Days 39 to 41 – Chicago
I travel through picture perfect Wisconsin countryside – rolling hills dotted with small farms and ranches. Horses and cows grazing by the road stop to watch me pass. Its early morning and the mist rising from the fields adds layers of haze and depth, separating the hills, coloring them pale yellow from the rising sun. [...]
I travel through picture perfect Wisconsin countryside – rolling hills dotted with small farms and ranches. Horses and cows grazing by the road stop to watch me pass. Its early morning and the mist rising from the fields adds layers of haze and depth, separating the hills, coloring them pale yellow from the rising sun.
I stop for coffee in Beloit, a small industrial city on the Wisconsin/Illinois border. There is a street fair and I search in vain for some healthy, delicious baked goods (curse you Pondsford!).
As I near Chicago the enormity of the megalopolis impresses me. A full hour away and I feel like I’ve already arrived. The north west suburbs extend almost to the state line. The traffic becomes dense and I encounter several toll gates. It’s costs about $10 just to get close to the city. Like Milwaukee, they are in the middle of a drought/heat wave of legendary proportions. As I crawl through broken city streets the temperature gauge on the bike registers over 100. I am getting closer to the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and feel that my days around big cities are numbered. I take side streets and find the neighborhoods quite nice. Modest, tidy brick homes with lots of big,mature trees line quiet streets. I arrive and breathe a sign of relief.
I am visiting my friend Julie. We were good friends in the early nineties. We both worked at the Cantina in Mill Valley. This is the first time we’ve seen each other for almost 15 years, but it’s like it was yesterday. Good friends are like that. We are invited to a BBQ and are blown away with the pile of ribs that await us. The chef has spent all day cooking two dozen full racks of beef ribs on a grill the size of a kiddie pool. They are amazing. I soak up the Oak Park neighborhood, enjoying the company. Julie’s mom Laura is there. She’s always felt more like a peer than a friend’s parent, super nice and very young at heart.
Julie’s cousin Rachel is visiting too and we finish the night joined by two of her friends and some good tequila.
The next day I get a tour of some stunning Oak Park homes, including the home and studio that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in the late 19th century. I end the day with a great home cooked meal ( so welcome on my trip filled with motels and restaurants) and some fun with art supplies in Julie’s studio.
Monday I get a tour of downtown and the Art Institute. Julie is a native Chicagoan and a member of the Art Institute and makes a fabulous tour guide. Despite record temperatures we have a good time seeing one of the worlds great cities and a lot of fine art.