A promising golden dawn had spread across the sky as son Bob, daughter-in-law Gail and Great-grand Maddie and I left Bob's condo in Palatine. We caught the train, and set sail to see Chicago, the windy city. With only three days to visit, every hour had to be full. The outing planned for this day was for us to cruise the Chicago River, stroll the Riverwalk, eat, shop and then catch the train back to Palatine.
We had picked the perfect day for a boat ride. By now it was full up morning and no clouds in the sky as we disembarked the train in Chicago, and set sail for our river cruise.
The large, open-air vessel we boarded was comfortable and featured plenty of seating, with a soft sloshing sound, waves lapped softly as the boat left the dock and inched forward into the river. Mouth open I gazed at a sophisticated metropolis; towering skyscrapers, concrete and steel giant buildings. The skyline of this bustling city is stunning. If some of them weren't the tallest buildings in the country, they must sure come close.
'City of the big shoulders', was one of the names given by poet Carl Sandburg who lived in Chicago.
Chicago has a really interesting history and mix of buildings. The views were great, the boat ride smooth as glass. Our tour guide spoke a lot about the history of Chicago and its extraordinary architecture. He was delightful and provided much info.
This is a good, relaxing way to take in the skyline and building designs, to get the lay of the land in this huge city, to learn something about the variety of architectural designs that distinguish Chicago from any other major metropolitan destination. We watched the spectacular skyline slide by as we saw buildings like Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, John Hancock, the old Sears Tower, and so many, so many more.
I felt as if a collection of postcard scenes were flashing in front of me and I recalled words from a poem by Carl Sandburg.
'Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning'.
If I ever return to Chicago, a river cruise would definitely be at the top of my bucket list.
After the cruise we walked along the blue-green waters of the Chicago River on the Riverwalk which has restaurants and beautiful views of the river. We had a late lunch and did some shopping.
By then daylight was fading; it was time to catch the train to Palatine. On the way back, our coach was full; my family and I were separated. I was seated by a window next to a snoring man. As I often do, my thoughts left the present, and returned to other days, to a land of dreamy dreams.
I had been to Chicago several times before with Willard. My first visit, many, many moons ago, was also the first vacation we'd made since our son Bill was born. Bill was three years old when Willard and I flew to Chicago and then on to Philadelphia.
We did lots of sightseeing, but it was so long ago, I couldn't remember whether we took any kind of a river cruise or not. I don't think we did--not even sure they had one back then.
Willard and I had made the trip for a reason he: became a member of the Fellowship of the American College of Physicians. This was one of the proudest moments of my dear husband's life.
Selfish and kinda immature, for some reason, I remember that I was more enchanted with touring, sight-seeing, and shopping than paying much attention to my husband's feelings and pride in what he had accomplished.
Now, all these years later, as night fell I looked out the train window. A lot of water has run under the bridge since then.
This day had been almost perfect, only one thing would have made it more so. As I so often do I wished Willard had been with me to make the ride, we enjoyed being together so much. His life was a cadence beat of enthusiasm and kindness. Sometimes the sailing wasn't always smooth, but no matter how rough life's waters might be, whatever turbulent storms we faced, somehow he was always there to steer the way and calm the waves.
Caught up in my own feelings, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye as I sang,
"Cruising down the river."
"Palatine." The loudspeaker came on.
The still man beside me jumped awake. "I'm waiting for the moon," he said as he bent over and picked up a briefcase.