Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chicago Journey - Day 2

When I left you yesterday, we had just ordered our lunch from the Taco Truck, right?

We secured a bench in the park and dined on our tacos, salsa & chips all while people watching. The park filled up quickly as it was the business lunch hour as well & everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful summer day to sit outside & eat. Lots of brown baggers and lots of bought lunches, but the park was filled with the sound of chatter & laughter all around.

I finished my lunch 1st, so I grabbed Lucy & headed up around the steps for a few shots of a bike rack that had caught my eye. I think because Dream Boy is so big into biking & I do some of my own, this rack just screamed at me.
So many bikes and so much character in each one! New, old & in between. I especially like the old milk crate strapped on the back of one to help carry all that important cargo to & from. 

I fully understand commuting in the big city by bike. After spending time in Seattle with S&D2, either public transportation or bikes is the way to go in the tangled masses of cars.

Oh & Dream Boy loves this pick - somehow I knew he would.  

Deanna & Sarah soon finished up & we cleaned up our bench & headed off in the direction of The Bean.

But we passed through another park on our way there where there were oodles of children playing in the Splash Park. It was the perfect way to spend their afternoon.
We again dawdled, just people watching and admiring the art surrounding us, whether it be the architecture of a building, sculptures....
or a girl refreshing her makeup before returning to work.
We finally tore ourselves away & headed around the corner to find The Bean!

As you can tell, it was packed around here, which is usually the case.

We headed in closer for the obligatory selfie, which we took with the 3 of us at once.
You can't see it here, but poor Sarah was getting crowded out by the woman to the right of her in this shot. She kept backing up & literally was pushing Sarah over as she kept moving closer to The Bean & her husband kept telling her to move. She was totally oblivious to her touching and pushing on Sarah.

We didn't last long around The Bean as the heat radiating off from it was crazy hot!

We left this world marvel and headed in the direction of the Chicago River to catch our Architectural Boat Tour.  We didn't have far to walk and just before we reached our destination we were overshadowed by this building.
The TRUMP building. The letters on the side of this are 2 stories tall! They told us on the tour that Donald Trump had every intention when he started designing this to make it the tallest building in Chicago, which meant it would tower over the Sears (I still call it the that) Tower and then would be the tallest building in the U.S. 

But the day Mr. Trump flew in to meet with his architecture's, was September 11, 2001. In light of what happened that day, he chose to make the building a bit shorter than the Sears Tower. In all honesty though, as we're on the boat making our way down the river & I'm listening to this, I can't understand what the difference would have made? After all, if you ever have the opportunity to take this tour, you will immediately know what I'm talking about. 

If Chicago were to be attacked, as New York was, the logical route would be to fly out over Lake Michigan & head straight into the city via the Chicago River. The Trump Building is the 1st building of stature that you see on the left side. 

Anyways, we headed off down the river and learned a whole lot about the buildings on either side of it. I was amazed at the history I learned that day.

I honestly couldn't tell you which building this is, but I was struck at the way the sun was peaking around the corner of this building.

It was literally one of the few pictures I took while on this tour.

I did enjoy hearing about Montgomery Ward and the park built in his honor. The buildings that his company had were massive along the river & fortunately are not standing empty, much like the original United States Post Office now is. We learned that Groupon is now in the Montgomery Ward building. 

Our tour ended after about 1 1/2 hours - and I highly recommend this particular one if you ever have the chance to take a tour on this river.

After we docked we headed back up to the street level and decided our day was complete and it was time to head back to the train station. Being that it was a 2 mile walk back & Deanna was becoming tired of walking, I pulled up my Uber app and called in an Uber. 

I felt so smart! We have used Uber in Seattle when we visit our kids, but this is the 1st time that I had used my app and took advantage of this form of transportation! 

Soon we were back at the train station and boarding for our ride back to Naperville!

One more day of fun awaited us on Wednesday - more on that next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Photography Journey Into the Big City Continues

A few weeks ago, I went to the Chicago area to explore with my camera & a few other blogging/photography buddies.

I arrived at the home of my friend on Sunday & on Monday 4 of us met up together & explored the delightful little town of Geneva. If you haven't read that post, you can catch up on it here.

On Tuesday, 3 of us, caught the train at the Naperville station & set out to spend a day in the BIG city of Chicago!
Side note: I caught some slack about having a selfie stick, but (ahem), it did come in handy!

The train ride last maybe an hour, but with our chitchatting, it didn't seem to be near that long.

Upon arriving & emerging from the underground world of Chicago, we were greeted by a beautiful, sunny, clear day! 

After getting our bearings, we set off on foot to explore the streets as we headed towards Millennium Park.

