Unfortunately when we got there the restaurant was closed and we ended up going to a TGI Fridays. The food was NOT good there, but the bartender was entertaining. Did you know that if you fill up a beer glass or mug with draft, making sure it’s got a good head of foam that reaches the top of the glass, that if you put a napkin over it (to create a seal), you can then throw the glass about ten feet? I didn’t know that, but I saw it three times. It works.
When we told the bartender we were from Canada and asked him if he’d ever visited he said “no, it’s too cold up there I think”. LOL Hate to tell you buddy but it’s about the same temperature in Toronto as it is in Chicago and we’re in the same gardening zones (Toronto’s might be higher actually, hard to find accurate info). I always find it funny when people just seem to automatically assume that Canada is cold. Yeah, our winters are, but winter in most of the US states are fairly cool too.
After our restaurant adventure we went back to Chris’ brothers home. The kids we brought disappeared without a word and the rest of us went outside for more music al la Chris.
Sunday was a bit weird. When I got up Chris’ brother and his wife were leaving to go visit their daughter at University. They hadn’t mentioned that they would be doing that so we had a fast good-bye, then off they went. In the meantime one of Chris brothers friends had come over for a visit and he sat with us for a while talking. We’d met him before as Chris brother had brought him to the Toronto area for visits a few times. The friend is also a Canadian. Chris’ brother seems to know all of the Canadians in the area.
Leaving took a long time as people kept stopping by. Chris’ brothers father in law came to pick up one of my nephews for Hockey practice. I love the way they say Hockey, it’s more like Hawckey, and cops are caps etc. Interesting accent Chicago.
Our trip back only took about 10 hours. We skipped some construction and a few tolls by taking a slightly different route. We didn’t get home until close to 2 a.m. Monday morning.
I’ve got to work on my photos and put some up for my visitors to see. I’m very happy with most of them and I hope that you’ll enjoy them when I start sharing them with you.
I titled this post “One big city to another” because I was traveling from the fifth largest city in North America – Toronto – to the fourth largest city in North America- Chicago. The city of Chicago only has us beat population wise by about three hundred thousand people. Their urban area has perhaps 5 million more people than ours does though, but they don’t count that when they count populations for cities. Now I need to visit Los Angeles (3rd largest), New York (2nd largest) and Mexico city (1st) and I’ll be able to say that I’ve visited the five largest cities in N.A..
I didn’t see or do as much as I would have liked to have during my visit. Our trip was too short and was mostly travel back and forth. The next time I visit Chicago I’ll have to go for a week or more so that I can really come back saying that I’ve got a good sense of the city.
Funny thing, when we first got to Chris’ brothers home in the suburbs of Chicago the girl that came along with us turned to me and asked if I thought I could live there. I looked at her a little puzzled and said “Well, we just got here, all I’ve seen is the highway and this little suburb, so I have no idea if I’d like living here or not.” Now, after a day of walking around downtown and seeing some of the sites I think I could answer her question with a Yes, I think I could live here. It’s a big city, I like big cities because there’s so much to do. Yeah, I could live there.