|Marilyn Monroe, larger-than-life in Pioneer Square, Chicago!|
|Sear's Tower's dramatic silhouette|
We met Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood last year. But in Chicago she is literally larger-than-life! Loy was driving Fides, Bill and me around when we chanced upon the 26-ft. femme fatale in a well-known iconic image from the film, ‘The Seven-Year Itch’. The statue has stood since early this month on Pioneer Square and the scene rightly belongs to this windy city! See all those people under her skirt? That’s where Bill and Loy wanted to be but we were so hungry for deep-dish pizza especially the kind at Giordano’s. But, alas, the line was so long and the wait, 1 ½ hours! Thai ‘pizza’ wasn't bad at all.
|1 1/2 hour wait at Giordano's|
for Chicago's deep-dish pizza
Chicago is my kind of town! As we approached it from the Wisconsin day trip courtesy of Loy, the dramatic silhouette of the Sears Tower was the first to meet us. Between that and the magical one with Marilyn, we had two other important meetings in the city. The first was a Friday dinner reunion of I/ACT (Institute of Advanced Computer Technology) colleagues that had been planned for a year and then my reunions with relatives from my mother’s hometown in the Philippines, Rosario, Batangas. I had not seen them since 1998 the last time I was in the city.
|I/ACT colleagues in Chicago Reunion|
We met my I/ACT colleagues at the home of Glenda and Ariel in Long Grove, a Chicago burb. Peng flew from London, Marge from San Francisco, and Fides from Seattle. Lea drove up from Ohio and Watet, Aleli, and Loy are locals. We reminisced about the good old days, Fides was in charge of production, and I, marketing. We may have been at odds then but it was a time of tremendous growth for I/ACT. Funny, but we both settled in Seattle and have become good friends since. The rest are much younger than us, got into I/ACT at almost the same time and remained friends through the years.
|Ate Ofreng, Ate Amor, Araceli, and Ate Belen|
in chicago's Little Quiapo
Then I had two reunions with relatives. The first was with Ate (Tagalog for an elder sister/woman) Ofreng, Ate Amor, Ate Belen, and their friend Araceli at Little Quiapo, the very popular Filipino restaurant in Chicago, reminiscent of the one in Manila. I feasted on dinuguan (Filipino blood pudding), pancit malabon (Filipino noodles), and varied rice cakes. After that, we had halo-halo (Filipino shaved ice dessert) and more kinds of cakes in Glendale Heights, another Chicago burb, at Ate Feling’s with Butch, Nora, Amang, and children. It is so nice to be able to make these visits as we cruise around the country.
|the Albertos in their home in Chicago|
We stayed at the Pine Country Resort of Thousand Trails in Belvidere, Illinois. With the heat wave sweeping across most of America, I jumped into the Olympic-size pool almost as soon as we arrived and hooked up! We discovered Belvidere’s 15 murals that give the city much pride. Our favorite one covered an entire building wall fronting a parking lot. It virtually transformed the place into a row of traditional favorite shops that looked very real from a distance. But our Chicago meetings prevented us from relaxing at the campground. Besides we wanted to visit the other nearby Illinois towns.
|just a mural...not a row of stores...in Belvidere, Illinois|
|Ronald Reagan's boyhood home|
We were drawn to Dixon, Illinois, Reagan’s Boyhood Home where they lived for 17 years before he went to seek his fortune in Hollywood. The Lincoln State Memorial (a statue of 24-year-old Lincoln) also stands nearby because where he was stationed there to fight during the BlackHawk War. Further down in Grand Detour, we found the John Deere Historical Site where the first steel plow was used, near his home. Nearer Oregon, Illinois stands the second largest concrete statue in the world (48 ft. tall) of Black Hawk, the brave Indian Chief, arms folded, staring far into the river below, amidst the thick of trees.
|Lincoln, as a young soldier in Dixon, Illinois|
|the first steel plow at John Deere's home|
Other Illinois towns have a lot to offer but, being a big city girl, I absolutely loved the exuberant Chicago that Loy showed us! I can’t help but hum the tune, ‘Chicago is one town that won’t let you down, it’s my kind of town!’ So we will be back next year on the way down from Eastern Canada! We have not even gone to the Lincoln home and Our Lady of Snows Shrine in the southern part of the state. And, of course, it will be another opportunity to meet our friends and relatives in this, my kind of town!
|BlackHawk in Oregon, Illinois|
Next Stop: Standing at the Crossroads of America, Indiana