Sport Adventure:NCAA Basketball Tourney in Chicago
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For the second year in a row, my dad and I were off to go to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. March Madness has overtaken us again.
We woke up at 3:30AM on Friday and headed out to the airport. After adjusting our clocks, we arrived in Chicago, Illinois a little after 8AM. From there we checked in to the Wyndam Hotel and had lunch. It was bizarre to wake up in Miami and to already be having breakfast in another city.
We had some time before the games began so we decided to walk around. We walked along the Miracle Mile portion of Michigan Avenue where all of the shops were. The architecture of the building is very unique here.
Finally we decided to head over to the United Center Arena. We took a walk by the Michael Jordan tribute outside and then entered the gates. My dad asked when the games would begin and they informed us that they had already started. We realized that we were planning for the first game on Eastern Standard Time, but fortunately we only missed ten minutes. Just as I was getting excited by seeing how close our seats were we realized that sitting right behind us was Michael Jordan. No statue this time, but the real deal! We had row 20 of the lower bowl, and then the club seats were right behind us and that is where Jordan was sitting. Nobody could decide to look forward at the game or to see Jordan!
The first game was (7) UNLV vs. (10) Georgia Tech. It was a close game in the second half before UNLV finally pulled ahead. Thirty minutes later the next game began between (2) Wisconsin vs. (15) Texas A & M CC. Wisconsin was getting blown out in the entire first half and we thought we were going to see a huge upset, but they came back and pulled out the win. After that second game there was a two hour break before the second session began. Our third game of the day was (1) Kansas destroying (16) Niagara. The final game was a close one with (8) Kentucky finally beating (9) Villanova.
We were absolutely exhausted after such a long day, but when the bus dropped us off near the hotel my dad noticed Giordano's Pizza so we just had to stop in for a midnight snack. We had a thick crust deep dish pizza filled with cheese and a few beers to wash it down with. Finally we got back to the hotel and went to sleep after a 23 hour day!
We woke up on Saturday before 9AM and went for breakfast. From there we took a Taxi out to the Field Museum. This was an extraordinary museum. Upon walking in were the giant bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue. We walked through a special exhibit about ancient America from the time people first crossed into our continent in Alaska and made their way all the way down to the southern point of South America. There were great artifacts from the cultures of the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, and Teothihuacan as well as people who had lived in modern day U.S. like societies in Hopewell, Cahokia and the Mississippians. After that we went through an exhibit called the Evolving Planet which showed artifacts and history from the dawn of time to the dinosaurs and then up to present time. They had an impressive collection of dinosaur bones.
We left the Field Museum and took a taxi to The Art Institute of Chicago. We started with a special collection of European Painters such as Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugan, Degas, Renoir and many more. After we saw two famous American paintings..."Nighthawks" by Hopper and "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. The centerpiece of their art collection was George Seurat's painting "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte-1884"
The museums all closed at 5PM so at that point we took a taxi to Navy Pier. Most everything was closed here, but we did take a nice walk to the end of the pier and back and saw a couple of lighthouses. We also stopped at a famous bar on the pier called Billy Goat Tavern and had some beers and snacks while we watched some NCAA basketball games.
Later in the evening we went to the Chicago Chop House for dinner. We both had delicious steaks and somehow polished off two bottles of wine.
We woke up around 9AM on Sunday, March 18th and after breakfast went to the museum inside of the Freedom Tower. The museum didn't have artifacts, but had fantastic interactive activities to do that all centered around the First Ammendment.
Following our visit to the museum we headed back to the United Center for session three and round two of the NCAA basketball tournament. In the first game we saw a huge upset as (2) Wisconsin was beat by (7) UNLV. The second game was closer in the first half before (1) Kansas finally pulled away and defeated (8) Kentucky. Michael Jordan was still sitting behind us for the games, but no matter how hard he begged we did not sign any autographs for him. Actually on the jumbo screen they showed some clips of Jordan and the stadium gave him a standing ovation. From that point, everyone in the stadium now knew he was there. There was an endless barrage of people coming over to snap pictures. I am sure my dad and I are in thousands of photographs!
Following the game we took a bus back toward the hotel. We had reservations for a terrific seafood restaurant, but cancelled them in favor of one last Chicago style pizza at Giordano's.
Where I stayed