Wednesday, November 28, 2007 ;
6:46 AM
Nov 23

Collected our rental car in the morning. Had arranged to stay nearer the city for the 1st few days, then switch to another motel nearer the airport for the remaining days. So we needed a car the last few days and also cos we wanted to drive around a bit after the city stuff.

Like the color. haha. It's a Chrysler PT Cruiser. They gave us a choice of Corolla and this, so of course I chose this, since I've never tried driving it before. It's got a neat sunroof that's automatic and we had a lot of fun repeatedly opening and closing it to get drafts of chilly air. We = me and kids, haha.

Also rented a GPS system, cos it was very cheap. Never used one before, and am now so spoilt, cos I love it! Now I wonder why before every trip I spend all my time printing out Google maps using Greyscale printing mode and rough paper. For a 10 day trip in the past, I'd print out a box file full of maps, cos we'd visit at least 15 cities along the way.

With this, it was really cool. Even late at night, I needn't strain to read the maps for dh. Just listen to the thing go "In 0.2 miles, turn left". They'll remind us ahead of time first, then just at the junction tell us again. They also had all kinds of data inside, like where the nearest steakhouse, or Target is. So we could find anything. Churches, hospitals, parks... And the maps are wonderful, can zoom out and in to wherever in USA.

Sorry if you had used it before. I'm going on and on... It's after all, my first time, and I'm like someone who found a new exciting and amazingly useful gadget.

We even purposely tested it, just for fun. Like we turned in a wrong direction to stop at a gas station to fill up... And it went crazy, kept on saying, "recalculating, turn right, turn right then turn right..." non stop. haha. it'll also say "U-turn when possible...". Once you take a wrong turn, it recalculates. It also gives us the distance and estimated time of arrival for every destination we key in. So we also tried keying in all kinds of funny places. haha.

Ok, enough of that. We headed to Sears Tower.

Chicago has 2 very good observatory decks. John Hancock and Sears. I heard the former has shorter queues and supposedly better view. But Sears is the tallest skyscraper in USA since 1973. It used to be the tallest in the world (CN Tower not counted, since people argue that it is not a building) for quite a long time, until Petronas Twin Towers took over, and then shortly after, Taipei 101. Now Taipei 101's the tallest but not for long, cos the United Emirates is building something much taller in Dubai (completion estimated in 2008).

Hence we chose to go to the Sears, since we don't think we would fork out money to go to both.

Above left: the long queue in front of us. Think we waited for 1hr. But they had lots of info boards and TV screens to occupy us during the wait, so it didn't seem long.
Above right: finally in the lift. the sheer number of buttons on the panel attracted both ds.

Above left: view of Sears from outside.
Above right: view of Sears from inside, at the observatory deck.

Above left: view from Sears, the other skyscrapers in Chicago
Above right: all the way down Lakeshore (Lake Michigan). sun shining from that direction, so pic is dark.

Above left: can see John Hancock Center in this pic. the tallest one in the pic with 2 white antennae.
Above right: view of Chicago right up to Wisconsin. supposedly.
Can see Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field museum in this pic.

After that, we went to Penang again! For late lunch. That's Chinatown below.

Ordered Hainanese Chicken rice, bean sprouts, Thai spicy assam fish.
Sooooo delicious. We overate actually, cos there's just us and kids.
After that, we decided to just drive alongside Lake Michigan and see how far we could go till the sun set.
We actually drove all the way to Indiana and wanted to make it to Michigan, but the sun set before we did that. There's the sun setting over the huge lake. We couldn't get to the lake side at this point, so no view of the lake from the pic.
And above right: the sign that welcomed us to Indiana when we passed the state boundary. It says "Lincoln's Boyhood Home". Illinois was where Lincoln started his political career, but Indiana was where he moved to from Kentucky, when he was 7 years old.
After that, we drove to the new motel near the O Hare Airport, which is really far from the city center.
Nov 24
Woke up tired and dh suffered from indigestion the night before cos he ate far too much the previous day. So we decided to take it easy and go to the premium outlets at Aurora (50 min away from downtown Chicago).
Wow, the outlet center here has more stores than Park City's and best of all are the food options.
So, believe it or not, we spent the whole day there. :-) Big sales at every store from the kids' Carters, Old Navy, OshKosh, to my stuff at Gap, Banana Republic, and dh's at Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen... We had a good time, cos everything was like 50 to 75% off. I got lots for the kids, long sleeved tops and fleece-lined pants for $3 and $8 respectively.
Dh even shopped at Lindt, for chocs for his co-workers back in Utah. He works with a bunch of Hispanics, from different parts of Latin America, and he gets along very well with them. They are teaching him Spanish too.
Back at the motel, we just kicked back, relaxed and watch a whole bunch of movies on the cable channels. hehe. Kind of wasted the day, I guess, from a tourist standpoint. It was the first time we did anything like that. Maybe got a bit too lazy. Or worse, age catching up...

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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