Friday, December 7, 2012

Chi Town (aka: The Windy City)

We have been wanting to take a train trip with the whole family ever since Angela, Connor and I took the train from WI to WA.  The kids were scheduled to have a couple of days off of school at the end of October so we plan a trip to Chicago. 
We got the train on Thursday October 25th.  For those that know train travel, the train really does run on it's own time schedule.  It was about an hour and a half to two hours later than intended.  Once on the train the trip was very enjoyable.  When we pulled into the Chicago suburbs it was raining rather fiercely.  Our hotel was just under a half mile from the train station and we had been planning on walking.  With this weather we decided to get a taxi.  So we walked out of the train station and the kids and I waited under a cover while Brian tried to hail a taxi.  The rain slowed way down to the point it was a lite mist and the kids started to get a little restless.  We called Brian back and decided to walk in the rain.  How fun that was to walk through the rain with all our bags, we were all wet and laughing by time we got to the hotel.  After getting things to our room we went back out and got a traditional deep dish Chicago pizza for dinner.  We didn't realize that it takes 45 minutes to cook the pizza and we had already got to the restaurant late so we were really throwing the kid's schedule off.  Emeric actually crawled out of his chair after two bites of pizza, he crawled into my lap and told me he was tired and then fell asleep. 
Each morning we got up and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then swam in the pool.  Emeric thought this was the best part of the entire trip.  Our first full day we caught a bus to the Science and Industry Museum.  We got to visit the exhibit of the captured German U boat (a submarine) U-505.

 A view of the outside of the boat.
 Inside the boat.
We enjoyed viewing lots of different exhibits at the museum.  We visited the trains, planes and automobiles. 

The miniatures; which included a replica of downtown Chicago.  You could follow along from Chicago over hills and valleys, plains and mountains until you reached Seattle.  I liked that exhibit.

We learned about wind and tornadoes.

The kids got to help in an experiment to help the vortex spin clockwise and then turn in around so it spun counter-clockwise.  Emeric wasn't too sure about getting into the wind but Connor and Angela liked it.

After we were done in the museum we caught the bus and headed up to Navy Pier.  We had a lot of fun looking out into Lake Michigan and seeing some of the large boats moving on the water.  We also saw a very large one that was docked at the pier that had a helicopter tired down to the top of the boat.  We took a ride in the Ferris wheel the sits on top of the pier.  The Ferris wheel does not stop moving for you to get in or out of the cars.  So we had to hop in while it was going.

That night we ate at Bubba Gumps at the pier.  We then walked about a mile to Forever Yogurt for our dessert.  Their website lists they have over 80 rotating flavors of yogurt.  When we were there we had our choice of about 20 flavors.  Then there were candy, fruit, syrup, nut and cereal topping and many others as well.  You take your dish and fill it to your hearts desire.  Then they weigh each one and you pay per the ounce.  It was a great treat for the kids as they each got to make their own special creations.  After dessert we had about a two mile walk home which was a great way to see the night lights of the city and to wear the kids out for bed.
Our next day started out with a visit to the aquarium.  It was a lot of fun seeing all the different animals.  There was a children's play area which helped to burn off a little of the kid's energy (do you see a common theme here?). 

 Our Two little penguins.
We enjoyed a animal presentation at the aquarium.  We got to see how they train the dolphins and the beluga whales.  We even got to see a very new beluga whale calf.  They calf had been born in the late summer and had been in seclusion with it's mother until the weekend we arrived.  It was a lot of fun to sit and watch it swim.
As we were walking back to our hotel we stopped in Millennium Park to have a look at "The Bean" (more correctly known as Cloud Gate). 

I have been to Chicago three other times and I had never seen it and I was really glad we got the opportunity to see it.  I think it is a pretty remarkable piece of art.
The rest of that day was spent relaxing around our hotel room.
The next day was our final day in the city.  We decided to visit the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).  It stands 110 stories high making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.  We rode up to the 103 floor which is called the SkyDeck and saw some wonderful views of the city.  The views were especially great from the glass observation boxes. 

As you may be able to tell Angela did not want to step out into the box for the picture.  She said she wanted to slowly inch her way out there but we had a super huge line behind us with other people wanting to take pictures.  Even though she was not comfortable she was a very good sport.

After that we returned to the train for our trip home.  We all had a really good time getting away and having some family time.  The kids are pretty excited talking about where our next trip might be.

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