Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chicago-St.Louis Trip

Had a packed but fun Memorial Day weekend, visiting the Midwest. I did my Masters in the Midwest(a kugraamam called Rolla in Missouri) but haven't been back there since moving to California after getting my degree. While I didn't make it to Rolla in this trip, it was nice visiting the area.

We had booked an intermediate size car but since the rental place was out of cars we were 'upgraded' to a minivan at the same price. The weather forecast had talked about scattered thunderstorms in both Chicago and St.Louis when I checked the day before we left but the weather turned out to be sunny and absolutely gorgeous on all 4 days. All our flights were on time and the kids didn't fall sick. Small things but they did their part bit in making it a great trip.

We flew in to Chicago Saturday night and stayed in a city called Schaumburg, about half hour away from Chicago. Sunday morning we visited Navy Pier in downtown Chicago. It is the hub for quite a few activities and we spent about half a day there, walking along the lakeshore, riding the Ferris Wheel and visiting the Children's Museum. The last mentioned was obviously the favorite stop for Kavya and Karthik. Though we've visited similar museums in San Jose and Portland, this museum had a few new sections and attractions and made for a fun couple of hours(for them and us). We then went to Chicago's most famous attraction, Sears Tower. The long wait(almost 2 hours) to get to the skydeck was a pain and quite frustrating but the views from the top(though only a few minutes) made us forget the preceding wait. Lake Michigan and the dense collection of skyscrapers made for some awesome views. From there we drove around downtown Chicago for a while and visited Buckingham fountain. In the middle of a park and right alongside the lakeshore with the boats docked, it was a peaceful, relaxing setting that made us forget that we were right in the heart of downtown.

The next morning we went for a river cruise on Chicago river. With Chicago being famed for its skyscrapers, this was the best way to see all of them(and learn some interesting tidbits about their architecture too). Then we went to the Field Museum, which we wanted to visit for 2 main reasons - one, Kavya wanted to see 'Sue', a dinosaur she had learned about in school and two, my wife, who is a big fan of the film The Ghost and the Darkness, wanted to see the 2 man-eating lions of Tsavo, on whom the movie is based. Eventually the museum turned out to be the best part of the trip and the 3 hours we spent in there were definitely not enough. The underground section, the Egyptian section with its coffins and mummies and the African section with the realistic, stuffed animals were fabulous.

We drove to St.Louis that evening and had dinner at an Indian restaurant Flavor of India. The food and the customer service here were excellent, especially compared to the Indian restaurant we went to in Schaumburg. Highly recommended! The next morning we visited the St.Louis Arch, our only stop in St.Louis. An architectural marvel, it is almost impossible to believe, when looking up at the towering structure from below, that we would travel inside it to the very top. But thats exactly what we did for some great views of the city(and beyond). We also took the riverboat cruise on Mississippi river but barring some good views of the Arch, it offered nothing else and wasn't worth it.

After lunch in the park around the arch, we drove to Franklin in Wisconsin and spent the night at my wife's cousin's place. Headed back to the airport the next morning and flew back home. Looking back, a good ride, great weather, excellent hotels, well-behaved kids and a lot of attractions that were fun for everybody made this a great trip.

Photos from the trip can be seen here

PS: Karthik turns 2 today :-)


At 9:42 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...

Hmm.. nice to know that you passed out of UMR. Nalla velai, Chicago aa va kukgramam nnu sollalaye :-)
Very nice place.

I like Michigan more than Illinois. The beaches of Michigan are simply superb, Specially Northern and Western Michigan.

Mid-West nnu solreenga, don't see even a hint of red-neck in you :))

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Karthik!

I can still remember the post which you wrote when Karthik was born (Anniyan movie was going to be released that time). Little boy turns 2 today...time flies doesnt it!

God Bless!


At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji,

The two photos are awesome. The link to other photos however takes to the blogger page. :(


At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nevermind..I think that is fixed now :)
Wish Karthik a very very happy birthday from all of us!!!

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very happy birthday to Karthik


At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good to know that u had a fun trip to chicago and st. louis.
the last time i went to chicago, my friends and i drove to indiana dunes, a spectacular lake shore area. we set up tents at that was a wonderful experience...

anyways, here's wishing kutty paiyyan a very happy birthday!

At 3:33 AM, Blogger Bart said...

So Kar ticks on.. Here is the second happy tick.. Happy returns of the day..

At 6:15 AM, Blogger VThinkTank said...

Happy Birthday Superstar Karthik

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bart, I loved your "tick" line! from what BB has said about kutty paiyyan's mischievous looks, I think he'll become KarTrick! wink!

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Any time a long weekend stretches to more than 3 days, it is always good. Add beautiful weather to it and you get the perfect weekend. But somehow all these towers (in all major cities) look the same to me. Empire State Building, Sears Towers, Space Needle...the view is almost identical from the top in each tower. Don't you think, Balaji?

Future author-kku birthday wishes :)

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appy Appy bday to karhtik :)

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy B'day to Karthik!

BB..did u not go to Shedd aquarium? It's one of the better ones in the US.

Filbert..that's what I always thought until I went up the Eiffel tower. The view of Paris from there is just spectacular!


At 3:44 PM, Blogger Filbert said..., that is one place I have not been to yet, Kumar. So, I will take your word on that :)

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Happy Birthday to karthik!Comeback Balaji and write something special!

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

srivatsan, been to michigan but very briefly. definitely didnt spend enuf time there :)

RS, thanx. good memory :) i remember writing about who(anniyan or karthik) would be released 1st! turned out it was karthik :)

San, thanx from Karthik :)

kp/ram, thanx :)

bart, very clever. thanx :)

vthinktank, thanx :)

filbert, kinda true i'd say. but i also think each city has its own distict look; something that adds a unique touch. like mt.rainier in the background in ur own city :)

vidhya, thanx :)

Kumar, when i go to other cities, i usually pick spots i can't see locally. since we have the monterey bay aquarium, which is considered one of the best in the US, here i passed on shedd :)

ganesh, thanx :)

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While I didn't make it to Rolla in this trip, it was nice visiting the area."

this should help bring back some memories ... :-)

- s.b.


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