Saturday, March 17, 2012

March getaway to Chicago: Day 4 and the return home

First thing in the morning I made the trek to a nearby Gold Coast neighborhood FedEx Office to print out the Museum admission ticket I had bought the night before. With ticket in hand I stopped at The Original Pancake House on N. Chestnut for breakfast [see blog post], then set about getting to the Museum of Science & Industry via the CTA.

I arrive mid-morning even though my tour of the MythBusters exhibit wasn't until 2:30 p.m. First I visited the U-505 submarine exhibit, which was fairly interesting once you actually get to the sub. The tour inside was an extra expense and only lasted about 15 minutes. The prohibition against photography inside the sub was a disappointment.

Afterward I wander about until I return to the Entry Hall to peruse the Pioneer Zephyr exhibit where I spent some time taking photos of the exterior as well as the interior of the engine.

I wiled away the time walking about the various exhibits, struck with the realization that the Museum of Science & Industry was more or less a big city science center, using visuals and hands-on gimmickry to amuse families and the hordes of visiting school children which had appeared by the busload since my entry. There was a big autograph signing session with the whole MythBusters gang in attendance, but standing in line for hours for an awkward celebrity moment and a scribble on paper wasn't my scene.

And so the hours passed until my scheduled tour time to MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition. It was a jumbled display of experiment flotsam, re-creations, kid-friendly experiments with fairly predictable results, and a gift shop. I was in and out in five minutes and nearly forty dollars poorer for the efforts of the day.

I resolved to salvage what time I had left and took the bus and the 'L' up to Lincoln Park for an early dinner. First I boarded the express heading back downtown. The bus was half-full and I spied a row of three seats with a lone youth sprawled across the length. I looked down at him and said "Yo." He either didn't hear me or didn't care. I motioned towards the seat where his foot rested. Still no acknowledgment. Then my back-brain kicked in and I picked up his leg and moved it off the seat. That got his attention.

"What'cha doin' touchin' my leg, bitch?" I put my hands up in the air in a "Meh" gesture and ignored him while he mumbled "bitch" this and "bitch" that. He got off a few stops later with nary a final gesture of his displeasure.

Downtown I transferred to the Brown Line, got off at Armitage and walked the near mile in eighty degree weather to Peqoud's Pizza on N. Clybourn. Tired and quite dehydrated, I ordered up an iced tea, a big salad and a bigger pizza [see blog post]. With leftovers in tow I sought out another route home with less walking time. At the Fullerton station I raced up the stairs to catch the 'L' that had just pulled in. Once on our way I realized I got on the wrong train, having re-boarded the Brown when I should have taken the Red Line.

An attempt to get off at Merchandise Mart and catch a bus didn't pan out as I expected, so I walked the remaining two miles home, while Lake-effect weather had plunged the local temperature down to the high-50s. Cold and even more tired I settled in for the evening, opting out of a planned night visit to the John Hancock Observatory.

Next day was fairly unremarkable with a bus ride downtown, a quick perusal of the Chicago French Market – an upscale food court – at the Ogilvie Transportation Center, some lunch at Union Station [see blog post], and ultimately board the westbound California Zephyr to Ottumwa.

Upon my arrival in Ottumwa I found out that the friends' house where I had plans to stay overnight was occupied to capacity. I rejected an offer by my ex-host to pay for a hotel room and procured one by myself at the Hotel Ottumwa. Feeling unwell, I passed on evening activities with friends and opted for a visit to a nearby Dollar General for some cheap crap to eat and drink for the evening, with an ever worsening sore throat waking me up throughout the night. Welcome back to Iowa.

Next morning I pass on the subpar breakfast buffet offered in the hotel cafe and opt for lunch at Canteen Lunch in the Alley across the street. I spent the rest of the day idling about the train/bus station.

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