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Days 71-72 Saturday & Sunday June 30 – July 1, 2007 – Chicago, Illinois
The “EL” train system in Chicago, while very elaborate (although not NY elaborate) is very SLOW! My guess is that since most of it is above ground, for noise reasons the trains simply don’t reach high speeds. It took us almost an hour to make the twenty mile trip into the city on the “EL”. A similar trip in Montreal took about twenty minutes on the metro, while a 30 mile trip in Washington DC took about twenty-five minutes. I have to give the “EL” a big BOO for not being very fast. On the other hand, the traffic is so bad, that making the same trip in a car probably would take two hours.
The “EL” is honestly the only complaint I have about Chicago. It is another amazing American city. Saturday morning, after getting off of the train, we walked through Grants Park down the shores of Lake Michigan to the complex housing the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field History Museum. All three of these places are considered among the best of their kinds in the United States. We were hoping to get some more “culture” by getting another City Pass, which includes admission to all of them.
The first stop of the day was the Adler Planetarium. From all I had read, the Adler Planetarium is the best in the country. With six different shows, in two theaters I think they have the most diversity of any planetarium that we have seen! In addition to the shows, they also have a great space museum. However, I have noticed, since we visited the Kennedy Space Center, that we bore quickly at other space museums. I just don’t think they can measure up with the amount and depth of the Kennedy Space Center exhibits. With that said, Shawn Reece was happy to be chosen as an astronaut for an undated future moon mission.
Our planetarium ticket included admission to the museum and one show. The show we chose to watch was about Black Holes and was just ok. For most of the show, the center projector was out, leaving, ironically, a black empty hole at the top of the planetarium’s domed ceiling. It was very distracting, as much of the show was not visible when it passed through this part of the screen. While I know you are thinking that maybe this was part of the show, I assure you, that it wasn’t.
After leaving the planetarium we headed over to the Shedd Aquarium. This is by FAR the best aquarium I have visited. We saw fish and sea creatures from just about every continent. In addition, they had penguins, whales and even a dolphin show. My favorite part was the Living Reef. The Living Reef is a HUGE coral reef, containing all of the sea life that would typically be found in an ocean coral reef. We ended up spending way too long at the aquarium and didn’t have time to visit the Field Museum before it closed.
At 5:30pm we left the aquarium and headed back to Grants Park. The Taste of Chicago is the largest annual food festival in North America and is held every year during the last week of June and the first week of July. With great enthusiasm we headed from the aquarium to the festival, bought our tickets and made our way through the almost endless food stalls. Unfortunately, since the food festival is so large and famous, the crowds tend to be very large as well. While we enjoyed it, in the end there was just way to many people. We got sick of trying to move around in the massive sea of people, so we used our tickets (CHICAGO HOT DOGS RULE!) and then decided to take a two mile stroll up Michigan Ave. to the John Hancock Building.
As mentioned before, we were headed to the Hancock Observatory on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. Without much security to go through, (unlike Empire State Building) we made it upstairs rather quickly. When we arrived, I was disappointed to find out that the observatory was indoors, without much an outdoor element. Our City Pass included the audio tour and this helped us learn a little more about the city’s rich history as we viewed it from above. Since our visit was at sunset, the scenic backdrop, along with the view of the city was incredible. We spent about an hour at the observatory before heading to the subway station to start our SLOW trip back.
Just as we started to walk down the stairs to the subway station, someone set off a firecracker at the bottom. We quickly ran for cover to be safe, before realizing what it was. Shawn Reece was petrified and almost in tears. I really can’t understand why someone would do such a thing, especially with all that has gone on in London lately. The rest of our trip back was not as eventful. We were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and made the drive to the Museum of Science & Industry. (This time we actually made it there.) Since we missed it yesterday, we also planned on going to the Field Museum, but once again didn’t make it. We didn’t expect, that the MSI would take us over four hours to see. The MSI has a vast range of exhibits including subjects such as: space, the internet, what future city’s may look like and even a German WWII U-boat. It is an incredible museum. Our favorite part, was the largest pinball machine in the world. In reality, it is not a traditional pinball machine, but more like a large version of the game Mouse Trap. Wow! After four hours, we left, realizing that we could’ve spent four more there without any problem.
After the museum, we drove up to Waukegan, IL. Waukegan sits in Northern Illinois, near the WI border. Tomorrow, we are going to Six Flags Great America during the day, before driving to Green Bay, WI in the evening. Tuesday morning I will finally be visiting Lambeau Field! Oh how long I have waited for that! We are three happy and excited Packers fans!
The Coomer Family
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