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US,Aug'14-2: Winds of Change in the Windy City?

Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:47 pm

US,Aug'14-2: Winds of Change in the Windy City? ... 14862.html

99.1 Introduction

My trip report #99 forms the second part of a four-part affair:

98. US,Aug'14-1: As far as She-Ca(n)-Go: Chicago! ... 14853.html
This part started at some hectic planning for the trip, spending
some time at the airport, and then, the long near 16 hour block
time flight from New Delhi, to Chicago O'Hare International.
Set out 25 Aug (Mon) for Chicago from New Delhi
AI 127: Air India (B77W) [Seat: 39A; PNR: JHSF2, Class Q]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - O'Hare Int'l Airport, Chicago
New Delhi (DEL) - Chicago (ORD)
[02:00 am - 07:25 am] {15:55 hrs}
99.US,Aug'14-2: Winds of Change in the Windy City?
(this one!)
100. US,Aug'14-3: Day in Dayton, the USAF Museum!
101. US,Aug'14-4: Another extra-ORD-inary Trip Back

The titles of my trip reports get wackier with time, and usually
demand an entire section for an explanation.
Winds of Change?
A bad pun on the sobriquet associated with Chicago, The Windy City?
Frankly yes. However, I also refer to the changes in the city.
Change? Let me (mis-)quote Heraclitus,
The only thing that is constant, is change.

Chicago is a city I have seen in 1977, 2005, and passed through it in
2007 and 2013. In 1977, I have very pleasant memories of visiting
the then tallest tower in the world, the Sears Tower. Among the
other memories of the city, I remember the John D. Shedd
Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium (where I fell asleep during the
show) and the Field Museum. We had stayed at the YMCA, which had
later come down. My next visit to the city was
during a transit again, but one in which I stayed ironically at
the same place as this time (Hostelling International), and I
made a round of the Museums again, going through the Adler
Museum, and visiting both the John D. Shedd Aquarium, and the
Field Museum. It was one hurried trip.

99.2 An Aviation Link. Not 1979, but 2005, 2007, 2013.

The 1979 trip was by road, from Wisconsin, Madison, en route to
New York City, via Washington DC, with most legs covered on bus.
Greyhound. We had stayed in the US for about a year. We had come
in from Delhi on an SAS McDonell-Douglas DC-10-30, my first
experience of a tri-holer. Our itinerary had been DEL-CPH on a
DC-10-30, and CPH-JFK on an SAS B742. I also remember a
discussion on the DC-10, on the forum.
X wrote, ``Wondering how is the engine number #2 of a tri-holer
is mounted/supported on a flimsy tail?''
Y wrote back, ``a powerplant on most types are held by just Three nuts''
I quipped in, ``and who exactly are these nuts?''

The 2005 trip was from Maryland, Baltimore, en route
to Madison, Wisconsin. I had points on Cathay Pacific, which I
had accumulated as a result of a round trip to Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada, from Mumbai. My routing was
BOM-BKK (Don Muang)-HKG, and HKG-YVR.
The return trip was completely symmetrical.
It had given me enough points for a short journey on
each segment, from ORD to MSN (Madison Dane County Regional), and
vice versa, on an American Eagle ERJ-140.
I had done the Maryland-Chicago segment and vice versa, by bus (on
Greyhound) again. I would have a Greyhound experience this year
as well, which I will described in the next part,
100. US,Aug'14-3: Day in Dayton, the USAF Museum!

One of my biggest exciting moments of that trip was to check out
Terminals 1 and 2 at O'Hare International airport,
where I had gone all around the place, taking
pictures with my analog SLR camera.
The itinerary for that memorable trip was the following:

Set out for Madison from Chicago Wed Jul 13
E-Ticket #160-2109385518

AA3952: American Airlines, operated by American Eagle (Embraer RJ 140)
Chicago O'Hare Int'l (ORD) - Madison Dane County Regional (MSN)
[10:25 am - 11:10 am] Wed Jul 13

Set out for Chicago from Madison Mon Jul 18
AA3953: American Airlines, operated by American Eagle (Embraer RJ 140)
Madison Dane County Regional (MSN) - Chicago O'Hare Int'l (ORD)
[11:40 am - 12:28 pm] Mon Jul 18

99.3 2007

My 2007 trip was to Minneapolis, Minnesota, which I had done via
Chicago. I had wanted to check out Terminal 5, the International
terminal at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, which had 18
gates then, the same as Mumbai's International Terminal (T-2) had
then. 2007 was also the year I changed base: from a Mumbaikar,
I was now a Delhi'ite.

