Chicago, IL (8/29/17)

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When we left Michigan City, early this morning we had a slight mist which didn’t last long.  We will be leaving the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and crossing 37 miles to Chicago Il.  We really enjoyed the harbors on Lake Michigan, they all had lighthouses at the port entrances.  Most of the ports have several marinas but there were a couple that only had one.  The Michigan shore is lined with sand dunes as we navigated lake Michigan and each harbor has a beautiful sandy beach.  It’s sad to say goodby to this beautiful area.

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Approaching Chicago we could see the Towering John Hancock, Sears Tower, and Trump Buildings. What an amazing view the closer we got to Chicago the taller the building got.  Unique among great American cities, Chicago has kept its waterfront as its playground, and has an anchorage as well as nine well-maintained harbors.

As we entered the harbor and followed the break wall to DuSable Marina to our Port (left) side is Monroe harbor mooring field with 1200 mooring  balls.  If we would have stayed on a mooring ball the harbor does provide a taxi service to shore, but the wake from these taxis is considerable.

We opted to stay at the DuSable Marina inside the breakwater in proximity of downtown and close to Navy Pier.

Our daughter Anita, from Rockford Il., is coming to spend Monday and stay overnight with us on the boat. We are so looking forward to her visit and spending the day with her in Chicago.

Chicago is the largest city we will pass through on our trip.  There are two routes from Lake Michigan into the Illinois waterway.  You have the scenic route through downtown Chicago on the South Branch of the Chicago River; however, you have to be able to pass under several 17 foot fixed bridges.  Or you can take the Calumet River and Calumet Sag Channel off Lake Michigan to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  Were lucky that our boat is under 17 foot so we can navigate the scenic route.  Nowhere else on the East Coast, including New York city, do you go under so many bridges and get so close to pedestrians and tall buildings.

The name Chicago is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word Shilaakwa.  Chicago is the third most populous city in the United State incorporated as a city in 1837.  After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which razed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild on the damage.  The construction boom accelerated population growth through the following decades, leading Chicago to become among the five largest cities in the world by 1900. During this period Chicago is noted for its contribution to urban planning and zoning standards, new construction styles, the embracement of the City Beautiful Movement, and the eventual creation of the steel-framed skyscraper.

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When Anita arrived we all walked across this bridge to Navy Pier, about a mile walk from the marina to have lunch.

We decided to eat at Harry Caray’s Tavern with a world-class collection of sports memorabilia.  Kent back was to the waiter when he came to our table and the waiter  said ” I will bring you ladies some water”  we all busted out laughing along with the table next to us after the waiter left.  When the waiter returned with our water a few minutes later he said “here is your water ladies” then he looked at Kent and the poor waiter was so embarrassed, he said how sorry he was, of course we are all still laughing.  Now Kent has not cut his hair since Amy trimmed it in Nov. so it’s very long.

After lunch we walked through the shopping area, and the botanical garden on the top floor.  We wanted to go on the Centennial Wheel but it was closed due to the possibility  of lighting.

So instead we walked down to Caffe Oliva a beachfront restaurant and bar located in Olive Park next to Chicago lake front.  We had a drink, enjoyed the view, and the best part was being together with Anita.

Navy Pier is a 3,300 foot long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan currently encompasses more than fifty acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, and family attractions.  Navy Pier was opened to the public on July 15, 1916 and originally named Municipal Pier built by Charles Sumner Frost.  Originally the Navy Pier was to be a dock for freight, passenger traffic, and a space for indoor and outdoor recreation for the public.  In the summer of 1918 the pier was also used as a jail for draft dodgers.  In 1927 the pier was renamed Navy Pier to honor the Naval Veterans who served in the First World War.  In 1941 during World War II until 1946 the pier became a training center for the Navy.  After the navy mission was winding down the University of Il held classes at the Pier.  When the university rebuilt the Navy Pier became underutilized.  In 1959 the St. Lawrence Seaway opened and increased commercial shipping activity for a short time.  In 1995 Navy Pier was redesigned and introduced to the public as a mixed use venue incorporating retail, dining, entertainment, and cultural spaces.

