Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chicago: Aquarium in the Windy City

We tried... really we did try to get out of the apartment quickly but adding a baby in the mix complicates everything. There was no way to rush, getting out of the house took the time it took regardless of my personal anxt ridden internal agenda to get out for our day quickly. After what seemed like THREE HOURS we finally got everything together and were on our way. First task of the day... breakfast!


We decided to try out Yolk, a quirky breakfast place that was very close to the aquarium. Mrs. Pool Shark and I couldn’t quite decide on a healthy breakfast or something a little bit more fun. In the end we both ordered our omelettes and then we ordered a Nutella Crepe dish to split. YUMMMM.


Once I had breakfast and we were on our way to the Aquarium I was ONE HAPPY CAMPER. I am a simple girl, give me food, sunshine, a best friend and a fun day planned and I have a smile on my face.


After we ate we headed over to the aquarium, our big excursion planned for today. Of course because it is downtown Chicago we had to pay for parking, but it would have been a little nicer if the parking lot wasn’t a billion miles away from the actual aquarium. I wouldn’t have minded the walk if it hadn’t been for my sore feet and the fact that the wind coming off the lake wasn’t so FRIGGING FREEZING!!!




I was SUPER excited to visit the Shedd Aquarium. For one I love love love aquariums, and secondly I had heard that this particular aquarium was amazing. Couple my love with aquariums plus amazingness and you have a VERY happy girl. Add what is touted an incredible jellyfish exhibit and you have entered high expectation zone.


When we finally managed to get our tickets and get into the aquarium we were SHOCKED at the amount of people. Here it is a Wednesday, it’s a work day, it’s a school day... and then it dawned on us; Spring Break was this week. Totally not awesome, there were so many people, people EVERYWHERE. We couldn’t get anywhere near the tanks to see the fish, we couldn’t walk very easily, then add a stroller and you basically get two frustrated women.


We tried to make the best of it, we were already there after all, and we were together. I tried to just concentrate on the exhibits, even if we had to wait to get closer to the glass.


Although I didn’t think overall this aquarium was as AMAZING as I had read, maybe I am just older, maybe I am a little jaded, maybe I am a tough aquarium critic, however I did love some of the things we saw. We caught a diver feeding the Caribbean reef exhibit and watched her hand feed a sting ray. I got to see many of the fish that we used to have in our aquariums my dad kept when I was growing up as a kid. I saw a sea turtle which reminded me of the Galapagos... and so many things that were just plain COOL.


Baby Pool Shark however wasn’t as jaded as I was and she just LOVED so many of the tanks. Her little eyes darted everywhere, her smiles were contagious and sometimes the experiences you can see through kid’s experiences are better than your own. I particularly adored her at the Baluga Whale tank where she could stand and watch as the big whale swam right in front of her.



One of my favorite things to see at an aquarium is the jellyfish and I was ESTATIC when I found out that this particular aquarium had an entire jellyfish exhibit. And let me tell you aside from the masses of people in my way I was in jellyfish HEAVEN!




There is something so beautiful and elegant about jellyfish. The way they move, their tendrils dance in the water, it all feels like an intoxicating beautiful dance.





Just when we were about finished Baby Pool Shark decided to fall asleep. We didn’t want to wake her but we were hungry and then came the conundrum. Do we wake up the baby and go to the nice restaurant we want to or do we let the baby sleep and make do with a restaurant within walking distance. We didn’t even blink an eye. It’s better to let the baby get her full nap AND it would be nice to eat without having to worry about entertaining the baby so we approached the desk to find out our options for dinner close by. Unfortunately there wasn’t a single restaurant anywhere near the aquarium so we decided to make do with the cafe. When we got to the cafe it had just closed. The only option we have now is to walk back to the car and wake the baby. Although we were disappointed at least this way we could go where we WANTED to eat. And we chose Gibson’s a steak place Mrs. Pool Sharks friend recommended.

We were a little squirmy walking into such a nice place. Dont get me wrong we both ADORE a fancy steak restaurant, it’s just that when we got dressed for a day at the aquarium this morning we didn’t exactly plan an outfit that would transition into fancy restaurant. That didn’t stop us from going but there were moments when I felt out of place, like we were the leaders of the unfashionable scrunchie club, but at least we were in a town and at a restaurant I didn’t plan on coming back to. So we ordered drinks and I ordered the largest prime rib I have EVER seen. It was so large it reminded me Mr. Rogue’s gigantic steak a few weeks ago. Of course I didn’t eat it all; I only ate about 6 ounces of it and took the rest to go.


Baby Pool Shark is SUCH a good baby and that little angel is also a magnet for anyone and everyone. In the course of our two hour meal we had a manager, a waitress, our own waiter, a bus boy and three other customers come by to say hi. No one can resist her blond hair blue eyed cuteness.


After dinner, with the sun setting, we decided to go to the famous Navy Pier. So far the day was relatively mild without too much drama, we were due for some drama... don’t worry its coming. The plan was to visit the busy fun pier walk around, take in the sunset and get some photos of the Chicago skyline. Well we did manage to get to the pier. Since the road to the parking garage was pretty empty I jumped out of the car and quickly snapped a photo of the Chicago skyline just as the sun dipped low.


