Thursday, 29 July 2010

My Kinda Town....

After almost 5000 miles on the road in the US, my bike needed a service, so Monday morning saw me at Chicago Harley-Davidson, in Glenview. I have to say it was terrific the way they fitted me in so quickly. I telephoned last Thursday, explaining that I was on a road-trip and Alex, the service manager got my bike in just a few days later. Thanks Alex!

A few photos of the Glenview dealership....

Rows of brand new shiny Harleys....


























Just north of Boston, I had been impressed at Seacoast Harley-Davidson that they had a boat hanging from the ceiling in their dealership. Chicago H-D went one better with two planes hanging from theirs....


























This is the very large service area (about a quarter actually shown), with Alex the service manager....





















This is Chris, the technician that serviced my bike....


























After the service was completed, I rode back to central Chicago to stay a couple of nights with an ex work colleague and friend, Alan. He and I worked together just under 20 years ago on a huge construction project in London, when he and his wife Susanne came and lived there for a for 2 years from Chicago. I had seen Alan a couple of times since very briefly, but that was all, so it was great to spend some time with him, Susanne and their daughter Rachael.

They live about 3 miles from the centre of Chicago and we were able to walk to a good restaurant just minutes away. We passed some good looking houses on the way. After the huge fire that destroyed much of Chicago in 1871 many of the houses were built of brick or stone, rather than wood. Here are a few of the houses we passed....

Very nice house with the stairs entering the house half way up the building....


























An ivy-clad house....


























After dinner, we stopped for Italian ice-cream. This is Susanne, Rachael and Alan....





















On Tuesday, I had great fun playing at being a proper tourist. I got the elevated train to downtown and walked around, took photos and generally had a great time.

In an area called Millennium Park, a project managed by my friend Alan, there is a water feature, which is taken full advantage of on hot days....




































































































































Right alongside the water feature is something very special – a piece of public art called “The Bean”, which is becoming one of the icons of Chicago. Made from a very reflective material, it is a huge bean-shaped sculpture that is big enough to walk under. The reflections are memorising – curved shapes that are a wonder to the eye. I love it....




























































Next I went up one of the tallest buildings in the US, Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower). The view is spectacular....










































But, the part of the tower I liked the most was they have recently added 4 pods which stick out from the 103rd floor of the building and are made of glass. Scary if you are afraid of heights....


























That evening, Alan took me to a “cigar party”. I had never even heard of one of these before. It is hosted by and at a cigar shop in Chicago called Updown Cigars and they invite their customers, for a small charge of $10 to drink, eat, chat and smoke at their shop, its rear garden and half the parking lot behind! I used to smoke but I was not tempted to even try a cigar, but the party was fun!....












































Alan and his cigar....












































After thanking them for their hospitality, I left Alan and Susanne this morning and headed north towards Milwaukee. On the way, I saw three things that really struck me....

First the view looking south towards Chicago. Due to the haze, I could only see its outline....












Second, in a cemetery, I saw what must be one of the biggest headstones ever made....
























Third, the Baha’i Temple. Founded in Iran, the Baha’i Faith can be found across the world and the US has one of the oldest and largest Baha’i communities. The temple is stunning....












































The temple reflected in a water feature....


























As I made my way north, I reached Milwaukee, the home of Harley-Davidson. More on that tomorrow....

11 comments:

Mishy Moo said...

I think I'd go to Chicago just to see that bean! How totally cool!!!!

Eve said...

That is one big Harley shop Gary...glad they got you in. Looks like you had a nice visit with old friends and it's great you got to get in town to see the sights. I LOVE the Bean but it looks like a turtle shell to me! I understand the Sears Tower was bought by the Willis Group from London! and the name was changed. I didn't know that! Thanks for teaching me something about my own country! hahaha! The Temple is stunning! I read they started building it in 1921!! That is OLD!
Looking forward to Milwaukee! OH that glass elevator....I don't know if I could do it.
Ride safe!

Chris Luhman said...

getting closer! :) I like the bean too

Axel said...

Wondering how they keep “The Bean” clean and polished :)

biker baby said...

The bean was vandalized in...I believe...Feb 08. Someone scratched names in it. They buffed it out and it was good as new. They do have cameras around it but I'm not sure if they ever figured out who did it.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

I love that glass pod. I have an urge to stand on the glass and jump up and down, hope it's safe

I hope you captured your reflection in the Bean.

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Eve said...

LOVE the new Bean Header Gary!!

irondad said...

You must be important. Alex is standing at attention.

I was just in Chicago but didn't have time to go back to the Sears Tower. Would have been cool to look down in a glass pod.

Keep on enjoying!

Canajun said...

Now you can say "Bean there, done that."

Many business trips to Chicago, but never done the tourist thing. Looks like I should add it to my list.

Gary France said...

Mishy Moo – Cool indeed!

Eve – Changing the name of the tower was silly – it will always be known as the Sears Tower. Standing out on the glass was easy for me, but many people were quite concerned about going out there!

Chris – Only a couple of days now!

Axel – I have no idea, but it is a good question.

BB – I did notice security guards around and under it. They stopped one guy from laying on the floor and putting his feet on it. Can you imagine anybody wanting to vandalize something as beautiful as that? Its beyond understanding.

Bob – I really didn’t want to jump up and dow, but I imagine that some do. It would be ok in pink crocs though, as they would have a cushioning affect.

Eve – Thanks! I like changing it every now and again.

irondad – LOL, but no, not important.

Canajun – That made me laugh. I wish I had thought of it as I would have used it for the title of my post.

Alex Knuth said...

Gary,
It was a pleasure to help you and the "Leading Ladies" along on your trip. I hope you have a great ride the rest of your trip and I will be keeping up on your posts to see more of our country thru your perspective.

Keep on riding!

Alex