Welcome back friends, this past weekend we decided to go to Chicago. It was quite the adventure. It all began with an intense week and a couple of visits to the doctor. As some of you may know, Eyra was not feeling her best two weekends ago and let’s just say that for now, Eyra is a bit better but not 100% quite yet. Now Abby and I are the ones who got the bug since we keep coughing left and right and it sucks big time. Our trip began with a baby foot on my face around 3:30 in the morning on Saturday, that for sure woke me up and that’s how my day began. Our Chicago reservations were made in a timely fashion, we were packed, fueled, snacks for the road were ready and we left exactly at 5:00am on the dot. Chicago is exactly 5 hours from Pella and if everything went right, our arrival would coincide with the museum’s opening time. Eyra slept almost all the way and woke up as we were 10 minutes away from the museum (I call that, perfect timing).
When we left Pella, we left with rain and when we arrived to Chicago, we were greeted by much more rain. It has been 3 weeks since Abby and I opened our camping season and yes, our SUV has a roof top tent installed, we made sure to check the height of our SUV and made sure that our vehicle would clear most of Chicago’s parking facilities (buildings) prior to our trip. The majority of Chicago’s parking garages have a clearance of 7’ feet, my SUV’s height with the roof top tent is 6’ 8”, that being said, there was no need for us to take out the roof top tent. Well F**k!! I was completely wrong! The Field Museum shares parking lots with the Shedd Aquarium and Soldier Field Stadium and since we arrived at 10:00am which is the museum’s opening time, the outdoor parking lots were completely full. I didn’t hesitate since I was sure I was going to fit in the parking garage, which I did but the parking garage has fire extinguishing piping all along the parking garage’s supporting columns. The columns are located every 10’ and have lots of screws just hanging down and I scraped the s**t out of our roof top tent cover and ripped it pretty good, the damage looked like a beauty and I feared the worst. As C3PO from Star Wars would say “Thank the maker” there was no damage to the tent but the cover is a goner and the replacement is not cheap. All I have to say is… 7’ feet clearance? My a$$ (lie).
After parking and checking out the damage made to the roof top tent cover, we got Eyra all covered up, we got her rain gear on and placed her on her stroller and headed straight to the museum, we had to enter the museum through a separate entrance since we had a stroller and I am glad we did because the “normal” entrance was so full that the ticketing line went from the inside of the museum all the way to the outside stairs of the museum (not fun in the rain), according to Chicagoans, that type of weather happens all the time and they don’t mind getting wet one bit. We got our tickets and headed straight to the children’s play area. Eyra had a blast, our kiddo wasted no time and quickly made a friend and the both of them played with corn in a Mesa Verde exhibit for a while, she also stepped inside a T-Rex footprint, played with baby dinos (got super scared for some reason), made music in the drum room and played with sand.
We continued our journey to a super cool Egyptian exhibit where we found out that big museums such as this one have a vast amount of amazing historical artifacts that draws an insane amount of visitors like ourselves and it’s really hard to enjoy each display. It reminded me of Disneyland, we have to wait for hours in line to enjoy the ride that lasts only 3 minutes and in this case we had to wait in line to see one display. The irritating part of it is that finally when we got to the display, we couldn’t even read all of the information in the plaques as people began to say (well your taking your sweet time). Yes, pal! I am taking my sweet time after leveling $100 bucks and just because you said that, I will go even slower. I sound super negative; I know! But what would you guys have done? Moving on…The Egyptian exhibit also had an interesting bed which looked uncomfortable but it was quite the opposite, it was comfy and don’t mind the awkward pillow it was better than I thought (soft), it felt more like a hammock. So here is a weird question, do any of you believe in time travel? I have to tell you, Abby and I found a statue of an Egyptian Michael Jackson and it was legit. Is time travel a real thing? You be the judge!
