Monday, October 1

Frank Lloyd Wright ride...

Recently, the weight of work and travel have reduced my riding to local environs. On one rare Sunday free, I refueled my fascination with Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW). I'm lucky that so much of his amazing, progressive architectural genius is concentrated a stone's throw from me in Oak Park. Not since my early summer trip to Spring Green, WI, where I toured Taliesan, have I scratched my Frank Lloyd Wright itch.

So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, temperature around the mid 80s (F) and Queenie screaming to be ridden, I headed out to the western suburb, where Wright launched his practice and created his signature "Prairie Style" of architecture. Oak Park-River Forest area must have one of, if not the largest collection of Wright structures.

First stop, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, 951 Chicago Avenue, Oak Park, IL. Inside, one can find everything FLW related. The photography books are attractive and expensive. But there is a wealth of small items that will satisfy every visitor. From there, one can take a guide tour or tour solo guide. I decided on a self-guided tour and after purchasing a $4.00 map, I felt ready to hit the streets. I parked the bike and walked to homes along Chicago Avenue--a major FLW architectural street. When necessary, I doubled back and used the 'cycle to get to streets like Forest, Home, and Euclid. Tour along any of these streets and observe not only FLW's genius, but also the works of William Drummond, Tallmadge & Watson, George W. Maher, E.E. Roberts, to mention a few.

Oak Park has some great restaurants. One of my favorite is a little place called New Pot that serves the best, freshest Thai food around. I usually get a lightly fried Thai rice with shrimp. Unlike some places, they devein the shrimp and cook to perfection. I was too famished to take a picture of the food, but trust me, it's great, mountainous and cheap! I always order tofu pad Thai to go for the next day's meal.

I continue to be amazed with FLW's life and creations, even though the story of the man's personal life challenges me on many levels (his relationship with his wife, other women, and his children). No one can dispute Wright's genius. He was ahead of his time and like many brilliant, gifted minds, Wright often found himself at odds with conventions and norms. The world of architecture benefited from this, and some would contend that his personal life suffered for the same reasons. But who among us is without flaws?

Why I did not take photos--not even one of Queenie parked in front of a FLW house, is beyond me. I think I was in a "zone" the whole time and didn't give it a thought until much later. Oh well...I returned home humbled and full.

As someone who is a distance riding addict, I realize from this trip that one don't always need to travel far to enjoy the ride.

Here is a slideshow of some FLW structures in Oak Park. With the exception of a couple of buildings, most are the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Enjoy.