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A day out of the city

Chicago VT meet day two

View Chicago VT meet on ToonSarah's travel map.

View of the Du Page river on the Riverwalk in Naperville

I slept poorly, mainly due to the time difference, waking hourly from soon after midnight, and was wide awake by 5.00 AM. I hung on in bed until 6.00, then gave up and got up.

I met my friend Isa in the lobby as arranged at 7.45 and we grabbed a quick coffee from the free dispenser then went to catch a bus to Union Station. From there we were to catch a train to Naperville to meet up with another friend, and meeting host, Rich. The first bus was full so by the time we got to the station it was a rush to get our tickets and find the platform, but we did manage to grab a few photos of the iconic station building.

Union Station

After all that the train left a little late! It was about an hour to Naperville and we passed the time happily chatting and catching up on news since we last saw each other in Norway in May. When it was time to get off I managed to slip and fall by the exit, but luckily wasn’t too badly hurt, just bruised!


Rich was at the station to meet us. The plan was to see something of his hometown, Naperville, and then drive out to the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan. Naperville is named for its founder, Joseph Naper, who according to Wikipedia was a man of many trades:

‘an early Illinois pioneer, ship captain, shipbuilder, businessman, surveyor, state militia officer, soldier, politician, and city planner’

Naper’s Settlement, later to be renamed Naperville, was one of the first communities to be established west of Fort Dearborn, in what is now Chicago. It lies on the banks of the DuPage river.

We started our visit in part of downtown where we took a few photos and also were able to get a proper coffee, and in my case a late breakfast muffin. Among other sights here we saw an unusual statue of a young Abraham Lincoln in the city’s Central Park. It was installed here in 2018 and depicts him as he was aged 30, when he served in the Illinois State Legislature alongside Joseph Napier.

Laughing Lincoln

When we'd finished our short walk around downtown we drove over to the area that borders the Du Page river, parking outside the public library. There my eye was caught by the distinctive sculpture by the library’s entrance. Titled ‘Reading Children’, I at first thought only the girl was reading. On closer inspection I saw that the boy was too, while also doing a handstand!


Reading Children, Naperville Public Library

The Riverwalk

From the library we had an enjoyable walk on both sides of the DuPage river, along the town’s riverwalk. The Naperville Riverwalk was created in 1981 to mark the 150th anniversary of Joseph Naper’s settlement. It offers a pleasant place for walking, jogging and relaxing in the heart of the city. As well as offering pretty river views there are a number of features along the route, including lots of public art. And it provides access to leisure facilities such as boating in an old quarry, picnic and barbeque areas, an amphitheatre for performances and more.

Public art on the Riverwalk

At several points along the path covered bridges link the two banks. They provide lovely views of the river.

One of the covered bridges

As the name suggests, the Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon were built to mark the turn of the millennium in 2000. The bell tower stands 158 feet tall with 253 steps and 72 bells. The largest bell, nicknamed ‘Big Joe’ for Joseph Naper, weighs six tons. This carillon is said to be one of the four largest in the United States. Nearby is a sculpture of Margaret and Harold Moser, a couple who played a vital role in the growth and development of Naperville.

The Moser Tower and Carillion, and Moser memorial

The Shanower Memorial was named for Naval Commander Dan Shanower, a Naperville native who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. It was one of the first memorials in the U.S. dedicated to lives lost that day. The memorial includes more than 140 faces moulded into a 48-foot wall that were created by Naperville schoolchildren to symbolise the casualties. Nearby a steel beam from the World Trade Centre rests on a pillar with an engraved memorial to those from the emergency response services who were killed. Also incorporated are 100 pounds of rubble from the damaged portion of the Pentagon, and granite from the Pennsylvania region where Flight 93 crashed after passengers took on the hijackers. A bench next to the memorial carries the slogan, ‘Freedom isn’t free’, the title of an article written by Commander Shanower.


The Shanower Memorial

After our walk we drove out to Rich's house where we enjoyed a cold drink in the garden with his wife Sue, whom I hadn't seen for eleven years! After chatting for a while we left to drive to the Indiana Dunes.

With Rich and Isa in Rich and Sue's garden (photo taken by Sue)

Indiana Dunes State Park

It was quite a long drive to the Dunes, with some roadworks to slow us down. Once there we parked and walked down to the water where Rich encouraged us to dip our feet in the lake! He'd even come prepared with towels!



At Indiana Dunes State Park

We considered having a late lunch here but it didn't especially appeal and Rich had spotted a branch of his favourite local fast food chain, Culvers, just a few miles away. We drove over there, and it lived up to his recommendation, with real meat and real cheese in the sandwiches, and friendly service.

Heading back to the city

After our meal Rich drove us back towards the city and a stop at the University of Chicago where we saw the Rockefeller Chapel, built in the Gothic Revival style between 1925 and 1928. Unfortunately it was just closing for the day but we were able to pop inside for a few quick photos.

Inside the Rockerfeller Chapel

The Rockerfeller Chapel, and the Carillion tower nearby

Our last stop was at the Museum Campus for great views of the city skyline. Rich then dropped us back at the hotel. It was after six by now, and we were both tired but had thoroughly enjoyed the day!


View from the Museum Campus

In the evening we decided to have just a light meal, as lunch had been so late (and quite large). We went to Etta across the road where I’d eaten yesterday and chose a table outside as it was a lovely mild evening. We both had salads, mine with burrata. Amelie had recently arrived from Canada and joined us for ice cream.

When we got back to the hotel Steve had arrived from Australia and was having a drink in the lobby bar, so we sat and chatted with him for a while. By the time I returned to my room it was 10.00 PM, and I was able, although tired, to stay up another half hour or so to get back into a more normal sleep pattern.

Posted by ToonSarah 07:51 Archived in USA Tagged monument views church river city chicago friends sculpture dunes virtual_tourist

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Glad to see some familiar names and faces here.
Just one slight quibble: the name of the station is "Union Station", without the word "Street". There is a Union Street in Chicago, and a Union Avenue, but they have nothing to do with the station.

by Nemorino

Looks like a fun day.

by irenevt

What a marvelous day you and Isa had with Rich. Thankyou for the text and photos which help so vividly to bring alive for me the trip I had to miss.

by Yvonne Dumsday

Thank you Don, I've corrected that (funnily enough I'd written Union Station in my notes but thought I'd omitted 'Street' so added it!)

It was indeed a fun day Irene :) Such a shame you couldn't make the meet Yvonne, I'm sure you would have enjoyed it.

by ToonSarah

Looks like a great day with a bunch of really nice people.

by Beausoleil

It was indeed Sally!

by ToonSarah

What a lovely day, I wish I could have been there with you! :)

by hennaonthetrek

You would have enjoyed this meet Henna. Will you come to Kotor next May?

by ToonSarah

Hoping to come but I am still owing guys shifts for our upcoming trip so I am not sure how keen they are to cover up for me again so soon :/

by hennaonthetrek

Fingers crossed 🤞 Henna!

by ToonSarah

What a great first day and thanks for taking us to Naperville through your words and beautiful pictures! :)

by Ils1976

Glad you enjoyed seeing it Ils 😃

by ToonSarah

sure did! :)

by Ils1976

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