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Part I: Recital costumes, Cermak Green Line station review, Chicago Auto Show

My goal for this weekend was to ditch the cabin fever and winter blues by staying active and out of the house. For the most part, it worked out nicely. So we pretty much spent no time inside just watching cartoons. 

Saturday morning was the now-regular ballet class for my daughter...only this one was special because they got their costumes. It's a flowery, frilly, puffy outfit with a label that says "Pretty Maid." And it came with special instructions from Ms. V about it "living" in mommy and daddy's closet until the recital. No tossing it in the dress up bin. No trying it on every day. It stays in the plastic wrap and only comes out for the performance. But they still had to try it on for size during class and the teacher asked parents to stay and help. For us, my son and I did our usual routine of sitting in the bleachers of the ice rink watching the figure skating class. So Mama was the one helping my daughter. They'd ordered her a small--which was too big. She cried when she had to take it off. The extra small fit just right, but then another little girl didn't have a costume ordered and needed to try one daughter cried when she had to take off the costume for that. I'm happy to report she's coming along nicely in terms of learning dance. My offspring is a bit slow on her marching...focusing on stomping feet rather than forward movement. And her plie is more of a crouching, squatting than a bend. But she can hit that dot on the floor like nobody's business. And who doesn't love watching a line of 3 year olds holding hands and walking around the room to Copland's "Rodeo?" 

Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line station--
We're lucky enough to have the newest stations on the L be on our line. (Previously built in the West Loop was Morgan.) The Cermak-McCormick Place stop just opened about a week ago to serve the long gap between Roosevelt and 35th-Bronzeville. It happens to be about 3 (more on that in a minute) blocks from the convention center. So we decided to take the train rather than drive to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show on Saturday afternoon. 

Wanted to offer a few thoughts on the new station to anybody who hasn't had a chance to use it yet...we got off the train and exited at the south exit. There are actually several. We had a stroller so we needed an elevator so our choices were either that or the far north end of the platform. 

When you get to ground level, there is a long walkway to the 23rd St stationhouse. There is an attendant and a fairly wide open concourse that spits you out...nowhere. 23rd St. is physically closest to McCormick Place, but the walk is more of a warehouse district than business district. And it requires a busy, uncontrolled intersection at Michigan. There is a crosswalk but no guarantee the cars will stop here. Plus, another word of warning, the block to the east is not shoveled forcing you to walk in the street. When you get to Indiana, you are directly in front of Gate 40 for McCormick Place. But that may or may not be where you need to go and very well may be locked. In our case, we ended up walking back to Cermak, around, and to the main convention center entrance on MLK Drive. If you're keeping track, that ends up being more like 5 blocks from the L station instead of 3 blocks. 

If you walk down Cermak instead--as we did coming home--there is a traffic light at Michigan. Make note, however, that the elevator and main stationhouse for the Cermak side of the platform is on the north side of the street. There are only stairs on the south side of Cermak. 

The platform itself you've probably heard about. It's an island platform with a large curving half-tunnel canopy overhead. It's really a screen for all but the very top so it doesn't offer much protection from the elements. The lights and signs are all bright and there is plenty of room here for large crowds. But I'd say the heaters are not easy to find for when it's cold. Compared to the Morgan stop, it really is a very unique design, too. Which is cool...but also doesn't feel like a typical L station. 

2015 Chicago Auto Show--
We'd originally planned to go down to the auto show with a few of the dads...though I'm glad we didn't RSVP to meet because it would have been impossible with the crowds. Once we got inside, it was Taste of Chicago style wall-to-wall people with little room to navigate or personal space. Certainly not a ton of room for our stroller. Not a lot of room for sitting down to rest or grab a snack either. We were looking for benches and ended up eating our peanut butter and jelly behind a display near an emergency staircase. At least they lay down thick carpet! 

After we waited in line to get tickets and scanned in, we spent most of our time on one side. The show actually takes up both sides of the Grand Concourse in multiple expo halls. But we stuck with the Ford, Subaru, Nissan, Toyota, Jeep, etc. sections. After getting past the crowd around the yellow Mustang in the front of the show, we spent quite a bit of time looking at pickups. My son enjoyed jumping off them when it was time to get down and my daughter liked sitting in the driver's seat pretending to steer. Meanwhile, I tried to get a little bit of information about towing capacity. Mostly I just paid attention to trim, comfort level, and how many gadgets were inside. Why you would want leather seats in a truck that's probably going to be getting mud all over it is beyond me. I was busy trying to calculate the average weight of a ram or hay bale in relation to price tag. 

Anyway, the kids really wanted to go on the Jeep experience but were too little and the line was too long. Jeep had brought in an obstacle course including hills, logs, cobblestones, and a team of water spraying attendants to keep the dust down as the vehicles took passengers around to demonstrate the capabilities of a Jeep off road. We looked at the new Forester model from Subaru. There were race cars, motorcycles, utility vehicles, and even dirt bikes to look at as examples of recreation packages for some of the trucks to haul. 

Stay tuned for Part II...our first time ice skating with the kids.