Friday, December 3, 2010

A Trip to the Windy City

Chicago, November 7-12, 2010

Our annual conference was in Chicago this year, much to my delight. Previously, my relationship with this great city consisted of a layover in O'Hare (who hasn't done that? Anybody?), a terrifying 4am drive through it on the way to Duluth (in The Great 24 Hour Drive to Audrey's Wedding), and a much more relaxed early afternoon drive-by on the way back.

Mostly, I present my trip to you in picture and list form.

1. The Monday morning kick-off talk was in 3D. The group actually hired the Real3D Hollywood people to turn several slides into 3D images. We agreed that the pictures were basically eye-candy and didn't necessarily add to our scientific understanding, but they certainly added to everyone's nerd style:

Plenary talk was in 3D.

2. We stayed a mere two blocks north of the river. Our hotel was comfortable, surrounded by great restaurants and bars, and just half a mile from the conference hotel. As the weather was gorgeous, walking was only inconvenient on the day I wore my awesome heels. (This day, I took a cab.) We were in the perfect location for the two runs I needed that week, as Chicago has a fantastic paved trail along the river, which joins an equally nice paved trail along the lake! The first run may have been slowed by my incessant need to take pictures like a tourist:

They watched me run.

This guy either hungered for my soul or a shubbery...
He tried to eat my soul. Or wanted a shrubbery.


I refrained from photography on my second run, and amazingly ran faster and farther.

3. I spent two summers interning at Princeton in undergrad. Through the program, I met dear friends with whom I reunite once a year at this conference! We partied two nights together, and ended both at a dueling piano bar:

Howl at the Moon!

Here's the gang from 2005!

The 2005 NUF Gang!

Dueling piano bars are my new fav.

4. One night, a gang of mostly Princetonians explored the wonders of the El(evated train) and attended a Second City Improv show. It was hilarious. It was there that I tried a Pumpkinccino-Tino. Not. Bad.

Pumpkinccino-Tino at Second City Improv

5. One morning, there was nothing relevant happening at the conference, so I explored alone. I love wandering by myself and taking pictures! With Pumpkin Spice Lattes, natch. I headed out to Navy Pier, where I saw what is probably a hopping set of carnival activities at times other than 10am on a Tuesday, lovely views of the skyline, and a peaceful Lake Michigan.

On the way to the pier, I passed a building with rocks and bricks from all over the world embedded in its walls, including one from Mt. Rainier!
Rock from Mt. Rainier!

Hello from Navy Pier!

I then trooped on down to Millennium Park.

Like Central Park, it seems to be a restful spot to get a bit of nature in a busy city environment. I found the amphitheater to be innovative...

...the walk up to the Art Institute to be interesting...


...and the Bean (er...Cloud Gate) to be AWESOME. I spent much time and took many pictures here.


This one reminds me of a stellarator:


There's a city on my heeead:

6. Chicago has many museums, all of which seem to be FREE for at least part of one day a week! I didn't have time to hit up the Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry on their free days, but after Millennium Park, I did visit the Museum of Contemporary Art!


My favorite exhibit was Lost and Found--sculptures made with everyday objects.

This reminds me of my dear Timelord:

This was a great backdrop:

And this was my favorite. Spotlights shone on the back and front and slowly turned on and off, creating two very different looks:

7. One of my college roommates, Catherine, is in her first year of medical school in the Chicago area. We attended the Art Institute's free evening and were overwhelmed by the size of the exhibits and crowds. After getting our fill, we found a random restaurant for dinner and then had drinks on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower!

Catherine and I met for a drink at the Hancock Tower

8. Finally, the Magnificent Mile was INCREDIBLE. Sooo many fabulous shops were in one place, and within walking distance of my hotel room.(As opposed to a quick drive to a mall or long train ride and venture into NYC.) Most importantly, they had a huge Eddie Bauer. Had I the choice, I would dress completely in Eddie Bauer clothing. Blame my Pacific Northwest roots. Blame them. I found new jeans and three new tops. One top got at least four compliments in one day. I think it's a keeper.


Chicago is a terrific city. There were so many museums, tours, shows, and restaurants that I heard of and didn't have the time or money to visit. I guess I'll just have to go back! :)

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