Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beautiful Downtown Chicago . . .

Time marches on and it would appear that our little family gang does too! Last Saturday we again boarded the Amtrak Empire Builder for the last bit of our trip Eastward and ended up in Chicago. We toured Union Station there -- a beautiful architectural accomplishment in itself and representing the late 1800's in Chicago re-building from the Great Chicago Fire of 1872 -- and then grabbed a couple of cabs to get our gang over to the hotel. As it turned out, we are staying in the old -- circa 1928 -- Harrison Hotel on Michigan Avenue, right across from Grant Park and about a five minute walk from the famous Buckingham Fountain. All the rooms were once rented as "hotel apartments" and today we would have called them Studios. Yes the hotel is old, and yes there is that sense of not being the most modern in town, but it is clean, good beds, very nice bathrooms, and I have to own up to a very simple philosophy when it comes to hotels and motels: good bed, clean bathroom, good shower, good TV, --I'm a happy camper. It is very conveniently located to all the public transit which we have made use of extensively. We all got 3-day passes and we have ridden busses and the "L" and subway to our hearts' content.

Sunday we started our day at a Solemn Choral Eucharist at St. James' Episcopal Cathedral, the home of many entertainers who are based in Chicago and some of music's most famous performers and composers. Of course the service was beautiful and incidentally, while we really weren't "celebrity watching," I saw more actors in that service than I had seen in Hollywood in the last year. Go figure . . . We all went to the Chicago Water Tower which was close by. It and the Pumping Station are the two buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire. We strolled up and down Michigan Avenue -- known these days as "Chicago's Magnificent Mile," peeked in the doors of Fourth Presbyterian Church and saw the "McCormick Stained Glass Window" -- not named after Col. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune and Station WGN, but his ancestor whose inventions began the company we today call International Harvester. It is a beautiful Gothic church and worthy of some of our time. We toured Water Tower Place which is a downtown Mall in a single building, rode the "Red Line" which used to be called simply "the State Street subway line" all the way to the end, almost in Evanston where we saw Loyola University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, etc. We took a bus back to our hotel all along Lake Michigan and some of the most beautiful park areas. By the time we returned it was raining so we cancelled what we had planned for the evening.

We had breakfast at Ann Sather's Monday morning. If you are in Chicago and haven't eaten at her lovely family restaurant on Belmont in Chicago, you have missed a culinary treat. And the cinnamon rolls . . . Ooooooooo . . . hot and smothered in icing . . . Ooooooo . . . what else can I say? We then spent most of the day at the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of America's really beautiful zoo's and it is completely FREE. They also have a display called "The Farm at the Zoo" that is a working farm sponsored by the John Deere Company. What a great experience for city kids!! We then walked about a quarter mile across lush lawns of clover to the walk bridge over the Outer Drive and on to the beach of Lake Michigan. The grandkid and daughter Tracy went wading in Lake Michigan and then we started our trek back to the hotel. We had literally walked our legs off so we all took a snooze until suppertime. When dark approached, hubby and I, daughter Tracy, and the three granddaughters walked about five minutes to Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain in all its lighted glory. What a sight!! It also brought back very old memeories for hubby and I because that Fountain had figured prominently in our courtship 51 years ago.

Today we will be traveling to Kansas City via the Amtrak Southwest Chief with the exception of daughter Tracy who will be flying back to Los Angeles. But first . . . it is a trip to the top of the building known formerly as "The Sears Tower" where it is possible, on a clear day, to see seven miles all around Chicago. We'll need to once again get to Union Station and we will be arriving in KC about 10:30 PM or so -- depending on getting past the freight trains.

So our journey goes on . . . My camera is dead and I can't find my re-charger. Oh Duh!! So Tracy has gotten some very good pictures as well as our other daughter who is with us. Hopefully I can post some of those in the next few weeks.

Haven't kept up with The Ole Book Bag as my regular Wednesday Posting, but I trust that all you who stop by will continue to read diligently and without restraint -- or however your life allows. I have had quite a few reviews posted on The Book Binge and there are others there that are really super as well.

Until the next installment . . . Be well, and keep the old nose in the ole book!

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