My itinerary was as follows:

Set out Jun 15 (Fri) from Delhi for Chicago
Reach Jun 16 (Sat)

AI 112: Air India (B747-400)
New Delhi (DEL) - Mumbai (BOM)
[11:45 pm - 01:40 am] {01:55}
IGI (DEL) Terminal 2 - CSI (BOM) Terminal 2
AI 127: Air India (B747-400)
Mumbai (BOM) Terminal 2 - Frankfurt (FRA) - Chicago O'Hare Intl (ORD)
Terminal 5 (International Terminal)
[07:00 am - 04:05 pm] {19:35}

Jun 18 (Mon)
US 6825: U.S. Airways (B737-300) [Operated by United UA 771]
Chicago O'Hare Intl (ORD) Terminal 1 -
Minneapolis St. Paul Intl (MSP) Lindbergh Terminal
[06:05 pm - 07:34 pm] {01:29}

Set out Jun 22 (Fri) from Minneapolis for New Delhi
Reach Jun 24 (Sun)

UA 540: United Airlines (B757-200)
Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Lindbergh Terminal -
Chicago O'Hare Intl (ORD) Terminal 1
[03:25 pm - 04:55 pm] {01:30}

AI 124: Air India (B747-400)
Chicago O'Hare Intl (ORD) Terminal 5 - London Heathrow (LHR) -
New Delhi (DEL)
[08:40 pm - 01:20 am (Jun 24 Sun)]

Food-wise, those Air India trips had been an incredible experience.
A friend who opts for an Indian Vegetarian meal every time he
flies, commented on the dry preparations served on a recent Air France flight.
``when food is lifted from Europe, they tend not to have any gravy.''
``Did someone warn them of gravy consequences?'' I chirped back.

99.4 2013

My 2013 US trip was to San Diego, which I did via Chicago.
This gave me an opportunity to check out Chicago's other airport
as well, the Midway airport (MDW).

My itinerary for this trip was as follows:

Set out 05 Nov (Tue) for Chicago from New Delhi
AI 127: Air India (B77W) [Seat: 42A; PNR: J6RL8, Class L]
IGIA T3, New Delhi - O'Hare Int'l Airport, Chicago
New Delhi (DEL) - Chicago (ORD)
[02:00 am - 06:30 am] {16:00 hrs}

Set out 05 Nov (Tue) for San Diego from Chicago
SW 477: Southwest Airlines (B737-700) [Seat: xxx; PNR: AL5V9S]
Midway Airport, Chicago - San Diego Int'l Airport (Lindbergh Field)
Chicago (MDW) - San Diego (SAN)
[05:05 pm - 07:30 pm] {04:25 hrs}

Set out 09 Nov (Sat) for Chicago from San Diego
SW 1217: Southwest Airlines (B737-800) [Seat: xxx; PNR: AVFSYP]
San Diego Int'l Airport (Lindbergh Field) T2 - Midway Airport, Chicago
San Diego (SAN) - Chicago (MDW)
[06:35 am - 12:30 pm] {03:55 hrs}

Set out 10 Nov (Sun) for New Delhi from Chicago
AI 126: Air India (B77W) [Seat: 39K; PNR: J6RL8, Class L]
O'Hare Int'l Airport, Chicago - IGIA T3, New Delhi
Chicago (ORD) - New Delhi (DEL)
[01:30 pm - 03:25 pm, 11 Nov (Mon)] {14:25 hrs}

