Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Two

I think this was our busiest day of vacation…and Combo Breaker hadn’t even started yet!

Last year when we were in St. Charles, we never made it to downtown Chicago, because to my great surprise, there were no ticket agents on duty at the Metra stations on the weekend. I planned accordingly this year, checked the hours, and was sure we wouldn’t run into any problems. Until we arrived at the Geneva Metra station, and the ticket agent basically shut the door in our face, because she had a “meeting.”

This forced me outside of my comfort zone…A LOT. I had already paid for Wendella boat tickets and Art Institute tickets, so I had to find a way downtown. Even though I faced possible problems, including the fact that my students don’t have school IDs, we used the Ventra app to ride the train, and in the end, it worked out fine.

We took a slightly different walk during our travels in Chicago, so we saw some things that were the same, and some that were new:

The highlight of the day was the Wendella Chicago River and Lake Michigan Tour. It has been close to 30 years since I last did the boat trip, so it was a very different experience for all of us, and a lot of fun!

After disembarking, we began our walk toward the Art Institute, stopping to see the “Bean” and other sites at Millennium Park (including the Crown Fountain) along the way.

At the Art Institute, we focused specifically on the Arms and Armor galleries, as well as a special exhibit on Medieval illuminations, in keeping with this year’s summer school theme, but we also saw a few other things, including the Chagall windows.

My children are obsessed with pigeons (no, I don’t know why), and they certainly got to see a lot of them!

Before heading back to the train, we stopped at Marshall Field’s of Blessed Memory (now a Macy’s) to buy Frango mints.

We even got to ride on the upper deck of the train on the way back!

We enjoyed some more pool time back at Pheasant Run, which was the perfect way to end a hot day. We also indulged in some Food Network shows on cable TV, which is one of our favorite things about vacation!

Up next: Combo Breaker finally begins!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Four

We were up bright and early once again for the final day of our weekend getaway, because we had things to do before we headed home!

First things first. I was still pretty upset about our lost day in downtown Chicago. Now, most of the stuff I had planned for Saturday we couldn’t do in the time we had on Monday, but there was one thing we could do…visit The Bean. Fortunately, Ryan was able to find a parking space nearby, so the children and I took a quick walk over to the shiny sculpture, and admired the architecture (and pigeons) along the way.

We then set out for our last big Chicago activity…visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. Between our membership at the St. Louis Science Center, which offers a great reciprocal agreement, and homeschool discounts, we were able to get into the museum for free, as well as get tickets for both the Lego exhibit, “Brick by Brick,” that is on display currently, and the popular U-boat tour, for an insane discount. The museum is much bigger than I remembered, so we couldn’t see anywhere close to everything, but we did see as much as possible in the approximately five hours we had there!

Before we left Chicago, there was one last thing I wanted to do…get a good look at Lake Michigan. Fortunately, as we were driving north on Lake Shore Drive to get to I-55, we found an exit for the Oakwood-41st Street beach. It was a quick off and on, so Ryan just circled the parking lot a few times while I had my lake moment.

That’s it for our big weekend getaway this year. Ryan got to spend an extra day┬áin St. Charles compared to last year, but the rest of us were there for one day less. Hopefully next year, we’ll all get to go up on Wednesday, and have an extra day to explore Chicagoland…there’s lots more we want to see!

The Bean

OK, I confess…I had never seen “The Bean” sculpture in downtown Chicago, either. The children had seen pictures of it, though, and it was on the top of their list, as well as mine, so we tracked it down!

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And just in case you wondering what it looks like from underneath:

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Chicago has so many cool landmarks…I’m glad I could introduce the children (and myself) to some of them!