Stuck at home

Like virtually every other college student in the United States, I got sent home as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will be taking part in remote classes for the remainder of the semester. After finishing my apartment search, I headed back to Cleveland on Friday and immediately got to packing my stuff. Then, on Sunday I headed back home to Durham, where I will be for the rest of the semester. I likely will not be back to Cleveland again except for visiting friends and hopefully the cross-country alumni meet. It was a bit tough saying goodbye so quickly, since I was before operating on the assumption I would remain on campus with my friends until graduation, so I would be able to hang out with them until the end and we all could say goodbye at the end, but knowing when it was. Instead, I met with some of them one last time at Mitchell’s Ice Cream (which is now also closed), and then first thing the next morning headed out. We’re all still keeping in contact, but it’s not the same. I also had a few more things I wanted to get pictures of, but I guess that was not meant to be. It so happened that my last photo was filling in a missing photo from my post about the changes to the public transportation in Cleveland:

Track 10 construction work at Tower City
Track 10 reconstruction at Tower City

The first week of remote classes is going as well as I can hope. The situation is obviously not ideal for anyone, but we’re getting by. My classes are mostly using Zoom, which seems to be standing up to the likely unprecedented load without any problems I can notice. Since my classes are mostly lecture and project based, I’m in a better situation than the people in classes that are more discussion or lab based, so I’m basically just watching lectures from home instead of in person.

Life at home meanwhile is somewhat boring. I am taking a fairly light courseload for my final semester, so I already had a fair amount of free time back at CWRU. Now that most of the other things I was doing that take my time aren’t happening anymore, I have a lot more free time. Other than schoolwork, I’m also working on other projects, exercising, and making sure to walk outside a lot since the weather is beautiful down in NC.

I somehow managed to time the apartment hunt perfectly. While I was in Chicago, there were virtually no restrictions and it was more or less businesses as usual. Almost immediately after I left, the COVID-19 countermeasures began, which would have probably made apartment hunting much more difficult if not impossible.

Moving to Chicago will be interesting. Assuming interstate travel isn’t banned, I’ll be moving in early May. I have an awesome apartment, which is especially good now that I’ll likely be spending a lot of time there, likely including working from home for some period of time. Time will tell I guess. I also had a lot of plans to explore various things around Chicago and other nearby cities starting this summer, but those will have to be put on hold. Fortunately, I have plenty of time to do all this once this pandemic is over, even if it takes a long time, since I have no plans to leave Chicago.

Apartment hunting: Day 3

So today I continued my apartment hunting adventure. As was the case with the past two days, my day started with an apartment visit. This time, it was in Edgewater. Not all that much to say on that front, so I’ll continue to the fun stuff. I had some hot bar food from Mariano’s for lunch, which was pretty good. I will likely be shopping either there or Jewel-Osco for groceries, so I figured I might as well start getting familiar with their stores. Once that was done, I got back on the L and headed towards another barrage of apartment visits. This was the first set I saw not on the Red Line, but instead on the Brown Line, making this my first time taking that line (I also have not yet ridden the Green or Pink lines). I got off at Paulina:

Outbound platform at Paulina
Outbound platform at Paulina

From there, I headed to my first apartment of this set of visits. I then traveled across that part of the city (the realtor driving me between apartments), and visited a number of units in Lakeview and Uptown, but further west than I was before. After that was done, I caught the Brown Line at Irving Park. Due to fairly large the number of people there (it was about 3:30pm at this point, so rush hour was approaching), I didn’t get any photos, and it was cloudy anyway. I headed back downtown and hung out there for a while, then headed back north to get dinner. Since I wanted something light, I took the train back to Bryn Mawr to go back to Mariano’s and get a chicken caesar salad:

Southbound tracks at Bryn Mawr
Southbound tracks at Bryn Mawr

After some dinner, I figured I would explore a more remote part of the L system, and figured I’d head to Howard and from there either go to Linden or Skokie, depending on which train arrived first. It just so happened that both were there, so I opted for Skokie for no particular reason. Thus, I boarded the Yellow Line and went out to Dempster-Skokie.

Train waiting at Dempster-Skokie
Train waiting at Dempster-Skokie
Termination platform at Dempster-Skokie
Dempster-Skokie termination platform
Dempster-Skokie entrance
Dempster-Skokie main entrance

From there, I headed back to Howard, then transferred to the Red Line and called it a night. It’s feeling a lot more real that I’m moving here now that I’m apartment hunting. With any luck, I’ll have a place to live soon. From there, I’ll have a whole new city to explore.

