Yesterday I finally had a chance to play a bit of the tourist after being here in the Chicago area for over a week. I worked most of Friday night (after a normal work day on Friday) and was able to get some sleep around 9AM.
When I got up yesterday afternoon I decided to make good on my plan to see the Sears Tower so I headed that way.
My hotel is about an hour South of downtown Chicago. With no traffic. If I don’t get lost. Fortunately I studied my Mapquest pretty thoroughly (I don’t have anyway to print here in the hotel room) and I drove straight to the parking garage by the tower. It still took a bit over an hour. There was more traffic late on a Saturday afternoon than what I’d experience in all but rush hour during the week.
One of the first things I noticed on my drive is that as I got closer to downtown the ratio of imported cars increased. The areas I have been tooling around south of the city here are overwhelmingly dominated by American made cars. Compared to the mix of autos I am used to seeing on the road it has seemed downright weird. I’m not sure why it is, either.
I do know that there is a Ford plant that I drive by several times a day most days. Apparently they are in the middle of a shutdown right now. I’ve yet to see any activity there.
But that doesn’t really explain the different car mix for me.
Sears Tower makes going up to their Skydeck a whole tourist experience. I am used to the times I’ve gone up in big buildings in NYC. There you buy a ticket, stand in a bit of a line for the elevator and you are up. Here you have to stand in a serpentine line to go through a security checkpoint. A nod to 9-11, I’m sure.
After the security checkpoint they take your picture under the guise of a tourist thingy to take your money on the back side. I’m sure it is really a security thing as they made everyone get their photo taken even after they protested that they didn’t want a photo.
Then you stand in another line to get your ticket, which is nearly 12 bucks. Mine said it was transaction number 216,538 and I know there is no way there could have been that many people there yesterday, but I don’t know what time period it was measuring.
Next you get to stand around some more while you wait to go into a theater to watch a 10-15 minute video about the Tower excerpted from a History Channel show. Then you get to wait in line for the elevator.
It is a bit of a bummer for me to spend all that time standing in line by myself. I’m not much of one to make small talk with strangers, being a bit of an introvert and all. Besides there were a lot of languages around me that I don’t speak. Most of the ones that weren’t English, actually. And there were a lot of those.
I did manage to strike up a little conversation with a local couple while we were waiting in the last line for the elevator. We got on the 9-11 / big building subject somehow. Probably because it is heavy on my mind for some reason. They’d been to NYC but only post 9-11 and I haven’t been there since years before it.
The view from the top is spectacular, as expected. There was a thunder shower off to the Southwest that gave us a spectacular lightning show. The sun was stetting off beyond O’Hare airport. I pointed out to the guy next to me that at nearly 1500 feet we were at the same altitude as the jets approaching the airport. He thought that was pretty cool. And there were lots of them. The jets were staggered in alternating pairs for the parallel westerly runways back across Lake Michigan as far as I could see.
I still love airplanes.
The background music loop had a rendition of Sweet Home Chicago in it that made me whish I had my Blues Brothers CD in the iPod. But it really belongs to Gorgeous so I haven’t wanted to fill it up too much with my music.
Apparently Sears Tower might be destined to not be the tallest building in America much longer. There are plans afoot to build a bigger tower here in Chicago. Could be interesting for sure.
This morning I am off to Naperville which is also about an hour from my hotel. There is a church up there that I want to check out, Christian Community Church. Their head pastor spoke at a conference hosted by our church a couple months back so I thought it would be cool to check them out since I am in the area.
Anyway it has been nice to have a little down time. I needed it. I was originally supposed to be on a plane right now to get home to Gorgeous. But I was informed late last week that my services would be required here for another week. Ugh! So I changed my flight to Friday. We’ll see how much more of Chicago I get to check out.
Oh, and I bought the photos from Sears Tower. Go figure.
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