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Wednesday, April 12, 2023: We decided that there were some sights that we needed to see in Chicago, so Debbie planned a quick two-day trip to the Windy City. We left home around 7:30 AM on a beautifully sunny day. The only clouds in the sky were jet contrails.
Several uneventful hours later, we were passing the home stadium of the Chicago White Sox, currently known as Guaranteed Rate Field.
Our first stop was the McDonald's Global Menu Restaurant, which we call International McDonald's.
They change their menu every eight weeks, and Debbie always checks to see what new items are on the menu. We ordered two sandwiches, Garlic and Pepper Criscut Fries from China, and some Canadian mini-donuts from the bakery which we ate later.
The first sandwich was the McAloo Tikki from India. In Hindi, aloo means "potato" and tikki means "patty." The patty was made from potatoes and lentils, and it was served with onion and tomatoes on top. We both thought it was fine, but were not overwhelmed.
The other sandwich was the Double Gulgogi Burger from South Korea. It was made from two teriyaki pork sausage patties, and topped with Korean barbeque sauce, lettuce, and cheese. Tom liked this one, but would have preferred two regular hamburger patties rather than the pork sausage.
After lunch, we headed to Unity Temple in Oak Park. We had purchased tour tickets for noon, but since we were about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, we were hoping that they would let us switch the tickets to the self-guided tour.
This Unitarian church was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright when he was 38 years old and built between 1905 and 1908.
Here's the entrance. Like all of Wright's buildings, the designs in the glass are beautiful.
We were able to use our tickets for the self-guided tour. The docent gave us audio guides and maps, and we started our tour. This is the community space, which features a large room with a low fireplace, and two upper levels on either side containing offices.
Check out the cool hanging light fixtures. When Wright designed a building for you, he designed everything, including the lights and furniture.
There was a model of the temple on a table in one of the alcoves. The community space is on the left side of the model, and the worship space is the taller section on the right.
We headed upstairs to check out the upper level. There were offices on one side, and what appeared to be a playroom or daycare on the other side.
We headed back through the atrium to the worship space. These wall panels had hinges, but no door handles. We forgot to take a picture of it at the end of the tour, but these are additional exit doors from the main part of the church. Clever.
The worship space has an altar at the front, with pews on three sides, laid out on several levels.
Check out the ceiling. The design looked like squares-within-squares and were made from colored glass.
Here's the view of the altar from the back of the main level, ...
... and here's a close-up of the altar itself.
The pews were marked with row numbers using the classic Frank Lloyd Wright font.
We went up to the top level to get a closer look at the beautiful ceiling.
Here's the view looking down from the pews in the top level.
After we returned our audio guides, we headed outside ...
... and admired the detail work on the concrete pillars and the designs in the glass.
A very Wright-ian metal post holds a sign explaining the history of the building and that it was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1971.
The post office across the street had some beautiful glasswork as well, featuring what appeared to be different modes of transportation.
As we left the Unity Temple, we saw this U-Haul featuring Prince Edward Island and we were happy to add a picture of it to our U-Haul collection.
We left Oak Park and headed to the suburb of Niles, ...
... home of Affy Tapple, maker of the first caramel apple created in the United States.
There were lots of different products available in their factory store, ...
... but we were here for their flagship product: caramel apples, which Debbie absolutely loves and Tom can do without. We bought a peanut caramel apple, chocolate chip and peanut caramel apple, caramel peanut cups, chocolate covered pretzels, and raspberry chocolate bark.
As we left Affy Tapple, we headed toward a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that we had seen when we arrived. Look! It has its own little replica!
Known as the Leaning Tower of Niles, it is a half-scale replica of the original in Pisa. It was built in 1934 to hide plumbing for the outdoor pools of a nearby recreational area. It is now on the grounds of the local YMCA.
As we headed out of Niles, the striking Shure building caught our eye. The logo was on a wire mesh surrounding an open area inside the building. It was very cool.
Our next stop took us to neighborhood of Glencoe, where we saw an absolutely gorgeous house that we wondered if it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We later learned that it wasn't, but we were in the middle of a hotbed of Wright designs.
These sculptures mark the entrance to the Ravine Bluff Development, and were designed by Wright in 1915, ...
... as was this one-lane bridge, the Ravine Bluffs Bridge. The current bridge was built in 1984 as a replica of the original bridge designed and built by Wright in 1915.
We were here to see the Frank Lloyd Wright Light and Scupture at the end of Sylvan Road, which looks exactly like the other sculptures marking the entrances to the development.
In the cul-de-sac near the sculpture is the Charles R. Perry House, one of six in the neighborhood designed by Wright when the development was commissioned in 1915.
The Hollis Root House is also nearby on Meadow Road as are three other Wright-designed houses that we didn't know about until we got home.
