Summer~Baseball~Victory

What could be more fun on a beautiful summer evening than an exciting Cubs game at Wrigley Field?  The temperatures were in the low 80’s and high 70’s with a light breeze as the sun slowly set over the Chicago skyline.  People were getting off at Addison Avenue, walking from neighbor hoods and parked cars.  Vendors were selling their wears in the streets and sidewalks and bars like Murphy’s were packed with early arrivers to the game.

Sunset over Chicago
Sunset over Chicago
Murphy's
Murphy’s
Coming to the Ball Park
Coming to the Ball Park
Sunset over Wrigley Field
Sunset over Wrigley Field

 

 

 

 

The Mariners started out with a home run and a run batted in for each of the first three innings. At the top of the 4th, the Cubs were down 6 to 0, a tough hole to begin the first third of the game.  Ironically the Mariners walked two cubs in the 4th and Rizzo struck out with three men on base.  At the Bottom of the 9th the Mariners were leading 6 to 3 when the Cubs came to bat.  No way could they pull this off, right!  Wrong.  The Cubs went on to win the game at the bottom of the 12th with a score of 7 to 6.

Cubs on First
Cubs on First
Rizzo Strikes Out with 3 Men on Base
Rizzo Strikes Out with 3 Men on Base
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a fun event for family, grandparents and their grandchildren, young and old couples, and friends getting together for a good time.  It happens all over the US every spring, summer and fall.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

My daughter and son-in-law gave us tickets for opening day of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and it was great.  There is so much to do, see, and experience.  Anyone traveling near Houston in early March should try to add this adventure to their travel itinerary.  There is something for all ages and at all times during the day and evening.

We started the afternoon at 4:00 pm walking the carnival. Here you relive your youth by winning a prize for your significant other, take some rides, be amused and of course, gorge yourself on just about anything you can think of to eat.

Funnel Cakes
Funnel Cakes
Turkey Legs
Turkey Legs

We watch small children ride sheep, “Mutton Bustin’.”  It was exciting to watch and a little scary for some of them.

Mutton Bustin'
Mutton Bustin’
Opening the Chute
Opening the Chute
Holding on for Dear Life
Holding on for Dear Life
Mutton Bustin' Survivors
Mutton Bustin’ Survivors

Walking into the concert, we had a nice view of the carnival.  My wife wearing cowboy (girl) boots which is normal footwear along with jeans and hat for the event.

Everyone is a Cowgirl/boy at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Everyone is a Cowgirl/boy at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay Out: Washington DC

STAY OUT!  DO NOT ENTER!  This is the feeling I got  when I  popped into Washington DC for a day while I was in Virginia for two weeks. I hadn’t been there in a while. In the mid 1970’s I had occasion to do research in the Library of Congress and the National Archives while living in a boarding house near the Supreme Court building. I was also present at the Watergate hearings. For a while I lived in Alexandria, VA in the early 1980’s and worked in DC. The city has so much to offer the world, art, architecture, history, philosophy, music, and good restaurants.

IMG_1114

IMG_1116I was really taken aback at my last visit. It felt like an armed camp. The only thing missing were soldiers walking around with automated weapons. Every parking or delivery entrance I passed along the Mall had two types of security barriers. I entered the multi-million dollar waiting room in the capital (built so Harry Reid and the other representatives of the “people” wouldn’t smell the perspiration from the visitors) then was herded into cattle like pathways for and after my security check. The tour was over after we saw three rooms. That was an abomination. Without some prior reading or knowledge of the Capital, visitors would have no idea what they missed. After the tour, I asked the guide why we didn’t see the old senate, the former Supreme Court chambers, the House and Senate chambers. The response, “This is the busy season, we don’t have time.” The only way you can see the House and Senate chambers is with a pass from your representatives/senators, even if they are not in session.

My quick visit to the Library of Congress was no less disappointing. After getting through security I stopped to put on my belt back on. The only thing one could see beyond the book store was the lobby and a Plexiglas enclosed balcony around the rotunda overlooking the reading room. I saw the Gutenberg Bible shoved off to one corner of the lobby in front of what would have been the door leading to the reading room. I remember working in there, going with the librarian to the stacks and walking down some beautiful halls and rooms with great art and architecture.

IMG_1115

We took a bus around the mall and I noticed that the road around the Lincoln Monument was closed and partially made into a walkway. The parking lot to the Jefferson Memorial was also closed.

I understand the need for security, but I am left wondering how much impact domestic and foreign terrorism have permanently had on our lives and how much security is used as a shield to keep the people from the US capital. I wonder what the impact is on our representatives and civil servants who are more barricaded than ever behind security that also build barriers to its citizens and visitors.  It would seem that this behavior would insulate those from inside the beltway from those they represent and work for outside the beltway.

