Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicago: Day 3: Red Coat About Town

In December 2009, my mother and I went to Chicago. Here is Day 3 of the trip report.  

Chicago Field Museum, Plants of the World


On Wednesday morning, we took the bus to the Field Museum. This was kind of funny. We walked to the first corner and saw a bus. We asked the driver if he went by the Field Museum, and he said no, but we could pick that bus up on Michigan. I asked how far that was, and he said about three blocks. I thought, "Oh, OK, not far," being ever-mindful of a nearby whiner in a red coat. Then I thought to ask the driver: "Do you go by that corner?" And he said, "yes," and I knew then that, verily, God was great, and Carol and I got on that bus. I inserted my bus pass and went to a seat. Carol inserted her credit card and, lo, the bus god did spit it out. She then inserted her room key, and lo, the bus spit that out, too. Finally, she inserted a bus pass, and the bus god eateth that right up.

Approximately 20 feet later, the driver informed us that we had arrived at our desired intersection. We then went up some stairs, amidst some grumbling from Red Coat, and then picked up the #145 bus, which carried us to the Field Museum. En route, Red Coat wondered aloud, "Why do these Chicagoans wear only drab things? Why do they not wear colorful coats like me"? No one replied.

Field Museum. Today was a free admission day. The museum is vast. Could easily spend a day here.
Chicago Field Museum, Plants of the World
Carol and I split up pretty early on so we could each follow our own interests at our own speed. We met after one hour and then split again for another hour. The sense I had of the place was of an immense library, not of books, but of specimens. For example, there was a huge wing called "Plants of the World." On one hand, this library sense was good, of course, as it offered a visual catalog of the world's contents. On the other hand, it was so very static. The still figures of American Indians, for instance, showcased for their clothing, felt a little off-putting.  As beautiful as the stuffed animals were, how interestingly posed they were - they, too, were a bit off-putting. On the other other hand, the exhibits on Tahiti and parts of Africa made a real effort to bring the inhabitants to life, as if you were visiting their towns.

After the Field Museum, we took a cab ($13 including tip) to the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. Had lunch there with the city of Chicago surrounding us - below. Far below.  We enjoyed the buffet lunch (@ $18 each) which was good, but we were primarily paying for the view. Which was very cool. 

After lunch, we went up to the top floor (the 96th) to the Signature Lounge, where the restroom was. I could - literally - stand in the bathroom stall with the door open and look at the city laid out before me. And so I did, and I have the photos to prove it. 

We took the bus and then the subway back to our neighborhood. We came upon a new/used book store, called the After Words bookstore. We checked this out, spending possibly a good hour there. I found some vintage Robert Heinlein books that I snapped up, along with an old Frederick Pohl book. Carol found two books, one of which she's been reading ever since. Thank goodness, because she was getting a little vicious about taking mine away from me, as she had run through all of  her others. 

Carol sees something shocking in the After Words bookstore.

For dinner, I walked down to the corner dive and picked up some carryout for us.


To any still reading:  The little thing I did with my room key and credit card on the bus was simply an effort on my part to break the over confidence my guide displays with her important contacts with bus drivers, docents, and the man on the street.  I almost think the more difficult the trek the better.  Subways and venues seem to be entered and exited by multiple tiers of steps either up or down.  The city is beautiful, everyone seems to be rushing and yes, the attire is drab except for my red coat which I only wore because it was less heavy than my black coat.  The temp is much like it is at home and with a long scarf  I'm comfortable.  Many of the men wear very narrow legged jeans - impressive.  This has been a fine time of the year to come...no long lines at any of the venues.

Chicago Field Museum, totem

You both should have a travel show on TV.  It would be an intellectual version of West Coast Choppers or similar genre.

I think we all have read every word of every report. It is a wonderful escape to follow your adventures.  I'm shocked that Carol has the effect on bus drivers that they will actually talk to her.  I usually only get a grunt from my local bus drivers if I ask them a question.  She also moved a bus driver in San Antonio to drop her off at our hotel which was not on his route. 


I can just imagine Carol (or as she is known to Mzuri, Red Coat) getting a driver in San Antonio to drop her off at the hotel!

My favorite Chicago memory is when I went up with Older Son to check out a school. It was January and cold, windy, snowy. Everyone we saw went about with aplomb, bundled up as any normal person would be. We were still walking about after 2 am, went to Jackson Park to see the frozen statues, maybe get hustled, whatever. It was great. All big cities are like my small town, taken bite by bite, a word, a person, a block at a time. Life, indeed, is great and I will be looking for my own red coat soon.

Whoa. Too personal. I thought I hit reply. I would have hit spell check, syntax, emoticon and delete.

you wax poetic.

Chicago Field Museum

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