Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicago Trip - 31st Street Harbor


A beautiful Saturday for boating - and the congested burns waterway to go with it!
Saturday, Aug. 27: We woke up to a beautiful, calm morning and decided to take advantage of the great weather and lake forecast and take a cruise to Chicago for the day! Our previous harbor master, Gina, had moved to 31st Street Harbor in Chicago so we decided to pay her a visit and stay the night docked at 31st street.

Our route from Burns Waterway to 31st Street Harbor
31st Street Harbor is just South of downtown, so we took our bikes along so that we'd be able to have Ben's favorite Chicago pizza for dinner. It was wonderful to be out cruising on a perfect day, and we spent a lot of time marveling at the crystal-clear, caribbean-blue water.

Bikes strapped on the back of the boat
Flat seas and Chicago in the distance - perfect day for boating on Lake Michigan
Choppy nearing the city
It's a short 26 mile trip to Chicago, and with the smooth lake conditions we got there within an hour. When we arrived we called Gina at the harbor and secured a slip for the night on G Dock, a little away from most of the other boats (just like G Dock in our home marina!). 31st Street Harbor just opened this summer, so it was probably only at 50% of capacity. For our boat it was $80 for the night, which is a great deal for our hotel-on-the-water in the city.

Entering 31st Street Harbor
Tied up on G Dock!
After settling in and getting our personal access code for the facilities, we went off in search of the bike trail to get some exercise and then top it off with dinner downtown. Well we didn't have to go far for the bike trail. You would never know it from inside the harbor, but just outside the gate is a lively beach and the bike trail (filled with families in this stretch of trail) is just around the corner.

The bike trail along Lake Shore Drive - Soldier Field in sight
About 5 miles up the trail, I think that's Oak Street Beach
We ended up riding about 6 miles north on the trail to North Avenue Beach before giving in to the mid-day sun and heat and turning around back toward downtown & dinner! We took the trail in through Navy Pier, and then down a flight of stairs on the other side of the river.

Riding back toward downtown - bridge over the Chicago river
And finally we ended up at Giordano's in Prudential Plaza, right off Michigan Avenue. They had an outdoor patio, so we tied our bikes up right outside the patio and were able to keep an eye on them while we enjoyed our dinner.

Ben's favorite - Giordano's Pizza
Dana's favorite - bruschetta
After dinner, we detoured through Millennium Park and over the new bridge connecting Millennium Park & Lake Shore Drive. It had cooled down a bit, so the ride back was much nicer :-)

A boy, his boat, and the city
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and enjoying the quiet marina atmosphere, and taking in the views from the 2nd story park built over the harbor house & parking garage.

The park & walkway on the 2nd level of harbor
Quiet night at the marina
The water was so clear in the harbor
We've been making it a point this year to wake up for sunrise to take photos (even though we usually go right back to sleep!) Some of our favorite photos have been taken during the time right before the sun rises - it seems everything is most beautiful during this time of day. Today though, despite the gorgeous sky at sunrise, a huge storm system was making it's way toward Chicago & Northwest Indiana so we only had a couple hours to enjoy the quiet of the morning. We cruised back in calm seas and noticed we still had awhile until the storm looked like it would hit, so we anchored outside Ogden Dunes for a nap on the sun pads before heading back to dock.

Just before sunrise on our dock
Sunrise at 31st street harbor, Chicago