Chicago – February 2019 – Union Station Architectural Tour

Back in Chicago for more architecture tours starting with the Union Station.





We passed by the symmetrical cool train shed and post office in the distance on the way.

Chicago was for more than 100 years mail order capital of the world with Sears, Montgomery Wards and others shipping products around the country. With all that business, the post office was massive. It is now being converted to condo’s and offices.





The entrance along Canal Street are graced with this massive colonnade the entire length.





The exterior doors and the surrounding ironwork.





Once inside, a quick look back at where we just came from reveals a grand entrance.





The Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge – AKA – The Pennsylvania Room, from the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad.





As you reach the Great Hall you are greeted with these massive Corinthian columns, and a scaffolding free skylight!





When we last visited for Open House Chicago in October the ceiling was covered with scaffolding. The temporary inconvenience has paid off – what a magnificent hall and ceiling.





Even the statues look brighter.




The detail on the tops of the columns are stunning.





A second view of a column as well as the period perfect lighting.





The south end of the hall.





With the renovation complete hopefully they tear down the hideous Amtrak kiosk that is so out of place.





The benches are original to the 1925 construction.





We were fortunate enough to get to visit the Burlington Room. In the early days it was the women’s lounge.





This creepy looking guy keeps watch over the room.





Our final stop was in the Legacy Club. It is awaiting some remodel for private event use.

The city of Chicago should be proud of their grand rail entrance now that the renovation has been completed.








Dayton – December 2018 – Cool and Quirky Airplanes

With family in town that has a strong interest in aviation, a day long visit to the Air Force Museum in Dayton was called for. For this visit I focused on the cool and quirky aircraft (and spacecraft).

We start with the horizontal stabilizer of Douglas VC-54C Skymaster with the name of ‘Sacred Cow’. It was the first presidential plane, serving FDR.

The Lockheed VC-140B JetStar was the first business jet produced in quantity for the civilian market.

Because of it’s smaller size it was sometimes referred to as Air Force One Half.

A view from the outside of the cockpit of the Independence.

Another look at the Sacred Cow. While it was state of the art, from this angle it looks like there were 100 pieces of aluminum cobbled together.

Not alien, just not useful.

Early Stealth – the Northrup Tacit Blue. While it was stealthy, it apparently was aerodynamically unstable.

Much of the day was spent checking out the quirky noses on many of the planes.

North American X-15A-2. One bad airplane – Built to fly high and fast it made 199 flights starting in 1959, and it speeds of 4520 MPH!

It was the world’s first piloted aircraft to reach hypersonic speeds, and allow the pilots to earn astronaut wings flying as high as 67 miles above the earth.

But then – they made spacecraft! A Gemini and Apollo.

Back to the quirky noses.

We always go through the museum ‘backwards’ – going straight to Hangar 4 for the Presidential aircraft and working our way to the front for the early flight.

Nothing better than a piston engine aircraft.

Columbus – December 2018 – Annual Visit to the Dragon Lights

So my friends at WordPress have changed their editor, so we shall see how this posting comes out!

What has become an annual tradition is a December visit to the State Fairgrounds for the annual Chinese Dragon Lights. In my opinion they are far more colorful and brilliant than any Christmas light display.

There were over 30 displays, all with the fabric framing and back lighting.

This year each had a small sign detailing the display, as well as a small ad. It is good to see they have the support of the business community so we are assured this will continue to be an annual event.

Not expecting to end up there on this evening, all the photos here were taken with an iPhone!

In addition when we went into the pavilion for the entertainment, it was packed. Without a zoom lens, this year’s blog posting is strictly the exterior displays.

The new editor does not allow additional spacing between the photos.

Still despite the photos from an iPhone, and the quirky new editor, the display are vivid online, as well as in person.

This display seems to make it’s way around the midwest each year. Earlier in the year it was in Cleveland, so it is not a ‘Christmas thing’.

To accompany the panda display they had televisions with a live view of panda’s at a zoo in China.

The tunnel lead to the ‘grand finale’

While there were a number of new displays, the castle was a repeat, but worth it.

Always a great evening – the Chinese Dragon Lights.

Columbus – December 2018 – Ohio’s Attic

The Ohio History Center in Columbus is sort of Ohio’s attic, if an attic is a brutalist style concrete building with a number of galleries with extremely diverse displays.

Still, a good way to spend a few hours on a cold, rainy Saturday.

First up – African American Art

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A long time Columbus TV legend, Flippo (or more appropriately Flippo’s outfit)

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A small engine.

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Silver Bracelet from the 1800s.

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Ohio has always been known for it’s many glass makers.

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Coverlets

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A display on World War I had a gas mask. Interestingly the precursor to the gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan in Cleveland. An African American, Garrett had a long and distinguished life as an inventor.

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An exhibit on Ohio artists. This display honors Paul Henri Bourguignon, a Belgian born artist who settled in Columbus in 1950 after his wife joined the faculty of Ohio State University.

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Flywheel for a steam engine. I just like the symmetry and color.

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Early fire engine.

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Horse drawn streetcar.

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Model Train set.

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Miss America 1953’s gown and portrait.

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Etch a Sketch – from ‘Ohio Art’

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A 1957 Chevy and an Airstream Trailer. The camper has been built in Ohio for a long time.

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The Soap Box derby is synonymous with Ohio.

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Lustron Homes were prefabricated, metal houses made in the 1940s and 1950s.

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This display is all set for Christmas 1955.

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Native American pipe.

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And effigy.

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Flints.

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A display of Civil War era Ohio Companies flags.

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Dinosaur skull.

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Fossils.

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Taxidermy of animals that once, or still, are present in Ohio.

