Chicago, Illinois

August 18- August 25, 2018

Welcome to Illinois- our 20th state!

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We stayed an hour outside the city of Chicago because we couldn’t find an RV park, with good reviews, any closer. It was located in Millbrook, IL, in the middle of corn fields.

It was our first Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, which we had heard was great for kids. It’s not what we expected but we learned that it is the most run down one so we need to check out another one to get the full experience. Despite the rain, we did get to play putt putt and swim in the pool twice.

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We arrived Saturday night and had to change sites because it was so unlevel that the back wheels were off the ground which can lead to the back jacks breaking. There are a ton of people that leave their campers here full time and just visit on the weekends. We met a few of them after we moved because they had to come over and complement Chris on his driving and maneuvering though the trees at this park. He really has found his calling and plans to be a truck driving or drive tour buses as a plan B or when he retires.

Sunday we spent the whole day in Chicago other wise known as; ‘Chi-Town’, the ‘Windy City’, ‘The White City’ and the ‘The Second City’.

We parked at the Field Museum of Natural History and started with touring that museum. We didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked but we did all the highlights. We saw ‘Sue’, the world’s  largest, most extensive and best preserved T-rexs ever found. It was discovered in 1990, by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her. It was auctioned in 1997, for $8.3 million, the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil. It used to be on display in the main lobby but they moved her upstairs and are designing her her own permanent room.

We had our first genuine Chicago hot dogIMG_4936 right outside the Field Museum. A Chicago dog is a hot dog on a poppy seed bun topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. Abby asked for ketchup and they told her she had to dance for it, she asked why and they said because in Chicago it’s a sin to order ketchup on your hot dog. She’d let her have it if she danced for it. She did!

Chris grew up being a Chicago Bears fan so next we walked over to the Soldier Field where the Chicago Bears play. This stadium looks like a space ship picked up the Rome Coliseum and brought it to Chicago and set it down and then stayed sitting on top of it.

Then we walked along the Lake and watched the Air show. We were lucky enough to be here for the 60th annual air show. Oh how I love the Blue Angels. Chris and I have grown up watching air shows because of our families history with Air Force bases.

It was a warm sunny day so the girls used their empty gatorade bottles to fill with water from Lake Michigan and dump water over their heads to cool off.

We walked through Grant Park enjoying the shade of the trees.

Then we walked across the street to see the Buckingham fountain. Chris and I used to watch Married with Children  and he reminded me that it was this fountain that was in the opening credits, so we posed for a picture together.  A sweet local offered to take our family picture and shared that if we waited 5 more minutes the fountain would shoot air high up in the middle of the fountain. It was like watching Old Faithful all over again.

We grabbed an ice cream to cool our insides down and used the bathroom at the shop right next to the fountain then walked over to see ‘The Cloud Gate’ aka The Bean, in Millennium Park. As we walked over there, we walked through the outdoor amphitheater, which is a neat piece of art in of itself, and heard an orchestra practicing.

It was surreal to see The Bean in real life, after seeing it in so many movies.

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Next to the Bean is another art exhibit that the girls really enjoyed, especially on a hot summer day! This art exhibit is called the Crown Fountain. Designed by Jaume Plensa, the fountain is a pair of 50-foot-tall video boards showing ordinary Chicagoans spouting water at each other.

The girls were soaked after splashing around the Crown Fountain so we headed over to Maggie Daley Park which has a ton of different play structures so they could run around to dry off. We sat and watch the grand finale of the air show from the lawn near the park.

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We ubered to Lou Malnati’s (by recommendation from a friend) for another Chicago speacility- deep dish pizza. We arrived around 4:15pm because we were a little hungry but wanted to be sure to beat the crowd. We also needed to sit inside and relax inside air-conditioning. We are so glad we arrived early because we quickly learned that these pizzas take 45 minutes to cook. We ordered salad and cheese bread as an appetizer. We ordered the classic and waited. It was well worth the wait, what an experience.IMG_4933

The toppings are assembled “upside-down” from their usual order on a pizza. The cornmeal crust is covered with mozzarella cheese followed by sausage (which was in a thick layer) and pepperoni  (we had both),  An uncooked sauce, typically made from crushed canned tomatoes, is added as the finishing layer.

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We walked to the Willis Tower (aka The Sears Tower) and there discovered the wait was an hour and a half to get on the elevator to the top. They need an app like Disney to tell you the wait times before you get there! Chris has been up it so we decided to not go up today and I would bring the girls back during the week when the crowds wouldn’t be so big.

