Ok so we haven’t woken up to an alarm in 27 days, until today. And it was a good job we did! We were up at 7am and on the road by 745am. The plan was to get into Chicago before the traffic hit. That plan failed. Epically. As we hit 10 miles out, it took us about an hour and a quarter to get in to the parking lot that Nathan had found last night. Parking panda…10 hours of parking for $11! Genious. No more worrying about parking in big cities now!

The traffic was back to back the whole way in. We eventually arrived at about 930am. Most of that time spent doing the last ten miles!! We parked up and got our bearings before heading towards the Adler Planetarium. We had to make sure we were wearing appropriate attire for the walking we would be doing and Nathan had his trusty free bag with him…We decided to get the city pass this time as it encompassed all five main things we wanted to do and saved us about $53 each!

It was so unbelievably windy. Tree branches were almost horizontal yet the sea was surprisingly calm! We decided to walk along the sea instead of through the park. The view of the city from here was beautiful. It may have been incredibly windy but it was still ‘insanely hot’ in my words or ‘slightly warm’ in Nathan’s. We arrived at the Planetarium. There is nothing like walking round a museum with about 100 kids running about because the chaperones can’t control them. I mean seriously, the chaperones were parents of children there and they had no control whatsoever. The kids weren’t even interested in anything at the museum! They were playing hide and seek and let’s see how many times we can get in people’s way who actually wanted to look! I officially hate children more now ๐Ÿ˜‚. I swear I wasn’t like that at school!

The first exhibit was to do with the moon and about Jim Lovell. He didn’t get accepted into NASA the first time around but did the second for Gemini and Apollo missions. He was first command of Gemini 12 with Buzz Aldrin as pilot. He was then on Apollo 9 prime crew which then became Apollo 8 due to construction issues and Lovell, in 1969, became one of the first three men to travel to the moon. The began heading back to Earth on Christmas Day and Lovell was first to announce this once communication was re-established. They landed 27th December. 

His next mission was Apollo 13. We’ve all probably seen the movie right!? There was a fire inside a cryogenic oxygen tank which then caused a second tank to ignite resulting in all oxygen on board disappearing in the space of a couple of hours. The moon landing was aborted and they focused on getting the crew back to Earth safely. The Lunar Module was their life boat and they had to swing around the moon in order to head home. They safely returned to Earth. Despite the fact he’s gone to the moon twice, something only two others can claim, he never walked on it. 

I would love to be an astronaut !!

There is also a small part of the moon in this exhibition. 

I wish I paid more attention in physics at school when in museums like this, because it is just so fascinating! Worlds out there beyond what we know being researched, people being sent into space. It would be the coolest job ever! Sadly I’m not clever enough or probably little enough!

The next exhibit took you round the planets in our solar system. My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets. That is what I had going round my head the whole time so I could remind myself of the order of the planets!! Can’t recall if that was from my year 9 SATs or dual science at GCSE! Either way, I take back all the times I have said ‘why do I need to know this I’m never going to use it in my adult life.’ I have officially proved myself wrong. 

(See if you can spot where we are on the above globe!) They showed you all the facts about the different planets from how many moons they have, how long a day and year is, how far from the moon it is, it’s weight in comparison to Earth’s as well as what the composition is. Truly fascinating stuff it really was.

Next up was telescopes. 

So many different ones including going back to the early years and how they used to identify stars and planets. There was even a 20ft telescope. My favourite part was probably the Atwood Sphere. it is Chicago’s oldest large scale mechanical planetarium. There was an incredibly knowledgeable guide who took us into the sphere and the sky lit up. It showed the brightest stars in the sky. This in particular showed 33 of them you can see above Chicago.

Little Dipper and Draco the Dragon. The dragon was meant to be protecting the Little Dipper but ultimately failed. Worst dragon ever. HerculesCepheus and Cassiopeia Orion the hunter. The star leading to his arrow is Bellatrix, from Harry Potter, the brightest star, Regulus (Regulus Black for those non Harry Potter fans) features in the Leo constellation and Sirius is part of the Canis Major Constellation…which is a dog and the animal that Sirius turns into in the books. There is also Luna (the moon), Andromeda (chained lady), Draco (dragon constellation), and Scorpius. I’m an avid Harry Potter fan so found this insanely interesting!Perseus with Amdromeda hanging on to the back of him is the top one with Pisces underneath Cancer my zodiac signScorpioVirgoBig Dipper and BootesOphichus (man holding snake) She also told us about the Summer Triangle from Chinese mythology. There was a cow herder, Zu-Lang who fell in love with Zhi-Nu after he stole her clothes after coming down from heaven to wash them. Instead of going back to face awkward questions, they got married. They were then whisked off to the stars and separated by the Milky Way. They believe that on the 7th day of the 7th month they cross the bridge of magpies and meet. Chinese Valentine’s Day in the 7th July. How romantic! She is Vega in the constellation Lyra and he is Altair in the constellation Aquila.

