Mark Boyd's Family Pages

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2009 June - Chicago
-- Sun, June 28
-- Mon June 29
-- Tue, June 30
-- Wed, July 1
-- Thu, July 2
-- Fri, July 2

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Tuesday, June 30 - Chicago

Trusty train schedules
Rode the train to the Science and Industry Museum. This took a little studying of the train system routes and schedules, and required a transfer from the Rock Island Line to the Metra Electric Line.

The conductors would look at our tickets with a puzzled look and say, "Where did you get these?" Once explained, they would punch them and were always very friendly. Riding the trains added to the adventure and the fun of the trip.

When we were getting off the train for the Science and Industry Museum, the conductor asked if we knew how to get to the museum. I said, "Well, we'll find it." He gave us directions which saved us a lot of walking and time. I was impressed with the courtesy and friendliness of all the conductors we encountered.

The Science and Industry Museum (S&I) was not overly impressive. I kept comparing it to the Deutsches Museum in Munich that I toured last year. The S&I has a German U-Boat on display (now inside) and that was quite impressive (probably the hightlight of the museum for me - although they charge and extra $7 for an interior tour which we didn't). The story of the boat's capture was inspiring. But the Deutsches Museum has a U-Boat that is cross sectioned - Wow that is very impressive and very educational. The S&I has a Boeing 727 on display inside. You can walk through the cabin although they've modified the cabin, removing most of the seats to make room for displays. I thought it would be much more educational for a lot of kids who have never been on a plane to see it just as it is in real life, and it was not at all that way. The Deutsches Museum has an Airbus A320 on display, extensively cross-sectioned so that you can see the working details of most of the plane. Again, very impressive and educational. The S&I has a model coal mine. We didn't tour it, but I could see that it basically covered a fairly small area on one floor. The Deutsches Museum has a tour of the history of coal mining. You start walking through a coal mine from the 1800s and the technology keeps updating until you are in modern day coal mine with all its sophisticated equipment. It was a huge display and took us at least 30 minutes to just walk through it. The extensiveness and realism was amazing.

One thing I was impressed with was the display of very early steam locomotives. It challenged me to think about the progression of canals and then railroads and then highways (automobiles). And I guess I need to think about airplanes, and then wonder, what's next?

The Vaterland/Laviathan in cross section.
One of the very fist things we saw in the museum was a display about the Vaterland/Laviathan. This was the ship that my grandfather came home from WW1 (France) in 1919.

On reflection though, comparing S&I to Deutsches Museum is not really a fair comparison as the Deutsches Museum is a national museum, more fairly compared to our Smithsonian. I'm not sure even the Smithsonian compares to the Deutsches Museum though. So, because of my experience, the S&I was a little disappointing.

We then walked back to the train and rode to the "Museum Campus" and toured the Shed Aquarium.
A fish in the aquarium (duh). The only pic we took there.
The ticket line for the Shed was very, very long. Fortunately however, we had bought a "City Pass" at the Sears Tower so we got in a short line that took City Passes and we were soon inside. Connie later commented that I probably wouldn't have stood in the long ticket line if we had to do that. I said that I didn't think I could.. I didn't think my legs could take it. Just standing is far worse for me than walking. I can walk all day if I can keep my legs going, but standing around makes my legs ache.

The place was packed with people, about half little kids. Sometimes I felt like I was wading in sea of kiddies. It was also hot in there. So it was difficult to really enjoy it. We also missed the chance to see the dolphin show because the material they gave us didn't say anything about it. Oh well. We discussed how we should take our vacations in September and October when the schools are back in session.

We had intended to also see the Planetarium but we were running out of time and probably even more so, our legs were about shot. So we decided to just go to the "Taste of Chicago" and get dinner. Just as we came out of the Shed, it was sprinkling a little bit, but before we got all the way down the front steps it had quit. It threatened the remainder of the evening but never did rain..

Taste of Chicago
We walked up and down through the Taste of Chicago and finally picked out what we wanted to eat. We shared dinners and deserts and so got a variety of things to eat. It turned out to be fairly expensive ($36) and I was a little suprised and disappointed that they didn't have as exoctic food as I had expected, but it was OK. It didn't take us long to get our fill of the Taste of Chicago and start looking for the train station to head back to the hotel.

It was early enough (about 5PM) that the trains were running frequently so we didn't have to wait but a few minutes to get on the train and then only had to wait a few minutes when we transfered at the "Blue Island" station. Again, the conductors looked at our tickets with a puzzled look but once explained where they came from and what we were up to, they were very happy to punch them just right so that we could use them through the whole trip.