Monday, July 22, 2013

Willis Tower, and other ridiculous delusions

We're in Chicago!

After five days wandering thru farm fields and lakes, it was time to check out the city before we headed home. Of course, Terry got up early to make us homemade cornmeal blueberry pancakes and sausage before we hit the road. I'm silently cursing myself during breakfast -- wasting all those years with my own family and in laws when I could have been kickin it with the Midwestern crew! Instead of making me homemade cornmeal blueberry pancakes, the California Garrow's act like they raised me or something and I should be all thankful, blah blah blah.

Anyway Chicago is cool, and we had some great tour guides in the form of Chris and my two coworkers who used to live in the area. This post covers two days of activities, with super mega special bonus posts about food and fashion coming later.

Day 1
Actually, one thing that is not cool is the tolls. We had a 90 minute drive from Mishawaka to Chicago and it cost us three stops at toll booths for a total of $12 bucks. Weak.

We heard the boat architecture tour was a must-do, so as soon as I finished giving an (admittedly undeserved) shitty attitude to the hotel concierge for their ridiculous parking fee ($45, in other words, fuck you and your rental car) and driving to a different lot to store the car, we were off!

You can tour the city by bus, bike, boat or foot. The humidity makes even blinking a sweaty event, so we decided on the boat. $85 later we were touring the city skyscrapers from the river (lake?). About two thirds if the way through, the tour guide's microphone went out, so they brought out this megaphone. I guess something was wrong with the boat ago we were headed back early, with the tour to be continued via megaphone. I couldn't really pay attention because all I could fantasize about was ripping the megaphone out of granny's hands and telling childhood stories about my dad to these folks (collecting donations afterwards), but I did manage to snap some cool photos during the tour.
On the boat, underneath a bridge. 


Bridge open/lifted.

This is probably one of my favorite photos. You can see the reflection of three other buildings in this building.

They were offering a free ride on the next boat tour or free tickets to another to make up for the megaphone shenanigans. All I could think was if they didn't give me a full refund, this scene would be worse than the time Dan and I exploded at the manager regarding the lawn demolition outside our hotel room. I believe the end result was Doug and Dan's wife Theresa huddling in the back of the office petting the cat, and me and Dan smiling happily about a free room upgrade.

Anyway a full refund was issued, which was nice because honestly the architecture route was only mildly interesting, it was super expensive, and the buildings are viewable from all over the city. So with $80 back in our pocket we moved on to Millennium Park.

When somebody tells you make it a point to check out a giant mirror bean in the middle of a park, the normal reaction is to smile politely and think about other things you'd never want to see. Luckily I ignored these thoughts and checked out the bean. I was wrong. This thing is pretty bitchin.

Can you spot us?

Doug likes to take pics with his mouth open. 

As was this big outdoor fountain thing. Lots of screaming children.

Then there was a woman bathing her children in a fountain which did not appear to be a bathtub.

Amphitheater with Giant Metal Thing.

Our dogs were barkin so we took a break at Barnes and Nobles (free bathrooms, wifi, and air conditioning) before heading over to Sears Tower!

I'm sorry, did I say Sears Tower? I meant Willis Tower. Right, because the tallest structure IN THE WORLD can just be renamed when a new sponsor rolls in and everyone will love it. Nobody walks around asking where Willis Tower is. It's like renaming Christmas or New York or Carmen Electra*.
Sears Tower had a huge wait, was super tall, and had scary see-thru ledges you could stand on.

Looking down from the top. 

Day 2
Slept in at our cool hotel that Doug scored with hotel points. The Indigo on the Magnificent Mile is in a great Chicago location (imho). Cute neighborhood with lots of old buildings, apartments, and restaurants. A quick walk takes you to all the tourist locations, and a little park with a statute of Lincoln and a face.

Look at this bitch totally copying my pose second after I descended these steps!

We took a walk this morning and did our own architectural tour.

Chicago is a very anti-dog city. Which is great, because I hate dogs. Everywhere you go there are no dogs allowed signs, keep of grass signs, and I even saw city sign that said "dog feces attracts rats". All the city landscaping had little fences around it to keep out dogs. Finally sometime figured it out.

All beautiful landscaping is protected from dogs with nice fencing. 

