Life and Times

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Chicago 2012

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

From July 25-31, 2012, as we have done the last two years prior, Mom and I traveled to Chicago to visit my sister and her husband Chris.

As per usual on these trips, Mom and I traveled to Chicago by train, taking the Capitol Limited from Washington to Chicago.  We got a roomette, and thus were set to see a good bit of America from the inside of a train.  I love traveling by train, because you never know what you’re going to see out your window.

In Chicago, we had a blast, eating at all kinds of fun restaurants, seeing the various sights, experiencing track work and a Red Line meltdown on a different Red Line, and generally checking out all sorts of fun stuff.

And then when it was time to go home again, we took the Capitol Limited back to Washington.

With this photo set, I’m trying something a little different.  Rather than a play-by-play narration as I so often tend to do in Life and Times, this is going to be just a “highlights reel” with a little commentary thrown in.  So here’s Chicago!


At the America! store at Union Station, they had a lectern set up like the White House press briefing room.  And each of us decided to ham it up a little.  I posed like I was giving an impassioned speech, and Mom did a Nixon-esque pose.  At the America! store at Union Station, they had a lectern set up like the White House press briefing room.  And each of us decided to ham it up a little.  I posed like I was giving an impassioned speech, and Mom did a Nixon-esque pose.

At the America! store at Union Station, they had a lectern set up like the White House press briefing room.  And each of us decided to ham it up a little.  I posed like I was giving an impassioned speech, and Mom did a Nixon-esque pose.


Smiling for a photo on the train shortly after leaving Union Station.

Smiling for a photo on the Capitol Limited shortly after leaving Union Station.


Mom checks her cell phone from the train.  Between that and her iPod, that was her computer for this trip.

Mom checks her cell phone from the train.  Between that and her iPod, that was her computer for this trip.


We kept my netbook out on the tray in the middle of the roomette the whole time except overnight.  We did this in order to keep our electronic devices charged where we only had one electrical outlet.  The computer was plugged into the outlet, and then my phone, Mom's phone, and Mom's iPod were each connected to the computer via USB.

We kept my netbook out on the tray in the middle of the roomette the whole time except overnight.  We did this in order to keep our electronic devices charged where we only had one electrical outlet.  The computer was plugged into the outlet, and then my phone, Mom’s phone, and Mom’s iPod were each connected to the computer via USB.


The commode on the Superliner II sleepers.  This was one of the ones on the Michigan.  I like the roomettes in the Superliner II cars, but not the restrooms.  They're too small, and it's almost impossible to use the sink without getting sprayed because they're so powerful.

The commode on the Superliner II sleepers.  This was one of the ones on the Michigan.  I like the roomettes in the Superliner II cars, but not the restrooms.  They’re too small, and it’s almost impossible to use the sink without getting sprayed because they’re so powerful.


However, I do like the showers on the Superliner II sleepers.  Unlike on the Superliner I sleepers, the showers on the Superliner II cars don't require that you continually press a button to keep the water going.  They stay on until you turn them off.

However, I do like the showers on the Superliner II sleepers.  Unlike on the Superliner I sleepers, the showers on the Superliner II cars don’t require that you continually press a button to keep the water going.  They stay on until you turn them off.


This is where the alarm geek in me meets the train geek in me.  This is the fire alarm control panel for our railcar.

This is where the alarm geek in me meets the train geek in me.  This is the fire alarm control panel for our railcar.


Every time I take the Capitol Limited, this lumber yard always catches my interest, but the train crew unfortunately didn't know what it was.  I did some research, and the facility is located in Green Spring, West Virginia.  It's owned by Koppers, and according to their page about the facility, it was constructed in 1912 by the B&O Railroad, and was purchased by Koppers from the Chessie System (which would become CSX), the successor company to the B&O.  The work of this facility is, fittingly enough, to produce wooden railroad ties.

