The Chicago 2018 Birthday Weekend, Part 3 of 4: Navy Pier Amid the Drear

Navy Pier night!

Our parting view on Friday night.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For Anne’s birthday celebration this year, we headed up to Chicago for yet another weekend — this time mostly to attend the inaugural Ace Comic Con Midwest at Navy Pier, and partly to see if downtown Chicago contained any sights we hadn’t already seen and/or shared. In past years we’ve shared pics of the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Magnificent Mile, and scenic Navy Pier, among other locales you can find with MCC’s “Chicago” tag alternating in between their frequent conventions…

…though only one of those entries covers our sole previous visit to the Pier. First time around, we walked up and down some of it, bought snacks, photographed art, and took our leave. This time our presence was goal-oriented, the weather was unsightly, and the temptations to stop and linger were few, especially after all those miles we’d just covered on aging feet. I mean, it was a fun weekend anyway, but among the least comfortable we’ve had all year.

Navy Pier ahead!

The approach from our parking garage a few blocks west.

Friday afternoon, the area was mostly silent except fans walking toward it for Ace Comic Con. We shuffled forward with what little energy we had left after those miles of downtown perambulating. A few friendly Hispanic families took the same route and easily passed us by. The closer we got, the farther away it felt.

Grand St Mural!

Mural on Grand Street heading away from the Pier.

At the west end of the Pier is their Children’s Museum, followed by various shops and chain eateries, both cheap and expensive. We could’ve entered through the first set of doors and walked the entire length indoors till we reached the Festival Hall on the far end. On Friday we’d forgotten that from our previous visit and stayed outdoors instead despite the chill and the complete lack of Ace signage outside altogether.

Lake Michigan Caution!

To our right, Lake Michigan loomed and invited few boats. A lone metal cordon protected us from this deadly precipice.

The long walk failed to inspire any last-minute energy surge as the repetitive features of the building’s uniform exterior began to resemble an infinite Hanna Barbera background. We persevered nonetheless, assuming an ACE COMIC CON sign would eventually appear and lead the way to fun and warmth. Eventually the walkway dead-ended at an abandoned beer garden. At that point we entered the nearest doors, spotted the line of geeks filing in, and joined the march that finally led to signs.

beer garden!

This would be a much sadder sight if either of us cared for alcohol.

The long, long line upstairs to get into the con doubled back westward toward the Pier’s length that we’d just gotten done traversing. Interior construction on the second floor hinted at better surroundings and more features to come in years ahead. For the moment, we stood unaffected beside industrial chic in progress.

Lake Michigan from inside!

The slightly better view of Lake Michigan, not quite at its best.

Saturday was a much, much prettier day. Problem was, by then we didn’t care anymore. Friday had drained us. Sleep had only partly restored us. Another round of long lines to meet great actors added to the tolls already taken. When our Ace checklist was fully checked off, we exited the Pier without stopping anymore. There’re parts of the adjacent green parks we still haven’t seen, but they’ll have to wait for another Chicago visit.


Saturday afternoon, a local band named Railheart played near one of the taverns.

Navy Pier fountains!

Fountains! Everyone loves fountains with actual water in them. Navy Pier 1, Buckingham Fountain 0.

Cozy Up!

Ironic ad when we needed it least.

To be concluded! Other chapters in this special MCC miniseries:

Prologue: Loki and the Birthday Gal
Part 1: Our Ace Comic Con Midwest 2018 Photos
Part 2: Gray Friday, Windy City
Part 4: Food!

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