Thursday, June 28, 2007

Chicago Part Four (fin)

This is my last post, covering day 5 of our trip and day 6, which was just me traveling home.

Austin wanted to cram a ton of stuff in to our last day - and I did, too, but it was HOT and so muggy. We started off at the Field Museum, for FREE thanks to Mike (my friend Jenna's fiance). Woohoo!

Devon used to be in a band called Archeopteryx, so I was psyched to see the museum covered by this huge Archeopteryx banner:

This was another museum where I loved the architecture... the exhibits were pretty good, too, but there were a million rambunctious children everywhere... and I got a little overwhelmed. Blah.

I was starting to miss home so it was nice to stand on this huge floor map of the Pacific Ocean. Hey, there's my house!

Austin and I split up, which was probably good since I think he spent allll of his time oohing and aahing over the dinosaur exhibits. He was really into dinosaurs when he was about 10, and now he's getting all back into it. Nerrrrrd!

(more Archeopteryx):

One thing that was really frustrating about the museum was the layout - there were several exhibits that I couldn't find an exit out of. This one even had an exit sign RIGHT next to a sign that says, "this is not an exit".... huh?!

Austin and I were really impressed with our sticky visitor badges - they were white but they turned purple when we walked outside. Oooh! Technology!!

Next we walked up the Lakeshore Trail (so lovely, and with a little refreshing breeze) to where the river meets the lake. Lovely! We saw some movie construction going on and speculated as to whether it might be for the new Batman movie. More on that later.

We walked up the river shore a little to find the Architectural Boat Tour that we wanted to take. Success! First we spotted a cute little bun that let me take his photo before scampering away:

And now, the boat tour. It was awesome!!

There was a bit of rain but nothing like the Friday before. My feet were tired and Austin was dying to go up to Sear's Tower... so after some thought, we split up again. Little did I know that he would get a free photo of himself in front of, well, a green screen with the view from Sear's Tower superimposed onto it. Sweet stuff!

Later, back at the apartment, we had a good time just chit chatting and hanging out on the balcony.

We had a delicous dinner, and then we walked back to the U of C to spy on, yes, Batman filming!!!

Okay, so we didn't see Christian Bale (sigh) or anyone famous, but it was really mellow and cool and interesting.

On the way home I took some experimental nighttime shots of the beautiful buildings in the area... I had no tripod but just held my breath for 1 second long exposures...

And that's my trip! Thanks for checking it all out... The slideshow (also embedded below) has even more photos if you find yourself with a long lunch break or something...

Chicago Part Three

On Sunday, Jackie and Marcin drove Austin and I Northwest (not sure what neighborhood) to visit some of my friends from college. I got to see Dan, Jenna (and meet her fiance and their puppy!), Summer (and meet her husband and their baby!), and enjoy delicious goat cheese, black bean, and scrambled eggs quesadillas, fresh fruit, screwdrivers, and bloody marys with cute little yellow pear tomatoes in them. Thanks Dan!

Dave is very patient as baby Pierson has found a lightswitch:

Baby "Turtle" is exhausted from the heat (and the difficulty of being adorable):

When someone got him water in this little dish, he slurped at it half heartedly before laziness took over, and he tipped the bowl over and put his face in it, and went back to sleep. Gotta respect a guy who knows how to hydrate.

Jenna's beautiful engagement ring:

On our way home we passed the chocolate factory, which we could smell making chocolate several times throughout the weekend. Mmmm!

Jackie has these little degus as pets - very cute:

Next we drove to the suburbs to visit Jackie's family (it was Father's Day, after all). Since it is the summer of the 17 year cicada:

You can grab them really easily (cause they're dumb and slow) and if you gently press their wings they make a grumbly, old man kind of sound sound... very funny.

I made Jackie and Marcin pose on her grandmother's lawn for a split second and grabbed this cute portrait of them. Neener neener Jackie!