As I am participating in a 365 Journey & have been using prompts this month from Susannah Conway's #AugustBreak2015 on Instagram. The prompt for this particular day was edge & while I didn't end up using this shot, it is a great capture of my friend Deanna. It truly shows her loving personality!
With no real agenda in our mind, we were free to stop & admire & shoot whatever fell into our path. 

A beautiful building caught Sarah's eye as we were looking down a side street at the Chicago Board of Trades Building. 

The building was "The Rookery" and as we were standing outside the entrance, a gentlemen told us that we really needed to go inside and see the architecture of this building.

He also informed us that this is where they plan on shooting the movie with Leonardo Dicaprio in it, "The Devil In The White City".
Okay - can you believe the woman standing on the stairs behind Sarah does this all day long? She is "the keeper of the stairs", meaning, she does not allow anyone with out authorization beyond this point.

Not being drawn to architecture and the such, I admired the beautiful ceilings & lighting, but didn't capture many photos, as I was more enamored by watching the people moving about. 

As we exited the building, we were all instantly drawn to the 2 food trucks across the street. They appeared to be together due to the paint color & style of their trucks, but at the same time, they were 2 totally different trucks!
Oh the charm of these 2 trucks, but this donut truck is what everyone seemed to be drawn too.

Not to mention - it sold DONUTS! Who can resist donuts?
Me. I resisted the urge to purchase a donut. It was hard, believe me, but I did resist!
Our journey continued on in the shadows of the buildings along the way and we found ourselves in the middle of a Farmer's Market.  

I followed this woman around because I was drawn to her hat & her dress, her whole style intrigued me. But I could only see her from behind. At last, she walked around this vendors booth and stopped, turning to face me. 

As she engaged the vendor in a Q&A session, I was able to capture her look of confusion as she seemed to ask for directions from the colorfully dressed man.
What do you supposed they were talking about? She approached this vendor very slowly, as though she was afraid to ask any questions, but when she finally did, he became very attentive to her.

I think Deanna thought Sarah & I got lost, but the 2 of us finally emerged from the depths of the market & we continued on our journey until we  emerged onto Michigan Ave and were greeted by the Lion in front of Art Institute of Chicago.

I failed to capture the Lion, because I was enamored with this guitar player~~
 Can you read his sign?

"At least its not January."

A street performer with a sense of humor, I love it!

So we continued to push on down the street, moving along with all the others like a school of fish. I believe everyone had the same destination in mind as we did.

The Bean.

But just prior to reaching the infamous Millennium Park, we side stepped into a smaller park. At 1st we thought it was a short cut and a way to avoid the crowd, but we fell into another world all its own.

There were these gentlemen, possibly waiting for their wives who were somewhere shopping or just sitting together to shoot the breeze for the morning as they do on a regular basis?
But the generation gap is so apparent in this set of 4. The 2 younger people appear to be "bookends", absorbed in their technology and unable/unwilling to communicate with those of an older generation.

While the gentleman on the left actually appears to be posing for me as I take their photo. 

On the other side of the park was a group of children led by 3 women. They had chosen the steps to eat their lunch. A little in the sun, a little in the shade. As they wrapped up their lunches, their teacher began giving directions for them.

As is usual, their is always one who is lost in their own little world, not paying attention to what they should be, but to what their imagination wants them too.
I identify greatly with the little girl on the left - I tend to drift off into my own world as well quite frequently.

We decided before heading any further, we would take full advantage of the food trucks parked just on the other side of the park.
The Taco Truck!

This vendor was so sweet and so attentive to his patrons. His food was amazingly delicious and it filled each of our bellies to their fullest!

After finishing our lunches, we headed in the direction of The Bean.

But, you'll have to come back tomorrow for the rest of our Chicago adventure, because now that I've looked at all these food trucks and talked about them, my tummy is getting quite rumbly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning Coffee

Well good morning all!

Here I am - back to share some special time with you over a cup of coffee, or tea, or juice or whatever helps you jump start your morning.

I realize it's late, but hey, I'm milking my summer vacation time as much as possible as the time is going to be gone all to soon before I need to head back into the classroom.

Although, the temps are very cool this morning & I'm wondering how many more summer days we have left? It's 59F out - burr. That's pretty chilly for an August morning!

We had a splendid weekend, with a lot packed in. Friday night we just hung out at the 'ol homestead, making some hot dogs & home fries on the grill & kicking back on the patio to enjoy our little feast.

We didn't do much else, just enjoyed our night of leisure actually. 

Saturday Dream Boy took off in the morning for his coffee ride and I worked on a editing some of a recent senior session. My calendar is booked into September  and I love it! 

I had a baby shower to attend on Saturday afternoon for D1's sister. She is having a boy and is due on Dream Boy's birthday in November! What fun to see all the little baby boy stuff again. I had to leave early though, as I had another senior session scheduled.

This one was in a new location for me, so I picked up Dream Boy, who was tagging along, and we headed to the other side of the county! The girl I was shooting runs cross country for her high school and she knew exactly where we wanted her pictures taken at - at the land preserve where she trains! 

