17 September 2014
Today is our last full day in Chicago. Places we are going today are closer, so we will bike along the waterfront.
Our first stop is the Field Museum. It’s more like your classical museum, but they are doing lots to make it kid friendly. It is home to “Sue” is the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. Sue measures 42 feet long from snout to tail. She has the end of the hall right a the entrance. Very cool!! We watched a movie about Sue and how they dig fossils out of the ground and preserve them. Later in the day we saw museum staff doing the preservation process.
We went downstairs to an exhibit called “Underground Adventure”. You walk down a hallway that puts you through a “shrinking ray” (leftover disco lights) and you become half an inch tall. You then go through a tunnel system portraying what is going on underground in the soil. It was cute, well until we got to the 3′ spider. It was very icky and menacing.
From there we did a tour of their Egyptian artifacts. They have a mocked up tomb that you can go inside and see what it was like. In the same area they have a number of other mummies and things that you would normally find in a tomb. They also have a good display on what Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs would have been like.
On the upper level were their gem collection, broken down by the types of stones. For example, Jade is popular in China, not only did they have jewelry, but also plates and cups. In the area with fossils is “Sue’s” real skull, the one on the main floor is a replica. The real skull weighs around 400 pounds, it is too heavy to hang.
Our last exhibit was called “The Machine Inside”. It’s a great display of how we (people, animals, plants) work inside. Like how a giraffe heart is different from ours to be able to pump blood up the long neck. Or how cooling / heating systems work for different animals depending on the climates. I thought it was a fascinating spin on how to look at things around us.
From the Field Museum we went to the Adler Planetarium. It is your classic planetarium, with lots of great exhibits on telescopes, how early cultures viewed and tracked the stars, etc. They have a good section of space flight artifacts. The big movie there was “Discover the Solar System”. It was in their dome, you get on a rocket ship in 2097 and visit the Sun, Venus, Mars, the asteroids, etc. Back when it was made in 2007 it was most likely cutting edge, but with the new Cosmos TV show and the stunning pictures we’ve gotten, it looked a little dated.
We also got to see the original sky show. It is literally a 15′ metal sphere that has holes of the right size and location to represent the stars. You sit inside of it and the sphere spins around you. A very simple solution.
We biked home to rest for an hour. We are finding that all of this running around is pretty hard work we are both sore from all the walking.
The Navy Pier is a few blocks north of the Marina and has pretty good security so we felt safe taking our bikes there. We walked the length of the pier, there are about a dozen places to eat in the center section and a ton of places offering tours, dinner cruises, etc. along the dock walls.
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is a permanent exhibition which opened in February 2000 on the Navy Pier. There are over a hundred different windows on display, lots and lots of Tiffany windows. They are set up with lights that go on and off behind them, so you can see the differences.
We stopped for a drink at the “Billy Goat Tavern”, for our older readers it’s the source of the old Saturday Night Live skits about “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, no Coke Pepsi, No Fries Chips” There is one downtown that I’ve been to, this is a spin off to attract the tourists that don’t want to go to Lower Wacker Ave. It’s serving as our Chicago dive bar.
Dinner was at “Bubba Gump’s”. Yes it’s a chain, but it was there and it had seafood. We had a good time, the food was good and the beer was cold.
From dinner we walked into the shopping arcade and up into the glass atrium. It’s full of palm trees and has lots of fountains. A few are the smooth water fountains that arc overhead. A few more are the ones that send a chunk of water up and over.
Next to the atrium is a huge sky wheel. From the top you get a great view of the city and along the waterfront in both directions. It moved very slowly and there is a good narration on what you are looking at and some of the history of Chicago. We decided that the night time view was a much better choice.
After our ride we collected our bikes and when home. This makes the third night in a row that we are coming in after Looper Midnight (9PM)
Tomorrow starts our trip to Hammond Indiana and our 9 day trek down the Illinois river.