Welcome back to our little trip across these great United States. We left off somewhere on Route 90, heading out of Cleveland.

So glad to have you following along, and frankly, if you’re following I’m just glad you’re not the cops. On the way to Chicago I found myself driving 70 miles an hour, which made the police quite angry, since the speed limit was 75. 

When I’m on the highway I usually don’t break too many laws, I might go five miles an hour over the speed limit once in a while. It’s local roads that I have to worry about, where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. Did you ever try to go 25 miles per hour? You’d be lucky the cops caught you going 30 just to prevent the guy behind you from killing you first. My friend Chris said he used to have a Crown Vic, and everyone assumed he was a cop and slowed down to a snail’s pace in front of him, causing him to finally impound his own car and resign from not being in the police force.

Sign Up for E-News

When we finally rolled into Chicago I had a full seven days worth of activities to keep us busy. Since we were only there four days I really had to crack the whip. If you really want to see a world city, the only way to do it is by bicycle. With a car you’ll spend more time trying to park than sightseeing, the subway may or may not get you where you want to go even if you could read the map, and buses, well, just forget about buses. Walking will wear you out way before the museum does.

In Chicago they have a great bike sharing program called Divvy Bikes. Please insert credit card and remove. If you remove it too fast the kiosk thinks you’re being greedy. Please try again. Remove it too slowly and you’re lollygagging, which is inconsistent with Midwestern values. Please try again. After about 30 tries I was ready to liberate our bikes with a Milwaukee Sawzall. My wife, who is better suited for this kind of thing, was able to get the bikes out of the rack with a minimum of violence.

We went to see the Second City Improv group, of course. The players write a show and perform it every night for six months, and it evolves over that span. As part of the program they improvise with the audience, and I always find that part amazing. If I’m forced to improvise by using Equal instead of Sweet ‘N Low in my coffee, my entire day is thrown into a tailspin.
We went to Adler Planetarium, and I haven’t been to one in decades. We saw a presentation that showed how astronomers have charted an insane amount of not only stars but entire galaxies outside the Milky Way. Whoever named our galaxy after a candy bar is an idiot, by the way. There were beautiful views of Earth from outer space, and from that distance you can understand how small our planet really is in the Universe. You can also plainly see that there are no parking spaces at the Goldens Bridge train station.

On our final day we went for a boat tour highlighting Chicago’s architecture. The history and stories behind the iconic buildings are the classic stories of the city. We were seated in between two couples with two babies each, and believe me when I tell you, there is nothing babies love more than architecture. When the boat docked it was off to sunny Madison, Wisconsin.

We had a gorgeous day for a bike ride around Lake Monona. The sun was shining, the humidity low, and the dew point was, well who the hell cares what the dew point is? The water in the lake was so warm that I brought my bathing suit and went for a swim. The place was awash in seaweed, which took a little getting used to. I thought it might be a good place to loll around on an inner tube, but I couldn’t get it off of my bicycle, so I just threw the whole front wheel in, not very comfortable.

The next day it was time to turn in the bikes and get to the airport. We love to travel to Europe and see how the rest of the world lives. But there’s so much to see in our own country, and seeing it by car gave us the freedom to go exactly when and where we wanted to go. We made it a point to chat up the locals, and we talked about everything from politics to the Cleveland Cavaliers to what they love about their city, and after a couple cocktails, we learned quite a bit. We saw a lot of places on our trip, but it’s the people that make them come alive.

Please join Rick and the No Options band, Thursday evening, July 5, 7-8:30 p.m. for the Katonah Concert in the Park at Katonah Memorial Park

Say hello at: rlife8@hotmail.com