Our first official non-jet lagged day of the trip led us to the Lincoln Park Zoo.  At first we were hesitant.  Most vegans do not believe in animals being caged and put on display for the sheer entertainment of humans.  We are of this belief.  Before we made our decision, we researched the zoo to see if we could be swayed.  We wanted to ensure that their were health and rehabilitation initiatives in place for some of the endangered species and all animals in the park.  Our eldest babe, has also been fascinated with polar bears for years.  As you can tell by her expression in the first photo, she was super excited to have witness a polar bear (who was rehabilitated and saved) frolic in the water and then quickly retreat to a cool cave.  Throughout our visit the babes commented on the beauty of the animals and our responsibility to protect them.  Although we will probably not go to another zoo again, we were pleased to see our children foster a deep respect for the animals and concern as the day we visited was particularly warm.  The zoo is open to all and free.  There is a beautiful carousel that features carved endangered animals and gilded poles.  There is a store to buy stuffies and such.  We avoided that like the plague.  There are also expensive concession stands.  The restaurant offers organic options, which surprised me.  And because it is in a park, there was very little gawking as the animals retreated when they felt they needed space and many people were just Chicago residents going for a workday jog or lunch walk.

We spent the other part of the day visiting the Navy Pier.  Due to poor weather, the ferris wheel which we intended to sit on, was shut down.  Instead we went to the Children's Museum.  Let us just say, it was a really tourist thing to do, we spent a lot of money (as children under 2 still have to pay admission - it was $70 for all of us).  It wasn't the most exciting thing to do for the grown ups.  Two of the stations were fun.  The other 10 were boring.  Basically, if this was in Ottawa we would have waited for the free night on Thursdays to go.  The water station is awesome.  The babes got soaked.  The Papa and Harriet built a terrible skyscraper, but had fun.  There was a nature zone where one could project their shadow onto a screen and then computer generated butterflies would land on you.  Pretty cool.

As for the Pier itself:  busy, touristy, obnoxious.  Very little food options for vegans...so pack a lunch. Lots of stalls trying to hock Chicago paraphernalia.  Lots of confusion and no chance to really think to yourself.  It was an experience, but we would pass the next time.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our trip.

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