Not to beat a dead horse, but ... I know that I’ve talked about my recent Chicago trip a couple of times, but really only in general terms. I’ve never shared what I actually did while there and thought you might want to hear the highlights. In any event, as my life is sort of boring lately — due to the pandemic (or, at least, that’s what I tell myself) — I have to squeeze this trip dry.

(I’ll probably quit with the clichés now, you’ll be happy to know.)

An enormous inflatable fun house was the first thing that greeted me as I pulled onto my daughter’s street after the long drive to Chicago. Yes, one of those bouncy houses that you see at fairs and carnivals. Apparently, some neighbors had decided to have a block party of sorts. It would have been a more enjoyable sight — who doesn’t like fun? — except that it was blocking the one-way street, which was narrow anyway because of parked cars lining both sides.

I escaped down an alley (after a close encounter with another vehicle going the opposite way), went around the block, found a place to park and then didn’t move my vehicle until I left several days later. My daughter drove everywhere we went — and I’m sure she was happy to do so as the alternative was riding with me in the driver’s seat in the city.

So, where did we go?

We spent one morning at a magnificent farmers market, set up on a grassy area in the midst of the city. It was just one of a number of farmers markets set up around the city. In addition to the incredible selection of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads and pastries, I loved looking at the amazing variety of people and dogs wandering around.

Another oasis in the middle of the city where we spent time was my daughter’s garden plot in a community garden. I’ve never been to a community garden in a city; it was worth seeing. In addition to numerous individual plots managed by people like my daughter, there was a section dedicated to gardening for and by refugees, and another section where food was raised for food banks.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, which is outside of Chicago, was another one of our destinations. I have been to botanical gardens, but this was a botanical garden on steroids! Walking paths connected various sections of the attraction, such as areas dedicated to roses, prairie plants and bulb plants.

A model railroad garden featured numerous toy trains running on tracks around a collection of “sets” that mimicked famous sights in America, such as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. Another one of my favorite areas of the garden featured fruit trees, some of which were manipulated into arches and others made to grow flat against a wall, looking 2-D instead of 3-D. And a whole area was dedicated to bonsai trees. Did you know that bonsai trees are not all the same variety?

You probably did; I’m probably the only one who never noticed that there are many different kinds of bonsai trees and that bonsai is simply the art of dwarfing and training a tree, any kind of tree.

Other destinations with my daughter included two nurseries, one of which was about two blocks long.

Most of the places that we went are not typical touristy destinations, but they were great pandemic-appropriate activities. In fact, they were just great activities, period.

Yes, a great time was had by all. (You didn’t really think that I could avoid one last cliché, did you?)

Readers may contact Sybrant at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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