In light of the recent terrorists attacks in Europe and Africa security in and around Washington, DC has tightened.  It is an obvious target for people wanting to damage our cultural icons, destroy our history, our people and our way of life.  But this is not the first time in our history that we have lived under attack.  I hope to see the day when some of these barriers can come down.

Travel Indoors

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year you are most likely experiencing cold, rainy, icy and snowy weather. It won’t be long now before some of us get “cabin fever,” that irresistible urge to break out of the house to somewhere, anywhere, just to get out of the house.  Here’s a tip, check out your local museum.  If you are near a large city you are likely near one of the country’s best places to visit, indoors, away from the wind and cold.  These are great places to renew your interests, learn more about something you perhaps haven’t taken the time to consider.

Last month we were visiting my son and his family and we decided to visit one of the Smithsonian’s museums in Washington.  It was a short drive for us.  I had a lot of fun looking at vintage aircraft up to and including the Space Shuttle, “Discover.”  But here is another tip, don’t go with young children unless you have a stroller.  We expected to rent one, but they didn’t rent them out so our time was reluctantly short.  I included a few pictures below and some kinks to museums that may be near you.

Happy traveling indoors for all of us who are locked into winter time in the Northern Hemisphere.

IMG_1176 IMG_1167IMG_1181 IMG_1168

 

 

Pacifica Trip Diary – Day 21

Day 21: January 28, 2014

Today is the last leg of my trip home and something like back to the future.  I leave South Korea at 11:40 am on Tuesday and arrive at Chicago, Illinois at 9:00 am on Tuesday.  The flight was about 13 hours.  I had the same good service I had on other Korean Air flights.  I left at -9F from Chicago and returned to -9F.  In between my ranged from a high of 95F in Cairns, to a cool 70F in Queensland, to 40F in Inchon.  These were all daytime temperatures.

I returned home and began the process of unpacking and preparing for work which began the next day.

Trip Statistics

Activity 

 Number

Travel Days
                   21
Flight (Jet) Hours
60
Flight (Prop) Hours
1
Helicopter Hours
.5
Distance Traveled by Jet
26,318
Airports (non duplicated count)
6
Jet Boat Hours
1
Bus Hours
16
Cab Hours
1
Countries
3
Cities/Towns
12
Walking Hours
30

Cities/Towns visited

—Inchon, South Korea
—Brisbane, Australia
—Cairns, Australia
—Port Douglas, Australia
Mossman, Australia
Kuranda, Australia
—Sydney, Australia
—Christchurch, New Zealand
—Hokitika, New Zealand
—Arthur Pass, New Zealand
—Makarora, New Zealand
—Wanaka, New Zealand
—Arrowtown, New Zealand
—Queenstown, New Zealand—

Reefs

Green Island
Norman Reef
Michaelmas Cay

Octoberfest – Cincinnati

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is worth the visit. Since its beginning in 1975 it has grown to hosting over 500,000 people and is advertised as “America’s largest Octoberfest.” This year it was held on Friday September 19 through Sunday, September 21. There is plenty of German food consisting of bratwurst, sauerkraut, sausages, potato pancakes, soft pretzels, cream puffs, strudel, jumbo pickles German potato salad, Limburger cheese, pigtails, and pickled pigs feet. If the food is not to your taste, then perhaps you will want to try dancing in the street by participating in the annual Chicken Dance, recorded in the Guinness Book of Records in 1995-97. There is plenty of beer and other refreshments for children along with many vendors.

Picture of band

Picture of Ocktoberfest in Cincinnati

We had a great time visiting and enjoying the food, but when it came time for the Chicken Dance, my young teenage daughter did not want to be captured in the news doing any of those moves.

About a dozen years ago, Cincinnati celebrated its history as the “pork capital of the world” by commissioning the creation of pig statues. You may still find some in businesses and around Cincinnati. Look for them the next time you are there to celebrate Oktoberfest.

Picture of pig sculptureCincinnati2102913

Indiana Covered Bridge Festival

My wife and I took a vacation day to attend the Indiana Covered Bridge Festival in mid October 2013. The festival primarily covered three Indiana towns, Bridgeton, Mansfield, and Rockville. Each town had its own festival characteristics. Bridgeton was more like a tent city with few permanent structures and unpaved roads. Mansfield consisted of a combination of many tents and many more physical structures, including some historic buildings with about two paved roads. Rockville’s festival was integrated into a formal town with some tents that were interspersed on the sidewalks.

Picture of vendor stalls

Picture of large tent with vendors

Picture of vendors

Picture of horse

Mansfield and Bridgeton had covered bridges and grist mills. The Bridgeton Bridge had burned down as the result of arson but was rebuilt in 2006. It is no longer connected to the road that passes through town and now sits silently next to a new roadway bridge. The Bridgeton mill was the most interesting because you take the stairs to its three floors viewing the machinery on each level. It represented a time when the nation was becoming industrialized. The internal operation of the mill was made with wood, leather and metal components that I suspect were assembled on site.

