The Budweiser clock wakes me up at just after three in the morning – perfect, because the moon has now set and the sky is nice and clear. My eyes got used to the darkness after a very short time. Above our house the Milky Way stretches with a clarity that can be admired in Europe at best in the high Alps. I take some pictures, but the cold night and the lonely, wide silence of the fields – only the rustling of the leaves can be heard, far and wide no other sound – drive me soon back to bed.
Found a place in the house where I have sufficient internet connection for the following photos, the gentle reader please match them to the last entries:
School and Scouts
Hard to believe that our vacation is only a third over – we experience here incredibly much in such a short time. Today we leave shortly before nine to visit Michael and Joseph at "Chapel", the school devotion. The two of them attend Crowley’s Ridge Academy, a private church school in Paragould, 55 kilometers away, so just around the corner according to local understanding. Michael’s fifth grade class is responsible for the devotion today, each student recites a little something on the stage of the large auditorium, which is equipped like an older movie theater. At the end, the principal says a prayer, not only for sick colleagues and students and the general well-being of his charges, but also for us visitors, asking for a nice vacation and a healthy journey back home. During the general part with announcements for the day, we were allowed or rather allowed to. Michael already had to introduce us as his visitors, and we were warmly welcomed by the "school family", as it is called in German pedagogical jargon.
Joseph drags Leo into his classroom to show him the tadpoles running around in an aquarium on the desk. Then we leave the school again and drive the 55 kilometers back to Piggott – Frankie has to cut hay and TeJuana takes us to the barber she trusts, who used to shave Grandpa Buddy, too. I had asked for a visit at a typical american barber, because I turned more and more into Sasquatch, the forest man, after my electric shaver was switched on by improper packing on my part in the suitcase and must have used up its complete charge already over Canada. I had left the bulky charger at home, of course. Shaving and also a haircut were really no luxury.
Cruisin’ up town
Today we take it slow: First we sleep in, make coffee, wash and dry our clothes, pet Jasper, ride him and water him. Anke spots a "cropduster" in the sky, and we guys go looking for it. The plane is fertilizing a bean field, we can take great photos. After that we stroll through Greenway and Piggott. Suddenly more than an hour has passed and we have driven around for more than 60 kilometers – the vastness of the landscape and the leisurely pace make any relation to time and space melt away.
A flying visit to Frankie, we get the tip, in the ca. 20 miles away in Kennett/Missouri there would be a Taco Bell, which Anke craves and Stefan doesn’t know yet, where we feast on very tasty Tex-Mex food, as well as a Walmart, a gigantic all-around supermarket not only for groceries (they also sell beer, the local Clay County, however, is "dry"), but also clothing, a hardware store and car accessories assortment, of course also guns, furthermore clothing and electronics. After the search for a used iPod for Leo has been unsuccessful so far, we can’t resist a remnant special offer, and Leo buys a brand new light blue iPod Nano Touch from his pocket money. With our discussion of the purchase decision we gave the salesman very pleasant "flashbacks" to his time at the military base Frankfurt-Hahn. We have already met quite a few people here who understood us at least to some extent; most of them have done military service in Europe (quote from the priest yesterday: "The kids talked kraut like a field of cabbage!"), some had German parents.
On the way home, I estimate our budget and decide to change Euro bills. The lady in a rather large bank branch looks at me as if I had put a dead herring on her counter – she never had Euros in her hands before! "Where did you get those?" – "At home. " – "Are those some kind of travelers’ cheques?" – "No, ma’am, it’s just the biggest currency in the world!" [OK, I didn’t dare to say that, because I’m a guest – but the question was O-Ton!]). The manager drops by and tries to help, but they wouldn’t even know where to put the euros in the cash register. He goes to make a phone call and then says with an apologetic handshake that they are really terribly sorry, but there is probably no bank in the area that will change Euros. Then he actually asks: "Did you fly into the US or did you drive??" I would like to imply in his favor, he may have meant across the border from Canada. His tip: A bank at the nearest international airport, i.e. Memphis, might be able to help. I find the episode amusing beyond measure and have my hands full trying not to laugh out loud. I sincerely thank the concerned bankers and assure them that I have a credit card, which is known in this country, it is all no problem, I would just prefer cash.
