It seemed like a good morning for a walk on the long uninterrupted waterfront here in windy Chicago. The cold spray was unanticipated, but the feeling that we came away with after sharing the moving, wet expanse was definitely worth it.
There are a lot of things to do in Chicago; many of them cost a lot of money and were made by the hands of mankind. One of the most lovely things to see however, has been there for much longer than Chicago itself, and that’s Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan is a freshwater lake. Already you may have a preconceived notion that if it’s freshwater it is relatively small. Let’s clear that up right away; you can’t see land on the other side of Lake Michigan. Oh, it’s there, but you can’t see that far, little man. The lake is one of five aptly named “Great Lakes”, and the only one that is entirely in the USA (the other four are shared with Canada).
Unlike so many other urban waterfronts, the lakefront in Chicago is not interrupted by so many industrial areas, commercial wharfs, or ancient factories. The waterfront in Chicago is made up largely of public parks, beaches, marinas, and where there is nothing else-simple concrete walls to protect the land from erosion and provide a wide walkway for many public activities.
My first experience with the area where Chicago and Lake Michigan meet was at the very noise, very crowded, Navy Pier. This was a fun place, but not relaxing. My second experience was from nearly one hundred stories above the water on the Hancock Observatory. It was this view that inspired me to get down to the water that had been lapping at the shores of this great city forever.
We made our way to a spot where the wall was high and the waves were higher. There was a towering crowd of architecture behind us trying to get our admiration and praise, but we were here to see the water today.
We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan beside this tall city and marvelled at the power of the waves, casually beating themselves to death against the concrete and stone. It was a spring morning, and the sun was not as bright as I would have liked; the spray cooling us as we walked in the wind.
“How about we keep going until we reach that bend in the distance?” I asked.
She shivered and nodded.
After a while I thought that maybe it was not such a good idea, but what was said was said. Once we reached the ladder to nowhere and the image was captured for you, we turned our backs to the wind and marched home. It was a hotel, but for today it was home.