Chicago – December 2017 – Museum of Science and Industry

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was the perfect choice for another exceptionally cold December day.  Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Shore of Chicago, it is located in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.  It became the Museum of Science and Industry during the 1933 Century of Progress Worlds Fair.

2017 12 27 125 Chicago.JPG

 

 

The famed ‘Christmas Around the World’ tree greets you as you arrive during the holiday season, standing 45′ tall with 30,000 lights and ‘snow’ falling twice an hour.

2017 12 27 19 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

My main purpose for the visit to what is essentially a children’s museum was to see the ‘Great Train Story’, a 3500 square foot HO model railroad display.

This model leads you from a large Chicago model along a 2200 mile journey to Seattle. It is located in the transportation hall, underneath a Boeing 727.

2017 12 27 22 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.JPG

 

 

The downtown Chicago model has many details including the El.

2017 12 27 25 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

When you reach Seattle it is complete with the Space Needle.

2017 12 27 40 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

The other exhibit I wanted to check out was the lego ‘Brick by Brick’ display. Interestingly despite all the interesting architecture in Chicago from Frank Lloyd Wright they chose to use Fallingwater, located near Pittsburgh (although it is the best architectural home in America)

2017 12 27 57 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

The Pyramids were represented, including a cutaway to show the interior.

2017 12 27 66 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

Same as with the Roman Colosseum. While the exhibits were nice, we have seen better exhibits for both the Lego’s and model railroad displays (Cincinnati History Center comes to mind, as well as Entertrainment Junction). Still it beat being outside in -2 Ft (-15 C) weather.

2017 12 27 68 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.jpg

 

 

 

Hyderabad, India – November 2017 – Golkonda Fort

Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad, India is built into a nearly 500′ high granite hill, about 7 miles west of the old town city center. The original fort was built in 1143, but was rebuilt numerous times with this iteration dating from the 1500s.

 

IMG_3197.JPG

 

The lower levels had the living quarters.

IMG_3205.JPG

 

From below it is clear to see the integration of construction into the existing rocks.

IMG_3212.JPG

 

The view from the top is fantastic.

IMG_3229.JPG

 

Nearby Qutb Shahi Tombs are clearly visible.

IMG_3243.JPG

 

More of the geology on top of the hill.

IMG_3244.JPG

 

An overview of the lower fort.

IMG_3246.JPG

 

Including a courtyard.

IMG_3257.JPG

 

 

View from the courtyard back up the hill.

IMG_3275.JPG

Circleville, Ohio – October 2017 – Pumpkin Show

Each year for 111 years the small Ohio town of Circleville has had a Pumpkin Show in October, where people from all over the region bring their giant pumpkins to be crowned king/queen of the show.

While there is much that is pumpkin themed in reality it is about 1000 fried food stands with 20,000 fried food people jammed along the streets. But still how can you not appreciate pumpkin art as a hamburger and fries.

2017 10 21 32 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

 

 

Pumpkin Pyramid

2017 10 21 35 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

 

 

 

Combining the two big events, the eclipse and pumpkins.

2017 10 21 44 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

 

 

The winner, 1701 pounds of pumpkin.

2017 10 21 39 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

 

 

And when you have spent all your cash on fried things, you get in the long line for the ATM for more money under the watchful eye of a giant blow up pumpkin.

2017 10 21 49 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

 

 

 

2017 10 21 55 Circleville OH Pumpkin Show.JPG

Delaware, Ohio – October 2017 – Can’t Be Bored at a Gourd Show

The Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio was the host for the annual Gourd Show. Apparently a lot of people like making art out of gourds. With the results it is obvious there are some skilled gourd-artist around.

2017 10 07 3 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 9 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 13 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 21 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 36 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

 

2017 10 07 41 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

 

There was also entertainment. While we were there a band called the ‘Rum River Blend’ played a mix of acoustic rock, bluegrass and folk. Their fiddle player, Carl, was 95 years old (he was the 1948 Ohio Fiddle Champion)!

Let’s give it up for Carl!

2017 10 07 26 Delaware OH Gourd Festival.JPG

Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 1

(please note there are 20+ photos on the next few postings, they might take a bit of time to load)

One place we had always wanted to see was Alaska, but much of it is very difficult to get to. We decided the best way to see it was on a cruise.

I had been on a large ship cruise once for 3 days and kissed the ground when I got off, the tacky shows and lines for everything got old fast. For this trip we chose to go on a small ship cruise from a company aptly named ‘Uncruise’. And no this is not an advertisement for them, but an honest assessment on how great this turned out to be.

