States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 6th

We got a good early start to drive into Chicago, it was only about an hour away from where we staying. As we drove in, we were amazed at the train stations positioned in, what appeared to be, the middle of the freeway, quite bizarre. We were able to locate the parking garage we had found online, with ease – a definite advantage to arrive before the crowds hit, especially on a holiday weekend.

Our first stop was Milennium Park and the ‘floating cloud’ sculpture. When it was put in place, everyone thought it looked more like a giant jellybean, so it is known locally as simply, the ‘bean’. It was really cool; we could get some amazing reflections of the buildings in it - and of ourselves of course! We spent quite a while going around and under it, getting different pictures and reflections from different angles. We had a lot of fun. Further along, we watched the fountain bookends for some time; waiting for the water to spurt out of the mouths of the huge faces was pretty funny.

Dave said there was no way we were coming to Chicago without seeing Jordon’s statue outside the United Center, where the Bulls play. This meant a train ride out to one of the afore-mentioned stations in the middle of a freeway! It was a bit of a trek to the arena but Dave was happy. We tried to get a photo of him blocking Jordon’s shot, have to check the pic to see if it came out well or not.

Our next stop was the pier. We were able to get the free trolley from Michigan Avenue out to the pier, after a brief stop in Starbucks for sustenance, a cereal bar can only get you so far!

There are a lot of touristy things going on at the pier: rides, shows, shopping, food etc. The lines were long for tickets so we weren’t able to spend the time we wanted there. We made a quick stop in the Children’s Museum and met Patch, the dog promoting the 2016 Olympic bid ((I think it’s still just a bid)..

We had a 2:30 reservation at the American Girl Store for a late lunch. This was a total surprise for the girls. We had sneaked Julie and Molly (their American Girls) into our bag and they were absolutely thrilled, firstly when we walked trough the door and were overwhelmed by the sheer size and amount of AG ‘stuff’, and secondly, when we showed them that we’d brought their dolls. Caitlin was initially so upset when she realized where we were and that Julie wasn’t with her, and then beside herself with joy once she saw we’d brought Julie. Clearly this store wasn’t quite as exciting for Jake and Nate but they suffered through with the promise that their treat location would be coming up next.

The AG store IS overwhelming! All the historical dolls have their own display cases on the first floor, there’s also a photo area. On the second floor, there are shelves filled with more AG clothes, matching girl clothes and general accessories. As you carry on through, there’s a craft area, special AG salon for the AG dolls with tiny salon seats – adorable. The highlight was the dining area, where each doll has their own seat so they can sit and eat with their friends, it was awesome. The room was totally decked out with flowers, the girls were in heaven. The food was good (Jake was somewhat appeased!), 4 courses, we all received a hairband and a flower to keep as a memento. Caitlin bought Julie’s basketball uniform and accessories, Becca bought a beautiful purple dress and accessories for Molly – they left the store absolutely thrilled. I think they could’ve stayed for the rest of the afternoon.

Our next stop was the large LEGO store. As we walked towards it, we could see an enormous lego spider and various other animals, people and buildings. Jake and Nate love lego so they were incredibly happy with this stop. There was a life size lego Darth Vadar in the store, among other things. It was a great place to hang out. There were a number of building tables so Nate really wasn’t interested in choosing anything to buy, he just wanted to build and play. Jake toured the entire store and had a terrible time choosing what to get. He ended up with the 3 in 1 convertible set, personally I think he made the best choice. The 3 in 1’s really give great options for building and re-building. One of the employees was raving about the sets, he was so animated, clearly truly loved his job – I really like chatting to people like that – might as well do something you love, life’s too short: a great asset to their store.

We were torn as to whether we should leave the city or go back to the pier. The decision was made by Becca, I realize many of our decisions are actually made by Becca! So, back on the trolley and back to the pier we went. We bought tickets and rode the Ferris Wheel, the cars were somewhat enclosed which was a great relief to Caitlin. We had wonderful views of the city from our vantage point – unfortunately, we also had views of the other rides, which meant more tickets for kiddie rides afterwards. Nate and Caitlin opted for the less adventurous carousel, Becca and Jake, our daredevils, swung around on the dizzying swings.

The line and wait for the trolley was awful, we had obviously hit prime exit time. We chose to get off a little earlier and walk back to the truck, it was quite a way and at 9pm, after such a long day in the city, it was a tad taxing for some. We did come across a really cool tall metal wind-chime water feature, which has given Dave another idea of something he could create, it sounded really good, very melodious.

So, we spent a long day in Chicago, but it was very much worth it. It’s a really neat city and we barely scratched the surface of the places we could’ve visited.

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