I made sure to pack only what I could carry. Meaning, with me, the kids, and the wheelchair (any combination of wheeling, towing, and carrying).
We took the train to Chicago--the girls have never been on a train before! I love the train. (I do not like flying). The staff at Union Station (DC) were so friendly and helpful--especially useful as I have never navigated the train station with a wheelchair before. (Aside: thanks to all the readers here who recommended bringing Elena's wheelchair; it was an absolute must.)
|Girls on the Train|
|Arrived in Chicago!|
I had heard the Tall Ships were coming through Lake Michigan on the radio about a year ago and wanted to see them--which was a main reason for this trip. My sister living in the city made the trip easy and fun! We also go to visit some friends, and enjoy the city (even if it rained a bunch).
|Girls on a Ship|
|Ready the Cannons! Spanish Galleon was our favorite ship.|
|Sisters on the Navy Pier|
Navigating Chicago was challenging. I decided not to take the El, as I'd never used it before and wasn't sure how to go about it with the chair and Elena's crutches, so we traveled either on foot (lots of walking, but at least it was mostly flat; I was happy to lean on the chair given my bad knee) or by Uber (first time using it; drivers were wonderful!). Elena rode a lot in the chair because we all thought walking those long distances would tire her out once we got to a destination. That was both right and wrong, as we learned once we got to New York.
|Center of my Universe (at the Planetarium)|
We were lucky enough to see some friends while we were there! It was so lovely to visit with the Bs and the Ts! Thanks JB for the donuts (OMG Stan's!) and the good times with the Tribe, especially at the aquarium.
|Fountains. Viv got soaked.|
The best lessons I learned from this first leg of the trip were: trains are (still) fantastic, always bring the wheelchair, Uber is great, Chicago food is amazing (I already knew that), and be sure to hang out with people who know the city if you can. Everyone we met was very kind. When Chicago weather is good, there is a lot to do and explore. And walking 3-7 miles per day hauling everything with a bad knee is rough.
|Finding the Cupcake ATM was probably Viv's favorite part. Can you tell?|
Huge thanks to Aunt Kate, who was our guide and helper throughout the city, as well as The Tribe, who knows how to navigate with kids/equipment!