Day 50

Chi-town, Willie Parker and the National Geographic Girl

Brick townhouses on North Cleaver St, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Brick townhouses on North Cleaver St, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Motel 6 Prospect Heights to Killarney Lutheran Camp


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Day 50 - Chi-town. Chicago, Illinois. Home of my man Kanye and the notorious Al Capone. I started rolling through the leafy suburbs and into town where the architecture changed to industrial brick terrace with steps and basements I’d only seen in movies, music clips and the cartoon “Hey Arnold!”. Following the expressway I caught the fabulous Chicago Skyline and parked off the Miracle Mile and walked down to Millennium Park. The old industrial and new buildings forming a pleasant contrast proving it’s stood the rest of time and will into the future. The Trump Hotel in typical prime position with its imposing glamour. But the real star of the show was a man named Willie Parker. He sat in the sun greeting passers by politely. Cup in hand he wasn’t out to make a statement. I decided to head back to him and ask if I could take a seat beside him. “Of course man”, he replied. As I searched for my dollar bill, I asked about how long he’d been homeless. “Since July last year, I had it through a whole winter!”, amazed at how he achieved that with so little he held out something from his coat, “you just always gotta have your bus pass. Always gotta have your bus pass”. He uses it to get to the Shelters, if he can’t get a spot he hordes the transport to keep warm and grab some sleep. He had his phone stolen when he did. As I fumbled my pockets he saw my blue Canadian $5. “Hey, I have one just like that!”. He reveals his wallet with a single blue 5. I explained what it was and he looked at me puzzled “I thought this was fake! You’re saying I can get money for this?”. I told him he could go to the exchange and get 3-4 bucks. He nodded in agreement and I handed him mine. “Exchange them both while you’re there”. We shook hands, grabbed his email and felt I’d had a taste of the true Chicago. Later, I’d battle the maniac expressway out, hit the bumps of the degrading Michigan roads and have my headlight collapse due to them. I cable tied it back on and headed to camp intrigued by the culture shift as I head further East.

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