Chicago Trip
Chicago 2016 - Sightseeing and Out of Chicago Photography Conference

Route 66 landmarks
Unusual hot June weather in Oklahoma as we headed to Chicago, hoping for cooler temps, Tony and I enjoyed the landmarks along the way on historic Route 66 highway. Restored gas stations as museums, world’s largest bottle of catsup, and souvenirs galore.

Abraham Lincoln’s home
Beautiful tree filled neighborhood restored to its glory days when Lincoln lived here with his family. We stepped inside their home and touched the bannister Mr. Lincoln touched and walked in his bedroom to see his writing desk imagining that tall lanky body bent over it writing history. Mrs. Lincoln loved her kitchen stove. I loved all the antiques on display.

St. Louis Arch
Still hot in Missouri as we trekked to the arch, currently closed, as the grounds underneath are being remodeled for a beautiful garden and park to be completed next year. I remember Christopher and Brian riding up with us years before in the weird angled little seats.

Chicago, Our Destination
The gleaming city appeared on the horizon with its soaring high rise architecture and electric blue Great Lake Michigan sparkling along the spine of the Lakeshore Drive. I gasped and squealed at the picture postcard view of the Windy City for the first time and it is etched in my mind. My heart beat fast…I was in love.

Navy Pier - The pier jutted out into the lake for a mile crammed with amusements and food. It was formally the practice location for the US Navy. The new huge Ferris wheel gleamed in all white with a round video sign at its center. We could park and walk along the pier to see Lake Michigan close up. It was a beautiful sunny day and the temps were in the 70s. We sat next to the Bob Newhart sculpture at the far end of the pier and gazed on sparkling water.

Boat rides
Sea Dog – Tony double dog dared me to ride with him on the 28,000 horse powered Sea Dog boat on Lake Michigan. No! No! No! okay. So thrilled that I did…we spun around and soaked up the lake water on this daring ride listening to rock music and screaming with our hands in the air like we just don’t care. Tony took action shots with his waterproof camera. The boat could stop on a dime and then turn fast and spin. Whew! Seeing the gleaming skyline of Chicago by car was fantastic, but to see it from a speed boat was an experience I will not forget.

Architectural Tour – Soaked and still giggling from the ride Tony and I stepped onto another boat ride. This time the ride was on the river that flows through the forest of high rise beauties that seemed to ignore us as they competed to be the tallest and the most grand. The boat was a wide, comfy ride as it glided along the scenic city. We were informed and entertained by a harmonica playing dude as guide. Before we approached the Y of the river as it splits north and south the overbearing TRUMP tower punctures the sky. I purposely took photos cropping out the letter T…

Bicycles together – Nice little blue bikes are waiting around the city inviting you to ride them! We loved those little guys. (I must admit Chicago does have wide sidewalks but walking or riding a bike on them as you navigate around people joined by a skateboarder whizzing by is not an easy thing to do…but a challenge was a good thing for me…I only missed on old lady by an inch once.)

Elevated train ride – Around the corner from our hotel was a lovely neighborhood with a stairway up to the elevated train…the “L”. A custodian helped us buy our tickets and guided us through the turnstile…I must reflect here on how lovely the people of Chicago were. The trains are very clean and comfy. They look like cartoon characters to me compared to other trains around the world we have experienced. Especially when they ride through the city on the elevated tracks that twist and curve like a child’s toy train. After we enjoyed a “loop” around downtown we were becoming familiar with the easy layout of the clean friendly place. (Note, all the delivery trucks are subterranean, moving underneath the city to keep it clean and nice for cars and pedestrians to own the streets above.)

John Hancock Building 360 degree View – 60 seconds up…you are there…step out to a 360 degree view of Chicagoland. 95 stories from above are pretty on a sunshiny day. I loved the rooftops that were green with gardens. The lake was a jewel of blue and edged in sandy beaches now and then with a lot of busy traffic flowing back and forth. Tony and I lounged at the bar sipping brews as the sun slowly set on the city, then boom a light show of twinkling lights surrounded us from the faces of the buildings. We really liked the glassed off room that you could enter on the south side to experience an open air section complete with the sound of the wind and city below.

Hop on Hop Off – We hopped on and hopped off the double decker bus to see specific sights. Our guides were all moonlighting standup comedians.

