Saturday, August 20, 2016

To the Beach! Indiana Dunes Style

Relatively easy and nice day trip from Chicago. Their are several Illinois and National Dunes Parks. We have been going to the West Beach Dunes.  The facilities are decent, there is a neat little hot dog stand down the street and the beach is bookended by two huge industrial complexes! Not many beaches can make that boast! I did get a bit of a whiff of petrol fumes on the back of my throat when I surfaced from body boarding some waves but if you don't look right or left too often, you'd think you were quite a ways out in the natural world .... kind of. Anyway, girls have a blast, the large expanse of dunes landscape is quite unique, and it makes for a fun day.

Happy beach girls with industrial complex number one to the east. 

Certainly functioning. 

And to the west Gary, Indiana towards Chicago.

Gary, the once might steel town and home of the Jacksons of Michael and the Five fame, has fallen on hard times. But its industrial sky line is still very much in order and it does have some of its industries reviving. 

This poster terrified Ada when we came here last year. The child about to step onto a hole kept her out of the water until after some strong encouragement and a piggy back ride she agreed to brave the deadly hole strewn shoreline. 

Girls venturing out in the waves which were big enough for boogey boarding if I pushed them into them. 

Sure do enjoy the beach. 

Bit of different beach wear - reminiscent of lots of the water venues we visited in SE Asia. 

Great playmates. Emmerson is a fabulous reassuring and encouraging big sister. We romped around and I chased them and dunked and threw them around and then they we scream for me to stop - and then do it again .... we humans are curious creatures. 

At the neat train caboose renovated into a hotdog place. 

Happy in the van after a good day.

And how the girls relax after a long day. 

Ada can be a tad bit clingy but Emmerson is like a big dog and lets her use her look a pillow. 

At the Horses

We try and get to the track (Arlington International Park) at least once a summer. If you have not given it a visit, I suggest you do - and while betting at the tracks most likely does not come to mind when planning a day with the kids, it is quite family friendly. You can get their by car or train and it is not a bank buster like many family days have unfortunately become. Two dollar minimum bet and good chance to win if you bet to show.

Conveniently located in the vicinity of the track is Mitsuwa (formerly Yaohan) Plaza. I have a long history with this establishment going back to grad school when I wrote my seminar paper on Yaohan and the Japanese community living in the NW suburbs. So its always nice to get back there, shop for some Japanese essentials, and have lunch in the food court. Here the girls are enjoying some ramen and ikura (salmon roe) with rice. 

At the track on the lower level free seats. One does need to pay for the upper deck seats but when it is not crowded, they do not seem to mind if you go and watch a race or two from that perspective. 

Girls with the track in the back.

These are the upper deck seats which can be reserved most likely for big events. 

The bugler just finishing first call for one of the races. She added a bit of improv to the traditional call for a few races which was neat to hear. 

Horses coming out to the paddock exit in response to first call. Each of the race horses has an escort which attends them to the starting blocks. 

Good spot to watch the race from.

Winning horse with jockey and owners after the official winner photo shoot.
Ada won $$ in two races and Emmerson in one. We always bet to show, which means your horse has to place in the top three. None of my bets placed. We usually pick the horses by their names which are typically quite unique and creative.

Happy Emmerson!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Renaissance Fair ... 2016

Oh my oh my oh my ... commentary to come .... and due to the state of shock I was in much of the time, so Emmerson is going to assist with the comments. Emmerson opted to write in blue.

The theme for the Renaissance Fair was "steampunk" so a bunch of people dressed up like steampunks! The guy was dressed like a steampunk, but the girl was some kind of fox fairy. 

Yes, a Fox Fairy indeed and the theme for this particular Saturday at the Fair was steam punk, which I did not know existed as a genre until that day. Funny thing was that both Emmerson and Ada did - officially out of touch Dad .... actually, I fell out of touch a while back and every once in a while am blatantly reminded of this reality.

They had a contest to see who dressed up most like a steampunk and these were the winners. They all looked SO COOL in their steampunk costumes and really represented the theme! Three cheers for the  steampunks!

The four Renaissance looking folk in the middle were the MC's of the contest and the steampunk winners are lined up to the right and left. 

This is me dressed up in my Renaissance costume.

This is the parade they had...we got to see the queen and all of the dressed up workers! We saw the joust warriors too. 

Here is our joust knight and the "Maiden of Chivalry" she was like the host or the announcer of the joust. More pictures of the joust coming up!

Here are some of the Queen's servants or ladies or something like that. It was a really hot day, and the whole time that I was watching these people, I was imagining how hot the must be!!

Go knight Max! He is our joust knight. The crowd was split into sections and they were given a knight to cheer for. Our section's colors were black and yellow.


  Ada posing in front of the knight...looks pretty excited!!

    Our knight in full armor.

 Here is is! Revealing his face.

  Our knight really liked to joke around. 

                                                               Fight! Fight! Fight!
                                                               Joust! Joust! Joust!

Our knight won, but another knight declared a rematch. We didn't watch it but we hope we won!!

Creepy wood fairies. Or whatever they are ...

More creepy wood fairies.

Dancing at the Renaissance! 

We went to go get ice cream from this shop with a really long line...this is what we get!! 

I saw this place where you could bungee jump and I really wanted to try it out and we did!!

A closeup of the action

I did quite a few flips on this.

More steam punks. 

They had a contest and these were all the participants.

Here are some villagers singing about weird old timey stuff.

Actually, it was a recreation of a Maypole celebration day, but I like Emmerson's interpretation more.