Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Milwaukee and Chicago

        Hey everyone. We had a great time going through the rest of Wisconsin, then down to Chicago. Milwaukee has a lot of character to it that we weren't expecting to see. There are loads of gorgeous old churches and buildings all over the city. We arrived by bike trail into the city, and were lead right to the Miller Brewery by a great guy we meat on the bike ride towards the heart of Milwaukee. He really helped us negotiate our way to beer land and the city, otherwise we would have spent the entire day trying to figure out arriving by the bike trial system. They are confusing and not clearly marked the closer you get into the center of the city.
     Beer land was awesome! Neither one of us has ever seen a brewery so large. Miller has a chunk on the outside of downtown that is about five by six city blocks big where the brewery, distribution center, and offices are located together called Miller Valley. We took the free tour and sampled three different kinds of beers that Miller Brews. It was worth seeing, being in the land of beer and all...( we also went to a small cheese factory, but forgot to take pictures.)
      It took us two more days to get down to Chicago from Milwaukee. Nothing too amazing happened on the ride before our arrival in Chicago. We took Hwy. 32 almost all the way there, then wove our way through traffic on various streets until arriving at the area of the city where we stayed with another Warm Showers host. Our host's apartment was located in an area of Chicago called Pilsen; it was right outside of the downtown area, and is a Hispanic neighborhood. I really enjoyed the area because it was thriving despite its more run down buildings. There was always children running around, adults talking on the street corners, many authentic Mexican restaurants, businesses, and activity all of the time. Shannon was our host for our stay. She had a great apartment and fun dog named Roxanne who was incredibly sweet. Thank you Shannon for letting us stay with you and Roxanne!
     We biked all over Chicago while we were there. We left the trailers at Shannon's house so we wouldn't be lugging them all over the city or risk getting them broken into. Biking without a trailer is like flying. We flew all over Chicago, weaving down the city streets, through traffic, and over bridges and under the El. Its tons of fun to tear around a big city on bikes! There are lots of bike lanes in Chicago, and bike routes. We never felt like we were in danger of getting hit by a car. Drivers are great about passing cyclist even if its a bit closer then we were used to. You can tell that drivers are used to cyclist and know what there doing.
      While on our journey through the city we went to Millennium Park for an afternoon and walked around the sculptures, the pavilion, and other areas of the park. We made a point of exploring the areas just outside of downtown where there are lots of funky bars, gift shops, and restaurants. I really enjoyed Division St. and Clark St areas. Although we went out to the Oak Park area of town where Frank Lloyd Wright built his home and worked, we missed the last tour for the day and were unable to see the inside of the house. We probably couldn't have afforded it anyhow, but it would have been nice to view. We still saw the exterior, and the surrounding neighborhood is packed with beautiful old craftsman homes that are fabulous to see as well. Most of our time was spent exploring Chicago by bike; just picking a direction and biking off. The Metra's elevated train, (El for short) was fun to ride on out to Oak Park. During the middle of the day your allowed to take your bike on it, so we did and biked back from Oak Park. If its rush hour in Chicago then you can't take your bike on the train.
     After two days we left to keep heading east. Our ride through Indiana was short and a bit depressing, and we are now in SW Michigan. We hugged the lake all the way through Indiana and went through the city of Gary. It is a poor city full of trash, hundreds of condemned or closed buildings, and almost no businesses, except fast food places and a few other things. I don't know what people do there for work, unless almost everyone works at the oil refinery or steel mills that take up half of the actual town and make it stink no matter where you are. But we got through Gary just fine, despite its horrible reputation as a rough place. We camped in the Indiana Dunes Nation Forrest outside of Gary.
    So far Michigan has been fairly nice. We haven't seen enough of it yet for us to have formed some sort of solid opinion, but hopefully it will be scenic. So far I know that your allowed to smoke inside the gas station convenience stores if you want, from watching the customers and employees doing it. It was a truck stop though. The small towns seem to be just as nice as any we have seen. 

Ryan and Allegra

                                     Legs at Navy Pier.
                    Ryan at Navy Pier.
                                Lighthouse from the pier.
                        Looking back at the city from the pier.
                              Middle of Navy Pier.
                                               Navy Pier.
     Face spitting from the fountain in Millennium Park. The faces change on a large screen behind glass bricks.
   The face smiling before it changed expressions to "spit."
      Art in Millennium Park.
     Sculpture form China on display.
    Another sculpture from China.
           "The Bean", it is a permanent sculpture at Millennium Park.
       Us reflected off of The Bean.
                    Looking up inside.
             Picture from a distance.
        Few from behind the Pavilion.
    Frank Gehry stage up close.
   Stage and sky net with speakers that hang down designed by Frank Gehry. This is in the middle of Millennium Park.
     View of a garden in the park.
                  Different face on the fountain.
                       Downtown near the park.
    Picasso statue in Daley Plaza.
      The Civic Oprah House
    Outside of Frank Lloyd Wright's house in Oak Park.
    Another view from the outside of the house.
                                                   Sears Tower.
                     View from the El station we boarded to Oak Park.
       Wrigley Field, one of America's oldest baseball fields.
            Fountain in downtown Chicago.
    Restaurant dedicated to Harry Caray, famous announcer for the Chicago Cubs.
                   Another view of Harry Caray's
                    House of Blues in downtown.
          view from the middle of downtown over the Chicago River.
                     Another couple of pictures over the river.

                                Train station in Downtown.
     Street we stayed on in the Pilsen area of Chicago.
                                    Reaching Illinois.
     Milwaukee from Lake Michigan at sunset.
                                           Lake Michigan.
                             Downtown Milwaukee, WI.
    Another picture of downtown Milwaukee.
     Original beer cellar used for chilling beer.
    Old building at the brewery.
    outside of the building where miller brews it beer.
   Inside the same building looking down at the beer vats.

    This is where all the beer is boxed up and bottled before it goes to distribution.
      Entering the grounds of the Miller Brewery for a tour.

Riding under the El in downtown Chicago.

1 comment:

  1. We went to see Julia & Julie yesterday. Grandpa wore his Corona shirt. Leaving, the ticket-taker remarked he was a Miller man from Milwaukee. We told him you were there last week, took the tour and were impressed with the size.