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An airplane, because we need an airplane.

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And cars. We need cars to. And the state has long produced both.

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An early tire mold from Firestone.

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Finally we are hungry, so we stopped by White Castle (at least the exhibit – we found better food for lunch afterwards).

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Columbus – December 2018 – Franklin Park Conservatory Holiday Lights Revisit

Keeping with the annual repeat visits this weekend, we stopped by the Franklin Park Conservatory for their Holiday Lights exhibit.

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The professional division gingerbread house winner.

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They have a mix of traditional holiday floral with the the permanent displays.

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Chihuly glass.

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More floral close ups.

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The center hall was all decked out for the season.

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The other halls had interesting lighting on the plants.

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Outside near the glass blowing studio were additional glass ‘trees’.

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The Children’s Garden had the largest display of lights.

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The glass block steps in the Palm House were lit.

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Additional glass pieces outside on a courtyard.

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Afterwards we made a brief stop at a park downtown for additional lights.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 21 All Good Things Must Come to an End – But Not Without Chocolate First

Day 21 – our last day in Hawaii. What better way to end it than going on a tour of a cacao farm and a chocolate tasting event!

We arrived at Garden Island Chocolate just as the rain had ended (for the moment). After signing a waiver we headed over to the first tent where Brittany, our hostess for the morning, had a display of their locally grown tropical fruits.

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Gracing the side of the tent was a great spiderweb.

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Koa, the owner, explained how the cacao husks grow and contain the beans.

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He then demonstrated how they open the husk with a machete and extract the beans. We however were given hammers to whack them to crack them open.

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We sampled the beans – they did not taste like chocolate, that comes later.

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We left for a tour of the farm where we examined some various different cacao’s growing.

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They come in all colors.

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Cross pollination is a big deal – ‘pure’ beans are much harder to come by and therefore more expensive.

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That waiver we signed – mostly for the risk of getting bonked in the head with falling coconuts.

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Not sure what this is – but who cares – chocolate is coming soon.

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There was also a nursery on the grounds with some great flowers.

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What does a Coke bottle have to do with this? Urban legend says it is shaped after the cacao, but many dispute this.

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After we tasted about 20 different chocolates (and had a great chocolate high going) Brittany made us some hot chocolate for that cold Hawaii morning (it was about 78 and humid).

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The entire event was great fun, with many others in the group feisty and sarcastic. We learned something, had some great chocolate and stayed mostly dry.

Thanks to Brittany for being such a great hostess.

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After a long traffic jam we made it to the Lihue Airport to be greeted by Santa.

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After our short flight to Honolulu where, thanks to American Airlines being totally without any sort of customer service as they moved us from our original flights for no apparent reason (despite the fact I booked the flights and secured seats 8 months earlier).

When I protested their continued response was always ‘no idea why, too bad, nothing we will do for you’. Way to go American Airlines, you suck.

Now with 6 hours to kill we hung out in the Honolulu Airport, where they at least have some nice art.

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And amazingly, inside of security, a Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

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Eventually our flight left and after 2500 miles of open water – the California coast!

After another 4 hour layover in Phoenix, we finally made it to Ohio in the late afternoon. While the travel home was a bit of a let down, the trip itself was an amazing success.

We had numerous other flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, parks, cruise ship and many many more things that all went off without a hitch (even with a bump in the rental car).

The people of Hawaii were pleasant to us at all times, anxious to share their culture and ways, and generally understanding of the thousands of tourists who clog their islands on a regular basis.

If you haven’t been to Hawaii – I highly recommend it, but get off the main tourist spots – there is so much more.

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Cleveland – November 2018 – A Traditional Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks is one of the best parks systems in the United States, circling Cleveland in what is known as the Emerald Necklance

One of their main features closer into the city is the Metroparks Zoo, only 5 miles from downtown Cleveland.

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While much smaller than the more famous Columbus Zoo, in my opinion it is nicer in that there is far less commercialization.

The Metroparks Zoo does have a number of themed exhibit areas including the Rain Forest.  This building, as the name indicates, brings together the plants and wildlife of the jungles.

This little guy is a Golden Lion Tamarin, a highly endangered animal from Brazil.

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The bird below is a Scarlet Ibis. The zoo found it was losing it’s natural color, until they added shrimp to it’s diet.

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A Capybara. While he was in his controlled habitat here, we once had the opportunity to meet one up close in British Columbia. The Capybara is known as the world’s largest rodent, but they seem pretty cool to me.

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Bornean Orangutan. So much for that vegetarian diet keeping weight down – this guy can weigh over 300 pounds.

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The Emerald Tree Boa. 8 feet long with fang like teeth!

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We left the Rain Forest and headed up through the main section of the zoo, stopping to check out the elephants.

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Cleveland has some ravines, and the zoo is built in, and up above one. After the hike up the hill we made our way to the Primates, Cat & Aquatics indoor habitat (with some outdoor space as well).

The Mandrill below is a large monkey, weighing up to 80 pounds.

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One of the many Lemurs.

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This cat like animal is known as a Fossa, from Madagascar. Those in the animal business apparently debate if it is more like a mongoose or a cat.

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More Lemurs – the is time Ring Tailed. This is the most common Lemur.

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Another Lemur – I tried to have a staring contest, which I obviously lost.

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But it was time to move over to the Aquatic side of the house. Our first tank we came to gave us this great view!

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And more…

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We headed back down the hill to the African Savanna section for lions…

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And Zebras

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Our final section was the Wilderness Trek. As I always note on trips to the zoo, I am always torn by being in the presence of such great animals, and the fact that they are stuck in cages. But as with the Tamarin without some conservation some breeds would be totally lost.

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