Chicago also hates cars. There is a public bike share program, which is great, but it's small asks only had sucking stations at downtown central areas. In an effort to promote their bike share program (no), parking was $33 a night at the corner lot of our hotel, $10 per half hour at other lots. 48 hours in Chicago = $55 in parking fees.

Enough about dog feces and parking, on to fine art.

We went to Chicago Art Institute. Saw some great pieces.

Doug standing in between a Manet (L) and a Monet (R), which I find amusing. 

Van Gogh's room. And me. 

Van Gogh self portrait. 

Doug, serving as the next model. 

Green Acres! Just kidding. The American Gothic. 

Red Armchair (Picasso)



They were also having their Impressionism, Art and Modernity special exhibit, on loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France. This exhibit was boring because, you know, we are fancy world travelers and had ALREADY SEEN THE EXHIBIT IN PARIS! I made sure to talk about this loudly in the vicinity of other visitors so they knew how important and fabulous I was. We actually did end up visiting the exhibit because we wanted to see this painting, featured poignantly in a popular 1980's movie.

What was really interesting was that the special exhibit looked exactly the same in Chicago as it did in Paris. They brought in the same bourbon pained walls, the same display cases, even the same artificial grass and bird chirping track for their "outdoor fashion" section. They even had the same stupid no photography rule.

So, do you know the movie the painting was featured in? Have you ever bathed in a public fountain? Did anyone actually know that Sears Tower underwent a name change? Have you ever been to Paris, like me? Any other dog haters besides me and my dad out there?

(Special shout out to Elle, Betty, Chris and her daughter for their recommendations that led to an awesome Chicago trip -spot on!)

*Because Prince said so, Tara Leigh Patrick changed her name to Carmen Electra in 1991. To change it back would beer ridiculous at this point. See: Puffy Combs, Puff Daddy, P.Diddy, Sean Jean, Douche Bag, etc.


  1. Ok, so I don't see that you visited any of my recs on here. Too weird? Too hoody? Totally lame? Short trip? Too effing hot to walk anywhere? Did you at least hop on the EL at some point? At least you got to stand on the skydeck thing at the Sears Tower. That's neat. I've never done that. Oh btw, Sears isn't the tallest building in the world anymore. Dubai.

    1. Yeah on the tour they said it wasn't the tallest building, that's why I said the tallest structure - because I guess those radio towers still count :) We had your rec's on the list but we literally had about 36 hours total in Chicago, so we were running (well, walking briskly) to the super touristy stuff first, and it was only because our plane was delayed that we got to eat some pizza again. But the next time we come back, I have some good "the REAL Chicago" tips from you - to go see the neighborhoods and more local restaurants - instead of just all the major tourist attractions :)

      Temperature-wise it wasn't too hot I guess (80's), but I feel like the humidity adds 10-20 degrees, so yeah, all our walking paths were dictated by shady streets. Midwesterners are definitely tough, weather-wise!

  2. Oh and the movie filmed with scenes at the Art Institute...Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Derh. Yes, to public bathing. But only at night and it was more like frolicking. No soap involved. Yes to being aware of name change from Sears to Wills, but you're exactly right, no one gives a crap. Oui Oui to Paris. Kinda like dogs love of cats has recently shifted to dogs, it seems. Very few cats in my neighborhood now, not like the sea of friendly strays like in Midtown, Sacto. Only goofy dogs down on the beach here. I want one of those doofus-looking goldendoodlepoodlewhatevertheheck. Adorbz.

    1. Eleanor wins! Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Nicely done :) We need to discuss this public bathing incident some day, sounds like a good story!

  3. I feel like your Sears Tower issue is somewhat similar to issues I once had with the renaming of Arco Arena. Sure, Sears Tower is internationally known as nearly the tallest building in the world, but Arco Arena was very important to the citizens of the greater Sacramento area. I found myself offended that it would be renamed until I realized it was basically named after a gas station. Sears Tower bore the name of a department store that I never shop in. So, I'm going to save my outrage for other things. Like if they decide to rename Lambeau Field. Anyway, welcome back to Sacramento :-)

    1. Thanks T. To be fair, Sears tower is no longer the tallest building, but it IS the tallest STRUCTURE. At least this is what the video told me as I was standing in line waiting to get on the elevator to the top, I have not verified this with Wikipedia yet (ha). I'm the same with Arco. It's not power balance arena or whatever the hell it is now. Arco. Where I never get gas out of principle because they only let you use ATM and they charge you that 45 cent fee.