I was truly fascinated by what she was telling us so it formed part of my bedtime reading! There is also a Greek myth involving Zeus and eagle and a swan.

There was a space through time section which told us how the universe formed over 13.7 billion years ago beginning with a Big Bang. The museum even had a section on how ancient and medieval used astronomy in their cultures. The museum was full to the brim about information as well as having interactive exhibits. Definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Chicago.

Next stop was the Shedd Aquarium. We do love an aquarium and this one was amazing. It was huge! Ok admittedly, you’re probably thinking that once you’ve seen one aquarium you’ve seen them all right? To an extent yes. I suppose so. But the exhibits are all different and there will probably be those few creatures that you haven’t seen before. Or those creatures you’ve only seen once but find incredible. For me that’s the beluga whale! We did the inside exhibitions first.

They separated it into the amazon, the reef, rivers across the world and the great ocean. There were some huge fish, colourful fish, an alligator-turtle that just looked mean as well as turtles. In the Caribbean reef they had a green turtle called Nickel who they rescued after she had been hit by a boat propeller. Blue lobster Massive crustaceans!! Now there was a story back when I was in Corfu with my family when I was a kid. We went snorkelling in the sea. I was a strong swimmer so it shouldn’t have been a problem. We must have been about 20 or so metres out from the beach when I looked down to what I thought was a shipwreck. There I was in the middle of the sea, hyperventilating because I thought I had seen a shipwreck. All it turned out to be was the thick seaweed. Nathan and I are planning on snorkelling in Belize so who knows what I’ll be like if we come across any of the above, let alone this…This mean looking creature is a snapping turtle but it has a tail and features of an alligator. Another creature I wouldn’t want to meet isExcuse the poorly taken photo due to sunlight and glass but this was a monster. It is the amazon’s largest fish, the Arapaima. It must have been about 5ft long. It has a bony tongue that it uses to crush prey against the roof of its mouth. These were pretty though ๐Ÿ˜Š. Next stop in the aquarium was my favourite โ€‹โ€‹Since we saw these Beluga whales in Atlanta I have hoped we would see them again. And we were lucky enough to at Shedd aquarium! They were majestically and playfully swimming round and making the cutest noises! They even splashed their tails! Would love to encounter these in the wild! Included in our ticket was a wildlife show. Dolphins. I swam with dolphins in Mexico two years ago so nothing would beat that but in terms of a dolphin show, this was pretty awesome! They did it to the background of ‘One World.’

Again, there really is nothing like watching something like this, with a school of more uncontrolled children running about and screaming next to you. I mean the chaperones had no regard for anyone else watching and just merrily let them carry on. When we got up to leave we kinda just barged into them, gave them a taste of their own medicine. ๐Ÿ˜ก 

The show came from an angle of what we can do to stop animals getting injured or killed. There’s a big ”no straw” campaign on at the moment to coincide with this. They talked about a four year old blind sea lion pup they rescued and a dog who had severe burns all down his back that they also rescued. They talked about the importance and training and compared the behaviours between one of the dolphins and the dog in terms of how they react if you reward good behaviours. It was remarkably similar! 

The dolphins were in such sync with each other it was beautiful to watch. The final part of our trip to the aquarium was the reef full of sharks and massive fish. Ok It was another great trip to the aquarium other than the fact my phone stopped working and told me my storage was full. I had to use Nathan’s to take photos in the end because mine was being stupid!

Next stop was the field museum. This was a bit odd compared to where else we had visited because it was a museum that started off full of stuffed animals. It was, in effect, a zoo where you were guaranteed to see all the animals you want and they pose for you to take photos of them!! They collect dead animals from zoos etc for research and people used to visit museums full of stuffed animals before we had all the zoos and TV shows.  

