Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018 Our Earth Day Trip to Chicago


We decided to take the dogs to the city with us this morning. Chrissy wanted to go to the Peterson Garden Project's Organic Edible Plant Sale in Uptown. So we stopped at Lincoln Park to walk the dogs. 

The view of the city from the Lincoln Park Lagoon.

A girl and her dog walking by the barn area at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Of course I started singing "Moo moo I love you, I know you're a cow but anything will do"...fans of the Jonathan Brandmeier  show on the old Loop radio station will know what I am singing. Chrissy just walked faster to get away from me.

We saw this group in the parking lot and we ran into them in the south end of Lincoln Park. It was a huge group of Bernese Mountain Dogs and their owners. There was at least fifty of these huge dogs having a blast playing in the park.

We hung out here because it was so cool to see so many of these dogs run up to Oslo and Nola. A rare instance when Oslo wasn't easily the biggest dog in the park.

The history geek in me seems to always find things like this marker. It is the shore line of Lake Michigan from 8,000 years ago. It is about a half mile from the current shoreline.

Looking north from the south end of the lagoon.

Finally some spring colors.

Chrissy & Oslo on the nature boardwalk.

We had warmer temps and blue skies this morning.

This is a statue of Ulysses Grant in Lincoln Park and there is a statue of  Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park...this city can't seem to do anything right.
Looking south from the north side of the lagoon.


These two were sniffing everything. This is a trail that has tons of dogs on it so there was a lot to smell. A young couple had two professional photographers taking pictures of their 2 year old daughter all dressed up with them in the park. Oslo became a prop for them to get pictures of the little girl. Then he laid down and the little girl was petting him and they took a bunch of pictures. The couple thanked us for letting them get pictures with Oslo but he was happy to rest while the girl petted him.

We drove up LSD to Lawrence Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood. The Organic Edible Plant Sale was across the street from the Aragon Ballroom. So on the way from the parking lot I took a few photos of this mural. There was a volunteer at the plant sale who talked with us about Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh. Now that might seem strange but I love both of them. So I got a kick out of this wonderful conversation about how they appear to be children's stories, but they actually teach adult lessons. I learned a lot about Winnie The Pooh in our 15 minute conversation. 




This mural was in the CTA underpass on Lawrence.
After spending the morning in the city, we spent the beautiful afternoon back home doing yard work.

Oslo must have gotten exhausted watching me do yard work for the past two days...this is how I found him all afternoon long. A dog's life indeed. I am exhausted and heading to bed...but I am still smiling about seeing all those dogs and talking about Winnie the Pooh with someone my age. I love going into the city.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19, 2018 A Beautiful January Day...In The Middle of April

It snowed again last night. That is the 8th time we've had snow this month. The sun melted most of it by 7am. But it was only 37 degrees when we got to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore early this morning. I decided to hike the Calumet Dune Trail because it's been years since I've hiked this short trail at the old visitor's center.

The NPS is promoting hiking in the park for better health with this Park Prescriptions Program. I find hiking great for my mental health and of course, any physical activity is good for physical health. 

I have two dogs wagging their tails as we set out on the trail.

Oslo giving me that sideways look..."hurry up and pick that shit up, I've got more for you but I'm saving it for further down the trail."

Nola is just happy to be outside hiking in the woods.

It is a beautiful sunny morning and I decided to relax on a bench with the sunshine pouring down on me...soaking in that warm sunshine that means our 6 months of winter must be coming to an end. That didn't last long because I kept getting this "come on let's go" look.

So down the trail and through the forest we went...

...and across the boardwalk over the wetlands. There were birds chirping and singing throughout our hike. Then we heard the frogs in the wetland areas. It feels so good hiking out here even though you also hear the steel trucks on Rt 12 and the nearby freight and commuter trains.


Since I am growing tired of bare trees and brown leaves on every hike, I search for interesting things to photograph. This tree trunk was the best I could do.

The old visitor center has been re-purposed.

I decided to do two short hikes instead of one long hike. So our next stop was about a mile down Kemil/East Park Boundary Road. We parked at the Kemil Beach lot and hiked the Dune Ridge Trail.

Just over that far dune is Lake Michigan...

But we are heading south toward the wetlands. But first we had to climb up the dunes...

...then down to the wetlands...

...where these two decided to have a cold drink.

