Day 2: July 26, 2012
1 End & 3 Friends
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This is a donut hole. It on the sidewalk in front of Lou Mitchell's. When the line is long at Lou Mitchell's, they handout donut holes to those waiting. This is not a Lou Mitchell donut hole.

I was meeting Dave Clark and Don Hatch at Lou's for breakfast and a walking tour. There is a Dunkin' Donuts store a few doors away from the restaurant. Don and I were waiting for Dave when a lady emerged from Dunkin' Donuts carrying a box by the handle on top. As she approached, the bottom of the box began to work itself open and the pictured white hole broke free. We quickly alerted her to the disaster in progress though not before another hole hit the sidewalk. Within seconds a fellow emerged from Lou Mitchell's with a plastic bag to bring the great hole escape to an end. Pretty darn classy move. After breakfast, I recognized the same fellow tending the cash register when we checked out. I complimented him on the rescue and he said that his first impulse was to provide her with a Lou Mitchell's box then realized that packing Dunkin' Donut holes in a box labeled Lou Mitchell's might not be prudent so it was a plastic bag to contain the disintegrating box. Classy and clever.

The first two pictures in this panel are completely out of sequence so I could begin the day with the donut hole story. The first one is a "dark side of the moon" sort of thing taken as I approached Lou Mitchell's from the rear. The second is a more typical view of the restaurant.

I've wanted to do one of David Clark's walking tours pretty much from the moment he started doing them but the stars never quite aligned. I contacted him during the early days of considering this trip and a series of emails revealed that this morning would work for both of us. When things started to solidify, I reverified the date and also let Don Hatch, who lives semi-near Chicago, know about it. Some may be aware that Don was in Cincinnati a couple of days ago. He decided to join us and the three of us started things off with a fine meal at Lou Mitchell's. I had what may have been the fluffiest omelet ever while Dave and Don had... ah... don't remember.

That's my box of Milk Duds shining like a mirror in the omelet picture. I think they used to be much stricter about giving Milk Duds only to women. Maybe some anti-fun lawyer threatened a discrimination based lawsuit but they weren't strict at al today. They used to only give the Duds to men only on Father's Day which happens to be the only time I've eaten here before. But that was in the middle of some sort of Milk Dud shortage and I did not get a Father's Day box of Milk Duds. I am clearly entitled to the Milk Duds I got today. Dave and Don? Hardly.

I'm not sure whether Dave's research or his recall is the most impressive. I do know that he can name just about any downtown Chicago building of any significance whatsoever, and can probably throw in the architect's name, the build date, its original and current purpose, and maybe even a juicy story or two. This is Union Station. I've been in it once before and may have even known that it opened in 1925. Dave filled in the facts that it was designed by Daniel Burnham, was once packed with travelers but now serves only as a mostly empty waiting room, and supplied the staircase (the one in the second picture) for that incredible 1987 Untouchables baby carriage scene.

This is Chicago's version of "The Big Dig". The underground Wacker Drive is being completely redone and so is the ground it's under.

Don explained that every tourist that walks by the Willis, nee Sears, Tower with a camera is required to take a straight up photo of it. I complied then added a tighter shot of the glass platforms that have been glued to the side so that other tourists (and locals, Dave's done it) can pay good money to have the bejeezus scared out of them.

It's also kind of cool to look straight up inside some buildings like the 1912 Chicago Insurance Exchange Building. The tall lady behind Dave and Don is one of a pair of statues that stood above the entrance of the original 1885 Board of Trade Building. They vanished when that building was demolished in 1929 but were found lying on the ground of a forest preserve near Downers Grove, Illinois, in 1978. In 2005, they became residents of LaSalle Street Plaza.

The first two pictures are of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed lobby of the Rookery. The 1888 building, complete with lobby, was designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root. Wright was commissioned to update and brighten it in 1905. The remaining pictures are from the Marquette Building whose sculptures and mosaics depict the early explorations of Marquette and Jolliet. Chicagou was a Mitchigamea Indian mentioned in Marquette's journals who once visited Paris, France. I'm sure they had trouble keeping him down on the farm after that.

We officially ended our tour at Adams and Michigan, the current, or at least most recent, "beginning" of US-66. But there were a few encores including a stop one block over at the original beginning and end at Michigan and what was then a two-way Jackson.

What I've reported is a tiny fraction of what we saw and heard. David has written a couple of books on Route 66 in Chicago. I have them and they are excellent. But the best way to appreciate and benefit from his knowledge is to walk with him along the streets and into the buildings where his favorite city and favorite highway really blend. Starting this trip with the Windy City Road Warrior was one of the best ideas I ever had.

This is a collection of Route 66 landmarks that lined the route as I followed in from downtown Chicago to Braidwood. I apologize for the dark through-the-glass drive-by shot of the Gemini Giant but it does offer a nice view of the rain spots on my windshield.

I ended the day with a little off-route excursion. Roadie Cort Stevens and I have been trying to get together for quite some time. Last year we were in Amarillo at the same time but realized it only after we had left. Cort's planned trip to Versailles. Ohio, didn't happen and his recent Carolina trip with a friend got routed around Cincinnati to avoid hills in the area. Cort lives in Elgin, Illinois, and we shuffled various plans for getting together while I was in the area. What finally worked, and was actually finalized after I reached Braidwood, was a mid-point meeting at a Culver's in Yorkville. Even though this was our first meeting we slipped easily into talk of road trips, cars, and mutual friends. The short time we had passed quickly and we headed off in opposite directions. Great meeting you, Cort. I'm looking forward to the next time.

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