Monday, July 30, 2018

July 27, 2018 The Pierogi Fest & The Polka Parade...The Remedy for America's Ailments

My mother once told me, the problem with Americans is that they forgot how to laugh at themselves. I believe that to be true. So when we got off the shuttle bus at 119th Street in Whiting, I laughed out loud when I read this sign. I've been waiting all year to return to Pierogi Fest...the perfect antidote for America today. A festival celebrating Polish people, culture, music and food while having a little fun  with Polish stereotypes. It's a Polish festival that laughs at itself...just what we all need to do more often.

Of course the real world can get in the way of all that laughter. Since 119th Street is closed and full of people enjoying the festival, local and county law enforcement have to barricade the street...just in case. But now back to the fun stuff...

...the Polka Parade

Yes, this really is the mayor of Whiting. Joe Stahura has been Mayor since 2003.

Whiting is about to open a Mascot Hall of Fame. I guess this is the city's mascot.

Pierogi cheerleaders each one representing a different filling which is depicted on their hats.

The pictures don't really need any words. But you have to be careful because the Babushka Brigade will leave a big red lipstick kiss on your cheek if it looks like you aren't having fun.

I love the babushkas on the dogs.

Music and dancing on this float. 

The Gary Railcats baseball team gets in on the fun... does my favorite hockey team from Chicago, a city that has a few Polish people.

Mr. Pierogi turns 21 this year and Bulldog Brewery in Whiting created a beer for the occasion...the Mr. P Polish Lager.

The Highland Model A Club supporting the Polka Parade.

The Dancin' Busias are always entertaining.

Most of the parade participants were throwing candy to the kids, but the Local 41 Laborers Union was tossing the best candy.

This is a "Shake Your Pierogies" for breast cancer float. I love the sign on the left. It reads "For guys, every month is breast awareness month".

The local Catholic High School has a nice float.

I have no idea what to say about this...

...but this made me laugh.

The Babushka motorcycle gang.

The Yellow Sub-Morons float.

This was a highlight for both Chrissy and me. The Whiting lifeguards marching in the parade.

What made this so special for us? Three of these young men ran over to an older lady in the crowd next to us. They each said "Hi Grandma" and gave her a kiss. She turned to us so excited with a huge smile and proudly said "Those are my grandsons". We both just laughed and said we already figured that out.

The Peddlin' Pollacks

Another very funny moment when Jesus says if someone throws him a beer, he will perform a miracle. Of course someone from the crowd tossed him a can of beer. Jesus guzzled the beer...

...then he really did perform a miracle. One of his disciples poured water on the street and Jesus walked on water right in front of us.

Another crowd favorite...

...the comical Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team.

We followed the parade into the festival.

We had a polish sausage with sauerkraut and some pirogis from this stand because they had the best slogan...I Got a Mouthful of Big Frank's Sausage.  

We shared a picnic table with a young couple and their little boy. We had an interesting conversation about changes that occur in one's lifetime. I said when I was your son's age there was no way I could ever imagine an Apple I-phone and everything I can now do with this handheld device. It seems so incredible to me. So maybe in your son's lifetime, he will tell his wife...I have a job on the moon, I'll be back in two days.

I love this festival. It's incredibly crowded but the people are all having fun, there is a lot of food vendors and live please join us next year at Pierogi Fest. We did some Christmas shopping here so maybe if you've been good, Santa will give you a Pierogi Fest gift this year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July 22, 2018 It's Always a Beautiful Day to Be Outside

By the time we left our house this morning, it has been raining in Chicagoland for most of the last 36 hours. Not storms, just on and off steady rain. I'm sure the farmers love it. I had to get out of the house and Chrissy had a rare Sunday off, so we took the dogs to Mount Baldy.

There were some distinct and unusual birds calling on the hike through the woods. Nola had to react to all of them.

It looks like the NPS has given up on trying to maintain a trail down to the beach on this collapsing dune.

Here's a shot without Nola's head in it.

I could hear the surf way back on the trail. We may not have sunshine. But we have real waves today.

The old timers having trouble staying on the trail.

This sign fell onto the beach from the eroded base of Mount Baldy. 

There are huge sections of the cliff at the base of Mount Baldy that have fallen off in the two weeks since I was last here. The sand is extremely soft which made for great footprint pictures.

Oslo's tracks on the left.

With the waves and rough surf, I'm guessing the only reason there is any beach along this section is because so much dune collapsed into the water.

These waves were perfect for body surfing...almost perfect. They were breaking right on the incline up to the beach in most places. The one area they were breaking 20 feet from the shoreline is where I went in to try to ride them. The floor was way too soft. I sank into the loose sand in a few places and had trouble walking out due to the soft sand. It killed me to be so close but I couldn't get out far enough to ride any waves.

Oslo decided to rest.

I love this dog...

...this dog is a bit harder to love, but she's alright.

A girl and her goofy dog...

...a dog and his goofy girl.

This is a common occurrence...

...this is not. When Nola laid down, we both were so surprised. 

Hanging out on the beach.

I brushed Oslo and the breeze took his fur across the beach. 

We walked out to Pirate's Cove, but could not get to the break wall. I have not seen the water all the way into the rocks on any visit here. I attempted to walk out there but it was like quick sand. I sank in up to my knees. 

So I stood here and tried to get a wave crashing through the break wall...finally success.

The waves were rolling all the way to the dunes in this area. Made for cool reflection pictures.

Even with the heavy grass cover, this low dune is beginning to erode into the lake.

Of course CSI Nola has to inspect everything.

I love this picture. 

I was just playing with the different colors and textures when I realized there were paw prints in the sand.

I can not get over how quickly the landscape is changing here. I wish I could setup a time lapse camera to watch the dunes. It would really cool to see the results.

Walking back to the trail head.

The few plants left appearing to be doing quite well. Finally some color near the bottom of the dunes.

Another post that fell of the cliff of Mt. Baldy...when I saw mind went to this...

...I never said I was normal.

The dark clouds seemed endless this weekend.

This cliff was probably 5-10 feet closer to the lake two weeks ago.

There is so much driftwood on the beach, it's hard to tell if it fell from the dunes or washed ashore from somewhere else.

Oslo hates turning around on a hike because he knows we are heading back to the car. This was the third time he "rested" on our way back.

Nola always being our guard dog.

Oslo gave me that 'sideways fuck you look' when I said "C'mon boy let's go"

Back where we started, this time climbing up the dune.

I couldn't believe it when the sun broke through the clouds and onto the trail through the woods. We stopped and chatted with a friendly park ranger and a few other people in the parking lot. It is so nice to spend time with people who love the natural beauty of our world.

I took this picture of the backside of Mount Baldy because I was stunned by the clear blue sky over the lake. It was a 15 minute walk from the completely cloud covered beach to here. 

We stopped at this locally owned place for lunch in Michigan City. They have car hops (not on roller skates) that take your order and their home brewed Root Beer is served in a glass mug. Definitely worth  stopping at if you are in Michigan City...Carlson's Drive In.