My daughter demanded the return of the Deezo Friday Five after our trip to Chicago, saying we’ve been focusing too much on baseball. It’s been a while, and we had some neat adventures.
The Ledge at Skydeck
The building formerly known as the Sears Tower is now only the eighth-tallest in the world, but still can claim the title of tallest in North America. We went to check out the observation deck’s newest feature, four glass rooms called "The Ledge" hat protrude from the western side.
You can go out about four feet or so and look straight down, 103 stories.
It looks scary. In fact, a little kid had to be dragged screaming by his dad, who had to pry the kid’s fingers from the edge of wall to carry him out on the ledge for the family photo, which, I’m sure will be a special memory for all.
I figured it was safe, as we could look straight down and I saw no chalk outlines below.
The trip to the top of the Willis Tower was fun, but there was much glory awaiting us at the bottom. After picking up our postcards and wacky Obama finger puppet magnet in the gift shop, we found two Mold-A-Rama machines.
If you are not familiar with these rare, amazing devices, you insert $2, and two halves of a metal mold come together. Before your eyes, they are filled with a waxy substance, which is then deposited in a slot after the sides separate, revealing your train, dinosaur or other newly created work of art and a spatula-like device scrapes it free.
Customers are cautioned to keep the new creation upside down, lest some of the still-liquid wax spill out and giving you a souvenir burn.
I’ve learned that Mold-A-Ramas have been around since 1962, but became very popular at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, though there do not appear to be any waxy Unispheres out there.
The Willis Tower machines produced little versions of the building – a new, custom mold, I’ve learned – and statues of Lincoln, because you can’t leave Illinois without at least one Lincoln souvenir.
Yeah, I know, it’s technically "Cloud Gate. And sculptor Anish Kapoor reportedly thinks it “completely stupid” for people to call it “The Bean.” Memo to Kapoor: Don’t shape your artwork like giant beans if you don’t want people to call them that.
Cranky and pretentious artists aside, the $23 million leguminous shaped sculpture is really cool. It’s made of 168 polished steel plates, and crews wash the lower regions twice a day to remove all the fingerprints, of which I left many.
OK, first of all, I had no idea the walk from Navy Pier to the Shedd Aquarium was so long. I thought we could park at the pier as a central location, spend part of the day south at the Shedd and then north on and around Michigan Avenue.
You can see the aquarium right there at the other end of Grand Park, and it was, in fact, a beautiful day to walk along the lakeshore. At my daughter’s insistence, I later checked the distance on MapMyRun.com and learned that it was a good, 2.1-mile hike. She also insisted that we take a water taxi back.
We arrived to find a line stretching out the front doors, down the steps and into the park in front. Memo to people in line: There is another entrance on the side of the aquarium with hardly any line at all.
Once inside, we found the otter tank. Caroline loves otters. While bashful at first, the three otters later came out and put on a show. Like penguins, otters seem to lead a carefree life, swimming, flipping, rolling and otherwise being as cute and cuddly as wild animals can be. Just don’t mess up their order at the drive-thru.
We sat and watched the otters for more than an hour. Caroline likes otters. And her legs were really tired.
Touch and Go Chess Party
We were walking from the Building Formerly Known as the Sears Tower to the Sculpture Popularly Known As The Bean and found this long row of chess boards set up, with a few checker boards as well.
In theory, you could pick a board and challenge all comers, taking on Windy City tourists, Chicago residents and escaped otters.
We resisted, as we were a little pressed for time and the guy wanted $3 to play. I’m holding out for the Touch and Go Trivial Pursuit Party, 1980s Edition.
Now that daughter demands have been met, we can resume the postcard tour, which, coincidently, takes us to Chicago.