Saturday, June 21, 2014

Matthew's Great Chicago Adventure

We drove through a little rain on Wednesday on our way to pick up Matthew for our trip to Chicago, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits.
We made a stop for a snack,
and were soon making our way past the wind farms of Benton County. There are over 500 energy-producing windmills dotting the landscape along both sides of I-65 in northern Indiana. They look like huge spinning giants standing over the farm fields as far as the eye can see.
We paid a few tolls on the way,
and soon crossed the Skyway bridge on our way into the city.
The sky was gray and cloudy, but the rain had stopped.
We passed Soldier Field, home of 'Da Bears.' We had a great time there with David and Shylah on a beautiful October day last fall watching the Saints 'brees' into the windy city. Well, I think Shylah had a good time. :)
We checked into our hotel, and received a map from the nice young woman at the desk who marked some attractions that might interest our 10-year-old boy.

Matthew was soon directing us through the streets of Chicago to the Willis Tower.
He enjoyed learning about the history of skyscrapers, and seeing how the Willis Tower compares to other tall buildings of the world.
Jim, of course, watched the informational video about the history of the building, which was originally the Sears Tower.
 Matthew learned that the Willis Tower is 262 Michael Jordans tall.
After a quick elevator ride, we stepped out onto the Skydeck, 103 floors above the city.
Even on a cloudy day, the view is amazing!

 Jim and Matthew are discussing the view.
We were even brave enough to step out onto The Ledge! The ledge is a clear 'box' that extends 4.3 feet out from west side of the building, overlooking Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. We took a quick selfie.
Matthew also posed alone out there.
He's a brave boy.
We even purchased the professional photo they offer to visitors. What a view! Of course, I didn't really look down. :)

By the time we left the Willis Tower, it was starting to rain, so we hopped in a taxicab and headed for Navy Pier. We had tickets for an evening boat ride, but first, we had supper at the Billy Goat Tavern. It was famously portrayed in the Saturday Night Live skit from years ago with the lines, "cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger," and "no fries, cheeps." We enjoyed our cheeseburgers and chips. There is also a legend about the owner of the Tavern trying to take his billy goat to a Cubs game. When the goat was denied admission, the owner, William 'Billy Goat' Sianis, said, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more." And just like that, the Cubs were cursed. Although every effort has been made to break the curse, the Cubs have yet to win a World Series since that fateful day when the billy goat was sent away. :)
We took some time to walk around Navy Pier. There is some renovation going on there, and signs touting the 'reimagined' Navy Pier to come.
Here, Matthew and Jim are standing under the streams of water which spray from fountain to fountain.
The rain let up a bit, and we went outside to see the ferris wheel. We thought we might be able to play some putt putt, but the course was a bit waterlogged.
Matthew tried his best to push the clouds off of the buildings.
He also tried a ring game across from Margaritaville. After a little practice with various techniques, he was successful!
Sadly, the rain continued, and brought thunder and lightning with it, and our cruise was cancelled. I was actually ok with that, since I'm not really comfortable on a tall ship during a lightning storm.

Back at the hotel, Matthew set up the board for a game of Ticket to Ride.' It's one of his favorites. In a close game, Granny came out the winner.
Bright and early on Thursday, we were at the Museum of Science and Industry for a day of fun and discovery. While we were waiting for entry to the main museum, we checked out the Pioneer Zephyr in the entry hall area. Jim found a friendly fellow.
And Matthew talked some baseball with this guy. (Although he thought they were a little creepy.)
He caught an armful of beans with his shadow.
We had tickets for a tour of the U-505, a German submarine that was captured off the coast of Africa in June 1944, and now lives in the museum as a national memorial to the 55,000 American sailors who gave their lives on the high seas in WWI and WWII.
Matthew listens to our guide describe what is was like to live on the sub, and tell the story of the day of its capture.
It is so interesting to see it and think that it was actually in the water, sinking merchant ships 70 years ago. It's also interesting to think about moving a huge submarine into a permanent spot in the museum. You can watch a video of how they did it here.
After the submarine tour, we saw a D-Day movie in the Omnimax theater, and then went down a mine shaft for a tour of the coal mine. It's dark down there!

