Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heidi from Aussie visits

I haven't been blogging or doing much online for the past week because my pen pal Heidi from Australia was here for a visit since last Monday. It was a busy week and we did a lot of things we haven't done in a couple of decades. Heidi and I have been pen pals for twelve years!

Monday we drove to Ohare to pick Heidi up when she arrived and I recognized her from her photos right away. We drove her to her motel and then we took her back to our town for dinner at Chicago Dough Company which she thought was delicious (it is). We sat on the deck and chatted till the mosquitoes got too bad then I drove her to her motel for the night.

Tuesday, I picked Heidi up from her motel and we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We then drove to Frankfort to look in the shops there but we were disappointed to find that most of the antique shops that had been there for years had closed up. A sign of the bad economic times when shops are closing in a prosperous town like Frankfort! We drove to Orland Park after that and went to Borders where Heidi found some books to buy, and then we drove back to town and bought Un wiches from Jimmy Johns...they are the best! Lettuce wrapped around whatever filling you want. Better than all that bread. We then went to Jewel and got some things to make a stir fry for dinner, and after dinner we sat on the deck and talked again. I think she was cold inside the air conditioning and why she wanted to sit outside. It's winter in Aussie so she wants warmth. I like it cool year-round. I would be better off living somewhere like Maine!

Wednesday, Jon started vacation and he drove us around everywhere. I had purchased tickets ahead of time online for the Spirit of Chicago lunch cruise. We picked Heidi up around ten and we drove downtown, arriving at Navy Pier a little after eleven a.m. We easily found a place to park and we made sure we picked up our tickets and then looked in some of the shops while waiting for it to be time to board. The cruise was great. Beautiful weather. The host of the ship asked if anyone was celebrating anything special and I said that Heidi was visiting from Sydney Australia, and they welcomed her. I didn't know Jon was going to do this, but he told the waiter that it was our 34th anniversary and they announced that too. I was so surprised, and I also felt bad that I hadn't thought to say it before. That was really sweet of him. The weather was so gorgeous. We got some very good photos of the city from the ship, and also of the lake and some sailboats etc that I will post on my Photography blog. The food was excellent. It was a buffet of salads, a couple of casseroles, baked flounder, chicken with marinara sauce, rolls, fresh fruit and desserts. There was dancing on the main floor, but we chose to go out on deck to see the view of the skyline and feel the breeze and sunshine. After the cruise we walked around Navy Pier, visiting the two stained glass museums that are are the far end. Heidi and I took a ride on the Ferris Wheel, and I will also post those photos on my photo blog. We ate at a little place on the Pier and got Chicago Style Hotdogs, nothing Heidi had ever seen or eaten before. She took a photo of it before she ate it! She said in Aussie they only have hot dogs with mustard, nothing else on them.
We drove back home.

Thursday we picked Heidi up a big earlier and we drove to Chicago once again. We started with the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower because the main lease-holder said he would only sign a lease if they let him change the name of it...what a doofus! It's my guess they will change it back after his lease has ended. The stuff they sell still says Sears Tower, I saw no souveniers that said Willis Tower on them. Anyway, we went up to the top and was the first time we were up there since 1978! The buildings below are more numerous now. Lots of new buildings, some blocking the view of Buckingham Fountain and Soldier's Field. There is a good view of the new Museum Campus where the aquarium, planetarium and Field Museum are. Sears Tower now has glass balconies, and while I didn't think I would ever step on one, I did...and here is proof!

Click on picture to enlarge

After Sears Tower we went to Adler Planetarium where there is a presentation called Cosmic Collisions. It was a fantastic 20-minute show in one of the sky theaters. We looked around the museum, and then took a walk outside and then sat by the lake on the far side of the planetarium and watched the boats go by. Afterwards we drove back home, stopping to get Chinese food to bring back for dinner. I was so tired and sore from all the walking, but was a nice day. We watched a movie before taking Heidi back to her motel for the night. The movie was Bruce Campbell Lives...corny but she thought it was funny as the guys did so that was good.

Friday was Museum of Science and Industry day and I really felt I would keel over a couple of times. I was really getting to be exhausted from all the running around. I had to keep sitting down. Every exhibit I saw with a seat and a little movie going I would go sit and watch it, even boring ones about energy, and war generals, etc! We went on the submarine tour of the U-505 German submarine that was captured by the Americans. This is the only one in U.S. possession. They built a whole building around it and very nice and interesting exhibits with little film clips, etc. I made sure we saw the Fairy Castle, and also we took a tour of the Zephyr train which I never had a chance to see on past visits because the line was usually too long. This time there were only about eight people on the tour. We left the museum around 3:45 and headed over to Bennigan's on Michigan Avenue for dinner. Jon parked the car while Heidi and I ordered and started eating while waiting for him. He got there finally a half hour later...said he found a place to park for six bucks. He loathes having to pay $16 everywhere for parking downtown now. After dinner we walked over to Millennium Park and we put down a blanket and got situated for the Grant Park Symphony Concert. They performed Beethoven's Ninth...the Grant Park Chorus also performed with the orchestra. It was a magnificent performance. A bit weird though sitting in the grass with yuppies all around with their folding tables and chairs and fruit, wine and crackers and cheese...etc. etc. and what was annoying was that they had to have soft chats while the music was playing! During Beethoven's Ninth...what is wrong with these people! After the concert we walked over to Buckingham Fountain where there was a light show since it was dusk by then. We sat there for quite awhile. Jon finally went to get the car while Heidi and I waited on the corner of Jackson and Columbus chatting while waiting for him to get there. Then since it was very late we drove Heidi directly to her motel. It was a great day for her last day of her visit to Chicago.

We got up early yesterday morning to take Heidi to the airport. Jon drove the van so I could sit in the back next to Heidi to talk. It's a bit hard in the car to twist around and talk between the seat headrests. We said goodbye at the curb at departures, and she hugged me for a long time, and handed me a couple of envelopes. Inside one was a pair of crystal earrings. Then a thank-you card for me and Jon for being such good hosts. She said she would miss us. We are hoping to get over to Sydney in a couple years to let her show us around her city.

Now it is back to email, snail mail and Skype with me and Heidi. :-(


Uma said...

Hope India is on your list of places to visit!

Stardust said...

Uma, it is...would LOVE to see the Taj Mahal one day for real. I have seen photos that my other penfriends have taken and it looks so beautiful. Of course I would love to come and see Mumbai and where you live, as well. It would be great to win the lottery and just go on a trip around the world.