Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicago, Chicago. That toddlin town.

On to Chicago.

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders:

I've always loved that poem.  I read it years and years ago, when I was just a kid, and ever since I always want to shout out HOG BUTCHER TO THE WORLD! whenever someone mentions the place.  Although that also makes me think of The Jungle and then I have to curl up in a dark corner and think of vegetables and green fields.

We got off the train on Monday afternoon and spent three days wandering around and having a great time. 

To the List!

1.) The heat. What Carl Sandburg neglected to leave out of that poem was that Chicago is also Satan’s Sauna. It is the steam room in the Fiery Pits of Hell. I did not know that such oppressive heat even existed - and I've been to Phoenix in July. I’ve heard this phrase all the time - It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I’m going to needle point that on to a pillow because never have truer words been spoken. I can honestly say that I have never sweat so profusely and so constantly as I did in Chicago. I live in a place that has temperate weather 300 days out of the year and I am a delicate flower who wilts in that kind of heat.  I looked like this all week: 
Droopy.  Only my dignity stood in the way of going without clothes. In fact, when one of the museum attendants heard we were going to the Cubs game she said, “Girl, you better go naked.” I will also be needle pointing that. We were told that this was freakish weather. But I’m here to say that if that kind of weather is even a possibility and they are known for their miserable winters as well, that just means people who live there are dummies.

2.) But also very helpful and friendly dummies. People were offering to help us with direction every few yards. It’s that Midwestern charm you hear about.

3.) The heat created a weird steamy fog over Lake Michigan that was so thick I didn’t actually get a good look at the thing until our 3rd day there. I was skeptical that it even existed. Here's my view of the "lake" from the Ferris wheel

We took an architecture boat cruise up the river, starting in the steamy fog and doubting that we would be able to see anything, but when we got through the lock the sun was out and we got to see all sorts of cool buildings and wave to people on the bridges above.  You know how much I love to wave at people from boats and trains.  It makes me feel like I'm in a parade.

4.)  Did you know the first Ferris wheel was created in Chicago?  And that it held 2400 people?  And it took an hour to make a full rotation?  I did know, so I was excited to ride the one they have at Navy Pier, even if the visibility was no farther than your toes.

5.) On the hottest day there we went to Wrigley Field and watched the Cubs get shamed by the Phillies.

Oh, it was a miserable game for them. But it was awesome to be inside such a cool ball park. They have a manual scoreboard and all that ivy on the wall.  We ate peanuts and cheered for the Cubs and stayed for the entire game, which is rare for Dodger fans.    

5.) Maybe I’ll be stoned for saying this but I wasn’t all that impressed with the deep dish pizza. I mean, it was delicious, but I don’t think it lived up to the hype. Give me a normal depth pizza anytime.

6.) The popcorn though. They sell this stuff called Garrett’s popcorn and I plan on stuffing my coffin with it when I die.

7.) I viewed this trip almost entirely through Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Who wouldn’t? So when I was in the Chicago Institute of Art I have a very Cameron moment in front of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. And I said “heybattabattabattabattabatta sa-WING batta” multiple times at the Cubs game and when we went to a fancy restaurant I wanted to say we were with Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

8.)  That restaurant, Gibson's, served me the Greatest Steak I've Ever Eaten.  Period.

9.)  Heather did a lot of brave things on this trip.  She sat through an entire baseball game, she walked across questionable bridges, she spent a week with three Knechts.  But the bravest thing she did was walk into the Plexiglass box on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower

She refused to look down.  I don't blame her because when I looked down I thought "Well, at least I got to eat Garrett's Popcorn before I plummet to my death."  I am not afraid of heights and I wasn't nervous to walk out but once I was out there I was wishing I had a parachute or at least some common sense to not do crazy things.

10.)  More pictures, because I love you.

Cloud Gate

In about 5 minutes that kid on the fountain will spit water out of his mouth.  The frolicking that went on there was adorable.

This is the Carbonite and Carbon building.  In a city full of great buildings this one was my favorite.

There was a lovely stained glass museum at Navy Pier.  It was free and air conditioned which made it a winner.

The lake finally confirmed it's existence.
To sum up:  Chicago is great.  And I'd love to return...when it's not trying to sizzle me like bacon.


Rach said...

1. If only you had come to visit us in the Deep South, you wouldn't have been quite so shocked by the horror of high humidity. I'm just saying. And yes, you end up feeling wilty and sweaty all day. I took a lot of showers when I lived in humidity.

2. Now I want to watch Ferris Bueller.

3. I went to a deep dish pizza place that a native knew about, and it was delish, but what was really impressive was their fried mozzarella sticks. They weren't rubbery. I didn't know that was possible.

4. Thanks for all the pictures. What a fabtastic trip! Can I come next time?

Anonymous said...

You know that line Gimli says when they're in Fangorn forest - "The air is so close in here!" That's how I consistently felt in Wisconsin, like the air was invading my dance space boundaries. Not casual air. So when it brings with it whatever temperature is being flung carelessly down from Mother Nature, it's like my coworkers who touched me rubbing my face with blow torches. I know your pain.

Lish said...

Is it just me that thinks the cloud gate looks like the ship from the movie flight of the navigator?