After blowing off the morning to get manicures and pedicures, we returned to the convention. So far, I have to say that the only thing Chicon has going for it is the fact that it's in Chicago. Teaching kids about rockets yesterday was fun - as was the planetarium of course, which I guess was technically on the con programme - but today I only felt inspired to go to one programme item, and that was disappointingly bland. We did wander around the dealers' room, but it's hard to muster the same excitement about obscure books that we used to when everything under the sun is available on Amazon. Also not helping our impression of this con is the fact that the recent blow-up in British fandom about gender parity doesn't appear to have crossed the Atlantic; in just a couple of hours of milling around the con, I overheard no less than four separate conversations bemoaning the dominance of white men on panels.
Fortunately, the convention wasn't the only (or in the end even primary) reason for the trip, and even if it was then Chicago has turned out to be worth the cost of the flight by itself.
There didn't seem to be much on this evening anyway, so we decided to take the Chicago Architecture Foundation's boat tour, which had come highly recommended. It's pretty pricey (about $45) but for that you get 90 minutes with a very informed guide, so it was well worth the investment.
A rocket, cunningly disguised as a building
Some cool things we learned:
- That Chicago once burned down, just like London
- That the flow of the Chicago River was deliberately reversed to stop it polluting the drinking water in Lake Michigan (this was news to me, anyway)
- What an "Art Deco" building is (hey, I've never pretended to know a thing about architecture, or anything designy for that matter)
- That those stolen rocks we saw yesterday were brought back (read: nicked) by reporters for the Chicago Tribune
- Chicago doesn't appear to be as big as we had assumed it was
We also got to see some of the things we're going to be doing in the next few days. This is the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower:
See those slightly bumpy bits sticking out of the top? That's the Skydeck, the transparent-floored capsule thingys we'll be braving before we head out.
And this is where our adventure west will begin, at the start of the original Route 66:
We also learned one disappointing thing: that amazing car park we saw on the first day? Apparently it's strictly valet parking only, which I guess explains why there isn't a pile of broken cars on the street. Alas, this has shattered my illusions about the mad parking skills of Chicago residents.