The apartment search continues, with some twists along the way

So first, I should mention the concept of cohesion in software engineering. It basically says that everything in one place should be dedicated to one idea. This post definitely is not cohesive. With that out of the way, the past few days have been interesting. They have been mostly dedicated to apartment searching. I have found a few that look great, as well as some that I am going to skip on. Once this search is over I’ll submit some applications and hope for the best. My search is primarily in Uptown, Edgewater, and Rogers Park, all near the Red Line. I ended up leaning towards Uptown and Edgewater since they’re denser and closer to the city, but still quieter than neighborhoods closer to downtown like Lakeview.

Along the way I’ve also been lots of interesting places. On Monday, I started the day with an apartment visit in Uptown, followed by another in Rogers Park. After that I headed downtown to Union Station to meet some friends from CWRU for lunch, where we ended up going to My Thai. It was a really good lunch and also nice to see them in a non-college setting. Along the way, I got off at Clinton on the Blue Line and that was my only set of transit photos for the day since it was raining pretty much all day.

O'Hare-bound track at Clinton
O’Hare-bound track at Clinton
Platform at Clinton
Platform and escalator at Clinton

After lunch I headed back north to Edgewater for another apartment visit. As part of the tour the property manager described the neighborhood, including the restaurants. One of the restaurants was Francesca’s, and it was apparently National Meatball Day, so that became my dinner. A very good dinner, though also a lot of food.

Tuesday saw some improved weather. It was colder, but also mostly sunny. I started the day with another apartment visit in Uptown. I then went to the Chicago History Museum and spent a while there. The museum was really interesting, containing an exhibit about a narrative of the history of Chicago, including a 1892-built L car. It also had an exhibit about Lincoln, Muslims in Chicago, modern design, and a few other things. Then from there, I headed downtown to kill some time before getting lunch. I bought my very own Chicago flag along the way, which I’ll hang up in my dorm or something for the rest of the semester. Also, I got some pictures from the LaSalle Street Bridge over the river:

Chicago River from LaSalle Street looking west
Looking west on the Chicago River from LaSalle Street
Chicago River from LaSalle Street looking east
Looking east on the Chicago River from LaSalle Street

While at lunch, I got an email from CWRU informing me that classes are cancelled next Monday and Tuesday, and will be conducted online for at least three weeks after that. As a TA, I immediately emailed my boss about what to do, and we’re going to be hosting lectures and discussion sections online via Zoom, so that should be fine. I wonder how my other classes are going to happen, and it’ll be interesting seeing campus become a quasi-ghost town since the email also encouraged students to go home if at all possible.

After lunch, I headed back north to Howard on a Purple Line Express for another apartment tour back in Rogers Park. I got there early, so I first tried to get some pictures at Howard, but too many people were there for me to get one without being disruptive. Instead, I got on the Red Line and went one stop back to Jarvis, and got a few pictures there. I also got a shot of the empty interior of a train before we left Howard. Since it was later in the day, I was limited in what I could do due to the sun.

Interior of a Red Line train at Howard
Interior of my train at Howard
Northbound track at Jarvis
Northbound track at Jarvis

I still had some more time before the tour was scheduled, so I headed over to the lakefront.

Lake Michigan from Chase Avenue
Lake Michigan from the end of Chase Avenue

Then, I went on the tour and went back to the place I’m staying. Later on, I got dinner at Asian Station, an Asian fusion place right by the Morse station. That was also a very good meal.

Tomorrow is the last major apartment hunting day, then Thursday is a bit more relaxed, and I’m going back to Cleveland Friday. It’s getting a lot more real that I’m moving to Chicago now that I’m touring apartments.

Preparing to scope out Chicago

First of all, greetings from Chicago!

Since I’m moving here soon, I need to find a place to live. My plan for this trip was to scope out neighborhoods, tour apartments, and do other things necessary to get ready to live here.

