Moving to Chicago, Great Lakes - ps, I only put ketchup on Hot Dogs!

Hello Dopers!

In the spring, I am going to be transferred for duty at Great Lakes. I am very excited about these orders and have wanted them for a long time.

So, I need your pro-tips!

Specifically dealing with the ability to use public transportation around the Naval Base up there. My parents moved to Chicago a few years ago. They live in Lakeview. I’m very familiar and comfortable with the public transportation around there when I visit. Ideally, I want to avoid having to purchase a car. (I am transferring from Japan where I don’t have a car.)

Also, I put ketchup on my hot dogs. I read big C’s column about why I’m not supposed to put it on my hot dogs, but I don’t buy it. I just don’t like mustard, onions, pickles, etc. on my dogs. Weird, I know! Last time I as in town, a proprietor took my picture and put it on the wall of her hot dog shop after I got a ketchup only. I smiled and stood tall!

Can’t wait to join the teaming millions in Chi-town. I plan on settling down there after I leave the service too, so pro-tips for all seasons and ages are most welcome!

Take care!

(btw, my user name is the name of a great hot dog joint in East Grand Rapids, MI. The same one where the writers of American Pie spent their high school days. As did I!)

Well, I can’t help you with the public trans at Great Lakes, and I can’t condone the use of ketchup on a hot dog. But I do want to WELCOME you to God’s Own Earth, and to congratulate you on condimentizing your hot dogs any damn way you please! The world needs iconoclasts, even if I would never follow you and your heathen ketchup bastardizations of our national foodstuff…TRM

Wow, no responses because of ketchup?

This is, unfortunately, a bit of a low-traffic board. So patience with the replies.

I hadn’t heard of Great Lakes before, but a bit of Googling tells me that you’re talking about this. Great Lakes is in North Chicago, which is a suburb of Chicago (in fact, there’s about 8-10 towns along the shore between you and Chicago proper.) Going to and from Chicago should be easy enough: it appears you’ve got a Metra station right there at the Naval Station. The Union Pacific-North line will take you downtown and drop you at Ogilvie Transportation Center (just north of Union Station.) Metra is primarily a commuter rail service, so if your trip involves anything other than going into Chicago on a weekday morning or out of Chicago on a weekday afternoon, you might have to schedule your trip around the train timetables.

I don’t know what North Chicago and environs are like specifically, but if they’re anything like the other Chicago 'burbs I’ve seen, getting around within them (for errands, grocery shopping, etc.) via public transport is rather difficult. Chicago’s suburbs are vast and rather sparsely populated, at least compared to the central core. Public transportation within the suburbs is provided primarily by Pace Bus; the Chicago Transit Authority doesn’t run any routes out that far. Looking at the Pace Bus website, it appears that there’s only two routes (563 & 569) that serve North Chicago, and both of them take you to Waukegan. I hate to be a Debbie Downer about this (and I welcome correction from anyone who has specific knowledge of the area around Great Lakes), but you may want to think seriously about acquiring an automobile.

I’d consider being a reverse commuter – ie, live in Chicago, take Metra to North Chicago every morning. The ‘live in Chicago’ part should be doable, the stops in the city are in walkable neighborhoods and cover a range of prices. Certainly someone who’s been living car-free in Japan should find something to suit their tastes.

From the map it looks like Great Lakes has it’s own station which could solve all your problems, you just have to worry about if you’ll be working late-night hours when the train won’t be running.

I don’t know the North Shore suburbs, but I agree, I would not expect them to be very conducive to car-free living.

You can get to and from the Great Lakes gate on Metra, as noted, but you may still be a mile away from the building you work in. It’s 600m or more just from the train station to the main gate, for instance. You’ll find it pretty frustrating to get around North Chicago on the local buses, though. For example, the 563 bus from downtown Waukegan runs hourly and only until 6 pm. Check the RTA System Map here.

