Category Archives: Travel

Skyscapes – Central Illinois Plus Trains

Out of Chicago for a day before going home, on a mission from God, as they say. First, in a small town, found a train moving some cars around the sidings, blocking the road for a long, long time.

I watch the trains on Virtual Railfan and I know that when they stop or start it’s loud, but until I was standing there I had no clue just how loud.

Later, a bit of convection started building up, making these fairy castle cloud castles.

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Chicago Sightseeing

Worldcon was wrapping up (it was great) so we took one of those bus tours of the city.

The “L”, tall buildings sticking up into the clouds, a bunch of tourists sitting on the top of a bus with no roof.

Lots of tall, tall buildings in a number of spots.

Nice views, albeit for probably $100K+ per year in rent. Or, more precisely, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

From the museum district out where Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum are, you get a nice view of the bottom of the skyscrapers. See on the left side, where the sixth from the left looks sort of like a fountain pen sticking up and the one to the right of that is up in the clouds and just a straight, white building? (Nothing implied there…) Our hotel is right there, but much shorter…

This is the Sheraton near us with funky balconies that I like a lot.

I do really like Chicago, a lot!

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Chicago Food

Another great benefit of travel is different foods. Most places have local dishes that you need to sample. Kansas City BBQ. New York deli. Los Angeles street tacos.

Chicago deep dish pizza. Check!

The absolute best part of this picture is the expression on that little kid photobombing us from the next table.  That’s totally a “JESUS CHRIST! THEY’RE GOING TO EAT ALL OF THAT??!!” look. And yes, we did. It was wonderful.

The Chicago dog? SPECTACULAR! Have two.

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Chicago Loop Sightseeing

I love to travel. I love to get out and just walk around and take pictures and see things. (I take a LOT of pictures.)

The Chicago River is central to Downtown Chicago, better known as The Loop.

The Chicago Riverwalk is an amazing strip of park, restaurants, walking and running paths, an oasis of calm in a sea of skyscrapers.

There’s a mix of the old skyscrapers, like the Wrigley Building, and the modern steel and glass buildings, like this fortress of evil.

Lots of rococo. Flying buttresses? Really?

A fair number of these are not office buildings, but condos, townhouses, and apartments. I doubt they’re cheap, but it would be wonderful to live down here!

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Fine Feathered Friends – Chicago Urban Version

Sparrows, finches, and these guys…

The pigeons are the worst! If you’re eating and they don’t get their share, they’ll attack!

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ORD Again

I’ve always loved this corridor at O’Hare.

It’s pretty empty at 00:30 AM, the only folks there were the ones getting off of our plane.

Our plane arrived early, our luggage didn’t get lost, and we got to the hotel with only one little “adventure.”

It’s good to be back. I don’t think I’ve been here in over twenty years.

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A Pollution

During their vacation, many folks to a “cleanse,” where they retreat from the stress of work and home life and social media, eat healthy food, drink pure fluids, get some exercise, do some yoga, get a massage, and so on.

I’m not one of those folks.

It occurs to me that I do the opposite, more of a “pollute!” Normally I try to eat well, get some exercise, watch my weight, manage stress, but when I go on vacation, all of those rules are gone. It’s time to eat all of that crap that I normally don’t allow myself to have!

Burgers & fries yesterday for lunch, pizza last night. Getting on a plane, there’s always a big bag of M&Ms and some chocolate bars to help suffer through those long, long, four-hour flights. A pound of chocolate an hour for every hour in the air – isn’t that the rule? There’s some FAA regulation about that, I’m sure.

Plus, once we get to the hotel and I’m not driving anywhere for DAYS, it’s time to have a margarita or three! I won’t drink if I’m going to be driving or flying, but if everything is either in the big hotel and convention center or I’m going someplace by cab or subway, then why do I have to worry about being 100% sober or 0% hungover?

Next week I can carefully check the scales when I get home and see how much damage I’ve done and begin the grim task of moving that counterweight back to the left a few pounds. In the meantime, IT’S TIME TO GET TOXIC, BABY!!

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Random Old Photos – August 8th

It’s been quite the day. I think I may have blown a brain circuit or two.

