It's a dirty world at Chicago's Field Museum. The natural science museum's newest permanent exhibit, "Underground Adventure," delves beneath the surface to explore the many different critters that help make the ecosystem go 'round.
The $10 million installation covers 15,000 square feet and consists of six sections. In Base Camp, visitors learn about the variety of things dependent on soil; in the Shrink Chamber and the Micro Soil Lab, guests are "reduced" to 1/100th of their normal size and transported underground to visit giant crawfish, earthworms, wolf spiders, microscopic mites, plants and fungi.
While visiting the Mud Room, guests examine real soil and identify critters they encountered down below. The Soil Connection teaches how soil keeps people healthy and other ways it affects our lives. The exhibit's conclusion encourages visitors to contemplate the role of the underground ecosystem in their everyday lives.
The Field Museum is on Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive. General museum admission: $7 adults; $4 children 3 to 17, students and seniors; free on Wednesdays. Admission to Underground Adventure: $4 adults; $3 seniors; $2 children age 3 to 17. Call 312-322-8859.
Tropical resort keeps it simple
Secluded on Parrot Cay, an islet nestled among the Turks and Caicos archipelago in the British West Indies, a new resort recently opened on the otherwise uninhabited 1,000 acre-island.
Simplicity is the theme at the Parrot Cay Resort, where 56 units are decorated in neutral tones to serve as a fresh backdrop for turquoise waters, flocks of tropical birds and the colorful fish that live in one of the world's longest coral reefs.
Hotel amenities include a gym, nature trail, library, boutique, tennis courts and, by the end of the year, an Asian-style spa. Visitors can use the resort's mountain bikes, scuba and snorkeling equipment, canoes and windsurfing boards. There is a beachside restaurant open for lunch, gourmet restaurant open for dinner, a cafe and two bars.
Low-season rates start at $390 and high-season rates at $540. Price includes breakfast and dinner, resort facilities and airport transfers. Call 800-628-8929.
Travel fun for kids
Parents planning summer trips with young children, take note. A new book by Mary Rodgers Bundren, "Travel Wise With Children: 101 Educational Travel Tips for Families," offers a variety of activities that can ease the stress of family travel. In one, "Products R Us," children search the house on a scavenger hunt looking for items made in places being visited during the trip. In another, "Postcard Gallery of Fun," children write and send postcards to themselves to create a journal of each day's events. The paperback book is available in area bookstores for $12.95. no art
Questions about France?
The phone number for the French Government Tourist Office's "France-on-Call" service has been changed. The new number is 410-286-8310 and the hot line is staffed with agents who can answer questions about travel to France. Calls are taken Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Information can also be accessed via the Internet at www.francetourism.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If that's not an option, visit the office at 444 Madison Ave., 16th floor, in New York.