After bidding adieu to Stef & Justin (after taking full advantage of their shower & washing machine, of course) we meandered our way into the city. We found a little residential side street, checked for any ‘don’t you dare try and park here you cheeky out-of-towners’ and quietly high fived our improved ability to surreptitiously boondock.
That evening I caught up with an old work colleague from Sydney. She picked Cindy’s bar looking over Millennium Park and the Bean (Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate), which was a perfect vantage point. She was on fine form, and it was great to catch-up on how people were doing. My time in Australia was long ago, but fond memories came flooding back.
The next day we did our first of a couple of free tours on foot. We had a great guide, and it was the perfect couple of hours to walk around, along the river, and hear a lot of the history of the ‘windy’ city (I am guessing people know it is not windy due to the wind, but because of all the hot air Chicago politicians used to spout to try to win the rights to hold a world fair in the olden days). We ticked off the Wrigley Building, Sears Tower, those famous car park towers (local known as the corn cobs) and the old Library (amazing domed roof of Tiffany glass). We stopped off at the Bean (extremely impressive) before heading back for a night out with a few ex-Shanghai people.
2015 has been immortalised in movie history (Back to the Future Part II) as the year that the Chicago Cubs finally managed to win the world series, after a drought of over 100 years. And they are the closest they have ever been, so we found a bar to watch the game, and watch them nudge ever closer to that illustrious goal (must remember to put in an ‘ed’ comment here when they lose!).
The next morning it was walk 2. This time through downtown and the ‘loop’. Again, a really good tour, and into some places we would never have even thought of to visit (e.g. the Sears is in fact a work of art with a Tiffany glass ceiling, and some great art deco interior). After this, we thought it would be rude not to head out to Wrigley Field and get a photo outside the field. A stadium in amongst houses basically, but the area around it was nicely gentrified (& it helped tick off our required 10,000 steps a day)
The next day we drove to Madison, WI and had a look around their capitol building (apparently taller than the Capitol Building in Washington DC – by about 2 inches – just to say it is taller). It’s a really small little city, but on the site of 4 lakes, and the University of Wisconsin, so actually a very cool place. That evening, we met up with @Advodna (a couple with 2 small kids living permanently in an airstream), to try and pick their brains about crossing the border and any tips, etc. A really great family, so we’re hoping to meet them, and other Central/South America ‘overlanders’ in December, to get more tips for when we cross the border.
After a night in Madison (yet another planet fitness. Did we mention how great that monthly subscription has been?!), we went to what is officially Hairventures’ most bonkers place ever – the House on the Rock in Spring Green. It is so hard to describe, so all I can say is watch this video and see for yourselves - youtube atlas obscura. A kind of indoor theme park, built alongside an ingenious house built into, and extending out of, a large rock on a hill. It also happens to be 5 minutes away from Taliesen, Frank Lloyd Wright’s house & school. Apparently a coincidence, which I find highly unlikely in a small town in the middle of nowhere.
Phew, sorry, I am going on. Give me time to get back into the swing of blogs, and we’ll get this condensed going forwards!
Saturday of this week, we had a long schlep to get to Sioux Falls. Not really much to say if I’m honest (it has some small falls & a bit of a stream), but it was en-route to Mount Rushmore and so we had to break up the journey some how, and get our final Planet Fitness fix for a while. Sunday was another long’ish driving day to get us to the Badlands National Park. I forced Meg to stop off at the 1880 Town. An attraction built next to a gas station, to try and encourage people to stop there. It was actually a very decent size, had genuinely ‘old & original’ buildings, and lots of Dances with Wolves memorabilia (filmed nearby). I got my cowboy on, and I made Meg dance in the Saloon, so I was happy. That afternoon we did a little hike & drive around the Badlands and found a great off road place to park up.
That night, I finally (read ‘officially’) asked Meg to make an honest man of me. It had been discussed, and planned, so not quite a surprise, but thankfully she said yes, so Hairventures gets ever more cemented into a long term commitment. I’d like to hope we’re both pretty happy about this…