A Travellerspoint blog

The Loop (Chicago) & The Empire Builder

After getting ready and a quick Subway breakfast, we began our morning by taking the "L" (the actual subway) down to the Loop district to do some sightseeing.
Our first encounter was a vendor market at Daley plaza, host to a cool sculpture referred to as "the Picasso". It was an untitled piece made by Pablo Picasso in 1967. Chicago is a really great city for public art and this sculpture was a great introduction.
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At the vendor market, we ran into some guys that make cool products out of leather (journals, bracelets, watches, etc) but since they were on Facebook and would ship to Buffalo, we decided to hold off in order to save backpack space.
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There was also a tent with screen printed tanks at Designs by Gina. I bought a cool elephant shirt. After noticing our packs, Gina inquired about our travels with Heidi. She suggested we take the Chicago Riverwalk enroute to Milennium Park, which ended up being awesome!

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Next, we hit up Millennium Park, which did NOT disappoint! This place was so freaking cool! We first encountered Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which not only is a work of art but also serves as an outdoor amphitheater to 7,000 (including the lawn section). We then happened upon the touristy yet fun Cloud Gate sculpture designed after a drop of mercury. Strolling through Lurie Gardens was a delight; there were walls made of pine trees and a reflecting pool for making wishes. Heidi and I both made wishes, but of course didn't reveal them to each other! It's a pretty huge place, kids on field trips were everywhere, along with other tourists. Our walk through got hot and tiring, so we took a Lyft to get some food and hopefully find a brewery to fill our growler before catching the train!

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Finding a brewery in the Loop was a bust so we went for tacos at the Taco Joint per our Lyft driver's recommendation and raced to Union Station to fill our beer growler to with a tasty craft beer option ( we went with Lagunita's Little Sumpin' Sumpin' IPA. #win).
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Know what else was a win? These first class sleeper cars and improved bathroom situation on the Empire Builder:

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Everything on this train thus far has been quite the experience, albeit fun and enjoyable: sleeping in bunk beds while moving, dining with strangers for each meal (free when you purchase a roomette in the sleeper car!) while moving, navigating around the connecting cars while moving, and using the restroom (you guessed it, while moving).
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To our surprise, the Empire Builder doesn't have wifi (which hindered my plans to study for the Peds boards and Heidi's plans to access her Nook). However, Heidi's Straight Talk coverage has been "killing it". My Sprint access, less so (hence the late post).

We are currently entering Montana (shouties to CJ Mischel, the only person from MT we BOTH know) so there will definitely be a future post with pics from Glacier National Park. The states we've rode through thus far (IL, WI, MN, ND) haven't had too many vistas, but we got a few pics.

Tomorrow morning we will arrive in Seattle, so get ready…

-- Claudia

Posted by baecation2016 14:26

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Comments

Looks fun! I"m impressed with the train amenities!

by Andrew

This is something I have thought of doing. Thanks for sharing. How did you decide to travel this way?

by Athy

Athy!! Well, traveling cross country was something we both had always wanted to do but logistically was going to be tough to pull off by car. We only had a 2w vacation to work with so we knew time spent at destinations would be brief. So the train provided the best option for both seeing the country in a relaxed manner and visiting some points of interest.

by baecation2016

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