One thing that I’m still adjusting to in Chicago is proximity. I don’t necessarily mean in terms of proximity to site seeing or exploring neighborhoods, but rather the closeness of various states. When co-workers tell me they’re going to Iowa or Michigan for Thanksgiving it’s a foreign concept to me to travel to another state for a holiday. I’m used to the west coast with states spread out and driving several hours to get to a state line. Driving from Denver to Utah would have been unheard of for Thanksgiving, but out here in Chicago, this is the least of anyone’s worries. So, when a long-time friend, Krista, offers to come to Chicago from Michigan for an afternoon visit, I’m excited to take the opportunity. Even though the weather forecast is snow, we decide to venture out in the cold weather to the Museum Campus for a visit to the Shedd Aquarium.
Walking along Roosevelt Road is no easy task this morning as the wind blows harshly against us, wet snow covers us and we manage to get lost a couple of times. Finally, in the horizon I can see what looks like the roof of the Field Museum. If it isn’t The Field Museum, I determine I’m finding the nearest bus and mapping a restaurant for us to escape to on my phone, but luckily the roof I see in the distance is what I expected. Making our way indoors, Krista and I make plenty of conversation about everything we can think of from the past 10 years. It’s always been easy to talk to Krista, especially since she was my elementary school teacher and has remained close friends with my family. Our moments of chatting and seeing tanks full of fish and other creatures ahead of me distracts my attention from the falling wet snow outside.
One of the best things about going with a school teacher to a museum is their curiosity. Krista enjoys finding all about the different river animals that lurk underneath the surface that range from tiny fish you’d find in a home aquarium to larger ones I could carry in my arms. After being unable to find hidden frogs and lizards in a tank, I consider moving on until Krista discovers a couple of frogs that blend in with the leaves. Whether we’re looking for camouflaged amphibians and reptiles or sharing stories about our lives, Krista always finds a way to discover insights no one else thinks of. Having such an open-minded educator is what has made Krista one of my favorite teachers and a good friend I’m happy to reconnect with.
While the tank of large fish from the Amazon intrigues us and also makes us want to never get in the Amazon river, what catches our attention is the large tank known as the Caribbean Reef filled with saltwater creatures including small Hammerhead Sharks and various types of Rays. A tortoise that was unfortunately injured by a boat swims in the tank as best she can while various colors of fish swim throughout the tank. It seems that no matter how many unique fish you find, another one always comes into view that you didn’t see before. For a few moments we sit and see what else we can locate, letting our minds drift and enjoy what’s in front of us. We’re not thinking about the snow and icy weather we’ll have to manage when we decide to leave the Aquarium, the adult responsibilities of work and home, or anything else at the moment. It’s nice to think that someone in another state is so close to me and made the trek out to Chicago for an afternoon visit. After I say “Goodbye” and head to the Brown Line, I can only hope that one day I’ll be back in the Mid-west and close enough to return the favor and make a visit to Michigan.
Hours and Location
Shedd Aquarium: 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Winter Hours from Now-June 15, Weekdays: 9am-5pm, Weekends: 9am-6pm; Summer Hours June 15-August 24, Open Daily 9am-6pm.