morsla: (vnv)
Dear diary,

On the holidays, I went to Coruscant. It had suburbs named "Chicago" and "Toronto," but I wasn't fooled at all. As soon as the sun went down, all traces of the natural world disappeared from the landscape and I knew that I was a long way from the old-fashioned trees and rocks we have back home.

More pictures under the cut... )
morsla: (Dawn)
Oy. I think I've been spending at least eleven hours a day on my feet... but it's my brain that's starting to hurt.

On Saturday, I joined Helen and Brett for a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry - aka the grand repository for all the stuff too big to fit anywhere else in Chicago. One room has five aircraft hanging from the ceiling, including a Boeing 727... and a chamber under the front lawn has a complete German U-boat, captured in 1944. We arrived two minutes after they opened for the day, and left at closing time, eight hours later. I think we read, watched, steered and climbed through everything that's currently on show - a long day, but a good one.

Sunday was a Museum-free day, but not a walking-free one. Starting south of the Loop, I walked up North Michigan Avenue in search of some new trail shoes (I'm starting to wear through the bottom of the old ones), and kept going until I reached Ohio St beach. After spending the day on my feet, I found a comfy spot to sit on the shore of Lake Michigan until skyscrapers cast long shadows that darkened the sand. It's a nice spot, but I still think it's strange to find a beach that doesn't smell like the ocean...

Still gravitating towards tourist attractions like a moth fluttering around a candle flame (actually, I had a ticket that needed using in my CityPass booklet), I headed up the Hancock Building to set up a camera on the 94th floor. Pictures will have to wait until I'm back in Melbourne, as I have neither cable nor card reader with me. I did manage to get some nice shots of the beach I'd just left, and I finally put my tripod to use for some long exposure shots of the streetscape after sunset.

Today's adventure was a trip to the Shedd Aquarium. Not something I would normally have visited if the CityPass didn't have tickets to it, as I usually associate aquariums with the "Sea World" popcorn-and-trained-animals imagery. Shedd was something completely different, and by far my favourite site in the week of museums.

While they had a deep water pool for the dolphins, my favourite exhibits were the Amazon ecosystems - complex displays of river life from throughout the monsoon cycle. Conveniently, the reptiles tended to come out while I watched them, perhaps because I timed my arrival to avoid the small children banging on the glass... For a few moments today, I stood as still as the caimans while crowds of visitors surged between us. Fortunately, the dolphin shows drew away the family groups - leaving me alone to enjoy the rainforest.

When I reincarnate, I want to be a turtle. A really big one.

Next up: back to the airport tomorrow morning, and then on to Toronto.
morsla: (Dawn1)
Chicago takes a while to get up to speed, but when it does, it doesn't stop. I've been waking up hours before others in the hostel, and walking through silent streets waiting for things to open. Fortunately, most places are still going well into the night - my 'normal' bedtime is well after midnight, so there's plenty of stuff to do.

Like, for example, randomly stumbling across a free concert in Millenium Park. I heard the self-proclaimed 'circus punk marching band' during their soundcheck, and stayed for the whole show. Mucca Pazza are a big group of band nerds, and they make a big sound. Dressed in brightly coloured, mismatched marching band outfits, they make a big spectacle on stage as well - especially as they come with their own cheerleaders. Well worth the wait until they came back on stage.

The concert was called 'Sing Me Back Home' - mostly comprised of the New Orleans Social Club playing with a lot of blues musicians from Chicago and New Orleans. The crowd filled the park with picnic rugs early in the night, and then everyone got up to dance by the end. I wasn't sure what my Friday night would involve, but a few hours of live blues closed the week nicely.

Earlier in the day, I wandered through the Field Museum of Natural History with [ profile] peacockangel. Despite spending many hours in there, I get the feeling that we only saw about a quarter of the exhibits... in some architectural sleight of hand, the building seems a lot bigger on the inside, and it's pretty imposing from the outside too. The Field hosts the largest Egyptian collection I've ever seen, complete with slabs of stone bearing original carvings.

I've decided that you can never trust those sneaky archaeologists, though. (Hi to the archaeologists reading this, by the way...). For the most part, they're all about deducing social contexts for artefacts, and unravelling the mysteries of the past. I'm convinced that one day, on some imperceptible signal, they'll turn on the humans of the present - sealing us away in bakelite, claiming that it's "for the benefit of future generations." Our current infrastructure might fade away without continual maintenence, but a well timed flood of epoxy resin could preserve whole neighbourhoods for posterity...
morsla: (Default)
I'm sure you remember the diagrams from highschool science or geography classes - water evapourates, forming clouds out over the ocean. Winds carry it inland, where mountain ranges cause the clouds to rise up to cooler altitudes, unleashing their cargo of rain.

Chicago is a bit like that, only the ocean is a lake, and the mountain range is made from steel and glass.

Helen and I wandered around Lincoln Park today, sweltering through the Conservatory (lots of palms, ferns and orchids - some of my favourite bits of any garden...) and watching the animals in the Zoo's African enclosures. The mercury was sitting on 92F when we left the animal house, so we retreated back to her apartment for icecream as black clouds rolled in from the lake.

Moments after getting indoors and wondering aloud "how long until the storm arrives?" the heavens opened and the building shook with thunder. I've never seen tree branches fly upwards past a tenth-floor window before...

A quick glance at NBC news revealed a sudden tornado warning for the area, right over our heads. The storm only lasted half an hour, but the bus ride home showed a city covered in torn branches, with fallen trees in the park.

Moral of the story: When you feel like having icecream, act on your impulse immediately. Staying put may result in your untimely death by tornado-related trauma.


Aug. 15th, 2007 10:00 am
morsla: (Default)
It's a strange thing, flying East across the Pacific. Flying out, the sun is high. As hours pass, the day ages prematurely - afternoon becomes evening, evening becomes night. The plane plunges into darkness, crossing the Date Line and emerging into the light of yesterday's dawn.

From Melbourne to Sydney, to LAX, checked out through customs, checked back in for my connecting flight, on to O'Hare in Chicago, and then via the CTA Blue Line to downtown, took almost thirty hours. After reaching the hostel, I headed out for a walk to clear my head and find something to eat. I got to bed around midnight, local time - probably midafternoon Melbourne time, after a night's missed sleep.

Now I have to find Union Station, catch a bus to Indianapolis, and hope that Alex, Lon, Ed and [ profile] mousebane manage to get there as well. I think I'll be arriving about three hours ahead of the others, which gives me a bit of time to lug my bags around and get lost a couple of times.

I'd like to think that Indy will be cooler than Chicago (it's 86F here), but I doubt it. Four days and thirty thousand gamers (that's sixty thousand armpits, give or take a margin of error for the mutants) means I'll be praying for cold, or at least for good airconditioning :)

I'll probably write again when I get back to Chicago. Hope all is well, back at home. I'm missing [ profile] aeliel already, but otherwise I've survived the trip over here intact.

September 2014

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