Sunday, October 13, 2013

Touring Downtown Chicago

My brother Randy came to town for a week-long visit to help with a variety of house-moving and RV projects.  So wonderful to have a “Handy Randy” in the family!  He had the major item from my “Randy-Do” list completed within 24 hours of his arrival—installing swivels for my new View’s front seats!  They are soooo comfortable now!

randy swivel

After another work day on house stuff, we decided to take Wednesday off and be tourists in downtown Chicago (this was his vacation, after all!).  It was a delightfully warm and sunny day in the 70’s.  Perfect for walking around the city.  We first stopped at the giant Chicago theatre sign on State Street--


Then we passed the famous Picasso statue at Daley Plaza where this little kid decided to add himself as a “photo bomb” to the picture Randy was taking of me—too funny!


Randy posed in front of Daley Plaza’s fountain (dyed bright orange for Halloween)!


We then continued walking west in the Loop past Chicago’s City Hall


and the Chicago Board of Trade building with it’s statue of Ceres, the goddess of Agriculture, topping it’s roof.


But, today, we were destined for Willis Tower (previously known as Sears Tower, which had been the tallest building in the world for 25 years until Malaysia’s Petronas Towers surpassed it in 1998).


In all these years, neither one of us had ever been to the Tower’s skydeck observatory so this clear autumn day was finally THE day to rectify that!  We purchased our tickets and were soon whooshed up to the 103rd floor.  The views were absolutely amazing from up there!  Randy took a great pano shot with his iPhone--

chi pano Randy

So I had to give it a try with my iPhone too!


and of course, we had to pose in front of the buildings as well:


As we headed over to the west side of the observation deck, we found the newest novelty to lure tourists – the Ledge!  There are actually 4 floor-to-ceiling windows that have been replaced with giant Plexiglas “boxes” that jut out over Wacker Drive a few thousand feet below!  I made the mistake of looking down before stepping onto one of the ledges and could barely muster the courage to walk a few steps out (and certainly did not look down again while I did!).  But they made for fun photos!  The last one was taken by the official photo vendor and the scene behind us is real (and not superimposed!).

RL Ledge

Before riding the elevators up to the top, the photo vendor had also taken our picture in front of a green screen.  Randy laughed that his bright green t-shirt might make for a very interesting result seeing as it matched the screen almost perfectly.  When we returned back down to ground level to buy our photos, yes indeed, these photos were a riot!  Me and my half-invisible brother!!!

RL Chi Night

After the Tower, we headed back over to Wabash street to look for a good deli for lunch.  When I used to work downtown in the 1980’s, there were a bunch of them.  Unfortunately, now, the only “old familiar places” still remaining seemed to be The Palmer House hotel and my favorite funky camera shop, Central Camera--


Just about all the old delis have sold out to big retail & fast food names like TJ Maxx, McDonald’s, and the like.  We did manage to find one kinda yuppie deli/wine/cheese place called Pastoral that turned out to be pretty good—they didn’t have any seating, so we took our sack lunches to-go and ate our sandwiches beneath the colonnade at Millennium Park. Not a bad picnic spot!


After lunch, we headed over to “the Bean” for a few obligatory self-portraits and reflection shots--

and marveled at the new powder blue rental bikes that have sprouted up throughout the Loop (what a great idea!):


Then it was back to the car for a drive along the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) and Lake Shore Drive to photograph some attractions out the car window!

The John Hancock Building--

The new Trump Tower looking down the Chicago River--


and a quick skyline shot from Planetarium Point--


At the end of our glorious day of sightseeing, we hit a monster traffic jam on the drive home, which wisely slapped us back into reality—Chicago is a magical place to visit (especially when the weather is agreeable!), but not always a perfect place to live full-time.  I’m still glad my new full-time RV home has wheels!


  1. Chicago is a great city to play tourist in. We were there for five days in May 2012 and had a blast!

    1. Yes, you sure packed a lot into that brief visit! Glad you had fun!

  2. Sounds like the perfect day in Chicago! Great photos.

    1. Yes, one of the rare windless days in the Windy City!

  3. I used to work Downtown in the 60's. Lots of changes since then. :)

    1. And here I was feeling old by all the changes that have occurred since the '80's! Well, just before the elevators take you up to the Skydeck, they play a short movie about the history of Sears Tower, and there were lots of clips of the Loop from the '60's and early '70s-- you'd love it!

  4. I've heard Chicago is one of the best cities to live in. I have friends who say it's their favorite city, and I can see why. There's a lot going on there, you really saw and did a lot in one day, and took some great photos. I LOVE the one with half-invisible Randy! I'm assuming all the crime we hear about is in specific areas that we wouldn't enter.

    1. Yes, most of the crime is quite a ways from the tourist spots and mainly in just a few neighborhoods where drug gangs are fighting for territory. I've never felt the least bit nervous about visiting downtown, though. I will certainly miss the rich cultural diversity (and the abundance of great ethnic food) found in Chicago. But there are a few RV parks near some of the commuter train stations, so I know it will be easy to visit again once I'm "house-less". If you ever visit the Midwest, you should definitely visit Chicago!

  5. Just looking at that photo of you on The Ledge makes my heart race. I don't know if I could've stepped out onto it. Looks like you had a great day there in the city. I just flew over Chicago a few days ago returning from a trip and I said to myself that someday I must get down there and see the sites. Thanks for the pictures.

    1. Just make sure not to plan your visit for January, and you'll have a great time! (although, I should be fair-- there are some fantastic indoor events/attractions to see here then-- the CSO, Lyric Opera, various theater and dance performances, plus all the museums!)

  6. Looks like a great day you two had--the one of Randy with his cityscape body is hilarious! Glad you had fun--the Bean is one of my favorite things, too. Just a marvel to me how beautiful in its simplicity. Used to stay at the Palmer House back when I practiced law and was in Chicago from time to time. Great old hotel. Always did like Chicago, except the couple of times when I was there in the dead of winter! You natives have my admiration for holding up during those cold winds and snow!!

    1. Living here, I've rarely visited the great hotels downtown. Maybe I'll treat myself to a room at the Palmer House during a future visit! I'm convinced that Chicago's cultural and culinary jewels only came about because of it's dreadful winters-- gotta pass the time away enjoying something!

  7. What a lovely city. I was only in Chicago once over 40 years ago and it sure looked different then. Good idea on swivelling this front seats. I'm sure it makes the RV look even larger.

    1. You'll have to visit again someday-- it's lots of fun, and I bet Colin would love touring all the architecture!

  8. Such pretty pictures! It's been 20 years since I've visited Chicago. I might have to schedule another visit soon.

    1. Millennium Park has done wonders for Grant Park and the lakeshore. So many cool things to see and hear there!

  9. How wonderful to have such a cute and handy brother. Mine is not so much of either unfortunately. I was raised in the midwest in Ohio and have never been to Chicago so this was a great post for me. I'm allergic to cities so I don't know if I'll ever get there but I sure saw a lot here. Really great pictures. Thanks!


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