Following the signs we stopped at the meter machine, took our card, pulled into the garage and then paused for a moment confused why the parking garage had so few cars. We shrugged, we parked, we walked inside and realized that this pier that we thought would be busy with night life was like a ghost town. The shops, the elephant ear booth, and even the amusement rides were all closed down. Frustrated that the idea of the pier ended up on such a flop we decided to leave... but first Mrs. Pool Shark needed to quickly visit the little girls room. She ventured off to find the closest bathroom while I sat on a nearby bench with the stroller and the baby.

I sat and played with Baby Pool Shark. We made faces, we took photos with my phone, we made noises and then that is when I realized that fifteen minutes had gone by. I waited... and waited... and then started to get worried. It’s funny how the mind works. After twenty minutes I got really worried. It wasn’t like I could call her, she didn’t have her cell phone, or her purse, everything was in the stroller. Did she get jumped, is she ok, is she hurt, did she get locked out, OMG what if she is never coming back... what about the baby. And it wasn’t even like I could go look for her because I kept expecting her to show up ANY SECOND. Besides if she was lost, two people wandering around were less likely to find each other than if I just stayed put. However I started to get really really worried after 30 minutes. There was NO WAY one little bathroom run would take that long.


And then just as I was considering REALLY freaking out I heard her voice calling my name. There Ms. Pool Shark is, rounding the corner with her knight in shining armor, a janitor she commandeered to help find me. Seems like Ms. Pool Shark wandered long and far to find a restroom and then couldn’t find her way back. Thank goodness with the janitors help she found the car and then found her way back to me.

Taking one more minute she darted outside to get a few shots of the skyline, one of the reasons we MADE this trip to begin with, and in the two minutes she was outside a police car pulled up and flipped on their lights. Seems like this evening we couldn’t catch a break. It was time to go.


Gathering together our things we went to go prepay for our parking ticket. We WERE NOT HAPPY to find out that we had to pay $21.00 for a 40 minute lost bathroom debacle, a closed pier, and police shooing us away; seems like if the pier was closed then the parking garage should have been closed as well. We would have never came here if we knew it was going to be a ghost town... of course since NO ONE was around there was no other way to get the car out than to pay the fee.



On the way out we pulled over and took a few more photos. We did after all go to a ton of trouble and effort to get them. At least it was an adventure!



And that would normally be the end of the story, it was after all late, however since we were so disappointed with the pier fiasco we decided that we couldn’t end the night on such a sour note. Not us! Not in Chicago! We refused to let the pier take us down. So we wracked our brains trying to think what we could do at 9:45 at night with a baby... we weren’t hungry, we couldn’t go to a bar, but OH YES we could go to the top of the highest building in Chicago and drink in the delicious night views. I quickly jumped online and we had fifteen minutes before the tower closed. I looked up the directions and we were ten minutes away. It was possible, we decided to go for it.

Ms. Pool Shark drove like mad as I shouted out directions, we easily found a parking structure right across from the tower. We had five minutes till shutdown. We grabbed the baby and we RAN. We made it to the building and had to use the handicapped entrance because ALL OF CHICAGO loves the revolving doors and well revolving doors and a baby stroller just don’t blend. So it was a double handicap door, and it had some random wacky security where the first door had to shut before the second one would open. Three minutes later we arrive inthe building only to be told the entrance to the top of the tower is just around the corner.





We have to go back through the ridiculously slow opening handicap doors and then we raced around the corner. I swear the guards saw us coming and flipped the lock just as we panted up to the gate. “Sorry mam” he says “the tellers are closed for the night”. I adore that Ms. Pool Shark marched in there and TRIED to get them to let us up... She was in there behind the glass gesticulating wildliy with her arms, I am sure she even played the ‘we ran with a baby’ card, all to no luck. He must have had a heart of stone because he was totally was not having it. And I know Ms. Pool Shark, she can be awfully convincing when she wants too. We walked away in defeat, pouts spread across our faces.


And then the what ifs took over. What if Ms. Pool Shark hadn’t gotten lost at the pier, what if we decided to try the tower earlier, what if we hadn’t entered the wrong set of doors, or what if that guard would have been nice and let us squeeze through. Needless to say the pier won and now the tower won and then we had to pay for parking again, for something we didn’t get to experience AGAIN. Mission failed!



With two strikes (the pier and the tower) we decided to just go home, there was wine at home, and a comfy couch, and we decided we didn’t need to be OUT to have fun we could just have fun the two of us. We curled up on the couch by 10:30, we talked, Ms. Pool Shark gave me the best foot massage ever, I almost cried, we stayed up until 4am.

$21 dollars for the lame ass pier parking
$5 dollars for the stupid closed tower parking

Sitting on the couch until the wee hours of the morning gabbing with a friend PRICELESS!


paul peggy zeus said...

There were so many FUNNY faces in this post. Good laugh had by all!

Jennifer Arens said...

Judging by the amount of pictures, this was HUGE day. I feel after reading this, this was a 2 day post lol. Ms Pool Shark is your sista-from-anotha-motha, and I'm your sister-in-law-from-another-motha!

Gesticulating- seriously? that is an amazing word!

I miss you so much girly!!!!!!!

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