Elkhart, Indiana – July 2018 – Gardens and Public Art

Our destination this day was Elkhart, Indiana – home of a collection of ‘Quilt Gardens’ and ‘Quilt Murals’. But first a quick stop at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

Hammond is in Lake County, which is a mix of industrial, suburban and farming set along the south shore of Lake Michigan. Their welcome center is built to represent the waves, silos and steel mills of the county.

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The movie A Christmas Story was set in Hammond (although filmed in Cleveland and Toronto). One of the famous scenes is where a little kid is talked into sticking his tongue on a freezing cold flag pole, thus getting stuck. It is recreated here in a statue.

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Once we arrived in Elkhart we saw our first mural.

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As well as the quilt garden. To us the gardens were somewhat of a bust – they are difficult to see because they are too flat to the ground, and just appear as a mix of flowers (albeit nice flowers)

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The entire county did have a collection of decorated elk though.

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We spent an hour at the Wellfield Arboretum, which has a nice collection of sculptures, plants and flowers.

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A steel rodent?

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There were also some water features along with a number of painted ‘sticks’.

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The arboretum was well kept.

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In nearby Middlebury is the ‘World’s Fair Gardens’. These gardens were first presented in the Chicago Century of Progress fair in the 1930s.

They were later moved to Middlebury where they have existed ever since.

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The Middlebury site had a quilt gardens that was easier to see as it was on a small hill.

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Chicago – July 2018 – Weekend in the City

With a chance to spend a couple of nights in Chicago, we went without any specific plans. Once we arrived in town late Saturday afternoon we headed out for a walk.

Our first stop was the beautiful marquee for the Chicago Theater on State Street.

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While Chicago is known for the El trains there are a couple that are underground downtown, including the Red Line.

The entrance to the subway station has a great art deco look to it – backed up by a mural of Muddy Waters!

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State Street had a number of public art features – this one backed by the former Marshall Field Department store clock.

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As we made our way to Millennium Park we heard music.

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And were pleasantly surprised to find a symphony playing music from Lerner and Loewe movies.

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On our walk back we had the fortuitous timing to be crossing the Michigan Avenue bridge just as fireworks started from the Navy Pier.

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The view down the river framed the fireworks with the buildings.

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The next morning we took a 4 mile walk up through River North and Rush Street.

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Stopping at North Avenue Beach.

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Our walk continued through Lincoln Park, where they have made good use of dead trees.

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As we approached the zoo we saw a very large group of people – playing Pokemon!

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Eventually we made it out of the Pokemon crowd to a more serene part of the park, near Fullerton Street.

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Chicago even has skyscraper bird houses.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon back downtown at Grant Park for the Taste of Chicago.

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They had cooking competitions. This one is a Puerto Rico – Chicago specialty – the Jibarito.

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We finished the day walking along the river.

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Often when I photograph Marina City I shoot up – totally forgetting that there is actually a marina in Marina City.

As always we had a great time in Chicago.

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Bucyrus, Ohio – July 2018 – Time Warp Travel for Gas Stations Continued

Another weekend of travel has allowed us to check out not 1 or 2 restored gas stations, but 3. Two of the stations are in the same small Ohio town of Bucyrus.

First up is a Sinclair Station.

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This station is next door to a repair shop owned by Carl. We stopped by at 7 AM on a Saturday morning and Carl was just opening his business up for the morning, and invited us in. Carl has a large collection of auto related items – so much in fact that the TV show American Pickers once paid him a visit.

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Just outside of town is a small restored Marathon station called ‘Mom and Pops’. We saw someone walking out of the driveway as we drove up and asked him it if the station was his. He replied no – but yelled at ‘Bob’ who was outside the house next door if it was ok if we took some photos. Bob yelled back ‘ yep thats what it is there for’.

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In the early days the stations were tiny little buildings, unless they did service.

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This station was well restored.

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As our weekend continued we found ourselves back in Plymouth, Indiana for a stop for dinner. We have previously visited this Mobil station, but in the rain. This gave us a chance to get some photos in better weather.

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And the time warp gas station travel continued.

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On our way home from Pittsburgh we stopped in Steubenville at a auto repair shop that is actually a fully restored Sohio station.

When John Rockefeller had grown Standard Oil to be a monopoly the government forced them to break up – as a result there were a number of Standard Oil companies in different states (not a full list):

Standard Oil of New Jersey – Esso, which became Exxon

Standard Oil of New York – Socony, which became Mobil

Standard Oil of California – Socal, which became Chevron

Standard Oil of Indiana – Stanolind, which became Amoco

Standard Oil of Ohio – Sohio. In the 1980s BP bought Sohio and converted all the stations to BP.

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There are many people who are collectors of ‘petroliana’, old gas station items. Barry Robb must have been one of those people. According to their website Barry was an assistant manager of a former owner, and he took over the station in 1986, operating it as a BP station.

In 2011 their agreement with BP ran out. They restored the look of the original Sohio station, and continued in business as a repair shop only (as well as a museum).

As a side note Sunset and Wilshire looks nothing like the one in California, but still a nice neighborhood.

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Out front is a collection of pumps from various eras.

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While inside (it was closed this day – photos taken through the glass) is a collection of smaller items.

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Interestingly next door is a modern gas station/mini mart.

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After checking out my photos I realized that we have recently came across 3 fully restored stations, and all 3 times we had the same car with us.