I have described this memorable San Diego trip in 5 parts:
73. US,Nov'13-1: Tailwinds to the Windy City! ... 14179.html
74. US,Nov'13-2: Winds/Sands of Time..Windy City-Sandy Ego! ... 14198.html
75. US,Nov'13-3: Midway, from Midway, to USS Midway ... 14215.html
76. US,Nov'13-4: San Diego-Midway, Chicago ... 14233.html
77. US,Nov'13-5: Haring back, Return from O'Hare ... 14255.html

99.5 Coming back to the Current trip!

A friend had sent me an email:
``What research organization are you pushing to bankruptcy by
roaming scot(ch)-free in the MidWest?''
Research, hmm...I wondered. If I were doing that, my career would
not be much in the doldrums, as it is now, I thought.

As I had written before in Part 1
98. US,Aug'14-1: As far as She-Ca(n)-Go: Chicago! ... 14853.html
I had landed up in Chicago on the morning of 25 August, 2014.
I had my luggage safely stowed in the luggage room in Hostelling
International, Congress Parkway, Chicago.
I would be able to get a room only after 3pm.
What would I do now?
All roads lead to Roam
I asked if there were discount coupons for the attractions close-by.
Yes indeed, and soon for $30, I had tickets to the SkyDeck and
360Chicago in my hand. This was a considerable saving over the
$19 general admission price at the former, and the $18 price at
the latter. Now, these sounded similar. What were they?

360Chicago is what was previously the John Hancock Observatory,
about half-an-hour's walk from Hostelling International.
SkyDeck is on the Wills Tower, what was the Sears Tower of yore,
when Sears had their office in this iconic structure, the then
tallest building in the world.
In 1979, I had visited this pace with my parents on a slightly misty day.
I remembered the elevator that took about a minute to
go from the ground floor, all the way up 103 floors, to the place
which would give panoramic views around the city on a clear day.
I remembered the coin-operated binoculars, and I remembered that
the rate at that time was a dollar.

Winds of Change?
The Winds of Change had blown by now, and it had been re-branded
as the SkyDeck. Yes, the 103rd floor was my destination!

The lovely area features pictures of the views on a clear day,
with captions on the major landmarks visible.
The Adler Planetarium, visible in the mist.

The SkyDeck features two toughened glass
platforms which were overhanging from this 103th floor.
Yes, one could stand on top of the glass floor, and look down.

I had reached the place well on time, and about half the place
had water droplets outside on the glass, which had not dried out yet.
The misty view out of the windows did not quite help.
I spent some time here, before rushing to check what the other
height had on offer.

The official entrance to the Willis Tower:

99.6 From The Wills Tower to 360Chicago

Yes, I walked the whole hog, with the hot sun beating down.
It would be my first visit to the place.
On the way, I passed by some sites of interest to me.
The Chicago branch of the State Bank of India.

Yes, these are the co-located entities. 19, South Laselle Street.

The Chicago Cloud Gate, a creation by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor.

I am nearly there...

One of the attractions at 360Chicago was `The Tilt', which
featured a $7 ticket to stand on a special platform there
(holding it with both hands), and being tilted face down till an
angle of about 30 degrees, in four steps.

Hypsophobia and Acrophobia are said to be related to the fear of heights.
No, I do not have either, but I did not like the idea much, either.
The view was again nice, and panoramic, all around.
This is what a three-point perspective is all about!

The Willis Tower...I was here, a while back!

After I had got out, I had one long look at where I was, some time back.

99.7 From 360Chicago to...The Field Museum!

I was determined to walk along the shores of Lake Michigan.
It was along walk, with the sun beating right down.
This was to change for the better, as I observed ominous dark
rain clouds gathering behind me. The breeze cooled down,
the sky grew dark, there were sounds of thunder in the sky, as I
sprinted towards the Museum Mile.
The place is extremely well-maintained.

I was having a whale of a time.

