One of my favourite things to do in both new and familiar cities is to simply wander, get lost even. In fact, this tactic has yielded some amazing photos on my previous trips. And while my wife does not share this same affinity to simply ‘get lost’ in a city she does enjoy the wandering parts. As long as we can stop for coffee or pop into some of the stores along the way. But out of all the cities, I’ve visited my favourite to simply wander around in is Chicago. To be more specific, the loop and the museum campus. These two areas are home to the iconic Chicago skyline and amazing buildings that make up some of the oldest and most iconic skyscrapers in the United States. I’d even go so far as to say if I had to pick an American city to live in, Chicago would be that city. A few weeks back, my wife and I took our fall vacation in Chicago allowing me to show her around my favourite city just as she showed me around Disney last year.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and enjoy driving Chicago is not that far of a drive. If you live west of the city, you’re looking at 8-8.5 hours on the road depending on traffic and stops. Thankfully we broke up the drive with a stop at Cracker Barrel just across the border and giving us a fuel up before the long five and a half hour part of the drive. It helped that the border was quiet and traffic was light. But what made this trip different from my other ones was that we were staying right in the loop and a wonderful modern hotel, theWit located at State and Lake. Having a central location allowed us to walk almost everywhere we visited. We only took a taxi a few times, once due to heavy rain, the second due to distance. It also helped that our room looked out over State Street giving us fantastic views of the elevated train and all the action going out outside the Chicago Theatre. We had to play tourist and visited the Skydeck at the Sears Tower which offered amazing views for miles around despite the hazy weather. Shopping along Michigan Avenue and a stop at Sprinkles for cupcakes, we did see their famous cupcake ATM but went into the store instead to make our purchase. Walking along the River, deep-dish pizza at Giordano’s along with Goose Island beer. And of course, a reflected selfie in Cloud Gate.
But that wasn’t all we did, we took in history at the Field Museum. Checking out the world of Insects, Ancient American Civilizations and Egypt. Plus Sue, the world’s second-oldest T-Rex plus saw the stuffed remains of one of Tsavo’s man-eating lions. There was even a showing of the year’s best nature photos. One thing that struck me is that while a majority of the images were captured on traditional SLRs (digital) there was a showing of Drone captured images and mirrorless cameras. Plus one image captured on a Nikon F4 on Tri-X. We then slept with the fishes at the Shedd Aquarium, which by the time we got in was packed due to the bad weather outside. We also had undersea adventures at the Museum of Science and Industry in seeing U-505 the world’s only surviving Type IXc Submarines from World War Two and had a private tour (in the sense we were the only two on the first tour of the day) of Old Ben No. 17 coal mine. And of course, were amazed at the collection at the Art Institute. We checked out the new Andy Warhol Exhibit plus enjoyed seeing such iconic images as American Gothic and Man with a Blue Guitar in person. Not to mention paintings by Monet and VanGough. Plus architectural elements designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
And while the trip was only four days, it certainly was a wonderful break for both of us, not to mention providing two three day work weeks in a row. Plus it’s always good to get away, get out of work and our busy heads. For me, it allowed me to get the shooting in for a few of the last reviews of the year. Also a welcome trip to Central Camera to check out their used gear plus pick up some pins for the Emulsive Secret Santa and some Foma Retropan 320 in medium format to try out.
Just a quick taste of the city, but left us wanting to go back. But not for a while, we still want to see Boston and return to New York before heading back to the Windy City. If you want to see more of my images from the trip you can check out my collection over on Flickr.