Saturday Special – Tale Of Two Cities

Hi, All… Thank you all for your comments on my little adventure last weekend. Last week we left off at the Hancock Building. When I was a young kid, before my parents built their house, Dad was a truck driver. Fact is, I’ve been to Chicago several times. To a 7 or 8 year old, it wasn’t all that exciting for me. I was just along for the ride in dad’s truck to keep him company though, I doubt I was much company for him. He would carry goods from Detroit to Chicago and I have to say the ride was excruciatingly boring. Not quite Torture but, almost (probably for him). I can remember helping him unload boxes at freight terminals, behinds stores (back then, drivers unloaded their own freight). I can even remember dropping a box that had glass bottles of something that dad had to cover the cost of (I later learned).. I remember a lot of things. One in particular, on one trip, Dad pointed out a building that was being built at the time and telling me that would be the tallest building. It was the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower).. I couldn’t tell you exactly what year that was, 1972 or 1973, but it’s something I never forgot.

***click images for full sized views***

There have been a few other times I’ve been to the city… A two way train connection between here and western destinations. Prior to that a visit to my then, fiance’, when she was there attending a conference (that was the beginning of the end too). As I said last week though, never as with this time. Sunday came and I met my hostess at the front door of the building where we walked to the bus stop to head back downtown for more sight seeing. The bus we got on wasn’t as crowded as the ones we rode the previous day, perhaps because we weren’t downtown yet. Remember last week I said I wanted a weekend for this trip because of smaller crowds? Well, we found the crowd on this Sunday. This city never really sleeps. I can’t imagine what it’s like there during the work week although, I got a taste of it sitting in traffic getting there. For Breakfast, we decided on this place across from where we got off the bus. This was to be my treat. My hosts had regular breakfasts but I got a glimpse of what the woman at the table next to me was having. You saw me in a photo last week, I like to eat. Rather, when I pay for a meal, I like to feel as though I got my money’s worth. I don’t eat breakfast often, in fact, this was probably the first in over 10 years. That is, if you don’t count the donuts we use to stop and get when I had a job driving test cars (I left that job to take care of my mother).. This was called a ‘skillet’ and it isn’t something I had ever seen before. Obviously I have had eggs and that sort of thing before but not really like this. It was a Thick omelet prepared on top of a bed of fried potatoes. I’m sure my cholesterol spiked while eating it but it was tasty. By the way, we didn’t set out to go to this place, we just got off the bus to have a look around and see what was available.

One of the goals for today was the Chicago River. I like bridges and I like being able to take pictures of them. We jumped back on the and continued down State Street. The bus let us off near this structure (of which there are two).. You have probably noticed that I like the vertical photos of these buildings. To me, it gives a real sense of scale, especially when you consider that the first several floors of this building are parking spaces. I couldn’t begin to tell how one gets their car in there, it wasn’t obvious from the street. On the left side of it (as viewing) is the river. I am guessing that these are (very expensive) apartment buildings or hotels.

Stepping out on to the drawbridge carrying across the river, these are another kind of photos I enjoy taking. It kind of surprised me that this river isn’t frozen from the winter. Typically, Detroit, the river freezes, at least along the shorelines. There really isn’t a lot of spectacular here in my pics of the river… It’s just something that, typically due to location, I don’t get the chance to shoot. One can take water taxi rides here, I’m guessing small dinner cruises, things like that. I can’t imagine anyone using a boat here to do commerce. There are dock spaces below the buildings for storage and at this time, they were all cocooned but, still in the water. Also kind of surprising to me.. Here they are typically taken out of the water. I am also told that (by now), this river is colored Green for St Patrick’s day. I don’t know to what extent or how they manage to do it. Perhaps when it’s frozen the color the ice.

Sadly, and typical of larger (and smaller) cities, the homeless are also there. These are the people that folks roll up their windows when they encounter them, walk across the street to avoid them, and generally pretend not to see them. This particular woman was just sitting there, not bothering anyone for donations, just there with her plastic cup. I put some greenbacks in that cup, not going to say how much, and then asked to take a photo. She quietly nodded, I snapped my picture and moved on. I don’t know if this is fact or not but I noticed that as I put my money in the cup, so did several others. Was my donation seed money? Doesn’t matter, either way, I know that day, she would have something to eat or a hot drink. Whatever. Notice that the cup looks empty. As soon as people put money in there, she takes it out sans the few pennies, nickels and dimes. I don’t know… For all I know she lives in one of those apartments and is just out to get some coffee money because that’s just what she does. I hope not though.

One of the things I wanted to do while I was there was ride the trains. By trains I mean the ones that use to be elevated and zip around above the city streets. While I did ride trains, the ones I pictured  riding no longer exist. Probably haven’t this century. Some of the bridges and platforms are still there but for the most part, the tracks (what couldn’t be incorporated into their current system), are gone. We did ride the subway that day, I forget what it was called (CTA, I think)… When we entered, there were a lot of steps to walk down. I think we rode an escalator down but all I could think of is I hope there is one at the other end of the line were we would get off. The subway platform was typical of platforms but my camera couldn’t make up it’s mind on how to expose for a photo. Sometimes though, that makes for an interesting picture. I think this is actually the stop where we got off of the train near where my hostess lives. My hopes for an escilator were quickly dashed when I saw the long flight of stairs to get up to street level.