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Monday evening Kent, Anita, and I took the Twilight Architecture river cruise aboard Chicago’s First lady Cruises, where the city architecture takes on a whole new life in the setting sun.  Our tour guide Janice explained how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the worlds’ largest cities in less than 100 years.  She explained about the city architecture buildings and its history.  Janice did a great job giving us historic information along with humor as we navigated all three branches of the Chicago River starting at the main branch, then travel the north and south branch.  We learned how the Great Chicago Fire jumped a river and how visionaries of structural steel and plate-glass in less than ten years lift Chicago from the ashes of the fire to a new heights.

On our walk back to the marina after the tour we stopped at the Island Party Hut to finish out the evening.

Anita had to leave us Tuesday at noon so she would be home when the little girls got off the bus.  Her time with us was short but sweet.  Thanks Patrick for letting her come and spend some time with us.

Kent and I walked back to Navy Pier and had a Chicago hot dog, now you can’t come to Chicago and not have a hot dog.  Then we got tickets to ride the Centennial Wheel.  The original Ferris Wheel was retired on September 27, 2015 and replaced by a new model from Dutch Wheels, which features a two-sided enclosed car for easy loading, with safety glass capable of weathering intense storms.  The new Centennial Wheel is 196 feet tall 46 feet taller than its predecessor.  Rides are now twelve minutes instead of seven and feature three revolutions.  I don’t like heights but was so glad I went up on the Centennial Wheel, what an amazing 360 degree view of Chicago.

Kent and I walked downtown to Trump International Hotel and condo tower, built-in 2009.  We had a drink on the outdoor patio terrace, named “The Terrace at Trump” with its great view of Wrigley Building clock tower and the Tribune Tower’s flying buttresses.  We could look across and see the patio of the London House.

Then we walked over to the London House a swanky hotel built-in 1923 on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.  This location is also the historical site of Fort Dearborn.  The London House was originally called London Guarantee Building a well-known jazz club and restaurant from 1923-1970.   It was reopened in 2016 as the London House.  Kent and I had a drink out on the patio with an amazing view of the Chicago River and all the bridges.  The architecture of this building was amazing.  From the patio we could look across and see the Trump International Hotel.

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We started to walk back to the marina but decided we wanted pizza.  We asked a local at the bike rental place how close the nearest pizza place was, she said about four blocks.  Now during our journey when we ask for direction it’s always doubled the distance.  So we decide to walk the four blocks hoping she was right to Giordano’s Pizza, which was actually four blocks and enjoyed some chicago pizza.  While we were walking there Johnny from (Anchor Down) called and said that they had crossed their wake at Green Turtle Bay.  We are so happy for them and so glad we had the opportunity to travel with such a wonderful couple.

We noticed that there are a lot of clocks on the building in Chicago and found out that back in history not very many people could afford pocket watches.  So clocks were installed on building so people would make it to work on time.

Tuesday night we watched from our boat the Centennial Wheels fantastic light show on Navy pier.  Chicago all lit up at night was amazing.  I thought Manhattan was beautiful across the Hudson River but seeing Chicago all light up so close was astonishing.

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Wednesday morning we had to leave the beautiful city and lock through Harbor lock built-in 1938.  The lock is 600 feet long and 80 feet wide and has a depth of 22.4 feet at its low pool elevation.  The lock is the gateway to one of the United States busiest commercial and recreational waterway.  Over 50,000 vessels, 900,000 passengers and 200,000 tons of cargo traverse these gates each year.  The Chicago Harbor Lock was constructed to prevent the Chicago River from draining into Lake Michigan, as well as to prevent rising water on Lake Michigan from raising the level of the river.

After the lock we had the pleasure of winding our way through the city around 8:00 and watched the rat race of people scurry around to get to work.  We went under 50 bridges as we navigated the five miles through Chicago, IL it was so exciting to look up and see all the tall buildings.  We are now done with all big bodies of water and back on the river system.  We are navigating the Chicago River that runs through the city of Chicago.  Though not especially long, the river is notable for being a reason why Chicago became an important location, with the related Chicago Portage being a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley waterways and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

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This is are latest visitor on the boat a Praying Mantis.  He did not travel with us when we left Chicago.

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