Road Trippin’ … Chicago

The 2013 season could not have gotten off to a better start for the New England Revolution as the club spent this past weekend in Chicago.

Most important was the result, of course, as Kelyn Rowe came off the bench early in the second half to inspire the Revolution’s 1-0 win over the Fire. It was the first time the Revs won a season opener since 2009 – when they did it in San Jose – and it was their first regular-season victory in Chicago since July 2006. Any time you take three points home, it’s a good trip.

But I, along with a few other Revolution staffers, had the added bonus of experiencing a bit of the Windy City on a chilly Saturday morning as the players rested ahead of the evening kickoff.

From our hotel on Michigan Ave (in the Loop) we journeyed toward Millenium Park, passing the Art Institute of Chicago along the way. Perhaps on another trip I’ll have time to wander inside and explore the exhibits, but on this occasion we had other destinations in mind.

Our first stop was at the Crown Fountain, which features a pair of five-story glass brick towers using LEDs to display digital videos, primarily of Chicagoans faces. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, considering the chilly temperatures) the actual fountains are only operational from May to October, so there was no water spouting out the front of each tower. Still, it’s a fascinating interactive piece of artwork and attracted onlookers even in the snow.

Next we made our way down another block or two to one of Chicago’s most recognizable landmarks, Cloud Gate, more affectionately known as “The Bean.” It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s so special about The Bean, but the sheer size (33 x 66 x 42 feet and more than 100 tons) certainly has something to do with its magnetic appeal. The effect created by walking underneath the archway and looking up at the warped reflection is remarkable.

Because the most common activity at The Bean is to have your picture taken in the reflection, I naturally did just that with the Flag of New England displayed on my jacket; my own little way of representing the Revolution in Chicago.

As we continued our stroll, we passed by Buckingham Fountain (also noticeably lacking water), the centerpiece of Grant Park. Music fans will note that Grant Park has been the home of Lollapalooza since 2005 and having walked through the massive lawns, it’s easy to imagine why it’s such a popular festival.

Having worked up a bit of a hunger – and a bit of a chill after standing on the banks of Lake Michigan – we decided it was time for lunch. And we were in Chicago. So there was really only one option.

We headed toward Lou Malnati’s, which many a Chicagoan has recommended for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Admittedly, it was my first time having authentic Chicago-style deep dish and it didn’t disappoint. I went with “The Lou,” which included spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and three types of cheese. Sounds healthy, right? As healthy as deep dish gets, I suppose.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel satisfied with our first Road Trippin’ adventure. Was it touristy? Yes. But I am a tourist. I’m just looking for the experience. And I’m already looking forward to Philly …