Reflecting on the A to Z Challenge (2013)

This was my second time around participating in the annual A to Z blogging challenge. Two things differed: I used a different blog and I pre-scheduled a lot of the posts.

Regardless, it was still a “challenge” for me, for two reasons mainly: I also participated in NaPoWriMo (write one poem for each day of April). Alas, I fell short by three on that one. And my computer is not very user-friendly, and that is the family-friendly version of saying it. It is very frustrating to work with a piece of equipment that is supposed to be faster than the human mind, but in my case is not. And I use it for work, of course.

Everyone who commented on my posts received a comment back from me in turn, even thought that took much longer than writing the actual post (thanks computer and Comcast whom I pay to get a “faster” connection that really isn’t). Even the one person who still had the verification thingy turned on got a comment. Well, in one case the link did not work, but that was on the last day of the challenge.

The challenge served me well because it was just the kick I needed to do something with this (relatively) new blog. I also found out that several of my fellow bloggers either live in the Chicago area or have lived here. It was also nice to visit blogs (and be visited) by users from other countries like India, Australia, South Africa, the UK and of course Canada.

Zoos in Chicago

(My theme for the A-Z challenge is places, things and people around Chicago)

Chicago has five zoos, including two world-class zoos. Lincoln Park Zoo is located near the downtown lake front and the Brookfield Zoo is in Brookfield in the western suburbs. Both are open 365 days a year. Yes, even on Christmas. With one exception: A couple of weeks ago, the Brookfield Zoo was closed because of the severe flooding we had. And that was only the second time ever it had to close since its inception in 1934.

Lincoln Park Zoo has free admission. It was founded in 1868, making it one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. It has a working dairy farm where you can see cows being milked the old-fashioned way. In addition to over 1,200 animal species, it is home to a burr oak tree which dates back to 1830, three years older than the city of Chicago.

Brookfield Zoo has one of the largest primates enclosures in the world with many different varieties of, well, primates. It was one of the first in the USA to have pandas (a gift from China) on display. It also housed the first indoor dolphin exhibit. Brookfield Zoo is home to another interesting attraction: The Theodore Roosevelt Fountain, which spouts water as high as 60 feet.

Yon Attractions of Chicago

chicago sign

(My theme for the A-Z challenge is places, things and people around Chicago)

Oh yes, I reached far to make the “Y” work for the challenge. Oh, there are a ton of words that start with the letter y, but here is the story behind it: I had mapped out just about all my letters/posts for the challenge beforehand, when a few people requested that I do something about tourist attractions in Chicago. I only had a few letters left (j, u, y), and I wanted to do one post about a variety of attractions. Hence the yon. And you do not want to know how long I browsed words to come up with a “y” word that could start a sentence!

Since Tom has lived here since birth, I asked him (rather than using a search engine) what he recommended. Instead of writing up something for each attraction, I’ve linked to a website for each destination. That way you can look at the ones that interest you the most.

Wrigley Field

Navy Pier

Millennium Park

Buckingham Fountain

Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower)

Hard Rock Cafe

I also asked Tom what travelers who only come through for one day might do to maximize their time here. He suggested The Loop because it gives you the whole metropolitan experience among all the skyscrapers that make the Chicago skyline so spectacular.