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Monday, November 13, 2006

Chicago, Day 3

I think I can summarize our trip this way: We stayed one day too long, and went home one day too soon.

What I mean by that is that, had we stayed only one full day, then it would have been obvious that we didn't have enough time to do everything, so we wouldn't have felt obligated to try. On the other hand, had we planned to stay more than two full days, then today we would've felt free to take the afternoon off to rest and recuperate. As is, though, we wound up running around all day, trying to cram way too much stuff into way too little time.

We started off the day with breakfast from room service. That was fun, since it was Heather Marie's first experience with room service. Good food, and the hotel delivered it promptly at 8am, as requested.

Let me digress here for a moment to say that we were continually impressed with the service provided by the staff at the Talbott. I've stayed in some really nice hotels before, but it's always been as part of a group, so I couldn't really take full advantage of the staff and amenities until this trip. It's a great feeling to know that you're really being taken care of, as opposed to merely being cleaned-up-after. It would be pretty easy to get spoiled to staying at that kind of hotel.

After breakfast, we took a trip to the aquarium, which was great timing, because it was nearly empty when we arrived. I'm not sure it was as good as the one in New Orleans, but it was pretty good. We didn't have time to see the whole thing, but we did get to see a sea lion training demonstration, which was pretty cool. When they asked for an adult volunteer, Heather nearly threw her arm out of socket raising her hand. I can't tease her, though, because getting to shake hands...um, flippers...whatever with a sea lion. She was so giddy and excited she could hardly sit still. I love seeing her like that!

From the aquarium we went to the planetarium to see a CG dome-projection program on Egyptian constellations. It seemed to fit the theme of the weekend, but the main reason for selecting that particular show was that it fit our schedule the best. The immersive effect was impressive, even though I struggled to stay awake in the warm, dark, comfortable theatre. We both thought the coolest thing about the Adler Planetarium is that you can experience three generations of planetarium technology, from a metal sphere with holes punched in it, to a high-tech CG projection dome. Quite a study in contrast.

After the educational sight-seeing, we took a bus back up to Michigan Avenue for a little shopping, window and otherwise. (Another aside: We should've put in the effort to figure out the bus system earlier; it would've saved us a lot of time, money, and walking.) Macy's had a cool window display of scenes from Mary Poppins (the book, not the movie), which were really cute. Macy's was something else to a couple of kids from the country. That location (on State Street) is basically a 9-story department store that takes up an entire city block. Wow.

From Macy's we took the bus on up to the north end of Michigan Avenue downtown. Michigan Avenue is a fun, glittering, impressive place, but it felt weird. We have a lot of the same stores here, but they're generally much smaller and located inside a mall. That makes Michigan feel very much like a gigantic open-air mall to us. Cool, but overwhelming and disorienting until you get used to it. I can see how, if I felt like I lived in a giant mall all the time, I'd wind up spending way too much money on clothes and other mall wares.

We made a stop at Nordstrom's and then went to the Lego Store nearby. Norstrom's was ok, but the Lego Store -- that was awesome! They had some sets I hadn't seen before, and some that I'd seen only in catalogs, but the best part was the option to buy a custom selection of assorted bricks by the bucket. I only got a $6.95 bucket, due to luggage packing concerns, but it was definitely a thrill. I don't get to build with my Legos much anymore, but it was still a great feeling to bury my arm nearly up to my elbow in a bin of bricks. :-)

After Lego came the Apple Store, which wasn't quite what I'd expected. I'd thought the feel would be more like a high class car dealership, but it was really more like a cross between a mosh pit and the concession line at a football game. I think it might've been more fun if it hadn't been so crowded, but it was still fun to go. Now I wish even more that they'd build one in Northwest Arkansas, especially since it would almost certainly be less crowded than Chicago's. I mean -- come on! -- we've got a growing population, lots of disposable income, and a large college demographic, what more do they want? A big Apple cube store would go great in the new promenade!

We made a stop in Nieman Marcus after Apple, and although it wasn't as overwhelming in scale as Macy's, it made up for that in price and style. And, to the staff's credit, they were very polite and helpful to a couple of obvious yokels from the Ozarks. I'll bet I was probably the first person wearing jeans and carrying a big Lego sack who's ever shopped there!

By the time we finally made it back to the hotel, we were really beat, so we just at in the hotel bar/lounge, which was as excellent as everything else at the Talbott, got our stuff packed up, and went to bed.

1 Comments:

Blogger carrie said...

Hey there! I was doing some surfing and looking for old friends and I found you.

Drop me a line sometime, I'd love to hear from you.

-carrie

12/13/2006 9:43 AM  

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