Picture of Bridgeton Mill

Picture of red covered bridge

Picture of red covered bridge

Picture of front of Mansfield bridge

Picture of food vendorThe bridges and mills didn’t seem to be the focal point for most people. They were more interested in the dozens of eateries, and shopping. Some of the food was hearty fare including ham, beans, and corn bread. Another example was chicken soup with a side of mashed potatoes with gravy, and a role; how’s that for starch? Most of the rest of the food was typical of a carnival with staples of elephant ears, soft pretzels, ice cream, fudge, fried chicken and vegetables.

The shopping was interesting. Some of the products were made by hand. These items included hats, rugs, wooden signs, wood carved by chain saws into animal figures, potpourri, ceramics, and architectural wonders made of metal. Other products look like they came from companies dumping their inventories, like socks and work or garden gloves lined up in boxes by the dozens. Other vendors sold inexpensive costume jewelry, plastic puzzle lights and knock off perfumes and purses. Some of the more unusual items were animal hides and tools.

Take time to sample the local seasonal customs and celebrations they can be fun.

An Hour in Chicago

What do you do in Chicago when the weather is great and you only have an hour? Take a walk. Chicago has many parks throughout the city of various sizes and uses. There is usually someone using basket ball courts, playground equipment, listening to concerts, skate boarding, or walking among the flowers and trees. My wife and I had some time to kill while waiting to meet some friends so we drove to Grant Park from our hotel, found reasonable parking and hoofed it for an hour.  Our first sight was Buckingham Fountain.

Buckingham Fountain

It was in full operation and beautiful. From this vantage point, we could see various views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Everything looked fresh and clean. The sky was blue, temperature in the 70’s with the sun peering out among a few clouds.

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

At about 10:00 am we decided to walk along the lake so we crossed Lake Shore Drive to the sidewalk surrounding the lake by the Chicago Yacht Club  basin.  A few sailboats large motor boats were heading out to the lake.  Pedestrian traffic at this hour on Sunday morning was light.  We passed a tour group on cycles and a few bicyclists. We didn’t have time to make it to the beech, but the day before we drove along Lake Shore and saw hundreds of people enjoying the beautiful weather at the beach near North Avenue.

ChicagoYachtClub

We enjoyed our brief walk in Chicago on a beautiful Sunday morning. Next time we will plan to take more time to enjoy Chicago’s beautiful park system.  

Find Your Own Piece of Heaven at Home

Backyard
Lying on a hammock looking skyward.

Where can you find peace and solitude, smell fresh air and the scent of flowers without traveling great distances or spending lots of money? In my case, it was my back yard. We had a weather front come through that cooled us off from the summer’s heat. Instead of the eighty or ninety degree weather, we had temperatures in the mid seventy’s during the afternoon. Even better, the humidity was low and the air crisp and clean. The weather was perfect for anything out doors. Some were washing cars, mowing grass, walking, or whatever. I live on a dead end street, with a corn field to the one side of the house and an empty field behind the house leaving me with privacy and only the birds to hear. Normally, I work on home projects on weekends, but this weekend, I took some time off.

Hooked between two medium sized trees was my hammock, a recent gift from my daughter. Before the gentle rocking sent me off to dream land, I looked up through the green leaves of the trees to see the beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds sliding bye and felt the warmth of the sun poking through from time to time. The breeze was fairly strong, enough that I covered myself with a light blanket. This was as good as sitting in the shade of a palm tree in Hawaii or on a beach in the Caribbean.

So this got me thinking about that piece of heaven each of us may have right in front of us, a swimming pool, deck, shade trees, mountain, lake or ocean views, horses, boats, or all – terrain vehicles, whatever. Many of us have something that gives us some of the same physiological and psychological comforts we get from vacations but right at home. Take time to enjoy what you have. Most of us who travel love to get away, seek out new adventures and experience new things, but I think most of us look forward to returning home. Enjoy your piece of heaven.

You Never Know What You Will Find Traveling in Rural America

This summer my wife and I traveled to Dodgeville, WI to attend a wedding. We stayed at the recommended hotel, the Don Q Inn. We arrived late and were so tired that we missed the 1951 C-97 Stratofreighter parked in front of the hotel on a slight bluff. However, in the morning we were surprised to see this apparition. It has an interesting history, being primarily used as a military transport, and photographed in two television commercials with Farrah Fawcett. This C-97 was part of a fleet of aircraft produced by Boeing. They were used in the Berlin Airlift, Korean and Vietnam wars. Some were made as luxury liners for public transportation.

It was an amazing piece of history that I didn’t expect to find at a wedding in rural Wisconsin, but I am glad I did.

DonQuinn DonQCockpitDonQseating