Photo Friday: My Kind of Town

I miss Chicago.

I don’t miss living in the city most of the time, but I do miss being able to get downtown in just a short drive. Having been to LA, Seattle, St Louis, San Francisco, and a few other cities, I still find Chicago is my favorite.

Flags

Illinois, US, and Chicago flags

The wife and I spent the weekend of the 9th and 10th in Chicago with friends. It turned into a great mini-vacation, and of course I brought the camera along to do some shooting. Hang out, relax, see the sights… sometimes that’s all you need to recharge the batteries.

The trip started with the Chicago In-Water Boat Show. My friend Tim is a boater, and for him, lusting after bigger boats is the same as when I go lusting after bigger motorcycles. Sure, you’ve got a nice one, but you’re always going to want someone else’s. The Wife and I may not be able to afford a boat, but we’re happy to look and dream and drool, so we had no problem tagging along.

This is the One

The captain explores his future vessel

Many of these boats are like floating RVs. Some are fun little fishing cruisers, others are full-on yachts with all the amenities. I’m told this is Chicago’s first in-water show, where the boats are all floating as opposed to being propped up indoors somewhere like McCormick Place. We saw prices from $149,000 up to $2 million, and the sales folks welcomed anyone aboard to take a look. There were two exceptions to this, neither with a price listed, and boarding was by appointment only. I’m guessing that meant “serious buyers only, after we run your credit.”

We started at the low end of the range, with the Wife and I stunned that the boats cost more than our house. Then we saw the $2million-dollar boats and circled back to the $150K docks and thought “Wow, this is pretty reasonable!” It’s all relative.

Finally One I Can Afford

Ah, here's one I can afford. Does it come in black?

We went out for stuffed pizza after the boat show. No way I’m visiting Chicago without getting some real pizza. There’s one place in the Peoria area that serves up proper stuffed pizza, and unfortunately their sauce is crap and ruins the whole experience. Everyone else’s attempt is fat, greasy dough which is more like what Chicagoans know as pan pizza.

Our friends had been to Gino’s East before and wanted to try somewhere new, so we hit the Bella Bacino’s on Wacker, in walking distance from our hotel. We had a few drinks, pleasant conversation, and some good pizza. Then came the naked bike ride.

Wait, what?

Yes, the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride went down Wacker Saturday night. The waitress came over and told us “4,000 naked people are riding by on bicycles right now.” It’s not something you see every day, much less in a conservative area like ours, so we went and checked it out.

Naked Ride

No flash, wrong lens, so crap pics. Sorry. Well, mostly. In some cases you would have thanked me.

The ride promotes awareness of cyclists and promotes “the freedom from oil and the beauty of people.” Unfortunately we saw a cyclist who got knocked down by a car the following day. That driver must not have gotten the message.

On Sunday we decided to walk through Millennium Park and up and down Michigan Avenue to check out the architecture. This way we didn’t have to move the car and pay for more parking, or sweat paying for cab rides. Driving Michigan doesn’t compare to walking it, either, as there are plenty of little things to see.

The Cloud Gate

The Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean"

The old buildings are so much more beautiful than the new ones. Sure, the new ones are tall and cool and have their own beauty, but they’re all cold metal and glass, where the older, carved concrete buildings have a very organic feel. It’s certainly not the same as walking through the older parts of London or Paris, but it’s nice just the same to see some history and marvel at the things we accomplished with simpler tools and materials.

Trib Entry

You just don't see this anymore.

We settled down for a drink at Timothy O’Toole’s Pub before leaving the city. It’s a nice, faux-Irish pub tucked away in the lower level of one of the buildings at the corner of Fairbanks and Ontario. They were running the soccer games, and we enjoyed watching the soccer players ham up every little kick to the shin or tumble caused by an opposing player. Unfortunately Ireland lost the match to Croatia, and the local patrons were not happy.

The Black and Blue

Tim enjoys a Black and Blue: Guinness and Blue Moon

And yes, we found a time and place for cigars. Chicago may be an anti-smoking city, but what they didn’t know didn’t hurt us.

I took several more photos, all of which can be found in my Chicago set on Flickr.

I would love to have done some writing somewhere in the city, but we had a full weekend and it was more about relaxation and recharging than getting work done. I don’t regret it, and we’re already talking about going back in a few months. Next time maybe we’ll check out Navy Pier or hit the museum campus.

 

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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