Illinois – Days 1-3: From Concrete Wanderings to Strolls in Nature

My first day in Illinois was mostly spent running errands and being productive. I got a top off on my car fluids at Jiffy Lube. I swung by the post office and dropped something off. Then I went to Starbucks and worked on my blog and did some other computer related things. When Nathan, my friend from college, got off work I met him at his place and we made dinner and watched a few episodes of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.

The next day I woke up and again worked on things on my computer for a bit before heading to downtown Chicago to meet Nathan. I had meant to check the train schedule before I left, but I was being super productive and was in the zone and didn’t want to stop so I just left as soon as I finished, even though it was way later than I meant to. Uh, best. Transit. Luck. Ever!

I literally walked the ten or so minutes to the L, waited maybe a minute and then the train came. I got off for my transfer and that train also came within a minute. Woo! I love days like that where everything is just perfect. Granted, once I started walking I went the wrong direction, but after about four blocks I decided to check to make sure I was going the right way and corrected myself, so whatever.

When I met up with Nathan he took me on a tour of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater where he works. They have an awesome view of the Chicago skyline from one of the upper floors:

View of Chicago from Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, IL.

View of Chicago from Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, IL.

Nathan took me to DMK Burger Bar for lunch, which is right there on Navy Pier. They have a pretty stellar veggie burger. After somehow managing to find room in my stomach for the whole thing Nathan and I walked over to Buckingham Fountain, which, unfortunately, was still closed from when the NFL draft was in town. Lame. Oh well.

Instead we wandered over to Maggie Daley Park, which is super cool and really really made me wish I was under twelve again for the first time like ever. Nathan told me that all the hills are artificial. Apparently, since the park is over a parking garage they couldn’t use real dirt to make the hills because it’d be too heavy, so the they’re made out of mounds of foam. How cool is that?!

Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, IL.

Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, IL.

The Enchanted Forest was the only part of Maggie Daley Park which was open to kids of all ages. It was pretty cool. They had these upside down barkless trees over the walkways and the walkways themselves were made out of trees cut in half lengthwise. It was really interesting and had nice views of the city.

Enchanted Forest, Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, IL.

Enchanted Forest, Maggie Daley Park, Chicago, IL.

We went to Millennium Park and checked out Cloud Gate aka The Bean and Crown Fountain. I love The Bean. It’s so great.

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Crown Fountain was also really cool. I’ve been to Chicago a few other times, but I’d never seen Crown Fountain before, so that was extra awesome.

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL.

Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL.

After Millennium Park we wandered over to the Chicago Cultural Center. Wow. Just, wow. The Tiffany, yes that Tiffany, glass dome and ceiling were insane. New life ambition: have a Tiffany glass window in my house – preferably a skylight.

Tiffany Glass Dome, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL.

Tiffany Glass Dome, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL.

As luck would have it, my friend Renee caught me on Facebook and told me she now lives in Chicago. Renee also went to Drake, but she graduated a few years before Nathan and I went there. Renee and I met at an alumni event in NYC a few years ago. She’s great. Anyway, despite not feeling well she rallied when I told her I was only in town for the night and met up with us for dinner at BIG & little’s. They have really good tacos.

In addition to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Nathan also works at Blue Man Group and managed to score us tickets. I had so much fun! I definitely recommend using earplugs though – it can be quite loud. Also, just a little Public Service Announcement:

If you are drunk don’t go to a theatre. If you regularly frequent sporting events and are unaware of how to behave in a theatre let me enlighten you: In a theatre the expectation is that you keep your mouth shut. This is not a baseball or football or basketball game where you need to cheer on your team. Actors and technicians are quite capable of doing their jobs without your encouragement. In fact, it’s quite distracting for everyone involved, not to mention annoying for audience members, to have a loud mouthed audience member whooping and hollering in the middle of a show. Presumably no one comes to your workplace and yells things at you while you’re working, so why would you do that to someone else? Especially when there are other people around who paid to watch these people do their jobs. They did not pay to listen to your belligerent incoherence. Furthermore, there is never any need for you to draw attention to yourself in anyway while in a theatre. You should be virtually invisible, sure people can see you sitting there, but they should be able to forget you’re there because you shouldn’t be making any extraneous noise or drawing any attention to yourself whatsoever. Before the show begins be sure to: unwrap any candies or cough drops you may need, take off noisy coats, use the restroom, and silence your cell phone. If these requirements seem too difficult for you, I suggest you return to the sporting event from whence you came and never ever return to the theatre.

Sincerely,

An Irritated Patron and Former Theatre Professional

Having already been to the Art Institute a couple times I decided to skip it this trip and the following day made my way to Rockford, IL to see the Anderson Japanese Gardens. Someone along the way, sorry, but I forgot who, told me I had to go to Rockford and check out the Anderson Japanese Gardens. I figured, sure, why not? Illinois didn’t have to be just Chicago.

When I made it to the Gardens it was a pretty overcast day, but I was patient and eventually managed to get a couple pictures that made them look as beautiful and awesome as they do in real life.

Garden of Reflection, Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford, IL.

Garden of Reflection, Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford, IL.

I spent a couple hours roaming the gardens before I headed to Sinnissippi Park to meet up with my host. We wandered along the bike path and the view along Rock River was also pretty spectacular. I especially appreciated the sculptures along the way. This one of the Rock Men Guardians was my favorite:

Rock Men Guardians, 1987-88, Terese Agnew, Sinnissippi Park, Rockford, IL.

Rock Men Guardians, 1987-88, Terese Agnew, Sinnissippi Park, Rockford, IL.

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