Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Chronicles of a Chicago Chaperone - Part III

This is the story of my final week in Chicago as the Ivy League Connection students wrapped up their coursework.

On Thursday, July 23rd, I was able to finally catch Moby Dick at the famous Chicago Lookingglass Theater.  I was so impressed with this performance - it was probably one of the best theatrical performances I've ever seen when I consider the carefully directed details of the play.  The stage was set up with metal piping that looked like we were sitting on the inside of the whale's skeletal belly. The play incorporated trapeze-type movement from the ropes and ribbons meant to represent the ropes from the sailing vessel. 

The set before the play started.
On Friday, I set up a last-minute optional check-in with the students at UChicago.  I want to comment on how safe the campus feels during the regular school week. There are security guards on every corner of the outer perimeter of the campus, and during school hours, the campus is populated and the sidewalks busy with people heading to public transportation or their cars.
5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon at UChicago
Rockefeller Chapel
The interior 
The organ
I was able to try my first Chicago dog at Portillo's restaurant during the penultimate weekend in Chicago.  The interior is decorated almost like a Disneyland ride with scenes and mannequins.  It was very crowded on a Friday night at eleven. For those curious about all the food us ILC employees consume, we do receive a daily food stipend from the school district during our trip, and I definitely use it as motivation to explore the food culture in Chicago.
On Saturday, I decided to check out Wrigleyville, as I knew there was a Cub's game.  I didn't have tickets, but I wanted to experience the surrounding area, because friends of mine who had traveled to Chicago told me it was a must-see neighborhood.  The spirit of the Cubs didn't disappoint.  The area around the stadium and the L train, even two hours before the game, were packed with Cubs' fans wearing red and blue.  Fans were seated behind the stadium with baseball gloves, ready to catch any foul fly balls.  There were "Wrigleyville rooftop" parties in the nearby apartment complexes, where fans could look into the stadium from the top open floor of a building.  Next to Wrigleyville was "Boys Town," the gay district.  I saw rainbow flags hanging from restaurants that identified as part of this gay-friendly neighborhood.
The crowded L train
Wrigley Field
On Sunday, I took the cohort on an optional excursion to The Art Institute of Chicago and the surrounding Millennium Park area.  I was thrilled to hear that there was a Degas exhibit, Degas being my favorite post-impressionist artist.  I did my French impressionist report on Degas at Pinole Valley High School in Madame (Deborah) Sigg's class, and it felt like everything was coming full circle to see Degas' art in person.
Many did not know that Degas was also a sculptor
His subject matter often included ballet dancers
The Little Dancer
Asian art exhibit
Picasso art
Millennium Park fountain 
When the students started their final week of school on Monday, I decided to explore the sand dunes in the nearby state park along Lake Michigan.  This visit was a recommendation from my mom's dear friend and former WCCUSD teacher, Jan Carson, who lived near Hyde Park as a child growing up. And what a wonderful visit it was!  When I first arrived at the park stop via train, I had to figure out where I was in relation to the trail.  I think most people drive to the state park rather than walk. Thankfully, I found signs that led me to where I needed to be.  The dunes are basically mountains of sand.  People hike them like regular dirt trails, but I found that because they are made of sand, they are more difficult to ascend.  Getting to the peak of certain trails felt like a huge accomplishment that day.
I walked a couple miles to get to the Dune State Park from the train station.
Lake Michigan 
Marshy part of the state park
For my last week in Chicago, I made arrangements to finally see Navy Pier.  I decided to sign up for a Lake Michigan cruise through the same cruise line as the Chicago River Architecture tour.  I signed up for the fireworks' cruise, which takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  It was a wonderful, warm night.  The cruise took us along the skyline of Chicago, giving us history not only about Chicago's Navy Pier, once the naval station of World War II, but also history about the skyscrapers. And the fireworks' show was more wonderful than anything I have seen in my own hometown fireworks' shows for the Fourth of July.  Being out on the water, the bursts of light and fire felt so close!
And of course, my time in Chi-Town wouldn't have been complete without a visit to Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and its glass-floor Skydeck.
Willis Tower is 283 Barack Obamas tall.
View from the top
I concluded my Chicago theater experience by attending the IO Shakespeare Theater improv show. The audience's contribution as a title was "The Purple Rain Man."  Having seen Prince last year in concert, I enjoyed all of the "Diamonds and Pearls" references.
On the very last day of the trip before we went home, I splurged on a ticket to the renowned music festival, Lollapalooza.  I felt so carefree and happy to be immersed in the live music.  Below are some pictures of my view at the set by St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Sir Paul McCartney, member of The Beatles!
He sang "Blackbird." 
It's hard to believe that we flew home to SFO without any delay or issues, and are now settled back in the Bay Area.  I want to give kudos to my wonderful cohort members, Aisha, Brandon, Jae-an, and Tamika, who were easy-going, flexible, kind, and adventurous.  I had a great time with you all! Thank you, Don, Charles, and Madeline, for once again hiring me for this experience and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime.  I hope to see Chicago again soon.  

Signing off,
Alana, the Chicago Chaperone


  1. Thank you for bringing everyone home safely!

  2. I've read a lot of blogs over the years so I'm something of an expert. What I'm reading here--and seeing in these great photos--is that at least in this last week you had a really good time. It couldn't have happened to a better chaperone.