After dropping off the American Girl shopping bags at our hotel, we discussed how to best use our remaining hours. Our first stop? The Art Institute of Chicago. In the interest of time, we decided to take a cab. After our spring trip to D.C., I knew that the six of us could squeeze into a single taxi. I ran around the cab and claimed shotgun, leaving the four girls and my very petite sister-in-law to fend for themselves. Suddenly, the cab driver started panicking. In broken English I heard, "Shut the door! Shut the door!" Being inexperienced cab riders, the girls had left the passenger door open in a tight lane of traffic! My SIL finally reached across four girls and closed the passenger door, leaving the cab driver relieved to know he still had a vehicle with FOUR doors in which to make a living. Note to self: Next time, talk to the girls about about cab etiquette BEFORE entering the vehicle. Again, I decided a generous tip would compensate for our inexperience.
Finally, we arrived at The Art Institute. The good news? On this particular day it was FREE and open until 8:00PM. The bad news? The line to get in stretched the length of a city block. We made the best of it by eating crackers and listening to the sounds of Chicago - JAZZ!
I particularly enjoyed this street performer who came with his portable back-up band.
We tipped him, too.
Once inside this truly enjoyable museum, we hit the high points including Seurat's "Sunday in the Park",
And an entire section of Miniature Rooms.
As we left the museum, the sun was setting. My sister-in-law thought we should walk the Magnificent Mile back to our hotel. Whether this was to take advantage of a beautiful night or for fear of another cab ride with me, she didn't say. In any case, she made a good call.
It turned out to be a perfect evening for a walk.
On our way, we discovered a fountain park with a Vegas-like jumbo screen.
The screen-boy occasionally blinked and moved his mouth.
Anna posed for a nightscape photo and a giant garden globe reflected the city.
We crossed the Chicago River.
The Hancock Tower appeared to shadow its older counterparts.
As we neared our destination, we gave our feet a rest with a city carriage ride.
We passed the Old Water Tower and the New Water Tower Place (Behind) as the Hancock Tower beckoned (shown in back).
A forty second elevator ride carried us 94 floors up to the John Hancock Observatory.
Guess what? No lines on Thursdays at 10PM!
The girls wound down and enjoyed gelato in spinning chairs while city lights flickered below.
The next morning we packed up the suitcases, duffle bags, both coolers and what was left of the Diet Coke and made our way back to The Twin Cities.
On the way out of Chicago, we stopped for a picnic on the front lawn of my alma mater, Wheaton College.
We made the rest of our six-hour trip in a mere eight hours with additional rest stops in Madison, Wisconsin; Warrenton, Wisconsin; Menomonie, Wisconsin and Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
It was a good day.