The Museum Mile is where the Field Museum, The
John D. Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium are located.
I had not taken my umbrella along, so I had to make a very quick choice.
I also recounted a friend's experience on taking his daughter to
the Nehru Planetarium in New Delhi, for the first time. I had replied,
``Jr makes us see the stars everyday...trying to get him ready for school.''
We see the starts, in broad daylight. The Sun rises smoothly, but The Son?
I shared this on a school friends' WhatsApp group, as well.
One of them is an Economics teacher.
She bid everyone a good night, as she had to wake up at 5am the
next morning, and then get her two sons up.
``You should try to teach them a bit of Economics every day.
They will forget what sleep is,'' was my suggestion.
She is known to be a very friendly teacher.
``You are Eco-friendly,'' I complimented her.
There was a comment by another friend, a Biology teacher.
I was reminded of my struggles in Biology, for a good grade.
``I have always been bio-degradable,'' I said, commenting
on my eco-friendliness.
``Well, that was poetry...well, almost,'' said the first, on
seeing my last comment in the previous paragraph.
``There is a fight, for no rhyme or reason. Poetic justice?''
I fought on, without any inclination to lean (not get lean!).
``For a dumbo like me, Macro-economics and Macaroni-mix are the same,
with the latter infinitely more palatable, though.''

I was also extremely tired by now, and the effects of the jet lag
were telling on me. I had not slept much on the flight, and I
realised that I would be able to cover only one museum right now,
wait for the skies to clear, go back to the Hostel to check in
and get a nice bed on the bottom bunk, pack in my bags - as many
as I could in the locker, and head out for Dayton, Ohio, to check
out the USAF Museum. Yes, that will come in the next part:
98. US,Aug'14-3: Day in Dayton, the USAF Museum!

Although I had some time on my hands, I was simply too tired.
I chose the Field Museum, the closest one, as the rain came down in buckets.
A picture, just before the skies opened.

I chose the general admission, a $18 ticket.
I did not find anything that fascinating in any special exhibit:
there were a few of them on view, to warrant me paying $25, or
for that matter, to take the Chicago CityPass, which at $94
promised a lot, but the ware on offer did not match my interests much.

The Field Museum has changed from what I remember of it during my
memorable 2005 visit, when two hours simply did not suffice to
see the whole place. I had landed up at 3pm, and was one of the
last visitors to be hounded out, as the museum had closed at 3pm.
This time, I entered at around 1pm.
I had about 4 hours on hand, extended by one more, since the
museum would be open till 6pm as a special offer, for 26-29 August,
which was also valid on 25 August, the day I had landed up in Chicago.

A general admission to the John D. Shedd Aquarium would leave me
poorer by $8, with the other offers (Pass for $31, and Pass+ for
$36) not of much interest to me. I did not have the time, either.
My sapping energy levels made me decide to go back after the
Field Museum visit, take a short nap for about an hour, and then
head out for the Greyhound terminal at Harrison street, to go to
Dayton Trottwood via Indianapolis, Indiana.

Winds of Change?
Winds of Change had blown across the Field Museum, and in the
last nine years, quite a bit has changed. I remembered going in
for a special exhibit that time, one on Chinese dinosaurs, which
had brought out some extremely important, yet relatively unknown
dinosaur skeletal remains in China, which have worked towards a
better understanding of the life and times of these `terrible
lizards'. The 2005 trip also saw me getting disappointed at
not being able to visit the Americas section, which was then
under renovation. I had memories of some extremely realistic scale
models of some temples in Central America, which Papa had taken
pictures of, using his prized old manual focus Canon camera.
This section was open, this time!
I could not find the same realistic scale models of temples of the central
Americas this time, much to my disappointment.

My 2005 visit had also seen me visit the `Bushman', something I
remember with some romanticism, as a humanoid, who passed away in 1951.
I remember this exhibit from my 1979 visit to the place.
In reality, it was a gorilla, who enthralled one and all in the city,
till he passed away.

I looked at the map of the museum, and looked at what was
available to me, in the general admission category.
The main level had the largest complete skeleton of a
Tyrannosaurus Rex ever unearthed, named `Sue'.
`Sue' had been a 1990s addition to the collection.
From my 1979 memories, the two elephants were still around, at
exactly the same position.

