Tuesday, April 29, 2008

operation chicago: monday

this morning started off a little bit lazy. after a late night of food and family, we slept in a bit before we got on our way. our plan was to make our way to the lincoln park zoo, one of the handful of free city zoos in the nation, not to mention one of the oldest zoos in the nation. of course the weather didn't necessarily agree with us and it was drizzly and grey. we made our way over to dunkin' donuts for breakfast and as luck would have it, I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk! breakfast... paid. :) the bus stop was right outside the dunkin' donuts so we stood in the rain for about 10 minutes until our chariot arrived. we had a few stops and some bus changes, but we eventually made our way there! there really was NO ONE there... perhaps a few people, and I think we saw one school field trip... the weather wasn't exactly screaming for outdoor activity. we made our way around to a lot of different exhibits. they had the seals right in the front area, followed by the "big cats"... who being cats, of course, wanted *nothing* to do with being outside... so they were inside (they had cages inside for such occasions). we walked around and through the primate building, which was pretty awesome. they had a lot of species there. one really heartwrenching, yet amazing, story was about one of the monkeys (species "I don't remember"). he had been reaching through the cage (outside) when a patron had thrown something up onto their area. the monkey's arm was severely damaged to the point that he needed amputation just above the "elbow". however, we saw this monkey running and jumping as though nothing had happened. he'd adapted so well to the new situation. it was very cool... we tried to get pictures, but it was really dark inside and he was moving so fast! we went through the reptile area; SO not das's favorite, but I love reptiles. turtles are some of my favorite animals! we walked all around outside, too, to some of the other larger, outdoor animals. I felt so badly for all the warm weather animals, like the kangaroos, who had to deal with the crappy rainy chicago weather. ick! we went into the aviary... which was SO awesome. (can you tell I love zoos?!) they didn't have any glass up in the displays. the reason was that the hallways were dark and the birds instinctually wouldn't want to leave their lit area to become a potential snack! I don't blame them. well, in one area, the tropical jungle area, you literally walked through the birds' homes. again, das was not a *huge* fan of this... he was afraid they would attack, like in 'the birds', but I was totally all for it. it was so neat to see them in their "natural" environment. we moved along and saw their african safari exhibit, too. that was a lot of fun, and it was set up similarly to the bird room with the animals having a freer atmosphere. while we were at the zoo, we made a stop off at the lincoln park conservatory where we saw some amazing floral specimens. it just astounded me because I have *no* green thumb at all. it was really cool. so after the zoo, we hopped on another bus and headed over to the field museum, which was more science-oriented (my cup of tea!). the field museum is home to sue, the world's largest, most complete t-rex skeleton. it was really fascinating! of course, I'm a big science geek, so it would have fascinated me. :) unfortunately we didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked. they had a special exhibit on mythical creatures that I was very disappointed that we didn't get to see. this was one of those times that I'm really sad that I don't live closer to a place like chicago (or even closer to NY, even though I really am only 1.5-2 hrs away). hartford's OK... but not too much in the way of really big awesome crazy science museums... and for art, all we really have is the wadsworth atheneum (plus some other lower key type things). anyway, we were able to get into one of the exhibits: evolving planet. this, of course, was fine with me because I love learning about evolution and DNA and all that stuff (note: I started uconn as a molecular biology major - how quickly *that* changed). it was positively wonderful! it was a science geek's dream! the exhibits were so informative and the examples and skeletons that were available for viewing were great. again, I wish I'd had more time to really involve myself in their exhibits, but the museum closed at 5p, and we needed to be on our way to M's play, anyway. of course, we realized that we a) had no idea where we needed to pick up the train and b) hadn't eaten since breakfast! we didn't want to eat too much, knowing we'd be getting something after the show, but we definitely needed something so our tums wouldn't growl during the play. we eventually found our train stop and a little sandwich-y type place (the name escapes me, but it reminded me of panera bread, but with more local flavor). they had THE best cheddar and brocolli soup, which was what we needed after walking through the pouring rain to get to the train station. the train ride was long... we had to essentially go from one end of the line to the other, but it was a welcomed break from walking and standing for the past few hours. when we got to our stop, we realized that we had some time to kill before the play started so rather than get in the way at the theatre, we stopped into the irish pub a few doors down for some refreshments. :) das had guiness; I had hoegaarden. we made our way back down the street for the play. it was a smaller venue with only about 30ish seats. the play was called 18: A Year with Footntoes, which was an autobiographical one-man show about M's life (starting just before his 18th birthday). M wasn't the star of the show, but we were there to support the work in general. we both really enjoyed it, especially since M grew up in CT and we knew of the different areas that he wrote about. after the play, we went to a diner nearby for some quick eats and then to head back to the homestead. we finally made it to bed after a wicked long day... and our flight was leaving chicago around 6:45a... so we needed to be up early. luckily, S was kind enough to drive us to the airport so that we didn't have to take one of the sketchy, all-night-running buses. we made our flight (which wasn't nearly as turbulent as the flight in) and everything was great.

we had a wonderful time and can't wait to head back... there's so much we didn't get to see and do!

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