Near Lake Michigan (Chicago 5)

Day 2 in Chicago!

I tried to wake up early and prep those oatmeal-type breakfasts. Since we didn’t finish our exploration with Navy Pier, we went back this morning. It has only been our second day, but it has felt like we have been in Chicago for a while.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Since my pass included entry to this and since we would take the night cruise (everything else would be closed by then), I dropped by the museum. It’s creative and kind of like a large playhouse with an opportunity to learn. How do they teach students these days? What have been the same as before? My friend decided to skip it.

There’s an exhibit about acceleration/momentum, another on fire and rescue, a collection of children’s artwork, the Treehouse Trails (this was outdoors and there’s a kid-size cabin with nice plate decorations, the dinosaur exhibit (where they can pretend to uncover a T-rex), a tinkering workshop, and many more little collections and art.

Crystal Gardens

Thirty minutes later, I ventured into here, a beautiful garden with fountains of water that spays every few seconds. Are those really indoor palm trees? The middle had four circles of gardens and each has one faucet and all four would spray together, one to another plot of plants. Did people really hold ceremonies and wedding receptions here? I can imagine. It’s very charming.

Adler Planetarium

We took the bus to the south shore and it took us a while though we got glimpse of the lake. Finally, we got dropped off at the Planetarium. Our pass came with options of shows, which we two.

The first was “Destination Solar System” at the Grainger Sky theater. This was interactive; they gave us a coin. The show about the solar system was very intriguing with good imagery.

The second was “Cosmic Wonder” at the Definiti Space Theater, where an actress leads the story show. It was creative, the host was friendly (she asked us where we were visiting from) , the story with our “spacecraft” was good, and all ended well.

Lastly, we looked at the Historic Atwood Experience (after wandering around, looking for this ride or interaction show). This is a group led interpretation of each constellation. I pointed out Cancer, which looks like the “Y.” In Chicago, it meant the three branches of the Chicago River at Wolf Point and thus, is the symbol of the city.

The Adler Planetarium also has one of the best views of the lake, visible from the exhibit with the giant yellow sun. The Cafe Calileo’s over had the typical pricy food, but we tried their pizza and it was pretty good. The cafeteria has this whole view of the lake.

Eating in the Park

There’s a loud buzzing sound right outside in this very humid and hot weather. Was it a water faucet or something? We walked around and bees kept following us, even at the park where there was a circular brick path etched with names of countries in some of them.

We wandered to the beachside and saw people taking photographs for a wedding, and finally, we settled on these rocks on the hillside and ate our lunch while warily watching for the bee that was following us.

The Shedd Aquarium

If you love the marine life, this is for you. It was for me. Why visit another aquarium when you have one at home? Going to another aquarium or museum is like opening another book. One could say, you’re living in this city, why visit a different city?

The entrance to the aquarium is spectacular. We went immediately to Amazon Rising, then to Oceans,  At Home on the Great Lakes, Islands and Lakes, and Rivers before going down to the Polar Play Zone and Underwater Viewing.

Amazon Rising was refreshing. The scenery of wildlife mimicry are always fascinating and in these exhibits, they had combined birds and even snakes with the marine life. They had turtles and fishes that I haven’t seen before and some of them were quite large. A replica of a canoe sat beneath the large “tree” covered with vine. They also had a replica of a fish that was 10 feet tall and lobsters that were blue.

The ocean exhibit included the Japanese spider crab, seahorses, and starfishes-the typical with some large fishes. The entrance to this looks like a sea cave covered with corals, a very beautiful and intricate design.

In the middle of all exhibits, after the main lobby was the Pritzker Caribbean Reef that has a Finding Dory aquarium vibe, and home to a tanned and black pufferfish and stingrays. The whole aquarium, in fact, is a huge circle.

In the At Home of the Great Lake, it showed that there are some large fishes that can prey on people-it’s not exactly a good place to take a dive. We saw a lake sturgeon and an eel-like animal, the sea lampery, that are laid over each other in one of the exhibit floors like logs that supposedly only raised up to catch their prey by using their mouths to suck like a vampire. They look like giant leeches. Scary. This exhibit was the one that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Our ticket didn’t include the Aquatic Show or the Stingray Touch Zone, but we were able to go down to the to see the Belgium whales. Then, there were the small penguins with their cave. The path to this lower level was very decorated. It had a waterfall dripping down and a tank merged into the rocky walls. It was definitely a place to look at.

The Park near Michigan Ave

It was a giant park, and the park across from it had these sculptures that were so famous. One was of an army of men from the artist’s perspective as a young girl.

Classic Lake Tour

Boat tours are always a nice way of seeing the city from the lake, except we underestimated the windiness of a night tour. However, the lights were beautiful at 6pm, and the Ferris Wheel lit up with a color show. We went on the “Shoreline Sightseeing” from “Navy Pier West” at 8pm that night.

We went further and further into the deep lake as the tour guide regurgitated the same story of Chicago history (that we’ve heard on our last two tours). Boats still went out during this twilight as we passed the jetties.

I can’t speak for the daytime tour, but the night tour required a windbreaker and a love of the cold. Still, there were probably at least ten other passengers there, so it must have been worth it.

By the time we headed back to the shores, the sky was a dark grey and the buildings were all lit up, spreading the lights into the lake.

Navy Pier, the Fun and Activities

As we ambled back on the pier, we went back up to the stairs to the main attraction of the pier which included four different rides. It was buzzing with people.

The Ferris Wheel always seemed to have a long line, so we hopped onto the swings first (we also went on it last because it was the most entertaining for us). I let go of all planning to enjoy the music and the breezy as we sailed around and around. Later, we hopped on to the carousel to find and ride on our favorite horse. Finally, we went on the Ferris Wheel seated with four other people and went on a turn to see the view. There’s also a clear view of the pier down below-the swings were surrounded by a pool of water. The view was peaceful and we could see pretty far. We probably wouldn’t have gone on the rides but since we had tickets for four rides, we decided to try it. It was like a small fun land for young kids or some adults, who wanted to enjoy the night skyline on the Ferris Wheel.

Back at the Apartment

Back at the apartment, we found out that the loud buzzing sound at the park outside of the planetarium actually belonged to the cicada, a large fly-like insect. The sound could be deafening and sometimes, they infest the city.

It dawned to me then that Chicago had these extreme weather that allowed these strange creatures to thrive.

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