In wanting to make plans to attend my son's boot camp graduation as soon as possible, can someone suggest which hotels are worth staying at, or which ones to avoid?
Also, any suggestions on travel? Easiest airport to fly into? Is it more convenient taking a bus there or will I need a rental car for anything while there?
Any other sites worth seeing while there? TIA
|Curmudgeon Second Class |
Assuming graduation from Great Lakes - I would fly into O'Hare, but you can fly into Milwaukee as well. I would base that decision on the cheaper ticket.
Rent a car. You'll appreciate the mobility.
Chicago has some really great things to do. I enjoyed the Museum of Science and Industry, which is downtown. They also have a great aquarium, and if I remember, a planetatium. The building formerly known as Sears Tower is neat, too. If you're a rib lover, there are a lot of good rib places downtown. Lawreys used to be great for steaks (pricey, but I wasn't paying). The Hard Rock is in that same area....nice to visit, food is OK. This is just my opinion, and it has been a while since I was there.
Thanks. I've been to Chicago a few times and it is a great city, and I'd agree on the rib places downtown, best I've ever had!
However, I'm wondering more around Great Lakes. Anything to do there?
Also, how much further is Milwaukee? Never been there.
|Lead Moderator, Veterans Issues & Education |
Chicago Pier has some great choices. It is 50 miles from Gen Mitchell Field to Great Lakes. It is 30 miles from Ohare. Some decent hotels in Waukegan including many Marriott brands, Holiday Inn Express, etc.
Gurnee is 20 minutes from RTC and has a butt ton of hotels and restaurants.
I am partial to Navy Pier as well... the U505 at the museum holds special meaning.. my grandfather( died this past April) was aboard her(as a US Submariner despite his very German name/heritage)
there;s a restaurant, right by the train tracks you must cross to get to RTC.. Full moon? Half moon? I forget.. its a diner that is tiny but serves a damn tasty meal and they were VERY accommodating when a group of about 50 of us met for dinner the night before pass in Review.
Rent a car. far easier than trying to navigate the El( which does not get you so close to RTC's main gate anyway)
There can be no freedom without sacrifice
Have your son make you reservations at the Navy Lodge. It is located about one mile from the gate you have to use to enter the base. FYI, even though it is close, there will be a lot of guests attending the event and it can take a long time to go that short distance. He can get all the information he needs from his Company Commander.
Nothing happening at Great Lakes.
Graduation will probably be over by noon. If he has following on training at Great Lakes, he will be granted liberty so you guys can visit. If his follow-on training is someplace else, he will be a Grad-and-Go. That means he will be shipping out that day.
RTC Great Lakes has a very informative web site. Also check out the Navy Lodge web site.
Above all, have patience...graduation will appear to be a major headache but it will be something you both will remember for a long time.
Military Spouses Forum
You might want to look into flying into Midway. It's not that much farther away from the base than O'Hare (perhaps 10-15 minutes) and some of the airlines servicing Chicago only fly there. For example, Southwest only flies into Midway and they are cheaper than a lot of the others. Additionally, from my consultant friends that fly there on a regular basis, the on-time rates for Midway are better than O'Hare. I attempted to fly out of O'Hare one night and spent four hours sitting on the taxiway before we returned to the gate. Those travelling out of Midway got home that night.
I live in Chicago, and drove to Great Lakes in June.
I second mturnb's suggestion of flying into Midway. That airport just seems so much more organized than O'Hare. Whenever bad weather hits, O'Hare comes close to shutting down, yet Midway doesn't even get bad delays until it is extremely bad out.
You'll want to rent a car. There is a Metra (not L station) near the base, but from my (lost) driving around, it wasn't close to the Visitors Center. I don't know which gate was for RTC.
As far as where to stay, I'd recommend no further south than Evanston (suburb immediately north of Chicago-where Northwestern University is located). E.g. don't stay in the Loop. This will cut down on your drive time to Great Lakes as well as help you avoid city traffic.
I just read that you're more interested in areas around Great Lakes or Milwaukee, those I have no idea.
Curious, when does your son graduate? My husband is in boot camp right now. =)
PIR of October 7th....hopefully.