Tonight TeJuana cooks for us a gigantic dinner, we should not eat anything for dinner, she warns us by cell phone. Frankie is snowing in as we are unloading the groceries; he has seen a "Combine" = combine in the Milo field (pronounced here like Marlowe, a type of corn-like millet with much smaller kernels) next to his house and has asked the driver to take Leo for a ride. Meanwhile I load music on the iPod – new gadgets have an irresistible attraction for me, so Leo and Anke ride alone on the combine harvester of Joel and Kent from the neighborhood. Leo is even allowed to steer the huge machine himself. Afterwards, he gets to take a bag of his own harvest to make popcorn that evening with Frankie.
Soon Frankie, TeJuana and the three of us are sitting at our place, having a beer and talking about God and the world. TeJuana wants to get dinner ready, meanwhile we pass the time by driving go-karts, which Leo is getting better and better at. He has great fun putting us on the passenger seat and scaring us and the horses with the most daring maneuvers possible. After a short trip to JoNell and Valerie’s old house, there’s Arkansas-style farmer’s roast, but very similar to the Bavarian one.
I go out again in the late evening and take pictures (despite the half moon you can see the Milky Way!), while the mosquitoes try their best to suck me completely dry.
Church, farm life and road trip
After another quiet night in the middle of nowhere, we drive to Turners dressed up just before 10 and are driven from there to church by Michael. Yes, read correctly. A ten-year-old drives us fifteen minutes by SUV to the next village. Southern states.
The Church of Christ, to which Valerie and her family belong, is clearly different even from our Protestant churches: The room is practically completely unadorned, the priest wears no chasuble, only a shirt and suit pants. The service consists of 95% sermon, based on bible quotations, which, if you flip fast enough, you can also read in the bibles that are displayed. Theme: morality, sin and deception; tenor: "Society cannot redefine sin", and evil lurks well disguised at every corner. The sermon is nevertheless largely delivered in a relaxed manner, Siegfried and Roy are cited as masters of illusion, as are cheeseburger-flavored potato chips and an elderly parishioner who is firmly convinced that he has written a sensational poem, but which is actually a well-known song lyric. The priest confesses not to have the heart to enlighten the Lord about his error. The children are allowed to take toys and coloring books into the pew and quietly occupy themselves.
Speaking of the song, there’s also singing, quite jauntily in country music style (which we later learn is due to the taste of the lead singer), but only a capella. Communion at the very end of the service, in the form of saltine crackers and grape juice, is taken only by the baptized. In the Church of Christ, one is baptized only after careful consideration; Valerie, Ashley and even TeJuana received the baptism only after the death of their (grand)father a few years ago. For the christening one usually decides spontaneously. In the church there is a room behind the altar (which is more or less only in the form of a lectern) that is separated from the main room by a curtain and contains a basin in which an adult can be completely immersed. Next to it a changing room, white baptismal gowns are always ready to wear. The intentional approach to faith impresses, as does the generosity of the congregation: a display board on the wall gives the attendance figures for the last two services (50 and 45) as well as the amount of voluntary cash donations made during the service ($2,000 and $1,600)!!) known. Roughly speaking, this significantly exceeds our church tax.
On the way home we stop by Buddy’s and Nana’s grave (in the "Hell Cemetery" – the "Mitc" of "Mitchell Cemetery" had been overgrown for a long time, which fired the imagination of the village youth back then, as Anke knows from her own experience 23 years ago).
