That's when Chicago Water Taxi starts its weekday service from the boat dock at Ping Tom Park to Trump Tower — a smooth, quiet ride with a duck's-eye view of Chicago's architecture.
On a recent workday, trusty camera gal Kyla Gardner and I started the day by hailing a giant yellow boat — more bus than taxi— to chat up river regulars about the best way to beat rush hour in the Loop.
If you buy a 10-ride pass, a one-way river jaunt will cost you $1.75 — that's 50 cents cheaper than a crowded bus ride through the Loop.
Advertising interns, retired grandparents and even a Chicago Tribune reporter in a Sesame Street necktie taking that water taxi to work said — even in the pouring rain — it's the only commute you'll wish took a little longer.
Ol' Kyla will tell you that if you dare to lean slightly over the bow and raise your hands in the air you just might feel like river royalty.
But don't fall in, Chloe the deckhand says.
"They actually have to take you to the hospital to decontaminate you if you fall in."
That's something to consider for kayakers, who a certain water taxi captain lovingly refers to as "speed bumps."