All of the Lights...

Technically, the holiday season may have officially ended yesterday, but there was still one thing left on my to-do list that I still needed to accomplish -- going to see the Zoo Lights. Justin and I first went to see the free light display at the Lincoln Park Zoo two years ago, and I had hoped to turn it into a seasonal tradition for just the two of us, until we got preoccupied with our move last year and never made it. Even though its usually freezing outside, I find it very romantic to walk hand-in-hand, taking in the festive colored lights, so I was determined to take another stab at turning it into a tradition this year. Though we didn't make it before Christmas, Zoo Lights usually stays open for about a week after New Year's, so we were still in luck.

Since the zoo is about an hour away by bus, and not located especially close to any train stations, we decided to drive, which was a fateful error in judgement. Though admission to Zoo Lights is free, the zoo has to make money on it somehow, and they do this by charging an arm and a leg for parking. We were unable to find street parking in Lincoln Park, so we had to use the lot, and Justin was outraged by the hefty rate of $20 if you parked your car for more than 30 minutes. As a result, he demanded that we finish our entire Zoo Lights tour in enough time to make it back to the car and out of the lot in under 30 minutes.

We hustled through the whole thing, seldom pausing to admire the sights longer than the few moments needed to snap a photo. The only time we really stood still was when we tried to get a photo of ourselves using my handy portable tripod. Even though it was cold outside, I would have liked to have taken more time to take in the lights, and perhaps watch the ice carving demonstration that was taking place. All too soon, it was time to leave.

Even though we rushed through the zoo and hurried back to our car, we got caught in a long procession of vehicles that were leaving at the same time, and were still in the exit line when our thirty minutes was up. Not only did we rush our visit unnecessarily, we still ended up having to pay $20 for the privilege. The experience left a bad taste in Justin's mouth, and I'm not sure I'll be able to persuade him to return.

Sadly, it looks like I'm going to have to give up on making Zoo Lights a tradition for us, unless we can magically figure out a good way to get there via public transportation, or unless we befriend someone who lives in the neighborhood and has an extra parking space. Much as I would like to say, "There's always next year," this time, at least, I fear that probably won't be the case...

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