Then Frankie sizzles hotdogs, refined with homegrown vegetables, and the boys are allowed to splash around again and flay the vehicles. Valerie needs a ride home, and I offer to do it – it’s only a tree-up (that’s how they pronounce the word ‘trip’ here) of about 600 kilometers and about a half. 6 hours driving time to Clarendon near the capital Little Rock and back. Ashley accompanies us, because she wants to guarantee my entertainment on the way back, which she also succeeds in doing. The sisters say we’re in for the most boring stretch of asphalt ever laid – 100 miles of straight left of the railroad, then a big change of 100 miles to the right. For a Central European, however, that’s what’s fascinating – a road that actually reaches over the horizon; seeing every oncoming car a quarter of an hour ahead of you, a quarter of an hour in the rearview mirror. Endless freight trains with many locomotives on the tracks, many of the grain wagons have been welded by Andy, Ashley’s husband, probably with his own hands.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a propeller plane shoots low over the highway – a "cropduster" that sprays the fields with weedkiller or fertilizer and performs maneuvers that are usually only seen in aerobatic shows. (Say nothing to you? Watching "Planes"!)
Meanwhile, Leo and the "boys" earn a few bucks washing cars, setting off fireworks, and maltreating a cardboard box with blowpipe darts. Anke cleans with TeJuana the treasures bought at the Auction-Sale. (Concrete planter and bunny)
In Clarendon, we drop Valerie off in her "ghetto", as she calls it due to some rather dilapidated houses in the wider area, and load some gems from the Auction Sale into her home. Then we make our way to Paragould, where I drop Ashley off and receive a few cans of Busch Light and two bottles of Jack Daniel’s& as a thank you may take cola with you. Then, thanks to a spinning GPS, I drive a few miles in the wrong direction before driving the SUV home. That’s where (little House in the Prairie) Anke and Leo have already gone in Valerie’s truck, where Leo soon falls asleep happily after a day of, as he says himself, "doing everything he wanted to do".
Then we write our blog, download it as a text file to the cell phone and send it, lying on the sink (because only there is reception with Internet) into the ether. Greetings to all at home!
Arkansas, as it lives and breathes
We spend a quiet night on the prairie. Early in the morning, Jasper the donkey, who is part of the family and lives in the 100-year-old red barn next to the home, loudly greets the sun. He watches us newcomers with great interest, but also at a safe distance. Except for a few bottles of water we have nothing in the house yet, the breakfast from the golden M we polish off on the way to an auction at Jo Nell, Valerie’s aunt, with whom we were accommodated last time. This auction is a very smart thing: If a family moves in this country, everything that is expendable goes under the hammer. The whole thing is organized by professional auctioneers, and you wouldn’t believe how fast a packed yard empties out. There are probably about a hundred interested people on site, and there is something for everyone: oil paintings, furniture, a jeep, tools, of course also rifles and pistols (we are in the Midwest and in the Southern States, where firearms are as much a part of the household as towels), but also a huge amount of junk and scrap metal. The small stuff is always sold in batches. So if you are interested in a nice bedside rug, you inevitably have to bid for an encyclopedia in 20 volumes, a stuffed and quite mangy bird, a handful of Mardi Gras masks and a box of private family slides from the early sixties. Almost everything except the bed rug goes into the garbage – but not with the family that is moving, but with the buyers. Ingenious, or? Even before that, Valerie said that everything would be sold, and she was right. On the side there will be hotdogs and dr. Pepper Cola, Leo converses brilliantly with other children, partly in an international children’s language (pointing and bawling), partly in slightly broken English ("You fourwheeler or I now fourwheeler?"), including Joseph and Michael, who arrive with their mom Ashley, Valerie’s sister. In the end, almost everyone has found something: I go home with a brand new six-foot tripod for my camera, which I dusted off for 12 bucks (store price probably well over 50, which Terry Bob, friend of the family, also had his eye on), and Valerie has a rifle caliber for Michael as a belated birthday present .22 at auction – as I said, southern states! Jo Nell, Tejuana and Ashley load two cars full of mixed junk, which is then reduced to the usable pieces at home – z. B. an Actifry fryer, also still unused, for $23 – retail price 230! These auctions are