|Chicago - Easter 1995|
Travelogue: Chicago 1995
By Roger W. Reini
The daily writeups from the 14th through the 17th were rewritten in October 2003 based on my original writeups from April 1995.
It was Good Friday, and I was about to set off on my latest vacation. Destination: Chicago. Not counting times I rode through town several years ago with my family on trips from Texas to upper Michigan, the first time I visited Chicago was March 1983, a one-day bus trip. I've made several return visits, none of them by bus. Today, I was driving there, and I was going to spend a week in the area, seeing what I felt like seeing, and doing what I felt like doing. But before I left, I spent some time playing with the neighbor's cat, who occasionally can be seen roaming the neighborhood. It had become friendly with me, friendly enough to try to get inside the house. But I was quick enough and kept it from getting inside.
The drive through Michigan was uneventful, aside from some road construction on I-94. For a change, I got off the freeway at the New Buffalo exit and followed US 12 into Indiana, through Michigan City and along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I decided to stop at one of these dunes, Mount Baldy, and take a look-see. It was a bit of a hike up to the top of the dune, and soft sand in places made it that much harder. But the view from the top of the dune was fabulous. I could see a big part of the Lake Michigan shoreline. I could even see the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago in the distance. I took some video, then continued on my way. I had the radio on Q101, the modern rock station in Chicago; I enjoyed listening to one of the DJ's, Samantha James, an expatriate Briton who was a big fan of Duran Duran. I kept following US 12 until I reached the intersection with I-65 in Gary, at which point I got onto the freeway and took it down to I-80/94, which I then followed into Illinois. 80/94 is normally heavy with traffic, especially cross-country truck traffic, that doesn't observe the speed limit, and today was no exception.
By the time I reached Illinois, it was lunchtime, and I was hungry. I stopped for lunch at a Fuddrucker's in Calumet City (US 6 east of I-94), then continued up the Calumet Expressway, which ran into the Dan Ryan Expressway, which took me to the Stevenson Expressway, which I took to Lake Shore Drive. I drove up Lake Shore Drive all the way to its northern end, where it became Sheridan Road, which meandered along the North Side and the suburbs of Evanston and Wilmette. My destination was the Bahá'í House of Worship, located at the corner of Sheridan and Linden in Wilmette. My first visit had been eleven months before, in May 1994. Today, I did what I normally do when I visit: spend some time inside the auditorium in meditation and prayer, wander around the gardens, circumambulate the structure, visit the Cornerstone Room and spend some time in the bookstore. I thought the selection was a bit depleted today, though I still bought a few books. Then it was time to leave and check into my hotel. That entailed a cross-suburb drive; I found my way down to Golf Road and took that across town to Schaumburg, where my hotel was located. For the next few days, I would be staying at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield, named for the Woodfield Mall across the street. For supper, I went to the mall and ate at the Manchu Wok restaurant.
I started off my day with breakfast in the hotel restaurant. This morning, I had a southwestern omelet. My main excursion today was to the Museum of Science and Industry on the South Side, easily reachable by South Lake Shore Drive. I'd been there once before, in 1986. I went through the whole museum, including tours of a captured World War II-era German U-boat and a Boeing 727. The jetliner had been cut away and widened to allow for easy visitor passage, for having been on enough of them, I could tell that the center aisle was a lot wider than normal. Lunch wasn't fancy, just a hamburger in the Astro Cafe. Nearby was the center's IMAX theater, which was playing THE LIVING SEAS today. I didn't feel like watching that film, so I didn't.
When I left, I worked my way up to the Stevenson Expressway and took that out of town heading southwest. This was I-55, which replaced Route 66 in Illinois. If I were to have taken it to its end, I would have gone through St. Louis, Memphis, Jackson, and eventually New Orleans. But I only went as far as Highway 83, the Kingery Highway, in suburban Willowbrook. Highway 83 wanders all over town. You could take it from Wisconsin to Indiana (or vice versa). Here, I took it north, passing through some of the western suburbs, including the Oakbrook Shopping Center. I found my way back to the hotel and decided to take a bit of a rest.
After that rest, I decided to visit the Tower Records store that was down the street on Golf, less than a mile from the hotel. There was a Tower in downtown Ann Arbor, but I thought this one had a better selection. It certainly had a good selection today, for I bought a few CD's and CD singles, as well as a laserdisc on the making of the Beatles' film A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. Tower was a strong supporter of the laserdisc format over the years. Then it was back to the hotel, where I had a room service meal of fajitas and quesadillas.