We stopped at the North Shore Congregation Israel synagogue to get a closer look. It is a gorgeous building overlooking Lake Michigan.
We left Glencoe and headed to the Northbrook Court Mall. Outside was a red steel sculpture by artist Alexander Liberman that looked like one we saw by him in Seattle.
The LEGO Store had the running and jumping minifigures motif on the outside.
The Pick & Build wall was one of the best we've seen. Nearby, there was a table covered with boxes containing additional Pick & Build pieces that wouldn't fit on the wall. Debbie was in LEGO builder heaven.
There were so many pieces to choose from, ...
... that we ended up filling four large Pick & Build cups and probably could have filled several more.
We also bought the Mandalorian's N-1 Starfighter model for Tom, and paid for everything with the LEGO gift card that Tom got for volunteering at Brickworld Indy 2023.
Treats! When we were at McDonald's earlier in the day, we bought two Canadian mini-doughnuts from their global menu: the one on the left was called a Crème Brule mini-donut, and the other one was Boston Cream. We both ate half of a donut and then switched. These are called "Li'L Donuts" in Canada, and we had tried them when we were in Canada last year, but Crème Brule wasn't one of the flavors on the Canadian menu then.
By 2:30 PM, we were in Waukegan. This awesome mural was on the side of a car repair shop.
This was where Debbie's mother grew up, and we spent a little time driving around. This building is now Robert Abbott Middle School, but back when Debbie's grandparents lived here, it was the elementary school that her mom and her mom's siblings all went to.
And here is Waukegan High School. Not only did Debbie's mom go to this school, Debbie's grandmother also went to school here. Back then, it held both the junior and senior high school classes.
Here's a cool futuristic house that Debbie remembers driving by when she would visit her grandparents. Check out that spiral staircase going straight up to nowhere!
Our next stop was Ray Bradbury Park. Bradbury was born in Waukegan in 1920 and used the town as a setting in his novels. This park was dedicated to him in 1990.
This sign has information about the author, including the reference to the 113 steps located in the park which Bradbury uses as a location in his 1957 novel Dandelion Wine.
The playground equipment looks like rocket ships, doesn't it?
Not far from the park is the former site of Debbie's great-aunt's house, now an empty lot after the house burned down several years ago.
And around the corner from there on Chapel Street is the house where Debbie's grandparents lived. Work was being done on it and the front door was open, giving a rare glimpse into the entryway that leads to the main house through the left door and to the upstairs apartment through a door on the right side.
The house is larger than it looks. You can see from this side view that it extends back from the road a long way. The house on the left used to be owned by Debbie's great-uncle's family.
On the Roadside America app, Debbie discovered that there was a sculpture of Ray Bradbury riding a rocket at the Waukegan Public Library, so we headed right there to see it.
As we were heading to the library, Debbie spotted a Kugel fountain on the edge of Washington Park right near the street. After seeing the sculpture at the library, we made our way back to the park and stopped to check it out.
Oh, cool. It's a world globe! The water was turned off so the ball didn't rotate, but whoever had turned the water off had stopped it so that it was upright. Nice!
We left Waukegan and headed west to Gurnee Mills Mall.
Our first stop was China Experience in the food court, ...
... and it was delicious.
You didn't think we came here just for food, did you? Of course not! We were here for our second LEGO Store of the day.
We didn't take any photos inside other than the giant minifig just inside the door, which was the first we had seen of this style.
We showed some restraint this time and only filled one large cup from the Pick & Build wall.
Our last stop for the day was at the Warren Cemetery in Gurnee.
This is where Debbie's great-grandparents were buried. We drove to Garden 4, ...
... and walked the rows looking for their headstones.
After a little bit of searching, we found them.
Here lies Debbie's great-grandmother, Josephine Nilsen, ...
... and Debbie's great-grandfather, George Nilsen.
As we headed to the hotel, we drove right past the cemetery ...
... and knowing where to look this time, we were able to spot their headstones quite easily.
Just after 5 PM, we arrived at our destination for the day: Sonesta Simply Suites in Waukegan.
Oh, yeah. That'll do, pig.
We brought in the suitcase and all of the loot that we'd acquired throughout the day. Here are the yummy treats we bought at Affy Tapple, ...
... including this peanut caramel apple which Debbie ate right away.
Afer we got settled into the room and into our comfy pants, Tom built the model he'd bought at the first LEGO Store while Debbie sorted through all of the Pick & Build pieces she'd gotten at both stores.
Here's the completed model, ...
... and here's Debbie's Pick & Build loot, all stacked and organized just the way we like it.

Thursday, April 13, 2023: On our last day in Chicago, we woke early, checked out of the hotel, ...
... and headed across the street to McDonald's for First Breakfast, our term for the breakfast we're having when we know that we'll be having Second Breakfast later. Tom got his usual order of two breakfast burritos and was very pleased with how they were made. He pronounced them to be the biggest and best McDonald's burritos ever.
