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Gino's East, Zombie Parade, Naked Bike Ride, Art and the Blues - Fun Times in Chicago

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My son's Navy Boot Camp graduation was in North Chicago. He was supposed to have liberty for the whole weekend, but they changed that and he had to leave the day after his graduation. I was already scheduled to stay the weekend, so I had time to explore Chicago on my own.

I went to school in Peoria, IL, so I had been to Chicago with friends about 20 years ago. They were from the Chicago suburbs, though. So, we didn't ever explore the city much from a tourist's perspective. We did eat famous Chicago Deep Dish pizza at Gino's East, though and we went to the top of the Sear's Tower (which was the tallest building in the world at that time).

So, for the one day that my son and I had together in the city, I knew I had to take him to Gino's East. The place is still covered in graffiti, and the pizza is still EXCELLENT. Here's a picture of him at the table. He was so concerned about getting sauce on his uniform. Such a change!! And, guess what? Even though I was intending that the pizza would be my treat, he paid! Wow!

The weather was very chilly and foggy in Chicago on that day. We went to the Sear's Tower, but they now charge $17 dollars to go up (it was free when I went 20 years ago), and there was 0 visibility, so we didn't end up going up. emoticon

We went to the Navy Pier, and walked around there, had Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. (Vacations are one time that I eat whatever I want. You gotta live some time!) My son was thanked a few times for his service. That was sure neat to see! And my son always responded with a "thank you, sir (or ma'am)". That was neat to see, too!

We spent so much time battling traffic, cab drivers, and trying to find places to park, unfortunately our day went really quickly, and we didn't have time to do anything else in Chicago. We had to head back to base, so my son wouldn't be late back to the barracks. Our time together was way too short, and I hated to say good-bye to him again. He's hoping he can come home for Christmas. That would be great!!

I was on my own for the next two days in Chicago. On the first day, I went to the Chicago Art Institute. I was VERY impressed with their Impressionism Collection. I LOVE Impressionism. They had lots of Monet and several Renoir - two of my favorite artists. The armor collection was pretty cool, too. I spent the whole day just in the Impressionism and Renaissance Art sections of the museum. Next time I'll have to check the rest out!

Here are a couple of my fav pieces:

A Monet:

Renoir (I think...)

Look at that detail!

I loved the flowers on this vase:

And here's the whole thing:

I COULD NOT figure out how this guy managed to see...

...then someone pointed out the little door.

When I left the museum, I saw a couple of kids who were all made up to look dead. I just thought it was the latest goth trend, but then I saw an older guy who also was made up to look dead and his kid was, too! Ok, this was weird! I kept seeing more and more people covered in blood and gore. Finally, I stopped a girl in a bloody wedding dress and asked her what was going on. Turns out Chicago has an annual zombie parade! Cool! Here's a pic of some of the zombies!

It was still foggy in Chicago. I thought this was a pretty cool pic of the Hancock Building:

There were quite a few cyclists in Chicago - a fact that surprised me, as the cab drivers in the city are freaking CRAZY. I mentioned this to a couple of cyclists on the street corner, and they told me to stick around because a naked bicycle ride would be going past in a few minutes. Fun! Those guys were crazy - it was about 50 degrees out! They were shouting, "less gas, more a$$"...lol! They were wearing all sorts of fun accessories - head-dresses, pasties, etc...lol! The naked bike ride was HUGE - there had to be at least 100 people! Finally, the cab drivers had something to honk about...lol! My phone doesn't capture motion well, which is probably a good thing in this case. emoticon

I LOVED this fountain. The colors changed and the faces changed. AWESOME!

This is the fountain from the other side - it had nature scenes instead of faces:

I have always wanted to go to the Chicago Blues Festival, and by coincidence (is there any such thing?), the Blues Festival happened to be going on that weekend. So, the next day, I did the Blues Festival! Shamekia Copeland was crowned the new "Queen of the Blues", by Koko Taylor's (the former "Queen of the Blues") daughter. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Shamekia Copeland. She is AWESOME! Here is a pic of her being crowned "Queen of the Blues".

And here are some more shots of the Blues Festival:

One of the best things about Chicago was how friendly the people were. It has got the be the friendliest big city I have ever experienced! Even the salesperson in the Rolex store was nice! I was just curious as to how much the Rolex of my Dreams would be. She knew I couldn't buy anything, but she gladly showed me the watch (which was $16,000 - gasp!) and even gave me a pep talk about my ability to someday own a watch like that...lol!

I had a great time, and because of the friendly people, the city gets an A+ from me!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • _LINDA
    LOVE seeing all this!! What a great time!! I too, will eat anything I please on vacation, its all about fun!! You were lucky to see all you did when you were there!! It was way more than I saw, just a ride up the Sears tour, and some walking around is all, but I was busy with a bridge tourney at the time of my trip there..I rather experience more of the city life and sight..
    3284 days ago
    What a great experience...would have loved to join you! Where was hubby for this grand occasion? It must have been fabulous to see your son...I can't imagine my little birds leaving the nest...but the days are drawing nearer I know. Makes you appreciate the time spent with them all the more, doesn't it?

    So great you were able to explore so much on your own!

    3305 days ago
    Great trip blog! Love the photos. What a handsome young sailor you have there. Isn't it amazing how grown up they become at graduation? I remember my son and his squad mates being grilled by the sergeants about how their moms and wives outrank the generals. The message to moms was that their sons and daughters now should be able to come home and we should not need to clean up after them any more. LOL!

    Just wait... it gets even better, if you can believe that! And welcome home.

    emoticon emoticon

    P.S. I love Chicago, and it's been a while since I visited. Gotta go back sometime!
    3311 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/20/2011 7:47:25 PM
  • JET150
    Great description of your Chicago visit. I too love the Art Institute, especially Pisarro's works (I may have not spelled his name right). And I agree with Starglade about the Seurat. We live close enough that we just drive to Kenosha, leave the car there, and take the Metra to the heart of the city and walk wherever we want to go. I too remember when the Sears Tower was free...
    3311 days ago
    It's been a long, LONG time since I've been to Chicago...! I was born there and spent my grade school years out on the south side. Still enjoy visiting every once in a blue moon...! Love the Art Institute also. You really jammed SO MUCH into your visit! Good for you and your family!

    Now THAT is one bike ride I could actually turn down...lol!

    3311 days ago
  • no profile photo DEVORA4
    glad you had fun in the windy cuty emoticon
    3312 days ago
    Chicago is a fun city!!!! Sounds like you had a good time!!!!
    3313 days ago
    Thank you so much for your vivid description of your trip. The pics are wonderful and you sound like it was such a good visit. Good luck to your son and I, too, thank him for his service.
    3313 days ago
    Wow! Great Chicago blog: you really know how to have a good time on your own!!

    And as for the dessert at Red Lobster: after all that walking in Chicago you'd burned off the calories in advance, no worries!!
    3313 days ago
    Did you go into the room with nothing in it but "An Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," by Georges Seurat, and simply stand there gazing at it for however long? I cannot visit the Art Institute without entering that chamber, no matter how many people might have had the same idea, and just--being there. Five minutes, half an hour, doesn't matter. I just need to stand in the room with that painting.

    3313 days ago
    talk about making the best out of a bad situation! you got to see your baby AND have a fun adventure! good thing you were warned about the naked bikers. that would have been a real shock!
    btw, thanks for the bike info. guess i better save my pennies!
    3313 days ago
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