We set sail on a rainy Saturday evening from Juneau. The next day we arrived at a fjord called Endicott Arm. The walls soar 1000′ above the water for dramatic effect.

2017 09 17 12 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

At the end of the fjord is Dawes Glacier, a tidewater glacier.

2017 09 17 14 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The main ship was close enough to get some dramatics up on the glacier with a zoom lens.

2017 09 17 16 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The difference between the large ships that most people cruise on and the small ships like Uncruise is you get off the boat and do things other than shop at trinket stores in ports. For this portion groups of 8-10 people took ‘skiffs’ the last 6 miles up the fjord to within 1/4 mile of the 200′ high face of the glacier.

2017 09 17 31 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 17 32 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As we neared the glacier a guide plucked what she thought was going to be a small piece of ice out of the water. It turned out to be much larger. This piece of ice was brought back on board the ship for a contest when it would finish melting. It took 3 days.

2017 09 17 56 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We spent about an hour at the base of the glacier in the skiffs. Every once in a while you would hear loud cracking sounds and nothing happened. For us though, we were fortunate enough to see a major ‘calving’ event, when a large chunk of the glacier fell off into the sea.

2017 09 17 60 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

As noted this face is 200′ high, so the splash it made is likely + 75′. Amazingly it does not create a tidal wave, just some small ones like someone went by with a small boat and created a wake.

2017 09 17 66 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

We returned through the icebergs on our way back to the ship.

2017 09 17 70 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The Wilderness Adventurer is about 190′ long with 30 passenger cabins. Our trip had 55 passengers and a crew of 20 (or so – I didn’t do an exact count !). As shown below the ship has a number of 2 person kayaks, some paddle boards and the skiffs (which are missing on this photo since they are out at the glacier.

2017 09 17 74 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

After everyone had returned to the ship we continued on our way we came upon a number of whales who were diving for food. They came upon a couple of sea lions, one of which took refuge on the back of the ship, which got the crew all excited as they said they had only heard of this only ever happening once before.

Since we were stationary at the time he sat there for a while. Once the crew was confident these particular whales had moved on they shoo-ed him/her off the back.

2017 09 17 93 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Even things as simple as the wake on the very calm waters made for great photo ops.

2017 09 18 30 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later we came across more whales feeding.

2017 09 18 36 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 52 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 53 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 64 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 73 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Finally (for this portion of the trip) we passed a small island filled with more sea lions.

2017 09 18 96 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 100 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 18 101 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The day ended with a great sunset.

2017 09 18 113 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

More to come…..

 

 

Southeast Alaska Panhandle – September 2017 – “Uncruise” Part 2

With the small ship the entire crew, and other passengers, quickly become familiar with each other on a first name basis. One of the great features was the permission to go onto the bridge anytime you like during the day, unless they were in an especially tricky navigation spot.

This day I went up and it was just the Captain and me, jamming out to ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, while we cruised along at about 5 knots looking for whales.

2017 09 19 1 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later we anchored in a bay and set the kayaks out.

2017 09 19 10 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 15 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

This bay offered more wildlife, which if I recall the information from the guides correctly are Cormorants.

2017 09 19 29 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 33 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A mama otter with her baby on her chest floating in the bay.

2017 09 19 37 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 19 41 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

One of the paddle boarders and a kayak backed by 8000′ mountains.

2017 09 19 50 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Later on the same kayak outing we passed this otter, who was not happy we were in his space as he bared his teeth and hissed at us.

2017 09 19 49 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

You can tell the females as their noses are dinged up from rough sex where the male apparently bites their noses in passion.

2017 09 19 54 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Why paddle board with your feet on the board when you can do a handstand.

2017 09 19 62 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

Nothing better than to be in a still bay in Alaska checking out the sea life near the rocks.

2017 09 20 15 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A Harbor Seal.

2017 09 20 17 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The waters were so calm everything had great reflections.

2017 09 20 19 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The next morning there was thick fog that gradually lifted through the morning.

2017 09 20 44 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

2017 09 20 53 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

An eagle soaring above the fog.

2017 09 20 62 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

A skiff returns across the calm waters.

2017 09 20 72 Alaskan Cruise.JPG

 

The afternoon was spent ‘bushwhacking’ through the forest. No bears or other wildlife was found but there was evidence of foresting that once occurred there.

The ground was so thick with the moss that it was spongy.

2017 09 19 45 Alaskan Cruise

 

more to come….