Friday, April 18, 2014
Road Trip Part 3: The Midwest, a Study in Contrasts
We've been in the Midwest for the last five days, and it has been a study in contrasts. We found snow, in April. There have also been many hours and miles of farmland, with neat and tidy looking farm complexes with nice barns and silos.
A google search of what was coming on the road ahead revealed that Wisconsin Dells is "The Water Park Capital of the World", and as we had not found any swimming opportunities on this trip yet I booked us into an indoor water park resort. We were amazed driving through Wisconsin Dells - it must be a crazy place in the summer time when all the outdoor parks are open and there isn't snow on the ground.
Next we went to Chicago, which we had read was known for "museums and architecture".
We also wanted to have some pizza there, even though we are gluten free. We went ahead and ate the deep dish pizza (and didn't get too sick). It was pretty good, but we don't have much to compare it to.
The Field Museum started off thrilling, but before we had even done one wing my daughter was in tears. "It's just too much - I can't see it all!" she cried and had to be comforted. We did three exhibits (Animals, Ancient Egypt, and Evolving Planet) and were wiped. out. In hindsight, I should have planned a whole day in the Field.
The Willis Tower (tallest structure in the world if you count radio towers on top of the building - which I'm not sure I do) was a hit. When the elevator speeds up 103 floors and your ears pop, it's pretty exciting. And they have put glass boxes out the side of the building, called "The Ledge". Standing on glass and looking down was very exciting!
The Art Institute of Chicago, which is an amazing art museum, was probably too much for me to tack onto the end of a long day of sightseeing. The kids liked the ancient art, but were unimpressed by American Modern.
I have to thank the security guard who saw the us trudging out of the Christopher Wool exhibit and asked me if I had taken them to see "the dollhouse". She told me to go down to the lower level, to the miniature room. What we found there was a whole series of magical miniature interiors, which rallied and delighted my children.
The Indiana Sand Dunes were our next stop, for something completely different. The State Park has a really nice little Nature Center that was friendly and fun, and some good fun trails.
The beach was also a nice treat. Looking at the lovely beach and then seeing the heavy industry on the horizon in each direction I gave thanks to the people who fought to preserve this natural gem.
And then the kids had asked to stop at a "really good zoo", and I looked up the top 10 zoos in the US and two of them were in Ohio, sort of on our way. So we went to the Columbus Zoo today, which we were impressed with. It's huge, and I thought they did a good job of balancing crowd and traffic control, educational elements, the needs of the animals, and fun for kids.
Tomorrow we will drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park on our way to Buffalo, New York. At some point in there I expect we will say goodbye to the Midwest. It has been a fun study in contrasts for us.