Art Institute of Chicago – I have always wanted to visit Chicago. I remember as a young college student wanting to go and see the museums. Tony made it happen! He took me to see them! Two large lion sculptures greet you at the steps of the mammoth museum. I especially enjoyed the special exhibit After the Fall art of the 1930s era. Standing in front of Grant Wood’s American Gothic was a joy. Of course the collection of Impressionistic and Expressionistic art gave me emotional inner screaming of delight. I could not believe the extent of the collection of miniature rooms that an artist produced in her lifetime, filled with detailed furnishings. The buildings are works of art and the museum provides a well produced audio tour to add extra highlights to your experience. Kisses to my husband Tony, you even provided valet service spoiling me by drop off and pick up at the door!

Tony’s Bike Ride – As I feared upon all the art, Tony snatched another ride around Chicago north and south, seeing beaches, the pier and river walk by bike. It was a foggy morning riding over bridges downtown and back along Lake Shore Drive. It is a bike friendly city with good paths to ride along.

Margee Aquarium – The next day we split up again. I hopped on and off and thoroughly enjoyed the aquarium. Beautiful building filled with sea creatures and 4D videos (3D glasses and sprays of water and moving chair effects) of sea monsters and Galapagos Islands. Penguins, Beluga Whales, Sea Otters and Sea Horses were on view. A marine diver appeared to show us how he feeds the fish in the gigantic round Caribbean fish tank. Loved watching the Manta Rays glide by and I thought I heard…just keep swimming…for a moment. Yummy lunch in the outdoor café overlooking the blue blue lake! Red Wing blackbirds are all around Chicago.

Margee Field Museum – After the aquarium I had time to walk to the Field museum next door. Great special exhibit on Women of Vision, a show featuring women National Geographic photographers was so well presented. Dinosaurs and Elephants oh my, as well as bones, baskets, totem poles 3 stories high and tall sculpture by Herb Alpert the famous musician stand inside and out of the ginormous building.

Tony Science and Innovation Museum – Tony visited this museum and observed a 30 foot tornado spinning that he could touch, IMAX national park video experience. Bicycle art display. Tesla coils and a football field sized U55 German Submarine captured in WWII with displays of how torpedoes, periscopes etc, functioned.

Tony neighborhood tour – Perched on top of the Hop On Bus Tony viewed architecture, historical neighborhoods, China Town, and the history of Second City after the Chicago Fire.

Sears/Willis Tower Skydeck – Again 60 seconds up, with video of tower facts of Chicago’s tallest building. Step out to stand on spot Ferris Bueller stood to peek down on the city below. It was a foggy day with some clearing and then clouds hanging around the other towers as we walked over to stand on the SkyDeck, a transparent perch to stand on and look down and around the cityscape under your feet. I had a moment of hesitation on the first step…sensation of stepping off the 110 story building falling in the air. But once we got out on the ledge it was so cool. We could snap and pose various shots. Tony sat down on the ledge for a pose.

Night Tour Hop on Hop Off – After the Willis Tower tour we stepped across the street to Hop On to see the city at night close up from a bus top. The lights came on and the sky glowed blue. Snap snap snap…camera shots galore. It is fantasy land in Chicagoland. Romantic and breezy cool evening made us snuggle close together to relax and gape at the night lights.

The Chicago Theatre Tour – This is my kind of town Chicago…love love love the marquee for the theater and the exquisite décor of this dramatic lady. From chandeliers to sculptures, art, posters, and furnishings, she was created to impress and entertain all visitors. Long ago she provided Marie Antoinette gowned beauty queens to welcome you at the top of the grand staircase. Ushers were only young men of the same height and weight because of the uniforms made in only one size. She sat abandoned for many years when the suburbs opened neighborhood theaters. The citizens cried loud when a modern skyscraper was planned to replace her beauty. The lady won. Her tunnels and stage doors are preserved with signatures of great performers from then and now. She supports her balcony without pillars and the thousands of tourist and fans support the historical significance of her presence.

Tony had his camera repaired in a high rise building store – We popped over to pickup Tony’s broken camera. It was interesting to see a commercial store on the 11th floor of a building. That store had to be as old as the historical building it shared. It was filled with antique cameras in cases and old signs and ads. (We also stopped in an old camera store at street level. It was very skinny in width and very long in depth 100 feet possibly.)
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