I know nohting about Chicago or the Great Lakes area. But I do know that for a Dad to wittness the Boots graduation of his son is very stirring. If tears do not come to your eyes you need some Johnny Walker Black.
Boots may be young men and women doing some formations and marching, but what it really is is pride of being for both the Boots and the parents.
I did that ancient joint call San Diego. Only guys as old as me recall that Bahgdad by the Sea.
I recall after Boots graduation I was assigned to general detail awaiting my first Fleet orders. In the meantime we were assigned to paint empty barracks. I asked the Detail Chief why we were painting barracks that had no one in them. His reply was "For the next War". That was in 1946. Smart Chief.
Go to the graduation.
Of course I'm going. Did it appear otherwise?
Just make sure the buttons on your shirt are sewn on good. My oldest son graduated in the same drill hall I did and his company was formed up 40 feet from where mine had been. Of course there was 23 years difference between the two events. Mine was in 1970, his 1993.
Our son's PIR was nearly 5 years ago, but here's what my wife and I did:
Flew to O'Hare on Thursday night, rented a car, and drove up to the Great Lakes area to a motel we'd booked.
Our motel was a little south and west of the RTC, in the vicinity of North Milwaukee Ave and Townline Road. The village of Libertyville was around 2-3 miles further north from our motel.
There were a number of national chain motels, and right next door to ours was a Hooter's restaurant.
Our son was due to go to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX for A School, but he had to stay at Great Lakes for a few days after PIR before the next UT A-School class formed up. He had liberty all afternoon/evening on Friday, from the end of PIR just before noon, until something like 8 pm. He had liberty from around 7am to 8pm Saturday, and again on Sunday morning, from 7am until we left in the early afternoon to go back and fly back to North Carolina.
Gurnee Mall is a few miles northwest of the RTC and on PIR Friday there were literally hundreds of sailors and their families there. From our motel near Libertyville to RTC to Gurnee Mall is one sprawling suburb, so pretty much anything you might prefer in terms of motels and restaurants is available.
We left PIR and went straight to Hooters for lunch. After that, our son wanted to nap for a while, then he took a 45 minute "Hollywood shower", citing the extremely short showers allowed for recruits.
We spent the morning Saturday in Chicago, visiting the Sears Tower and the Museum of Science and Industry, and much of that time was at the U-505 exhibit. We watched some college football and napped away some of Saturday afternoon.
The sailors were required to be in dress uniform during liberty, and they were prohibited from consuming alcohol and tobacco products, irrespective of their ages.
The PIR ceremony was, hands down, one of the more moving experiences my wife and I have ever had. We literally didn't recognize our son at first (he'd lost 27 lbs in 9 weeks). He was in Division 952, a performing division, and given his height (6'4"), he was with other tall recruits in the Honor Guard. We both blubbered like babies when we recognized him across the graduation hall.
By all means, do whatever you can to arrive early for PIR. The incoming vehicles were subject to detailed inspection and search by the MAs assigned to the base, and it took some 30 minutes to enter and park, even though we were close to the head of the line. I figure later arrivals took + 1 hour to get through the security and into the hall.
Like anywhere in this country today, you'll see folks dressed in all kinds of garb at PIR. We treated it as a solemn affair so were attired in full suit and tie and a nice "Sunday best" dress for the wife. We were glad we did, as most of the audience was respectfully attired.
Have a great trip and take lots of pictures.
thanks for all the useful info. We are definitely looking forward to it.
As it happened, we made plans to fly into Milwaukee vs O'Hare, as I've heard it is less hassle, and rental cars were quite a bit cheaper there.
We figure we'll spend a day in Milwaukee taking in the city, as I've never been there, then, after PIR we can take our son to Chicago to see the sights.
We're staying at Navy Lodge so hopefully we can walk over to the base. I've heard it's about a mile, but if anyone thinks it's too far of a walk or a hassle, let me know.
Thanks for any and all help.
|Live and learn..or you won't live long.|
Looking at Google Earth/Google Maps, it's closer to a mile and a half from Navy Lodge to front gate of RTC.
Had the weather be better, we would have walked.
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