Happy Flag Day, fellow roadies! Are you at the Chicago Blues Fest tonight? You can still get there. Seems like Chicago’s been having a lot of rain lately, but the good news is that it’s been keeping the high heat at bay. Luckily, it’s dry out right now – which is a good thing, because today is the third and closing day of the BluesFest, being held at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park (right off Route 66!). Wouldn’t want the rest of that rained out, like the Cubs game nearly was last night. So if you’re around downtown tonight, make sure you check out the rest of the BluesFest – it’s free. See tonight’s schedule here. There will be centennial tributes to both Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.
BTW, last night the BluesFest celebrated the life and music of the recently deceased B.B. King, a guy who really knew the blues inside and out (nearly all of whose albums I have, including the one he did with Louis Jordan’s jump-blues hits; so danceable!). You might want to read this post about him on Pitchfork.
For many people, April 15 – Tax Day – isn’t necessarily a happy occasion. Some folks look for a way to chase away the blues. My co-author Joe decided to accomplish that differently this year and paid a visit to a little-known point of interest right off Route 66 in downtown Chicago. Here’s his report. Take it away, Joe! Millennium Park is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. So much fun with The Bean (Anish Kapoor’s giant mirrored sculpture, Cloud Gate), the Crown Fountain with its changing faces and wading pool, and so on. But Millennium Park is really a subset of the much larger Grant Park, better known as Chicago’s magnificent front yard on the lakefront. However, at Millennium Park’s southern end sits a hidden jewel: Lurie Garden. It’s a little slice of serene Illinois prairie in the heart of the city, an open secret to Chicagoans and to the wildlife that call it home or use it as a rest stop – but it’s unfamiliar to most human out-of-town visitors.
Chicago’s Lurie Garden in early spring, with light blue Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) covering barren areas of the ‘dark’ plate. (Photo copyright 2015 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved)
Who knew that Chicago would be getting so much attention lately? First TripAdvisor’s consumer reviewers’ poll judges Chicago #2 among best destinations in the U.S. and #18 among world destinations. Then we score again on three other TripAdvisor rankings! The bean-shaped CloudGate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park ranked #6 among the Top 10 U.S. Landmarks, whereas Millennium Park itself ranked #3 among the Top 10 U.S. Parks and a surprising (and gratifying) #4 among Top 10 World Parks, ahead of places like the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris (which only ranked 10th)! Whoa — and how timely: this summer’s special activities in Millennium Park, many of which are free, honor the park’s 10th anniversary.
Anish Kapoor’s sculpture CloudGate reflects the city’s skyline at dusk in Millennium Park; and in a pinch, it can also shelter people from a storm. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago dept. of tourism)
Now the business magazine Fast Company tells us that a British real estate management and investment research group analyzed 50 cities around the globe to determine the 10 Most Resilient Cities in the World — and Chicago ranked #4 behind three Canadian cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (i.e., we’re the most resilient of all U.S. cities, and New York didn’t even make the list!). Mind boggling. But we’re glad somebody finally noticed us (maybe the park(s) had something to do with it, you think?).
My, my, how busy things have gotten in Chicago lately. No sooner are we past Memorial Day than activity just seems to explode. Of course, if you’re coming here for a Route 66 road trip, that’s all to your benefit — there are always more things to do here in metro Chicago than there is time to do them. Isn’t it great to have so many choices? So much good stuff is doable for cheap or free. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s no better place to do a lot of this stuff than right out on Chicago’s lakefront, with the lake behind you, the park beside you, and the cityscape before you. Still, that means a plan may be in order, if you want to maximize your time here.
Yesterday, route roadies were all a-Twittering about the latest from the Skydeck at the Sears Tower: The Ledge (or at least the laminated shielding on the glass floor) cracked and scared the dickens out of some visitors from out west. EEEEEK! Even AOL news cribbed a report from Chicago’s WGN-TV midday news. Well, actually, the pressure-sensitive protective coating on the glass supposedly did what it was intended to do and spider-webbed into cracks to indicate that it needed replacement … then that window box was closed off for maintenance while the other one stayed open. And safe. Uh-huh. Right. Sure. Whatever you say. You go first, okay? No, I insist. Really.
The TILT windows at the John Hancock, tilted. (Photo courtesy of ChooseChicago.com)
Happy hump day, fellow roadies! It’s a good Wednesday today for the three scribes here at CuriousTraveler66 because we finally bought our domain name and have a shorter URL now. It’s not that we don’t love WordPress, because we do; but it’s just so much easier on our readers and fans to have the shortened address. To wit: look for us now at http://curioustraveler66.com — we’ll be there!
And because it’s such a beautiful, sunny day here in Chicago today (60 degrees F. is the high this afternoon — whoohoo!), we’ll treat you to a shot of Grant Park from early last summer, just before the Chicago Blues Festival in June. If you look carefully at the photo just a bit above and slightly left of dead center, you’ll spot the corner of the Art Institute at Jackson and Michigan, which is where our favorite road began in 1926. Notice all that green? It’s coming, never fear. Just give us a few more weeks and some April showers.