Today was Easter Sunday. In years past, I would have been in Virginia visiting my sister and her family during Easter and the week after. However, I'd recently visited them while taking some database training in the Washington, DC area, so I decided to do something different this year. This was probably the first time I'd been on my own for Easter; in previous years, I'd been with other family members. What was I going to do today? I was not going to have Easter brunch at the hotel. I didn't have the proper attire, for one thing, and I presume that it was sold out in advance. I did have waffles for breakfast, though. I drove into town and visited another Tower Records store, this one on North Clark Street. This was a bigger store than the one on Golf Road. I browsed here for some time, but I don't think I got anything. Afterwards, I wandered over to the Lincoln Park Zoo and spent some time there; the price was right -- it was free.
After my zoo trip, I got back into my car and drove up the shoreline. I was back on Lake Shore Drive and Sheridan Road. I stopped at the House of Worship briefly, mainly so I could use the restroom. Then I continued past the House up Sheridan, seeing parts of town I'd never seen. When I reached Old Elm Road in Highland Park or Lake Forest, I decided I'd traveled far enough north. I headed back across town via the various backroads and returned to my hotel. When it was time for supper, I went across Golf Road to Houlihan's, noted for their potato soup. Yum!
I had pancakes for breakfast this morning in the hotel restaurant. That was my last meal at the hotel, for today, I was going to move to a different hotel. After packing up, I checked out, then spent the morning driving around the western suburbs. There was an Elek-Tek computer store close to the hotel on Golf Road, so I stopped inside and looked around. It turned out they had something I was looking for: a portable CD-ROM drive. My computer did not have a CD-ROM drive, so I was in the market for one. This one connected via the parallel port; I couldn't get an internal drive, for some reason. I walked out of the store with that portable drive. Then I drove down to the QED audio/video store on Ogden Avenue; I didn't get anything there. I backtracked and visited the Oakbrook Shopping Center. It was an open-air shopping mall that I believe had been recently renovated. I hung around for a bit, and then I went to McDonald's for lunch.
When I was finished at Oakbrook, I set off for the Holiday Inn O'Hare, which would be my home for the next few days. It was located 2 blocks from the River Road CTA transit line stop, which made it convenient to visit downtown without driving there. After checking in, I did take the L into town. Among the places I visited were Marshall Field's main store and the Kroch's & Brentano's bookstore on South Wabash. I ended up getting a TV Guide. After I returned to the hotel, I had fettucine alfredo for supper in the hotel's restaurant.
From this point forward, the daily writeups are exactly as I wrote them up in April 1995.
No formal breakfast; just nibbled from the room mini-bar. Took the El into town to go to the Adler Planetarium and Field Museum. When I went, it was cold, grey and foggy, with rain threatening at any time. After I left the planetarium, the fog had burned away, and the sun was peeking out. It was VERY windy, too. Well, Chicago IS the Windy City! Saw an interesting sky show, Cosmic Collisions, about the possibility of comets or asteroids hitting the Earth. Went to the Field Museum, but I wasn't very impressed by it. One area I lingered in was the Ancient Egypt exhibit, which featured a number of mummies, including an unwrapped mummy of a young boy. It was a bit disturbing, I thought. After I left the museum, I got over to Michigan Avenue and started walking north. Stopped in a travel bookstore and had lunch at the Boudin Sourdough bakery -- clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. They're based in San Francisco. I enjoyed the soup. This was what I wanted to have last Friday but couldn't, as the one at Woodfield was out of the sourdough bowls. Next, I went to the new home of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Its new home is laid out much better than its previous home. The exhibits were considerably upgraded. The radio hall of fame area had "Jack Benny's Vault"; step inside and alarms go off. There was also "Fibber McGee's Closet"; open the door, and you'd see it full of all sorts of junk. The TV area was no slouch, either. The main viewing area was running two programs featuring Hugh Downs (the subject of a month-long retrospective), an interview with Frank Lloyd Wright and being interviewed by Jack Paar. There were exhibits of puppets from old Chicago kid-TV shows like Garfield Goose and the Gigglesnort Hotel. Upstairs, the TV archives were much like they were before at the old location. You go up to the terminal and locate the program you're interested in, then retrieve your program and take it to the viewing area. I didn't take advantage of the service this time, though I have in the past. For the heck of it, I wanted to see if they had any Tracey Ullman stuff. They had two items: WOMEN IN ROCK and FUNNY WOMEN OF TELEVISION (meaning my archives are much more extensive; I have these items along with many others). Left there, then headed through Marshall Fields to the CTA line (a subway downtown, it becomes elevated for a while, becomes a subway again, then stays elevated in the Kennedy Expressway median all the way to the airport. Rested for a bit, then went to Woodfield. Supper was at Long John Silver's. One more thing: I heard on the news that the Houston Post folded today. It was bought out by the Chronicle. What a shock! We always had the Post in our house. When I was real young, we had both papers for a time, but it was mostly just the Post. For many years, Mom used to cut out things from the paper that I'd be interested in -- Lynn Ashby, Ken Hoffman, Scotty, and other things. I will miss it.