Every time I take the Capitol Limited, this lumber yard always catches my interest, but the train crew unfortunately didn’t know what it was.  I did some research, and the facility is located in Green Spring, West Virginia.  It’s owned by Koppers, and according to their page about the facility, it was constructed in 1912 by the B&O Railroad, and was purchased by Koppers from the Chessie System (which would become CSX), the successor company to the B&O.  The work of this facility is, fittingly enough, to produce wooden railroad ties.

Every time I take the Capitol Limited, this lumber yard always catches my interest, but the train crew unfortunately didn't know what it was.  I did some research, and the facility is located in Green Spring, West Virginia.  It's owned by Koppers, and according to their page about the facility, it was constructed in 1912 by the B&O Railroad, and was purchased by Koppers from the Chessie System (which would become CSX), the successor company to the B&O.  The work of this facility is, fittingly enough, to produce wooden railroad ties.


In Cumberland, Maryland, this radio transmitter tower site caught my interest.  It wasn't the transmitter that I found interesting, though.  It was the large letters to the left of the transmitter.  The letters are the call letters for WTBO, a music radio station in Cumberland.  Remembering how much I've photographed things like the Roanoke Star in the past, I would love to go out to Cumberland to photograph this feature one day, along with other parts of the town.

In Cumberland, Maryland, this radio transmitter tower site caught my interest.  It wasn’t the transmitter that I found interesting, though.  It was the large letters to the left of the transmitter.  The letters are the call letters for WTBO, a music radio station in Cumberland.  Remembering how much I’ve photographed things like the Roanoke Star in the past, I would love to go out to Cumberland to photograph this feature one day, along with other parts of the town.


One term that I introduced Mom to early on in this trip was "food porn".  For those not familiar, the whole idea of food porn is to make the presentation of food look glamorous, perhaps even sexy.  I photographed my dinner on the westbound Capitol Limited sort of this way with my cell phone.  The first photo, at left, was pretty uncreative.  That was basically how I was seeing it normally, and that was intentional for that one.  Then the photo at right was the "food porn" version, or at least as best as I could make it into something resembling food porn. ("A" for effort, right?)  One term that I introduced Mom to early on in this trip was "food porn".  For those not familiar, the whole idea of food porn is to make the presentation of food look glamorous, perhaps even sexy.  I photographed my dinner on the westbound Capitol Limited sort of this way with my cell phone.  The first photo, at left, was pretty uncreative.  That was basically how I was seeing it normally, and that was intentional for that one.  Then the photo at right was the "food porn" version, or at least as best as I could make it into something resembling food porn. ("A" for effort, right?)

One term that I introduced Mom to early on in this trip was “food porn“.  For those not familiar, the whole idea of food porn is to make the presentation of food look glamorous, perhaps even sexy.  I photographed my dinner on the westbound Capitol Limited sort of this way with my cell phone.  The first photo, at left, was pretty uncreative.  That was basically how I was seeing it normally, and that was intentional for that one.  Then the photo at right was the “food porn” version, or at least as best as I could make it into something resembling food porn. (“A” for effort, right?)


As we were approaching Chicago, we stopped for a moment, and I got a moment to look at a railroad tie plate.  I find it interesting how each plate is stamped with identifying information, though I have no idea what any of it means, unfortunately (though I presume that the "Weirton" part refers to Weirton Steel).

As we were approaching Chicago, the train stopped for a moment, and I got a moment to look at a railroad tie plate.  I find it interesting how each plate is stamped with identifying information, though I have no idea what any of it means, unfortunately (though I presume that the “Weirton” part refers to Weirton Steel).


The Amtrak shops in Chicago.

The Amtrak shops in Chicago.


The first piece of luggage arrives in the baggage claim room in Chicago from the Capitol Limited!

The first piece of luggage arrives in the baggage claim room in Chicago from the Capitol Limited!


Apparently I ran into a person who loved the camera.  I took this photo from the taxicab that we took from Union Station to our hotel.  I wanted to get an "act natural" pose.  Then the man noticed my taking the photo and posed for me!  How cool is that, though it admittedly wasn't my original plan.

