Last Sunday, (not this most recent one, but the one before it) was a pretty fun day around here.
The morning started off early. We drove over to the zoo and found some free parking right outside the gate. From there, we were going to take the bus into down town, and then back to the zoo later. I drove over there, so that when we were done with the zoo, we could just come home, and not have to deal with waiting for a bus.
The instant I parked the car, our bus showed up. Running on a Sunday schedule, we figured it would be a while before another one came along. "Hurry! Bus!" I tried shouting to the child in an effort to get her to move toward the bus stop. But the words must have come out, "Take your time. Put on you fingerless gloves. Decide whether or not to bring your water bottle with you. You have all the time in the world."
Standing at the cold bus stop, we were lucky that the next bus came along in only about 8 minutes, to whisk us down town. We were heading into the city for two reasons:
- To show Wednesday the opening ceremony at the Disney Store.
- To get pictures taken with Santa.
The Disney Store opened at 11:00, so we went into Macy's (henceforth called "Field's" in the rest of this post) first.
If you haven't been to Marshall Field's in Chicago at Christmas time, let me tell you, they go all out. Inside and out is done very nicely and very tastefully. They always do the animated window displays, and the whole place is decorated very nicely.
Once we got into the store, we headed up to the 8th floor? Furniture? No, silly, the 8th floor has a great spot where you can look out over their fancy dining room, The Walnut Room, while people enjoy the holiday tradition of having lunch by the beautiful tree. (FYI – It's not a walnut tree.)
After scouting out the tree in the Walnut room, we headed down stairs to see how long the line for Santa was going to be. RE-DIC-U-LOUS, and it was only 10:00!
We prowled around the store a bit more before heading across the street to the Disney Store to get good seats for the opening ceremony. The entrance to the store is inside a mall type building, so the 3 of us grabbed a bench and waited.
As part of the ceremony, a few "cast members" as the employees are called, ask a young member of the audience to turn a key in an oversized lock, unlocking their imagination, causing the velvet ropes to fall and the store to be declared open. Well, the cast member hoisting the oversized key above her head didn't imagine that a 5 foot long key would have any trouble going through a 4 foot wide door until "DONG!" and both ends hit their respective sides of the door frame, causing her to rebound slightly back into the store before rotating the key to fit through the opening and on to the ceremony.
Hopefully, the other cast members are still teasing her about it.
Afterwards, we went over to the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. It's a traditional German style market on the plaza. We stopped in there to see if the Christmas tree that we have this year was a bad as they were
suggesting mocking on the radio. (Hint: Oh yeah!) And we had some roasted cashews and while we were looking around, saw a relatively short line for a pictures with Santa.
FREE. PICTURES. WITH. SANTA.
After the picture, we headed over to Field's to eat at their basement restaurant Infileds. (Note: It ain't called "Inmacys"). After a very nice meal, we bought some fudge with one of the gift cards we've had for a while, did a little shopping on State Street, then hopped the 151 (aka the "Bacardi Bus") back to the zoo.
Wednesday's Biology teacher assigned her class a project where they needed to go to the zoo and observe some of the animals that were outside in the winter. With all the traveling that we'll be doing soon, we thought we'd better knock off the visit as soon as possible.
We had a blast at the zoo.
We saw my favorites, the seals…
And both types of leopards: Snow and regular.
But the real treat. Correction, the realest treat was hanging out having a great day with my family. The second realest treat was Zoo Lights. They light up the zoo, and it's pretty awesome.
As the sun set and it started getting dark, but not dark enough to enjoy the lights, we retreated to the warmth of the car, conveniently parked right outside the front gate. As we sat there, engine running, the girls changed coats and reviewed the pictures for the project while Christmas music played on the radio. And the vultures lined up for our parking space.
Free parking over there is somewhat limited, so people were lining up, one after another to see if we were pulling it. First it was annoying. Then it got funny. Then it got annoying again, so we shut down the car and headed back into the zoo for the lights.
No, that's no one we know in silhouette.
It forever for us to get this penguin picture. There was a lady who sort of wanted to get her kid's pictures taken by it, but the kid really wasn't interested, so she stood there for like 5 minutes as the line kept growing, oblivious to anything but her darling son, wandering aimlessly around the statue. Never once barking instructions to him to just stand there and look at mommy like I would have gotten. No, she was more interested in nurturing his natural curiosity about the world around him while she totally ignored the world around here. Just as I was getting ready to loose my Christmas cheer, they wandered off and we got this shot.
And here's a little video I shot of the light show…
and it stars Dancer & Prancer.