Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Windy City, Chicago Recap

As I mentioned, St. Clair was the beginning of the end of our plan. We stayed in Michigan for a couple of extra days letting Mandie's back rest. To break up the drive, we planned to stop somewhere in the middle.

Elkhart Campground fit the bill. With being in Elkhart, I wanted to stop at the RV Hall of Fame but we didn't get up until late the next morning and heard there was stuff going on over there, so I wasn't comfortably taking the camper with us. Instead, we headed on down the road with our sights set on Sycamore. Don't worry- we come back around to this later!

Back tracking for a moment, since my individual wheel weighing, I have been researching different tire options as the weighing indicated that I'm maxed out on 2 tires and overloaded on a 3rd. On top of that, one of the tires was giving me the heebee-jeebees. It just didn't "look" right. Sure enough, on the way to Sycamore- my tire pressure monitor system (TPMS) told me that it was running a little hotter and at a higher pressure than the others. I had to slow down a fair amount (from 62-64 down to 50-55) to keep the pressure down and my TPMS from alarming. This solidified my decision on new wheels and tires. Unfortunately, I didn't act on it right away and we had some "fun" later- but I'll blog about that another time. (Queue collective eye rolling here.)
A sneak peak

Sycamore RV is a decent place. Other than some attitude from the owner/manager, I'd likely be back. I did have to change our dates 3 times- first to reflect our Tuesday travel day (vs Mondays) and then for Mandie's back. He was pleasant on the phone. It started going bad when he asked how many computer devices we needed to get onto the Internet. I didn't plan for this question and quickly ran through devices in my head (3 laptops, 1 iPod, 2 iPads, and 2 phones) and said 6. You would have thought I had asked for a night with his wife with the level of shock on his face. And then it went downhill - apparently this is the kind of place where he guides you to your site. Not a problem. I can read a campground map, but hey- his place. Where he got pissy was when we politely/jokingly (but serious) told him that I only take directions from my wife when it comes to parking the rig. It seems that this was a grave injustice on his park and manhood. He stood there pouting while we parked it. We were barely in position when he made some snide remark and stormed off. The upshot is that the site was spaciously wide even though we had neighbors just behind of us.
Our setup at Sycamore

Chicago was a blast. We first headed to the Sears (err.. Willis) Tower. We got there about noon and hadn't eaten lunch. Imagine our surprise when they were announcing a 2 hour wait to get to the top. But, for the low price of $20 extra per person, you could get a FastPass and go straight to the top. A little lie about Logan's age and we were on our way up. These people were professional elevator packers. When the elevator got full, they let more people in. When we were touching our neighbors, they let more people in. When the nice fellow beside me had no choice but to grope me- they let one last person in. And then we stood like sardines for the X-minute ride to the top.
Our first views of Sears Tower - you can squint and see the skyboxes

Once on the observation deck, we checked out the bugs and spiders outside of the windows. (I do wonder how they got up there.) Mandie and Paige did some roadschooling, talking about the city and stuff or something. After a bit, we made our way to the glass boxes that jute out from the side of the building. This was a mild chaos of lines, but we finally got our turn. Stepping out into the box really did take your breath away. Looking down was pretty eerie. We took some photos and did the selfie thing. We went back to the glass box that had their photographer setup. Paige had to be coaxed, ordered, and pushed out- but the photos are pretty neat.
My wife and kids are so beautiful
Logan Loved It

After this, we needed some food. I have raved about Firehouse Subs to Mandie for a while now. It was very disappointing. Nothing nearly as good as the one in Fairfax.
Firehouse Buckets

Next up was the Adler Planetarium. We were able to get admission to it with a newly acquired annual pass to a Science Center in Lancaster (Lancaster Science Factory). Science centers and aquariums are neat- many have reciprocal agreements that you can get into the others. We really enjoyed the planetarium but really didn't have time to fully experience it. They had some neat space stuff and we drove little rovers similar to the Mars rover (ok, way more simple and much smaller- but the idea is similar). On our scale of "would I go back?" It's a definite yes.
How Astronauts Sleep
It's a Rover, Seldom Sober
Big bang theory

We went to a water front park where Logan and sister played in the "sand" with some little girl. From there, we went to a hotel for the night (a Marriott near Midway airport).
Kids Playing
My beautiful flower

Dinner ended up being very uninspired and we hit a TGI Fridays or Applebee's or something that was next to the hotel. The hotel was decent and saved on our commute time (which was the reason for staying), but it sure reminds me why I love my camper home!
Snuggly in bed

The plan for the next day was to get up early and hit the Museum of Science and Industry. Anyone who knows us just rolled their eyes at the idea of us "getting up early"! And true to form, we got out of the hotel later than we wanted. I also encountered the first parking garage that I simply didn't fit. The entry had a curve to get into the gates and I was just too long and wide to fit. I got lucky in that there was no one behind me and I was able to back out. We found a nice parking lot on the back side of the museum which actually ended up being a fair amount cheaper than the garage.

You could spend days at this place. Our highlights were the Robots display, the massive miniature train setup, and some weather-related exhibits. The kids literally sat on the floor watching a pendulum that shows how the earth moves. Roadschool rocks! I loved the indoor lightning. My dad was telling me about a huge dollhouse that was there when I was a kid. As far as I can tell, it still is, but we didn't get down to see it. We played and stayed until it closed.

Earth's Rotation Display
Indoor Lightning!
Logan watching a robot (he got to control this one later!)
Playing Tic-Tac-Toe against a robot
RAWR! I'm a giant!

Dinner was a Chicago classic- Giordano's Pizza. It was every bit as good as we were told it would be. We got back to the house thoroughly tired and with full brains. Everyone slept good that night!
See deep.
Dat Pizza

As I mentioned, we were there until Tuesday. Nothing major to report- I worked Monday and we got on the road Tuesday for a short 100-mile drive back to Indiana. The drive itself was interesting, but I'll share those details in its own post.

As always, so many photos (160+ and a couple of vidoes) over on Flickr.

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