Stop #3 – A Whirl Windy City Tour
Having drove all day and through the night, we entered Chicago with a sunrise as the backdrop to the city in front of us. I will never forget that image. The buildings looked like dark cutouts with the orange sky lighting up behind them. Making our way to Millenium Park, I saw the blazing orange-red sun peeking half-way above the horizon. What a way to start our day.
If only I’d remembered to take a picture as we drove in. Although, I was probably too enamored with the amazing view to remember, honestly. With all the snapshots we’d been taking, I was beginning to think it was better to live in that moment, than feel like my life was only seen through a lens.
After 15 hours driving from South Dakota, switching driver seats half-way, we’d finally made it to the windy city … the very windy. I was all-too grateful that we brought our thickest winter jackets. And, I made a mental note to take each city and state’s nickname seriously from then on.
Parking under the park was not cheap, starting at $14 for the first hour. Of all the places we would visit and park, Chicago was the most expensive.
Needing to wake up after a night of driving, we got some
coffee at Caribou Coffee – warmed us up for our venture into the highly decorated parks (Millenium and Grant). Despite the frigid breeze, the view distracted my shivering body and achy hands. The parks were beautiful. It felt like we were walking through an outdoor exhibit. And a free one, too! We explored the green patches of grass with random sculptures – a beautiful way to start our morning.
Walking through the park was peaceful; the greenery juxtaposed the busy city life was like a breath of fresh air… literally. The sidewalk and streets smelt of smog and cars, but when we reached greener grounds I was able to breathe more deeply.
As we continued along the path and turned some corners, our next stop came upon us quite suddenly. The big bean (AKA AT&T Cloud Gate) leaves quite an impression, and sucked up a lot of our time, to be honest. I took more pictures than I could share. It was just so fascinating to see this giant mirror, reflecting the gorgeous buildings behind, as well as deforming our figures and allowing us to laugh at our funny reflections.
When we finally pulled ourselves away from the bean, we spent lunch at a restaurant where my cousin-in-law worked. Though I didn’t have
Chicago’s signature pizza or dogs, I did try a salad that was topped with a local favorite – giardiniera. It was also topped on my husband’s chicken dish. A spicy pickled veggie mixture – olives, peppers, cauliflower and I don’t know what other veggies. All I knew was that it tasted good.
Our Chicago tour was short, but enjoyable nonetheless. After visiting family, we were on the road again.
Our destination was just passed Cleveland, Ohio, and for the sole purpose of resting. It would take about 6 hours. At that point, we’d done so many longer stretches of driving, 6 hours was nothing. We were beginning to feel like veteran road-trippers.
Niagra Falls, here we come!
Traveler’s Tip: If you want to save money and avoid a crowd, pick motels just outside of the major cities. The Motel 6 we stayed at in Willoughby, Ohio was clean, comfy, and way cheaper than other hotels. Nearly half the price, actually.