Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicago is Our Kind of Town

With apologies to da Chairman, Frank Sinatra...

My daughter & I arrived in Chicago this past Saturday morning and were greeted by a rainbow signifying a promise of good times. Rain was still in the area, but it wasn't enough to deter us from our walk to the hotel and then off in search of Giordano's pizza near Jackson and LaSalle.

Fortunately, the rain faded away & we were back in business as we wiped our mouths from traces of deep-dish style pepperoni and mozzarella. After being puzzled about where to catch the #29 bus, we opted for the Red Line subway and headed to Navy Pier. We rode the giant ferris wheel and Wave Swinger. (Note to self: don't let yourself be talked into riding the swings ever again when the temps are below 50 degrees lest you want to leave more skin on the aluminum seats.)

The view from the ground...

... and the view from above.

After a bus ride back to the hotel, we cleaned up a bit and headed right back out to the Blue Man Group. This show has been around for many years. It took me until a couple of years ago to finally see it in Las Vegas. We saw basically the same show in Chicago I saw in Vegas, but I'd go see it again tomorrow if I could. Its that funny.

Sunday, we opted for an hour of worship at First United Methodist Church - better known around town as The Chicago Temple. Why "temple"? I don't really know. I guess only the Methodists and the Jewish community there know why. The church was founded in 1831, and the current building of the church has quite the inspiring sanctuary view.

After church, we headed to the Sears Tower...err... Willis Tower. Specifically, we were headed to the famous Skydeck on the 103rd Floor and the newly-opened and soon-to-be-famous The Ledge.

I really thought I'd have a bad case of vertigo as I stepped out on the ledge and looked almost 1,400 feet below, but it really wasn't that bad. Maybe it was the cardiac arrest I was experiencing while watching my daughter fearlessly step out and then smile at the camera.

It was then time for the main attraction - at least from my daughter's viewpoint. The American Girl Store. Michigan Avenue. The Magnificent Mile. Unfortunately, this was also one of those "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" moments. I guess that means Roman dads were also committed to scurrying around with their little Roman girls looking at overpriced doll clothing and accessories such as the American Girl Painted Horse and Chariot combo.

The store, however, does have a sense of humor I suppose. For instance, the majority of the American Girl inventory is made in China. Also, the picture below revealed a bit of comedic duality for me. Perhaps the inference is all you'll have left in your pocket when you leave the store is petty cash. Or perhaps the intent is to say with laughter that you must be joking if you think all you'll spend in the store is petty cash.

Following shopping, dining, and dessert, we caught a bus to Millennium Park to see it lit at night. Specifically, we wanted to see Cloud Gate - or as its known by the locals "The Bean". The skyline of Chicago was wonderfully reflected in the bean, but it made it difficult for me to capture a clear picture. So I'll use this one to illustrate.

Monday, we spent the majority of our final day at the Shedd Aquarium. The aquarium was on our itinerary for a couple of reasons. One, they had dolphins, beluga whales, and sharks - 3 things my daughter wanted to see. Two, admission was free as part of the aquarium's community week...or at least that's what was published on their website and tweeted many times in the days leading up to our trip. When we arrived, we were told the free admission only covered some of the basic tanks. To see dolphins, beluga whales, and sharks, I had to pay after all. For a non-profit, eco-conscious, kid-friendly organization, this policy is called creative marketing. In a for-profit venture, it would be called the ol' bait-and-switch.

I forked over the fee, and we had a wonderful time touring the facility. The tank with the dolphins and beluga whales has a spectacular panoramic window view of Lake Michigan. And once we took a break for lunch, we took advantage of the spectacular skyline view for another photo op.

After we had enough of fish, mammals, and reptiles, we headed for the hotel to claim our bags and head for the airport. We then realized we had just enough time to run back to Millennium Park for another look at The Bean in the daytime & were very glad we did.

For all the coolness of the changing colors on 3 sides of the twin towers at the park, the inner side of each tower introduces a bit of a creepy side. The faces of about 1,000 Chicagoans have their faces shown on the towers periodically. To be honest, as creepy as it was I was quite surprised the faces had not been replaced by images of President Obama, his cabinet members, and Jeremiah Wright. But I'm just sayin...

In the end, I made the right decision in taking my girl to the big city. For all the big stuff we did, she was equally puffed up about having the opportunity to ride a plane, train, subway, and city bus - all in the same weekend; try Chicago style deep-dish pizza; stay on the 18th floor of a Hampton Inn; tip a bellman; etc. And for me, watching her enjoy it and then fall asleep quickly at night while smiling makes me think I should try to make this an annual event.



  1. Glad you guys had a great time.

  2. YAY!! Looks like y'all had a great time. Not sure I could step out on the ledge Skydeck thingy.

  3. You're the best dad ever...will you adopt me?