beneficial to all involved, and even if you’re just a spectator, you get a kick out of the people on the road, always following the motto: there’s nothing that isn’t out there. Valerie goes with the children and us on the way to Frankie, and here Leo now experiences the most beautiful day of his life: Frankie brings everything that can be refueled to his huge yard: A quad bike (called a four-wheeler in this country), an off-road go-kart, a "Mule", a cross between a quad bike and a pickup truck for smaller transports in rough terrain, a Dune Buggy (a two-seater, practically completely open fun car, nailed together from the remains of a VW Beetle), and of course a classic John Deere three-wheel tractor. Leo can and may drive the Mule and especially the go-kart on his own, and the only way to remove his grin would have been surgically. The grown-ups also have fun with the vehicles and Frankie spends one can of beer after the other. Then he gets homemade tomato juice with jalapenos, and we give the Busch Light the right spice – Radler times very different, but extremely tasty and refreshing! Randy, a good family friend we already know from the last visit (he took us to the agricultural fair), stops by, and we talk shop about real estate and the merits of pickup truck tailgates with built-in steps. Then Michael wants to test his new shotgun, and soon after almost all except Anke and Leo shoot at clay pigeons. As long as the target doesn’t move, I’m not that stupid. After the guns are packed away again, we ride in the bed of Frankie’s well-hung pickup to our little farm so the kids can ride Jasper. As provisions we get the remaining burgers from yesterday with us. Back at Turners, Tejuana discovers among her auctioned treasures a water slide for the garden, which the boys enthusiastically put into operation. Frankie sizzles dinner, we have Pork Chops, pork chops, in thick gravy with homemade mashed potatoes and "biscuits", a kind of crumbly white bread that looks a little like steamed noodle dough. The vitamins in the form of cucumbers, tomatoes and okra pods all come from Frankie’s garden, so they are dewy fresh and delicious. Until dinner, Michael teaches me several games of billiards, cards and dice. The evening ends with homemade iced tea and Mario Kart, at shortly before 10 we say goodbye and drive to our farm.
Route 66 to Arkansas
No, the legendary Route 66 does not lead through Arkansas, but we encounter it several times today. After Leo polishes off almost all of the hotel’s hard-boiled eggs, we make our way to the metal lattice bridge where Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River. Today the bridge is closed to cars, and one can walk from Illinois to Missouri. That the "Old Man River" is wide is well known. That you have to walk a quarter of an hour if you put your tripod in the middle (!) of the bridge, leads one the true size physically noticeable before eyes.
Large parts of 66 have been neglected or even destroyed since the 80’s; Valerie thinks that there is simply no money for the maintenance of an interstate highway and the old country road; but it is a bit sad that the "Mother Road" is so fragmented today.
Afterwards we drive to Cahokia, a former big city of the Indians. Between ca. 1000 and 1400 after Christ lived here in bloom times up to 20.000 people – as many as in London at the time!
Today, in addition to various artifacts (ceramics, arrowheads, tools, jewelry, etc.), the site is also home to a number of artifacts.) especially the huge mounds, which were built up by the Mississippians over centuries, have been preserved. The biggest one, Monk’s Mound, has a footprint as big as the Cheops pyramid. The culture of that time is presented in the attached museum (free entrance, very praiseworthy)!) is impressively illustrated, which is also a prerequisite for the UNESCO World Heritage status, which the site quite rightly bears.
Between museum and walking the Mounds Sue invites us for Mexican, delicious!
After Cahokia I can return the favor with "Frozen Custard", a sensational in-between milkshake and soft ice cream. The king of confectionery bears the name "Concrete", due to its consistency. Part of the ritual is that the seller holds the cup upside down for a short time to demonstrate how firmly the mass sticks in the cup. To be purchased on Route 66 at Ted Drewes, an institution from the heyday of the road, where else?
We say goodbye to Sue and set off on the three-hour drive to Piggott, Arkansas, which passes quickly even for Leo, because Tejuana’s GMC has a DVD player and screen in the car’s headliner. On the way we buy a box with 30 hamburgers in appetizer size, the "Sliders" of White Castle, where supposedly the fast food was invented. Valerie tells us that she used to drive two hours there and back with school friends to get this delicacy.
