24 MORE Hours in The Windy City (USA Day 33)


The anxiety has crept in as our time in Chicago has ebbed away. It’s been an excellent place for a rest in the sense that there’s been so much to do, but terrible in the sense that we’ve barely sat down to edit video, podcasts, pictures etc. And yes, that’s our fault for giving ourselves so much of that sort of thing to do, but there we are. It’s been fun until today and it’ll be fun again tomorrow.

For the first time since arriving, we really got our teeth into Chicago’s downtown, nosing around the huge, silver bean and its surrounding park. A nearby water feature starred oversized, slowly-morphing, grinning faces projected on monolithic columns, shedding water from all sides like hair. The faces occasionally opened their mouths and shot out fireman-hose-jets into the screaming crowd of soggy children beneath. We didn’t get involved, but enjoyed the fact that getting spat on by robots was a day’s activity in itself for the children of Chicago.


The stratospheric Willis tower peeked above all others, and after we learned that for $25 a pop you could get a lift to the top and stand in a glass jar for thirty seconds, we decided that we’d either climb it by foot (as per Alec’s challenge) or not at all. Unfortunately, a kind yet firm guard let us know that the first was not an option, but promised us to climb it in our honour in October, when there’s a special race. Mission complete by proxy, Alec?

While Amy explored Piet Oudolf’s peaceful Lurie Garden, a prairie-like arrangement of grasses and flowers against the backdrop of Chicago’s downtown array, I tottered off to record some podcast bits on the street. Our activities today were so pedestrian (literally), so quiet and so slow. Ironically, it wasn’t the cycling 1300 miles but walking for three days in flip-flops which has hurt Amy’s back, so we took the L (Chicago’s elevated train) home, and loved the ride so much that we climbed straight back on and rode the downtown loop another whole time, watching the rain tip down over a still-sunny evening, craning our necks to see each broad, arrow-straight street reveal itself at each junction, full of their traffic and bright billboards and towering buildings.

Thanks to the efforts of a grumpy man on a Grubhub bicycle, we glomphed down our second deep dish pizza in two days, this time on the rain-soaked roof, enjoying a break in the weather to marvel and the colours of a Chicago sunset. Then, as I say, we returned downstairs to grapple with hundreds of gigabytes of data files and the evening went south, fast, as we intend to do tomorrow on the Cycling Route 66. Nice link, Ivan.

We’re excited, kind of, but mainly nervous. This was so nice. Why do we have to leave?