The lions are the ‘Lions of Tsarvo’ who went on a reign of terror for nine months in 1898, preying on construction workers of the British-Ugandan railway in Kenya. They caused construction to stop for 3 months, forced hundreds of people to flee their homes and killed 28 of the workers before JH Patterson stopped them.

The museum is also home to a large collection of mummies. They also house the original chambers of the tomb of Unis-ankh which were carved from limestone 5000 years ago. They were so intricately decorated. I have enclosed a step by step process to mummification in case anyone wants to use it ๐Ÿ˜‚Alongside this, they have Sue….Sue is the largest, most well-preserved complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. She is 40.5 feet long and 13 feet tall. A pretty spectacular specimen of a dinosaur!!

We finished up at the Field museum and headed jack along the sea before entering Grant Park where there was a beautiful water fountain with a backdrop of skyscrapers. It was just beautiful. Without a cloud in the sky. The splashes of water were welcomed in the heat of the day! The walk through the park continued and we stumbled across many weird and wonderful creations. I mean this was just disturbing. There were children running around in the water as well as half naked youngsters with two massive pillars showing women spitting water out. I mean interpret it as you wish but it wasn’t exactly what we anticipated seeing! Then we found this beauty…IMG_2826IMG_2823IMG_2875

The Bean. A mirrored bean shape in the middle of Millenium Park surrounded by people asking ‘can you take a photo please?’ It was incredibly cool to see the backdrop of skyscrapers in it! It was pretty huge too! We continued our journey on to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. By this point it was gone 3pm and we still had lots to do! We were in and out of Hard Rock within an hour and continuing our journey to 360 Chicago, otherwise known as the John Hancock building.IMG_2830The buildings on our route were so impressive! Including Trump tower!IMG_2832This church looked like it was made from lego bricks!IMG_2836Then we saw this. We were 94 stories up and the views of the north, south, east and west were all remarkable. Plus we saw our first beach!IMG_2845IMG_2849Above is the tilt. We didn’t go on it but it’s a section of the building that tilts you so you’re about 45 degrees out of the building! The woman didn’t know where to stand ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think she thought she was actually going to fall! We spent about an hour at the top of the tower before riding the elevator down and beginning the walk back to the car. IMG_2855We passed Chicago PD…๐Ÿ˜‚IMG_2856We saw the begin sign for Route 66! A shame about the graffiti and stickers but still an iconic sign all the same! The streets of Chicago are filled with all different kinds of people. We passed homeless families, a homeless guy asking for money for weed (at least he was honest), a man playing the drums, a gorilla and Spider-Man who would dance for tips. It was diverse and amusing to say the least! We eventually arrived at our last stop for the day…Willis Tower. The tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere! 104 stories tall with views that allowed you to see into 4 neighbouring states! Breathtaking! IMG_2858IMG_2860IMG_2861IMG_2864IMG_2867

The views were amazing. It was lucky we had the city pass today because we weren’t able to get up and down the Willis Tower in an hour whereas those with general admission had to wait two hours! There wasn’t much at the top of the tower compared to the John Hancock tower which had a bar and ice cream! But we were higher and could see further. Both were amazing!

We had 20 minutes to get back to the car. Luckily we had paid for the parking until 7 as opposed to 5, but we still had a way to walk back to the car, about 5 blocks one way then 8 in another direction. We walked through a part of Chicago that looked more run down and derelict than we had been encountering and eventually arrived at the parking lobby. There were already two guys waiting for the elevator and one asked which floor we wanted. 7. The elevator doors wouldn’t shut. Pressed the floor number and they kept opening. One of the guys shoved the doors open and thankfully they closed and up we went. We had precisely three minutes to jump in the car and get to the exit. 18:59 we got there, scanned the pass.

‘Please pay $8’ flashed up on the screen! We arrived with a minute to spare! Thankfully there was a guy there to assist us. He took a photo of our pass then went on to the manager behind. We were stuck at the barrier for about 5 minutes. They had to check what time we entered before releasing us. Eventually they did. Our final stop in Chicago….IMG_2870IMG_2872The location of where Chicago Fire is filmed! I had to find this as it is a favourite show of my mums and mine! Sadly there were no hunky firemen working ๐Ÿ˜”. We drove out of Chicago with the sun setting behind us after a visit to Navy Pier. It had been a 12 mile walk round this windy city but it was truly a beautiful place. We have done a few big cities now and they are all so different with their own individual quirks and iconic buildings. They are great great days!

