2012 started off on a wonderful note - re"k"onnecting with my friend Kari in Chicago. As I mentioned way back during the 40 Diamonds for 40 run in February, Kari is one of the first of the gang to hit the milestone and I colluded with her husband to surprise her with a visit in Chicago and then in her next of the woods. A present for both of our birthdays .. and turns out for Noel too. (Sorry Noel - thanks for letting me celebrate with you!)
It hadn't felt like 16 years. ... or didn't until January 2012 ... when down the dark, windy streets of Chicago walked my still-miraculously blond friend into a very long, overdue hug and tears. We just kept grinning like Cheshire Cats the whole first night.
See, they even have "warming" bells to alert you to the weather. The whole week was "warmer;" no snow, no ice, weather in the high 30s, low 40s - it was downright balmy for Chicago.
I got a hotel in the "theater" district and so got to see some of their famous lights, "corncob" landmarks, and modern art.
You never know what you're going to find along the way to sushi. You know, just a random giant Picasso sculpture.
It was fun to wander and to use Mother Nature to keep me awake. That 3:00 a.m. wake up call for the airplane shuttle was too dang early.
One other observation - I thought New York pigeons were savvy - using the subway and MetroNorth to commute, but Chicago pigeons, they don't mess around.
Here's the Eternal Flame in Daley Plaza.
118 N. Clark St, Daley Plaza
Chicago, IL 60602
According to Explore Chicago:
"This is the heart of Chicago and I know the heart of Chicago is with us today."
With those words, Mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated an eternal flame in what was then called the Civic Center Plaza. At the time of its dedication on August 22, 1972, the eternal flame was Chicago's first memorial to honor the dead from four wars, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The Eternal Flame Memorial at Daley Plaza is a granite slab bearing a bronze circular disk containing a natural gas flame that burns perpetually. An inscription reads: "Eternal flame in memory of the men and women who have served in our armed forces." City officials created the Eternal Flame in response to veterans organization leaders' pleas for a memorial that would serve as a monument to deceased service personnel.
The flame was lit by Mrs. Albina Nance, the president of the Illinois Gold Star Mothers in 1972. The Eternal Flame is enclosed by a wrought iron fence near the Picasso sculpture on Daley Plaza.
Such a wonderful way to kick off that portion of the trip. Art, walking, talking ... which is what we did the next day when we also hit the aforementioned Art Institute.