Road Trip 2014-Day 11 (July 12, 2014)

(click here for today's pictures)
Windy City lives up to its a smidgen of rain!

The first thing I heard this morning was that it was raining.  Those were not the words that I wanted to hear but the show must go on. Robby had told the kids that he would ask them one time in the morning if they wanted to go to breakfast since we wanted to be headed downtown early.  If they got up and put on their clothes, they could go but if not they could eat in the car.  Even though he didn’t mean it as a punishment, for the kids to miss breakfast at a hotel would be torture.

He quietly whispered to Graham who was up quickly and before we knew it, even Reagan, who is the slowest at getting ready, was already changing her clothes.  Robby just grabbed clothes for himself as everyone else got ready and then left for breakfast.  I stayed in the room with Whitman while he slept a bit more.  I rushed around getting everything packed up and soon was ready myself. I quickly got Whitman ready and then we went to relieve Robby.  He took most of the kids back to the room so he could get ready and they could watch some tv.

We were loaded up and in the car by 7:59 and we tried our hardest to grab the camera.  But alas before we had that lens cap off it clicked to 8.  Maybe another day, we can leave the hotel before 8. We were still in Chicago and at the Shedd Aquarium when it opened at 10.  

The aquarium was not too high on our list of Chicago attractions but it is what you do when it is raining and there are no other options.  Robby and I feel that once you have seen one fish, you have seen them all but the kids do love seeing those fish so on we went.  The line was crazy, crazy long but we were so lucky that we were there earlish.  Oh and we even had a wonderful parking spot that didn’t break the bank.  Our spot was walkable and though we did get wet walking in, we didn’t have to dry our shoes under the bathroom hand dryers like we saw other people doing.

The first prices you see for the aquarium are the ones that include every single thing to do.  The kids would have loved, loved that but Robby just couldn’t stomach paying for that and then hopefully paying for our double decker/trolley tour.  The trolley was really our first choice but how could you pay nearly 150 bucks to ride around in the rain so into the aquarium we went.

The first few fish really caught Whitman’s attention and then he quickly lost interest (as did I) and became pretty interested in the candy from the Jelly Belly tour the other day that I continued to sneak to him.  Reagan and Anderson were more interested in the touch screens around the aquarium.  This drove me crazy-they can run their little fingers across screens all day long at home-there were real live animals swimming in front of them and they are looking at a screen.  I did insist that they at least read what they were touching if I could make it to them in time.

We went through all of the sections of the aquarium that our ticket allowed.  The kids even tried to touch some type of fish but Reagan and Anderson (the ones with the longest arms) were the only ones able to touch them.  I was pretty impressed with the seahorses but I think the highlight for most was seeing the diver in one of the tanks.  We actually saw him twice-once cleaning the windows and then once feeding the fish.  That was pretty neat and when he was feeding the fish, he was also answering questions from the crowd-though it was very hard to understand him.

When we finished the aquarium, we left and it rained pretty good on us as we hurried to the car.  Of course, the car was parked over a puddle so we had to get each kid across the street and then hoist them up into the car.  We had done the aquarium and it was still raining.  What were we going to do next?  Maybe a boat tour? So we headed that way.

We had a map of where the docks were and found them easily.  Robby drives this van like he has grown up driving in a big city.  Seriously, we weave in and out of cars, stopping and going like all the others car, I am actually surprised that he hasn’t started honking as is apparently the custom here! Robby just dropped me off at the boat dock so I walked down 3 flights of stairs to check on the tickets for the boat ride as he “circled the block.”

I found out my information quickly and then text Robby.  He wrote back that there was “no just making the block in Chicago” and that he would be a few minutes.  By the time he had come back, I had grown accustomed to standing on a street corner in the middle of downtown Chicago and thankfully, wasn’t getting too wet from the sprinkles that were gradually diminishing.  

Robby finally showed up after making a really big circle on the way to come and pick me up.  The kids even told me about some of things that they saw on their route.  I had bad news for the crew though-the river was too high to run boats on it so there would be no architectural boat trip.  That seemed to be behind since the weather was improving and we decided to take a chance and hop on a trolley.  But first we had to find a parking spot.

We thought we eventually found a dandy parking spot but once Robby fed the meter, he shortly realized that parking there was only 2 hours.  That really wasn’t enough for us to make the loop on the trolley-even without getting off-so we drove away from that spot.  So we looked and looked and looked.  The first few garages that we saw could (barely) accommodate our van but with parking over 50 dollars for the day, we drove on.  Then every garage we saw after that continued to have a lower and lower clearance.  They started off at 7 foot and ended up at 6 feet and 7 inches.  We finally just found the furthest spot on the trolley tours and started looking for a parking spot there.  And we found one in a nice lot but the meter would only go for 3 hours.  But if Robby went back about an hour later (or even after that) he could add time to it.  It was like this because it was some kind of “brunch rate.”

So we walked to find the trolley and were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t too many blocks down the road and we were able to buy tickets without any problem.  There were 2 levels of grown up tickets-expensive and really expensive.  This time, unlike the aquarium, we went with really expensive.  Really, there wasn’t much difference in price and they allowed us to stay on the trolley/bus after 5 and all the way to 10.  