However, gone were some models, and
some animals from the `What is an animal?/The Animal Kingdom'
exhibition, including the largest fish, the Whale Shark,
which can grow to even 100 feet in length.
All this has changed now.
I compared the pictures which I remembered from Papa's
collection, and those that I had taken in 2005.
This was quite different!

The animal exhibits at the Field Museum have always thrilled me
beyond words. The settings are as realistic as things can get.
It is not for nothing the the Field Museum is one of the topmost
museums in the world, as far as Natural History goes.
I went around going click-click. the galleries I passed through
transfixed, included `Animal Biology', `Bird Habitats',
`Mammals of Africa', `Reptiles and Amphibians',
`Africa', `Mammals of Asia', `Messages from the Wilderness',
`The World of Birds',
`World of Mammals', `Nature Walk', and much to my delight, a
reserved gallery somehow accessible to all, `The Rice Gallery',
featuring its top exhibit, `The Lions of Tsavo'.
This has the stuffed man eater lions of the days of the railroad
in Africa, called `The Ghost' and `The Darkness', which were also
the feature of a movie of the same name.

The `Ancient Americas' gallery was a bit disappointing for me,
since I did not see the exhibits which had haunted my memories
since 1979. I was not interested much in the other open
exhibitions on the ground floor, `Northwest Coast and Arctic
Peoples', `Pawnee Earth Lodge, and `North American Indians'. Four
other galleries here were special exhibits, and out of bounds for me.
The Ground level (the lowest level of the three) had a few
fascinating exhibits, the Bushman, the Man Eater of Mfuwe
(another man-eating lion),
Sea Mammals, the interesting `Inside Egypt' exhibit,
and the boring (the pun here is quite intentional!)
`Underground Adventure'. This level is fairly sparse, as far as my interests go.

As time went by, my patience was wearing off, and I was getting
wearier by the minute. I rushed upstairs, for the Upper Level.
From `Evolving Planet', I rushed towards the main attraction in
this museum, `Dinosaur Hall'. It fascinated me as much as it had
done so three and a half decades back.

A plaster cast of the Berlin Archaeopteryx, the first link
between feathered dinosaurs, and birds.

On display was a model of what Archaeopteryx would have looked like:


The section on hominids was also extremely interesting!

`Plants of the World' was not much up my sleeve, and I gave it a
miss, as I did to the Hall of Gems.
The Wife would have been fascinated to see both of these!
Diamonds are a girl's best friend, and plants, her passion.
I must stop here, as I will not end up in her friends list, if I
go on any further, on this topic. Let me add that our house is a
plant-arium. Remember the comment about my friend taking his
daughter to the planetarium, and my `seeing the stars' quip?
Plants. I see the stars on seeing all of that. ``It is a jungle out there.''

I gave all other galleries on
this side of the museum, a miss. Travelling the Pacific, Maori
Meeting House, two special exhibitions, Pacific Spirits, Tibet,
and the Abbot Hall of Conversation Restoring Earth.

The rain had stopped by now.
The weather outside was superb.
It was cool. And windy.
So was I, by the way.

I got back to the Hostel, and quickly grabbed a bite.
I appraised The Wife of all the happenings of the day, and giving
the Adler Planetarium a miss.
``Are you on steroids?'' she asked.
``A-Steriods,'' came my tired reply, ``a falling star.''
I packed up all that I had, leaving only the bare essentials to
take to Dayton. This, and more, in the next part:
100. US,Aug'14-3: Day in Dayton, the USAF Museum!

But not before a parting shot. 18 January, 2017.
On the forum, member jbalonso777 pointed to an image of a Jet
Airways Boeing 737s now retro-fitting power-ports e.g., in VT-JBE.
Air India would also possibly do the same, given its intentions
to also go in for WiFi entertainment, in place of the PTVs in the
narrowbody fleet. This would be for all planes in the fleet,
except for the B744s. I chirped in,
``The Maharaja may also get rid of Bachelor's degree, and get a WifE''
And before you say `Sumantra, get a life...', let me sign off.
Links to my 99 trip reports:

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