This blog is written by both of us
Arriving in Chicago we were both pretty keen to dump our bags and go see the "Lake" as it was another roasting day, so caught the bus up to our hostel which thankfully had our room ready early so we were able to drop our stuff and after catching up on email and uploading some pics we headed out. The Lake is amazing on first sight and it very hard not to think that you are not at the seaside as it has beach, sand, seagulls etc. The far end of the beach is over looked by the city skyscapers and most prominant the John Hanncock building. We spent the afternoon chilling on the beach, taking in the glorious view of endless water, enjoying the sunshine, dozing and reading - bliss after spending so long on a train! We did try a dip in the water but i don't think either of us made it above knee height as it was absolutely freezing so we went back to sunning ourselves.
On the way back to the hostel we stumbled upon a little park within Lincoln Park, which was called the lily pond. We wandered round and saw some amazing dragonflies and butterflies, all huge and bursting with colours. Lots of people were sat on the huge slabs of rock scattered around the pond, seeking some respite from the scorching sun and the hustle and bustle of the beach. It was a charming little place, a surprising find in the middle of a huge park.
The next morning after what is becoming our staple hostel breakfast of bagels with peanut butter and jelly, we decided to head out for an explore, we had aimed to hire bikes but over night the weather had finally broken and some light rain meant that very few people were around including the bike people! So we decided to take a walk into town. Fortunaltely the rain was short lived and we ended up finding a bike place open and hired for the afternoon and set off exploring the Lake side cycle and running way.
This brought lots of fond memories for me. The Americans sure do like a cycle / run track next to water as they seem to have one in quite a few places. In NYC you can cycle or run (like Dan did) down the West side of Manhattan along the Hudson, and in LA you can ride for miles along Santa Monica Beach, as I did twice back in 1993 with my Dad, bro and Auntie (yes, the famous one). Naturally this led me to think about my dear Dad, who will have been absent from my life for ten years this August. You have a lot of time to think when you travel. I couldn't understand this until I actually experienced it but even when your days are packed full of exciting things to do, you still find yourself reflecting about things. At home you go into automatic pilot when you're driving or riding on the bus and you start thinking about what you need to do, how work was, what chores need completing when you get home etc. When you're away from home you don't think about those things so you find other things to think about such as what you've already seen, what has surprised you, who you have met etc.
Anyway, the Chicago Lake Side Path took us into the city and the large park which is home to the biggest fountain in the USA and then to the "Bean" a big shiny sculpture which allowed us to take lots of silly photos. It was then back to the hostel, via a beer, to cook some tea, making use of the hostel kitchen and saving some bucks.
It was really nice just to have a bit of a chilled out time ahead of what is going to be a mamoth train journey from Chicago to West Glacier National Park, which is the main reason we didn't run around manically but Chicago seems like a really cool place very clean too.
Dan & Elles xx