The top 10 lessons learned on our recent family trip to Chicago, told in my long-winded, rambling style.
1. Sometimes it is worth it to just suck it up and buy the family membership. These times include when it is cold, rainy and the line to get into Shedd Aquarium is so long that the volunteers have to continuously re-route it to keep it off of The Field Museum’s walkways, because it would seem that there’s no love lost between those two establishments. Yes, pay the extra $35 (it’s tax-deductible after all) and wait for 45 minutes in the rain rather than 2 hours.
2. The time for teaching your kid a life-lesson is not on an insanely windy April day when you’ll be sitting in the top row at Wrigley Field, in the shade. That, “Fine, don’t wear your sweatshirt if you think you know best,” will end up costing you $49 for a Cubs blanket because you don’t want your kid to die of hypothermia. It might even cost you $132 for two new sweatshirts if you aren’t careful.
3. A bottle of Visine and a toothbrush will cost you $10 at the corner 7-Eleven. This is closely related to “don’t forget the goggles because hotel pool water is brutal on the eyes.”
4. An empty bar and grille presents the perfect opportunity for teaching your kids proper billiards etiquette.
5. Yes, in fact, they can get more people on that elevator. Just when you think it’s full, they’ll ask you to place backpacks and purses on the floor between your feet and step back. And, no, Mr. Claustrophobic Tourist, the next elevator to the top of the Willis Tower isn’t going to be any less crowded. At least you are only packed in like sardines for just over a minute as you fly to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
6. Never, ever underestimate the gall of 20-somethings under the influence. Really, I enjoyed watching you and your girlfriend stand there and soulfully grope each other for 10 minutes (even when you couldn’t quite focus on one-another’s eyes.) But I would have rather watched the game. So, when J asked you to sit down and you got all huffy about it, I wasn’t amused. Nor was I amused when you and your buddies started smoking pot. But hey, you were super-cool.
7. Easter Sunday is a great day for visiting the Field Museum. No lines. Good Friday is not such a good time for visiting Shedd Aquarium. See lesson #1.
8. It never hurts to triple check games times. As of Thursday night, it was a 1:05 game. Double-checked Saturday morning at 11:15: Oh, now game time is 12:05? Holy crap! Good thing the subway was just a couple of blocks away.
9. It’s everyone’s birthday at the Rainforest Café! We were there for an hour, and I would guess that there were at least 8 “birthdays” during that time, when the servers came out with the fiery volcano cake (which is not free, by the way.)
10. Remember what appeals to your kids if you are going to drag them all over the place: Man-eating lions? YES! Ancient American civilizations and the fossil record, not so much.