The farthest north I’d consider living if I were you would probably be Evanston. You have a leg of the Chicago rapit transit (El/Subway) system there, a Metra line that could get you to Great Lakes (three stops in Evanston), a walkable downtown area with many shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as access to a pretty stretch of lakeshore. Evanston would be an easy suburb to do without a car. However, if you’ll be taking the Metra anyway to Great Lakes, you might as well take a close look at the city itself, too, because you won’t be saving yourself that much commuting time (about 20 minutes) by living that much closer to Great Lakes.

I can’t help with the transit, but regarding hot dogs, I always like to recommend a trip to Hot Dougs–especially on Fridays and Saturdays when they have the duck fat fries. You can get a regular dog with ketchup, but you’ll probably get a blank stare and a surprised “really?” Luckily, the place has the most amazing gourmet dogs so you’re sure to find something that doesn’t need ketchup.

I love you, Straight Dope! :cool:

Mike, you’re right, I am spoiled by high-traffic boards. In terms of the auto, I’m trying to avoid one at all costs - at least for now. But your comments are extremely helpful.

In terms of reverse commuting, how reliable is the Metra? I checked out the schedule and it seems like this would be a very real possibility.

edit: Winter time reliability with snow fall would be my biggest concern. I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. We have lake effect snow there. Tons of it.

I can’t wait to check out Evanston after that description, but I think I’m going to consider living closer to the city.

Metra is probably the nation’s most reliable system for timekeeping. Not Japanese standards, but very good.

Well, first of all, you’re coming in at the right time…that is, NOT IN WINTER. First of all, when walking down the street, keep your head up at all times. You’ll love summer in the city here, as there seems to be an outdoor streetfest everywhere and every day of the week, to the consternation of most residents. Also, because these streetfests are on the public way, you are not required to pay an admission fee in most cases. Just work on that ketchup thing, Bucko.

If by working on it, you mean squeezing it on my dog for some delicious food, one step ahead of ya. :stuck_out_tongue:

Awesome, thanks.

I’m looking at Evanston currently.

Having so much respect for the degree of precision and attention to detail with which Cecil and so many of his readers imbue their columns, posts and replies, I am compelled to offer a slight correction regarding Yesterdog’s seemingly innocuous assertion that Yesterdog (the restaurant) is in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As a lifelong resident of Grand Rapids (and a longtime patron of Yesterdog, which anyone visiting our fair city would be well advised to experience), it’s worth pointing out that Yesterdog is not in East Grand Rapids; it is in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids proper. While being almost literally a stone’s throw away from the GR/EGR border (at Gladstone Avenue to the East), East Grand Rapids is a completely separate municipality (both legally and socio-economically), and more than a few natives of both cities might take offense at such cavalier geography.


Haha. Great info! (And Touche!)

I just got back from Japan last Saturday. Landed in Chicago but jumped on the Amtrack back to Grand Rapids. Ate at Yesterdogs twice.

Alas, I’m checking in this thread because I’m now in Chicago!!! I’ll probably be staying with the old man for the next week until I get a place of my own. Looking to I’ve in the city and commute to Great Lakes via the metra. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I’m thinking by the Ravenswood stop.

What’s your price range?


I ended up finding a place relatively quickly in the Ravenswood area. Here’s to relying on the Metra!

Mind saying (in general terms) where and how much? I should file this away for future reference.

You shouldn’t have much trouble with Metra. A train that’s five minutes late is considered shocking.

Speaking of hot dogs…

I had to do some work in the suburbs on Sunday, and on my way back I stopped at Wolfy’s on Peterson. Been there before, loved it – can’t say there are any hot dog joints I’ve been to that I DIDN’T love – Patio Beef, Gold Coast Dogs, Superdawg, Wrigleysville, etc. – so I figured that’d be a nice treat.

Their t-shirts advertise that they’re “Home of the Chicago Hot Dog.” Wolfy’s used to sell the book Never Put Ketchup On A Hot Dog. So you KNOW they’re the real thing, along with the aforementioned places.

So I order a jumbo char with mustard, relish, and celery salt.

They give me…a jumbo char with mustard and…KETCHUP!!! WHAAAAAA??? Wow. Where did that come from!?

Must be some noob’s first day. Better report it. This kind of thing must be nipped in the bud.