A crowning achievement: Thrones, truth & portable toilets on Chicago lakefront
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Every woman and man wants a pot to piss in.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged, to channel, with pride, Jane Austen for the first time in an outdoors column.
There’s another place to go in the winter on the Chicago lakefront. On Monday, a portable toilet was placed by the second concrete wall at Steelworkers Park. When I checked mid-morning, it was already well used. Good. It is much needed.
One frustrating part of my job has been the lack of toilets on the Chicago lakefront in the cold months. I’ve never understood. We live in a northern city.
Even with climate change, it’s cold for half the year. Yet, all kinds of people, not just fishermen, are out in all kinds of winter weather. It’s bicyclists, runners, walkers, lovers and lost souls. I swear some runners are on the lakefront path when death by hypothermia is 10 minutes away.
I once suggested to Tom Gray in the Mayor’s Office of Special Events that he should convince Carey Pinkowski, executive race director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, to sponsor winter portable toilets. Gray, in younger years a hard-core runner who did marathons, also heads the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee. Pinkowski’s post-marathon getaway is muskie fishing in northern Wisconsin. It seemed like a hand and glove match.
Apparently, not needed. Change is coming when it comes to going. The Chicago Park District has been stepping up with winter places to go. The latest is at Steelworkers Park, where 87th Street ends at Calumet Harbor.
It’s been needed there since the park opened because the North Slip is a perch hotspot in winter.
The portable toilet looked glorious as a throne sitting there. It will be used by fishermen and by those who climb the rock wall or stroll the park.
Part of me feels foolish writing about this. But it matters. In an isolated spot like Steelworkers, it is either sneak in a pee (if you are man, tougher if a woman) or drive to a fast-food place on 95th.
On the man-woman thing. It is one thing for a man to open a vehicle door for cover and take care of business. Lot tougher to do, if a woman. I stopped taking my daughter along on treks to 31st in cold weather because of the lack of facilities.
Nobody should have to be put in that position. Glad it is changing.
Some of the other portable toilets, generally, in winter are near the launch at Diversey Harbor and by the drive around Montrose Harbor, another spot where the main public restrooms are closed for more than half the year.
One joy of winter fishing at Navy Pier is that the restrooms are warm and clean, well-lighted places. (Channeling Ernest Hemingway may be passé in outdoors columns, but “The Nick Adams Stories” are good as outdoors writing gets.) Northerly Island Visitors Center (Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) is another good spot.
Some times you will luck out and find portable toilets at construction sites on the lakefront in winter.
Having a pot to piss in on the lakefront should not depend on luck.
HUNTING: Illinois deer hunters harvested 3,863 deer during the 2018 muzzleloader-only season, which ended Sunday. That compares to 3,765 in 2017. Click here for a fuller breakdown.
* Duck season ends Tuesday in the north zone. Though cold settled in, most public sites were huntable over the weekend. But Heidecke Lake was not this morning, Dec. 12, 2018.
STRAY CAST: Trout farms are to fishing what the Today’s Game Era Committee is to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.