We walked through the woods & walked some more, but she brought us to a wide open, huge expanse of a field, complete with waving grass, 2 loan trees smack dab in the middle and clusters of wild flowers all around!


She climbed a tree in her dress and high top Converse sneakers, she changed in the make shift dressing room of a blanket that her mom & sister held up, she wore a beautiful dress of ivory lace and then she changed again into her cross country jersey & shorts. 

We really had a lot of fun & once she started to loosen up, she had some clever ideas for poses. We spent about 2 hours in this glorious location before she felt we had captured all that she wanted. 

Dream Boy acted as my "grip", not quite my "key grip", as he hadn't scouted out the location prior to the shoot. But he carried my extra equipment, held my reflector when needed and kept the mom & sister of my subject occupied while I did my work.

After completing our session, we headed over to visit my MIL. We had wanted to take her to dinner, but she declined, as it is very hard for her to sit for long periods of time. So we had a nice visit out on the patio where her 2 pups could romp in the yard & she could get up & move around as needed.

Leaving her house, we headed into town & ended up at the Old Dog Tavern for dinner - where we feasted on a yummy spinach salad, a small pizza & beverages. Beer for him, wine for me.

We headed home after that and snuggled in for a few hours of a Law & Order marathon. It seems no matter how often we watch these reruns, we never see the same one twice!

Sunday morning we headed off to church and enjoyed a morning of fellowship & worship with our friends. Love our little church - it's small in comparison to so many, but it's BIG on the love, laughter & friendship that fills it.

We got home from church in time for Dream Boy to take another ride and I worked on some more editing - I had 3 senior shoots in the last week. He got home just as it started to rain! He took a shower, grabbed some lunch & then we headed back into town for the last of the free summer concerts.

It ended up being held inside the Methodist Church by the park as it was a downpour at the time of the concert. The church was standing room only & the concert was amazing! 

We listened to the Navy Cruiser Band from Washington D.C. Yes, this is a band of 6 musicians & 2 singers from the U.S. Navy & they were phenomenal! I don't even know how long the concert went for, but I enjoyed every minute of it. They played Chicago, sang Cindy Lauper, performed James Brown and many more, but ended the show with of course, patriotic songs from al branches of our armed services.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear them - go. You will not regret it!

After the concert was over, we went out for pizza (yes, again), but I love pizza & we were also in the company of friends from church which makes it even more fun! The sun had come out, but the temps had started to drop, hence the reason it is so chilly this morning.

So there was my weekend. Another one for the books, but another one filled with some amazing memories.

Well - I must be off. I have 3 senior sessions to edit this week and a video to get done for school before Wednesday, as freshman orientation is that night!

Thank you for spending some time with me this morning. Be sure to check back as I'll continue my Chicago trip & update you as well, on my 365 journey!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Photography Journey to Chicago

Last week I had the pleasure to start my summer break in Chicago, staying with a fellow blogger/photography buddy. We were joined by another of our peers for the week as well.

I set out on Sunday afternoon and spent the next 4 days in the company of 2 delightful ladies. On Monday we were joined by a 3rd blogging/photography friend for the day as we explored the little town of Geneva.
Why yes, I have a selfie stick and I use it. And on this particular day, even though you can't see the beautiful geraniums in front of us & I made everyone squeeze behind them & stand in the bushes for this shot, it was the one & only shot of the 4 of us together that was taken all day!

We roamed the streets of this quaint little town with a very knowledgeable tour guide from Texas!  She is actually the beautiful soul on the far left in this shot. She joined us for the day as she was in Chicago visiting with her mom for 2 weeks. She grew up in this area & knew a lot about the town.
The spice shop - a place that fills your senses with amazing aromas! We wandered around inside taking pictures and then headed out, but were all instantly drawn to the reflections in the windows.

From the outside, as shown above, to shooting from the inside one of my friends as she shot the reflection from the outside. 
While inside taking this shot, one of the shop clerks asked me why we were all taking pictures of their "stuff"? She asked if we were in a class & I explained that we were all fellow bloggers and photographers who had met online & were meeting up from around the country for a day together of exploring.

She was amazed that we had met up online and were actually carrying our friendship beyond the confines of a computer & meeting in real life. The reality of how small our world is became very evident to her at that moment!
This my friends, is a tree made out of chocolate. 

The All Chocolate Kitchen is found in the heart of Geneva.

It is amazing & smells heavenly & your love of chocolate can be fulfilled in many different & enticing ways here. We all enjoyed a bit of gelato while comparing cameras & techniques.

The tree?  Yes, it is made of chocolate and the fairies found around it are all made out of spun sugar.

We ended out day with this special treat, which I feel, was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Next up - a day in downtown Chicago...........