To Chicago (Day 38)

Wow. Just, wow! That’s what I kept saying as we approached the Chicago skyline on the Mainship Many Moons. I did it decades ago, in a sailboat. But this time…well. So memorable.

It’s our 2nd big milestone. (Leaving Lake Superior was our 1st.) And now we’re here. Along with 1,125 other boats, in the Burnham Harbor marina. We thought our last marina was big!

Last night, our 3rd night in the Hammond Marina (about 12 miles south of Chicago, in Indiana) was quite fun. We were invited to “docktails” — i.e., social hour — on board the big yacht Quite Nice, also doing The Loop. We met many more Loopers, almost all with boats bigger than ours — sometimes a lot bigger! But we felt very much welcomed and at home. I’m not a natural socializer (in spite of many years doing just that as part of my Navy work), but it was genuinely fun. After dark, we enjoyed live outdoor music at the marina, our 4th such experience on this trip.

I was a bit unnerved but excited about moving to Chicago. We were lucky to find a slip during Labor Day weekend at a marina on the south end. Jeff was ready to try an anchorage or mooring buoy, but I opted for the $100 dock fee for a more secure option. (We heard stories of those other options!) We wanted to be closer to the Chicago River and the beginning of “the inland waterway” section of The Loop and the new challenges that brings. And I wanted the experience of being in a Chicago marina.

It is beautiful!!–but I don’t mind limiting it to one night. I originally reserved for two, but we changed our minds because of high winds coming…nearly 30 knots, which is concerning. This is the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, and the city noise is startling, even for this Washington DC resident. It’s been fun to be part of the hustle-and-bustle for a few days, but I’ll be glad for more quiet venues! As I write this at 11 p.m., I can hear the concert under way at nearby Soldier’s Field.

We took a long walk today, as we did a few days ago when we took a train in from Hammond. This city reminds me of Washington D.C. and San Francisco, with the walk-ability and waterfront venues and interesting diversity of people. (You hear a lot these days about the violence in Chicago, but we sensed none of that.) I could spend more time here. But, tomorrow morning…to the river and beyond! Photos and captions below.

Docktails on the fantail of Quite Nice, along with the crews of SoulMate, Eleanor Grace, Irish Lass, Tick-Tock, and Das Boot.
We are still about eight miles out here. Skyscraper skylines are visible for a very long way.
Closer, but we still can’t make out our marina even with binoculars. It’s always unnerving to approach a new marina, especially one with almost 1200 slips. Even though we can’t see it, we know from our navigation charts that it’s tucked behind that greenery.
Expect the unexpected, they say! In this case, a huge floatie at the head of our slip, which interfered with our ability to pull in. Nobody knew who owns it. We emptied the water and pushed it aside.
This anchorage area near our marina can hold hundreds of boats. Notice the “bicycles” cruising by.
I’m glad we aren’t anchored out there. It looks peaceful in this photo, but it can get jammed and the winds can play havoc…
Walking toward the city
Something about clouds behind skyscrapers…
We tried for Chicago-style pizza but the lines were long. This Indian restaurant was a great alternative. (Masks are requested indoors at all Chicago venues right now.)
Buckingham Fountain. Glorious spray of cool water as we walked by!
The view from our stern tonight
Balbo Monument, about 2,000 years old, very close to our marina. Sent to the U.S. by Benito Mussolino in the 1930s! A journalist who joined us for docktails last night told me about it and I had to go see. I spent two years in Sicily and learned so much about world history from visiting the ruins.

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