Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dolphins, Penguins, and Whales! Oh, My!!

Of course, there’s more to the title than that. We were riding high and low-on air and water.

The day started off with a nagging wake-up call from my trusty Sonic Boom alarm clock at 4 a.m.

I woke up Flare at 4:30. Gramma M. was going to pick us up at 5:15ish. Everyone going to the field trip to Chicago included all the 8th graders and their parents. Almost all had parents coming along on the trip, even sets of parents. This was BIG.

We all had to meet at the school lunch room at 5:30. The teacher did a roll call to make sure everyone was there. Then we had a prayer for a safe trip.

The Kobussen Coach bus (the second, 36-seater bus in the link) was waiting for u s outside the school door. It has a bathroom in the back!! The steps were a bit tricky. Four steps. I didn’t expect another step in the start of the aisle.Gramma M and I sat in the middle area of the bus. First thing I noticed was the seats: It was cushy and soft; not vinyl and stiff like the old school buses. It was weird not having a seat belt. Then I noticed TVs. There was three of them. One in front of the bus, right in the middle, then two more on each side in the middle of the bus. We were able to watch DVDs on the trip there.

It was a long, long, long trip to Chicago. Whew. It was a smooth ride. It wasn’t bouncy or noisy. I did hear a man talking on a cellphone here and there between DVDs. I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about because I wasn’t watching it. No captioning. I wasn’t interested anyway. I just gazed at the view outside the window. I must have dozed off a bit, too.

We saw the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building in the distance. Soon we stopped at the Shedd Aquarium. It was huge!! The first thing I noticed was the darkness. It was dark in there. Gramma M guided me through the labyrinths of the museum.

I loved seeing the seahorses and seadragons. That was cool. The leafy sea dragon caught my attention.

There were many fish and sea creatures, including coral.

Then we waited for a dolphin show. That was really fun to see them do their acts. They were constantly praised with food. At the grand finale, the four dolphins jumped to the side of the wall on their sides. Everyone clapped.

Then we went into the bowels of the museum where we could see them underwater. We saw penguins!! (Those of you who know how much I like penguins know how nutty I would get to see them.) They looked like they would be about knee high. Some waddled and kind of jumped around to speed up getting to their destination. They were really cute, I thought. I watched one pull back his arm-fins as he waddled. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he looked like he strutted loved getting the attention from all the visitors.

We saw whales and sea lions,too.

There was a gift shop in there. They seemed to be pricey so I didn’t want to buy anything. There were a lot of cute dolphin necklaces.

Soon, it was 12:30 and we had to get back to the bus. The teacher did a head count to make sure everyone was there.

We ate our packed lunches on the bus. Gramma M opened her Diet Coke bottle and sprayed fizz all over me and the window next to me. I didn’t have time to react. No big deal. I wasn’t going to melt. I saw the humor in it. (grin)

Soon we were headed to the area where we would get on a boat tour. We had to wait a while. At about 1:30 we went on the boat. I could hear the tour guide speaking, but it was just noise. I could feel the vibrations of the speaker on the boat, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. It was just mumbo-jumbo. I gazed at the buildings as we passed them. Some looked like they were built right into the banks of the Chicago River. Before we headed out to Lake Michigan, we entered a locking area. We had to wait for the water to fill in. I remembered learning about locks in middle school, but never actually was in one. Cool!!

During some parts of the tour on the Big Lake, we were sprayed with water. Some were chunky. I covered up my ears so my hearing aids wouldn’t get wet. That must have looked superficial, but I didn’t care. Hearing aids are expensive and they can’t get wet. I didn’t trust myself to take them out and put them in my purse. I might drop them or lose them.

I was able to see the Chicago skyline from the lake. We saw the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

After the tour, we headed back to the bus. It was just after 3 p.m. I felt heat on my face and knew I got either sunburned or windburned or both. I developed a headache. I didn't know if it was from the sun and the water-glare or what. It came and went throughout the day, intensifying and ebbing.

Now we were going to the last leg of our trip, the Navy Pier. In my ignorance (I didn’t really research this), I thought the Navy Pier was about the Ferris wheel and about some sight-seeing. I didn’t know it was a giant mall.

We stopped to eat a Chicago hot dog. I haven't had a hot dog in ages.

