Pink Rings, Water and Ice Cream Cakes?

water intake Lake MichiganEven though our days were filled with activities, either attending a session at the SMBE conference or cycling through the city to visit the Taste of Chicago, staying in the one hotel for almost 2 weeks while in Chicago made the trip really relaxing.

The hotel staff cleaned the room each day but even so I noticed a distinct pink ring around the plug holes.  So I asked one of our cleaners why it was pink.  She told me that there is rust in the water and this leaves a pinkish residue that can only be cleaned off quite aggressively.

One of the things I learnt about Chicago is that they get their water from Lake Michigan.  There are intake pipes that go quite some distance out into the lake to supply the city with fresh water.  They look like white and red ice cream towers in the middle of the lake!  It’s obviously treated to make it drinkable.  But there are still high levels of minerals in the water, such as iron and calcium.

High levels of minerals means the water is classified as hard water, so hard water conditioning in each home is a necessity otherwise equipment is damaged and the limescale builds up on shower screens and tap ware.  (They call them faucets over in the US.)  Talk about a pain!  It’s not as if there isn’t enough cleaning to do in a house.

Since we’ve been home in Victoria we’ve visited a friend up in Murray Bridge, South Australia and while there I noticed the same cloudy residue on the shower screen and pink algae growing out of the shower head!  It turns out that Adelaide has the hardest water in Australia and Melbourne has the softest.  Which would account for why I’ve never noticed the calcium build up or pink rings in our homes before.

2013 in Chicago

Taste of ChicagoI wasn’t really looking forward to a hot few weeks in a big city like Chicago.  But it wasn’t until we were researching for our 2013 trip to the SMBE conference in Chicago that we realised that the 2 weeks there would coincide with the Taste of Chicago, which just happens to be the world’s largest food festival.

Talk about heaven!  Jeffrey loves his food and recounts visits to new places by the food he’s eaten.  Well he’s got lots to remember from this trip.  Not only was there an amazing range of food each day but there were music concerts from jazz and blues to rock and soul.

Hotel food is usually very nice, compared to what I cook at home, but the stalls at the festival were actively trying to out do each other.  So we were definitely the winners.

I was surprised to learn that Chicago not only has beaches, it also has 570 parks!  So we rented bikes for a few days so we could get around to see some of the sites.  I really expected a crowded unfriendly city, but found a surprisingly attractive city.

One of the things I love to do is visit museums (well I am a teacher after all).  So we took ourselves off to Museum of Science & Industry as well as the Chicago History Museum.  Now that was interesting, and we both learnt things about US history we hadn’t heard of before.

I’m so glad that we didn’t have a long list of other places to visit on this trip.  We only spent a day in LA there and back.  So we actually spent most all of our time in Chicago.  It turned out to be a fascinating place to visit.

Oh, and the SMBE conference sessions were good too!  But that’s for another post…