Apparently I ran into a person who loved the camera.  I took this photo from the taxicab that we took from Union Station to our hotel.  I wanted to get an “act natural” pose.  Then the man noticed my taking the photo and posed for me!  How cool is that, though it admittedly wasn’t my original plan.


When Mom and I got to the hotel, we soon discovered that our room at the Super 8 in Rogers Park was not yet ready.  We were able to put our stuff somewhere while they finished getting the room ready, and went out for a walk in Rogers Park.


One of the first things we saw was an airlift operation.  Apparently an HVAC system was being delivered, but for whatever reason, they couldn't get the pieces of the system to their destination via the ground.  Thus they used a helicopter to pick the pieces up off of a flatbed truck (lower right) and carry them to their destination somewhere north of here.  One of the first things we saw was an airlift operation.  Apparently an HVAC system was being delivered, but for whatever reason, they couldn't get the pieces of the system to their destination via the ground.  Thus they used a helicopter to pick the pieces up off of a flatbed truck (lower right) and carry them to their destination somewhere north of here.

One of the first things we saw was an airlift operation.  Apparently an HVAC system was being delivered, but for whatever reason, they couldn’t get the pieces of the system to their destination via the ground.  Thus they used a helicopter to pick the pieces up off of a flatbed truck (lower right) and carry them to their destination somewhere north of here.

One of the first things we saw was an airlift operation.  Apparently an HVAC system was being delivered, but for whatever reason, they couldn't get the pieces of the system to their destination via the ground.  Thus they used a helicopter to pick the pieces up off of a flatbed truck (lower right) and carry them to their destination somewhere north of here.  One of the first things we saw was an airlift operation.  Apparently an HVAC system was being delivered, but for whatever reason, they couldn't get the pieces of the system to their destination via the ground.  Thus they used a helicopter to pick the pieces up off of a flatbed truck (lower right) and carry them to their destination somewhere north of here.


The airlift in operation, seen from Sheridan Road.


"Occupy Rogers Park" painting on a section of a long concrete bench.

Occupy Rogers Park” painting on a section of a long concrete bench.


Mom poses for a photo while sitting on another section of the same concrete bench.

Mom poses for a photo while sitting on another section of the same concrete bench.


The Chicago skyline as seen from a pier on Lake Michigan.

The Chicago skyline as seen from a pier on Lake Michigan.


My walking shoes for this trip were my Crocs.  Criticize all you want about what Crocs look like, but they served me well on this trip.

My walking shoes for this trip were my Crocs.  Criticize all you want about what Crocs look like, but they served me well on this trip.


Mom and I both took a moment to watch two young women playing with their dog.  The plastic bottle that you see the dog holding in its mouth in the second photo is the play item.  What the two women would do was throw the slightly weighted bottle out into the lake, and the dog would go out and retrieve it in its mouth.  Then the dog would put the bottle down on the ground and shake itself dry.  And then the process would be repeated.

Mom and I both took a moment to watch two young women playing with their dog.  The plastic bottle that you see the dog holding in its mouth in the second photo is the play item.  What the two women would do was throw the slightly weighted bottle out into the lake, and the dog would go out and retrieve it in its mouth.  Then the dog would put the bottle down on the ground and shake itself dry.  And then the process would be repeated.

Mom and I both took a moment to watch two young women playing with their dog.  The plastic bottle that you see the dog holding in its mouth in the second photo is the play item.  What the two women would do was throw the slightly weighted bottle out into the lake, and the dog would go out and retrieve it in its mouth.  Then the dog would put the bottle down on the ground and shake itself dry.  And then the process would be repeated.

Mom and I both took a moment to watch two young women playing with their dog.  The plastic bottle that you see the dog holding in its mouth in the second photo is the play item.  What the two women would do was throw the slightly weighted bottle out into the lake, and the dog would go out and retrieve it in its mouth.  Then the dog would put the bottle down on the ground and shake itself dry.  And then the process would be repeated.


