So I left off on Saturday morning. After our early check in at Congress Plaza Hotel John revealed that he had purchased a City Pass which allowed us to visit any of 5 major attractions including several museums and Willis Tower. This was one of the coolest things we had the whole trip because we were treated like VIP everywhere we went and got to skip the lines at every place! He handed me a description of them all and I had to put them in order of what I would like to see first because it was likely we couldn't do it all.
So my first choice was The Museum of Science and Industry. It was incredible. We saw the U-505 submarine, a 40 foot tornado that the company that John's best friend Brian built, and a creepy section all about humans including real bodies (a little too creepy for me - don't think I would have liked the Bodies Exhibit that was here in KC a while back!). We also got to experience the Omnimax which was a dome theater where you watch a video almost laying down. It was all about the Hubble satellite and it felt like we were really in space.
We could have spent an entire day there but wanted to make sure we could see some other stuff so we left around 3 and headed for Willis Tower. When we got there we were told the wait was over an hour. But lucky for us, we had the City Pass so we skipped a TON of people and were up in about 10 minutes! If you are ever thinking of going to Chicago I would HIGHLY recommend those passes! The trip up to the top was aboard a very crowed elevator but only took 60 seconds to get to the top! On the way we watched a video overhead that told you when you were passing well known landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Arch, and the Eiffel Tower. The view was amazing. You can supposedly see 4 states from the windows that go all around the 103rd floor. It was very high up but didn't feel real so it wasn't that scary. The Skydeck was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The first step out was intense! But after you got out on the platform it didn't seem too bad. (No this is not a backdrop...)
After that we headed back to the hotel to change for dinner. We had plans to eat at the steakhouse at our hotel but after a mix up between their menu online and their actual menu, we left and went to a recommended Italian place called The Village. It was wonderful but the portions were beyond huge! Mama bear was too pooped to do anything after dinner and we nixed our plans to walk on Navy Pier to see the fireworks scheduled for 9:00 and watched them from our hotel instead. We didn't mind though - I think we were both pretty tired!
The next morning we ate breakfast downstairs and headed to the Field Museum where we saw the coolest display of dinosaurs! It made me miss my kiddo and his favorite show, Dinosaur Train. I knew half the dinosaurs just from watching that show with him! The Bears were playing that day and the stadium was literally right next door so there was a sea of blue and orange and when we left we felt like 2 fish swimming upstream. We were hoping for more time to see Adler Planitarium and the Aquarium but we didn't make it to either. No worries - we still had an awesome day.
After checking out of our hotel at noon we headed to the Chicago Union station to check our bags on the Amtrak! I was ecstatic to ride the train home. We have always talked about it and now we finally had an opportunity. Our train didn't leave until 3:15 so we had some time to kill. Perfect for getting some stuffed deep dish pizza at the famous Giordano's. It was soooo good and VERY filling! We ordered the smallest size and still only managed to eat half of it. Neither of us have ever tried true deep dish pizza. While it was very tasty, I think I prefer my thin crust for everyday pizza!
After picking out a cute train t-shirt for Aaron we headed for our first class boarding lounge. John really went all out to make me feel special this weekend and the train was no exception! The special lounge had plush couches and free drinks, unlike the airport style lounge for coach passengers. We didn't get to enjoy it long because they were already boarding when we arrived! After a brief mix up in which car we were supposed to board, we finally made it to our own private room. It was very comfortable and I would suggest riding that way to anyone instead of coach. We walked through the coach section and it was set up just like an airplane, with seats close together all in rows. Our room had two roomy chairs that faced each other and converted to bunk beds when we wanted to rest. We walked through the train as it was moving and explored the dining and observation cars. We made reservations to eat at 6:00 and it was included with our tickets. The food was not the greatest but it was very cool to watch the countryside go by and the sun set as we ate. It was cruise style so we ate with another couple who were traveling to Las Vegas. Our train was headed all the way to L.A. This was the highlight of the trip for me. It was such an experience and I would LOVE to do it again someday. We've even talked about taking a train tour across the country someday. That would be sooooo fun!
We arrived back in KC around 10:00pm (yes that's 8 hours but it felt like 2 tops.) Aaron was a little fussy when we saw him out in the truck at Union Station but he had a GREAT time with grandma and granddad while we were gone. They spoiled him to the core but that's what grandparents are for! They went to Fritz's and watched the trains deliver food. They bought him a K-State hoody and matching hat - so adorable! And they spent lots of time playing outside taking hikes and feeding the horses and chickens. I'm not sure who had more fun, Aaron or the grandparents! The next morning Aaron was back to himself and in such a happy mood! I was so happy to see him - it's amazing how much you can miss someone over just a short weekend! All in all, John did a TERRIFIC job planning this all out. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful hubby. It was one of the best birthdays ever!
P.S. I've posted most of our pics on FB so check them out if you haven't already!