Chicago Continued

A long post to recap on the Chicago trip with the siblings.

The weekend of the remnants of Hurricane Ike:

Flooded ‘burbs and their flooded roads made for scary moments (to me, but maybe not to my driver-sibling); certainly made it harder to drive around with no clear detours. (or, at least it seemed strange that folks were golfing while the road was a mess, that much was obvious on the Saturday night we arrived).

As noted previously, at least we got the pizza…

Despite the wet weekend, we made it to the Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium.

I thought the Field Museum’s exhibit on Ancient Americans was really amazing and fascinating – it really captured the sense of diversity in America prior to the arrival of Columbus and showed a history as far back as possible. Excellent stuff. Strangely enough, I felt that Sue, the T-Rex, wasn’t nearly as big and exciting as I expected, but quite mesmerizing for what it was – a very complete set of bones of unknown sex (“Sue” was so named because of the paleontologist that found the bones).

Shedd Aquarium was okay; but I’m never quite one for aquariums anyway.

We didn’t get to go to the Adler Planetarium since the weather was too nasty – the wind and rain of the remnants of Hurricane Ike made nearby Lake Michigan look ridiculously treacherous; I wasn’t too keen on walking along the peninsula’s path to see the stars – but perhaps another time!

Near the Museum Campus (where I have to say, besides the weather, it was real easy to check out the foregoing three institutions) was Soldier Field. Granted, I’m no football fan, but really – that’s quite a stadium the Chicago Bears play in. The Greek columns, the modern architecture smack atop of the Greek columns — umm, quite a juxtaposition! And, near the museums? That’s like placing Giants Stadium in Central Park, next to the Hayden Planetarium or something. … come to think of it, that’d be kind of cool, actually. Culture and intellect near the brawn and body – sounds an awful lot like being in compliance with Greek philosophical ideals too… (uh, oh-kay, useless liberal arts background must – be – suppressed…).

The weather altered our itinerary. The postponed Chicago White Sox game got pushed off until Sunday night with a doubleheader. They won both games, beating the Tigers. Weather got brisk.

Monday – 9/15/08:

The Art Institute of Chicago. There’s something so utterly mesmerizing about seeing the actual Sunday on La Grande Jatte, one of my favorite paintings. The American art collection was also pretty impressive.

Puppet Bike! So cute! They were across the street from the Art Institute. And, if the Wikipedia entry‘s serious (I can’t tell, anyway), something of a Chicago institution. Sort of. If you like Punch and Judy in the form of a kitty and a doggy who hug and dance. Kind of. It made me smile!

Millennium Park, and the “Bean” (officially “Cloud Gate“).

The Magnificent Mile. I thought the Water Tower was an interesting landmark. The window shopping was also pretty nifty; funny how I don’t usually feel the same kind of enthusiasm with, say, NYC’s own Fifth Avenue.

Mity Nice Grill at Water Tower Place – a bit hard to find (lower level, way, way in the back, past this FoodLife (odd place, that one; glad we didn’t really eat there, which seemed more like a glorified buffet, sort of).

Night view from the John Hancock Center’s Observation Deck. Cool stuff. Great views! Came with an audio tour on an i-pod – narrator: David ShwimmerShwimmer? Hmm… well, I’ll give him credit for being a Chicagoan (or Chicagoan enough) for doing it for his city; but they could have given him a better script. Well, that’s just my two cents on that. Entertaining enough!

Tuesday, 9/16/08:

Navy Pier. Fun! My siblings enjoyed the Ferris Wheel and the mini-golf. I kept walking along and checked out the free Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows (I know, me geek! — but, pretty windows, even if they’re placed in what was essentially a hall for conventions). Crystal Gardens – very pretty. In between, we enjoyed the architecture cruise, touring the Chicago River to see the sites from a boat that embarked off of the Navy Pier. Loads of stuff in this complex, and amazing views!

Chicago Cubs v. Milwaukee Brewers, just after the Brewers fired their manager in the middle of their attempt to get to the playoffs (and we thought the Mets’ season had its bizarre inconsistencies?). Wrigley Field – the second oldest ballpark – was pounding with activity (tight space; plenty of people were moving around to get to the concession stands; and people are really hoping that this is (finally) the Cubs’ year).

Chicago Cubs won, but a nail-biter, as Kerry Wood struck out Prince Fielder (kind of had to root for Cubs since Brewers might affect the Mets’ chances for playoffs).

Wednesday, 9/17/08 – drove through Chicago’s Chinatown for last minute sightseeing and checked out U of Chicago and the Robie House nearby. Got to NYC later than originally intended. Oh well. [edited end of the paragraph to ensure some privacy; suffice to say – oh,well…. – ssw]

Other observations:

Chicago’s transit system… hmm… some of the el’s platforms reminded me of the creepier platforms along our own MTA lines; the whole idea of the el in the Loop — I believe the reason why they took down a good chunk of the elevated subway lines in Manhattan was because of the whole we-need-sunlight business. I kind of came down on realizing perhaps I shouldn’t complain all that much about MTA, since Chicago’s system doesn’t seem all that much better. But, it was serviceable, and goes way out into the ‘burbs.

Chicago hot dog — it’s a sandwich with a hot dog stuck inside. Personally, I like my hot dogs plain and simple. But, it was otherwise tasty.

No sighting of celebrities (so I didn’t get to say hi to Oprah), or even a Barack Obama sighting (I believe he’s kind of busy; you know, campaigning and stuff for the biggest job in the world).

Ultimately, pretty good trip. I like Chicago; but nothing beats NYC!

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