When a Road Trip Leads You to the Stars of Chicago

Hooser Heartland Highway, Indiana

It all started when my youngest daughter Katelyn asked if I would like to do a road trip to Minnesota to pick her up from her fiance’s house where she was visiting. Road trip to Minnesota? Oh ya I am in. With an addition of a stop near Chicago in Illinois to see my friend Dave and his girls, Molly and Maggie. This was going to be a fun trip.

Crossing the US Border

Heading over the US border from Canada, I took the Bluewater Bridge from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan. I like this bridge for a few reasons. It is not usually as busy as the Niagara Border crossings and the Duty Free has a little coffee shop with delicious Butter Tarts. Since I was stopping to see friends I knew I had to pick some up. They do not have Butter Tarts in the US. I know I feel bad for them too, that’s why I always bring some with me.

Crossing the border is always a roll of the dice on what questions they will ask. Pulling up to the kiosk, my passport ready, it was the general questions. Where are you from? Where are you going? It was funny when I told him Minnesota because I am sure most people in RV’s are going South not North in November. Then I got Why?? Lol. Do you have any food, as in fruit, vegetables or meats? I never bring food with me. My fridge is empty except for the odd can of ice tea. It just makes crossing easier. I guess I answered right because he handed me my passport back and said “Have a great trip”.

Crossing Michigan

On down Highway 69 towards Flint. It was later in the afternoon when I crossed. Highway 69 between the cities of Port Huron and Flint in Michigan is what I call dead deer highway. I have never seen that amount of dead deer along one stretch of highway than this one. I have traveled this stretch many times and always, always make sure I am on one side or the other before dusk.

Cracker Barrel

I stopped at Cracker Barrel in Flint because, well I am in the US and I can. It is one of my most favourite restaurants here. The Cracker Barrel Store has such unique items. I love their old time candy section and the decor for different seasons is always fun and creative. The food is always warm and delicious and the service welcoming and homey. I love the hearth that burns real wood in the winter in the middle of every restaurant.

I parked for the night at Walmart and met 3 other people from Ontario that are full time living an RV Life. They were on their way to Arizona. When they asked were I was going and I told them, they laughed and told me I was going the wrong way. We had a chat and then off down the road we all went. It is fun to meet other travellers as I travel. I have met some very interesting and fun people who get as much enjoyment from travelling as I do.

It was a great drive to my friend Dave’s house. I had told Molly and Maggie I would take them to the Adler Planetarium the next time I came to visit. We planned on Saturday to make the trip to Chicago’s waterfront. I was so looking forward to it as much as they were I am sure.

Chicago Skyline

Adler Planetarium, Chicago

Saturday proved to be a very windy day. With gusts of up 65 mph Chicago was proving itself as the Windy City. We parked at the Sharaton Hotel where my friend works and caught a cab to the Adler Planetarium.

Adler Planetarium

It is a large imposing building with a stone domed roof sitting on Chicago’s waterfront. Opened in 1930 and funded by Max Adler it was the first planetarium built in the western part of the world. Instituted as a “classroom under the heavens” it certainly fulfills this statement. Working with the community and schools it teaches both students and adults the science behind the stars in a fun interactive way. They are always having different exhibits or events to get you closer to the stars. Make sure to check their event website to see what is going on while you are there.

When you walk in, there are blue walls leading you to an auditorium where we would watch a show later in the day. The main floor had planets hanging everywhere with story boards telling you about each planet. The planets were scaled to size. It was interesting to see the size differences from earth. They also had meteorites that you could touch. One exhibit let you see how a meteorite hitting earth would impact. It made me jump and I knew it was coming. It was very interactive. At different stations throughout the museum there was always someone there to answer a question or explain the exhibit.

The moon and earth

They had exhibits of different crafts that have flown through space. I loved the Mars Rover they had on display. This full scale model is of the Mars Rover that landed on Mars February 18, 2021. It will gather samples, looking for “ancient fossilized microbial life” on this desolate planet. As it gathers, it will put it into tubes and leave it in a designated spot for a future mission to Mars to pick up and bring back to earth for further study. It is a cool looking machine.

It still amazes me that a machine can fly that far away and still function with a determined task. The surface of Mars is said not to be a walk in the park either. So for this machine to be able to gather, store and drop samples over 224 million miles from earth in a horrendous atmosphere is fascinating.

Mars Rover

On another floor was the history of telescopes and gadgets they used to see the stars. This telescope from the 1650’s is an example of the length of these devices. They discovered that if you increased the size of the length and reduced the curve of the lense, they could reduce the halos that they would see with the other, shorter telescopes. This one was 20 feet long. You could see Saturn! Lol

20 foot telescope

The museum is very interactive and touching is mostly encouraged. Meteorites and moon rocks to an interactive play area for the kids so they could walk on the moon, there is something for everyone. The museum also had tablets and screens so you could choose the star systems you wanted to see that you may have never knew existed.

There are five different shows you can see. The theater is a domed theater. You sat back in your chair and looked up to the sky above. It was very dimensional to watch a movie about the stars while looking above you. The movie we chose was Planet Nine. It was all about looking for the real ninth planet in our solar system. With the technology that is used today they can see farther and farther into space. They have discovered many other planets with strange orbits and even a planet that is egg shaped. It was very interesting to see what they had found and the equipment they used to find it.

It was a very interesting and fun day and I am so glad I got to share that with Molly and Maggie.

Tuesday I leave for Minnesota and my next adventure. Check it out on my blog Taking in the Sights on my Road Trip to Minnesota. Thanks for coming along on this Chipmunk Adventure.

See you next week


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