Episode 16: Tourist
I was in Chicago for an improv festival that's pretty much just a week-long summer camp for comedians. That's over now, so I've got a few more days before I have to drive to the thriving metropolis of Ft Wayne, IN. I did some things that locals do so now it's time to behave like a tourist.
The Lake Beach
Growing up near Lake Tahoe, I thought all lakes were crystal clear but totally isolated from civilization. Chicagoans made a trade off: we'll put the lake right next to downtown, but we'll fill it with poison and garbage.
The water of Lake IDidn'tBotherToLearnItsName was as warm as a bathtub, but had significantly more seaweed that rubbed up against my leg and made me scream. I recognize that most locals don't actually swim when they go to the lake beach; they tan, they bask, they play volleyball with their Cubs hats on backwards. I swam because I'm the color and shape of a marshmallow and I look fun in the water, but sickly on the sand.
MORE PRICEY TOURISM AFTER THE JUMP!
Architecture Boat Tour
Lake WhateverItsCalled used to be the final resting place for Chicago's industrial pollution, brought there by the Chicago River. In the 1800s, the river was reversed using black magic and this project converted it from an open sewer to a gross stagnant canal for tourists to ride boats on.
For a measly $toomuch, you can ride a boat down this river while a retired architecture professor tells you bad jokes. I learned a lot about history of this great city, including why it's called "The windy city," what the stars in the city's flag stand for, and why the tallest building in North America was renamed from the Sears Tower to the Willis Tower & Gift Shop Emporium. I don't remember any of them now because the tour was so rushed and I was so irritated by the guides complete lack of comedic timing.
The Willis Tower & Tchotchke Depot
When it was built, it was the tallest building in the world. Since then, it's been outdone by buildings in the United Arab Emirates (fair enough), Taiwan (okay...), and Malaysia (really? Malaysia??!?).
The coolest thing about the Willis Tower Money Suck is the Sky Deck, a 103rd story lookout that includes a glass balcony you can use to feel vertigo in a higher place than you ever have. Here's what the glass boxes look like from the ground floor:
And here's me standing in the sky and having $17 more in credit card debt than I did before.
The seven-year-old kid behind me was not impressed. "Dad! You said there weren't going to be walls! There are glass walls!" "It wouldn't be safe if there weren't walls, Jeremy." "I don't care! You said there weren't going to be walls!"
I may seem pretty jaded in this blog series (I don't even like pizza!), but at least I'm not so burnt out on life that a glass box 1,400 feet in the air bores me.
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