Then we climbed up a series of dunes...

...until we were about 75' above the wetlands.
There were birds singing all along this trail too. Spring must be coming very soon. I saw several colorful red headed woodpeckers on this hike. 

Nola had to check out all these hollowed out logs. Luckily nothing was in any of them.
I gave the dogs water when we got back to the car and Oslo seemed to be doing pretty good even though the Dune Ridge trail had several good dunes to climb. So I decided to walk the short distance from the parking lot to the beach even though I had to put my coat on because the hike to the beach was straight into a strong cold wind blowing off the lake. Why? Because from a quarter mile away, I could hear the waves crashing on the beach.

Oslo and Nola walked right into the lake and got a drink. I was standing in the water when a unseen wave from the side soaked me from my shins down. 

Oslo decided to rest right on the water line. So I sat down with him...both of us with wet feet. I love this dog because he is just like me. Let's play in the waves and relax on the shore and enjoy the view and the sounds of the surf.

This dog also likes the water. But has no idea how to relax.

My hiking and beach buddies.

The waves were crashing right on the shoreline. 

Nola finally sat down but kept her guard up by watching behind me for some sort of imagined danger. Oslo just ignores her and like Otis Redding, he is "wasting time...watching the tide roll away."
All of us had to jump up when a really big wave charged up the beach at us. I was on my knees when the water rushed past us. It was now time to go.

When we got home, there was still snow on my work van windshield because it faces north. So I made Oslo two snowballs...

...and told him these better be the last two snowballs you get until next winter. He didn't even look at me...but he ate both of them in one bite.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

March 17, 2018 Our St. Patrick's Day in NYC

This is our friend Patty. Patty is not a good sister. Her sister Denise asked Patty to take pictures of the brownstone stoops in Brooklyn. Patty hasn't taken any stoop pictures. 

So I had Patty sit on the stoop of the place we are staying at...The Inn on Second. 

Now Patty has some stoop pictures to show to her sister. Now on to our day in NYC.
It is St. Patrick's Day and this Brooklyn Irish boy is representing his south side of Chicago baseball team at the St. Paddy's Day Parade up 5th Ave in Manhattan today.

We are heading downtown and walking up Broadway to the Farmer's Market in Union Square Park.

Along the way, we saw a three rhino statue down 8th Street on Lafayette Ave. Since we were running late, I told Patty & Christy that I would run down there and take a few pictures and meet them in Union Square Park. I said just take that slight left up ahead to stay on Broadway and the park is at 14th St. Christy and I have walked this area at least 50 times over the past 34 years.

There really isn't any good news for rhinos nowadays. Due to complete stupidity and false beliefs, they have been slaughtered to near extinction for their horns. Horns that have absolutely no medicinal or magical powers despite what ignorant people want to believe.  
This message and the massive statue are here to provide information about the rhinoceros' plight.


A very impressive statue with a serious message.

I'm surprised to see the old water towers still on the roof and looking like they might still be in use.

I stopped at Grace Church to take a few pictures when I received a phone call from Christy. They were at 2nd Ave and 10th St. I am at Broadway and 10th St. So for the second day in a row, I left these two on their own and they managed to get lost again.... 

....so I had plenty of time to take pictures of this impressive church.





Finally back together and heading up Broadway to...

...Union Square Park where there is a long history of protests and sharing information about all kinds of issues. Today it is about war torn Yemen and the Saudi blockade preventing food and medical supplies to a country that has also suffered through an extended drought. You can learn so much while walking the streets of NYC.

The ridiculousness of posting pictures of a farmer's market overflowing with food after the previous photo is not lost on me. So like me, just be happy you live in America. But also realize that even in our country, there are people who go hungry every day. If you are one of the lucky ones, please support a food bank in your area. I've supported the Greater Chicago Food Depository since the mid 1980's. 

This sign was at the Legs Diamond Whiskey booth. Chrissy and Patty had a shot and bought a small bottle..."for the parade...wink...wink".

I needed to eat something before drinking.

So much good stuff to choose from at this market. I had a hot cider and apple donuts.


Of course I bought a jar of fresh horseradish mustard too. 

I love markets like this one. The Green City Market in Chicago is pretty good but this one has so much more.

Another photo of old water towers on buildings. I also love these old tenement buildings but they are disappearing quickly in Manhattan.

