Sunday, September 13, 2015

Labor Day Adventure: Detroit - Chicago - Madison

Our friend, AstroEricJ asked TaGeez and I to join him on an adventure to Chicagoland!  Target: Beverly GC28 from May 2000.  Plans were made... and added to... until we found ourselves on a 2-day, 1300 mile journey touching 6 states and 33 counties cached!

Day 1 found us leaving Detroit at 6:30 am, meeting Eric in Milford, and then off towards the Indiana border with a few geocaching detours along the way.  After a brief yet violent storm in Indiana, we found ourselves in Chicago around noon.

Downtown Chicago

Besides being absolutely beautiful, Chicago is home to some of the most highly-favorited geocaches by type: Virtuals (the Bean = 842 FP and Stoned Faced = 550 FP), Traditional (Beverly = 872 FP), and Letterbox (Vampire Empire = 168 FP).  By the end of the trip the 59 caches we logged were worth (at the time) over 3,785 favorite points!

The first stop was Passing the Buck GC73FD in Grant Park. This is the first time I've stepped foot in Chicago in almost 8 years - over 33 years for TaGeez, and this was our first Chicago geocache. Lovely.

From there we moseyed to Cloud Gate aka The Bean GCJZDR, a tourist favorite (if I had a dime for every selfie stick...).  We were laughing that it's only grown in popularity with the coming of the age of the selfie-generation!

Looking up from the underside

Can't sneak up on me!

Heading back to the car

Then onto one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.  We didn't know until the very last minute if we had time to spare for Vampire Empire GC1A2T0, but I now firmly believe it's a must-do for anyone visiting Chicago. Not giving too much away, you go down into the subway system to access the Chicago Pedway.
The Chicago Pedway is a network of tunnels, ground-level concourses and bridges connecting skyscrapers, retail stores, hotels and train stations throughout 40 blocks of the central business district of Chicago, Illinois.  
Using our "map" as a guide, we walked from State Street to the Chicago River, until we reached the Vampire's final stash.  It was an absolute hoot working as a team - it really took all three of us to solve the clues and make the final find.

Page 1 of the map

Heading into the underworld

Notice the clock?

As we descended the subway, we spotted a copy of a
Normal Rockwell painting with the same clock!

Hmm... look familiar?  Check the map above!

I was not expecting a subterranean stained-glass art exhibit

After wandering the halls illuminated by artificial lighting for an hour,
this was a very nice change of pace!

Seen nearby - I'm not giving anything else away.
After a group victory jig, we headed topside to cross the river and enjoy the crowds and street performers on the other side.  I should mention none of us looking too fresh as we've done a considerable amount of walking in 90+ degree weather, high humidity and minimal breeze.

No trip to Chicago is complete without visiting the Chicago Tribune building.  According to Fragments of History: "Nearly 150 fragments from famous structures and historic sites around the world are embedded in Tribune Tower's first story walls."  The tradition began during WWI when an editor brought back a bombed-out portion of a medieval cathedral from Ypres, France. After walking around the outside, admiring the pieces of famous structures, mosey inside for a view of the phenomenal lobby with it's giant relief map of the U.S. made of shredded money and the engraved literary quotes on the walls.

TaGeez and the Great Pyramid of Giza

More architectural artifacts
Our final target was the Virtual, Chicago Water Tower GCMDAX, about a half mile further on. There was so much energy walking down Michigan Avenue in the throng of the crowd.

The Chicago Water Tower in sharp contrast to the
nearby Hancock Tower.

The Water Tower is not only one of the only survivors of the Chicago Fire,
but it was the first structure voted as an American Water Landmark.

Visions of Salt Creek GCGVRN

Alas, our time in Chicago has ended and onto the main part of the trip, grabbing another Year 2000 cache for AstroEricJ and TaGeez's JASMERS.  But first!  A detour to another fun webcam, one I logged a year before.

Hot standing in the sun, not knowing
when the picture will be taken.
Beverly GC28

Beverly is one of the oldest, active geocaches in the world (it's #3 - hidden May 13, 2000), and it's located in a wooded area on the other side of Beverly Lake.  Acquiring this find will bring Eric to needing just one more to complete his grid...

... and is the final one TaGeez needs for his. Congratulations, Sweetie!  The grin says it all!

Now that the biggies are out of the way, we play!  First a detour to I found WHAT at Beverly? GC390RX...

AstroEricJ in the tall grass
... to heading up the road to JASMER Challenge (N. Illinois) GC5G81T. For this one, we had an audience!

3 of over a dozen we saw

Madison, Wisconsin

It's was almost 9pm when we rolled into Wisconsin (the first of 3 new state souvenirs for us) and some quick caching.  Eric is focusing on counties this trip, and TaGeez and I are happily along for the ride. Using the mobile wi-fi (Yes! Amazing!), we are knocking off counties and DeLorme pages for our various challenges.  

Although we celebrate the highly-favorited geocaches, don't dismiss "park and grabs", either.  With names like What side are you on? (Illinois/Wisconsin border), Oshaukuta Marker Cache (Wisconsin lost town), and Lyndon Station Memorial Cache (a well-tended war memorial), they will remind us of the many languid roads and lush green sites we witnessed on this trip.

Around 10:30 pm, we finally hit our last stop for the night, Madison, the state capital.  As we headed down the last mile, you could see the lovely dome reflecting off Lake Monona.  The streets are filled with happy people going to and fro from the restaurant district, and we are in search for food.  If you are ever in the area, we can highly recommend the food and house root beer at the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company.

When next we meet, we will continue our adventures down the west side of the mighty Mississippi.

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