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August 7, 2009

My Green Chicago Trip, Part 2: Transportation & Sightseeing

 

Chicago is one of the best cities to see without a car! And boy, did I see a lot. I won’t bore you with all my trip photos in this post. Here’s a link to my Chicago vacation photos on Flickr, for those who are interested. I’ll just give you a glimpse of the car-free fun I had. Click on any photo to see the larger version.

My feet are my favorite mode of transit. Sunday evening, after I checked into the hostel, they took me around the neighborhood and over to Buckingham Fountain to see some wonderous sights in the dark:

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Monday morning, I met up with a Fake Plastic Fish reader: the one and only Clif Brown, he of the awesome, thought-provoking comments. Clif lives nearby and made an excellent tour guide for our hours-long walk…

Chicago 2009-07

through downtown…

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Millenium Park…

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

and along Lake Michigan…

Chicago 2009-07

where we had zero-waste ice cream cones and chatted with a few ducks. How fortunate I am to be able to spend a simple day on foot enjoying gorgeous architecture, a big sky, and great conversations with a new/old friend.

Monday evening, I hooked up with a group from the hostel who were going to a neighborhood bar to listen to music. Did we take a cab or tour bus? No way, man! Only public transit for us!

Chicago 2009-07

The music was not great, but I didn’t care. It was all about the people: an English teacher from Germany, a blogger from North Carolina (?), a woman from Australia who is as passionate about the environment as I and who told me I was the first person she’d met in America who cared about waste and who also carried her own utensils and cup. As it turned out, we also share a favorite band (The Cat Empire). I wish I had felt grounded enough to make these kinds of connections with strangers at Blogher.

Tuesday morning, I arose early for a bicycle tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike. Chicago is flat and eminently bikeable. What a fun way to see more of the city!

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

There’s that big blue sky again.

Chicago 2009-07

I spent the rest of the day on Tuesday walking around the city by myself and braving the Sears Willis Tower “Ledge.”

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

I got through this part without fainting, so I think I win. (Yes, it’s a real tattoo on my foot, in case you were going to ask.)

Chicago 2009-07

Wednesday morning came too soon. I could have stayed many more days. I’d have loved to have toured the Museum of Science and Industry’s Smart Home. And too bad I didn’t have time to drop in and say hi to my friend Oprah. But there’s just not enough time to do everything, is there?

I rode back to Midway Airport the same way I had arrived, on the Orange Line “L” Train.

Chicago 2009-07

Chicago 2009-07

Do all of these measures (walking, biking, taking public transit, reducing my waste) make up for the massive amount of emissions from flying to and from Chicago in the first place? No, of course not. I did carbon offset my flight miles. But why add emissions from driving cars to my carbon footprint when it’s so enjoyable to go slow and enjoy the view and fresh air from outside a motor car?
 



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11 comments
Josh Patel
Josh Patel

Your phots make me jealous. I wiah I had the time to take such a relaxing vacation.The pictures are fantastic.Just stumbled and submitted your site to Viralogy. Hope you get some great traffic from it. Your blog is here http://www.viralogy.com/blogs/my/7132- Josh

Molly
Molly

Yay Chicago! I live here. I love it. I love walking to the library (yeah gargoyles) and taking the bus everywhere. Ah, public transit, how wonderful you are. :-)

SusanB
SusanB

I used to live in Chicago -- it is a great liveable, walkable city with a wonderful public transportation network. Your pictures make me a bit homesick. Glad you had a good time there.

Clif
Clif

Hey, everyone, check to see if you have a local hostel then try to arrange some kind of conference in YOUR town to attract Beth, as she is a great conversationalist, a tireless walker. Even Canadian geese take to her (probably 'cause they don't use plastic). She might get you out to see something local you've never been to see, like Millennium Park in my case.I was afraid I would have to ask her to wear a mask so that people wouldn't be constantly coming up and asking for her autograph, but things worked out ok.It was surprising to see how litter-free our big city looked. Mayor Daley, for all his faults in looking the other way while cronies clean up (and I don't mean litter), has been a terrific mayor for this city. AND he is an avid bicycle rider.Beth, thank goodness you were here in nice weather. It's hot and humid out now and I am huddling by the air conditioner. Tell us again what make and model your camera is as it sure takes good sharp photos.

katecontinued
katecontinued

I heard that Chicago leads the way with green roofs. Was this evident in any way from your view via the Willis Tower?

Anna (Green Talk)
Anna (Green Talk)

Last year I was in Chicago and was blown away by all the plantings all over the downtown. One planting was prettier than the other. Did they do an amazing job again this year? You know I am gardening obsessed...Plus Chicago is so clean. Love that about a big city. Great pic. Nice foot tatoo.

John Costigane
John Costigane

Hi Beth,Your Chicago coverage was ace and a good help to any Zero Waste enthusiast planning a visit. The razor advice for flights is well taken. I have an unused plastic one as a spare.The negatives from the BlogHer event should merely be taken as a good lesson for future events. It is also great to see your many contacts and their number should increase with time.Like you, we find that green businesses are ignorant of the waste situation, with regard to plastic packaging. Good dialogue with them can explain our viewpoint and we in turn can promote their business success.

shot in the arm
shot in the arm

Beth, if you ever decide to come back and tour the Smart Home let me know and I'll go with you. Did you want me to send you the they give you for the room by room of products they use so you can see what they have done?Nice entries on your blog about your vacation time!!mel

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

Beth, your photos are amazing! It looks like you had a great time. I'm sorry you didn't feel comfortable enough to make those kind of connections at BlogHer. I made myself do it and I'm glad. I met a lot of great women who were just as upset about the trash and the drama as we were and are calling for change. I'm really impressed with how clean the L is. Just like Washington DC!

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Monkeyjen, the reason that pic looks different is because Clif took it with his camera. It's not photoshopped.Cannot go out. Need. To. Sleep.

monkeyjen
monkeyjen

did u photoshop yourself into that pic under Clif's pic?? JK, look like it a bit. cya!! Want to come to the El Rio tonight? Burlesque.....

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