During our summer road trip, we saw more interesting sights that I could squeeze into my real-time posts. Now that I'm back home and have fished all 548 photos off my devices, I have a few more road trip stories to share.
To catch up on the rest of the trip, start here.
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Its proper name is Cloud Gate.
But almost immediately upon its construction after the turn of the millennium, Chicago's new stainless steel sculpture was affectionately nicknamed The Bean, in honor of its undulating kidney bean curves.
I think both names are worthy and accurate descriptors of this amazing sculpture. Not only does the piece reflect the sky in infinite variety, but it also seems oddly familiar and comfortingly organic. Which is no small feat for a gigantic hunk of steel.
I fell in love with it long before I ever saw it in person.
Still, when we stopped by Millennium Park for a quick visit on the eastbound leg of our family road trip, my devotion was doubled. I love everything about this art work - the massive scale, the surprising delicacy of the shape, its contradictory curves in delighted defiance to the square-shouldered skyscrapers that stand at attention in the periphery.
But even more, I marveled at the way my fellow visitors responded to the piece. Like any good outdoor sculpture should, this shiny spectacle drew people in and invited them to explore and experience the artwork up close.
Mostly, everyone stood around and took photos of themselves and their loved ones, reflected and distorted in the mercury-like surface.
And while the outside surfaces provided endless entertainment, the inner archway with its dimpled contours took the photo opportunities up by several notches.
Literally everyone was running around, brandishing cameras and snapping endless shots of this amazing interaction of humans and art.
I was no exception to this phenomenon.
And while I can totally get behind both Cloud Gate and The Bean as sweetly suitable titles for this gem of a sculpture, I would like to propose a new name that most accurately captures its effect on human beings.
The Smile Maker.