Colorado to Illinois
May 6, 2009
30th april-6th may
Mile High City and I am wearing a t shirt that says ‘Take a deep breath and get high’.
We travel from the motel in to the city on the metro gazing at the distant, hazy panorama of the Rockies. Everyone else is reading.
I fall in love with a huge blue bear which is peering into the Convention Centre. Every public building in Denver has a work of art outside it (how civilized!) but the bear is best.
We meet a man who recognizes our accents and is proud and delighted to show Eddie his i-phone with photos of him watching Manchester United on a recent trip to the UK!
We climb to the top of the Capitol building with an army of well behaved school children and got squashed in a lift with a real, live senator. We realise too late that we should have talked about Madeleine “our friend the MP” in a loud voice.
I almost buy leather straps that go on Indian pigtails and then realise that I am nearly 60 and it just won’t do.
We spend hours in the art museum at a Rock Concert Psychedelic Posters show…we make posters, write in hippy blogs, make groovy light shows, chill out to the big screen and remember concerts we have been to. It’s an exciting surprise to wash hands in the marble and chrome restrooms and hear the sink sing ‘Row, row, row the boat’. (there’s art and then there’s Art !!)
We discover the best bookshop – The Tattered Book Cover Store. It has wood everywhere, excellent coffee and food. You are actively encouraged to sit and read books and magazines at tables or on comfy chairs. I shall open one in Mossley.
En route to Chicago through Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
We stop for coffee and are complimented on our ‘so cool’ accents – this has happened several times now. Eddie helps mend the coffee machine so we can have some.
The radio stations are all playing classics (though we really got fed up with Maggie May which was played constantly) and the adverts are so entertaining. We are tempted to apply for the Buffalo Bill’s Home for the Recently Retired (from 55 upwards!) we giggle at husbands being encouraged to buy all sorts of rubbish ‘for the missus’ but we are most entertained by the one which explains how we can get hold of an exceptional bull to service our entire herd with superstar quality semen. You just don’t get this on Key 103.
We are regularly passed by monster men in monster pick up trucks with monster tool boxes in the back. They have stickers which say things like ‘Show us your hooters’. Another sticker says ‘American by birth. Lineman by choice’ and we are nowhere near Witchita!
Dead deer, coyotes and porcupines litter the sides of the highway.
Wind farms. Shiny aluminium grain silos. Trees heavy with dark pink blossom. It feels like spring today. We pass through Madison County but see no bridges. And then….then…we cross over a huge, huge, muddy river….it’s the Mississippi!!!
Our hotel is in Chinatown on the outskirts of Chicago. It’s very pleasant and when the manager discovers that we are/were teachers, he invites us to join an Educator‘s Conference being held here and describe the Education System in the UK. It is so very tempting and there is free wine but we decline and drive in to drop off the car.
Then we revisit old haunts which we last saw several year ago in freezing temperatures. It’ s so different now…a balmy spring day, tulips everywhere.
We find shops….shops…where I remember to my delight that clothes sizes are different here and I am automatically 2 sizes thinner. I only last 15 minutes trying to find a dress for Emma’s wedding (mainly because Eddie only lasted 5 before moving inexorably towards the Apple Store).
Best bit of Chicago so far has been the Newberry Library. If you haven’t read The Time Traveller’s Wife don’t bother reading the next paragraph. They have tours on days we weren’t here but a lovely man took pity on us (we were from the UK and he loved out accents) and we got our own private tour…it was fantastic., we met lots of interesting, very clever people and saw ancient manuscripts and maps. I didn’t mention TTTW cos it’s a very serious research building but I am almost certain that Audrey was there researching and I wanted to tell her that she wouldn’t remember me but we’d meet in 2012.…oh and then there was the naked young man in The Stacks. Wonderful. I plan to send our guide a postcard from the John Ryland.
Met some lovely, helpful people here, walked along Lake Michigan, admired the stunning architecture, saw a photographic exhibition, ate well and enjoyed wheat beer. Almost made a Chicago Cubs baseball game (next time, Rod?I want one of those big fingers to wave about) and discovered that modern contemporary art is sometimes, sometimes a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes but that Buckminster Fuller was a seriously clever guy.
We tried to see Leonard Cohen at the Chicago Theatre. Yeah…tickets left…. only $250 EACH. Sigh.
Wednesday…one more day in the city and then overnight train to New York.