08-19-09 Chicago

Betsy speaks: We’ve seen many beautiful sunsets, but we don’t see many sunrises. We wanted to get an early start this morning to take advantage of what was going to be our only chance to get to Chicago this week. So we got up about 5:30 and were ready to go by 6 o’clock. But we had to delay our start until 6:30 because we didn’t want to leave in total darkness. It was a beautiful sunrise over Muskegon, our final port in Michigan.

Forecast called for seas one foot or less, but upon leaving Muskegon harbor we quickly discovered the forecast was a little optimistic. Seas were easily two feet, so we debated whether to go the 110 miles to Chicago or hug the shore and pull in at another Michigan safe haven if necessary. After going about ten miles we decided to make a run for it, and we’re glad we did. By twenty miles out seas had calmed down and it was a beautifully sunny day. We put Beamy the autopilot to work at about the five mile mark and didn’t alter our course or touch the steering wheel for nearly 100 miles. In the middle of Lake Michigan seas were flat and glassy for at least 40 miles.

Many loopers go farther south on the east side of the lake and then make a crossing of about 30 miles. We decided to go ahead across today because the forecast for tomorrow is seas 4 to 6 feet, and Friday is even worse. It was also time for the 600 mile service on the motors, and Rick has arranged to have that done early next week in nearby East Chicago, Indiana. A hundred miles is easy for a boat our speed if the weather cooperates.

After quite some time with no land in sight, we were able to see the faint Chicago skyline from 40 miles away. As we neared the city, seas picked up again. The last five miles or so were a little rough, so we were glad to pull into our slip at DuSable Marina at about 12:45, but now we are in the Central Time zone so we backed our watches up to 11:45.

After a quick lunch on board we walked into town to see about taking the Architectural Boat Tour, something we were told not to miss. On our way, we passed Millenium Park where the locals were cooling down by playing in the fountain. Looked like fun!

We were able to get on a 3:45 boat and thoroughly enjoyed the one hour tour along the Chicago River. This is the best vantage point for viewing Chicago’s many skyscrapers. Their styles are varied, and many of them are really beautiful buildings. Neither of us had been to Chicago before (except for a harmonica jam camp I came to here several years ago, but I didn’t do any sightseeing then).

By the end of the boat tour the skies had clouded over and rain threatened. We decided to grab a quick bite of supper before going back to the boat. It started raining as we ate, and by the time we got back to the boat it was pouring. The deluge continued for an hour or so. Then the skies cleared and we enjoyed Chicago’s weekly Wednesday night fireworks over the harbor. This was our third fireworks display in as many weeks, but we never tire of them. My new camera has a special fireworks setting, so I took a number of pictures.

Tomorrow we plan to take one of the hop on/hop off bus tours, and the Shedd Aquarium is also on our list of things to do while here.

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