Decided not to go into town today. Instead, I went up to Gurnee Mills in Gurnee. It's a big outlet place similar to Potomac Mills. Decided not to take the tollway up after seeing congestion, so I went up US 45 all the way there. It was a different route, and I saw more parts of the area I'd never seen before. It also enabled me to record more of Samantha James (see last Friday). Went through the Mills -- that is a BIG place!! I didn't get anything there, though I seriously considered picking up some discs. The prices on those discs were no different from the regular prices, which I thought odd, seeing as this was supposed to be an outlet store. Had lunch at Villa Pizza, then went back to check some stores out. Stopped in a store that featured Panasonic products (TVs, stereos, etc. -- even a bidet). Then I saw the news on one of the TVs -- a terrible explosion took out half of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. Scores are dead, including many children. I was planning on visiting the House of Worship on my way back, but I now had another reason to go: to pray for the ones killed in the blast. The trip down the tollway and the Edens was uneventful. While at the House, I did offer a prayer for the departed for all those killed, as well as for Mom and Dad. Afterwards, I went down to the bookstore in the lower level and bought a nice photo of the House (the primary purpose of my visit), a CD, and a video on someone who had a near-death experience that tied in well with the Baha'i teachings on the afterlife. I then proceeded to the Old Orchard mall, which has been significantly expanded with a Nordstrom, a Barnes and Noble, and other stores. They even have a Learningsmith, which I had only seen in Tysons Corner and a couple of San Francisco shopping centers. Will Detroit get one soon? I bought the Ali translation of the Quran at Barnes and Noble, and that was it. I was getting tired, so I drove back to the hotel -- Gross Point to Touhy to Des Plaines River Road. Rested in my hotel room while I watched the news. Naturally, the big story was the OK blast. I wonder who did it? Speculation ranges from Branch Dividians (this day 2 years ago, their compound in Waco went up in flames) to Middle Eastern terrorists. If this attack was motivated by misguided religious beliefs . . . It shows that we need to follow the message of Baha'u'llah more than ever. Had supper in the restaurant -- blackened chicken, with cheesecake for dessert. Yum, yum! Weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow; I have no idea what I'll do.
Drove to the Brickyard on Diversey; got some Pepto-Bismol tablets. Drove down Harlem a long ways, through Oak Park and other Near West suburbs. Then drove down Joliet Road, old Route 66. Near Joliet, passed by the Statesville prison. Went through downtown Joliet and right by Harrah's casino. Then drove on I-80 and 55, then walked around the Louis Joliet Mall. Didn't get anything there, so I got back on the freeway (back roads; the closest on ramp was closed) and up the North-South Tollway to Schaumburg. Had lunch at Chi-Chi's, then went to CompUSA and Tower. Ended up getting 3 CD's -- 2 old Dylan albums and a Gene Clark disc -- I think it's a live disc, and possibly bootleg. Then I went to Park Ridge and Laser Audio Video on Northwest Highway -- supposedly the Midwest's largest LD selection. Got the Criterion ADDAMS FAMILY disc, which I'd seen yesterday at Camelot at Gurnee Mills but forgot to get. Back to the hotel and the news.
Decided there was nothing else I wanted to do in town, so I packed up and headed home.
©1995, 2003 R. W. Reini. All rights reserved.
Written by Roger Reini