I think I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. Maybe a vacation by a pool or a beach with someone to bring me food, drinks, and books at regular intervals. Instead I am home with five million loads of laundry to do and an empty fridge. Such is life.
Basically, this vacation was for the kids. After my husband's family left we started on a mad dash of doing everything the kids wanted in the city. We had made a lot of promises about things we would do when next we went to Chicago and the kids remembered every one of those promises. It was a lot of fun to see them having so much fun.
Our daughter's top pick was the zoo. She loves animals and the zoo makes her happy. I know many people are not crazy about zoos and the idea of animals in captivity but, like so many things, there are two sides to every story. Zoos also do a lot for endangered animals and they can be very educational. Brookfield zoo is a particularly nice zoo with large enclosures for the animals and a huge emphasis on providing mental stimulation for the animals.
One of the highlights of our zoo trip was when we were given the opportunity to feed one of the animals. Our daughter was being very amused by a gerenuk, a type of long-necked antelope. It kept trying to eat the fence and she was laughing and making a big fuss over the animal. One of the zoo employees saw her, we were the only ones by that enclosure, and he stopped and asked if we would like to give the gerenuk a treat. He took us into the employee only section of the enclosure and told us a bit about the animals and let us hand feed the gerenuk. Both kids were thrilled. Actually, my husband and I were thrilled too.
Our son requested a trip to the aquarium. He loves the ocean and ocean animals. The Shedd aquarium is very nice but the lines to get in were insane. Once we were in many of the exhibits were very crowded as well. Still, it was a hit with the kids.
The third day the kids asked to go to the Museum of Science and Industry. This was hugely successful. It has always been one of my husband's favorite museums in the city and he greatly enjoyed showing it to the kids. I think we spent over five hours there and did not manage to see everything. There are displays on weather, on the human body, and on airplanes. There is a replica of a coal mine and a huge model train display. There is a mirror maze which freaked me out. I followed my son through the whole thing. He thought I was crazy and he insisted on doing it a second time. I kept imagining how perfect it would be for a murderer. Maybe I read too many books. There is an exhibit on space and you can tour a submarine. The list just goes on and on.
Chicago has some fantastic activities and the kids had a wonderful time. However, I do think it is a little ridiculous how much these things cost. Most of them have a base price and then you add on other activities once you get in. Then you also have to add parking and food. And don't forget the gift shops around every corner. I can easily see how the price could be prohibitive for many families. I think that is unfortunate.
I didn't get much reading done while we were gone. We were just too busy doing other things. I had hoped to come across a few bookstores but that did not happen either. It is getting harder and harder to find bookstores these days. There seem to be a few big chains but that is it. I find that unfortunate as well. I will leave you with a picture of the Harold Washington Library in Chicago. I know it isn't a great picture but it is the best I could do while stopped at a red light. Chicago traffic is crazy. Don't you wish this was your library?