Chicago Illinois, USA

Driving through Indiana

9/6/18: Driving through Indiana was a bore. It was mostly rolling hills and lots of cornfields. My favorite part of the ride was a huge field of wind turbines. There were so many! It was impressive. In no time at all I was in Chicago. Here, I was welcomed by Arden, Wes and a glass of champagne! I love it here. I’ll be hanging out with John before dinner and Scott after. Chicago is such a great place, I could live here.

birdseye in the cars cockpit- American Road trip on route to Chicago. Volkswagen Jetta


Before my trip I decided to only drink in places I am visiting with friends. I am a social drinker anyway… so no real challenge. Not only did we celebrate my arrival with champagne but we continued… 3 bottles later, add a milkshake martini and I was easily drunk. John met up with us at Rudy’s. I met John on a previous St. Patty’s Day trip to Chicago. He is loads of fun! I was happy I got to see him during this short stay.

Drunk in Chicago

Scott came over once he finished work. By the time he finished and was able to get to the city, it was after 9pm/10pm EST. He obviously had not been drinking at work so I almost felt like he was my babysitter at this point. Still he drove out to see me and so we wandered in the park and sat at the cloud gate (bean) with the city illuminating the sky above. Chicago is gorgeous.

This was my first time wandering Chicago in the night… by foot. Usually I am in an Uber after dark on my way to, or from, a restaurant. I definitely fell into some bushes near millenium park, I was trying to sit on a chain barrier. A huge bruise on my thigh reminds me of this in the morning. I bruise like a banana. Scott picked me up from the bushes and we moved on. We also went to Buckingham fountain. How have I never heard of this?

That’s it

Eventually we were kicked out of the park because they were closing- who knew? I guess I’ve always assumed free public parks were always opened. When we got back to my friends condo I decided to take Scott to the roof. Arden’s place is in the absolute best location in Chicago and the views on the roof are the best in town. It was super late and Scott had to leave. I am not sure what time it was but I slept well that night. Unfortunately my night stuck with me and I woke up with a hangover. Even still I could not let the day be wasted.

cloud gate 'the bean' in Chicago. I stand in the rain with an umbrella as the Chicago skyline reflects on the statue above me

Chicago Food Truck scene

9/7/18: My plan for the day was to go to Lincoln park, I left around 10:30. I’d swing by the food truck park on my way. The search for the ‘park’ was my harder than I thought. This was difficult with a local’s instructions! Chicago is a stacked city and I couldn’t just pin a truck on Google Maps. Oh the walk! I circled around the block Arden directed me to at least 2 times until I realized I was just one block short.

And then it began raining. I was too stubborn at this point to find the Food trucks that I could care less about a roof. After about 2 hours of walking and only just a few blocks away from my starting point, I decided on a truck. My order: pork mac and cheese. It was not worth it. I didn’t finish it- not my favorite. The food truck was featured on Food Network but I would not recommend it.

rain, rain… go away!

I threw away my leftover and headed straight to Nordstrom Rack. I picked up a baseball cap to get by. Then the rain picked up and I hopped into H&M for an umbrella. A bit defeated, I went back to to the Cloud Gate [the bean] to hangout because I wasn’t going all the way to Lincoln park in the rain.

Lincoln Park, Chicago

At 14:00 the rain finally stopped and I made my way to Lincoln Park. I took the redline to a bus. I really like using public transportation in cities I don’t know. As I waited for the bus I called my sister. I was alone at this stop and it was in a part of the city I had never been. While I was talking to my sister she started telling me the crime statistics of Chicago. This was my third time to Chicago, she has never been, and I couldn’t believe what she was telling me.

I have always been drawn to Chicago- it has a sense of comfort to it. My friends live here, I have a home to go back to… I also am wandering alone in a huge city in new territory while they are working. The timing of these stats were not ideal. I was sitting at a bus stop outside the normal part of the city I know. My guard went back up! In all honesty, I was naive to put it down. I didn’t let the stats of the Chicago area as a whole ruin my perception of this city I just became more aware of the facts.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA

oohh I like this part of Chicago!

The bus finally arrived. Whoops! After riding the entire route, I realized I got on the bus on the wrong side of the street. The driver was really sweet and told me to stay on and she would let me know when to get off. Ultimately, I made it! I went to the zoo and took many pictures and made my way back. Other than the bus fiasco I was on my feet walking nonstop for 7 hours!

I walked back to the metro and made it back to the condo in time for dinner. I got to see Jodie again (she met me last time I was here), Kelly from Atlanta, and Corryn from Germany. We ate and sat around the living room sharing stories. Looks like I have a long drive tomorrow though, so I’ll head up the the roof and soak in the hot tub, my legs are going to be stiff. Hopefully I’ll be up early enough to catch the sunrise.

Is Chicago dangerous?

9/8/18: Just when I thought the night was over something else happened. As I was soaking in the hot tub on the roof I heard loud bangs. gunshots! Is this a theme for my trip? Arrive, set out to plans, rain, fiascos… plans changed or not met?! I went to relax and soak my muscles since I would be cramped in a car today. My friends cond is on the corner of the city where Lake Michigan and the river meet- on the side of Millenium Park. I was facing the city as I hear the multiple explosions, my sisters words replay in my mind; “Chicago is the most gang-infested dangerous city in the states”. I was so alert, this was the first time Chicago felt dangerous.

As I began to get up when my angle changed. I noticed lights reflecting in the glass on the skyscrapers. They were bright red and blue lights…. green, yellow… it was behind me. It was over the lake. It was a tremendous firework show! My body relaxed and I turned to face the lake. I enjoyed a private firework show to myself. It was a random Friday night in September but the show was good enough for the Fourth of July.

The real start to my trip

That was my last night before the start of this solo journey. A perfect farewell to my ordinary life to the unknown yet hopeful adventure ahead. Today I head to a state I have never been completely alone. Time to test my plan

Next stop: Michigan.

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