With one exception that was about the end of our sight seeing day on Sunday. I’ll link the entire picture set below so you can see it all. Remember I said that nothing is free or even inexpensive in Chicago. Those with limited use cars, are better off without them and using public transportation. One of the other things I like to take pictures of is other people’s misery. Not pain and suffering type of stuff, I’m not interested in photographing that, especially to exploit as I am here. I mean things like a cop putting a parking ticket on someone’s window as in the photo here. What I didn’t see was the woman who owns the car walking up behind me as we were all laughing at the parking ticket. My hostess was a bit embarrassed that we had been. It’s in the set linked at the end of this but I won’t show the woman as she is reading her parking ticket. I don’t know if she didn’t pay, or didn’t pay enough for her stay. What I would bet however, is that ticket probably cost more than we paid for the entire day of transportation, per person. The rest of the evening was spent as the prior two had been spent, dinner and such…

The following day, Monday, my hostess had some personal business to tend to in another city.. I went along for the ride but I’m not going to disclose a whole lot in the interest of protecting her privacy. It did involve a train however. That morning we got a cab to Olgilvie Transportation Center.

This is the Second such picture I took. It is near the ticket counter and the doors to the train platforms. The First picture I took, my camera rudely reminded me that I had left my memory card in my computer back at the apartment. After some short discussion of what to do about it, I decided to buy a new card for the day’s trip. I knew it would be more expensive than I can buy online but jeeze, with tax, nearly $40 for the same card I can buy online for $20. The truely sad part of that, I didn’t take very many pictures.

One thing I can show you, and I hate to ruin this for some of you.. One of the places we stopped in at the other end of this train ride, was an antiques shop. We found a gift for one of the crusty still hanging on HWs. It appears to be just her style and we thought it would suit her very well. See if you can guess which one.. That’s a necklace by the way.

That brings me to a close of my Chicago adventure. The following Tuesday, check out day, it was snowing like crazy. I had the option of staying longer because the studio I was in was open and I wanted to stay longer. It was decided though (mostly by me) that it was better to make an exit before I got snowed in. They were expecting a wallop of a snow storm that could have made leaving very messy. As it happened, I hit a lot of lake effect snow going around Lake Michigan and back into Michigan. In fact, those were the conditions until I got to near Kalamazoo. I had car problems on the way. Fixing a car in a snow covered Indiana gas station parking lot is no fun but, I made it home okay otherwise and it’s all part of the adventure I guess. Needless to say, I was in no mood for pictures that morning so, you’ll just have to take my word for it 😉 .

I haven’t set these to music yet, don’t know if I will  but you can view a slideshow of the sights here.

Once again. I would like to extend the warmest thank you to my hostess for her hospitality. Without her, this likely would have been a lot less interesting for me. It’s always nice to have someone to share these adventures with.

Until next time my friends,

Peace. MTH.

About MelTheHound

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16 Responses to Saturday Special – Tale Of Two Cities

  1. Jill...no not THAT Jill says:

    Great pics Jeff-thanks for taking me on your trip!!!

  2. Just Wondering in Jersey says:

    Great trip Jeff. When’s the next one? I believe you were referring to Luann with regard to the necklace 🙂

  3. ItWasTorture! says:

    Oh! Yes! She would be thrilled with that, covering her until the belly! Hahaha!

    Super enjoyed your Tale of Two cities, MelTheHound!

  4. Kaereste says:

    MTH that was a lot of fun to read. Thank you.
    Your hostess sounds very gracious to take you on a midwinter tour of the windy city. Will you be hosting her on a future trip to your “neck of the woods”? That would be fun to read about.

    Have you read Devil and White City? the true story about the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_in_the_White_City

    • melthehound says:

      You’re welcome, Kaereste..

      My hostess has an open invitation to switch roles so to speak and come here for a visit. Detroit isn’t nearly as interesting (to me) as Chicago though.

      I have not read that book but it looks interesting. Likely, I’ll see the movie before reading the book..

    • Hey K, Great book. 🙂

  5. I have to thank you (again) for part 2 of your trip. The pics are terrific, although I didn’t realize you could get vertigo just looking at photographs. As for the lovely woman you found on the sidewalk, I don’t know what her story is but she sure looks happy just having her picture taken – yep, I know, your donation probably broadened her smile, too.
    Please take more trips and share them with us. The two you’ve written about have been a lot of fun. 🙂

  6. Boobah says:

    Melth, thanks for sharing your Chicago adventures! This was a fun read. And the pictures are AWESOME! I really enjoyed veiwing them. I am really interested in the silver coffee bean thingy! What it is and why is it there?? LOL!

    • melthehound says:

      Hi Boobah 😀 You’re welcome and Thank you!

      The bean, is really called the Cloud Gate (as I’ve just learned). If you get directly under the center of it, it sort of appears you are standing in the clouds or about to walk into them through an opening, that doesn’t really exist. I didn’t get such a picture, too many people inside and they didn’t yield before we moved on. My hostess got a photo and what it looks like this (but is not her photo either)..

      Here is the Wiki article on the structure.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Gate

      • Boobah says:

        Thanks for the link! The Cloud Gate is very interesting. I imagine it was cool to see in person. Glad you enjoyed your Chicago visit. Although that last part about fixing your car at the gas station was something you could have done without!

        • melthehound says:

          You’re welcome..

          Yes, that is definitely something I could have done without. It wasn’t anything difficult but a pain in the butt none the less.

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