We spent 5 short days in Chicago and we found that it was not nearly enough time to experience all that this great city has to offer. Unique among great American cities, Chicago has kept its waterfront as a public playground and there are not too many places in the world where you can float your boat within a few hundred feet of the tallest and most impressive skyline that you will ever see. There are numerous well-maintained harbors that are actually in park-like settings. We took full advantage of the miles of bike paths that provided easy and inexpensive transportation to visit museums, parks, the zoo, Navy Pier, the aquarium, restaurants and our favorite market – Mariano’s! We were quite impressed with the city’s dedication to providing scenic, safe and enjoyable walking, running and biking access to the downtown waterfront areas. (We also were introduced to the CURB and UBER “apps” for calling taxis!) We kept the boat at DuSable Marina, which is known for it’s proximity to the heart of the city. It was great to be able to sit on the bridge of the boat and just stare at the impressive site above us, but it was even greater to be within 5 minutes of the “Magnificent Mile”, Grant Park or Millennium Park. If you have not yet been to Chicago, then go…and go before the end of September, because as you can tell from the photos, it can get a bit chilly as fall approaches.
As Stel and I were looking at all of the things to do in Chicago, we discovered that the Zac Brown Band was performing at Wrigley Field on the last evening that we were going to be in town. We were fortunate to find some tickets and WOW, what a treat! It was great enough to be able to go to historic Wrigley Field (not originally on Stel’s bucket list), but Zac Brown and his unbelievably talented band played for 3 hours and it was probably the best concert that we have ever been to.
We were sad to leave, but due to incoming weather, we pulled out of the marina early the next morning and passed through the Chicago lock, which lowers you about 3 feet into the narrow river passage through the most impressive skyscrapers of the city and then on toward the Illinois River system. As soon as we got into the middle of Chicago, we were informed by a fellow looper that a railroad bridge was under repair and we would not be able to pass beyond the city for another 3 days. We immediately turned the boat around, went back through the lock and back into Lake Michigan toward Calumet Harbor, an alternative route located about 15 miles south of Chicago. We were fortunate to have friendly weather conditions for the rest of that day, but it made for a very long run before we reached a safe stopping place in Joliet, Illinois. It was quite a industrial environment on the Cal-Sag Channel and we quickly realized that the rivers leading us down south were going to be vastly different from our days on the “inland sea”, Lake Michigan.