Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Saturday, August 17, 2002:

Chicago! It was not so windy when we arrived last night (thank goodness), but it's living up to it's name today. What a show! We've arrived just in time for Chicago's annual Air & Water Show. Chicago Yacht Club is hosting the Verve Cup Regatta. There are some really serious looking racing machines here, hundreds of them hoisting sails and sprinting out into the lake. AND the Navy's Blue Angels are tearing up the sky... parachuters and little sport planes are doing loop-the-loops and tailspins... a big, big show to equal this big, big town... the one "Billy Sunday could not shut down." 
We are a couple of days early (because the lake calmed down early) so we are ahead of our reservation at Chicago Yacht Club. In the meantime we're docked in the Burnham Harbor Marina alongside Soldier Field where the Bears play (whenever they finish rebuilding it) and McCormick Place, Chicago's huge convention center. This is a major marina, about a thousand boats, one of five City Marinas that line the lakefront.
One side of the city is water, with its great lake and all kinds of boat games, the other side is The Loop where Chicago does its business and North Michigan Avenue where Chicago shops. For those who know Fifth Avenue, or Worth Avenue, or even Rodeo Drive, North Michigan Avenue is an eye-opener. From Tiffany's  to Van Cleef & Arpel's, to Marshall Fields and Neiman Marcus, from the river to the Water Tower is every swanky shop one can find this side of the moon.
Chicago has trolley busses, vehicles that look like old time trolleys, that run all over the center city. And they are free! (Probably paid for by the 25% tax on boat docking in city marinas). Today we took a trolley to the Loop, had lunch, another trolley onward to Michigan Avenue's "Magnificent Mile" where we bought a new computer. Yes we finally gave up trying to hold the old laptop together with wishful thinking. CompUSA says they will transfer everything intact to the new unit so, hopefully, we can carry on with these pages. Currently, words are being generated the old fashioned way... by pencil.
The Air Show climaxed the day with a jet plane making like a Roman Candle all over the night sky and setting off aerial chrysanthemums in its wake. What a city!

Sunday, August 18, 2002:

The marina has many sailboats that we watched heading out again today to the Regatta.  The races are held far outside the breakwater.  We could see the sails but were unable to determine which classes were sailing.  The charter boats and many of the family boats headed out during the morning.  Perhaps they went out to watch the races, perhaps they just went out to enjoy the day.  The weather today is sunny and warm, and the wind has been great for sailing and cooling off the spectators.

Since we had spent a lot of time on the water and wanted a different perspective, we decided to go to touristy places.  We rode the free trolley up to the Planetarium.  After looking at the regular and special shows and the extra prices they tacked onto everything, we decided that we had already seen all of the shows at the Hayden (now Rose) Planetarium in New York.  Chicago has a special City Pass to many of their museums, a bargain if you intend to go to at least 4 museums and are not a senior citizen.  We hopped the trolley to the next Museum, the Shedd Aquarium where we enjoyed the Beluga whales -- one is pregnant but did not produce her baby while we were there.  We looked at the many displays including one of the Amazon through the dry and wet seasons, and we watched the dolphins do their special things at a show.  We enjoyed the sea otters, harbor seals, and penguins.  There was a special exhibit of seahorses.  Kay said she had never seen so many varieties in all shapes and colors (see one in the photo.)  After we left the aquarium, we decided to go food shopping and headed back to the boat to get our bicycles.  Pearce attached the cart to the back of his bicycle, and we headed up one of the many bike/skate/running paths and then braved the streets to the market.

Monday, August 19, 2002:
We headed over to Chicago Yacht Club where we had reservations for today.  The Club is closed on Mondays, but we had been told to tie up and make ourselves comfortable.  Only 3 boats were left at the docks, and they left during that day and the next.  Pearce had an appointment at the VA Hospital, so he unloaded the bicycle again and rode up the lakeside bicycle path.  When he returned, we learned that the computer was ready.  Down came Kay's bicycle, and we both took off up the lakeside path.  This path covers 18 miles along Lake Michigan and is not only a path for recreation, it is one of the commuter accesses to the city.  We crossed the Chicago River and could see the lock at the entrance from Lake Michigan.  We passed the Navy Pier (more later), and rode up to Chicago Avenue.  Pearce picked up his computer and we headed down Michigan Avenue to the Verizon store where they loaded the information to allow it to work as the modem for the internet connection.  It seems they put in some new programs several weeks ago, just about the same time that we were disconnected!

Marilyn David Brous was due to land at Midway Airport at the same time we were in Verizon.  She called from her airport bus as we were negotiating our way through the streets.  We all arrived at Chicago Yacht Club at the same time.  Marilyn brought news from Long Island, and we spent the evening catching up.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002:
Because Tuesday is a free day at the Art Institute of Chicago, we decided that today was the day to visit.  We spent hours visiting the Impressionists and other exhibits -- the Thorne Miniature Rooms, the Chagall Windows, American Arts and Architecture, Renaissance painters.  After we left the museum, we took a free trolley to the Navy Pier.  It was built in the 1890s as an amusement center.  During World War II it was a Navy training site.  After serving as a temporary site for veterans returning to college after the war, it again became an amusement center.  The Children's Museum is here with hands-on displays.  There is a ferris wheel that can be seen from the whole waterfront, but we have not yet seen it in operation.  There is a maze and various other attractions.  Boats line one side of the pier ready to take tourists out to see the water sights of Chicago.  Entertainers can be heard every several hundred feet, and of course there is food of every variety. 

By the time we returned to the Yacht Club and began to think about dinner, we realized that the south-easterly winds were bringing in a surge that had us bouncing in all directions.  It had been slightly uncomfortable Monday night, but we felt like we were on a water roller coaster all Tuesday night.  We may be wrong, but we decided that most of the members kept their yachts in calmer waters.  (We saw many tied up in slips in quieter Burnham Park Marina.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2002:
After spending a very uncomfortable night, we bid Chicago Yacht Club a good-bye and returned to Burnham Park Marina.  It has a protective seawall along the east side and has only a small dog-leg opening on the south side.  Marilyn's AAA Tour Book noted that Wednesday is a free admission day at the Field Museum.  Unfortunately, the Museum changed their policy, so we had to pay for Senior admission (still a great bargain).  We visited Sue (their T-Rex dinosaur) and many other exhibits.  They were very impressive, and a few are recent installations.  I think that since we've had the opportunity to visit New York's Museum of Natural History with its many updated exhibits it is very difficult  to appreciate museums whose exhibits were created during the 1930s.

We watched the regular Wednesday night fireworks which were in competition with the advancing thunderstorms.  The fireworks won out with chrysanthemums and Saturn-like explosions.  The storms came in during the night and created a light and sound show of their own.  The news reported over 4 inches of rain.

Thursday, August 22, 2002:
Morning was still misty and the heavens produced occasional rain showers, but by noon the skies began to lighten.  Marilyn and Kay took the trolley to the Magnificant Mile along northern Michigan Avenue.  Luckily they only window shopped.  Pearce spent the day with his computer, doing a final check on the transferred programs. Tomorrow it's goodbye to Chicago as we start down the rivers on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

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-- we head down the rivers...