We left the gorges and waterfalls of the Illinois River Valley and headed back towards the northeast and the other river that connects the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Lake Michigan - the Chicago River. Traffic on I 80 was bad and got worse the closer we got to Joliet and eventually South Chicago and the Indiana state line. Off the expressway to save on H’s nerves – we ended up in backed up traffic in Gary Indiana. Oh well, Rt 12 led us to the Indiana Dunes National Seashore and the state park right next door! In the past we’ve always camped at the National Park Campground but there is no electricity in that park and the weather was to be pretty cool at night. (Here it is: See Previous Summer Blogs!)
The Southshore Rail line still runs on schedule to downtown Chicago and the train stop is right down the entrance road to the park with plenty of free parking. Even tho the price for seniors toride has gone up – from $3.75 to $4.50, the fast electric train still speeds along and still glides to a smooth stop at each posted station with the final stop in the dark caverns of the train station at Millennium Park. Once back up in the sunlight, our eyes adjusted to the bright light in the “canyon” formed by the towering
Climbing up out of the valley we found ourselves in an amazing park created especially for children! The sprawling Maggie Daley Park had wide curving walkways dividing different areas built for fun – climbing walls, skating areas and age appropriate playgrounds. A shiny stainless steel bridge swirled up and around like an escaping snake before crossing over the busy road beneath it. The downward path on the other side took us to the backside of the huge green swath of grass that lay before the super modernmetal amphitheater. We were told that all kinds of entertainment are put on there and folks bring their blankets or lawn chair to enjoy summer concerts and programs. A must see in Millennium Park is the famous stainless steel Chicago Cloud Gate Sculpture! Affectionately named “The Bean” because of its shape, it is 33x66x42ft and the archway underneath is 12 ft tall.
We wandered farther south of the “Bean” looking for ice cream but instead saw groups of families curiously watching a 50 ft tall tower with an animated face taking up the entire side of it. The face was moving and we both scanned the crowd looking for the child who was making the faces being mirrored on the wall. Turning around, we saw an identical tower with a man’s face on it. Water was spitting out of the man’s mouth! There was no suchman in front of that tower! These glass-bricked, dual LED lit water towers were using digital photos of local residents to mesmerize all of us!
We were both getting tired and ice cream was on our minds! Across busy Michigan Ave was the Shake Shack located in the bottom corner of a wonderfully restored old hotel with high, gold like ceilings, marble floor tiles and wide marble stair casings! YES - the shakes were delicious!