Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer 2013, Day 56; Vacation, Day 2

Today was a pure Chicago day on vacation. It was great.

After sleeping sort of late this morning (we needed it), I got the rental car, then the boys and I took the L downtown. This was the first time for Ben on the subway and Michael doesn't remember his first time, so they were intrigued by the experience -- the train starts off in the middle of the expressway, goes underground, then becomes an elevated, and finally finishes as a subway downtown. On the L, I told the boys to look for water towers atop buildings and explained that the city used to be filled with such structures. We mostly saw the iron supports for the towers (now topped with cell phone antennae) but did find a couple in Bucktown.

We walked a few parks to Millennium Park and first ate the lunch we brought. The boys splashed in the Crown Fountain for at least a half an hour and were sufficiently cooled off in the humid Chicago summer day. We headed over to the Bean and took a lot of pictures there, then began the walk to the Sears Tower, now named the Willis Tower. We were warned it would take about an hour to get to the observation deck -- we weren't the only people thinking 103 floors above the city was a good way to beat the heat -- but the line didn't seem long, thanks to the interactive displays that kept patrons entertained (as well as a15-minute movie in that broke up the wait).

When we finally reached the top, the boys were enthralled by the views. Heck, I was enthralled by the views. I hadn't been up on the Sears Tower observation deck since high school -- in fact, the last time I went I was on my own, having to go downtown for a deposition for an accident I witnessed in 1985. That day, I stayed up there gazing at the city for an hour, not having to deal with much of a crowed. Today, we had to deal with crowds, and the boys weren't quite entranced about picking out parts of the city as I was. We got to go out on the glass ledge, on which Ben was brave and Michael and I were a little nervous. Finally, we took the elevator back down to work our way back home.

We made our way to Union Station to take the Metra train back to Edgebrook. I made a point to take the boys into the giant main chamber of the station before finding our train. We climbed to the stairs to the top of the train car and looked out the windows (green windows, Ben observed) at the city as we headed back to my dad's house. We ate dinner and played Ticket to Ride to conclude the busy day.

I hope the boys enjoyed their day downtown. I told them downtown Chicago is unique, much different than downtown Salt Lake City. They probably have never seen so many people on sidewalks, working in one small part of a city, striving to make it through the day and return home. They are probably not used to seeing so many different types of people, either. This is what vacation in Chicago is all about.

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