Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer Road Trip - Day 4

Today (Friday) after breakfast, we decided to drive downtown today instead of taking the train. On our way, we stopped at the Sigma Chi International Headquarters. Erik met with the Executive Director, Mike Dunn, who has become a great friend since their first days together at one of Sigma Chi's Leadership Workshops several years ago.

After a quick tour of the headquarters building and the fraternity history museum, we headed down the Lake Michigan shoreline to the city.

We parked in a parking garage under Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.

Our goal for the day, visit the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. What a day!

The Field Museum was amazing. Of course the centerpiece was "Sue," the largest and most complete T. Rex skeleton in the world. We saw hundreds of mammals and birds along our journey, all real, but stuffed with sawdust and metal. The exhibition halls in this place were massive. We could have spent an entire day in there as adults, but with kids we sort of raced through to see what was around every corner. One of the best was the massive hall of dinosaur skeletons, brontosaurus, triceratops, stegosaurus, etc.

At the Shedd, a 75-year-old Greek and Roman style architecture building, we visited many tanks and saw all types of fish from all over the world. We got very close to sharks in the new exhibit, Wild Reef. Lucy really enjoyed the penguins.

The attached 15-year-old oceanarium featured a 3 million gallon salt water tank. The surroundings had a spruce and cedar rain forest on the water’s edge. We watched a dolphin show where they leaped and splashed. Sea lions and otters played in other nearby coves. Another favorite was seeing the beluga whales.

We later walked all through Grant Park to the famous Buckingham Fountain. The sun was setting and the mist from the geyser-like fountain was cool against the summer sun.

We then walked through Millennium Park to the Cloud Gate, or "The Bean" as it is called. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is made of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city's skyline and the clouds above. It looks like a blob of liquid mercury and measurers 66-feet long by 33-feet high.

Next was the Crown Fountain, which consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images of a 1,000 Chicago citizens, and when they open their mouths, water flows out. Awesome!

As darkness fell, we walked to the Red Line and took a train to the closest station to the Field. We walked back across a park to the parking garage under a full moon and beautiful night skyline.

We drove back towards the hotel and stopped in Evanston to enjoy a late night dinner at Dave's Italian Kitchen. The restaurant was in a basement and was all Italian. We started out with loaves of bread and olive oil. The kids loved that! Our dinner soon came out and featured an awesome whole wheat pepperoni pizza and a baked spaghetti, mozzerella and meat sauce. We had more than enough to take back to the hotel - thank goodness we have a fridge!
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