After we got our stuff settled into the hotel room, we took the "L" down to the Magnificent Mile.  Mom wanted to look at some stuff, and I wanted to photograph.  I was particularly fond of this photo taken at the Hancock Center.  I leaned way back over a railing to get this, getting the three flags in front of the Hancock Center and the Hancock Center itself in the same shot.

After we got our stuff settled into the hotel room, we took the “L” down to the Magnificent Mile.  Mom wanted to look at some stuff, and I wanted to photograph.  I was particularly fond of this photo taken at the Hancock Center.  I leaned way back over a railing to get this, getting the three flags in front of the Hancock Center and the Hancock Center itself in the same shot.


After doing the Mag Mile, we went to meet Sis.  After that, we headed over to Millennium Park, which is a favorite place for me to photograph.  I first got some photos of people looking at and photographing themselves on the bean...  After doing the Mag Mile, we went to meet Sis.  After that, we headed over to Millennium Park, which is a favorite place for me to photograph.  I first got some photos of people looking at and photographing themselves on the bean...

After doing the Mag Mile, we went to meet Sis.  After that, we headed over to Millennium Park, which is a favorite place for me to photograph.  I first got some photos of people looking at and photographing themselves on the bean…


...and then I photographed underneath the bean.  This is under the middle of it.  The left photo was taken without flash, and the one at right was taken using flash.  They both look pretty cool, if you ask me.  ...and then I photographed underneath the bean.  This is under the middle of it.  The left photo was taken without flash, and the one at right was taken using flash.  They both look pretty cool, if you ask me.

…and then I photographed underneath the bean.  This is under the middle of it.  The left photo was taken without flash, and the one at right was taken using flash.  They both look pretty cool, if you ask me.


After I photographed the bean, I photographed in the fountain a little bit.  I was wearing shorts, plus Crocs without socks, so why not, right?  I was particularly proud of the photos I took of the little girl in front of one of the towers.  The photo at right was used as a photo feature in August.  I love the way these photos kind of capture that childhood innocence - a "wow" moment, if you will.  After I photographed the bean, I photographed in the fountain a little bit.  I was wearing shorts, plus Crocs without socks, so why not, right?  I was particularly proud of the photos I took of the little girl in front of one of the towers.  The photo at right was used as a photo feature in August.  I love the way these photos kind of capture that childhood innocence - a "wow" moment, if you will.

After I photographed the bean, I photographed in the fountain a little bit.  I was wearing shorts, plus Crocs without socks, so why not, right?  I was particularly proud of the photos I took of the little girl in front of one of the towers.  The photo at right was used as a photo feature in August.  I love the way these photos kind of capture that childhood innocence – a “wow” moment, if you will.


First "L" photo of the day!  This was near North/Clybourn station.

First “L” photo of the day!  This was near North/Clybourn station.


We had lunch at Whole Foods with a coworker of mine who is based in Chicago, and I couldn't help but notice the chairs.  The seats of these chairs were hinged, and so they had a rocking movement about them.  It wasn't the most comforting thing in the world, as I felt like I was going to get dumped out of them...

We had lunch at Whole Foods with a coworker of mine who is based in Chicago, and I couldn’t help but notice the chairs.  The seats of these chairs were hinged, and so they had a rocking movement about them.  It wasn’t the most comforting thing in the world, as I felt like I was going to get dumped out of them…


Smiling with a tree.  I don't know why I did this pose, but here it is.

Smiling with a tree.  I don’t know why I did this pose, but here it is.


On the way to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Mom, Sis, and I encountered one of those Smart cars.  I commented at the time that they're so small that they look like you could pick them up with one hand.

On the way to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Mom, Sis, and I encountered one of those Smart cars.  I commented at the time that they’re so small that they look like you could pick them up with one hand.


Sis and I smile for the camera just before entering the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Sis and I smile for the camera just before entering the Lincoln Park Zoo.

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1