The second day of our fun, fun family trip took us downtown to the Chicago Field Museum. The kids were very excited to see the dinosaur bones (naturally) and we were lucky enough to get about 10 minutes of Q&A with one of the museum’s paleontologist’s at the Sue T-Rex exhibit. Was a little apprehensive about all the animal exhibits, because as impressive as the specimens are, they’re only dead stuffed critters after all. Kids these days are used to seeing these animals on the big HD screen, or digitally animated, or in bad movies with digitally animated mouths making bad jokes at the expense of second-rate comedians.
But they did like the exhibits, and they were interested, and the older two spent some time reading the placards and multi-media, searching out the regions on the globe for habitat, and learning in that time-honored museum way. They were asking questions, formulating their little hypotheses about the similarities and differences of the animals, and generally making me proud.
We enjoyed the Underground Adventure, which gives you added perspective on the complexity of our soil systems, and the temporary featured exhibits on Whales and Horses. We took in the North American Indian and Egyptian exhibits as well.
Of course the star of the field museum is Sue and her extinct dinosaur and ice-age mammal compadres, featured in the Evolving Planet exhibit. This excellent walk through the history of life on Earth begins with theories of electrocharged photoplasm and moves all the way to the present day. It features extinction events, an impressive cast of dinosaur bones, and a life-sized replica of Lucy, our ancient hominid ancestor. Like many of the exhibits at the Field Museum, it features a touch of preachy dialogue and finger-wagging (yes, I enjoy the irony), mostly about humanity’s drastic effect on various ecosystems. But you simply cannot go to the Field Museum and miss the Evolving Planet – it’s outstanding.
After this, we attempted to meet my brother (aka the Rube) and his wife downtown for pizza. They had been hanging out at Navy Pier; we were at the museum campus, we both have GPS phones… No problem. Yeah. Except GPS doesn’t always work within the urban canyons, and the Rube, after all these years, still has hard time gauging trivialities like North, South, East, and West. Plus you can’t park anywhere downtown.
In the end, we decided to follow the example of so many Chicagoans, and flee to the suburbs. Not having met up in person, we attempted to navigate using the phones and GPS to a spot near our hotel out in Elmhurst and find a pizza joint. I exited the interstate, turned the wrong way, and ended up at Perry’s Pizza in the town of North Lake, on West North avenue. But I thought I was in Elmhurst on West North Lake Avenue – the same road as our hotel. You see where this is going…
I tell the Rube our (wrong )address, which would logically seem correct as it’s near our hotel. He puts it in his GPS, goes to near our hotel, can’t find it. I attempt to find out which direction he’s traveling. He has no clue, naturally. Frustration ensues.
At least the kids were with us and able to eat pretty quickly, and the pizza was excellent. But by the time Rube and Mrs. Rube made it our locale, aided by our waittress, the food was lukewarm. They were a little cranky. Once again, the town of North Lake on West North Ave., less than two miles away from West North Lake Ave. What are the odds?
In the old days this would not have happened, because I always studied and even printed maps around my area of operations, so I knew what was in the vicinity and how to navigate the area. Lesson learned: don’t rely on GPS. All’s well that ends well, though. The kids love their cousin, and they really enjoyed their time together. Plus they were able to go back with the Rube and Co. that evening, which provided an opportunity for some much-needed quality time.