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As someone who comes from an area where the transit system is mostly concrete, seeing this much wood is really a surprise.

December 28, 2007, 7:22 PM

Mom and I are on our second day in Chicago, and it’s been a lot of fun. I met the parents of Chris Lysy, Sis’s fiance (that still sounds so weird), and we’ve seen a bit of the city. This is certainly not DC, let me tell you that.

So where have we been? We arrived at Union Station yesterday, met Sis and Chris, took the Brown, Red, and Purple Lines of the “L” train to Evanston, where our hotel is, met the Lysys, and then we went around the city a bit. We arrived in the Loop, and went to the observation deck of the Sears Tower. We waited in SO many lines for that. First line was to take the elevator down to the ticketing area. Then the line to go through security. Then the line to purchase the tickets. Then the line to wait to see the orientation film. Then the line to wait for the elevator. Then the line at the observation deck to take the elevator back down. Quite a production. But it was pretty good. The film was informative, and the observation deck offered a 360-degree view from the 103rd floor. I was disappointed that it wasn’t open-air, but hey, it was still fun, and I got a LOT of photos.

One thing about it, though: big elevators loaded with people make me nervous. This was after living in Potomac Hall, where the elevator would make a sudden drop when it arrived at the desired floor. The higher the floor, the bigger the sudden drop. Additionally, the more people in the elevator, the bigger the drop. Scared the crap out of you if you weren’t expecting it, and even if you were expecting it, it was still somewhat unsettling. Thus it’s left me with a slight fear of elevators loaded with people. However, this one went off without a hitch, and they had a video monitor with some cartoons on it in the elevator near the ceiling for people to watch. Still, even with all the various safety features on the elevator, the idea of having a 103-story hole right below me makes me somewhat uptight.

Then after taking the “L” train back from the Sears Tower, we went to this barbecue restaurant because Chris, Chris’s father, and Sis wanted ribs. I had barbecued chicken, and Mom and Chris’s mother had chicken salad. We also ordered drinks, and I had a margarita. Not a bad situation. Then after that, we went and saw Chris and Sis’s apartment. Not a bad place. It’s a bit older than my Silver Spring apartment, but it seems to work. They have a lot of built-ins in their space, while I have little built-in storage.

And then from there, sleepy time.

Then today, we got up, had breakfast, met Sis, and we went down to the Magnificent Mile to do some shopping. We went to American Girl, Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Filene’s Basement, Disney Store, and, my personal favorite, the Apple store. We went iPod shopping for Sis’s birthday, and she got one of the new 8 GB iPod Nanos. Ooooooooooooh. Plus I got to look at the newest Macs (my next computer is SO going to be a Mac), and show Mom how the iPhone worked. Then at the end, we went to Jamba Juice in the John Hancock Center to have some smoothies.

Then we’ve also been taking transit everywhere. We’ve taken the “L” train all over the place. We’ve been on express trains, local trains, and around the Loop. I was quite surprised about how much wood is in the “L” structures. The platforms at Quincy are wood. There’s wood in a lot of the other stations. A lot of the material in the elevated structures is wood. I was just surprised to see so much wood. After all, I ride Metro in Washington, where concrete is the rule. Generally, if it can be made out of concrete, Metro will make it out of concrete. So yeah, all that wood was surprising. Then I was also surprised to see that the rail cars were only 48 feet long (compared to 75-foot WMATA cars). Only two sets of doors! And they have “bus seats” on these rail cars, vs. the nice padded seats that WMATA uses. However, I do like their railfan window in Chicago. Very nice. And I’m also going to get to do some serious railfanning later, because while Mom and Sis and the Lysys go see a play, I’m hitting the rails. I have a transit system to see, and by golly, I’m going to explore it.

And we have two more days in Chicago. This is SO much fun…

Web site: All about the Chicago "L" rolling stock

Song: *ding dong* Doors closing! (sounds like a real bell, and in a male voice)

Quote: So all in all, fun!

Categories: Chicago, CTA, Family