Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stop 1: Chicago

Greetings from, hmmm where are we... Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. There's really nothing much here beyond the place we're spending the night, so how about I talk about our two days in Chicago instead-

We got into Chicago Friday evening, just enough time to grab some food and wander around, and then Saturday morn our first stop was the Chicago Institute of Art (aka the world-famous art museum). When I was in Chicago a few weeks ago the line for the art museum stretched around the block so I didn't get to go inside, but this weekend that wasn't a problem so we got to admire the artwork-
This is, I swear, the only Ferris Bueller picture that will be displayed here, though not for lack of any other homages we did to the movie. Anyway...
So one of the things I was looking forward to most in Chicago was meeting up for a few hours with my friend Lauren. Lauren is my alter ego in many ways- we're both physics majors and history minors, for example- and we've known each other for several years. The trick here, though, is we still talk to each other several times a week online despite the fact that we have always lived several hundred miles apart and have only met a small handful of times in the flesh (the first of these was during astronomy camp), but we still manage to meet up for a few hours every few years just to sort of prove something or another. Lauren (and her boyfriend Lane) happens to be working at Argonne National Labs this summer so we hung out for the afternoon for the first time in three years, and it was good.

This picture shows, from right to left, me, my brother Patrick, Lauren, and Lane, standing in front of "The Bean" at Millenium Park. The Bean is a large reflective metal surface that is surprisingly impressive really, particularly if you stand under it-
The view from under The Bean. If you zoom in, can you find the image of the person holding the camera straight up? (Honestly, I haven't tried to find myself yet, so if you do let me know.)
The apartment building near Millennium Park which, if you ask geeky enough people, looks like a computer chip.
The concert venue at the Park, which I was very impressed with as the entire top is covered with a speaker system. It goes without saying that the thing was designed by Frank Gehry, of course.

Anyway, after Lar and I caught up for a few hours and bid goodbye for another few years (really, we have a wonderful but odd friendship), my family headed to the top of the Hancock Tower for dinner. I'd been to the top of the Hancock Tower before, when my friends and I snuck up there for a free view, but going on a trip with your parents has the advantage of a nice dinners-
Plus unlike before I could enjoy the view at leisure, which I was all too happy to do of course...
See, I have decided that when it's all said and done and we look at what the United States has given the rest of the world, skyscrapers will make that list (after the idea of democracy, but before how it often works in practice). And if you want to study skyscrapers, Chicago has got to be the best place I've ever been to do it because there are so many in such variety and- here's something you don't see in a place like New York City- they all stand well by themselves and you can look at each individually. It really is wonderful.
Another shot from the Hancock Tower, except I rather like this one because of that teeny tiny tower you can barely make out on the bottom. That is the Chicago Water Tower from ~350m up, which was the tallest building in the city after the Great Chicago Fire that burned down most of the city in 1871. So odd to put things in that perspective...
The Water Tower from below, as it really is a lovely building.

Anyway, after dinner we did such important things like watch the Pittsburgh Penguins lose Game 4 in the Stanley Cup (not looking good for us, unfortunately...) and the morning after was spent at the Field Museum, which will be skipped in the interest of time and the fact that I've already covered it extensively once. Plus honestly, the highlight of today was what happened in the afternoon at the ballgame...