Morning Run In Chicago


On the morning of Saturday, June 29, I woke up early. This is normal for me. I have an internal alarm clock. 

Quietly, I moved about the condo. Last thing, a grandfather wants to do is to clunk into something that might cause a sleeping grandchild to wake up early too.

When we travel, I always try to take my running shoes with me. If time allows, going for a run is a goal. This morning, I plan to take a run over to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

A few years ago, I also started carrying with me on trips the Upper Room. This is a magazine that publishes a daily devotional and scripture reading. People from around the world contribute devotionals. For me, the Upper Room has become my starting line. My new day always begins with this early morning read.

Before I head out, I scribble the address of the Lincoln Park condo on a small piece of paper and tuck it inside my running shorts pocket. If I were to croak on this run, at least the Chicago police would know where to drop the body bag.IMG_2121

I find my way down the three flights of stairs to the sidewalk. An unexpected, late Friday afternoon thunderstorm had scrubbed Lincoln Park. Dampness still hung in the air, and puddles waiting to be evaporated were hanging around. 

The Commander Supreme and I experienced that pounding rain first hand. We had the responsibility of getting Caroline and Hudson back to the condo from Ranalli’s, a neighborhood pizza restaurant. Lauren and Doug had arranged to meet friends there for a farewell gathering.IMG_2092

It’s not a long walk from the restaurant back to the condo. But, in this thunderstorm there was no immunity from getting soaked. I wondered what Caroline and Hudson thought about this from their stroller seats. Perhaps they were asking themselves— What are Nahna and Papa doing dashing us home in this downpour? We know they are getting older. Have they lost their minds? For those few minutes, I think we did lose our common sense.

I turn the corner at the River Shannon and head down Armitage. My old brain knows my route from previous Chicago runs. The neighborhood is quiet. There is very little traffic, so I can plod through intersections without difficulty.IMG_2132

I pass by the Hotel Lincoln and head into the park that surrounds the Lincoln Park Zoo. Vendors have been working to set up for the Green City Market. This is a farmers market with participants from Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. Later this morning, I know we’ll be returning to make some purchases. IMG_2108

Part of my path takes me off asphalt and concrete. There is a crushed stone service road that runs behind some athletic fields. The thunderstorm formed puddles here too, and I alter my steps to avoid a big splash.

The service road connects me to the North Avenue Beach foot bridge. A weather worn fortress that crosses me over Lakeshore Drive. Even though I am safely above the fast moving vehicles, I occasionally sense the sensation of the cars clipping me out at my feet— like a linebacker tripping the feet of a fleet running back. Clearly, I am no fleet running back.

I plod down the steps, and inch toward the Lakefront trail. I turn left, and head north.

All cities have faults, but it appears that the people of Chicago love the Lakefront Trail. And, it is apparent that Chicago attempts to take care of the trail and its adjoining green spaces. For example, the sandy beach on my right has received an early morning manicure. Clever mechanical engineers have designed a beach sweeper that can be pulled behind a tractor. The sweeper clears the beach of debris and rake the sand too.IMG_0588

Plodding along, I continue to gaze out on Lake Michigan. I know from its shoreline to its horizon the lake is full of stories. Just like the people out on the trail this morning—their lives are full of stories. Some of those stories have been told, and some will be tucked inside forever silent.


Still pushing north, I can’t get caught up in a daydream. Runners pass me. I pass walkers. Over time, mother nature has roughed up some sections of the concrete and asphalt surfaces that my feet pound. I alternate between hard surface and a narrow shoulder of crushed stone. 

My turnaround point is Diversey Harbor, and a landmark that I always thought was a windmill. This piece of landscape art is actually a metal sculpture named Chevron by John Henry, a Chicago artist. Made of steel and painted a shade of Chicago Cub blue, its placement seems to fit well into the trail.

My brain charts out the loop for turning me around and pointing me south.

On the way back, I note several places where wet sand runoff from Friday’s thunderstorm has captured imprints of footprints from runners and walkers.   Even the pattern from my aging running shoes leave an imprint. But then I reason, my mark on the wet sand is only temporary. Soon another pair of foot prints will come along and cover me up.

A few years ago, I remember taking a morning run on the Lakefront Trail, and I caught a glimpse of a runner’s t-shirt. I have never forgotten the printed words:  “Have you exercised your faith today?”

Now that is a tough question. 

One that I have never ever considered.

