Barre, Vermont – July 2019 – Rockin’ Out in Vermont

While New Hampshire may be known as the Granite State, Vermont has their fair share. Their statehouse is a great example of Vermont granite.



Just outside the nearby town of Barre is the Rock of Ages Granite Company.



It is like many of the old company towns I grew up seeing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, only instead of coal it is granite – everywhere.



When you arrive at the top of the mountain and look down you see this massive pit. It is 600′ deep, but 300′ of it is under water.



Everything is super sized here, as they cut away giant chunks of granite for processing.



This quarry has been used for over 100 years. Their tools today are much better than the early days, which have been left behind. In the early days they climbed down these sketchy looking ladders to use drilling and dynamite to break the granite apart.



The years of removal have left interesting patterns on the quarry walls.



The tall yellow tower was used to bring the multi ton pieces up to the surface.



It was dangerous work.



As we made our way back down the mountain we passed their stockyard. Nothing was behind fences as the threat of something carrying away a rock weighing thousands of pounds without getting noticed is fairly low.



It wouldn’t even fit in their pickup truck.



We arrived while the factory was on lunch, so we spent some time bowling on the granite bowling lane, with granite pins. They claim that they used to use real bowling balls, but the pins would break the balls, so now they use foam.



The factory is quiet…. for the moment.



The crew has returned. With the weight everything is moved with cranes.



The granite business has gone down tremendously over the years. In the early years much was used in the construction industry (all those cool Art Deco buildings), but now it is relegated to mostly head stones. Even those aren’t used as much as in the past.



This day all the work we saw was on the aforementioned headstones.







Artisans still do the detail work.


And someone named David is about to get his headstone.





Toronto – July 2019 – Sunrise at the Palace of Purification

The drive out of Toronto featured a stop along Lake Ontario as the sun rose. Our stop is the ‘Palace of Purification’ – the R C Harris Water Treatment Plant.

The sunrise was fantastic, as are the art deco buildings. All you have to do to get there is take the streetcar to the very end of the line near Scarborough (but we drove!)

























New Orleans – May 2019 – Getting Around The Big Easy

Getting to and around New Orleans has always been an adventure. Situated near the mouth of the Mississippi, the city is essentially surrounded by water and swamps.

While most people likely fly into the airport, or take I-10 from Mobile or Baton Route, the best route into the city by car is from the north across Lake Pontchartrain.



The Lake Pntchartrain Causeway is a 24 mile long bridge. Completed in the 1950s it is to this day the longest bridge in the world over water.



Which results in a funny looking navigation system – we are in the middle of the lake, still 14 miles from shore.



Eventually you get close enough to see the skyline of the city off in the distance.



Once you make it to town you see plenty of the ride share bicycles.



Although this person chose his own unique ride.



The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the country, with constant ships coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River.



The tugboats stay busy all day.



At the base of Canal Street is the tourist ship The Natchez, a faux stern-wheeler.



The best transportation however are the streetcars.





New Orleans turned out to be a fairly easy city to navigate.






Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky & Tennessee – May 2019 – Waterfall Tour

The Cumberland Plateau is situated just west of the Appalachian Mountains, running from Kentucky through Tennessee and into Alabama.

The area has a number of highlights including this natural bridge in southern Kentucky.



The Cumberland Falls is the most famed natural feature of southern Kentucky. They claim to have the 2nd most volume of water for a waterfalls in the eastern United States (a far second to Niagara Falls).



From below the rush of the water is impressive.



Just south of Byrdstown, Tennessee is the Obey River Recreation Area.



Cummins Falls is a 75′ high waterfall on the Blackburn Fork River in Jackson County, Tennessee. This waterfall has two options for viewing – one is the overlook seen here. The second is to go down to the river and wade for 1/2 mile in the river to get to the waterfalls. Because of high water conditions (and not being prepared for wading waist high in water), we opted for the overlook view only.



Burgess Falls is on the aptly named Falling Water River in east central Tennessee. This remains of an old bridge crosses the river just above the series of waterfalls.



There are some cascades before you arrive at this falls, nearly 80′ high.



But the main Burgess Falls is this impressive 136′ drop into the ravine.



Not far from Burgess Falls is Falls Creek Falls. It is the highest free fall waterfall east of the Mississippi, dropping an impressive 256′.



A closer view of the top.



A robust hike into the ravine gives a totally different perspective.



Within the same park is this nice cliff and small falls.



Also in Tennessee is the Rock Island State Park. It has a number of features including this falls along the Caney Fork.



This falls once powered this historic cotton mill.



The Caney Fork continues down. Depending on the release of water from the dam it can look like those, or be totally submersed in water.



The highlight of the Rock Island State Park are the Great Falls. Here it appears the entire hillside is the waterfalls, with water seemingly coming from everywhere along the hillside.



This closeup of the smaller cascade portion show the beauty of the falls.



Finally we had a bonus waterfalls early in the morning in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Rutledge Falls is on a church’s property but they welcome visitors to come check them out.





Chicago – February – Sunny Morning from the Willis Tower

We woke up to bright sunshine on a very cold Chicago morning, with no plans until late morning so we made our way to the Willis/Sears Tower observation deck 1300′ up.





