First thing of the day, we stopped by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore visitor center. Our goal there was to do some situational learning with the boys. This is an important part of their roadschooling: using the on-hand tools and resources to bring to life some of the unique qualities of a place and/or key instructional topics.
At the visitor center, a helpful and hands-on exhibition area had a great deal of information about native versus invasive species, including how to take easy cleaning measures to reduce the risk of spreading invasive plant species (a big problem all across North America). We loved that the topic held true to our desire to imbue our kids with earth-consciousness.
Later, after one final lunch with Kit and her family, we bid Beverly Shores a tearful adieu, boarded our second train in three days — the South Shore Line — and journeyed straight into downtown Chicago. We’re not exactly traveling light (yet!), so we had our first taste of lugging bags to and through an unfamiliar city’s transit system — the Chicago El. At present, we each have a rolling bag (Jane’s is twice the size of the boys’ and mine) and a backpack. The boys also have small shoulder bags. It is my sincere hope that we succeed in easing our load over the next few weeks.
It wasn’t all that bad, though, as the walk to the El was short, and then we had a straight shot to the home of a good friend from college. He and his family had offered use of their basement for a couple of nights as we regrouped a bit and explored Chicago.
The highlights of our time in Chicago: a dinner of deep-dish pizza (which impressed some of us, but left others more partial to NYC’s thin crust); the Art Institute of Chicago, especially the Thorne Miniature Rooms; the various distractions of Millennium Park, including Cloud Gate, aka The Bean (a public sculpture by Anish Kapoor); Crown Fountain (a very cool water feature); the Gehry-designed serpentine bridge heading to Maggie Daley Park, where the boys joined the warm Sunday crowds on every slide and climbing structure they could; and the Chicago Cultural Center, the 19th-century Beaux-Arts building famous for a Tiffany glass dome that even caught the attention of our budding young photographers.
Sunday breakfast and dinner, both shared with our hosts, the Jacobs’, were also highlights, especially the chocolate chips in those morning pancakes and the evening tacos (a fave!) on the deck watching cat gymnastics (another story for another day).
New names on our Unyear Honor Roll: the Jacobs family (Greg, Liz, Audrey and Nina). Thank you!
Next stop: the drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba!