“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago – she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.(Mark Twain)
Visiting Chicago would represent a major challenge to Ruth and I in our road trip travels this year. As we now exited the central prairie of farm/cattle feeding lands, we faced the abrupt onslaught of heavy traffic gridlock on irritatingly tolled expressways. In fact, we seemed to question why were taking time to again visit this densely populated city. Yet with springtime’s warmth arrival, we envisioned that new discoveries awaited us by venturing outside. Nighttime pre-bookings for a U2 concert and Chicago Cubs game would no doubt keep us entertained at night time yet would leave us open for finding daytime, walking options. Our first task, however, would be to wisely book our three night stay near suburban O’Hare Airport with hopes of avoiding such commuter madness to and from downtown each day. Pondering these options, we enjoyed a deep dish pizza pie lunch at legendary Gino’s Pizza’s suburban location nearby our motel and reminisced at dinner with friends from our India tour last year.
We had seen the U2 extravaganza a few years ago in Paris and expected the band’s high energy combined with keen awareness of global issues would re-surface on our first night in Chicago occasion. At the sold out United Center, Bono and his legendary band entered by way of a laser-like tubular corridor leading to the main stage. I became uneasy as my seat began to suddenly shake from a sudden burst of heavy bass as cellphone lights brightened on cue to the band’s unusual arrival in the surrounding arena. As the set proceeded loudly and the band moved to various stage locations, across the floor of the arena, I began to wonder why Bono’s gimmicky theatrics (ie. spitting water onstage and mimicking the devil) were needed tonight. His powerful musical message of love, peace, and tolerance could have alone sold this excitingly loyal crowd.
Chicago transit (CTA) provides efficient service to downtown areas of the city. Our particular interest on this second day visit would take us along the blue line from O’Hare to the famous “loop corridor downtown. After a satisfying lunch of wienerschnitzel, potato salad and bratwurst for a taste of German delicacy at the Berghoff Restaurant, we would aimlessly amble through the green oasis of Millenium/Grant Park, gazing back at skyscraper vistas as we made our way east to the serene, Lake Michigan shoreline.
The historic presence of Wrigley Field, along Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue remains a unique “throwback” to the past. Surrounded by Victorian era homes in a quaint, residential area, this icon of baseball glory seemed strangely small: like a neighborhood, “little league” park from the outside. Yet inside,my senses overwhelmed in an unfolding cathedral of ivy lined outfield walls, old time organ music, and hand driven scoreboards. It seemed, the game meant less than actually being there today.