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Weekending in the Windy City

As I write from the roof on a clear September day (clearly, a few days late posting!), grateful for the break at last from heavy, moist air, watching jetskiers dart over the evening waves lit with twilight below our rooftop, I'm reminded of the same clear air in Chicago when we visited in June. How's that for a random intro connection? But still, what I remember most fondly about the trip was what a relief it felt after the summer in NYC blazed upon us.

2018 has been a fun year of filling in gaps in my travel canvasing, including trips to new-to-me cities like Atlanta and San Diego. Most notably, though, I had the chance to attend ISTE, a massive EdTech conference, which was hosted this year in Chicago. Other than the odd layover, I had never visited, and luckily Walker was able to tag along for the weekend.

Chicago felt much more unique from NYC than I had expected. Although there are rivers coming in from the lake, the colors are teal, and not salt. And the city has architecture much more aligned with shipping, manufacturing, and commerce, or so it feels.

I forgot to take notes of all our stops on the trip, but the one thing that I really didn't want to miss was walking along Lakeshore Drive, the promenade along the lake. NYC was already thick with humidity, so the crisp lake breezes and aqua waters were stunning and refreshing. 

There was no fishy or saline smell, even though it looked like the ocean. We walked and walked, and the water lapped, and the sun made us take off layers.

Thanks to Marriott points, we stayed at the historic and stately Blackstone Autograph, and really loved the richly lacquered lobby and the huge suite we had. 

Right on Millenium Park, it was a pretty good location for exploring the city this time. After popping around all weekend, we decided if we came again, we'd stay closer to Lincoln Park, since it was less business-focused and might have more going on in the evenings. It was so quiet here that it felt deserted in the evening but during the day, it was right near the most famous spot in Chicago. 

Honestly, it was so crowded that I didn't prefer the Cloud Gate structure, aka "The Bean." (Also, the congregation of pigeons was convened, and they are my biggest phobia.)

There was another odd art display with this man slowly blinking, and another dated cubical fountain. Overall, this area felt a bit 90s.

What I did love, though, was the rest of the park, outside this mania.

Especially the newer area, known as the Maggie Daley park, where we spontaneously played mini golf.

Walker was jealous of how good the public auditorium was (aka The Jay Pritzker Pavilion), so of course, took some photos.

We both concurred (as well as Walker's cousin who lives in Chicago and had pointed us this way), that the Buckingham Fountain, on the other end of the park, almost due east of our hotel, was much more impressive and beautiful than the Bean. And so I offer you even more photos than I shared of that so it gets its due.

We both wished NYC had a fountain to rival this; the streams reminded us of Geneva, and sitting nearby, watching the patterns' continuous flux, was a highlight of the weekend.

There was no shade, though, and so on our first full day, we found ourselves drifting back toward the lake, right next to the fountain,

but across a street with a light so incredibly long, that it must've had 15 minute cycles.  While we waited, we butterfly followed along the path's milkweed. The butterflies were far ahead of NYC's season (I think), so it was a fun treate to see them so early.

At last, the traffic paused, and we crossed to the evening cool.

More next on the rest of Chitown!