After a solid night sleep in America’s Best Value Inn and breakfast at Taco Bell, we headed off to Indianapolis to catch the Indy 500 practice. It was 8 degrees and hammering down with rain when we left the motel this morning, not a great day for an outdoor adventure! Still, bad weather has deterred us from nothing as of yet! Whilst we drove from the hotel we also moved forward an hour in time! How freaky haha! We arrived after a couple of hours and had to figure out where to park. It was a coat, shorts and walking boots kind of day! The temperature had picked up to the mid 20s but it was still raining. Warm rain!

We parked up and braved the rain to figure out where the ticket office was. We found it and took shelter inside to purchase them.IMG_2886IMG_2892As we were walking through the stadium, the rain stopped. The sky began to clear and it was so humid and hot. We visited the gift shop and continued to wonder around before they put an announcement out saying that the weather had passed and we could return to the stands. We had general admission tickets so had no idea at all where we could and couldn’t sit so we had to ask.IMG_2890Gasoline Alley was where all the cars and drivers came through to get to the track and their garagesIMG_2893The track was still too wet for the race cars to drive on so these trucks went round and round as high speeds to dry it for them. The cars won’t race if there’s any moisture in the air or on the track!IMG_2901IMG_2898IMG_2902The cars were brought out one by one to their stations in the pit lane. I had no idea that we were sitting in the pit lane! I actually thought that the stands in front of us were advertising. It wasn’t until the cars came out that Nathan told me! ๐Ÿ˜‚IMG_2917It was only as the cars started to come out that I also realised we were sat by Fernanso Alonso’s pit stop! Number 29, he had the 5th fastest lap so far today before the practice was stopped due to the weather. He wants the Triple Crown (winning the F1, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24hr) and he hasn’t finished all the Grand Prix races this year due to poor Honda engines. This is something different for him.IMG_2921If you look above the camera, you can see Alonso in his car! The cars raced round the track hoping to clock the fastest speed. The fastest speed today was 233mph! The fastest ever speed clocked here was 237mph! I can safely say I have never heard such beautiful sounds as these cars at full throttle round the track. I have videos but am having issues with this blog today but will try and upload. It was loud and raw and just amazing. The atmosphere again was electric despite not being full, and it attracted all kinds of people. Families, groups of older women, young people and groups of men drinking beer with their tops off. Nearly everyone had a coolbox or two full of beer and as soon as that sun came out those tops were off! IMG_2925We should have got a pass that allowed you into the pit lane because the drivers were in there signing things and taking photos! IMG_2926As well as Alonso, we had Max Chilton, J Howard, Jack Harvey and Pippa Maine all racing for the Brits! It really was amazing to watch and hear, I can only begin to imagine what the actual race day would be like!IMG_2930Because of the rain, they only had about an hour and three quarters on the track before they started to return to their garages. We waited at Gasoline Alley to catch glimpses of the drivers and their cars!IMG_2938They we’re very accommodating signing hats and programmes and t-shirts as well as waving to the people waiting for them! The cars were beautiful ๐Ÿ˜. I am considering a career change to a professional driver! 233mph round a track?? Sign me up!!IMG_2943IMG_2944And there we have him. Fernando Alonso in the flesh and so close! We will definitely pay for the extras next time we attend something like this! The experience was phenomenal! It’s a shame we won’t see the actual race but we’re probably about 3 days off schedule at the moment. It doesn’t even matter though because we are having THE BEST TIME and these random escapades turn out to be some of the best times we have had so far!

I mean, what could be better than sitting on the bleachers, with the sun beaming down on you, whilst you have no sun cream and no sunglasses because it was cold and wet when you got out the car, waiting for the cars to drive past at incredible speeds making awesome sounds, getting sunburnt…again. In our defence, it was completely the fault of the weather this time and not us!!!

We left to drive towards Columbus, Ohio. Our next destination. I couldn’t blog en route because my app kept crashing and I barely had internet which also meant I couldn’t book a hotel. Eventually when I could, the hotels were expensive so I looked at places on the outskirts. Two hotels booked up in the space I got to the booking page so I used one of our nights to redeem in Merryville….

it was 30 miles back in the direction we had just come from…

Until tomorrow…(hopefully if my app fixes itself!!)