I know, I haven't been on the blog for a while. I suppose I have been busy.
Since I last posted, among the things I've done include:
During the Chicago trip, I was in class most of the work day, from 8:30 to 3:30 most days. But I was very happy I didn't drive the entire time! I stayed at the hotel where the class was held, a Hampton Inn three blocks north of the Chicago River, not far from The Loop. I did at least take a few longer trips on CTA than I had in the past; I even made it out to the PACE suburban bus system on a whim.
But mostly, I focused on the area from Lincoln Park to The Loop. I walked around a lot on North Michigan (The Magnificent Mile) and all over downtown. Most days, the weather was amazing! I know that's unusual for Chicago, but it was also striking just how many people were on the sidewalks at all hours of the day, but especially at lunchtime downtown.
I rode Amtrak to and from Chicago; it was, of course, a little bit late but it wasn't too uncomfortable for the most part.
On my first day there (Sunday), I took the #151 Sheridan bus up to Lincoln Park Zoo, which was just packed with throngs of people. Later, I took the very busy bike/ped bridge across Lakeshore Drive to explore the beaches along Lake Michigan.
Somehow, I doubt St. Louis will ever have a waterfront like that. The Great Lakes, as polluted as they are, still look much prettier than the Mississippi.
Later I poked around Navy Pier, which was moderately interesting (and very busy) on Sunday night. I was really struck by just how many different places there are to eat and shop, in and around the downtown. Yeah, I didn't go to the Southside. I did go out onto Northerly Island a little bit, just to explore that part of the lakefront, via the express bus to Adler Planetarium. I didn't visit the museums though, because I didn't want to shell out all that cash when it was already past 4:00 when I got there.
Anyway, for some reason I think on Monday afternoon I decided to hop on the Red Line northbound from Grand/State all the way to the end at Howard. Those "slow zones" on the CTA can get really annoying. Also, it's curious to see how many windows adjacent to the El are either bricked or concrete-blocked in closer to downtown, but as you get further north, they are more likely just views of cardboard boxes in attics and storerooms.
Then I caught the Purple from Howard to Davis, in Evanston IL. There, I just got off and decided to board the #250 Dempster Street PACE bus, a very long route that traverses Evanston, Skokie (lots of synagogues), Morton Grove, Des Plaines (where I saw floodwaters held back by sandbags lining the road), then turns southward from downtown Des Plaines passing the Allstate Arena before ending at the O'Hare "Kiss-n-Fly" station.
I then boarded the surreal O'Hare transportation system, then wended my way through the terminals to catch the CTA Blue Line for the long ride back into downtown, with way too many slow zones.
Anyway, with what free time I did have, I tried to make it somewhat interesting. I probably shouldn't have eaten at McDonald's so much -- once, three times in one day, at three different McD's all within walking distance of the hotel! Of course, a couple of those were trips to the Rock N Roll McDonald's only a few blocks northwest.
One of these days I need to go to Chicago for something other than a conference or class! Like, an actual vacation maybe?