Exploring Chicago

Amtrak Adventure 4/31 (about October 3rd, 2021)

Yesterday was one of those days that feels like two weeks. An hour away from Chicago, I almost started writing this update, thinking that I had enough material (we’d each finished a book, and I had done a lot of coding).

But then train pulled into Chicago at 4 PM, and the day’s events really began.

Our first order of business was to eat some good food; as you’ll recall, we cheap-riding plebeians had been barred from the dining cars on the very long ride through the mountains & plains, leaving us at the mercy of our mothers’ and grandmother’s provisions (which did the trick! Thanks so much, y’all!! I shouldn’t have poked fun at the maternal feeding instinct on Saturday, you really saved us this time).

We both felt like Indian food, so Mattea found a place that looked good and got walking directions. On the trek there, we passed a few cool places—did you know that the Willis Tower has a Starbucks in the bottom? Or that Walgreens is closed on Sundays? Or that CVS doesn’t sell belts? We do, now 🥲

After getting to the address, we popped our heads in confusedly; there really wasn’t a strong “good Indian food” vibe inside. In fact, it looked like a food court… with three kiosks and no humans or cash registers.

Get this; it was one restaurant, but they served like seven different brands and cuisines! The first prompt on the kiosk was literally “pick a restaurant,” and you could order from multiple different cuisines (and even search for “chicken dishes,” “sides,” etc across a half dozen menus) on the same system.

We think that this was basically a storefront for a “ghost kitchen” (restaurant that focuses on online takeout orders instead of serving tables). It’s a smart business model, honestly: kids can’t decide between burgers, Italian, or Indian? Just order from here, and you can get all three without any extra hassle!

Either way, the food was good, and we quickly filled up on butter masala.

Next up on our list was— “Wait, look, there’s a Ross!” Mattea suddenly pointed.

(Backstory: I bought two pairs of jeans on Thursday, and then, in a typical stroke of genius, decided—after trying one of them on—that they would be the only pants I took along for the month. Turns out, the non-tried-on pair doesn’t fit! 🙃)

Phew. Now my pants weren’t falling down every 19 steps, so it was much easier to walk around and focus. Back to the exploration—

Next up on our list was Millennium Park, a nice green space next to the Chicago Pvblic Library (which should be open on a future visit) with lots of funny attractions.

Chief among these—and our primary target—is a gargantuan polished metal bean that apparently, for some incomprehensible reason, isn’t actually named “The Bean.” Weird.

No matter, we took pictures around and under it anyways. Here’s Mattea’s favorite:

After that, we jaunted over to the water, where we were disappointed to find a concrete-lined marina instead of a beach for dipping our toes into.

We’d hiked multiple miles by then, though, so it seemed like it’d be a waste not to irresponsibly lower myself down and literally touch Lake Michigan. I justified the risk by thinking how great the story would have been if I accidentally fell in.

You would have loved to read about that instead, right? Maybe next time.

We’re back on the train now, safe and sound (though our thighs and feet hate us with a burning passion)—a different, less comfortable type that’s due to arrive in New York City tomorrow evening. I’ll be working remotely from it tomorrow, too—that’ll be an adventure to write about! 😅

It’s going to be a long month, but a great one, and chock full of memories.

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