Chicago Train Trip - July 9th - 12th, 2009

Chicago, IL Train Trip

July 9th - 12th, 2009

Bob, Debe, Micah, Chelcy, Chris and Aiden

Our trip began with a drive to Alton, IL to catch the train. This is something we have done for years and so much fun. We try to be sure the Cardinals are playing while we are in Chicago and luck has it, they will be. So off we go.

Aiden absolutely was the most excited. He had a new cars carry on bag and he loved just pulling it himself. And to think, ride a train. For a 2 1/2 year old, that is exciting. We got on the train, got him all settled in with his burger and fries and he sat and took it all in.

Once in Chicago, which was about midnight, it was off to catch the subway. Everyone was very tired and Aiden was holding up fairly well.
We had found a new hotel close to the airport called A Loft. It was the new more modern hotel so we got checked in the room and off to sleep. The hotel was much cheaper than we usually get staying in downtown Chicago but was very nice and comfortable.

Friday morning we were up and headed to a pancake house close to the hotel. The hotel had a shuttle service that would pick you up at the subway and drop you off at the subway but they would also take you to restaurants in the area. So we had them drop us off at a restaurant they recommended and then pick us up afterwards and take us to the subway. Then we were off for the day of fun. Today we would head to the Cardinal/Cubs game for a rival between the teams. It is always exciting to see these two teams play. So, of course, we proudly all wore our Cardinals apparel and headed to the game.

This time, we had purchased our tickets online so no finding people selling tickets outside. Just right in the gate we went. After getting settled into our seats, the grounds crew came out to cover the field. The rain had started. With only one day planned for a game, we could only sit and wait for it to pass by.

It quickly finished and the crew began to take the tarp off. But first we filled our time getting some great shots of the skyline from Wrigley Field.

Of course, it was a great day for Cardinal Fans. (especially since it was the only game in the series that the Cardinals won) We did get to see Pujols hit a home run, along with a double, and a couple walks. Final score was 6 - 2 with the Cardinals on top. (check out the bottom right photo as Pujols crosses the plate after hitting his home run - yeah)

Everyone had a great time and we were thankful to have seats under the upper section. NO rain or sun.
Next, it was off to China Town. Yes, another traditional thing that we have to do. And of course, have our photo made at this same spot. (below).
Since China Town is a stop on the subway, we were able to go straight from the game to there. Very easy. The hardest thing is trying to remember which restaurant is our favorite restaurant and again, we didn't pick the same one. We ended up eating at Tasty Place which was very good. But I have to be honest, it wasn't the one I remember being great.

This year we even had a smoothie after our meal. Bob had one that had some tapioca beans in it. Below he tried to have Aiden taste them but he wouldn't have that and spit it out. Boompa needs to learn that when it comes to little kids, there isn't any fooling them. They will just spit out anything they don't want.

Next, back on the subway and on to Navy Pier. Another traditional stop on our Chicago trip.

For over ten years, Navy Pier has been the place to visit for Chicagoland and tourists alike, coming together to enjoy the fun and beauty of the day on Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is a tradition and with so much to do, you can see why this tradition gets bigger and better each year. Navy Pier offers more than 50 acres of promenades, gardens, shops, restaurants and attractions.

In the below left photo is Aiden, joining in with the statue of kids, in the park in front of Navy Pier, holding hands and playing a game. I also took this picture of his dad doing the same years ago. In the below right is Aiden with the skyline behind him as the sunsets.

In the next few photos you will see just some of the attractions to buy tickets for and have fun at Navy Pier. We rode the Ferris Wheel and I found that I am far from doing that again. I thought I had done it before so no big deal. What I found was that having Aiden in that small cage made me even more scared as he wanted to just run around. After the Ferris Wheel we stepped down to the Carousel. That was more my speed. Micah, Bob and Chelcy headed over to the mini golf while I rode the Carousel with Aiden. (who knows where Chris was but I can imagine) As the lights of the Pier came on, we headed back to catch the subway. It had been a long day and the bed was calling our names.

