Saturday, 27 August 2011

Madison and Chi-Town

Our second, considerably less epic road trip of the year was to Madison, WI and then Chicago, IL. It was like 14 hours each way. No big.

Oh wait, that was 14 hours through the most boring scenery on the face of the planet, and the worst state in the entire Union. 

The most notable topography on the entire journey was the disappearance of the Rockies somewhere around Ft Morgan and their reappearance, three days later, again somewhere around Ft Morgan. 

Here's some pretty industry in Julesberg, CO, just over the state line from Nebraska. We stopped here to get gas as the sun was starting to get into the sky.

I started off taking pictures of state signs but by the soul-crushing end of Nebraska, 300 miles later, I just didn't care, so this is the last state sign you'll see. And Nebraska = way nicer than anything that came after it. 

Much like on our last trip, we followed Louis and Clark, on this one we followed the Oregon Trail. Luckily, no one died of cholera. I did, however, get a speeding ticket in Iowa. God, what an awful state. 

That evening we arrived in Madison. The town itself is very pretty, and reminded us a lot of Boulder -- college town, obviously liberal, lots of bicycles... Except unlike Boulder, it has some very pretty lakes.

Also unlike Boulder, it has crushing humidity.

This view is looking up State Street towards the capitol building, where Scott Walker was ensconced in his evil lair. Becca showed us around State Street and the University campus, including her office, and we saw many cool and cute shops and ate some Thai food. We also briefly lost the car keys, which would have been xdisastrousx, but luckily a nice couple found them on the beer terrace at the university and the day was saved. That night we went out for a bar crawl and enjoyed Wisconsin's famous beer. Or, I should say, I enjoyed it, and Nathan drank lots of rum and orange juice and Becca drank lots of gin and tonic.

The next morning, Nathan and I drove to Chicago. The drive should have been quite short, but traffic meant that it took forever. I was getting hungrier and hungrier and crankier and crankier and by the time we made it to Maeve's place (where, though she was out of town, she was very kindly letting us stay), my hunger was sitting right around "homicidal". This was our first view of Chicago, through a rainstorm.

We met up with Devin once we got there and he showed us around the city. Here we are about to take the "Loop" on the El. The "Loop" is very cool because, since it is elevated, you see all sorts of cool views of the big buildings of downtown. Chicago reminded me, more than any other city, of New York in terms of age, big buildings, and close space. Also: size. Chicago is HUGE!

We took the El to a stop near downtown and then walked over to the Field Museum. Here's the view looking back towards town.

Inside the Field Museum, Devin and Nathan show off their best T-Rex poses with Sue, the famous T-Rex.

Once the museum closed, we walked along the shore of Lake Michigan a bit and saw some absurd party boats before Devin took us to see The Bean, which sounds stupid -- it's a big reflective surface -- but actually... it's pretty awesome. I can't really explain why. Here's Devin in front of it.

From there, we went to a bar and met Nathan's friend from college, Rachel. We hung out and they caught up for a while before parting ways. Devin took us to Hancock Tower. Here's the view from the base, a cool old church.

And here's the view from the top! I took this photo with my cell phone from the ladies' bathroom, which had really magnificent views. Apparently the mens' bathroom just has walls, no windows. Sad!

After having cocktails there, we went and ate delicious pizza and bruschetta before Devin showed us the mansion (like, really, it's a mansion) where he and a lot of the other people working on the Obama campaign are temporarily living. We met the owner and her daughter and their various pets, including two incredibly cute golden retrievers, and then sadly had to leave. From there it was a taxi ride back to Maeve's apartment, where we fell asleep, exhausted.

The next day, we drove back to Denver -- whirlwind trip! -- and the only thing I found notable to take a picture of in 14 hours of driving was the Mississippi River. Which was pretty big. But man, the Midwest is boring.

However, it was fantastic to see Becca and Devin, as well as to meet Rachel. I'm just sad Maeve wasn't there that weekend or things would have been perfect! Thanks to everyone who showed us around and gave us a place to stay. 

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