[Coladam] the Chicago experience

Frances and/or Richard Clee cleechez at tamcotec.com
Sun Jul 23 17:17:17 EDT 2006

We really should have read the fine print.

Bob Slopsema sent us a reassuring email about his trip back to Grand 
Rapids Monday morning, how he left at about 10 a.m., had a minor toll 
booth delay but otherwise was mostly on cruise control, and got back to 
Grand Rapids about 4.15 p.m. All the traffic was going the other way.

We should have done the math.

Grand Rapids is supposed to be 3-1/2 hours from Chicago normally. The 
Slopsemas took 6-1/4 hours and saw it as a fast trip??? At the time we 
were so hungry for reassurance that we didn't fuss the details. Maybe we 
need to recheck the tab to see how things really add up.

Our time in Chicago was rather neat. We arrived a day early and stayed 
three days after. I won't bore you with convention details others have 
already posted, but we also visited many landmarks, ate a genuine 
prototypical Chicago pizza (different and tasty, but demanding of a 
pretty voracious appetite; doggy bags are s.o.p) and took the L around 
the Loop. Took an architectural river cruise (Chicago has lots of 
architecture; well worth while) and a shoreline cruise to get pictures 
of the skyline. Chicago hot dogs are famous, and we tried the one rated 
best by Chicago magazine at Navy Pier. Good enough, though Shopsy's or 
Yitz's in Toronto need not feel threatened. Spent a lot of time riding 
the L, as the hotel was over an hour from the Loop.

That included a visit to the Shedd Aquarium as the Adamcon excursion, an 
interesting expedition. On our own we visited the Museum of Science and 
Industry and Art Institute of Chicago, where the miniature rooms 
collection is justly very famous, and we also got diverted by a 
collection of paperweights Corning Glass Museum could well envy. We even 
found, out in the suburbs, the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, a 
specialty collection with exhibits and presentation to knock your socks off.

So we were in a pretty buoyant mood when we left Thursday morning at 
around 10.30 local time, and pleased with ourselves for finding a local 
highway that, despite a lower speed limit and intermittent traffic 
lights, still promised a more predictable trip than the Interstate, 
which we joined later.

Well, that was a mistake. We should not have hit the Interstate at all. 
We ended up in bumper to bumper effectively stationary traffic for 
hours. Finally when it reached total paralysis we desperately withdrew 
to a friendly oasis, only to find the power was out and washrooms 
closed. (A friendly attendant took pity on the desperate old folks). We 
then spotted an exit just down the road and bailed out onto it, with no 
idea where it went but just knowing anything was better than the 
Interstate. We ended up on US30 - the old Lincoln Highway - which 
despite passage through many slow small towns still at least let us 
move. We rejoined the Interstates near the Indiana/Michigan border.

Meanwhile, I phoned ahead to the shop where our trailer refrigerator was 
waiting, and found it was open till 8 p.m. This was good, as we arrived 
there about 5.15 p.m.. We got it aboard and headed home, making it to 
Lansing before throwing in the towel. About half the trip was run in the 
same storm that grounded Ron Mitchell, Pamela and Russell Villneff, but 
after that it passed on to Ontario while we enjoyed clear and pleasant 
sunshine. Friday we got off early, had no border hassles (they didn't 
even ask for a formal entry for the refrigerator) and other than having 
to cope with the standard Toronto rush hour got home incident-free.

Conclusion: were glad we were able to go, met once again with our 
cherished friends, enjoyed our sightseeing, and even may have figured 
out how to get by Chicago when we take our trailer to Wisconsin in 
September. Ten days most comfortably spent.

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