Let’s keep this simple. What was I doing fifteen years ago?

Traveling to a NASFIC in the Saint Louis region with the family apparently. (Side note, while I was also working full time plus and also going to Pepperdine to get my MBA and starting my flying lessons, I apparently also took six trips around the country, went to three airshows, two science fiction conventions, and three or four baseball games. Where did I get the time and/or energy?!) But rather than going with the stock photo of the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse in downtown Saint Louis, I like this one of that same area broken up and fractured in the reflections of an office building.

 

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Chicago, Here We Come (I HOPE!)

Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention, will be held in Chicago on September 1-5, 2022.

For the first time in a bunch of years, it looks like we’ll be there, barring some kind of (waves hands and does hopeless Kermit flail indicating everything) catastrophe.

My first science fiction convention was Iguanacon II in Phoenix in 1978. My first trip out of North America was Seacon ’79 in Brighton, England. My honeymoon with Janet (my first wife) was a cross-country road trip to Noreascon Two in Boston in 1980.

We went to Denvention Two in Denver in 1981, Chicon IV in Chicago in 1982, and ConStellation in Baltimore in 1983.

In 1984 we were touch and go at LA Con II here in Los Angeles. I was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine but Janet was about 8 1/2 months pregnant, so we could have been forced to bail at a moment’s notice. I did not win the Hugo and our son arrived two weeks after the convention.

After attending seven years in a row things got spottier. We didn’t get to Australia in 1985, Brighton in 1987, or The Hague in 1990.

Even for the domestic conventions, we only got to about a third of them. But we were also taking all of the kids – they got brought up in fannish culture. Noreascon 3 in Boston. ConFrancisco in San Francisco. LACon III in Los Angeles. Chicon 2000. ConJose in San Jose. Torcon 3 in Toronto. LACon IV. Denvention 3. Anticipation in Montreal.

Over the past dozen or so years it seems that a lot of Worldcons have been overseas, and with my career and CAF time commitments causing quite the pinch to my available time, we didn’t get to Australia, Helsinki, London, Dublin, or Wellington. Of course, we didn’t get to Chicago, Kansas City, San Antonio, Reno, or Spokane either. Hell, we didn’t even get to San Jose.

Recently, of course, there’s been COVID. So while we really, REALLY had plans to get to Washington, DC last year, that ultimately didn’t happen.

I had forgotten that the last one we actually got to was in 2009, Anticipation in Montreal. It’s been thirteen years. Time flies when you’re… Never mind.

Next year Worldcon is in Chengdu, China. As much as I enjoyed my one trip to China, I don’t realistically see us getting to Chengdu Worldcon 81st. For the 2024 Worldcon there’s only one bid, Glasgow, Scotland, so I’m guessing they’ll win the vote. We might actually give that a shot, it sounds like a great trip. 2025’s only bid so far is Seattle, where 2026 has bids from Los Angeles and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In summary, while the future looks good for at least a couple of domestic bids coming up and at least one realistic overseast trip, this year’s Worldcon in Chicago is where we’re focused. I think we’re going.

We have memberships, hotel reservations, and now plane reservations. Everything’s refundable if the world collapses (again) but we’re hopeful. Over Memorial Day weekend we went to Baycon up in San Mateo and it, while much smaller in size that in previous years (“Thanks, COVID!” ) was still enjoyable. I have no idea how big Chicon 8 will be compared to what I’m used to as a Worldcon, but I’m hoping for a fun convention and also some good sightseeing around Chicago. Maybe a Cubs game at Wrigley.

It’s about time to catch a break and get a little bit back to normal, if we can.

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Random Old Photos – July 12th

Okay, maybe not entirely random…

Yesterday’s spectacular first image from JWST and today’s additional images and spectra and data of course had me thinking about my 2015 NASA Social in which I got to be one of the first to see the Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary image as well as visit NASA Goddard where JWST was being assembled.

To see my full posts and pictures of that trip, either enter “NASA Social For Hubble25” in the search box at the upper right, or use the “Archives” box in the lower right to go to April 2015.

It was a fantastic trip!

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