Monday, August 31, 2009

Museum of Science & Industry

We had dedicated all of today to explore the Museum of Science and Industry. It was the one attraction that we had to take a bus to because it was too far to walk. We met a nice old, local lady at the bus stop who got us straightened out as to what buses to take and where they let off at. The museum is three stories tall and sectioned off into dozens of different themes. Our City Pass tickets got us admission and one OMNI Max movie.
Our first stop was the U-boat room all about U-505, the German U-boat Americans captured in 1944. They actually have the real U-boat there and you can buy tickets to go inside (which we did, although you can't take any photos).
Me in the replica U-boat kitchen (apparently where I belong according to some people...)
Chris existing the U-505 after the tour. What we learned was that there were 59 some odd crew members on this particular U-boat even though it was only meant to house 39. All those men and only one bathroom (the second was used as a kitchen pantry) and no showers. Couple that with cabin temperatures between 90 and 120 degrees and an average duty tour of 90 days. Yum, yum, yum...
We also spent some time in the auto and air wing of the museum.
And then there was the random and the weird.
These chicks were part of the chick hatchery and had literally just hatched. They were so cute. They'd lay down and rest and then get up and cuddle with each other. Awww.....

When we got back into downtown we stopped and did a little shopping at Ann Taylor Loft, for me. Then we came back to the hotel for a little coffee and to change into warmer evening wear. Our plan is to spend a little time at the Barnes & Noble down the street before catching a late dinner.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sears Tower

Yes, I know. It's the Willis Tower, but nobody calls it that. Before we came to Chicago we purchased a City Pass booklet that gave us upgraded entrances into 5 different attractions. Sears Tower was one of them. It upgraded us to the Fast Pass lane that let us cut decades off our wait to the top. We literally got to to cut the entire line and go straight to the elevators. Per the suggestion on the website we arrived about a half an hour before sunset. That way we got to see the views in daytime and nighttime.
Chris was brave enough to go out onto the new Skydeck "Ledge", the Plexiglas jut out that you can see down through the floor. I couldn't get out on it without my legs wanting to collapse.
Today's sunset was scheduled to happen at about 7:28 pm so we grabbed a window spot and hung out until it started getting dark and the buildings started lighting up.
On our way back to the hotel we were keeping our eyes open for somewhere to eat dinner. That's when we stumbled right by Elephant & Castle. That was our favorite place to eat in D.C. Of course we stopped and we each got one of the specials. I had potato cheese soup with a bread basket and Chris had bangers and mash. Delicious!
Here's a photo for you to enjoy, Mom. There was a flag display on the bottom floor of the Willis Tower (for the 2016 summer olympics bid). I know the photo is dark, but check out what two flags are getting cozy next to each other at the top center.
You're practically cousins!

Garfield Park Conservatory

Today's daytime excursion was to Garfield Park Conservatory, 2 acres of greenhouse space built in 1908. Like the botanical gardens in D.C., the building was broken into separate rooms that housed different styles of plants. There was the Palm House, Fern Room, Aroid House, Desert House, Children's Garden, Sugar from the Sun, Show House, Horticulture Hall, Monet Garden (outside), Sensory Garden (outside), Lily Pool (outside) and Demonstration Garden (outside). It's interesting because one room would be very humid and then the next would be cool and dry. Not as many flowers as in D.C., but some really cool cacti in the Desert House. Here's some highlights:
A cool wall display of plants in the outdoor Monet Garden.
The big yellow lily pads were glass pieces of art that looked like they lit up at night.
Chris in front of the Fern Room which was supposed to be a representation of what Illinois might have looked like millions of years ago. It was full of cycads, mosses, and ferns.
Me, checking out the gardenia bush.
The view from the back of the building.
Some more of the plants.(papayas)
After the conservatory we caught the train back to our hotel and then had lunch at a pub called 'Tilted Kilt' which is the Hooters version of an Irish pub. The waitresses are all chest and legs. Good times. From there we wandered across the street and checked out some of the downtown shopping at Macy's and Feline's Basement.
Trying to decide which pair of knee high boots I liked better. Not that we have any room in our luggage. Here's the five million story Macy's. I couldn't even look up without my vertigo kicking in.
We also stopped back by Grant Park in the daytime. This time we checked out the outdoor amphitheater.
Behind the amphitheater was a footbridge across traffic that took you to the marina.
There was actually a triathlon going on today at the water's edge so there was a million people, plus the race participants, but we still caught some nice views. And lots of wind.

