Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 23 - Holland & Chicago

The lighthouse at the end of the South Haven pier. Lake Michigan is in fog and difficult to see past the lighthouse. South Haven is in Michigan state.

The long and fogged-in South Haven pier. 

A much clearer view of South Haven from the riverfront. The river flows into Lake Michigan in the centre of the photo where it is still foggy

Many private boats along the South Haven riverfront

Lake Michigan from Benton Harbour, Michigan. It is strange to see a horizon and a beach that it is not an ocean and salt water

Driving south from North Michigan the weather is warmer. This is the water feature park at Benton Harbour with Lake Michigan in the background

A view of the Dunes National Park in Indiana. A very popular beach swimming area for locals.

Entering Chicago - along Lake Shore Drive. The Willis Tower building is the tall structure on the left

One of the unusual architectures in downtown Chicago, Illinois

The John Hancock building in the centre - located just north of downtown Chicago

The Historic Water Tower in North Chicago

The John Hancock building from street level

View of the Navy Pier and Lake Michigan from the John Hancock Observation Deck, Chicago

View from the John Hancock Observation Deck looking north of Chicago

From the John Hancock Observation Deck looking directly down into the Chicago Loop district

View of downtown Chicago from the John Hancock Observation Deck

The Willis Tower on the right  (formerly the Sears Tower) was once the tallest building in the world. Was overtaken by many Asian and Arab structures.

Crossing busy Michigan Avenue near the Hancock Building, Chicago

We left Holland at 9 am and knowingly we will slip back one hour from Eastern Standard Time to Central Standard Time. With this and a 2.5 hour direct drive to Chicago we were going to arrive early. Therefore we stopped at South Haven and Benton Harbour in Michigan to see how people live along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It was strange seeing fogged-in South Haven along the lake, however just fifty metres in from the shoreline the sky was blue. South Haven is a sleepy and small town but quite pleasant. Benton Harbour is a lot bigger and has great beaches almost like our Australian ones. At Benton Harbour the fog had lifted and turned into a beautiful day. We left Michigan and entered the northern part of Indiana and stopped for lunch at the Dunes National Park. Nothing to rave about but it was a good preparation stop for the maze of freeways and tollways we were expecting when driving into and through Chicago. Entering Chicago there is another huge city called Gary. It is connected next to Chicago but in Indiana. The state border of Illinois runs between these great cities. Now Gary has the reputation of having the highest murder rate in the US so we didn't stop there. Also it is the birthplace of Michael Jackson. With our great GPS (Tommette) we had no problems driving along the many freeway corridors of Chicago. In fact we actually drove along the Lake Side Highway which has a commanding view of the Chicago Skyline and Lake Michigan. With an outstanding clear and blue sky the journey was enjoyable. We reached our B&B at 1:30 pm and with luck our room was ready. The caretaker of the Old Chicago Inn B&B is a nice and friendly fellow he meticulously gave us how everything works within the building. The B&B is located in a safe area of Chicago in a suburb called Belmont about 10 klms from downtown. Ralph had to be bed down in a street behind us and has a special permit for residential parking otherwise vehicles without this permit will be towed away. There is a "Loop" railway station just around the corner and only ten minutes from the centre of Chicago ... so we are in an ideal location. After we settled in we caught the red line CTA (Loop train) to Chicago Station and walked to the John Hancock Building. We had fast track passes to the Observation Deck and a great view of Chicago from 1000 feet up was experienced. After descending there was a huge Macy's store next door and guess what happened? Anne was all shopped out and nothing was purchased. We returned to Belmont and had dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafes that surround our B&B. Tomorrow we have passes to ascend the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and will check out Chicago from 1350 feet in the sky. Also we will walk around the famous Loop of Chicago where the railway system works it way around the buildings. In the evening we have organised a West Coast Swing lesson with a professional dancer nearby. We heard there is a social just after the lesson, but it may focus on the Lindy Hop style. Nevertheless it would be good just to watch that style of dance. Cheers.

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