Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fishy Fun

On Thursday, my neighbor, J, and I decided to take the kiddos to the Shedd Aquarium. The had free admission all this week, and we thought we would take them down in the morning and pack a lunch. We figured they would be super-tuckered by the time we got home that there would be naps for everyone.

We were wrong.

Our first mistake was deciding to take the bus. Normally, I would always advocate taking the bus anywhere downtown because parking is uber-expensive. Which is why I suggested we take the bus on Thursday. "It will be no problem," I said. I will use my Chicago Plus Card for both of us; it will be easy.

We got kicked off the bus.

We got on the first bus without incident, and when it came time to transfer, we didn't have to wait long. Smooth sailing. Then, my card didn't seem to want to read for the second fare. The bus driver told me that my card was set up as a 30 day pass and that I could not, therefore, pay for a second rider. I said I already had paid on the first bus, and that this was just the transfer. Plus, I do not, in fact, have a 30 day pass, but instead, I pay by the ride with money that is preloaded on my card. He stopped at the next stop, but I didn't get off, as I was still trying to explain that this was an error. I offered to call the customer service number for the card, so they could say it was ok, but he just stopped at the next stop and said we had to get off. I then called the customer service number, where a very nice man told me that my account was absolutely fine, and was set-up as pay-per-use, just as it should be. We got on the next bus, and the card worked, after a few tries, and some helpful tips in timing my swipe by the bus driver.

I have almost never seen a CTA bus driver ask someone to get off the bus when there is a problem with a card or a fare. They generally just shrug and let you stay on. And not to pull the mother card, but we had two young kids strapped to our backs (who were both asleep, and therefore totally quiet, I might add), and I was carrying a stroller. Not that we should get carte blanche, but come on! And, of course, he was WRONG! All he had to do was make sure that the previous fare was cleared or else the second swipe reads as a transfer instead of a new fare, so actually it was his fault. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

Anyway, we finally made it to the aquarium, where we waited in line for about 25 minutes. After we made it inside, J realized she had lost her phone. Suck! (Luckily, a good samaritan found it and called J's mom to tell her she had it, so the story didn't end badly.)

Finally, we braved the crowds and the severe heat and humidity in the Amazon's Rising exhibit.
Wiggle and J's daughter, Cutie (no, that is not her real name) had fun looking at the big fish and the turtles, but they really had the most fun with each other.
There were hugs.
And trying to escape from hugs.

Mom, I'm hot and hungry.

We spent a little time looking at the big center aquarium with Nickel the floating turtle, and then we went to the lunchroom. Luckily, several elementary school groups were there, so our kids' crumbs and cavorting went largely unnoticed. 

We hopped back on the bus (without incident) and made our way home. Cutie slept in the carrier on the way home, but Wiggle was wide awake, so I thought he'd go down as soon as we got home. Nope. He wasn't tired at all, and Cutie and Wiggle ended up playing for another 45 minutes before he took a short and fitful nap.

Did we have fun? Of course. It was really a blast, but if I were to do it again, I would not go on a free day. It was too crowded especially for little guys (and girls). Wiggle needs to be able to go right up to the glass to see anything, and if there are tons of people around he's just interested in them. Of course, it's fine for him to people watch, but maybe he can do that at the grocery store or Target without two bus rides, a long wait in line, and Amazonian heat.

I think another trip to the nature museum is in order. No crowds and everything is very low-key. Plus, I can drive; parking is free.


  1. What a curmudgeon, to kick you off the bus! Shame on that bus driver! But I believe very much in karma; what goes around comes around, so he better watch out. I love the pics, and it sounds like a pretty good day in spite of everything. I'm so glad you and Wiggle both have a friend in the building!

  2. I wish I could say I'm surprised you were kicked off the bus, but there are some awful drivers out there. I hope you took down the bus & route numbers so he was reprimanded. Not that I'm convinced it helps...I filed a complaint against a driver who yelled at a disabled lady and it took, like, three calls and four people to make it happen. Shame on you, CTA.