Ever since reading and watching the Divergent series the girls have wanted to ride the elevated train system. We didn’t actually get to run and jump on but it was still an experience. We rode the ‘El’ to Adams and Washburn to take our picture at the beginning of Route 66.

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Chris showed us the Palmer Hotel. Palmer-House-Chicago-Exterior-Monroe-e1378861796292He has stayed here while on business and I had read about it in the Devil in the White City so it was neat to see the extravagant architecture inside. IMG_0264

We walked to the historic marker sign noting the beginning of the Route 66 on Lake Shore Drive. We have made several stops along Route 66 on this adventure and have even stood on Santa Monica Pier at the end of the famous route, so we had to get our picture with this sign!

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We then walked to the Chicago theater to have our picture in front of the read Chicago sign.  We saw a wedding party taking photographs in the middle of the street.We may be in some of them because we had arranged an uber to meet us in front of the theater before they came out and starting taking pictures.

We rode down to Navy Pier to finish our day. The Ferris wheel was built for the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 by George Ferris. It was the first of it’s kind in the world. The Chicago World’s Fair or Columbian World Fair was to built to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America and was to out due the previous one held in Paris.

This Ferris wheel can be seen in ruins in the CGI’s in the Divergent movie series.

I suggest you read The Devil in the White City before you visit Chicago to give you a great historic look into Chicago. These are a few of the things that were introduced for the first time at the Chicago’s World Fair; Cracker jacks, Shredded wheat, Juicy fruit, Zippers, Aunt Jemima pancake mix, and Pabst blue ribbon beer. The book also weaves in the true story about the first serial killer in our nations history.

We were all so exhausted! We walked 21,901 steps (7.6 miles), even with taking the ‘el’ once and using Uber three times from 10am-8pm!

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Chris went out of town Monday and Tuesday so Monday night we watched the movie Divergent again to see all the Chicago landmarks featured in the movie. Last week we watched the Transformer movies to get a sneak peak of Chicago before we went.

Monday and Tuesday it rained and had dense fog. The girls and I just did school work. When Chris travels we do science experiments, this week we dissolved chicken bones in vinegar to extract the calcium and see how they are bend.

Wednesday we drove into the city. It took us an hour and half to get to Willis Tower, even though we waited until 9:30 am to leave. We arrived around 11:00 am and found only a 30 minute wait to go to the top. It really only seemed like 15 which was a great.

The Skydeck is on the 103rd floor, 1353 feet hight. We stood in line for another 15 minutes once we got to the top for a chance to stand out on The Ledge. The Ledge is a glass box that extends 4.3 feet over the ledge that you get to stand on.

Check out our youtube video.

Other views and facts about Chicago.

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Next we drove over to the Magnificent mile mainly to see the world’s largest American girl doll store. The girls each spent their own money on something for their dolls.

The other reason we wanted to come to this area was to see the water tower. The tower was the only public building in the burned zone to survive, and is one of just a few of the surviving structures still standing from the Chicago fire of 1871. img_4942.jpg

Lego store is next door to the American Girl Doll store. It had a very cool Chicago skyline done in all Legos. I am always amazed by what they can do with Legos.

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We spent $76 on parking day- Ugh!

Rouge One (the Jeep) did get to ride her first elevator today, so it was worth the $26 for 2 hours!

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I was over paying exorbitant amounts of money on parking so I wanted to head home. I was also not excited about the 2 hour ride home. But I had really wanted to go the Museum of Science and Industry and the Adler Planterterium. I decided we had time to go to one of them so I chose the Museum of Science and Industry because I saw on line that they have a great human biology section with a model of the circulatory system and that aligns with the unit we are doing in science so we headed there. We found free street parking- Wahoo! I am so glad we decided to go.

It is also one of the buildings the is still remaining from the 1893 World’s fair. It was the Palace of Fine Arts for that fair, then for the 1933 World’s Fair it was the Museum of Science and Industry. It is the biggest and best Science Museum in America! I wish we would have had more time.

Thursday Chris had to fly to Denver so he took the Jeep to the airport. We did school work and the weather cleared up so we headed to the pool. We loved riding the bikes down the hills of the campground. We also took a cheesy hay ride (without any hay!) around the campground while the entertainment director sang songs.

We came, we saw, we conquered. Next time we visit Chicago, we will fly in and stay at a Hotel so we are closer to everything and catch a game at Wrigley Park.  This was one of my favorite big cities we’ve visited.

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Friday we did school work and packed up to move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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