Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oregon Bound: pt.2

For those of you who check back here often, I know I've been absent a few days. A certain someone I am traveling with has a tendency to really be lazy about getting up in the morning... which sets us back timewise and pushes the whole schedule later. By the time we get somewhere around 8pm we check in, unpack and eat dinner and by that point it's time to go to bed! And so if you want to blame someone for my lack of stories and anecdotes... blame him. :)

I'm writing this currently from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Clearly a lot has happened, as we have now passed the official halfway mark of the mileage (can you believe it?). I believe the last time I wrote we were in Akron, Ohio, or somewhere around there. The next stop was Chicago. I have never actually seen downtown Chicago and therefore we decided that before we left the downtown area to go to our hotel, that we would drive a few loops (pun intended, given The Loop) around downtown so I could experience the city. More importantly I'd get to see the area where I proposed an intervention for the 2013 Evolo Skyscraper Competition. My project was an urban camping concept that lifted campers high above the river right in the middle of the city.

Anyways, we took I-90 right into Chicago, which is called the Chicago Skyway at that point. Naturally, there is a toll to pay before you get on it...
tolls... gotta love 'em

I have to say, though, the toll was worth it. You come blasting down this interstate highway and the skyscrapers seem to literally grow out of the ground. It just so happened it was kind of hazy and cloudy that day, and so it looked even more cool.

downtown Chicago rising up out of the mist
It's always cool when the interstate goes right through a city because a normally straight (especially out in the midwest) road all of a sudden becomes windy and snakes its way around the buildings, banking like a rollercoaster after the initial drop. And then when you take an exit... BOOM. You're right in the middle of everything. This is literally the first thing we saw after the exit we took.

We drove towards The Loop and Wacker Dr. (which, if you ever saw the Dark Knight is home of the chase scene underground where the Joker is in an 18 wheeler -- just look up The Dark Knight chase scene on Youtube) and got some cool views of the river, the bridges and more. The bridges were something I researched explicitly, and it turns out that they are all rack and pinion drawbridges with massive counterweights underground! In addition we saw one of my favorite buildings in Chicago -- Trump Tower, which sits right at the kink of the river. From the lake, you can look directly down the river and see that building right in front of you. Leave it to Trump to pick some prime real estate for a building with his name on it.
Wacker Drive -- those corn cob buildings are the Marina Towers, and poking up behind it is Trump Tower
Trump Tower Chicago -- one of the most gorgeous buildings I know of

...and again driving from a different angle because I missed our turn
the entrance to Lake Shore Drive
One of the cool things about Chicago is the elevated tracks. These tracks allow trains to come in from commuter areas outside the downtown area, circle around at several stops, and eventually go back out to where they started. Because they circle around, the area that they're in is called The Loop. The tracks itself are called The L, which is because they are "eLevated". If someone knows this better than I do feel free to step in because honestly, this is just what I remember from my research on a project almost a year ago...

elevated train tracks right above the road.. also an articulated bus; talk about a nightmare to drive in a city
We then headed a bit North in the city, out of the immediate downtown area to where my grandfather grew up on a dairy farm. At the time, of course, there was a farm there, since Chicago was so much smaller than it is now. Here's what the same street looks like today:

Pretty incredible, really. It's obviously completely changed, and almost into a ritzy condo area too. After driving past Wrigley Field, we literally rode off into the sunset, some number of miles directly west to the suburbs where we were staying. By that point the city skyline had disappeared into the haze behind us, and the bustle of traffic and noise had calmed to a mere buzz.

One thing I do have to say about Chicago though. If you are an NJ driver, you probably won't have any problem driving in Chicago. Of course, we were there on a Sunday and not in rush hour traffic or anything. But getting around the downtown didn't seem too bad. And to be perfectly honest, I'm pretty sure I was just as much an aggressive driver (if not more) than the locals!! Don't steal my thunder; I feel accomplished.

More to come soon!


  1. wow, looks like amazing through the photos. your trip seems to be going well :)

  2. Wishing you well on the rest of your trip Greg. I love the photo of the far-away Chicago skyline.

  3. your road trip seems so comfortable. safe trip!

  4. I do adore the windy city....great shots, Greg! I love seeing all the cabs and the Trump Hotel is a beautiful thing for sure ;-)
    Keep on truckin'...


Would love to hear what you are thinking. Leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...