Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cats Again

Seems like there might be quite a few cat posts on the horizon ... we just got our shipment from Manila with most of our furniture and decoratives.  And the cats immediately made themselves at home.

Po enjoying this thing from somewhere. 

Emmerson enjoying Po in this thing from somewhere.

Sweet little girl and her kitten.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

To the Beach - Indiana Dunes Style

So here we go - time to explore this neck of the world. The girls have been hankering for a swim so we decided on hitting the dunes in Indiana. I went to these back in the days after college but have not been back since. We did a bit of research and headed out on a Tuesday morning a bit after rush hour - that did not help much - traffic in Chicago sucks. Fortunately we had all day and so were not in a rush. We arrived at the dunes park visitor center and got the details about which beach/dune was the best for what we wanted as there are many in this stretch of State and National Parks. West End beach seemed to be the best option so after lunch at a neat old train depot that always wanted to be a hot dog stand and eventually got its wish, we hist the beach. Ada was freaked out by some of the scary warning signs posted at the beach showing children dropping into pits in the lake and drowning in tiny white cap waves. This was frustrating to say the least as she has surfed in Bali on considerably sized waves and frolicked in waves and beaches around the world - but the signs were very effective. So I had to leave the beach for a while and let Emmerson and Ada talk it out. When I came back, Ada told me she was ready to go out into the water if I carried her out to the area where most people were swimming. Once she was out, as usual with her, she loved it and did not want to leave. Then we headed up into the dunes which are under stress so most were roped off denying access other than marked trails. Good time.

Merica! One thing the US does do well is car stuff and it is hard to beat an interstate rest stop in the midwest where lots of trucks are hauling stuff.  Japan can maybe compete as far as interesting things offered at the rest over but they do not have nearly as many as the US. 

My newest ride - traded in the Toyota Innova in Manila for an Escaper here in the US. Might be a bit hard for the commute but fortunately I will be taking the train to work. 

Ada doing this pose at the Indiana Dunes Information Center - very helpful folk and a lovely garden.

Emmerson in full squint at the visitor center garden.

The nice lady at the visitor center recommended this hotdog stand when I asked her if the beaches had food vendors. It was just down the road from the beach - which did not have food options so this was a great rec as the girls engines were running near empty at this time.  Really neat place - used to be a train depot. 

Here we are - at the Indiana dunes beach - this one was one of many - West Beach. This was before Ada went into her "refusal to swim mode".

And yes, both sides of this stretch of stat and nationally protected beach and dunes were bookended by multiple massive industrial parks, most, steel factories - which kind of gave it a unique feel - not sure if it was a good feel - but unique - kind of like surfing in the water around the nuclear power plant in Japan as it was warm in the winter ... 

And the other direction, back towards Illinois and the industrial parks of Chicago.

And way off in the distance is Chicago, looking quite like an island rising up out of the lake. 

Finally, Ada obliged to go into the scary waters with s bit of help from daddy and in this case Emmerson. After a while she realized it was not scary at all and was full on into it. 

Dune girls!

It used to be possible to just wander up into the dunes but that destroyed the foliage that protects the dunes so they were blowing away! So now they have trails and such - which were quite nice - venturing up into the dunes.

Built walkway into the dunes.

Dune girls!

I like this one - the lake water was cold and the air was chilly at this time as it was sprinkling but the girls, once again, posed dutifully for daddy.

Ada sarcastically obliging to picture 249 and Emmerson basically saying enough ... 

Look closely at the top of my rocking mini van - seagull hanging out. 

Moving Stuff

Lots of stuff moves thru Chicago - basically, all the major freight carrying train lines going from coast to coast go thru Chicago due to who owns the tracks and trains. Add to this all the commuter trains and you have got one busy train line. I have always liked living near the downtown area in whatever town/burb I have lived in but you do have to deal with LOTS of trains - and if a CN'er (Canadian National - google it and its relationship to Chicago and international rail traffic) rolls thru - you've got at least a 10 minute wait.

Waiting - and figured might as well document this very much part of our lives in these parts. Girls not in tow - thus the selfie. 

