Sunday (day) – We started off by going to Shedd Aquarium. It only took us one train and one bus to get there. The line to get in was a bit long, but once again, the kids thought it was worth it. We saw lots of strange/interesting/unique fish and turtles, but one of the highlight for me was that the octopus was very active. We had lunch at a sit down restaurant in the aquarium, with a great view of Lake Michigan. It was a little pricey, but well worth it when you consider the other option was a crowded food court. Plus they gave the father’s a free beer for Father’s Day. After the Aquarium, we took a bus (and a short walk) to Millennium Park where the kids played in the water along with hundreds of Chicagoans. We also sat on the grass and listened to a children’s choir and saw The Bean (a.k.a. Cloud Gate).
Sunday (evening) – We got a little late of a start looking for dinner (we were all beat after the Aquarium/ Millennium Park). The Mexican fish place we had planned to eat at had a line out the door, so Lucy recommended a Mexican restaurant on Chicago. Lucy went 2 for 2 on her restaurant choices (not bad for a 7 year old). It was my favorite kind of restaurant — a hole in the wall with authentic food and reasonable prices. There was virtually no wait, and the food was great (and plentiful — none of the adults finished their meals).
Monday – Justin and I went to the Field Museum while the girls went to the American Girl store for shopping and lunch. I can’t speak for the girls’ day (although they said it was great) , but we could have easily spent hours more at the Field Museum. As a bonus, since we are members of the St. Louis Science Center, our admission was free (except for the extra things we added on). We had a scary moment at the beginning when my phone rang –“Jim, where are the keys to the van …in my pocket (oh ^*^$&$% the girls dolls are in the van and the lunch was the whole purpose of the trip)… [luckily I had left the van unlocked]. We spent a full hour in a special exhibit on new dinosaur discoveries, and more than an hour in the Darwin exhibit (Justin would have spent even longer, but I warned him that we were going to run out of time). We spent an hour or more in the Egypt exhibit, and the rest of our time looking at various other exhibits (Sue, the gem room, rocks and minerals, …).
Friday – I got up extra early so that I could leave work around 2:00 or 2:30 to beat rush hour out of St. Louis. At 2:00 pm, I got the dreaded email, “Can you jump on a call real quick…” An hour later I finally got off the call. Brenda had everything loaded up, so we were on our way to Chicago well before 4:00, but… not early enough to avoid traffic. It took close to an hour to get from O’fallon to North County. The kids were feeling car sick and wondering how long it was going to take. Once we finally got across the river though, the trip went fine. On the way, whenever one of the kids asked how much longer, I would give them a math problem — take the remaining distance to Chicago, divide by 70 to get the number of hours remaining, then take the remainder, multiply it by 60 and then divide that by 70 to get the number of minutes. Amazingly, each kid only asked one time :). The only Chicago activity the first night was having a few drinks on the rooftop and staring out at the city.
Saturday (day) – We decided to do the beach. It seemed like some of the buses weren’t running (probably because of a parade, we learned later), so it took an hour and a few bus transfers and quite a bit of walking to get to the lake. The kids went with the flow and decided it was all worth it once we got there and started building sand castles, digging holes, and playing in the water. On the way, Danielle saw a homeless guy sleeping in a park, so that lead to some interesting conversations. We found a good open spot, but as the day wore on, the beach transformed into a solid mass of people. The sun kept playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds, making for perfect beach weather. About the time we decided to leave, the clouds decided to cool everyone off with a nice shower.
Saturday (night) – Lucy picked out the restaurant, Portillo’s. At first I was a little concerned, because it said Portillo’s Hot Dogs, but there menu was pretty complete. I got the Ribs (which the sign says they are famous for), Brenda got a spicy pasta dish with sliced Italian sausage, and Marilyn got a sandwich that consisted of an Italian sausage with roast beef piled on (quite tasty). Allison and Lucy had hot dogs (they claim they were the best hot dogs, but I’ll just have to take their word on that), Danielle had Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Justin had a cheese pizza (although strangely it wasn’t Chicago style pizza). After dinner we strolled around down town, checking out a McDonalds museum (across the street from Portillo’s), and a Sport Authority, with concrete hand-prints of local sport stars.