We had a great dinner with Jackie's parents and one of her sisters (and her boyfriend). Great conversation, food, dessert and... fireflies! Only the second time EVER I've seen fireflies! That was awesome.

Jackie's dad had a tripod so we set up this simple shot with just on camera flash and the self timer:

Their deck is under construction - can ya tell?

Jackie's mom was very playful and put a cicada in her mouth on a dare:

This cat was super grouchy but she made herself look very scholarly but cuddling up on the books:

On the drive home... we passed this pretty nightscape. Even though I hate Wilco, I got a lot of great shots of these buildings:

Jackieand Marcin's kitty examining the degus:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

(slight detour)

I love this song so so so so much. The video too. It's basically perfection. The hair! The music! The staircase! The SUCH soulful singing! The "plot" of the video!

I just wanted to share. This has been one of my favorite videos since I was 6.

Ahem, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Chicago Part Two

On our third day of travel, we started off with a quick dip in Lake Michigan - the weather was hot enough for us to swim; the lake was just warm enough but still cool and clean; everything was perfect!

Then Austin and I went to the Museum at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Right outside, we saw this awesome sight:

Tons of Segway riders on a tour of downtown Chicago. (in that picture above, Austin's going "nerrrrrrrrrrds!", a la "Revenge of the Nerds")

Austin and I grew up with an art history-degreed mother who also paints/ sculpts/ does lithography, so there's both the rebellion against that ("museum? boooooring!") and the huge amount of knowledge and interest that has leaked into our brains via osmosis.

For example, I was surprised that I recognized a huge amount of painters' styles (there were a lot of lesser-known works by Impressionist masters), and definitely most of their names. Then I remembered helping mom with her flash cards before finals!

I liked the Impressionist works at the museum a lot, for the most part. I love this self portrait by Van Gogh:

I love his style, because when you get up close, it looks like this, totally 3 dimensional!

Here's that famous Seurat painting. It was definitely cool in person, but it's funny how people at museums always act a certain way:

I'm not super into pointillism... mostly cause, well, it's weird, and kinda yucky up close:

Some other favorites:

Also, I really loved the architecture of the building itself:

There was a really great photo exhibit, too - unfortunately the website doesn't at all do it justice. But check it out, if you have a chance!

After the museum closed, we walked up to Millennium Park to check out the bean. We were not disappointed!

Okay, so technically it's called "Cloud Gate", but we liked "the bean" better.

We loved this thing! All the other tourists did too... Really, pictures don't quite do it justice (though obviously I had to try). For some reason the thing is just SO COOL!

Next we took a train up to Wicker Park just to see where the hipsters might live, and to give North Chicago a tiny modicum of love, since we really had no overall reason to go there.

Unfortunately, Wicker Park poured down a sudden rainstorm on us, so we ended up a little bummed on it.

Even so, we enjoyed eating at Earwax, and checking out Myopic Books (regardless of ridiculous "High Fidelity" type of snobbery from the one clerk), and would've liked to check out the area more. Ah, well, perhaps next time! Austin's sort of a Jazz Jock anyway, so that's not really his scene (but, embarrassingly, I guess it's mine?).

Then we got on the wrong bus (due to a super helpful and supremely incorrect bus driver) back to Michigan Avenue to try to make sunset at the John Hancock Tower. Even though he dropped us off 15 blocks south (as opposed to his claimed 5 blocks south) of the tower, we managed to find Jackie and Marcin and whisk up the 96 (I think) stories to the cheesy little bar/ restaurant up top just in time for the final sunset light to change to night. Very pretty!

We enjoyed overpriced mojitos and stunning views (and I tried not to over think the whole height thing). Jackie kept apologizing for the bit of haze that obscured what I guess is normally a super long and horizon-reaching view, which I thought was funny (being from the SF area, after all. Hello, fog!).

Then she took us down to lower Wacker again, where I caught a quick shot but was really focused on not getting hit by a car:

and out to the spectacular Chicago River view. I love this river - and it doesn't even smell bad!