Freshman Chardonnay Needler visited Chicago, Minneapolis and Birmingham, Mich. for the first two weeks of July.

Q: Why did you visit these places?

A: I arrived in Minneapolis to visit my mother (who lives there), and since my stepfather had a business meeting in Chicago, we took a road trip to Chicago.

It was my first time visiting the Midwest, and along the way I was able to see many interesting places.

Q: What did you do in Chicago?

A: We visited the Willis Tower because it’s a famous tourist place, went shopping and experienced some of the Chicago city life.

Needler took this shot of Chicago from the top of Willis Tower, where the elevator brings visitors to the 103rd floor in 60 seconds.

(Photo by Chardonnay Needler)
Freshman Chardonnay Needler took this shot of Chicago from the top of Willis Tower, where the elevator brings visitors to the 103rd floor in 60 seconds.

Q: What was Willis Tower like?

A: We went on a weekday so it wasn’t as busy as it usually is, but nonetheless it was still an extremely long wait.

Fortunately there were interesting infographics scattered all throughout the line. From some of the infographics, I learned that the amount of wire used in the Willis Tower could wrap around the U.S. over four times and that there are over 200 bathrooms in the tower.

There were people all over the world visiting the tower, like the couple in front of us in line, who were from Brazil.

Q: What was the view like?

A: We took an elevator to the 96th floor and to a glass-floored observation deck. The observation deck was really frightening because I was worried that it would break. Not only did the deck worry me, but the height (1,450 feet) was scary as well.

While we were up there, a helicopter was flying, and we were so far up that the helicopter was actually below us.

Q: What did you eat?

A: We ate Chicago-style hotdogs at the Chicago Tribune’s cafe. The food was really good, but the service was horrible.

Weird thing is, we never found a Chicago-style pizza for the whole two days we were in the city.

Q: What did you do in Birmingham?

A: We went there for another one of my stepfather’s meetings. For the five days we stayed there, I enjoyed the scenery of the city. I visited local trails with my family and took my two Boston terriers on many walks.

At night I actually was able to catch fireflies for the first time.

Q: Did you like Chicago or Birmingham more?

A: Birmingham. I’m not a big fan of big cities because they are too busy and dirty, so for me Chicago wasn’t really in my comfort zone. Birmingham was amazing because I loved the rolling hills and the beauty that the scenery encompassed.

—By Katia Dahmani

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