Located at the corner of one of the major crossings near my rental is this cool quarry. Full on in operation, HUGE pit from which huge amounts of rock are hauled. Type of place I would very much like to investigate - perhaps will ask for a tour one of these days. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Alfred Hitchcocked

Safety, sanctuary, suburbia - until you are taloned in the back of the head by an overzealous bird. Having a pleasant jog on the Prairie Path heading west from Elmhurst this morning when all of a sudden I felt a presence behind me and then was attacked in the back of my head by a really protective and dedicated bird. I made one of those really strange sounds you make when completely surprised and terrified and did some weird hop and skip while flailing my arms about in response to the menacing creature. It hovered over me for a while more, cawing, while I cowered and scampered beyond her territory to safety. Certainly did not have that on my list of things that might happen today.

Re-enacment selfies.

Girls at Camp

Took the girls off to Girl Scout camp in the wilds of midwesternnorthern Illinois - near Ottawa for those in the know.

Each had a friend in attendance and were super excited. This is their 3d time, I think - but good byes don't get that much easier.

Bitter sweet, indeed. Outside of Emmerson's cabin. She is doing some crazy midnight adventure week while Ada is doing the treasure hunter option. 

Girls Down on the Farm

Another trip back to Freeport to get the rest of our stuff. We stored our minivan at great grandma's and Bill's farm and a few other items as well. While there, we checked out some of their farming equipment. They rent out various parcels of the land they own to farmers, one of which is visible in the background - soy beans this year. 

Bill's 1950's Ford tractor - runs like a charm!

And one of these.

Super cool red barn. Great Grandma told us that two Australian girls stopped by the other day to take some pictures of the barn. She came out and they had a chat - a long, long chat if I know Great Grandma - great to hear people from around are getting out and about in this neck of the woods. Several of my acquaintances overseas have mentioned their interest in the midwest and have holidayed in the area - most home basing their travels in Chicago and then venturing out beyond to the shoreline communities of the Great Lakes and out into the farm communities. 

Daddy down on the farm.

They are growing soy beans this year. Every year they switch from corn to soy beans to try and allow certain nutrients in the soil to recover from the growing season. Emmerson sure can't handle the sun ... 

Oh ya! Bucket of kimchi. On the way home from the above trip, took an extended visit to the Asian market and bought a heap o'stuff. Kimchi omelet one of the first dishes going down. 

Chicago with the Hoovers

The Hoovers came to visit whilst we were getting settled and Brandon did allow me to make use of his massive guns to haul some big stuff into the house.

We hung out for a few days here in Elmhurst and the Hoover and Duell girls had a wonderful time back together. We then made our way downtown for a day in Chicago and the weather, which has been nasty, obliged and it was a lovely day for some site seeing.

We took the train down, headed off to one of the girls favorite hotdog haunts for lunch and then to Michigan Ave via the water taxi for a stroll down the Magnificent Mile. All the ladies wanted to do a bit of window shopping and then do the American Girl Doll store so Brandon and I leisurely made our way down the corridor so Brandon could do some photography and avoid window shopping.

At the Elmhurst train station. Brandon and the ladies.

Notice the two tech geeks clutching their mobile devices - kind of like a 2 year old with a blanky. 

Selfie with a bunch of pros at selfies.

Downtown Chicago just outside of Olgolvie (I have no idea how to spell this word) station, across the Chicago River from the opera building.

From the water taxi - great way to get from the train statin to various parts of downtown. 

Girls on the prow - I think Emmerson might have been trying to pull off the Titanic scene.

The river was super busy this day as I think it was the first Saturday of the summer that had decent weather. I have never seen it this busy.

The crew ... 

Brandon doing what he does, finding something cool out of whatever ... 

My attempt at being a photag - the Tribune building on Michigan Ave.

With the wide scope narrow gage 3mm landscape lens - one of three.

View down the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Ave.

And another of the same with one of the free trolleys that take you around Chicago - or maybe not - actually not sure if that is what this is at all - I think, firing up my memory cells, this was a wedding party trolley.

And here we go - cool stuff that lots of people don't think is cool. Brandon and I were on the same wavelength with this place. Just across from the Water Tower and the Water Tower Mall complex is the pumping station which pumps water all over Chicago. I very much enjoy things like this - how we get the stuff we need that we never really think about. 

Three massive pumping systems - this one is Old Depaul.

And the cool iconic condo buildings, with a marina on the river.