As we arrived to the main floor. Sue, the T-Rex was hard to admire as there was no way to even get close to it, the amount of people around it was to great and we decided to move along and see other exhibits since there was no rush to see Sue right at that moment since we literally had the whole day to enjoy the museum. Our next stop was the ancient Americas, I wanted to pay a visit to my “compadres” in other words my ancestors, haha. It was really neat, informative and full of amazing artifacts. I just want to point out that the exhibit of ancient America did not only focus on the Mexican indigenous tribes but North, Central and South America. The exhibit included pottery from the Quechua to the uniqueness of the Navajo hunting tools to sacred scrolls of a well-known indigenous civilization who fancied themselves as the star gazers of the era (the Maya) and let’s not forget the architectural masterpieces of the Incas. It was a great exhibit.
One bizarre item that I noticed was a bra made out of gold. I am sure it was a good idea at the time but man! I wouldn’t want to be the chick wearing it, I am sure that golden bra must have been pretty uncomfortable.
We headed to an exhibit which in my opinion was the coolest and my favorite of all. This was the Northwest and Arctic people exhibit. I think I bored Abby on our way home from Chicago since that’s all I talked about. The artifacts, the knowledge of the wildlife that these individuals had makes hunters nowadays look like pansy’s. The craftsmanship, the outfits, the tools, the respect for wildlife and most importantly, the bond of humans and animals was beyond cool. You hear of people talk about their hunting rifles and bows, their scent free hunting clothes, their new Polaris UTV, their new camo shirt made by Under Armour and their top of the line fishing hooks from Bass Pro Shop and let’s not forget bragging about a deer or an elk kill as a trophy. Let’s begin shall we? The tribes from the Northwest coast and the Artic didn’t have the hunting gadgets that are available now. These guys killed an animal to survive and feed a tribe, not just a single family. The animal that was killed was acknowledged and never forgotten and it was seen as a gift from their deities and everything from the animal was either consumed and used.
These hunters tackled everything and anything. These guys killed whales and used kayaks to bring it back to shore, Their kayaks were made from seal skin and they did not use Japanese whale ships to reel in the whale, these guys killed deer and used their backs to carry it back to the tribe and did not use fancy UTV’s. Hooks and arrows were made out of bone or sea shells, not stainless steel or titanium, these guys did not use camo from Under Armour but instead used the fur of the animals they killed or clothing made out of animal skin decorated with animal paintings, such as orcas, eagles, bears, salmon and more, this represented the amount of respect the tribes had for these animals. No animals meant no food, and no food meant no survival in the extreme conditions of what is now Alaska. The totem poles were just unbelievable and I took my sweet time on that exhibition. I’ve had the privilege to visit Southeast Alaska and I have seen these mighty totem poles but never really understood its meaning. I learned something new that day.
Next we went to a Chinese exhibition, we had to pay extra to visit this great and detailed chamber. As I mentioned before, it was hard to see it all with detail since the amount of people at the exhibit was just too big and there was barely enough space to move aside. There was however a really neat and traditional Chinese puppet show that Eyra loved and Abby and I sure enjoyed it, it was different and nothing we had seen before. We concluded this exhibit fairly quick since it was impossible to see it all, maybe not impossible but difficult to get a glance at the artifacts since every display had a big line. The Chinese exhibit led us to the prehistoric section of the museum and it did not disappoint.
Eyra absolutely loves dinosaurs and everywhere she looked she kept saying “wow”! I cannot tell you how many “wows” I heard in that exhibit; she was so excited. Her excitement was so great that she decided to walk and not sit in the stroller at all. We easily spent an hour and a half on that exhibition alone. Yes, it was that sweet and with so much information. It was the only place that Eyra gave her full attention to. By this time, we looked at our watches and realized it was nearing 3pm, time flew and we still had many exhibits to visit.
we visited a Tibetan exhibit followed by yet another comical and fascinating display of artifacts from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, the masks made by this native tribes, I honestly thought were made by Hollywood to make their films seem more legit, but I was wrong. Eyra also enjoyed these exhibits since her new favorite movie is Moana! That exhibit ended up merging with another exhibit about conservation and the importance of saving the world’s forests.