We drove south from Waukegan heading toward the Arcadia Terrace suburb of Chicago, which featured some beautiful houses and apartment buildings.
Our first stop this morning was Mather Park, a small park dedicated to Stephen Tyng Mather, the first director of the National Park system.
Next door to the park is Stephen Mather High School, which was our second destination.
Debbie had called the last week to confirm that we would be able to visit the inside of the school, and after passing through the metal detectors at the entrance, we signed in, had the information desk staffer call the office and talk to the person we had spoken to, ...
... and then she walked us to the Mather plaque that is in the hallway off the main entrance of the high school. She had to move the large blue-and-white display stand out of the way because it was completely blocking the plaque. There it is!
The plaque was dedicated when the school was opened in 1959 and was one of the fourteen plaques from the casting run that same year.
We both teared up a little when we saw that name of the school mascot is the Mather Rangers. How appropriate!
Our visit complete, we fought our way south through the dense Chicagoland traffic, ...
... until we were back at the Global Menu McDonald's restaurant.
Traffic was a mess here too, so Debbie hopped out and went inside to order while Tom patiently waited for the double-parked cars to move and stop blocking the road.
The cars moved and the road in front of the restaurant cleared just as Debbie was coming out with Second Breakfast. Sometimes the bad behaviors of drivers in the big city work to your advantage. We enjoyed two Egg BLT McMuffins from Canada and another large Diet Coke to fortify us for our drive out of Chicago. It was just as delicious as we remembered from last summer.
As we headed toward the highway, we drove over the Madison Street overpass and admired the six-pointed stars of Chicago's flag formed in the red-painted steel of the bridge.
A little more than an hour after leaving the McDonald's, we were driving along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and entering Indiana Dunes National Park. Formerly Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, it was redesignated as a national park on February 15th, 2019.
We turned in toward the dunes at the Bevery Shores train station. Check out the huge neon sign on the roof facing the tracks.
Whoops. Someone needs to order a new sign. It's a National Park now!
We found a parking spot near the Lakeview picnic area, and after a quick bathroom stop, we made our way ...
... to the Mather plaque located on at the head of the stairs leading down to the beach. Part of the 1930 casting series, this plaque was originally dedicated in 1932 at the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park, but was moved here in 1989 after the development of this picnic and beach area.
We headed down the stairs and marvelled at the sand from the dunes being swept quite a ways up the stairs.
The beach area is beautiful and is probably teeming with people during the hot summer.
Debbie zoomed in on the pink house located above the dunes farther down the beach. We would be heading there next.
We walked out on the huge rocks that protect the shoreline from erosion. We had the place nearly to ourselves which suited us perfectly.
Back in the van, we drove through the Century of Progress Historic District.
There are five houses in this area, all built for the Homes of Tomorrow exhibition for the 1933 Chicago World's fair. After the fair's conclusion, a real estate developer purchased the homes and had them moved here where he starting a new development named Beverly Shores.
Conceived in the 1920s when most of the homes in America were in the Victorian style, these homes were intended to show how homes might be built in the future, showcasing new materials and futuristic designs. When the National Park Service acquired this area, these homes were purchased and this historic district was created. The park service now issues long-term leases on these homes in exchange for the tenants agreeing to restore them and perform the required maintenance on them.
The first up was the Cypress Log Cabin, so named because it is made from cypress log siding. It was an example of a rustic mountain cabin.
Next up was the House of Tomorrow. It was a three-story, 12-sided polygon featuring floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. It was built with an airplane hanger next to the garage because in the future, everyone is going to have an airplane, right? 
This is the Armco-Ferro House which was constructed using prefabricated corrugated steel panels. It was the only Century of Progress house that actually met the World's Fair Committee's design criteria: it could be mass-produced and was affordable. 
This is the Florida Tropical House. It was commisioned by the state of Florida to help lure tourists to the Sunshine State. It was modeled after a cruise ship's deck and features aluminum railings and porthole windows.
Last up was the Wieboldt-Rostone House which was originally created using Rostone, a composite stone material advertised as "never needing repair." Ironically, by 1950, much of the original stone exterior had so severely deteriorated that it had to be replaced with concrete.
We left the dunes and made our way back to I-65, heading south toward home. We were amazed at the construction of a huge new rest area with a gorgeous main building and outlying picnic shelters. Hopefully we'll be able to stop here when we pass by on our upcoming trips this summer and fall.
As we reached Lafayette, we decided that it was time for lunch and stopped at a KFC. It was good to have chicken for a change.
We took a different route home than we usually do, which took us past this huge sculpture garden we had never seen before. That's the fun part of travelling. You just never know what you are going to encounter. 

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