Chicago Day 2

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Howdy folks,

Steffie and I woke up on our second day in Chicago ready to explore more of the Windy City. We were planning on getting our car serviced while we were here, but because we bought the City Pass for $84, we were keen on seeing all of the attractions instead. Luckily our metro day pass was still valid so we jumped on the train before 10am and headed into the city. We switched lines from the Brown to the Orange and got off a mile south of the loop at Roosevelt station where it was a short walk to Museum Campus. On the way we passed a hoarde of giant legs and a Christopher Columbus statue before we were presented with this giant building called the Field Museum. The museum is as big if not bigger than the Art Institute and houses 3 levels of fun filled facts and exhibits with their star attraction being their T Rex skeleton called Sue. She is the most complete T Rex ever unearthed and takes pride of place in the main hall.

We, however, started on the Upper Level at Evolving Planet where there is a sweeping categorical history of life on Earth as we know it. I didn't know that historians and archeologists now classify life starting on earth from 4 billion years ago and reckon that we have had 5 mass extinction events spanning that time where up to 90% of life has been wiped out at any point. I guess if that is true then humans have it pretty lucky.Eventually the exhibit travelled through the Mesozoic Era which is the time of the dinosaurs, but even they have been seemingly 'recent' history. Some of the skeletons just look unreal and it is hard to imagine any animal that size could have roamed the earth.

Next we went to the 3D theatre where they expanded our knowledge of the T Rex called Sue who was discovered in the Badlands. We also went through the exhibits about The Pacific, Ancient Americas and its early inhabitants and Extreme Mammals which documented the Earth's biggest, smallest and weirdest animals that have ever lived like a bee sized bat and some many horned animals. Even with all the exhibits we toured through, we must have only gone through half of the museum. I guess you could spend a whole day there if you really want to see it all.

Next door is the John G Shedd Aquarium which is the most official looking aquarium I've ever been to. The outside architecture is reminiscent of the Field Museum and Art Institute whereas other aquariums are usually more modern looking. We went inside and were confronted with a complex maze of exhibits on different levels. Our ticket included a pass for the live show and a 4D movie so we rushed off to get seats for the live show. It wasn't long, but had some performing beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins and a California sealion. Most of the show was explaining to the audience exactly how they were able to train them to do tricks through positive re-enforcement although I don't know if I quite agree with animal entertainment these days.

One of their other more popular exhibits was on jellyfish and they had many different varieties like moon jellies. They might be 95% water and survive without blood, but they are certainly fascinating as they pulsate through the water. We had to quickly tour through the other exhibits because we had a 4D movie to watch so we rushed through the Wild Reef exhibit and the underwater viewing area although it was mostly empty. The movie wasn't great, but unfortunately we ran out of time to take a look at anything else.

As we exited the building it was lightly raining which made our walk back into downtown pleasant. We paused outside the Art Institute to view the start of the Route 66 highway which we had missed seeing the day before and walked past the Willis Tower to Union Station. This railway station has been in many different movies like The Untouchables and was very grand in its architecture and scale. Alas it was time to catch the train back home. Only Charles was home when we got there and we drove off to Trader Joes to gather supplies for dinner. We cooked a nice German meal with schnitzel and sauerkraut before crashing in bed.
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