Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Amish, Gary and The Windy City....

I didn’t have time previously to include the video I made when riding around Middlebury in Indiana, which is Amish country. I found the area very interesting, but I knew little of Amish ways and culture, so I read a little on the web and looked forward to seeing some of the ways of the Amish people. Rather than write about this, I have included the highlights of what I saw riding through Amish country in the video below....



Yesterday I was both disappointed and very pleased. I went to Gary, Indiana and was hugely disappointed. I then went to one of my favourite cities – Chicago. I also added another 2 states to my growing list – Michigan and Illinois.

I started the day in an funny way. I was loading up my bike and got into a discussion with a guy and his wife from Georgia. They were looking at the paint job on my bike, playing a guess-who-the-pictures-are-of game and they complained about the “drought we are having in Georgia”.

Having seen so many ridiculous sized pick-ups around I said that is probably the global warming we are all now seeing and that people should stop driving such huge cars for everyday journeys like shopping and taking the kids to school. I continued by saying that I didn’t really understand why people thought they needed such big vehicles and the woman berated me saying that people had the right to have them if they wanted, and they need them to go off-road, to haul the grandkids around etc etc. I told her I didn’t agree they needed to be so big and the rest of the world seemed to get along just fine without them. She was getting quite upset and my stance and walked away shaking her head. He husband just gave me a knowing smile and walked off in her wake. I could tell who wore the trousers in that marriage! I watched them go across the car park and climb into the biggest pick-up I have ever seen! I waved as the pick-up drove passed me, with just the two of them inside....

I spotted this Plymouth on the side of the road – a lovely old car....





















Some severe weather had gone through the area in the past few days, mainly at night. I saw the evidence of it along this road with a whole line of trees blown down....




















Soon I entered Michigan. My step-daughter is called Michele, or Mish for short and was named after this state....




















I had intended to go into Warren Dunes State Park on the edge of Lake Michigan, put the queue of cars waiting to get in was so long, I decided against doing so. Instead I just found the road along the lake edge near Michigan City called Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which was stunning....




















I had no idea that there were dunes along the southern edge of Lake Michigan....












































If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can just make out the skyline of Chicago across the lake.... it was quite spectacular....



















Right in Michigan City, I rode over a bridge and saw this.... it would be a fantastic place to live....





















This gas station sign made me laugh....




























I was then riding towards Gary, Indiana and I was keen to see what the city that shared my name was like. I was sure it would be a splendid place. It wasn’t. If I can be blunt, it was dreadful and was so run down with dilapidated buildings that were a poor reflection of its past. I think Gary had a big steel industry that has probably now diminished and it seems the heart of the city went with it. I have to say it was a very depressing place and sadly, probably the worse I have seen so far. But in honour of its name, I did stop and take a picture of the statue of Elbert H. Gary who founded the city in 1906....




























Soon though I was headed towards Chicago, a place I have been too a few times before. I love Chicago, for its vibrancy, its parks, its cleanliness and its drive to succeed.

Despite the traffic, Chicago is a very welcoming city....





















I just love the view from the Observatory area. Absolutely stunning....



















One of Chicago’s many street canyons....


























A couple of the roads near where I was staying were closed as filming of the movie “Transformers 3” was happening there. The public were kept well back and from what I could see, the scenery was quite amazing....
































































The hotel I checked into, The Wit, was recommended as being a new funky hotel and it certainly was. Very modern, very chick, very cool. Here was my bedroom before I messed it up with all my gear





















A very strange, but good decoration above the bed...





















Here is my friend Jack as we shared an after dinner drink. Jack and I worked together at the time of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games....





















Here is a shot of Jack talking to an about to be elected Barack Obama....






















After dinner I went for a short walk and took a couple of pictures of the theatre next to the hotel....

















































I love Chicago!!

By the way. Chicago has the nickname of “the windy city” and some like a lot of people, I originally thought that was because of the wind that blows across Lake Michigan into the city. I did find out many years ago that is not the reason it has this name, but instead it is thought to originate from Chicago’s rivalry with the city of Cincinnati, when Politicians possibly referred to Chicago as the “windy city” in order to convince some that Cincinnati was superior.

