When we got up this morning we decided to see about renting some bikes down at the Navy Pier. We got online and found the vendor, reserved everything and off we went. They fitted us to some real comfy bikes and locks and gave us a great map of all the bike trails along the lake front. When I was in Chicago last year with Sara we managed to figure out the public transportation pretty well, but we were still walking a long..long way to get to anything. We thought it might be easier to cover a lot more ground on two wheels and boy where we right. We set out North on the lake path only to run into more people than I have seen in a long time.....this weekend happened to be the Air & Water show that the city has put on for the last 50 years. If you have ever been to the NAS Air Show, multiply that amount of spectators by 500 and that is how many people it seemed like we were trying to dodge...and did I mention that Melissa hadn't been on a bike in at least 15 years. We turned around and headed south instead...smart move. We traveled on a wonderful bike path, extra wide right along the beauty of Lake Michigan. Even though there were still a lot of people, it was manageable and easy going. This city really planned out it's bike paths, and the best part, no hills. We traveled over 25 miles during the 4 hour rental, and we were on sensory overload with the abundance of flowers, people, sailboats, skyscrapers, flowers, flowers, flowers! One area that we rode along was just east of Soldier Field and was filled with acres and acres of planted prairie wildflowers. We were riding along, just the two of us on this beautiful path, and up from the flowers came these beautiful sculptures. Truly breathtaking, the flowers in bloom, the sailboats in the lake, and these magnificent pieces of art lifting their wings to the sky.
After covering the entire museum area and Millennium Park we headed west on some of the back streets where the historical district is. Somehow we rounded a corner and happened into a park where we met a lovely women who actually tried to get us to volunteer some of our time in the garden until she found out we lived thousands of miles away. We were talking tomatoes, cabbage and peppers with her - she was tending part of the community garden - when we asked her about the house that was sitting in the middle of the park. Turns out the house was the oldest standing house in the city of Chicago, The Clarke House, and we had our own private historian as she filled us in on all the efforts to save the areas homes. Turns out Mayor Daley lived right down the block, and she told us to look for the police car out front, which would signal to us that he was home. http://www.cityofchicago.org/Landmarks/C/ClarkeHouse.html
After a light lunch, we traveled back to the Millennium Park where I got these shots of "The Cloud", one of the, what seems like, hundreds of pieces of artwork and sculpture that fill the city. We sat and put our feet in one of the many water areas set up for just that reason, to take time to relax and contemplate all the beauty in the park.
After turning the bikes back in, we ventured back on foot to our hotel and a nice relaxing evening finished out the day. Tomorrow we start the first day of our true reason for being in Chicago, the trade show and a bus tour of the areas premier nursery. Melissa and I are both excited to see what they specialize in, their displays and ideas for merchandising. Our other friends have arrived, Dave and Julie Ruff from Greenhouse Garden Center in Carson City, and Giselle from Dr. Earth Organics, and we are excited to share the day with them tomorrow before the true hustle and bustle of the trade show starts on Tuesday.
It's off to bed, a big day is ahead. Till then, Susan