Sweet Home Chicago

America has a lot of famous cities. Chicago is the most liveable of those. It seems like a place where people go to work, have kids and visit the museums on the weekends. It is also a pleasantly working class city.

I really enjoyed Chicago, there was heaps to do and there is a real sense of history. The buildings are awesome and just driving through the city is fun.

There is something for everyone in Chicago – sports fans, history buffs, kids, adventure seekers. It is well worth a visit for a week or so.

I would rate it 8.7 out of 10.

IL CUBs

IL edge

IL EXPO

IL protest

IL Sue

DC – The Big Show

We spent quite a long time in DC and I am very glad for it. The museums were fantastic, the cherry blossoms were beautiful and the moments were awe-inspiring.

The main thing that I remember however, was visiting the national archives. Being able to walk up and see the documents which created a country is amazing. Yes, they are fading and under glass, but you can still feel really in touch with the people who wrote them and debated them and fought for them. Seeing the constitution and bill of rights is one of those things that all Americans should do. It really provides great insight into the founding of the country.

One of the other things I really loved was eating at the Museum of the American Indian. It is a Smithsonian and brings together the story they are trying to tell with the food. I would eat here all the time if I lived in DC.

I also really respected DC, It has great tourist attractions but also is a real working city. You can really see the public servants striving hard to help manage the country.

You need at least a week here to see everything DC has to offer and I felt really lucky to see the city while the cherry blossoms were out. Really bought the city to life.

Everyone should visit here at least once. I would rate it 8.8 out of ten.DC Cherry

DC Capitol

DC Ruby slippers

DC statue indian

Best of … Museums

We saw a Lot of museums on the trip. Some were really interesting, some had cool stuff, some were pretty weird. So the best are:

Best Building for a Museum. The American Indian Museum in Washington DC is a beautiful building and one that is really fit for purpose. It has fantastic gardens and a great shape for acoustics. A lot of thought was clearly put into the design of the building and the story that it would tell.

Best air museum. We saw a lot of planes in a lot of museums, but the best one was the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There is a great room which has a fantastic mural which really adds to the atmosphere. There are also a number of carnival rides that are pretty fun. The hanger with the stuff about space is not great, however.

Best weird museum. The Glore Psychiatric Museum in St Joseph Missouri is quite creepy. Not only is the subject matter unsettling, but they have set up mannequins in many of the rooms, many are facing away from you and feel like they may turn to look at you at any moment. However, the museum is fantastic and genuinely interesting. The complicated topic is handled in an understanding way and the staff are patients are treated with respect.

Best local museum . The millyard museum in Manchester New Hampshire is a really great local museum, you leave knowing a load more about the area. The building is also a great place for the museum and the prices are pretty good.

Best natural history museum. New York’s American Museum of Natural History is almost too good. They have so much amazing stuff that you feel bad for other museums. You could spend a week there and still not see everything.

Best museum about an unexpected topic. The sign museum in Cincinnati, Ohio was pretty cool. Doesn’t take forever to see, but the signs seems genuinely representative of their types. It is great to see all the old style neon and it is really beautiful.

Best surprise museum. The wizard of Oz museum in Kansas, is unexpectedly good. One, I didn’t know it existed until a sign on the highway tools me about it and even then I thought it was be terrible. It is actually pretty decent and the town has a yellow brick road!

Day 70 – Popped Culture

The concept of the EMP Museum in Seattle is very interesting. It is a museum dedicated to popular culture, including movies, music and narrative.

There were a range of interesting exhibitions when we visited today.

My husband is a fiction writer, so we were very excited to visit.

The Fantasy: World of Myth and Magic was presented very well. There were pine needles on the floor, a dragon and a range of small spaces to present different information.

The exhibition includes costumes from a range of influential movies, such as the Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, Pan’s Labyrinth and Labyrinth. The detail in the costumes is amazing and it was great to see the wedding dress worn by Princess Buttercup in the Princess Bride, one of the most quotable movies of all time.

There was also information about key contributors to the genre, such as CS Lewis, Lewis Carrollq, Tolkien and George RR Martin.

There were also a number of props from movies such as the US movie versions of the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which is not as good as the definitive British TV version.

There was also a section on role playing and included an original edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

The next exhibition was focused on Icons of Science Fiction which lead to an interesting discussion on what science fiction is, and how it differs from fantasy or horror. There were a number of interesting props and costumes from Star Trek, Star Wars and the Matrix. There are also a number of interviews with science fiction authors and film makers.

There was also an exhibition of the lure of horror films. Lots of props and costumes from a range of horror films, both old and new. There was also a fun, interactive “shadow wall” which creates shapes based on your shadow.

There were also exhibition on Jimi Hendrix and a discussed the Seattle music scene, with an area dedicated to Nirvana

The exhibits were all presented very well. However, there were some gaps in the exhibitions and an over emphasis on others. There was also a lack of context in the items, such as how these movies and novels influenced popular culture and what, if any, was important about them. Seeing the shirt from Shaun of the Dead is great, but it would be better to learn about how that movie impacted on popular culture, of the horror genre.

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Day 54 – Doctors who weren’t

We went to Sioux Falls in South Dakota. We walked down the Main Street and had a look at some of the sculptures along the sculpture walk which is a range of sculptures which is refreshed each year. There is a wide range of sculptures and the Main Street has a lot of gift shops and arty galleries.

We also visited Seuss Falls exhibition. I am a huge fan of Dr Seuss, not just for his distinctive poetry and graphic styles, but also for his ability to include a memorable message in each of his stories, such as the lasting statement of the Once-ler… “Unless.”. Many of his books are still among my favourites including the Lorax and much overlooked sleep book, which I think is a great insomnia cure for children and adults alike.

The exhibition included two sections. One was an art gallery of Seuss’ work including his early work on advertising. There was also some examples of his WW2 contributions,which were substantial. The second section was part of the science museum and had included some sculptures of unknown animals that Seuss had done. There were some additional activities, but I’m not sure how closely they related to the topic. On the whole the exhibition was quite good, but at $18 per person it was a little expensive.

We then went on to Sioux City in Iowa and visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre. The centre has quite a bit of information about the Expeditition, including interaction with Native Americans and Charles Floyd who died in Sioux City and was the only person to die on the expedition. It was likely he dies of appendicitis, and was misdiagnosed by Clark, as medical work often fell to captains at the time, although there was no cure for the condition at the time, so he would likely had died even in the hands of experienced doctors. The interpretive centre is set in very nice grounds, and has some fantastic animatronic figures. The centre is also free, so it is a great place to stop by to learn more about the expedition in the Missouri River area.

We also visited Palmers Candy Company which has existed since 1878. The store has some old candy machines and lots of different chocolate and candy for sale.

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