A little further on we know Tejuana, another mound, which lies next to a cemetery. On the gravestones we notice that often the year is missing; so we find z. B. numerous cases of not yet faded 125-year-old. Country air is healthy, or? We learn that many families have all the relatives engraved when they die for the first time and add the year of death later – no one can get around that. But sometimes that goes wrong, z. B. when a loved one goes to be buried elsewhere. – and then a seemingly immortal remains behind.
Much more lively is the Boomland Fireworks Store: Here you can buy fireworks all year round, partly in man-sized bulk packages. Next door there is a superstore for odds and ends.
Arrived in Piggott, Frankie, Valeries father, welcomes us with homemade Beef and Deer Jerky (dried meat), and we bring the first round of souvenirs (Steiff bear, Dvorak CD, trick jug, illustrated book, Dirndl) among the people. Then we are taken to ‘our little farm’, which is ca. 1 km from Tejuana and Frankie’s house, in the middle of the fields, lies the house of her grandparents "Buddy" and "Nana", which we have to ourselves. Here, house doors are not locked, even the ignition key of Valerie’s fancy pickup truck, which she lends us, should remain in the lock, but I can’t do that with the best will in the world.
Cell phone reception is poor, so I won’t be able to upload any photos from now on (Valerie’s parents don’t have an internet connection, they don’t need it – it’s just more comfortable to live here; there’s not even a phone on our farm, because no one lives here permanently anymore), but I’ll make up for it.
Riding the Rails to St. Louis
Location: Illinois and Missouri
Weather: Cloudy to sunny
Music: Friends will be friends
Food: Pulled pork and sliced roast beef
Motto: South-Westward Ho!
Today we follow the historic Route 66, but first on rails. It’s good that the check-out at the hotel and the cab call (by lamp, very cool) went quickly: At Union Station, you get checked in half an hour before departure.
The station is half underground, the platforms are gloomy and dirty. In contrast, the classic shiny silver train is very spacious inside, better than 1. Class DB, and neat. WLAN is also available, so I can blog right away. So much more pleasant than flying! In addition, we have real transitions between the wagons, which clang tinny and shift against each other, which impresses Leo very much. In our ICEs, everything is now under plaster.
We have breakfast of hot dogs, breakfast burgers, and cream cheese bagels from the food truck.
We drive through Joliet, where Jake Blues had to serve time in prison. Today Jail to be visited as a museum. Maybe next time..
After breakfast I have time to reduce the 1118 photos taken so far to "only" 305 – power for the laptop is also available. In general, one is excellently provided for in America, z. B. there are drinking fountains everywhere in downtown Chicago. What’s a bit annoying is the ubiquitous air conditioning: every enclosed space, even a botanical atrium on the pier with tropical plants, is arctic air-conditioned. I don’t know how the Americans manage it. Good thing we always have our softshell jackets with us.
Even more annoying are the US dollars: All bills have exactly the same dimensions and virtually the same color. I live in the permanent worry of accidentally tipping a waiter 100 dollars. Paying is tricky anyway, since the state sales tax is usually added at the checkout counter. Will one z. B. buy a hoodie (because you’re stupidly not dressed warm enough to eat in the restaurant), which costs $38 according to the label, are suddenly $42 to shell out at the cash register.
On the other hand, the railroad company Amtrak had a fantastic idea when they produced several podcasts for each route section as entertainment. This way you get much more out of the train trip.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Valerie and TeJuana are waiting for us at 15:00 at the train station. We drive directly to the Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St Louis,
an insider tip from Valerie’s friend Sue, whom we meet later on. The Romanesque church is completely decorated with mosaics, although it was only built at the beginning of the 20th century. Built at the beginning of the twentieth century. Very impressive, beautiful and contemplative!
Afterwards we return to the old Union Station, which has been converted into a shopping center, and meet Sue, with whom we then enjoy very tasty pulled pork and roast beef sandwiches at Maggie O’Brien’s Irish Pub.
