What is That Roadtrek Doing in Chicago?

 What is That Roadtrek Doing in Chicago?

A View of Granville

A View of Granville
A View of Granville

Whew, I have been doing some traveling. After spending quite some time in New England, I drove west into New York State. After spending a couple nights on the shores of Lake Ontario with a fellow Roadtreker, Pauline I have begun to move west. Well a little bit south (Granville, Ohio) and then west.

Favorite polo picture.
Favorite polo picture.

Granville is a lovely small community east of Columbus, Ohio. My niece, Brittany and her husband, Tripp have just moved here. Tripp is the new assistant pastor at the local Presbyterian church and Britt works for a Presbyterian church in Columbus. This town was a great place to explore on foot and by bike. The downtown area is about 6 blocks long. I am enjoying knowing my nieces as young women. I probably would never have discovered Granville if they were not living there. They have polo matches every Sunday until later in the fall. Definitely a fun stop.

Yesterday, I took a deep breath and with a little bit of apprehension I drove into downtown Chicago to stay with my friend, Helen & her husband, Norb. I wasn't sure I was going to do this. I kept imagining the worst case scenarios. Where would I park? is it OK to use propane to keep my refrigerator going? If I parked in their parking space, could I get down the alley? What if the cops stopped me?

Roadtrek driving down the alley
Roadtrek driving down the alley

Finally Helen reminded me that there are trucks of all sizes in the city every day. If the garbage trucks can make it down the alley then I most certainly could. Oh, I thought I would be the only large vehicle in the  whole city of Chicago.  With her encouragement, I decided to give it a try.

When did I finally reach the “Windy City”? You got it…Rush Hour. I drove Lake Shore Drive along the water front of Lake Michigan on a beautiful late afternoon with everyone else in the city. I drove down an alley past those garbage bins and parked in their secure lot. there was even a plug for me to plug in the RT. I realize now, how little there was to be nervous about. Common sense and a few basic rules helped.

Chicago from a stop light
Chicago from a stop light

Here are my tips for driving a small RV into a big City.

  • Pick a lane and stay in it. Don't change lanes until you have to.
  • Be nice. If there is a merge area slow down even more and let people in. I purposely let a motor scooter in so the driver was not behind this huge vehicle. I have a scooter and trust me everything looks big.
  • Be assertive not aggressive.
  • Watch the signs so you don't have to turn where you don't want to.  Get out of those right turn lanes.
  • Remembering it takes longer to stop, I made sure there was enough road space between me and the vehicle in front.
  • If I was too close to a light that was changing I just continued to move along with many others .     I love one of the replies I received on my own blog when I posted these tips. “With traffic lights you have to remember what each color light means …. Green is for go … Red is for stop … and yellow is for “FLOOR IT””.
  • Go with the flow.
  • Take pictures out the window when sitting at a stop light. (wish these posts had smiley faces)
  • Be Courageous. This saying has been up on the wall of our house since Jim got diagnosed with metastatic cancer. It is now in the Roadtrek. It Is often a good reminder to me.
Rogers Park, Chicago
Rogers Park, Chicago

Now that I am here and my cute RV is safe, I am enjoying being in Chicago and visiting friends. One of the things I like about Chicago are the neighborhoods. My friends live in a gentrified area. They live in a beautiful old brownstone, in a second floor flat that is larger than my house in San Diego, though that is not hard as my house is small. Helen and I walked about 4 blocks to get massages this morning. Mmmm…so good. Then we walked two more blocks to the waterfront of Lake Michigan. Four more blocks found us at a cafe for lunch. I love that there is so much in walking distance. If you don't want to walk there is the El.

Tomorrow I may go explore the great museums that are along the waterfront. Chicago is known for it's museums. It is also known for it's architectural tours by boat on the Chicago River. If you ever visit this city I reccomend this tour. Chicago is and architectural delight.

My lesson I learned this week is there are very few situation that are too big to handle. If I am in my Roadtrek, there may be a few that are too small to handle, although I bet I could figure a way around them. Let others knowledge guide you, sometimes. And..when the light is yellow…FLOOR IT!!!!

Looking south to Chicago
Looking south to Chicago




  • You are so encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wonderful post, Janet. I enjoy reading about your travels. This post has encouraged me to tackle Boston…well, at least think seriously about it. Happy travels.

  • Janet, You are a courageous lady! If your travels take you NW toward Duluth,MN let me know. We have a boondock space and a 30A outlet in the pines. Happy travels, Dave Miller

  • Congrats, Janet, on driving into Chicago and along beautiful Lake Shore Drive. Yes, the boat architecture tour is great. Hope you do .

    We live in the NW suburbs and have a 30 amp plug-in if you want
    to stay in the area longer. You are welcome!

    Happy travel wishes.

  • Great way to inspire the rest of us traffic chickens!

  • Another great blog, Janet – thank you!

  • Janet,

    We blew through Chicago on the Dan Ryan Expressway pulling our 19′ TT. In the rocking chair between two big rigs and going with the flow. Your urban driving advice is spot on. In Baltimore add one more. “Turn signals are a sign of weakness.”

    Ah the treasures of small motorhome travel. Yellow Light? “Floor it!” But make sure the dishes are snugged down! ;0)



  • I am heading to Chicago at end of September. This is great help. I live in a big city so I should do ok in my class B. will keep you posted.

  • janet, you are indeed courageous if you drive surface streets in Chicago. me, i just tiptoe around the south side of town on I-80 when i have to go through there.

  • We would like to take our 190 Popular to Chicago to visit our daughter. She lives near the Loop in Printers Row. How did you find a secured lot to park in? What makes the lot secured…fence, attendant, etc.? Thanks for the interesting information. We have been reluctant to drive to Chicago due to concerns about parking our RT while we are there.

    • Gretchen I parked in my friends parking space in a secure lot behind their condo. While I was there I met a woman in an older Road Trek who was camped in a parking spot on the shores of Lake Michigan in Rogers Park. Cool.
      I don’t know how to find a secure lot. I was just planning. To park on the street in front of their condo until they offered me their space.

  • Thanks Janet. We plan to try to drive our RT the next time we visit the Windy City.

  • Ride on Courageous Sister! You’re encouragement is inspiring.

    “Never give up the climb before base camp.”

    Go for it.


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