We have been there before, but not with perfectly clear skies. It turned out there was a bit of a haze along the horizon, which was amazing as a cold front had come through the night before.





The Willis Tower Skydeck’s feature is ‘The Ledge’, a Plexiglas space sticking out the side of the building where you look straight down through the Plexiglas to the street far below.

The young Mennonite (??) couple had no trepidation walking out on that, but I stayed back and took photos!





The view due north from the tower past Lincoln Park and the Lake Michigan shoreline.





The postcard view of downtown Chicago.





As with Lake Erie in Cleveland, Lake Michigan also freezes. With the winter weather going from cold to somewhat warm and back, the ice is spotty.





It was apparent as soon as we got up there with the very bright sunshine low in the sky photos looking east were tricky from the glare, but this view of Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium came out nice.





Whereas this view to the southeast had more glare but an interesting look on the water in the background.

Notice yet another 70 floor apartment building being built. Cranes are common in the skylines of Chicago.





The Carbide and Carbon Building (green building with gold top in the middle of the photo) was once one of Chicago’s tallest at just over 500′ when it was completed in 1929.

Now it is dwarfed by all the newer ones.





The view northwest along the Kennedy Expressway, which even at 10:30 in the morning had slow traffic coming into the loop.





With the bright morning sun many in this building chose to lower their shades, but from this view it almost looks as though there are numerous broken windows.





A closer view of Lincoln Park and the marina.





This unusual shaped building is the River City Apartments, designed by Bertrand Goldberg – who is most famous for designing Marina City

He apparently likes round shapes.





The Citadel Center with it’s highly reflective glass looks like a jigsaw puzzle of surrounding buildings waiting to be put together.






Cleveland – February 2019 – Frozen, but Thawing

As usual in winter in the midwest the weather is all over the place. Last week was sub zero Fahrenheit, and by Sunday it was nearly 60 degrees.

Lake Erie tends to ice over quite a bit in the winter, and this year has been no different. Followers of this blog will note the main photo is the iced over Cleveland Harbor lighthouse after a particularly hard winter.

For this day the ice was melting somewhat, but still providing some interesting sights. The photo below is a security fence that was iced completely over, but has melted enough to be translucent.





There was some ice cover near the shore, but with large wet spots that seemed to attract the seagulls. The water provided a nice reflection.





While taking photos of the ice and water, I noticed that this shot got a perfect ‘T’ of airplane contrails in the sky. My assumption is an east-west flight had recently passed at altitude, and the northbound flight had just reached where the east-west contrail was present.





A close up of the birds on the ice.





Despite the look the water inside the breakwater wall is frozen and beyond it is open water.





The wall at Voinovich Park had some ice on it, but with perfect symmetry with the concrete.





The lighthouse has a bit of ice on it, but nothing like the main blog site photo.





The harbor in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still had some light icing on it.





The life preserver is ready if needed.





Meanwhile over at Edgewater Park, the beach had a lot of ice on it.





The ice was very chunky.





The birds clearly congregated near the water, even if it was just pooled on the remaining ice.





The amount of seagulls all along the lake shore was staggering.





Our last stop was along Rocky River. Each spring (or thawing in winter) results in significant flooding in the valleys with the ice jams.





The ravine walls provided a small waterfall. It was a nice day for checking out the melting ice with a different look that the stark white normally associated with the winter ice on the lake (and river)







Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 4

Open House Chicago continues….

After finishing our tour of the Board of Trade Building we were a bit early for 111 West Jackson, as it didn’t open until 10 AM.

With our time we toured one of the best blocks in Chicago – South Dearborn between Jackson and Congress. The Fisher, Plymouth, Old Colony, Manhattan and Monadnock all are in the same general area

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All were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s with amazing detail.

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The streetlights in the area retain the classic look.

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Of all of them, the Monadnock is the most important. Built in 1891 it continues to this day at the largest load bearing brick building in the world.

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While the Fisher Building has these ornate cornices.

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The nearby Harold Washington Library adds some bling to the neighborhood.

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All of the buildings are worthy of close ups of the detail.

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The Chicago School of Architecture (a style – not a specific educational facility) was famous for it’s use of bay windows.

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Another cool street light.

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Views straight up show the detail underneath.

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My New York friend was stunned and amazed at the massive external fire escapes. Note that they were manufactured locally.

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Finally 111 West Jackson was open for viewing from their 25th floor outdoor deck.

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This deck offered a wide view of the south loop skyscrapers from the Willis/Sears Tower to Chase Tower (aka 10 South Dearborn).

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Over on Michigan Avenue we paid a return visit to the Railway Exchange Building.

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The lobby is vastly different as the Chicago Architecture Foundation has moved to a new location, and taken the model with them. Personally I think the lobby looks better without the model.

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On the upper floors we visited two different architectural firms.

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Both still feature the cool view of the 17 story atrium.

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As well as commanding views of the park and lake (along with some of the building detail just outside the window).

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A southeast view towards Grant Park.

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The skylights at the very top of the Railway Exchange Building.  An amazing building completed in 1904.

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The architecture firm on the 17th floor had some models displayed.

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The top floor is also known for the portals for windows.

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to be continued…..