Day 2: Chicago, a first taste…

Not sure when we officially crossed into the “mid west,” but it was flat land and big sky, with easy open roads. We had exchanged woodland scenery for farms, and with the speed limit at 70mph, we made it to the outskirts of Chicago in good time.

Approaching the city, the cluster of buildings that form Chicago’s skyline seemed to rise in a dramatic push up from the surrounding flat lands. Traffic thickened and we had to pay attention to the road signs again. Driving had become almost zen after so many hours on the open road, now it was anything but, and tensions mounted as we tried to navigate. The exit we were supposed to take was closed. We had no idea where to go.

Confident in our map reading and land navigational skills, we had chosen not to take a GPS — perhaps that had been a mistake. We had plenty of maps, but not one of them had a street by street detail of Chicago. Luckily “Silly Squirrel” thought of my iphone. While the mapping feature on that phone leaves much to be desired, it came in handy for this situation — we could pinpoint our location and see where we had to get to. Crisis solved, we entered the city of Chicago in early evening.

The clattering roar of the El train passing overhead sounded a lot like Brooklyn. The comforts of “home.” Chicago seemed familiar. It is an eastern city, with tall skyscrapers and old brick buildings. Fire escapes and faded corner bars give the city a gritty character, like NY used to have before “disney-fication.” This was an urban environment we could relate to, and we were quickly comfortable.

We settled into our hotel without incident and decided to go for a walk into the night.

> NEXT: CHICAGO EXPLORATIONS…


More from Illinois:
NOTES FROM THE ROAD: Chicago Explorations… | Chicago, Having Fun With History
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Portfolio: On the Road to Chicago | Portfolio: Chicago — The City | Portfolio: Chicago Gangster Fun
PRACTICAL MATTERS: Planning One Day in a City
REFLECTIONS & OTHER THINGS: Fragments from the Road to Chicago| Review: The Untouchables Gangster Tour, Chicago | Review: Tommy Gun’s Garage, Chicago


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