Chicago, Great Lakes and the Sad Case of Cincinnati

We decided to take a detour to Chicago since I’ve never seen the city before.  We took the non-toll road route which lead us right through the ghetto. When I say ghetto, I mean the kinds you see in hip hop videos. I was glued to the window in as subtle a way as I could manage. These were nothing like that I was familiar with in Florida. I don’t want to get too descriptive here, but I can see why people are afraid to go into these areas. I have never been worried about “ghetto” areas since I spent a lot of time in them with my friends in Florida, but my GOSH. These places are run down, homeless people everywhere, and lots of angry looking young men walking around.

Getting into Chicago was otherwise unimpressive but as soon as we were actually in the city I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the window (yet again).  The city was jam packed with buildings that reached up past the window frame; I had to roll it down and stick my head out to see the tops. I started smiling uncontrollably. Not that I like cities, but seeing these buildings and crowds of people milling around, cars bumper to bumper and so many things going on at once made a big impact on me. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the streets, the mixture of old and new architecture and- the coolest thing- the lake! I’ve never seen any of the Great Lakes before. I thought maybe we were at the ocean until I reminded myself of my geography lessons and realized I was staring at a gigantic inland body of water. There were sailboats, a beach and sunbathers, which just added to the illusion of the ocean.

We got a little lost because the GPS kept losing its signal so we never made it to the place we originally came to Chicago for- a local-suggested pizza place. In each place we’ve been we’ve tried the local food if it’s known for something in particular (seafood in Washington and Alaska, poutine in Canada, hopefully Chicago-style pizza in Chicago) but no luck here

Disappointed about missing out on the food fare, we got back on the road. It didn’t take us long to get lost again (thanks, GPS) and ending up in the ghetto, in an even worse area than before. I kept wanting to stop at all the little restaurants, all of them claiming to have the best soul food, or homemade like mama, or fried chicken but we weren’t sure good of a decision that would be with all our things in the car, so we kept to ourselves.

It took a few hours to get to Ohio. We were supposed to go all the way to Kentucky to camp at red River Gorge so we could climb. However, Steve’s friend, Justin, who was joining us to climb in Kentucky, lives in Cincinnati, which is along the way, so we decided to stay overnight and head out in the morning.  We pulled into his place by the university at about midnight.  After settling in, I was informed that we were in the most dangerous neighborhood in the city. I was told if I walked outside, it would be lucky if I returned.  There is a shooting every night in the vicinity of his house

Oh goody.

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