October 2, 2022

A Weekend Adventure to Chicago

A Weekend Adventure to Chicago
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 2, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, we joined our good friends Sue & Ron Korkowski on a weekend adventure to Chicago.  Their son, Mason, moved there recently and lives in a really cool place downtown.  We went with them to explore the neighborhood.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency on the Chicago River which put us right in the heart of the city.  I've been to Chicago many times in my life, but this was seeing it from a perspective I hadn't experienced previously.  I gained a whole new appreciation of the incredible architecture and history of the windy city.

On our first day, we visited the John Hancock Building and 360 Chicago.  It's basically just the observation deck on the 94th floor, but they put the fancy name on it so they can charge more for tickets.  I'm learning a thing or two about a thing or two.

The views were pretty cool.  We were greeted by a squadron of clouds being penetrated & broken up by the sun's morning rays and lighting up the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan.

I'm sure the beaches were much more full than this a couple months earlier.  It was already pretty chilly in Chicago so people weren't crazy enough to be down there swimming.  At least not yet anyways.

Before we left, we felt obligated to give the John Hancock people more money and decided to do the Tilt.  It's a platform built on the edge of the building that leans forward a little bit and makes you feel like you're hovering 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile.  I'm not sure if it was worth the extra $8 we paid for the 5 minute ride, but I'm still glad we did it.

The rest of the day we wandered around Chicago.  I hadn't ever really walked on the Navy Pier before which was an interesting experience.  It also reminded me about why they call Chicago the Windy City.  I saw several hats go a flying at the end of that thing.

I spotted this old lighthouse from the end of the pier and let my imagination run wild on it's stories.  I can imagine a couple of good horror movies that could take place in a building like that.

We went to Millenium Park so we could observe the Bean.  Technically it's called Cloud Gate, but residents have been calling this public work of art "the Bean" since it was unveiled in 2004.  It's a really unique thing to see.  The artist created it using computer technology and fitted 168 stainless steel plates and welded them together so they wouldn't have any seams.  I can see why they consider it to be a magical fruit.

I've had a lot of people tell me there's a bunch of weirdos walking around the streets of Chicago, but we didn't really see any of that.  Everyone we encountered seemed pretty normal.

Luke & Avery chose not to join us for this trip so it was nice for Miss Sheri and I to enjoy a few different date nights.  I kind of like hanging out with this lovely lady.

We discovered a bunch of fun restaurants by just wandering around the streets.  We weren't sure if this place had once been a church with the stained glass windows or not, but the cinnamon roll pancakes they served me did make me feel like I was in Heaven!

We took an architecture tour via riverboat that promised to show us some of the best architectural sights that can be seen in the city of Chicago.  I'd always wanted to do this tour, so was excited to see what was in store for us.

It was actually a really cool experience.  According to the company's website, the tour goes down the main branch of the Chicago River, up the north branch to the East Bank Club, and then south past the Willis (Sears) Tower to the old Post Office Building. Each cruise is led by a professional and entertaining guide who provides detailed descriptions of more than 40 landmark buildings.  I found everything to be true, except the guide wasn't really all that entertaining.

We went right past the Merchant Mart.  
 When it was opened in 1930, it was the largest building in the world.  The Mart is 4.2 million gross square feet, spanning two city blocks and rising 25 stories. It’s currently home to hundreds of tenants, including manufacturers’ showrooms and corporate offices, as well as restaurants and other services.  At least that's what their website said.  I suppose they could be lying.

Marina City is another unique set of buildings where the cars are parked right up to the edges.  It seems a bit dangerous to me, but hey you gotta park where you gotta park.

On Sunday, we went to Shedd Aquarium to check in on the sea life.  We were excited to attend the dolphin show, but it ended in like 10 minutes after they brought out a seal to say Hi.  Honestly, we found it kind of bizarre.

The show's host didn't even acknowledge the large tank of dolphins swimming around right behind him.  I guess he just thought we'd be interested in that seal.  I wanted to see more dolphin tricks!

At least the aquarium had a whole bunch of tanks full of interesting critters like this happy guy.  He made me smile.

On Monday night, we flew home.  We had an awesome time hanging out with the Korkowski family in this incredible city and look forward to our next adventure with them.

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