At 20:00 we have tickets for the Gateway Arch, a huge arch made of stainless steel, which symbolizes the portal to the West – the explorers Lewis and Clarke set out from here 200 years ago to map the wild West (it worked) and to find a navigable river to the Pacific (but the Rockies are in the way). The arch is not only a beautiful monument and at the same time the largest stainless steel construction in the world (superlatives are a must), the way to the top is also very reminiscent of the high-tech fortresses of James Bond villains from the sixties: You climb an egg-shaped capsule in the basement,
in which one sits quite crowded; this capsule then travels up the arch and rotates in its guide; but not swinging gently as in the paternoster, but in small jerky steps. At the top, we look down on west and east; ironically, the "civilized" core of town is on the west, and the east is mostly empty. Anke heroically endures at least twenty minutes almost without complaint despite her fear of heights.
After the descent, there is a documentary film from the sixties that follows the construction of the monument and pays tribute to the extraordinary engineering achievement.
The day ends at the Comfort Inn Hazlewood, which Valerie booked for us. Sue, who stays with us and accompanies us tomorrow, and whose husband is a policeman, warns about the bad area, but this does not keep me as an unarmed (by the way: Valerie almost did not get into the Arch today; "she carried") tourist from a little drink shopping walk.
Chicago – pure culture
Place: Chicago, IL
Weather: Dry, windy
Music: Heard it through the grapevine
Food: Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Motto: Life is like a box of chocolates
The jet lag slowly wears off, and we wake up "only" at shortly after six. After leftover breakfast (pizza) and free coffee from the hotel, we take the bus to the Loop. The weather is kind to us. At 8:30 we are standing in front of the closed doors of the Chicago Art Institute – two hours too early. Something like that does not happen to us so fast. Anyway, we admire a "gang" of ca. 20 Harleys
– on closer listening, it’s Italians who must have Route 66 in front of them, which starts right outside the doors of the art museum. We are trying to find a used IPod for Leo (his has given up the ghost, appleglump!) and end up in a high-rise building that seems to be completely rented by jewelers. In the Pawn Shop, pawnshop, in the 7. On the second floor, unfortunately, they only carry jewelry.
Then Leo is allowed to let off steam on a Picasso – not with wax crayon, but on foot; on Daley Plaza there is a huge horse sculpture by the master.
Directly across the street is the Chicago Temple of the First United Methodist Church
to pause; a volunteer tells us stories from her childhood ("Grandma only talked to Methodists on principle") and jokes ("Baptists go to hell for smoking, Methodists for drinking, Anglicans for using the wrong fork"). Unfortunately we don’t have time for the Chapel in the Sky at 14:00, more on that later.
Now the Art Institute is open, too, and we are looking at artists from all over the world. After almost 3 hours Rembrandt, Monet, Hopper,
Wood and co. Leo is very hungry. First we have a Chicago Style Hotdog ( "dragged through the garden", so called because of the many vegetable garnishes), then we can listen to Buddy Guy’s Legends, how Anthony Moser doesn’t blow the harp, but plucks the strings.
and enjoy creole specialties like Gumbo and Hog Wings (if pigs can fly?). What is special about it? At lunchtime children are also welcome, although there is beer on the table (alcohol and teenagers rarely fit under one roof in the States).
Then we keep the promise to stroll with Leo over the "Plarrer", as he calls it, i.e. to the rides at Navy Pier. We cool down at the nearby Ohio Street Beach; Leo swims in Lake Michigan,
we have to be content with wading and a beer in Caffe Oliva due to the lack of bathing suits and hope that it will not thunderstorm again like yesterday evening.
We fortify ourselves with seafood in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (inspired by "Forrest Gump") at the pier, and then comes the crowning glory: a night sail on the Tall Ship Windy (a fitting name, based on Chicago’s nickname ‘Windy City’; the wind is cold and strong) to marvel at the fireworks that are set off twice a week over Chicago in August – an incredible experience!