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This spectacular Shell station is in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

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Today it serves as a tourist information center.

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Shaped like a giant scallop shell, it is the last of a handful that a local oil company owner had built in the 1930s.

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Another restored gas station – another shot with the GTI in it. This one is a Mobil station in Plymouth, Indiana.

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To add to their atmosphere they have a restored police car in the parking lot.

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Much like the Sohio station in Steubenville their interior has a collection of smalls for Mobil.

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They also have a restored tow truck.

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Sugarcreek, OH – June 2018 – Age of Steam Roundhouse

The Age of Steam Roundhouse located in the countryside outside of Sugarcreek, Ohio is the result of a single man’s passion for trains. Jerry Joe Jacobson had a lifelong interest in trains, and over the years collected numerous steam and diesel engines,, along with a number of cars.

In 2011 they completed the roundhouse to house the collection. I had read about this online and sent an email querying about visiting. The email I received back detailed how they only opened to large group tours, but that sometime in the summer they would offer up public tours – so I signed up and a few months later had my tour.

I received back a lengthy waiver detailing numerous don’ts for the visit. While giving me pause we headed out. Upon arriving we had yet another lengthy warning speech about safety (don’t step on a rail you might twist an ankle!) and numerous other things. Now I was concerned it was going to feel like a school field trip we headed out.

Thankfully I was very wrong once we went out on our tour. Our primary tour guide was the son of Jerry (who passed away a year or so ago). He was informative, engaging and lead us throughout the facility – although they did group us into 3 large piles of 30+ people.

 

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The roundhouse is 48,000 square feet with space for 18 locomotives. Built out of masonry and heavy timbers it is an impressive sight.

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Our first stop was the shop where they restore the locomotives.

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It was here we got our first close view of the impressive doors, each weighing over 2000 pounds (1000 kilograms). They are proud that they are so well balanced you can close them with 1 finger.

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Also outside is the large water tank and delivery system that steam locomotives require.

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Returning back inside we toured the numerous engines housed there.

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A couple of the middle bays were free of trains to give a nice overview of the building.

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The assistants to the tour were all dressed for the part – and helpful.

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Each bay has a chimney to capture the significant smoke that a steam locomotive puts out. Note the impressive ceiling.

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They had a variety of engines, although to be fair with the large crowd you could either a) be up front where you could hear the description but have 35 people in the way of the photos  or  b) hang back and get nice photos but no description. One of the numerous opening instructions were no talking to each other or the other guides so you don’t disrupt the tour – they have a schedule to keep.

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Outside are the doors to the turntable – a very impressive sight remembering each of the doors (36 in all) are over 2000 pounds.

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The tracks to the turntable with an engine on the table.

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One of the ‘pushers’ (to keep everyone in line) was Jerry – he and the others were really great and helpful (I whispered my questions!). After the tour I was able to speak to Jerry further finding him a very interesting man.

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Returning back inside – another great view.

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A close up of one of the engines and the ceiling.

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They did have a couple of small display of ancillary railroad items.

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A final look inside.

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A view from outside the fence surrounding the property. The Age of Steam Roundhouse is an amazing place well worth the visit, even with the extensive (silly) warnings and processes and slightly expensive cost to attend.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Library of Congress

Since the beginning of the U.S. government there has been a Library of Congress. Starting in Philadelphia, then New York, it came to DC in 1800. The current main building was constructed in the 1890s.

When you enter the building you are greeted by a two story Great Hall.

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As with many grand buildings constructed during this period the ceiling is impressive as well.

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There are numerous sculptures throughout.

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The upper level is lined with stately columns.

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While from the upper level you get a clear view of the zodiac symbols in the main level’s floor.

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Additional stylish ceilings and artwork.

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The map room.

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The mosaic in the lower levels floor.

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The building is easily one of the most impressive in DC.

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The Reading Room viewed from above.

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We were so impressed with this room that we went through a process to apply for, and receive, a library card – only to find out that on the reading room floor itself photography is strictly prohibited!

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So we went down the hallways and continued on our way.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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Cove Neck, NY – May 2018 – Sagamore Hill

As American presidents go, none were more interesting than Teddy Roosevelt. Born and raised in New York City Teddy did as many wealthy people of the time did, he bought an estate in the country. In his case he purchased 155 acres along the North Shore of Long Island, near Oyster Bay. By 1887 a home was completed and Teddy moved in.

 

 

 

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Today the estate is part of the National Park Service. As you arrive and park about 100 yards away at the visitor center, you approach the home from the rear therefore the first close up you get is of the ice house. Without refrigeration an ice house was an integral part of life.

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Making our way around the exterior (once again we arrived somewhere that was closed to tours for the day) we were greeting with a view of an eagle sculpture on the side of the home.

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When it was built in the late 1800s it was thought to be a very modern looking house.

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On this closer view of the front you will note that a portion of the railing is missing. Teddy has this removed so he could more easily address crowds that regularly gathered on the front lawn.

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The front porch is massive, and the awnings add to the comfort on a warm summer day even more.

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The traditional entrance featured a porte cochere (carriage porch).

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Our final view of the home provided an interesting perspective up the hill past the ice house to the main house. Note the numerous roof lines.

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Nearby Teddy Roosevelt Jr later built his home.

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The estate property goes all the way down the hill to Cold Spring Harbor. Sagamore Hill is a great place to spend a couple of hours – just try and time it when the house it open!

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