Sunday, July 17, 2011

Windy City whirlwind: Chicago!

Day 1

On Tuesday, July 12th at 10:10 am-- the Great Megabus Adventure officially began.

We pulled away from Iowa City and into--

an endless expanse of flat land and uninterrupted sky.

The “midwest dome,” according to Charles, the young writer from Ames, Iowa who ended up sitting across from me.

It’s true. Riding through the midwest, you get the sense that if you wandered maybe 500 miles through the corn in any direction, you’d eventually be able to touch a wall of sky. Maybe that’s a special kind of delirium that comes with 4-7 hours on the road.

By 3:30 pm, I was greeted by:

(Compliments of Google images)
My first impression: it’s like NYC and Philly moved to the Midwest and had a love-child. A really really really big love-child. And one I might just get along with.

When I took my first steps in Chicago, I expected to be hit with instant trip jitters. I wasn’t. Only the cognitive static that comes with roaming through a place you’ve never been before, glancing around and wondering, “Could I live here? Will I live here?”

 I was also greeted by: 
Phil! Later in the week we went to the nature conservatory in Lincoln Park (free on Thursdays).
Phil makes friends easily.

Phil is the comedian / couch-surfer and fellow frugal spirit I mentioned in my first entry. He regularly takes his own megabus journeys by booking the $1 tickets. His girlfriend Meg, hosted me while I was in town.  

Not only has Phil been a Chicago tour guide, he’s now working part-time as a bell-hop and was able to store my luggage the rest of the day at his hotel. Meeting for coffee with a stranger you met over a hospitality social networking site while they’re visiting your town— actually an excellent idea.

Before Phil headed off to his acting class, we cheese-greased our fingers with Garrett’s gourmet popcorn mix, apparently (next to deep-dish pizza) a fundamental Chicago staple:

 We also toured Ghirardellis, the Magnificent Mile and— 

Lookingglass Theater’s lobby! Did you know they’re located in a water treatment plant?
As soon as Phil and I parted ways, Charles, my new megabus friend, met up with me and we checked out MOCA--the Museum of Contemporary Art (free on Tuesdays).

Phone bone!

Afterwards, Charles and I caught a show at Lookinglass Theater by their middle-school to high school aged ensemble: a 45 minute devised piece about immigration politics. It’s pretty impressive to see sixth graders not only successfully devise a piece of theater, but take on such a heated topic with more sensitivity and intelligence than most adults. Props to Lookingglass!

By the end of the day, I’d figured out CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) enough to navigate my way to  Meg’s place in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

She didn’t tell me that she lives at Hogwarts:
Awesome fact about Meg:
As a professional child wrangler, her job is to get kids to make faces like this.  

Meg's latest work.

End of Day One

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