Leo is allowed to help setting the sails, but then he has to be brought back to the hotel by cab, asleep.
Thanks for the comments by the way, we’re so glad you’re joining us virtually!
Chicago on foot
Location: Chicago, IL
Music: Sitting on the dock of the bay
Food: American Breakfast
Motto: Keep on walking
Woke up at quarter past four, Leo shortly afterwards. It was still pouring with rain. After I had made a day program for Chicago in the rain (Chicago Art Institute, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Chicago Children’s Museum are all extremely worth seeing), we guys wanted to go out and get umbrellas or ponchos, but then Anke woke up too. When we left the hotel shortly after six, the weather had also improved and we stayed dry. First impression: Chicago is an extremely well-kept, beautiful city; flowerbeds everywhere, wide streets and sidewalks, and if you’re into sports, everything within walking distance.
Then on the street a hobby photographer approached us (the Nikon around the neck is similar to a freemason handshake) and gave us various tips, z. B. for breakfast at the West Egg Cafe.After ca. 2 million calories (minced steak in cream sauce with fried potatoes, French toast, pancakes and two liters of coffee – nota bene for breakfast!)..
…the sun greeted us and we could take great pictures of the skyscrapers – especially nice the headquarters of the local newspaper "Chicago Tribune" with a spire that reminds of a gothic cathedral.
In the parks between the downtown core called "Loop" and the ocean-like Lake Michigan
we were fascinated by various sculptures, especially the "Cloud Gate" (by the way, the 100-ton and ten-meter-high bean consists of individual metal plates whose seams have been invisibly welded – a masterpiece in terms of craftsmanship alone),
and Leo is allowed to frolic topless in the fountains with their towering multimedia artworks.
Across a pedestrian bridge designed by Frank Gehry
we arrived at a huge playground, complete with "Enchanted Forest",
Tower Bridge climbing castle and, and, and. to chill out (in the truest sense of the word, because it has become quite hot again) we sat down at the marina with snow cone and coke under an apple tree. Leo fed cookies to a trusting squirrel:
At Buckingham Fountain, Anke is interviewed by local radio and readily admits to never having seen a bigger, more impressive fountain – but the backdrop of skyscrapers in the distance behind the huge green spaces is also really pretty.
In the palatial Field Museum we marvel at the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex uncovered so far,
which for the sake of simplicity is called "Sue" here, before we enjoy a 3D movie about evolution on the Galapagos Islands. Very impressive is also a comprehensive exhibition about Native Americans. Then we sneak into a special exhibition where you can explore the earth virtually shrunk by a factor of 100 – including meter-long worms and ants made of plastic.
The pedometer shows 19 kilometers, our feet are burning, so we take the bus (takes 45 minutes – so we really walked bravely) back to the Watertower Area, as the area around our hotel is called. Arrived there we are spoiled in the Cheesecake Factory not by Penny, but Lauren with burgers and – what a surprise – cheesecake.
A very nice, but also exhausting day ends at 19:00 for the big ones with Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest Beer and for Leo with Donald Duck via Youtube.
Pizza& Riegele’s Friends
After we put Leo dead tired into bed in the hotel, I go out again to get some city air and food. I walk a few blocks to Giordano’s, a real institution, because pan pizza is the Chicago specialty.
During the one-hour wait (that’s part of it), I experience a real Great Lakes thunderstorm:
Have landed well in Chicago, even the suitcases are there! How the Danes managed that in the short time is a mystery to me. But they’ve already discovered America and even invented Lego, so they’ve got it made.
The flight was quite pleasant, at least if you sit in the last row you don’t have to worry about reclining. Very nice was especially the possibility to look live outside via front and ground camera and especially to watch the landing. The dinner was also quite decent, but at the late snack we were glad to have brought our own rolls and pretzels from home.
We are already on the Go Airport Express bus that will take us to the hotel. Happy!
Our American cell phone number is +1-267-752-4361. Sultry weather, nice driver.