Tonight we're going to Sears Tower, or whatever it's called now. I wanted to see the city at night with all the lights on. Sears Tower is about two blocks behind us so it won't be a far walk. Pictures to follow.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wandering to the Windy City

We're officially on vacation! We arrived here in Chicago at 6:30 their time and got to the hotel, via the elevated train, around 7:00 pm. The El is cool because you have such a good view of all the buildings you're passing by.
The train dropped us off so close to our hotel we actually walked right by it and had to come back when we got to the end of the block. Front door service. Since it was dinner time we went downstairs to a little deli/restaurant called Ada's. I got a chicken pesto salad (ok, nothing special) and Chris got a corned beef sandwich with latkes instead of bread and stuffed with coleslaw. He was in heaven. I'd never had latkes before and I think they're almost worth turning Jewish for.
Notice my new haircut? I had Colleen cut it all off on Friday. After dinner we wandered down the block looking for the CVS, but got sidetracked and ended up a street over at Grant Park. There's a whole bunch of art pieces there that are lit up at night so we had to go check it out.
A waterfall that changed lights from purple to green to clear to yellow.
Me standing on Michigan Avenue.
A cool jellybean looking blob of metal. It had the coolest reflections of all the night lights.
This was a pavilion at the park that changed colors on the outside and inside had a wall full of people all telling stories. I wasn't actually listening to what they were saying, but it was cool.
After all that we finally made our way to CVS only to find they close at 8:00 pm!? Luckily there was a 7-Eleven around the corner so we were able to stock up on candy and drinks for our room. Sour patch kids for me, DOTS for the Canadian.

Even though our internal clocks are two hours behind Chicago time, I don't think we're going to have any trouble going to sleep tonight. Traveling all day makes anyone tired.

Friday, August 21, 2009


This afternoon was a ladies only pool party at one of my co-workers' house off of lower Neal Rd. There was about eight of us and we each brought snacks and Yvette (the hostess) made peach mojitos. We had crab dip, shrimp dip, spinach dip, brie, chicken wings, mini quiches, pinwheels, hummus, olives and tons and tons of crackers.
Yvette had a nice, big above ground pool that we floated around in with our mojitos while we gossiped about girl things. So much fun!
Don't worry Mom, I used sunscreen. I never get to swim during the day at the gym so it was nice to float around and then sprawl out in the sun like a lizard to get dry. Ahhhh....

Everybody had so much fun that we made tentative plans to keep up the Friday swim parties until the season's over (end of September). We have another co-worker with an inground pool so we're going to convince her that she needs to host the next party!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dinner Party

Step by step I'm trying to finish up the wedding gift cookbook. I have a drop dead date of September 23rd. The book is done, other than I need to make a cover for it and I need to print off the recipes. I'm going to print the recipes on 8 1/2 x 11 formatted so that I can cut it and adhere it to recipe card size cards. A special treat I got from a co-worker was a cookbook holder she found at Ross. It holds the cookbook perfectly!
Isn't it cute?

Mr. A's in Oregon this week so we had Mum over tonight for dinner. We were already having pot stickers and egg rolls so we just made her suffer along with us. Nothing fancy, but we did entice her with promises of some of Wilson's leftover birthday cake. Ha, Wilson!

Chomp, chomp, chomp. I had to eat lots of cake because I gave blood today out our Town of Paradise employee blood drive. They made me get on a scale to prove I weighed more than 110 pounds! Comedy, but I got a Baskin Robbin coupon for my efforts. My blood dropped like a rock this time. It must be the VitaMuffins I eat everyday that have 50% of my daily iron requirements. Thank you, delicious chocolate muffins full of vitamins!

Since I can't work out tonight (don't want to pass out), I'm waiting for the temperature to drop below 86 degrees so that we can go for an evening walk. It's 88.2 degrees and counting...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy 21st Wilson!

Today we had Mom and Wilson over to celebrate (early) Wilson's 21st birthday. We had a nice little pasta lunch from California Pasta Productions (chicken artichoke ravioli with a mushroom artichoke herb cream sauce) and some decadent espresso chocolate cake from The Upper Crust.
We also let Wilson open her present today, unlike Raquel who is making her haul her gift back to LA and wait until Thursday!
A little surprise for our guests was some of the highly touted Wyder's pear cider. I only allowed Wilson a half glass since she was the driver, but I was able to share the magic. Better get on the bandwagon Jessica, you're the last one to try it!