“Do one thing, every day, that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
If you come around now and again, you may already know how much I love Chicago. Its history, its past and its present are all fascinating to me. I first visited the city when I was twelve. I’ve been mesmerized by it ever since.
As a mecca for designers and architects, Chicago is a vibrant town. It is proof of how long range planning and innovation make for a sustainable environment. That those plans were put into effect in the nineteenth century, yet still continue to be as relevant today as they were then, is amazing to me.
I jump at any chance I get to visit. Last week, I attended the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. I saw lots of interesting new products, hung out with some of my favorite people and met a lot of new friends. I took an extra day, after the show, to interview for graduate school and to knock one thing off my bucket list.
Many years ago, I went to the observation floor of the Sears Tower. Last summer, I was in town with for another trade show when some of my travel companions took the time to head over to the Willis Tower. Guess what? They are the same place! New name, same great views, but with one recently added bonus.
After a serious bout with a crisis of confidence this winter, I decided I wasn’t going to live in fear of anything anymore. Heading to lunch one sunny day in March, I took the exterior elevator to the Sun Dial restaurant at the Westin Hotel in Atlanta. I’ve done that before too, but this time I almost lost it. I had a moment of panic. It was ridiculous, but I had this feeling that the elevator wasn’t attached to the building. I was comforted a little by the fact that the two gentlemen riding with me felt exactly the same way. The views that day were absolutely stunning. They made the ride worth it, but after I ate, I took the interior elevator back down. I didn’t want to lose my lunch.
Cue Chicago and the Willis Tower. The Skydeck is on the 103rd floor, 1353 feet in the air. I was going to experience its Ledges for the first time. They are a marvel of glass and steel, and you can read all about them here. I’m not delivering a history lesson today, or a treatise on the brilliance of engineers and architects. The website covers all of that. I’m here to give you my view and share my feelings about a day with no fear.
First fab and unexpected thing? Sweater bombed balls. It was pleasantly chilly that day. They needed a sweater. I needed long johns.
After winding through the exhibits along the journey to the Skydeck – I didn’t stop to read a thing! – I hopped on the elevator with excitement. The first glimpse you get is of the north shore of Lake Michigan and the popular River North area. Or, fog. I saw a lot of fog.
|To the South Side|
|Looking Towards Indiana|
|The Loop and the Edge of Millennium Park
|The Hancock Tower in the Fog|
The experience is set up like a racetrack. There are a lot of left turns before you get to the finish line. Here’s where it got fun. I wasn’t antsy at all. In fact, I was the opposite. I couldn’t wait for people to move out of the way!
|These PeopleBut then, I saw…|
|And These Girls|
All I could do was stand and watch them with a sense of awe and wonder. If they felt fear, they conquered it as a team. It may sound odd, but they gave me so much hope for the future. Amazing!
|I Wasn’t Afraid, I Was Ecstatic!|
|It Was a Human Fishbowl, 1353 Feet in the Air|
|A Look Down and Left|
I had no intention of sharing the next photo with anyone, but in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, it became my Twitter avatar later that day.
|No Shower, No Makeup, No Fear|
I moved out of other people’s way, and decided to sit on the floor along the back of the elevator bank while waiting for the fog to clear. I sat there for an hour, maybe more. It was worth every second. Don’t you think?
|The North Shore|
|The South Shore|
If I hadn’t had the appointment for my interview, I would have stayed until the sun went down. I would love to camp out up there to watch how the city changes over time. It was the best $17.50 I’ve spent in a very, very long time.
I had to laugh as I left the building. My thoughts went straight to Banksy’s film Exit Through the Gift Shop. I didn’t need a souvenir. I already had exactly what I came for!
All Photos © Fine Life, 2012