8 comments:

securityfactory said...

I see in the pic of the Plymouth police car there is a Nash Metropolitan 2-seat sedan on the roof in the background. The first car I bought was a '58 Metro convertable I got for $450.

R!ch

Bleiglass said...

Great report again, very interesting view of the US, never went to Chicago and did not expect your positive view, will quickly change my preconception.
Give the big-bore fuel consuming Hermi-powered pick-ups a break, their driver do what we do, drive what we like. You are now about a month on the road, clocked about 7,800 km, impressive, and if your Leading Ladies drinks as much as my Musashi, she enjoyed about 465 liter of "Pina Colada" flavored gasoline. Cheers, this brings the largest "Bob-The-Builder" pick-up through a month...

iansolley said...

I love Chicago too - its my fave city in the whole US - been there three times now - but only in the summer! Maybe thats why I like it. Well its cloudy here in Monterey - and today we are off for a drive around Pebble Beach and Carmel

mq01 said...

wow, as usual, the countryside you shared gary is just beautiful. i dig how much there is to see and do by bike. matter of fact, if you think about it, there really is no reason for us to ever be bored, unless we are unable to ride that is...

FLHX_Dave said...

Very cool Gary. Just some thoughts here; Loved the video...especially when you crossed the double yellow to pass that slow-ass carrriage! Awesome vid! Enjoyed it.

Not to self...don't go see Gary Indiana...but now I have to just to see what you were talking about.

That design on the headboard...that is a special design used to mute soundwaves. Sort of a "Newly Wed Silencer" for beds. Let's the folks in the next room sleep!

IHG said...

Chicago is one of my favorite cities!

Eve said...

I'm going to stick with the "windy city" being windy...I lived off one of the great lakes and was abused by the wind for many years!! I think it's great they are bringing out hybrid cars and trucks so people have a choice what they want to drive. I also personally don't believe in man-made climate change,(give it a few thousand years and there will be a glacier covering the northeast again no matter what we do) but for less pollution that is a plus to have hybrids. I flew into and Chicago on the way home from NY and got to see a great view of the skyline from the air. Oh and yes Gary there are sand dunes in places around all the great lakes...they really are almost like oceans!!
I loved the video...looks just like northern NY with the Amish there. I also love the wide angle shot of your room.
Ride safe!

Gary France said...

Rich – I had to laugh. I didn’t see the car on the roof when I was there, nor did I see it when I uploaded the photo – it was only when you pointed it out that I saw it. Having that as a first car must have been fun!

Bleiglass – I don’t object to people having big engine vehicles, if they use them wisely. Going shopping, delivering the kids to school or taking your partner away for the weekend in a huge pick-up is not, in my opinion, using it wisely. The worst surfaces most of the huge 4 wheel drive off road vehicles you see use are gravel drives!

Ian – I too have only seen it in the summer and it too is my favourite US city. I hope you enjoyed Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel. I was lucky enough to visit there last year and enjoyed the area a lot.

mq01 – Travelling the US by motorcycle is a great way to see the country. I have driven parts of it before, but doing it in a car is just not the same. Except you have air conditioning and that is its only benefit!

Dave – Oops! I guess that was illegal then! Glad you liked the video. I understand Michael Jackson was born in Gary Indiana as well. I am not surprised they moved away! I did laugh about what you said about the headboard!

IHG – Me too. By a long way.

Eve – Wow, I was very surprised by what you said about your views on not believing in man-made climate change. The last 10 years have seen a dramatic change in the weather systems across the planet and I was skeptical at first, but now I am convinced we are having a detrimental impact on our world. Sure, the planet does experience long-term natural changes in weather patterns and previous ice-ages are proof of that, but the warming is now so rapid that this cannot be natural. Anyway, I am glad you liked the video and I plan to make many more as I head west – riding around Sturgis with the thousands of other bikes will make for a great video, no doubt!