This week’s stops:
- Chicago and the Chicago suburbs
Hello to everyone following the Long Long RV Trip journey and thanks for coming along with me. Today I want to talk about Chicagoland RVing and my experiences moochdocking in the Chicago burbs.
When last we left off I had departed Kansas City. Again. After doubling back and a very harrowing week involving an explosive blowout and saying goodbye to a beloved pet.
I had a lot to think over on the 8-hour drive from my friend Tom’s house near Kansas City to my friend Craig’s house near Chicago.
When it comes to Chicagoland RVing, or RVing near any big city for that matter, it’s hard to beat moochdocking. I was lucky to have a friend with a big wide driveway next to a beautiful suburban Chicagoland home.
Don’t worry if moochdocking is not available to you. I give some other Chicagoland RVing options below.
Chicagoland RVing: Moochdocking in the “burbs”
I was still having electrical problems with my trailer. But Craig, a professional mechanic with RV experience, had told me to hold off on any RV repairs as he might be able to fix them himself.
After getting parked in the large level driveway, I moved into one of the house’s spare bedrooms until he could get a chance to evaluate the problem.
As a side note, Craig and I have a unique bond, and there is an extremely unusual backstory to our friendship. This friendship has now spanned over 10 years, even though we only met in person for the first time earlier this year while he was on a cross-country motorcycle trip. For anyone curious, details are in this recent NBC news story.
Rising fuel costs and procrastinating on planning
I had every intention of fully re-evaluating my plans when I arrived in Chicago. Besides the emotional loss of re-homing my dog for his own good, the Long Long RV Trip was becoming much more expensive than I had anticipated.
Fuel prices were through the roof. Colorado and Kansas were only slightly more reasonable, but Missouri and Illinois were nearly as bad as California was when I began the journey.
Some of the country’s worst prices were in the states on my original intended return route: the Dakotas, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California.
New England, where I was headed next, was not much better. I might have to re-route.
Craig convinced me to put off the decisions until after the 4th of July, and to relax and stay put for at least the next few weeks.
In the meantime, we would sightsee and do some truck and trailer repairs.
That would also allow time to help his friends, who owned the house where I was moochdocking, prepare for the out-of-town guests who would soon be arriving for the neighborhood’s weekend-long annual Independence Day bash.
It sounded good to me. Especially since I also needed time to look for a used truck cap for my pickup.
Best Chicagoland RVing spots if you can’t moochdock
If you are not lucky enough to have such hospitable friends near Chicago, there are RVing options within reasonable distance of the city.
These include three county parks in Cook County:
- Camp Reinberg in Palatine, IL.
- Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest, IL.
- Camp Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs, IL.
If you venture further out to some of the communities surrounding Chicago, such as Joliet, or in DuPage County, you’ll find many more options including commercial campgrounds. You’ll be further from the city but still within easy accessibility of trains to take you there and back.
If you want to get into urban RVing, there’s even a parking lot right IN downtown Chicago where you can park for a night, albeit without hookups. For more information visit the McCormick Place website.
Likewise, it is pretty easy to get around the city and surrounding areas without a vehicle. You can even buy a “super saver pass” that gives you free access to roam among the systems.
This means that if you find a camping or moochdocking spot, you can leave your RV and vehicle behind and still tour Chicago.
A classic downtown Chicago day
The next morning my friend and I boarded one of those CTA trains and went downtown.
After locating the start of Route 66 for a photo op, and marveling at the iconic Chicago architecture and skyline, we walked to Buckingham Fountain. It was even more impressive in person than it is in the opening credits of Married with Children.
We then strolled along the picturesque Lake Michigan waterfront, watching boaters and swimmers.
There are so many great museums and attractions to choose from in this area: the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago History Museum, and more.
Eventually we settled on the Shedd Aquarium.
Communing with nature and Chicago art and architecture at the Shedd Aquarium
A neoclassical temple of white marble and terracotta, Neptune’s trident capping the Shedd Aquarium’s glass dome gives a clue to the aquatic marvels held within.
The Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930. The building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, masters of the Beaux-Arts architectural style. Their other iconic Chicago works included the Field Museum and Wrigley Building.
Shedd’s fresh and saltwater tanks display marine life from all over the world. Highlights include a Beluga whale encounter, playful sea otters, sharks of all kinds, penguins, hands-on encounters with both sturgeons and rays, and much, much more.
Chicago deep dish pizza
What else would we eat for dinner than Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza?
The topic of which pizzeria serves the best Chicago-style pizza is a matter of fierce debate among Chicagoans. We opted for Gino’s East that night, a place both Craig and I have fond past memories of, albeit at different times and with different people.
In my younger days, work and personal relationships would take me to Chicago often. While I have not been there in years, Pizzeria Due always slightly edged out Gino’s East for me, although both are darn good.
This year, however, I found a new Chicago deep dish pizzeria favorite, Connie’s (news of that in a future installment of the Long, Long RV Trip).
Suburban 4th of July
The next week was busy with work and helping our friends prepare for their weekend guests and Independence Day Party.
I spent an old-fashioned small town family 4th of July, with a parade that passed right in front of the house, a ton of fireworks, and lots of kids running around. It was delightful!
NEXT WEEK: Electrical issues solved, more iconic Chicago foods, Lincoln Park Zoo
Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:
- Week 6: An explosive tire blowout and an emotional goodbye
- Week 5: RVing in Kansas, and an amazing campground
- Week 4: Having fun on more Colorado explorations
- Week 3: RVing during Colorado’s surprise snow, and a castle!
- Week 2: Friday the 13th, road trip woes set in
- Week 1: RVing sites and attractions in Las Vegas and beyond