Wake Time: 6:00am
Breakfast: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Ending Time: 2:00pm (approx)
Starting Area: 18th St. & Clark St., Chicago, IL
Weather: Sunny & Warm
Apparel: Improper Clothing & Footwear
(Note: Please watch video in proof files for full effect.)
We've been in SF0 for a little while now, and we've always wanted to do the Dérive but never knew where or when. Well, it turned out that Kristin got the 3rd of July off, which she didn't know until she drove to her office to find the gates were closed, but regardless we had the day off and we decided to go to Chicago and do a Dérive, seeing as you all are probably sick of Schaumburg.
The origin was Chinatown, and the destination was uncertain. Parking in Chinatown for longer than the 2 hours meters permit is fairly difficult, so we parked nearby enough to walk. Before we even parked, Kristin noticed an old bridge in the distance... Tall, dark & calling our name.
And so we started. A short jaunt across an overpass revealed a very old staircase, potentially tetanus-inducing, but the quickest way down to the train tracks that led to the bridge.
Now on the ground level, we understood that the stairs we had taken were not meant for pedestrian travel, as we suddenly found ourselves on private property. As we walked towards the bridge we considered our options. This was where we had intended to go and now that we had arrived and taken note of the security measures of the bridge, which included a no trespassing sign and cameras.. should we turn around? At this point Kristin turned to Steve and said "Are we going to cross this thing or what?" which required no response.
A look to the right told us that a Metra train was travelling on a cross-track and probably would not be a threat to our mission. The bridge was treacherous, and dappled throughout with rust. We crossed successfully. The only incident having been a slip on Steve's part due to improper footwear (flip-flops, of course.)
Once on the other side we were met with opposition. Surrounded by train tracks in every direction but one, with a freight train passing by and the remaining side housing a fence to keep us where we were. A decision had to be made. The other side of the fence seemed a friendly area, suitable for walking & exploring. Sweet, sweet Ping Tom Memorial Park. Not that we knew what it was before we jumped the fence.
Under Steve's careful tutelage, Kristin was more than capable of hopping over the fence, skirt & all. From the other side she watched as Steve chose to make use of a nearby tree, mysteriously placed on the same side of the fence as the train tracks, almost intentionally...
In any case, Ping Tom Park is awesome, you should check it out some time. After following the rivers edge around the park, we ran into a fence. Not literally, I just mean it was clearly blocking our path. On the other side we could see a mattress & so we decided.. there must be a way through.
Traveling up the fence we noticed, on our right, a playground, currently attended by housewives & children. On our left there was a gate, with a very large gap between the doors and a sign that told us that we were entering what was formerly 'Ping Tom Dump' which was apparently an illegal dump cleaned up & closed by the city. Whilst wondering whether or not the housewives care enough to take action we went ahead and ducked through the gap in the fence before our chance was lost.
We discovered a very colorful mysterious pile of rubble (which from far away looked like a very colorful mysterious pile of mattresses), a mysterious pile of branches, and a bridge covered in graffiti. We were attracted to the bridge and started heading towards it when suddenly our noses detected the smell of a small bonfire. Keeping in mind that the city's homeless population is out of control.. and that we were in an off limits area, we decided it would be safer to turn around and find an ulterior route.
Over a hill and round a path we found more train tracks. Once again, we were far too close to them for this to be somewhere we were supposed to go. Much meandering and skylarking was disrupted by the spotting of a building that looked like it may contain train conductors, guards, dogs, etc. that we did not want to meet. So we turned the other way, which brought us very close to a parking lot for what looked like city construction vehicles.
At this point a yellow truck drove by & the driver looked our way. His truck stopped. Kristin & Steve exchanged glances.
Steve: "I think we should duck behind these trees"
The drivers truck reversed and then moved forward again and after waiting approximately five minutes we moved along between some train tracks and a baseball field. After seeing the most lonely baseball ever, long ago abandoned after a foul ball went awry, we found a hole in the fence and decided to cease our trespassing.
Now on the right side of the fence, things were less exciting but safer, both for our criminal record and our feet. My advice for future Dérive participants is this: wear good shoes. If you're going to really go for it, long pants are nice when walking through weeds. Skirts and shorts are not a good idea. Kristin was pulling little prickles off of the inside of her skirt through the remainder of the afternoon.
We made our way back towards Chinatown, walking briefly on the same bridge that had the rusty staircase, then passing the "ritzy" areas and moving towards the center of tourism. Foot and vehicular traffic was dense, it was hot (sunburns ensued!), horns were honked and our feet were not pleased.
After going through the commercial district, we spotted a unique looking structure inside the gates of an apartment complex. How could we not look into it further? So, in we went. We followed the path through and then out of the complex, ending up in residential area, which was pleasant and a little more run-down. We saw the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (unfortunately, it was closed) and a large sign which happily informed us of where we were: Here. Good to know.
Circling back around we found ourselves again in the center of Chinatown. After being pulled in by shiny objects in various shop windows, we were about to call it quits, and head back to the car. We walked once again on the bridge with the rusty staircase, this time passing over old Ping Tom Park. But wait! Kristin really wanted to Find Roof Access, so we ventured on to an area that had many old, abandoned buildings in the hopes of finding said access.
Unfortunately we met no success. Every building we passed was either being worked on, or was actively in use, or was completely lacking an external staircase. Not being properly attired, we decided that another day would be better for this task. However, we did see some neat stuff, strange graffiti (tofu tofu?) and had a good time.
After it was all over, we hopped in the car to nearby Humboldt Park to relax and eat pizza (of course).
It was a good day. Enjoy the many many pictures!