I was beginning to get tired but we had a couple of places yet to see and sadly we didn’t have enough time. I am not saying that the Field Museum is as big as the Louvre in France. My family and I spent 2 and a half days at the Louvre and we didn’t even hit 50% of the museum but the Field Museum proved to be worth every penny and worth the time and wait. The African displays were really realistic and the museum made us feel as if we were part of the exhibit, even Eyra got to ride on a disco bike that had a bunch of Michael Jackson cassettes, I am telling you, time travel is beginning to sound more like a real thing!!
We looked at the time and we decided to go check out the one display I been meaning to see the entire time. Can you guess what it is? Sue the T-Rex and yes, the line was down from 500+ people to maybe 30. Yes, people, we are that patient. Sue made my heart happy and also drained my last bit of energy and I was ready to call it a day. Before we left the museum, I asked Abby, “We as Americans have displays of almost every nation in the world, do you think other countries have displays about the United States in their museums, if they do, what could they possibly have? Maybe something WWII related I am sure.”.
We bundled up, braved the rain and the really low parking garage followed by a bunch of naughty words and decided to head to our hotel, we weren’t checked in as we drove straight from Pella to the museum. Abby is probably the second greatest planner I have ever known, number one being my late mother, anyway the hotel that she booked for us was not only supposed to be super fancy but also 2 miles away from the Field Museum. That being said in theory, we should have been to the hotel in no time. Well let’s see… It took us 45 minutes. Traffic was insane followed by the hotel’s parking garage being full. We found some outdoor parking, grabbed our things and started to walk to the hotel… and we got lost, which was no biggie. We got to see a bit of Chicago in the rain. Finally, after stopping at a restaurant and asking for directions, we found the hotel.
We got checked in and by this time, Eyra was a complete mess. She was tired and hungry and I was beginning to feel the same way. Well things didn’t go as planned. We got the wrong room and we couldn’t change our room since the hotel was overbooked. We disputed that but that was the only room available and honestly, at that point, we weren’t going to roam Chicago for a better hotel room. All I wanted was to take my shoes off, lay down and order some grub. Abby agreed and we said screw it. Well… The room was tiny with a queen size bed. Yeah! A queen size bed for the 3 of us. It sucked but we made it work. The view was fantastic, we got to see how the heater and A/C of another building worked, that is what I wanted to see this entire time.
It gets better (not). The so called free WIFI was bull. We literally had to call the lobby and dispute the free WIFI since we apparently had to purchase the WIFI option through AT&T. After 10 minutes on the phone with the lobby, they decided to give us the password to their “free” WIFI. Again, at this point is pouring rain outside and we decided to order in room service, yeah it was delicious but not $100 dollars delicious and that’s not including the 18% gratuity. What happened next was a boiling point for Abby and I, and we found this out as we were checking out the following morning.
As some of you may know, hotel rooms have snacks that you may eat and pay upon checkout, well…our room had the same thing. These snacks consist of water, soda, candy, chips, etc. The snacks were all laying on top of a table with sensors, if you touched the snacks, it automatically triggered the lobby to charge the card on file at checkout. This would have been no big deal (we know better than to mess with room snacks!) … yeah Eyra touched all of the snacks, she didn’t eat them but just moved them. Pricey charge I tell you. We won that dispute, also I am glad we didn’t park on the hotel’s parking garage because they charged $45 the night, we did however park across the hotel for $18 dollars. Was the hotel fancy? Yes, it was! Was it worth staying there? NOPE!! That is our first and last time we ever book there. Despite the hotel fiasco, I would recommend the Field Museum to anyone, is AMAZING!! I would love to go back. If that opportunity happens again, if it does, I will make sure we go during a weekday to avoid the crowd, the museum in my opinion is a national treasure that we all need to cherish and enjoy while we can, especially our children.
Chicago was leaving a sour taste in my mouth but what happened next at the Shedd Aquarium made me regain faith in humanity once more.I feel grateful and lucky to have met this individual and her family and if that person gets to read this, I want to let her know that you have a huge heart and Abby and I are glad that people like you still exist in this world. That is a story that will be told by my Abby in the middle of the week.
The Chicago adventure continues…