I consistently attempt to exercise each week. My reason for the exercise is I don’t want my doctor fussing at me when I have my annual physical.

But, how many times during a week do I exercise my faith? What does exercising my faith look like? Is this something I do automatically without thinking, or do I need a prompt, a reason?

I know one thing for sure, at age 66 my time left on the trails of life is just as fleeting as my footprint disappearing on wet sand. I can watch those seconds tick away on any pedestrian crosswalk clock too.


But, I think that is the point, I shouldn’t watch those seconds tick away. I need to exercise my faith, and that means movement.

James Chapter 2, verse 17 makes it clear:  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

I wonder how many days I have lived with a dead, no action faith?

I’m pretty sure I need to make a faith course correction.

The real question is will I?

Chicago: Goodbye 1947 North Hudson


On the morning of Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 6:01 a.m. we departed Richmond bound for Chicago. Nice way to spend my birthday—a long 13 hour road trip. 

We had a good reason for making the trip. Our oldest daughter, Lauren, husband, Doug, and two children, Caroline and Hudson are moving to Raleigh, North Carolina. We are going to help with the final staging of the move. The moving company arrives on July 2.

It is the perfect storm. 

At the center of the storm is one of our least favorite words—change. Leaving your Chicago comfort zone is also about courage. The courage to realize that winters in Chicago punch hard and wear you out. Taxes in the windy city are blood pressure boiling high. No public elementary school is in close proximity to their current home. And last, but certainly not least—crime. As I’m writing this 21 have been shot in Chicago, two died, and the weekend isn’t over. 

No doubt change is difficult, but in this case, I think it makes sense.

And speaking of change, the start of our journey this morning also involves change—the Commander Supreme is in the driver’s seat. She takes the first leg from Richmond to the West Virginia Welcome Center.

Day Lillies West Virginia Welcome Center

I take over there as we push through the those humbling hills and twisting turns of I-64 and the West Virginia Turnpike. North of Charleston, we pick up US 35 that will take us into Ohio. US 35 is a good distraction minus the almost 14 mile stretch where it shrinks down into two lanes.

All along the way, construction projects have slowed us down, but never put us at a standstill. Further along on US 35, an accident slowed us a bit. A flat bed loaded with construction materials slid across a wide median.

We pulled into a rest stop, and the Commander Supreme took back over.

Somewhere well before Dayton, the sky was beginning to darken in front of us.  I texted our son, Andrew, for an update. We were driving into a strong storm with flash flood potential. But, the good news was he expected the storminess to be short-lived.

Storm in front of us on US 35.

At about the same time, our youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was attempting to land in Minneapolis for a business meeting. The weather was too stormy to land. They were diverted to Fargo, North Dakota.  

The sky darkened more, gust of wind swayed a few trees back and forth, on the horizon lightning flashed, and then we entered the fray. For several miles it was a car washer rain. Even baked on bird poop was pounded off. 

Traffic slowed, lots of drivers pulled over. We put on our emergency flashers, quickened the slapping of the windshield wipers, and crept like a turtle. Gradually, the rain let up, and in the distance the sky’s darker shades of gray begin to lighten.

Traffic was heavy as we exited US 35 and connected with our next interstate. The Commander kept driving until we were on the other side of Indianapolis. We stopped for gas, and I-65 home of 18 wheelers became my focus.

Gradually, we hooked a westward left, said goodbye to Indiana, and connected to the Chicago Skyway.

It is the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge also known as the High Bridge that conveys poet Carl Sandburg’s words calling Chicago the “City of the broad shoulders.” Crossing this massive steel framed bridge feels like we are sitting on broad shoulders. Sandburg’s description fits.

Without too much conflict, we amble our way to Lakeshore Drive. Traffic is heavy-stop and go through lots of traffic lights. Eventually, we exit on to Lasalle and make the proper merges without a harsh beep from a local. 

But, I confess, I did break the traffic laws at one point. At a busy intersection that had no left turn traffic light, I made a left turn on red. Of course, the Commander Supreme wasn’t happy. I’m sure the traffic engineers for the city are top-notched, but they got this intersection wrong—it needs a left turn traffic light.

Over on North Hudson, our son-in-law, had us a parking space scoped out. It was the biggest parking space I have ever seen in Chicago. I didn’t need to parallel park!

With Doug’s help, we unloaded the car, pulled our road trip stiff bodies up the stairs, and were promptly greeted by Lauren, Caroline, and Hudson.