Sightseeing Chicago from the back seat of a “Chicago’s finest cruiser”
Let’s begin at the beginning. My warmshowers host helped me map my route this morning. I wanted to do all the bike trails possible from Beverly Shores to Chicago. I rode the Calumet trail first. It was underwater in a lot of parts, but riding through puddles is actually very childlike, and fun. From the Calumet, I picked up the Prairie Duneland Trail, then the Oak Savanna Trail, and then the Erie Lackawanna Trail. That covered about 40 miles. It made for peaceful riding.
In Chesterton, I met a guy named John, and he rode with me for a good ways along the Prairie Duneland Trail. It was nice to have company cycling along with me, as I miss Bruce and Dave and Bill and Greg and all my ride partners/friends.
When I got to Hammond, which is just south of Chicago, I began to realize just how BIG Chicago is. I came up through some neighborhoods with a lot of character. I did stop and ask directions and was kindly given directions each time I requested it.But where was I really going? Is there a “hotel district”? How do I specify what I’m looking for, when I don’t know what that is, myself? Well, I asked about a hotel district. I was told that I wasn’t in a very good neighborhood, but the area I was heading into would be very pricey. The gentleman who helped me cross-referenced with his iphone or mp3, and showed me that there is a Ramada in the area. OK. That’s a start. I’ll check it out.
I headed up the Lakefront trail. I misplaced myself, and most folks on bikes are out for a fitness ride, so I can’t catch them to ask directions. Then, I spot a kindred spirit. A guy who is kind of poking along, enjoying the scenery. With a mad dash, I caught up, and asked if he was headed toward the lakefront trail, that I think I lost it. It kind of wiggles around like a slippery eel. ANd if you aren’t careful, it’ll slip away from you. He wasn’t really headed to the lake front trail, but he was headed to the area where the Ramada is.
Well, that works!
We actually wandered just enough for Brian to show me some of the basic sights, so I know what to go back and see in greater detail tomorrow. Then, on to the (rather seedy looking Ramada, which Brian thought might run about $40. From the looks of it, I agreed). It was $125/night!!!!!! And a dive, if I do say so myself. Now What?
I made a few calls, and found accomodations a few blocks away (1.5 miles is what the reservation clerk said), so I headed out. Just as it started to drizzle, then rain, then pour, then pound, with powerful, angry winds. AND the sun dove behind the horizon line, leaving me in the dark, in a huge city, in the rain, and wind, cycling frantically, through a park that closed at dusk.
I left the park, so as not to get arrested, and besides, I thought I might be near the new hotel. At a stop light, amongst the few cars, and many loitering locals, I espied a Chicago’s finest patrol vehicle. I asked permission to approach the vehicle, and inquired as to the whereabouts of my hotel. He directed north about 5 miles. Uhm, You mean blocks, right?
Thankfully, the two police officers offered me a ride, but my bike wouldn’t fit in the vehicle. Another vehicle came, and took me to my hotel. That’s pretty humiliating, to be dropped off at your hotel, by the Popo!
All in all, it was a very nice way to be treated. I appreciate the time those officers took, to help insure that this visitor to Chicago found her way safely to her safe harbor for the night. Thanks guys!
I’m pooped. 65 miles today.
Go make your own breeze; and remember: if you’re not having fun; you’re in the wrong gear;)