Jim and Matthew were both excited to go to the Farm Tech area of the museum. Here, Matthew tries his hand at driving a tractor using GPS.
He was pretty good at planting, but the harvesting was much trickier. That combine went crazy!
As if he's never seen a tractor before, he posed in the wheel of the John Deere.
He made friends with a dairy cow.
And climbed aboard the big green tractor.
Jim thought the cornfield looked pretty sad.
I know this looks almost exactly like the photo above, but this one was taken after a trip in the flight simulator, which you can see in the background. Jim was the pilot, and Matthew was the gunner, and after strapping securely into the capsule, they were climbing and diving and spinning 360 degrees in the 3 minute mission. I watched it all on a video stream with my feet securely on the floor. Do they look a little green?
In the middle of the electric trains, and below the airplanes, we found the Willis Tower, Matthew size.
Matthew loved the Science Storms area, and had fun making a mini vortex with Jim.

Then he stepped into a big vortex to learn about how tornadoes work.

One more photo before we head back to the hotel. It was a great museum!
Matthew thought the hotel was fancy.
After a little rest (Grandpa thought Matthew looked tired), we took another cab ride
to Ed Debvic's for supper.
Our waitress slapped some hats on our heads and said she would be "back in an hour."
The restaurant is known for 'Sassy Servers, Tasty Burgers.'
Our waitress, Susie, was appropriately sassy, throwing our straws on the table, and calling us 'weirdos.' When Jim asked to change his fries to onion rings, she shouted, "Oh, now you tell me. You think I can just change things all the time?" It was a fun place.
Matthew even found a steer like Cooper hanging from the ceiling.
We were able to reschedule our boat ride, so after supper, we went back to Navy Pier to take a ride on Tall Ship Windy. Matthew posed by the pirates while we waited for her to come back from the previous voyage. Do you think he was getting tired of posing? He's always a good sport. :)
Here she comes!
Such a cool ship.
Turning toward the dock.
Meanwhile, Jim and Matthew were busy crushing candy.
Once aboard, we tried another selfie.

Jim and Matthew were enlisted to help raise the sails.
pull… smile…
and they're up!
It's a beautiful view of Chicago, even on a cloudy day.
I love all the sailboats docked on the edge of the city.
One of our fellow sailors got to fire the cannon. Hold your ears, everyone!
Hip hip, hooray!
And we fired a second shot, this time with Matthew doing the firing. Ear protection set.
And fire!
Hip hip, hooray!
I think he's a born sailor.
The captain, steering with a totes mcgoats for real steering wheel (that's what 'Pirate No-Beard' called it), was also keeping an eye on the radar screen. There's a storm a-brewing.
Matthew shows off 'his' cannon.
As we headed back to the dock, we enjoyed some beautiful city views.

The clouds were rolling in, and we hurried back to beat the storm.

Safely back at the hotel, we got set up for another game of Ticket to Ride. This time, Grandpa was the clear winner, while Matthew and I tied for second place. We had a corner room with 2 bathrooms, and free wifi, which made everyone happy. :)
On Friday morning, the guys enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the hotel, and then we took a walk to Millennium Park to see the 'Bean.' It's actually called 'Cloud Gate', but everyone calls it the 'Bean' since it looks like one. We tried some photos in the reflection of the shiny sculpture.
Early morning was a good time to visit, since there wasn't a crowd.
In this one, you can see the reflection of their backs and me taking the picture.
It's fun to walk around and under.
We headed back to the hotel before packing up and bidding Chicago farewell.
Back over the bridge,
and back past the windmills. Home again, home again, jigity jig.
Three days, two nights, many miles, a few dollars = priceless memories. We are thankful for a safe trip and a great time in Chicago with our favorite oldest grandson, Matthew. #matthewinchicago #grannytime #grandpatime #blessed

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