After Dad arrived at my hotel in Westmont, IL, we left straight away for 233 S. Wacker Drive, a.k.a. the Willis Tower (formerly know as the Sears Tower). Just a few weeks earlier, the SkyDeck, a tourist trap if ever there was one, was moved from the 99th floor to the 103rd floor, and its new location didn’t disappoint! After purchasing our Chicago CityPass booklets, we saw a brief film about the history of the tower and then rode the super fast (and smooth!) elevators dedicated to whisking tourists from the ground to the 103rd floor at over 20 feet per second. After stepping off the elevator, the view was stunning, needless to say. Having seen it twice before, I was still impressed. Since it was around dusk, I suggested we stay long enough to see the city transition from day into night, getting two very different experiences for the price of one ticket. Fortunately there’s no time limit on the Skydeck.
Looking all around the city, surrounded by a sea of steel and conrete structures, watching planes fly overhead and cars drive below and boats bob in the lake, I felt an incredible sense of pride in the achievement of mankind, and in particular the mathematicians, physicists, engineers, scientists, and businessmen who’ve been the vanguard of civilization for so long.
Next, being the adrenaline junkie I am, I insisted on stepping out onto the new glass observation decks which cantilever out from the tower. It’s a weird sensation to look down and see only a piece of glass that stops you from plummeting to the concrete sidewalk 1,000 feet below.
After leaving the glass ledge, I saw what appeared to be Buddhist monks, with their shaved heads, orange robes, and far eastern appearance touring the Skydeck. I felt a twinge of cognitive dissonance, having learned that such monks live a simple life and generally eschew material wealth and worldly achievements. But yet here they were, at the height of a compelling symbol of worldliness and wealth. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation, if only I spent more time studying eastern religions.
After exiting the Skydeck, we walked across the street to eat at the famous Giordano’s pizza.
Over an absolutely delicious pizza, I made my case for the absurdity of Fox News to my Dad, who partly agreed while citing the liberal bias of other news channels. He then regaled me with some stores from his long career as an airline captain, including some harrowing tales of flight emergencies (engine fires, bird strikes, engine failures, hydraulic failures) which he skillfully and professionally handled with not so much as a single soul harmed. An unsung hero if ever there was one. Then it was back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.