McDonalds was right next door so we went in there for a potty stop and for lunch.  The kids all gobbled down their hamburgers and fries.  Robby went back to add time to the meter and we went outside to wait on the bus.  The first one that arrived was indeed a double decker bus and my kids were so excited.  They all sat wide eyed at all of the sites.  And they were perfect-one of the worker ladies asked me once when we boarded the trolley if the kids were good up there as we walked up the steps.  I said that they were and added that I did have my spanking spoon just in case they weren’t.  

We hopped off and on and off and on that trolley-it didn’t even matter that Robby and I were pretty much always carrying Whitman or Keaton, we both had bags to deal with and each had a stroller.  By the end of the evening, Reagan could get Keaton up and down on the trolley steps and each boy would take a stroller for us and get it to where it needed to go.    

The first time we left the trolley we did so for free things!  We all received free t-shirts for taking the trolley tour so we went to go and pick those up.  The kids were a bit bummed that they didn’t have small ones for them so I said that I would try my best to shrink them.  We also bought an ornament there of a trolley that said “Chicago Trolley Tours”-I bought that when I thought we would catch the trolley sometime but the double decker buses were much more frequent and they were the only ones that we rode on.  Oh, well, the ornament will still help me remember the day.

We also had a coupon for a free sample bag at Garrett’s popcorn.  There was a bit of a line (nothing like the line that we saw later in the day though).  The sample bags were surprisingly large but we still bought a huge bag of caramel popcorn.  That is the only kind that Anderson liked but I really think that Campbell was the only one who ate all of her cheese popcorn that was in her sample bag (it was their signature Chicago mix containing caramel and cheese popcorn.)

Then we walked over to Millennium Park.  I vividly remember the bean and the spitting fountains from last time we were here (before Anderson.)  The kids were equally impressed with the bean and when Robby let them take of their shoes and socks to get in the spitting fountains, I looked at him like he had gone mad.  We made a few bets about which child would fall first in the 2 inches of water that was in the fountain or which child would end up under the part of the fountain that spits out tons of water and we wagered on how long it would take for all of this to happen.  We both lost because no one becoming soaking wet though it might have been torturous for them to not be allowed to become drenched.  

After the park, we walked a ways and ended up eating a cookie at a little fast food restaurant.  Robby ran into to find us a drink but came back out to tell us to come in and set down and he could get free refills.  So that is what we did and we all had cookies so that was a treat.  The kids have to have a good break or reward after every long walk or they will grow tired and a bit cranky.  So this really hit the spot and back on the trolley we hoped.  

The next stop for us was the Navy Pier.  We rode the trolley there and then walked all the way down the pier looking for something to eat-pizza preferably.  That is a really, really long pier and it was really, really long walking back on it without finding our supper.  We took pictures and then headed back to the trolley.  

It seemed like it was a fairly short ride to the Chicago Water tower where we got off.  We walked around a bit and even found free samples at the Hershey store.  While we ate those samples, Robby ran to get us a pizza baked.  We had to wait a bit for it but the weather was still nice-comfortable and overcast-on one set of steps.  So we ate most of our pizza there when it came.  The other half we ate under the trees because it had started to rain a bit again.

We had been so fortunate with the rain.  They had been calling for it to rain all day long-70% or greater chance every hour today.  But after it stopped this morning, it didn’t really rain again until late tonight.  After our pizza, we found the American Girl and Lego store and then their bathrooms for a potty stop before finding the trolley again.

This time it did take us a bit to figure out where it stopped but once we made it on the silly thing, the weather was perfect for one last loop around Chicago.  By this time, it was a bit after 9 and the night time loop took 1 hour so it was pretty late by the time we got off again at the stop.  

The original plan had been for us to wait on Robby while he went to get the car.  Robby and I would have been fine with that even though his phone was already dead and the light drizzle.  But the kids wanted to walk and that was probably a good decision since neither of us had to wonder where the other one was.  It was a good 10 blocks that we trekked back to the car and was after 10 before we got to the van-still intact where we left it!

I passed out drinks, Robby found where we were going and then it took both of us and the gps to navigate out of the city.  Once out of the city, I called Nonna and Pops and started working on the blog.  And before we knew it we were in the hotel.  I had said the other night that we were able to get in the hotel so easily and quickly.  What do you get when you brag like that? Vomit, that is what!  As we were climbing out of the car at 11:30, I heard those words “Mom, Campbell just...well, you know.  

Thankfully the laundry was on our floor and her clothes and then our clothes were in the wash.  It is nearly 3 and everyone is sleeping soundly (and our laundry is still drying) so we will just pray that Campbell’s tummy issues were just a fluke and that it doesn’t happen again or spread to anyone else! And yes, I said 3! The dryer is a bit slow-Robby has gotten a second wind and is looking at pictures from 2008 and I am getting whip lash from jerking my head trying to stay awake for just a few more minutes! Glad tomorrow is a slow day-only about 4-5 hours to drive with 1 real activity (Indiana Dunes) and possibly a few other stops (depending on how late we sleep!)

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