Jul. 11th, 2006 01:23 pm
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I made another trip to Chicago on Saturday, traveling the now-familiar Amtrak route. Once in the big city I purchased a CTA stored-value fare card (a convenient system) and rode the red line subway north toward the International Museum of Surgical Science. The subway ride was interesting. I arrived in the station just as the train was departing. Another train showed up in just a few minutes, however. They don't even list times on the schedule. It's pretty much a show up, there will be a train in a few minutes kind of system. It accelerates like an electric train accelerates. And does not waste time trying to turn left. So it's pretty speedy.

A surgical museum sounded interesting, and I do work for a medical school, so I thought I'd see it. It was interesting. Some history of famous physicians, lots of old surgical tools, displays of implantable hardware, a fine display of old x-ray tubes, and generally quite informative. It's housed in a formerly grand old house, and so the building is that strange mix of grand stone staircases, lack of maintenance, and low-budget conversion to a new use.

I walked back south along the lake shore. I once again had the chance to ponder cause and effect. Does jogging cause people to look really good, or do only lean, muscular, fit people take up jogging in the first place?

The elevated trains are the same story as the subway, very frequent service. At least compared to the "miss the bus, you are screwed" service I'm more used to. I think the wait time having just missed the train was close to the time I'm used to waiting when I've scheduled everything perfectly and arrive at the bus stop as planned to be sure I don't miss the bus, which is then a bit late. I'm sure the locals hate it and everything, but they don't know how good they've got it. You do have to appreciate, if nothing else, the ease of seeing where the L runs. Along that big thing in the air above the street. Not like a bus, which might go down this street, maybe some other street, hard to say if you're new here. And as far as that goes, the CTA has better bus stop signs than we have in Milwaukee, too.

The Holography museum is a pretty small place. It's worth stopping by if you are in the area, though. Cool, but, as I say, small and also something of a low-budget effort. But admission is only $4.

There is a stained glass museum at Navy Pier. Right between the cheeseburger place and the beer garden. If you are wondering why such a thing would be in such a location, all I can say is I live in Milwaukee, I'm just a tourist, I don't know. Also, I paid $4 for lemonade at Navy Pier. That's just Navy Pier. What can you do? If you are looking for lemonade, I'd recommend the Milwaukee Public Market. Better stuff for half the price. But, you know, not Chicago.

Overall, I find it fun to just wander around the crowded streets of the big city. We actually have people walking around in Milwaukee these days, but it's no Chicago. And, I know, Chicago is no New York, let alone London. But Chicago is also a 90 minute train ride for me.


Jun. 17th, 2006 10:43 pm
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I spent the day in Chicago, wandering. It's been way too long since the last time I did that. Amtrak will take one between the station in Milwaukee and Union Station in Chicago in a bit over an hour and a half for $20 each way. It's a nice ride, in a spacious and quiet train. They even have electricity, standard mains sockets along the wall by each seat. Handy for iPod recharging. Maybe someday we'll have WiFi like our European friends. For now, just having some means of travel besides driving is nice.

I wandered through Millennium Park. The "bean" is cool, an oddly-shaped highly polished unit of art. The curvy bridge is neat. I think I have been near Buckingham Fountain before, but it's been a long time. I went to the Hancock Center's observation deck, on the 94th floor at 314 meters. Quite a view. You get to look way, way down onto the rooftops of buildings that would be towering skyscrapers in a shorter city, such as Milwaukee. (The tallest building in Milwaukee is the 42 floor 183 meter US Bank building, which I just learned while looking up the height was, like the Hancock and the Sears Tower, one of Fazlur Kahn's designs.) There is a section with mesh to let you feel the breezes and hear the noise of the rooftop air conditioning equipment on the neighboring buildings. I even found a gift in the gift shop. You'll know if I got it for you.

I had forgotten that there was a Moonstruck Chocolate shop in Chicago, but I walked by it and stopped in for a chocolate milkshake.

It is fun just wandering around. Milwaukee is gradually turning into a place where things happen and people live and you can find people walking about other than me, but Chicago is in a whole different category. I think even the New Yorkers and the Londoners will have to admit that Chicago is a Real City (TM), too. I like Milwaukee, I really do, but if you live in, say, London, England, and are not thinking "golly, on my next vacation I really want to visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin," I can totally understand why.

I am planning some museum visits in the near future.


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