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March 12th 2018
Published: March 13th 2018
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Wednesday – Friday, 7-9 March

We did a farewell tour of Kirkwood on Wednesday and did The Wall one more time for good measure. I really like that run. Thursday was the farewell tour of Heavenly and a balmy 4C on the mountain so we finished the way we arrived – in warm weather. We finished early and ran around returning our skis and snow chains, as well as getting a couple of things fixed. We even got half back on our used skis so the whole thing only cost us A$150 for a month for both of us. Buying used was definitely the way to go.

We left early on Friday morning so we had time to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was a complete white out! Ocean fog had rolled in and completely covered the bridge from top to bottom, so that was $10 well spent on tolls – not! We cut our losses and went to the Palace of Fine Arts, as their gardens and Roman-inspired architecture is gorgeous.

We returned the car without any fuss and checked in to San Fran airport, saying our goodbyes to Dale as he stayed in the international terminal and we went to domestic for our Chicago flight. We landed at the end of a Demi Lovato concert so the traffic was horrendous and our 10pm arrival meant we didn’t see our hotel room until midnight.

Saturday and Sunday, 10/11 March - Chicago

On Sabbath morning I was reunited with my high school bestie, Tracy. We went to school together in 1992 at Oak Lawn High, and then we visited her in 2003 when we were driving across the US. It’s now 15 years later and the hug we gave each other pretty much squeezed the life out of both of us! She hasn’t changed a bit.

Given it was Sabbath, we decided to visit Lincoln Park Zoo, which isn’t a huge or fancy zoo but it’s memorable because it’s free. We saw a wolf, leopard, red panda, polar bear, gorillas, chimpanzees, giraffe, zebra, river otters, turtles and a pygmy hippo. The elephants had died and the rhino, lions and a couple of other animals decided it was too cold to come out of their dens. When we thought we’d finished, we continued on our merry way until 9pm that night, when out of nowhere, I blurted out “we forgot to see the snow monkeys!”. Only took me 8 hours to remember we’d forgotten to see the very enclosure at the top of our priority list!

Anyway, lunch was at Navy Pier and Tracy was keen to ride their new Ferris wheel so we shouted her a trip – the least we could do given we’re staying at her house and being chauffered around! It looks like the London Eye, but it doesn’t offer any commentary and after 3 rotations you’re done. It gave very cool views of the Chicago skyline up and down Lake Michigan and given it was a sunny day, the lake was a stunning shade of turquoise. We then walked to Millenium Park to see the Skate Ribbon – a ¼ mile loop around the park. It’s quite funky because it’s not round or square, but rather it’s a ribbon of ice that meanders around corners and down hills. If you have your own skates, you can skate for free.

From there we walked uptown along Michigan Ave, aka the Magnificent Mile, to John Hancock Centre to watch the sunset. There are two towers in Chicago that have viewing decks. One of them is Sears Tower which in 1992 was the tallest building in the world. The other is the John Hancock. We chose Hancock because they have a sky bar on the 94th floor, and a drink is cheaper than the observation deck. At 5pm on a Saturday night, everyone else had the same thought so the line was packed. Still, we waited an hour and were seated at 6pm after the sun had already set, and in a way it was better because we got to watch the lights come on and we got some amazing photos!

By the time we got back home it was 9pm and we still hadn’t eaten so Tracy took us out to dinner with her mum, Linda. We walked 16km (10 miles) over the course of the day.

Sunday we had a lazy 10am start and spent time chatting with Trae before doing a walk around her neighbourhood of Tinley Park. It was another sunny and frigid day but we were glad to keep our legs ticking over before the long commute to Morocco. We went to Tracy and Linda’s favourite haunt for lunch, Harry Caray’s, as we were supposed to go there for dinner the night before but we were home too late. Tracy is baseball mad (go Cubs!) and Harry Caray was a famous baseball broadcaster so there is a lot of memorabilia in the restaurants. There was one at Navy Pier was but it was closed for renovations.

By mid-afternoon it was airport time, where another round of vice-like hugs ensued. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we last saw each other and saying goodbye to potentially another 15 years apart was difficult, but we were so thankful that Tracy and Linda cleared their schedule to hang with us for the weekend. There are some kindred spirits who will always impact your life no matter where they are in the world, and Tracy is one of those people. I love that girl!

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14th March 2018

Dear Renae and Dwayne,
Thanks again for your travel Diary of Chicago etc, Enjoyed. We have made 20 page books of each of the countries. families and friends enjoy them. We love you, Shirley and David Cowell.

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