Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicago: Day 2: Newbies at Large

In December 2009, my mother and I went to Chicago. Here is Day 2 of the trip report. 


Yesterday, we each bought a 3-day transit pass good for both the bus and the el. We were able to do this at the grocery store a block from the hotel, which is about 500 feet from the el station.

So we took the el from Grand Street to Roosevelt, then the 146 bus to the museum area. It dropped us off in front of the planetarium. We experienced the kind of newbie mistake all virgin visitors make the first days, which was to be at the bus stop on the "wrong" side of the street. So we watched two 146 buses go by across the street before one finally came to *our* stop. And the driver instructed us to go across the street for the opposite-going 146 bus. Of course, now that we'd seen two 146s go by in quick succession, we had to wait for what seemed forever (but which was probably 10 minutes) for the next arrival.

Anyway, once at the planetarium, I watched a movie - Cosmic Collision - in the Infiniti Theater while Carol enjoyed coffee and a bite n the well-lit cafe along the lake. The movie was cool; sometimes you had the effect of a huge asteroid about to descend on your head. Lots of kids there, so lots of oohs and ahhs accompanied in short order by their teachers' ssshhhes. This was a free day, by the way, to enter the planetarium.

We then walked over to the Shedd Aquarium. Admission was $22 each. We went immediately to the cafe for lunch. The hostess there was personable and friendly, a trait we've noticed with all of our Chicagoan encounters thus far. Once Carol and I settled on a salad we, at the hostess' suggestion, shared it rather than each buy our own. This was the perfect choice. We found a table by the window, which overlooked the lake.

Carol and I saw two live shows. The "big" show featured beluga whales, dolphins, a sea lion, a couple of hawks, and penguins. There were some memorable moments, but because the focus seemed to be very young children, it palled pretty quickly. This would have been good information to have beforehand, as we might have given it a pass. The aquarium is organized into distinct aquatic habitats, such as ocean, amazon river, lakes and streams, etc. It does a good job of looking at the water habitats from different angles. For example it focuses on an area in the Philippines to tell the coral reef story. In the Amazon River area, the exhibits give you a look at the aquatic habitats during flood stages and during dry stages. In both cases, the exhibits also tell a bit of the stories of the cultures that depend on these aquatic resources. Interestingly, the aquarium participates in a program to cultivate coral.

On one occasion, while Carol sat on a bench reading a book, I inquired of an employee about where to get an elevator for my mother. A few minutes later, when I went to retrieve Carol and we walked toward the elevator, the woman called out "She's not your mother!" I looked back, as Carol did, and I said "What"? The woman said, "She can't be your mother." Carol and I walked to her, and the woman reiterated her statement, adding that we could be sisters. Carol beamed, of course, saying it was something about the youthfulness of her clothing. I said something along the lines of what a nice compliment to my mother and a not-so-nice commentary on me. The woman matter-of-factly acknowledged both of my remarks, then noted she'd had the same experience just the day before. I remarked that that mother and that daughter must have been just as pleased and just as nonplussed, respectively, as we. To which she again matter-of-factly agreed.

Carol and I took a cab back to the hotel, where we were in for the day at about 4:00-ish. We each had an unsatisfying dinner, about which neither deserves further mention.

The weather hasn't been a factor for us.  The buses and els run regardless, and we haven't spent all that much time outside. I will say: Cold, gray weather experienced in Chicago is far different than cold, gray weather experienced at a condo at the Lake of the Ozarks. I'll leave it to your imagination which is less likely to provoke suicidal thoughts after two days.


Hi all: the 500 feet referred yesterday about the grocery store came out to about a block and a half which was my maiden voyage into yesterday's saga. The Collision movie description by Mzuri confirms my decision to "sit it out" with my book, coffee, a sugary treat and a striking view of the blue choppy water.  Agree with the description of the show...heavy on the Beluga Whales which waned after the first ten minutes.  The Aquarium was located about four or five blocks from the Planetarium and up forty steps.  I am glad to have this new and active life style - the juice of life is once again moving thru my veins and words fail me what a treat it is to have such a guide leading me thru the mysteries of the local transportation system and museums.  The grocery store is as huge as a Dierburgs or Schnucks and loaded with exotic frozen entrees.  Mzuri sixed it.  At least I was able to eat my Lean Cuisine Spaghetti which was surely worth the $1.99 it cost but no more.  This afternoon we are being whisked to the Hancock Tower for a buffet luncheon and view of four or more states.  And tomorrow Harry Carey's restaurant across and down a bit from our hotel...last nights meals were an aberration not to be repeated in this lifetime.  Adieu. 

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