Monday, August 28, 2000 - Chicago, Illinois

Another warm day in Chicago. And a busy one. I started the day by moving to the convention hotel, definitely “movin' on up” as I moved from the Motel 6 to the Hyatt Regency. With the convention I was only able to get the special rate they offered for a few days on either side of the convention dates so had to wait two days before switching.

I caught a cab outside the front door as it was about 5-6 blocks to the other hotel. Strange that the check-in desk was up a set of escalators from the front door – quite a walk with your luggage.

The Hyatt Regency -- My home for the next few days

The Hyatt Regency is on the Chicago River just north of the “Loop”, the downtown area of Chicago. My room is on the 23rd floor and I can ALMOST see the river - there are a lot of other high-rise buildings in the way. My room has two beds, a nice desk (with leather office chair) and a marble bathroom. Quite nice I think. It is in the second tower of the hotel which, evidently, is the largest Hyatt in the world with a few thousand rooms.

View from my floor - The Chicago River

After briefly ogling the room I made my way to catch the trolley for the second day, with the driver taking a slightly different route and explaining things I had not heard before. He confirmed my suspicion that the L was built above the street because they could not build underground (at the time) because of the swamp land that was in the area. Now, the Red line of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is underground downtown, rising above the street further south and north.

I got off the tram at the Field Museum, using the second ticket from a Chicago Pass book that I picked up at the Sear's tower yesterday which provides tickets for many attractions – a good way to see a lot of things for a good price. The Field Museum has just opened an exhibit with the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever unearthed, called Sue after the discoverer. They purchased it from Southeby's when it went up for auction a while ago, with money donated from big business including McDonald's (who now sponsor an on-going laboratory with glass windows right in the museum itself so you can watch what they are doing - part of the condition of the donation, I understand). I briefly looked around before catching a tour with a guide who took us around to some of the highlights of the museum - very good. She gave us a lot more info about Sue and the origins of the museum.

Interior of the Field Museum (Sue at the far end)

The Field Museum reminds me of the Natural History Museum in London with all sorts of stuffed animals and various exhibits (though there are FAR fewer stuffed animals here). I passed through the very good plants and gems exhibits before finishing in the Pacific Islands (reading about the lives of the natives). It was quite good though the day was quite long – after 5 hours I left to make my way to catch the train (too late to use the Trolley ticket, nor would it go where I wanted).

The view from the north entrance of the museum is quite something - across Grant Park with a terrific view of the city along the water. It was quite warm outside after having been in the air-conditioning all day – one thing I do not like about always being in the cold (though at least it is dry as well, VERY humid outside).

Skyline near the Field Museum

I caught the red train at the Roosevelt station which is underground at this point. It took a bit to figure out how much to pay and how to do it (always does – it seems every city has different ideas about how to charge for public transit).

After a few stops I was at Addison - the stop for Wrigley Field. When I first arrived in the city I had called for tickets and was able to secure a ticket for about 20 rows above the third plate. I was quite pleased. It was quite something to be in the famous stadium looking at the vine-choaked outfield wall. I was surprised (amused) to see the buildings across the streets on both left and right fields were covered with stadium seating on their roofs. All the seats were occupied during the game - wonder if the home/building owner charges for seats? Evidently there are also people out walking on the streets below to catch any balls that make it over the wall (which happens quite frequently in the warm up).

Wrigley Field - Warm-Up

I stuffed myself with various different ballpark foods including two hot dogs, peanuts, a few Pepsi's, natchos, and malt chocolate ice-cream. They were all pretty good and I was quite hungry since this is the main meal of the day for me…

I always like being at the games like this, there is always an atmosphere of camaraderie where food sold by people wandering throughout the stadium pass food along the rows and the money also passes through many hands as well…People seem to be quite honest (and reasonable) about it.

Well, despite the attitude of the crowd, the Cubs loss 2-8 to San Diego. It was quite a shame but they really gave the game away. I found it amusing that there is a sign on one of the houses that indicates the number of years since a world series win (92 years) as well as all the other steps there (regional title and division title). Must be quite hard for the players to take…Many people left well before the 9th, quite a shame, I stayed because, damn-it, I paid for it (!).

The trip back was relatively uneventful after the three hour game under the lights. I was surprised to be able to get on the first train and be back at the hotel within half an hour of the game ending.

Not really having done a lot today I am still quite exhausted. I shall enjoy the luxury of the massive room…

⇒ Continue to Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - Chicago, Illinois