After a subway ride, it was over to catch the shuttle. As you can tell, everything is fair game for the walk to the shuttle for Micah and Chelcy. lol You scratch my back, I scrath yours. You carry me, I will carry you. lol

The next morning, it was back up and dressed for a day of visiting more of Chicago. Aiden has fallen in love with the hotel. Or maybe the modern elevator. As you can see in the photo below, the floor has a water inlay that takes the look of your feet when you move. Of course, Aiden was more into jumping up and down on them. Oh well, after that entertainment it was off to Shedd Aquarium with a quick stop at dunkin doughnuts at the subway. From the ride on the subway it was off to a bus. (they had a section of the subway closed down for repairs)

The fees to get into Shedd Aquarium were $24.95 for adults and Aiden was free. But we also received discounts for students (Chelcy and Micah) and military (Chris). So we saved some money there. I think they also had AAA discounts or something like that.
There were so many unusual fish that we had never seen before. Of course in the photo below you can tell that Chris had much rather have a pole in his hand catching them than looking at them.

Since our visit to the aquarium years ago, they have had a lot of changes. One was the Oceanarium with otters, dolphins, beluga whales, penquins, and lots of kids things to be interactive with. In the next few photos, you can see that Aiden took part in several of the interactive things. Like feeling items so you would know how certain fish feel. But his favorite thing was dressing up like a penquin and sliding down the slide as a Penquin would do in its environment. As we passed through the Pacific Northwest (first photo below) you will see many photos of activites that Aiden enjoyed.

After walking out of Shredd Aquarium you could see the beautiful skyline of Chicago. Look close in the next photos to see the Willis Tower (formerly called the Sears Tower). Awesome

We grabbed a quick bite at Kentucky Fried Chicken and hopped on the subway. Aiden found a "kids seat" he called it and off we went.

Tonight, Aiden and I stayed and enjoyed the room while everyone else headed to the Hooters up the road to watch the UFC fight. The shuttle ran there and it was the closest place that showed UFC. I wanted to get Aiden to sleep early since we had a long journey back to the train station in the morning since they had part of the subway closed down. (and today was Aiden's Daddy's birthday so Happy Birthday Daniel)!
Well, no one was ready to get up early this morning but off on the shuttle, subway, bus, and to the train we went. As you can tell on the bus, everyone is trying for that one extra snooze.
But for Aiden, it was eyes wide open. Another day of pulling his own carry on bag and getting to ride on a train. What more could a 2 year old want to do.
And as we walked from the subway stop to the train stop, we had one last time to look far up and see the Willis Tower.
Once on the train, everyone was right back to sleeping. Except of course ------------------

Me!!!!!!! Because I had a 2 year old that was way to excited to fall asleep. lol
For all of us but Chris, it was straight off the train and straight to Cardinal's Bush Stadium. Bob and I have season tickets so we wanted to see the "Up and Coming" game along with the "Celebrity Game" which is all part of the All Star Week. So we all jumped in the van (except Chris) and headed to the game.
When the new Bush Stadium was built, season tickets holders were first offered to "buy a brick" Many people did and they now surround the outside of the stadium. We also chose to buy a brick and dedicate it to the memory of Bob's son Brandon, who was killed in a car wreck in 2001 at the age of 22. Below is a photo of the brick that is on display at Buch Stadium.
We didn't get to our seats and a huge thunderstorm rolled in. The "up and coming" game cleared the field and the tarp was brought out. This time maintenance vehicles were even sitting on the tarp so we knew it was going to be bad. And it was. The next few photos show how serious this storm was.

After hours of waiting, and knowing that the Celebrity game wouldn't be starting until very late in the night, we decided to head home. Below is Aiden with some chevy eye things and the photo below Aiden is Micah and Chelcy freezing from the rain.

The following day it was back to downtown St. Louis for more All Star game activites. Even though we chose to give up our All Star Game tickets, we did the other activities. Micah and Bob attended the home run derby and Bob, myself, Micah and Chelcy all headed to Fan Fest. The parade of the all star players was going on when we got to Fan Fest so I grabbed the camera and got a great shot of Molina in his truck.

There was alot of baseball history on display at the Fan Fest including the Cardinals World Series trophies below. Plus my nephew Chase was up from TN working at the Fan Fest so it was great to see him.

As you can see, small four day family trips can be alot of fun. And this one was. It was our grandson's first time to ride a train and we were so happy to see him that excited. (Next time we will remember to bring a stroller though). But spending time with family is so important to us. We missed the ones that didn't get to attend this year but had a blast with the ones that did. Thanks again for taking this journey with us and we hope you enjoyed seeing us enjoying a trip with our family.
The End

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