In Chicago, As Tourists

We went to Chicago for medical reasons (more about that below) but found ourselves acting as “tourists.” The nature of the medical appointments and our travel arrangements gave us a few days to be unencumbered, free-wheeling, tourists — I mean, money-spending, mouth-open-with-eyes-on-the-sky-scrapers, scalped-just-a-bit tourists. This, I think, may have been a first in our 50 year marriage — I can’t ever remember throwing money around to be splashed across Lake Michigan and entertained on tour buses by aspiring comedians.

So about that splashing: I was determined to take the Chicago River tour of Chicago architecture. We took two tours, the first the comedia-splashing one (Jer got soaked with Chicago River water and I got wetted with Lake Michigan.


Later we took a real architectural tour (the academic one),  from which I have at least a hundred photos, of which I can identify the Wrigley building.

Here’s the Wrigley Building and what’s not to love about it?:



My favorite skyscraper (besides the Wrigley) is the one in the center in the photo above-behind the other bullies –it’s a building whose name and designer I can’t remember at all. But I liked it with all its curves and elegant styling.

Besides the river tours, we opted for the Red Tour bus. We were staying just outside the loop, on the north side of the river, and the tour bus which we were assured (by the operators) was the best was within easy walking distance of our hotel. So we also toured Chicago architecture from the streets, hopping on and off the Red bus. We saw the Field Museum (from the outside) and the Bean (more formally known as the Cloud Gate) and the Art Institute and the erst-while Public Library and fountains and the Navy Pier and fireworks and various parts of Michigan Avenue, all the while being entertained by a variety of would-be actors and comedians, never the same one twice. All wanting tips, of course. But all charming in their own way.

We spent lots of time at Millennium Park — even left a concert (directed by Portland’s own Carlos Kalmar) at the Pavilion as it couldn’t compete with the city around it.  We took tourist photos of the tourist sights: Crown Fountain:


Which changes faces and spouting waters frequently.

The Bean (where we took photos of people taking photos of people taking photos):



And most particularly, the Art Institute, or the ‘tute, as my friend who once lived there calls it:


We actually bought a ‘tute membership, because for three visits for the two of us, it penciled out as cheaper as members than with individual tickets. ( And just the other day, we got our official (non-cardboard) membership to the ‘tute in the mail.) The “Impressionists and Fashion” exhibit was fabulous, I got reacquainted with the non-abstract expressionists, 1945 –1960, and by the last day, was more entranced by the other tourists than the art itself:


Altogether, the four days we spent touring the Loop and tourist attractions of the Second City was grand. And now that we’ve done it, I have no desire to go back. It was fun to fling tips at people and get soaked by classic midwestern rain storms, and to be silly aging tourists gawking at tall buildings, but only fun for a little while. Then it was time to come back to Our Fair City and our own working projects.

And the medical stuff? the Chicago neurologist we went to see said “no” to any more surgeries (hooray) and then said he had a long list of possible problems for which he would prescribe medications, one at a time. Mostly trial and error, he said, and, of that, mostly error. As he is one of those doctors who seems to love the challenge of mysterious vertigo, is kind and sympathetic and really really smart, we were soothed by his ideas and approach and are cautiously optimistic. I have been on the first medication for almost two weeks now, and it may be making a difference. As this is the first one, we are really really cautious about getting too excited. But at least we have the second med in hand, so when this one and the next one fails,  our good Chicago doctor has a third and fourth and fifth option in his files.

So there’s an update on the U-woods (the elder U-woods) for the nonce. It’s paradise time (ie: summer) in Portland, and we are hoping to get out more and do more and partake more of our fair city as the summer winds its way along the Willamette.  –June

By the way, my email server has been crippled by a massive spam attack, which makes the june  at juneunderwood dot com address unusable. In fact, if you get any bounced mail from that address, delete it, don’t open it. It could be further incursion from the spammers. If you want to email me, I have a gmail account:   junomain  at   gmail dot com.

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12 Responses to In Chicago, As Tourists

  1. facebook usa says:

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker
    who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner
    simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to
    talk about this matter here on your internet site.


  2. Jean de Maiffe says:

    Doug tells a wonderful story about Connie (penultimate wife) getting blown out into the arms of a policeman standing in the street, waiting to catch the next person entering the wind tunnel.


  3. Jan says:

    These are wonderful pictures. I especially like the splashy first one, which looks as though it’s been Photoshopped for special effects.


    • june says:

      Jan, not photoshopped at all. I was sitting on the outside of this tourist boat as it wapped across Lake Michigan. All the children were thrilled. I was wet. But not as wet as Jer, whose story we will recount when we next see you:-)


  4. clairan says:

    Jeannie Gang. Aqua


    • june says:

      Thanks, Clairan, for the architect’s name. I knew she won all sorts of awards with this building, but then I only knew her gender, not her name. Or the name of the building. Such is the tourist’s brain, washed by the Chicago River –snort–


  5. Brian Collins says:

    Info on the skyscraper you liked. It’s the Aqua Tower.


  6. revab says:

    I was born in Chicago (though we moved when I was 6 months old), but I used to get there regularly for a professional conference. Your wonderful report makes me miss the city.

    btw, is your new email junomain, as it appears in your footnote above, or juneonmain?


    • june says:

      Hi Reva, the email is junomain (no “on”). And Chicago was wonderful in that silly touristy way. It really requires a lot more time than we had, so we stuck to the tired but fun tourist stuff.


  7. Lia says:

    It sounds like you had fun! When I lived near Chicago (15+ years ago now, yikes), I was impressed by the way that the city always seemed to be renewing itself even as it retained its historical feel. I don’t even recognize some of the landmarks in your blog, so I guess it has continued to renew!


    • june says:

      I think I replied about at least twice to your message, Lia, so here’s to a third attempt. I was impressed with how many buildings have gone up since 2000 — most of them near the waterfront and Michigan Ave. Fabulous. The upper-floor setbacks, required by city codes to prevent wind tunnels, etc., make it a particularly attractive city for the pedestrian.


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