Gramma M and I oohed and ahhed over the stained glass that was on display. I thought they looked like Oriental rugs in glass. Most of them were made in the mid-1800s. Wow. I am sure many were from old churches. There were a lot of them. One looked almost like the one in our church.

We walked around outside to look for the Ferris wheel. We were going north. Gramma M stopped some people to ask ferwhere the Ferris wheel was. Turned out we were walking in the wrong direction. Finally, the Ferris wheel was in sight. Gramma M has a fear of heights. She refused to ride on Ferris wheels. She tried calling Flare on her cell to "rescue" her, but got her voice mail instead. Gramma M decided to hold her breath and join me on the big, high Ferris wheel. She asked if they could slow it down so I could enter without fumbling around. Steps. Ugh.

We tightened our eyes as we ascended. But it wasn’t bad. It didn’t feel like eight minutes at all. That was how long the ride was. It was only one go-around. When she said we were at the top, I couldn’t believe it. It was the smoothest, least shaky Ferris wheel ride I ever had ridden on. Once we got to the bottom, Gramma M asked for them to slow it down for me get out safely.

Then we were off to do some shopping. We were already getting short on time. We found a store that sold tee-shirts. I got Flare a pink tee that said “Navy Pier hip chick” with a picture of a baby chick (in honor of her constant reminders to me to “get with it, Mom”) and for Angel I got a yellow tee that said, “Someone who loves me very much went to the Navy Pier and got me this shirt.” I also found some mini-black Lab beanie babies and got two of them. I thought about getting another dog breed, but I knew they’d fight over the black Lab. Might as well give one to each of them.

I couldn’t find anything for me in that store. So we found another store with shirts. I found a blue Navy Pier shirt in a neat writing.

It was 5:30 so we had to head back to the bus. The bus driver said that traffic was going to be horrible. Friday night rush hour in Chicago must be a bear (pardon the pun, Chicago Bears).

When we got back in Wisconsin, we were able to make another stop at a McDonald’s. By this time, the bus driver knew I had a step problem and I heard him say, “there’s a step, and another one.” Gramma M exclaimed, “You’re getting good at this!” I kind of laughed at that.

I wouldn’t have been in need of so much assistance, but I was in uncharted territory, I can go out and about in my own hometown. I know where everything is, unless of course, things are moved around on me. But everything else was unfamiliar. Or if I am not paying attention.

We finally got back home at 9:20 p.m. I was stiff and my neck even was sore from my throbbing headache. I think I really need to get better sunglasses. The sun just hits me in the eyes. I am using amber tinted sunglasses that are blue blockers, but I will have to look into special glasses.
(Like NOir).

Gramma M says she had a “neat, fun day.” I am glad. At times I felt awkward about needing so much assistance, but it was dark in the aquarium and there were steps galore-lurking everywhere that posed a hazard. I am glad she was there and willing to help.

Thanks, Gramma M.

When we got home, I showed the kids the stuff I got them. Angel was still up. Hubby took the day off today so Angel could get to school and home while we were gone. Since I was going to be on the class trip from 5:30 a.m. to around 9:00 p.m.., she needed someone at home. Thanks, Hubby.

There was an extra bag with the stuff I bought, full of pens and pirate stuff. There was even a package of plastic that turned out to be a little beach ball the size of a basketball when air was blown into it. I did not purchase them. Did Gramma M forget them? Flare called her on her cell. Gramma M said that the store cashier stuffed my bag with freebies. Oh. Okay. Mystery solved.

BTW, we did meet up with Flare off and on throughout the day. She was off with her friends.

She got a nice pink tee-shirt that said, “Chicago” with the Chicago skyline underneath of it. Really cool. If I’d have seen that shirt, I’d have wanted to buy one for myself. Oh, well. We didn’t really have much time to shop.

She told me about this incident: She was at the Ferris wheel with her classmates. A woman came up to her and shoved a pamphlet in her face. “I am deaf-mute. Will you buy this?”

D/d af people do not like peddling. They do not like how this portrays them to the hearing world. I was surprised at this. Had I have met this woman; I would have signed to her. She was probably not authentically Deaf-mute. D/deaf people do not peddle. They get angry when they see others do this.

