June 7, 2015 – Rainy, 65 degrees
Miles Today: 38
Miles to Date: 1,895
States to Date: 10
The forecast was for rain rain, rain, so I got up and out early to try to pedal the short distance to Chicago before the storm hit. I rode through two hours of Sunday morning empty highways, railroads, distressed neighborhoods, Holiday Inn ruins, and aging industry. Everything was grey and the smell oppressive, but I enjoyed the cacophony of continuous train whistles, petroleum cracking, and my bike wheels thumping the cracked pavement.
However, pollution made incredible patterns in the water I traversed on old steel bridges.
I detoured to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast at Sunrise Family Restaurant in Whiting, IN. Since Whiting has a strong Mexican influence, I had a pair of sunny side eggs over chorizo hash and salsa in a skillet, but then added my first pancakes of the journey. By the time I finished my meal the rain came down, but I had the energy to push through.
I managed to get off track of U.S 41 and wound up coming into Chicago via Jeffrey Blvd., a really cool street that maps the city’s Southside development in reverse, from solid post-War single family houses, to duplex apartments, to 1920’s era apartment buildings, and then to Modernist apartments that are second or third generation development.
By the time I got to the bike path along Lakeshore Drive the rain had ceased. Chicago rose out of the water like an aquamarine Oz.
I enjoyed a fine lunch at a Thai restaurant in the emerging South of Loop neighborhood with my friend Abhi Ganju, a physician and artist I met at a conference several years ago. We’ve been Internet buddies ever since but it was great to catch up in person. Afterward, I spent the afternoon exploring Chicago’s Chinatown.
When I sought my warmshowers host’s house, I had to double-check the address. Bonnie lives in a modernist glass tower with remarkable city views – not the typical warmshowers venue. But she greeted me with the enthusiasm everyone on that website seems to possess. In short order we were chums, comparing the challenges of cycling over Vail Pass. Bonnie’s downstairs neighbor Ginny invited us to for supper on their deck. Bonnie brought cheese and crackers, her partner Frank supplied root beer, Ginny made poutine and her fiancé Joe (who lives in another unit in the building) grilled brats. I offered my question, which they considered a fair contribution to our impromptu party overlooking Chicago rooftops at sunset.