My flight from San Francisco has taken me to the exotic destination of.... Chicago, Illinois. Actually, this was a planned stop to visit family and see my ailing grandmother.And wow! What a gorgeous day, here in "Midwest USA." (Actually, if you look on a map, Illinois is much closer to the East Coast than the West, so I never quite understood that "Midwest" name. But I digress.)
Today was spent exploring Chicago - and what a great day it was! The sun was shining, and even the graffiti looked as if was brand new. Seriously though, this city has really been cleaning up its act. I took the subway in from the airport area, and just set out to hike around much of the area. Walking along the Chicago River around Wacker and Michigan always inspires me - the architecture of Chicago must be among the best of any US city.
The highlight of my walking tour HAD to be seeing the brand new Millennium Park. The City has apparently embarked on a plan to rip up paved areas and create new "green space" around the city. This park features stunning architecture, including pieces by Frank Ghery (Guggenheim in Bilbao Spain) and Anish Kapoor (the 9/11 Memorial in NYC). But my guilty pleasure was the twin towering glass water fountains, with embedded video displays. I had to kick of my shoes and splash around with the other 6-year-olds, enjoying the video and water show.
I walked a couple of miles more to take in the skyline views from Navy Pier, sunbathed a bit on the beach and marveled at how "ocean-like" Lake Michigan can be.
Then, on to the "Boystown" for a dose of Chicago gay life. I spent a lot of time here as a kid growing up, so it's great to see some of the old favorites still running strong. I had a blast at SideTrack, enjoying the vocal performances during the semi-finals of their "Windy City Gay Idol" contest - complete with smart-ass judges offering their critiques. As good as the singers were, I can't help but think of how well my own sweetheart would do up on that stage. I'm serious!