(I never forgot the time I saw a man who said he ws deaf-mute and was selling little plastic American flags for $1.00 at a local resturant about 20 years ago. I signed to him and told him I was hard-of-hearing. He just kind of gave me a big silent laugh and shook his fingers at me. I knew something was wrong. He was faking it. Otherwise, he'd have signed back or at least gestured. He looked really nervous and left soon afterwards.)

Anyway, Flare says to her, “No. My mom is deaf and she doesn’t do that.” The woman just glared at her and walked away, muttering to herself. (If she were mute, would she have been talking to herself?)

All in all, it was a fun day. Would I do it again? Hmm, in six years, Angel will have her 8th grade class trip....

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At Sat May 17, 11:39:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you and Jenn had a wonderful trip. Yes good you had Gramma M walking with you. Yep I do understand the unfamilar areas are difficult to navigate. Nice having a bus driver, long day and bet you were exhausted but worth it. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about . I was there during VISION Conference in 2004. HUGS, Molly CC

At Sun May 18, 06:11:00 AM , Blogger Beth said...

You'll be ready in another 6 years! Sounds like you had quite the adventure. Amazing what we as parents learn on these school trips.

At Sun May 18, 09:10:00 AM , Blogger Abbie said...

I really enjoyed reading this Shari, it sounds like something I would love to do one day!

The first time I heard about deaf peddlers was over at Jodi's blog and to this day I haven't seen one, I get homeless people coming up asking for money more. I would feel bothered that someone was mimicking being deaf for profit...

At Sun May 18, 11:13:00 AM , Blogger Shari said...

Molly-Yes, so many unfamiliar places to navigate when traveling. It was a good day.

Beth-Once every six years wouldn't hurt. :) Yes, I learned a lot. :)

Abbie-I bet if a "deaf" peddler spotted a deaf person nearby, they'd just move on to avoid a confrontation. They are around, though. We don't get homeless peopel asking for money here, but I know there are some around. They keep to themselves, I guess.

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest. Cool. It was dark in there, though.

At Mon May 19, 07:44:00 PM , Blogger Kamis Khlopchyk said...

Sounds like a fun day Shari, I am glad Gramma M was there to help you navigate. I can't imagine how that must feel. You handle it so well :-)

I once had a guy shove a card at me like that too. I didn't read it right away but then I realized he wasn't going to leave until I did (I was loading groceries into my van). Then I read the card it claimed he was deaf/mute. I was skeptical but what are you supposed to do? He's standing there staring and not going anywhere until he gets what he wants. I gave him $2. BUT I was wondering... thanks for your insight. I, too, felt like that was a strange way to earn a living since being deaf/mute does not preclude you from working.

At Tue May 20, 11:44:00 AM , Blogger Amrita said...

Glad you had a good trip

At Tue May 20, 08:27:00 PM , Blogger contemporary themes said...

6 years is a good time frame before you go again. All in all it sounds like it was a successful trip! Glad you got to go and that Gramma M was there too! Great memories.

At Tue May 20, 10:06:00 PM , Blogger Shari said...

Kami-Yes, I am glad Gramma M was there. It's kind of a humbling thing, but I looked at it this way, I didn't know anyone in Chicago except for Jenn's class and their parents. My condition will show itself sooner or later. Can't hide in the closet forever.

Amrita-Thanks. It was a good trip. :)

La La-I just hope that my vision doesn't deteriorate too much in six years. :) Even though I know in some way, I'll be adjusting to it.

At Thu May 22, 11:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny. I've been approached 3 times by deaf peddlers. And I usually wear my hair up, so anyone can see I'm HOH (creates less confusion this way :) ). I've always wondered if they were scammers and were just incredibly gutsy to approach me (or completely oblivious?!). Maybe I should learn how to sign "me give you money for a silly pencil or stickers? why don't YOU give ME money?! In a couple years, I'm going to be worse off than you! I won't even be able to see the folks to peddle to!"... haha.

At Thu May 22, 06:09:00 PM , Blogger Shari said...

Sarah-I could not approach people like that. "Oh, poor me, I'm deaf. Would you buy this for me? Or give me a dollar?" Like I said, the Deaf community do not like that at all because of the rep it can give them. I know of many deaf/HOH people who are hard worers.


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