Friday, July 27, 2012

Chicago – Wednesday, Lincoln Park Zoo, ER, & Boat Ride

Wednesday morning I took the kids to Lincoln Park Zoo which was just over a mile from our house.  I LOVE being able to walk everywhere.  We walked down Clark street which has a lot of nice restaurants and shops, it’s kind of like South Congress in Austin.  The architecture is so neat here.  The building below is a 7-11.


We also passed this building which is a storage facility built in 1921 and covered in  accurate Egyptian imagery and hieroglyphics.


Then we arrived at the zoo, which is absolutely the prettiest zoo I have ever been to, and it’s FREE.


The landscaping and gardens just took my breath away.  After the long hot walk it was like an oasis.


The kids and I opted to just explore without a real plan.  It was really hot, and I had the stroller, so I didn’t take that many pictures.  They wanted me to list the animals we saw: tigers, lions, flamingos, seals, otters, giraffes, rhinos, polar bear, African dogs, puma, red panda.



This lady was playing guitar and had a lot of instruments kids could play with, she and Anabel sang “This Land is Your Land”.  This is the sort of magic moments that happen when you travel that you could never plan or expect.


Even the water fountains were fancy!


Next we went into the reptile house and saw bats, snakes, and spiders. William walked over to join us for lunch and we were walking across a bridge to the café when…”Mom! Dad! A bug flew into my ear!”  Uh oh. The zoo nurse wasn’t comfortable trying to get it out so we caught a cab and went to the hospital ER. They put in oil to kill the bug and flushed out his ear.  They never could find it, so maybe it flew out again?! Ack.


Bella was getting very hungry and restless so Will took her home and I stayed with Jacob at the ER until we were discharged. Then Jacob and I walked to McDonalds and had lunch and ice cream, it was about 3 PM by this time.   We walked home and I took a long nap!

That evening we were back on the subway to head to Navy Pier.  Now a lot of people love Navy Pier.  It is like a midway boardwalk with music and street food and tons of people.  I expected to like it, but it turned out that it wasn’t my cup of tea after all, it was very very hot and crowded and expensive and LOUD.  We did stay long enough to ride the ferris wheel and have hot dogs.


We took a taxi over to the river where we took a cruise on a boat down the river and out onto Lake Michigan. Out on the water it was windy and finally we were able to cool off. The views of the city lit up were amazing. Then there was a fireworks show.


My night skyline pictures did not come out. Boo.



The cruise didn’t return until 10:45; Will’s Dad set up a limo to take us back so we wouldn’t be on the subway so late at night. The kids LOVED it!


Chicago – Tuesday, Museum of Science and Technology

On Tuesday we slept in and rested a bit before heading off to the MSI (Museum of Science and Technology)

Jacob at Fullerton Station waiting on the Red Line.


They have an Omnimax theatre there. This is like an Imax only the screen is a huge dome.  We watched a documentary called Born to Be Wild which was about the rescue of baby elephants and orangutans.


A very cool thing they have at this museum is an actual German u-boat.


Will and the kids took the tour of the inside while I checked out all the exhibits around the outside which told the story of the men who captured the U-boat as well as the lives of the crewmembers who became prisoners of war and all the items that were aboard the boat when it was captured.  I didn’t take the tour because I don’t handle small crowded spaces very well. I can handle small spaces just fine but I don’t like being in closed in quarters with a lot of people around.

Below is a picture of one of the pins the U-boat crewmembers was wearing, from Hitler Youth. Most of the crewmembers were members of Hitler Youth as kids.  It made me think about all the pins and awards we have for Scouting and reminded me of the bible verse Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.



One of purposes of capturing a U-boat, besides the obvious goal of saving merchant ships,  was to gain access to their communications. Below is one of the Enigma machines. As a kid who spent a lot of time making up secret languages I was fascinated by this.




There were four other floors of exhibits at this museum, it is HUGE. Like the other museums we went to, you could never do everything in one day.  We saw planes, trains, a main street all set up as it looked in 1903, a chicken hatchery, a tiny mechanized circus.  Below is a tornado in the weather exhibit hall.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicago – Monday, Shedd Aquarium

Our second full day in Chicago we spent at the Aquarium.  Both children have recently watched A Dolphin Tale, and Anabel is particularly in love with dolphins right now.  Therefore, they have been anticipating this day at the aquarium for a long time.

This is the front of the museum.


The museum is right on the lake and the surrounding views and gardens are beautiful.  We found out later that they use some of the gardens to grow food for animals, like lettuce for turtles.


The first thing you come to is a tank full of rays.


The Field museum, even late in the day, never felt crowded.  It is very well laid out and the public spaces like bathrooms, play area, etc. were well designed.  Also at the Field museum the display cases went all the way to the floor.  By contrast, the Aquarium was very very crowded.  Many of the displays in the main wings start at about 3 feet from the floor, meaning Bella couldn’t see anything without being held.  We ended up not spending a lot of time in those areas, opting for the lower levels that were more modern (glass to the floor).

First thing we did was eat in the café, we were warned that it would be really crowded at noon.  At 11:15 it was pleasant and we had a table with a view of the lake.  The food at the aquarium was really good, there were many fresh options and they were very “green” in terms of re-using the flatware/trays/real plates, etc. I thought that was very appropriate given that they are a conservatory.

Here is a Chicago Dog…


Anabel saw me taking food pictures and wanted me to take one of her with her juice.


There is a huge patio that overlooks the lake.


Jacob took these next two.


After lunch we saw the jelly fish exhibit.


Next we watched a 4D movie about Antarctica. Then, it was time for the long awaited aquatic show.  Right away Anabel went down to the tank to see the dolphins. That’s her and her Paw-Paw down on the left.




Beluga Whales


There is nothing better than seeing your child completely entranced and full of joy.


We found a beluga and a dolphin to bring home with us…


Happiest. Girl. Ever.


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