This evening I took the chance to visit the Sear’s Tower.
I have to tell you that everywhere I go on this trip is aided by my trusty TomTom GPS unit. As I drive, a pleasant female voice barks out instructions with surprising accuracy and even when I miss a turn the GPS unit recalculates and her soothing voice begins to tell me about a new route that will always take me to my ultimate destination.
Tonight, my destination was the Sears Tower. Since I saved the location into my GPS even before leaving Winnipeg all I had to do is choose the Sears Tower from my pre-programmed favorites and the GPS began to tell me how to get there.
The directions took me downtown to “The Loop”, which is what Chicagoans refer to the downtown district. The drive downtown from O’Hare was pretty quick. I took the freeway the whole way and the traffic moved fairly smoothly throughout. Just as I got near downtown the GPS told me to exit right, and I did. Thank you sweetheart! I will soon be there.
As I rounded the corner in front of the Sears Tower, for some reason the GPS voice directed me into an underground freeway. Whoa! Damn woman, I trusted you now… you screwed me! Now I was stuck travelling under street level at high speed, going further away from my destination, and there were no exits. The GPS got confused because it could not get a position anymore and did not help me whatsoever. It basically just babbled incoherent directions.
Finally, I found an exit and got back up to normal street level. From my position I could see the Sears Tower so I shut off the GPS and just drove there. Luckily I found an $8.00 parking lot near the Chicago Stock Exchange which was only 4-5 blocks away from the tower. I parked and walked over to the Sear’s Tower.
When you enter the “Skydeck” entrance of the Sear’s Tower everything looks normal. A polite attendant opens an elevator door for you and says “This way to the Skydeck”. Fantastic! That was easy!
But wait!? The elevator does not take you to the top. It actually takes you down one level.
When you get off the elevator you turn left and wait in line for a security check and metal detector. Afterwards you walk past a green screen where someone takes your photo. Then you wait in line to pay $12.95. Then, you go through a maze, but that does not take you to the elevator, it takes you to a movie theater where you watch a 5 minute move about the building of the Sears Tower. When the movie theatre doors open you are allowed to go to an elevator that will take you up to the Skydeck.
The elevator is fast and in no time you are at the top. The view is spectacular! You basically look down on the rest of Chicago’s amazing skyline. You can see for miles, although it was a little hazy when I went up. I spent about an hour up there checking out all the views. Each viewing window has a display board that tells you a little more about what you are seeing in that direction.
After my visit I took the elevator back down. When you get off the elevator at the bottom, first a guy at a kiosk tries to sell you a copy of the green screen picture they took of you earlier. On the green screen they superimpose different snazzy Chicago backgrounds. I passed on that. Afterwards you are forced to walk directly through the middle of a tacky gift shop to get back to the elevator that takes you to street level. Aside from the spectacular view, the Sears Tower is basically a tourist trap.
Once I got back on the streets it was dark. It was a little spooky walking in “The Loop” at night. But when I saw a young college aged girl walking in the same direction as me I figured if a young girl feels safe here, then so will I. Of course, it was safe and I made it back to my truck. Then, my soothing GPS voice kindly took me back to my hotel with no difficulty.
What an adventure!
The training is going well. I passed my certification exam today. Tomorrow, I start the second part of my training. I finish up the training on Friday.