To start with, my journey was an interesting time. I had a flight from Cleveland to Chicago-Midway scheduled at 4:25pm. Since there was work being done on the Red Line between East 55th and Tower City that took that section out of service, I needed to budget extra time. Also, to avoid a train-bus-train combo, I took the HealthLine to Tower City instead. Being the paranoid person I am, I left at about 12:30 after a quick lunch from Panera (which is conveniently located right next to the East 115th Street HealthLine stop). That gave me four hours to get to the airport, which was less than 20 miles away. Anyway, from there things went without any problems. I made it to the airport and through security with over two hours to departure. Thus, I killed some time at the airport waiting for my flight. My flight then went without any trouble.

The fun began when I actually arrived in Chicago. The place I’m staying is very close to the Rogers Park Metra station, but somewhat further from the L. I normally wouldn’t mind walking, but I had a suitcase and didn’t want to be walking through a city more than I absolutely had to carrying a suitcase. Therefore, I planned my trip so that I would catch the Orange Line to Washington/Wells, then transfer to Metra at the Ogilvie Transportation Center. One catch: I was cutting it close. I had to get from the gate to Ogilvie in under an hour, and that included picking up a checked bag. The instant I got my bag off the carousel (which conveniently was one of the first ones), I made a mad dash for the L. Of course, I just missed the train, so I had to wait a while for the next one. While all this was happening, I was constantly eyeing my watch for how much time I had left to catch Metra, seeing how much time I had. Soon after another train pulled in, but it didn’t leave for several more minutes. Eventually, my train left and headed in towards Downtown Chicago. The L went pretty smoothly, but I still knew I was basically playing Tetris with train schedules. I got to Washington/Wells at 5:38, and I had to be on board the train at Ogilvie by 5:45. Thus, I got to make a mad dash across Downtown to catch Metra. I was sprinting with a backpack and suitcase across Downtown and being as opportunistic as I could with stoplights. After finally making it to Ogilvie, I had a new challenge: how on earth do I actually get in? There were a bunch of doors, but most were for adjacent shops. The actual entrance wasn’t exactly clear it was for the station, since it had a bigger sign for a restaurant. Anyway, I finally found my way in, ran as quickly as I could to the platform, and boarded the train with two minutes to spare. From there, it was a pretty uneventful journey. I got to Rogers Park right on time and quickly got to my lodging.

On Sunday, since I had a Metra weekend pass from the day before, I decided to go the Museum of Science and Industry. The Metra Electric District left Millennium Station at 10:10 and 10:40 on Sundays, followed by a very long gap. I caught the Red Line at Morse, hoping to make the 10:10 train. I ended up missing it (due in part to an unexplained delay at Loyola), so I instead caught the 10:40 train. That whisked me right to the museum, and I had a fun time. The museum remains very cool, and is absolutely giant. They have a model railroad of Downtown Chicago as well as a bunch of freight/intercity stuff across the country. They also have U-505, a captured German World War II submarine.

U-505 Conning Tower
The conning tower of U-505

Then, I grabbed some lunch at the museum cafe, having a chicken caesar salad. After that, I caught the 2:10 Metra Electric back to Millennium Station.

Looking north from northbound pltaform at 55th-56th-57th Street Station
Platforms at 55th-56th-57th Street
Northbound Metra train at 55th-56th-57th Street Station
My train back downtown

Once back downtown, I caught the Red Line and headed up to Belmont to begin checking out some of the apartments I will be touring and get a feel for the neighborhoods.

Looking northbound at Belmont
Red Line tracks at Belmont

From there, I explored the Lakeview, Uptown, and Edgewater neighborhoods. I found that Lakeview is probably a bit too happening for me, but Uptown and Edgewater looked like good matches, since both of those are within easy access of Lakeview (I still want to be able to access all the things happening in Lakeview, just not necessarily be living right there) and a bit quieter. They also have the right kind of density for me. I will be touring several apartments in that area over the next few days, so here’s hoping.

Anyway, after walking up to Thorndale, I caught the train up to Rogers Park to see what’s up there.

Looking north on the southbound tracks at Thorndale
Northbound track at Thorndale

From there, I headed up to Jarvis to look at the neighborhood there. Tonight I’m going to get dinner somewhere in Chinatown, so that’ll be nice.

Chicago definitely has the right feel for a city for me, and I think I have found where I want to live in it (that is, Edgewater or Uptown). The L makes it very easy to get around, and the Red Line runs super frequently, even on Sunday, which is very nice. Here’s hoping I can find a good apartment. My tours begin tomorrow, so stay tuned.