Back underground on our way to Rockefeller Center and the St. Patrick Day Parade.

We had to switch trains at 34th Street and I found these old signs in the tunnels switching from the R to the F at 34th St.


Here's Chrissy practicing her "I'm not a tourist. I'm a bored New Yorker waiting for a train look".


We somehow squirmed our way from 6th Avenue to 5th Avenue just south of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

No one seems to know for sure, but I think my Irish family might have come from County Roscommon.




Not surprisingly, there were lots of Pipes and Drums marching in the parade.



The Emerald Society Pipes & Drums of the NYC Fire Department.



Shockingly, the FDNY seems to have many Irishmen on the job.


I'm not exaggerating when I say the firemen marched by for well over 40 minutes. Now I did see some firemen from other cities around the country but most were FDNY.

I needed to move so I walked a bit closer to St. Patrick's Cathedral...

...and the band played on!


After we left the parade, we headed down to the Lower East Side where my Irish side and Italian side lived in the first half of the 1900's.
Our first stop was the Pickle Guys. This is their entire store. A bunch of barrels filled with salt brine while they cured a wide variety of things. I'm here for a 3/4 and a full sour pickle. There's nothing like a fresh pickle...damn these are good. Hard to eat a jar pickle after having the real thing.

One of the last gentrification holdouts is the LES. But it is losing the battle as developers put up sky-scraping condos.  

I love walking the neighborhood streets down here because it is like walking back in time and through history...

...I took pictures as we searched for a place to eat. We settled on Farmhouse at Broome and Ludlow. And yes I am a hypocrite because I am usually against gentrification in areas I love as they are but I also love the new restaurants.

We had dessert here where they pour cream on a very cold metal table and mix in whatever fruit, candy or cookies you want and roll it into ice cream tubes and put it in a cup with any topping you want. An interesting and tasty dessert.

We decided to walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge. Actually I was looking for a subway to take down there but I had so much fun walking through Chinatown and Little Italy that we ended up walking the whole way to the bridge.

This city can show you so many different cultural things just by walking the streets.

Grand old buildings are common down here.

I could walk these downtown streets with a camera everyday and never capture the same photograph. Everything changes every day.



Little Italy is getting littler every time I visit here. But a few classic places still exist... 

...like this old cheese shop from 1892.

We just kept walking and I just kept taking pictures of my favorite city in America. In case you are wondering, New Orleans is my second favorite for the same reason. I love walking through the neighborhoods taking pictures.


 Eventually we make it to all the downtown government buildings like the New York County Supreme Court Building...

...the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circiut...


...and this old church hidden behind one of them. It is St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church.


The outside courtyard of the City Hall building.

I liked this shot in B&W.

I finally caught up to Patty & Christy who apparently are not as thrilled with old buildings as I am.

So we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Of course I fall behind because I am still taking pictures of downtown Manhattan now behind me.

The old South Street Seaport and Fish Market neighborhood which contains some of the oldest buildings left in Manhattan and developers just can't wait to tear them all down and build shitty looking 80 story high condos.

Nice shot of downtown NYC from the Brooklyn Bridge.


Patty on the bridge.


This photo goes with the next one. That building on the left just past the Manhattan Bridge is still under construction. It is a soulless glass and steel disaster of a building... 

...and someone who cares enough about this city to write this message is a friend of mine.

I liked the contrast of the old street light with the new buildings.


Over the years there has been thousands of padlocks with a message of true love or hello from another city/country/planet written on it and locked onto the railings of the bridge. The city is trying to put a stop to this and some criminal has defaced the city's sign with his own message...another friend of mine with a great sense of humor.

Gentrification on both sides of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We spent the rest of the night eating and drinking our way through the Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Garden. First stop Giardini's Pizzeria.

Next up, Black Mountain Wine House


Then seafood at the Kittery




This place also had an old fashion pull chain high tank toilet. Just like the one from the Godfather when Michael shoots the corrupt police captain in the restaurant. They planted the gun on the tank and Sonny says it better be there because "I don't want my brother to come out of that toilet with just his dick in his hand."

Last stop was Black Forest Brooklyn for a late night pretzel...

...and a German beer to finish off our St. Patrick's Day celebration in a perfect New York City way...by enjoying several of the many different cultures that have settled here in the melting pot of America.