Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicago !

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM
All week I've been nervously checking weatherunderground for the forecast, and wondering what kind of clothing I should bring. Anticipating fun, I nearly didnt get any sleep during the nights before the departure. Chicago! A city I knew I would see someday but not high on my list. But when the invitation finally arrived, I knew this would be the year to see T's hometown. The aerial view from the Southwest Boeing 737 showed glimpses of a big sprawled city, very green, underneath suspending snowy white clouds. The landing was rocky and even after touching down, the plane swayed from side to side. A bit of a scary moment. The tradewinds pushed us almost a half hour ahead of schedule and so when I called, T and T had just taken off. So I had a long moment to inhale the initial scents of the city, to feel its pleasant temperature, and to sample the sound and movements of the chicagoans arriving home. The 2-door grey Toyota Echo finally pulled up and T got out and with a bear hug I was officially welcomed to the windy city. Along Lakeshore drive, I set my eyes upon Lake Michigan, my second great lake. Like Superior, it's immense. The day was very fine and very pleasant. The water was blue and calm. Right next to the shore, stood the Buckingham fountain, over 100 years old, designed after the Versailles Bassin de Latone, with 4 sea horses, each representing a state bordering Lake Michigan, while the fountain symbolizes the lake itself. The wind blew sprays drenching us and displaying rainbows. Too bad we couldnt see it after dark where there's a water show with lights and music. The fountain was located in a wide open area in Grant Park, with spectacular unobstructed view of the Chicago famous skyline. The view of the downtown buildings was unimaginably spectacular. The Hippo felt free and happy. Then to the Millennium Park to see the Bean, a 110-ton elliptical sculpture, forged from polished stainless steel, which reflected the city's skyline and the clouds above. Next to the Bean, there's a fountain with videos that show faces of ordinary chicagoans. AFter that we walked down Michigan Ave where historical buildings, like the Wrigley chewing gun, that looked so thin and triangular, stood next to glass and steel structures. Next to the Chicago river, stood the neo-gothic Tribune Tower where the Chicago Tribune and WGN radio (I routinely watch WGN) were located. One of the places that was meaningful to me. The tower was made of limestone with butresses and gargoyles. Stuck on the façade and on the side walls, were rocks from different sites, the Trondheim Cathedral, Clementine Hall, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre-Dame, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Independence Hall, Fort Santiago, the Berlin Wall, and a moon rock (T said it's a fake) on loan from NASA, with labels with their location of origin. It was a most amazing and interesting idea, and I suggested to T that he should do the same being a geologist. Then we walked down a flight of stairs, and you realized you were walking on a street that was directly above another street! The Magnificent Mile was truly magnificent, lined with every designer shop you love. I had my first Chicago beef at Al's, a local joint which was busiest and most popular around 2AM! After experiencing the Chicago rush hour, we made it to Palos Hills, a nice green, quiet, tree filled suburb which what looked like a million dollar neigbourhood. T's brother's condo backyard faced the trees and one of the canals, and we sat there in the dusk twilight , drinking red wine, while L's dog Frankie ran around happily wagging his tail, chasing invisible rabbits. A nice way to wind down a long adventurous day in a place that was rapidly becoming one of my favorites.


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