Multifaceted Chicago


OK, I’m back! I had a lovely little “mini vacation” with my friend Zack for a few days in Chicago, after I arrived on the train from Kalamazoo on Sunday. Zack and I did many fun touristy things, such as visiting Millennium Park and The Bean, riding the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and taking a sunset cruise on the lake. We also ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed many delicious cocktails.

Yesterday he flew back home to North Carolina, while I pedaled about five miles northwest to the cool co-op home of my new Servas host, Steve. That ride was unfortunately not very pleasant: very hot and sticky weather, busy roads with lots of auto traffic, poor travel surfaces such as freshly poured tar and alleyways littered with shattered glass… and a looming thunderstorm!

When I reached Humboldt Park, about two miles south of my ultimate destination, I managed to duck under a narrow roof on a locked building just barely in time to avoid most of the deluge. The rain poured, lightning flashed, thunder clapped, and the wind blew the trees pretty dramatically. Nearby children squealed as they ran for cover.

A couple of down-on-their-luck fellows joined me in the barely adequate shelter, and we chatted for the better part of an hour while we waited for the sun to return. Bouts of rain kept coming back, and my rig and my pants got pretty well soaked at one point.

Thankfully, all that synthetic material dries pretty quickly once the sun does come out again, and the sky and flowers and trees were beautiful in the aftermath.

Fearing more rain in the next few hours before Steve got home, I sought out a larger shelter, and found it elsewhere in the park in the scenic boathouse. Around that time, I got a call from my friend/former Warmshowers St. Petersburg host Kathleen. (Kathleen, hi if you’re reading this!) It was fun to catch up with her a bit, and talk travel and bicycling and future plans.

I met up with Steve in the evening, and it was great to talk with him also about travel, Servas, Chicago, his co-op building (including his family’s beautiful unit, which he completely renovated decades ago) and related topics.

This morning he took me to the Handlebar Café for breakfast, which was cool—a bike-inspired vegetarian place.

Later, I took the train/subway down to the Hyde Park neighborhood, and enjoyed all the aesthetics of transit and cycling on that round trip. On the way back, I stopped at the fabled Chicago Diner, and savored a huge vegan Caesar salad for dinner.

Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to biking the Illinois Prairie Path, about 30 miles west to Warrenville, where my friend Gill and her partner and some of her other friends live. She’s got lots of fun plans for my time there!

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