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jmowreader

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 33,924

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Isn't the Malheur NWR headquarters closed in the winter?

Back in "the day" when the government actually had money to do things like build wildlife refuge headquarters and remote ranger stations, places like the Malheur headquarters would only be open from early spring to late fall. Since usage of the area was expected to be very light during the winter, they designed the roofs of these places to withstand snow weight, took all the paperwork and office equipment out of them on Closing Day, left the headquarters building unlocked in case snowshoers might want to use it, and had one Forest Service employee go up there on a snowcat every couple of weeks just to be sure the place hadn't fallen in.

Moral of this story: If Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is like Idaho's Red Ives Ranger Station was before Ronald Reagan took office, Bundy's "patriots" are occupying an abandoned building.

Disaster Status Report 1

As you may remember, on Thursday afternoon my car burned up in the middle of the street with half my wardrobe in the back seat. Fortunately, Thursday was also payday and this month features three paychecks, so I have one to spend on whatever I need.

On Friday I went to Spokane and bought five shirts, three pair of pants and some socks. After I get a new laundry basket or something similar, that part will be rectified.

Strange thing: my house key got distorted enough it was almost impossible to use, so I replaced my lockset with a nicer one. I was gonna anyway, but decided now was the time.

I also went car shopping. My original intent was to stash $1100 and buy an old shitbox off Craigslist, but I went around and looked at the shitboxes and...well, the name is pretty fucking accurate. Fortunately, my parents are old enough that they have to take distributions from all the IRAs they have scattered around, and they are able to loan me enough money to buy a decent car. So, on Tuesday night I'm going to take off early from work, jump on a bus for Seattle with my F4 and bank account number in hand, and buy a nicer car.

Infinite America, Part 7: A fiery end to a fantastic journey

The Story So Far
Part 1: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825480
Part 2: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825709
Part 3: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825986
Part 4: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018826315
Part 5: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018826928
Part 6: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018827194

Let's see...we've braved the fog-shrouded wastelands of America's northern tier...



scaled the heights of the Windy City...



risked life and limb in Mos Eisley Washington, DC...



absorbed our seditious heritage in Boston...



and been Bewitched in Salem!



Then we noshed on a truly excellent pastrami Reuben in New York...



before stopping to check our watches in Chicago...



and taking a very quick pass through Denver...



before leaving our hearts in San Francisco.



Now we're heading home...







The name of this train is slightly false advertising: the only "coast" you're going to see is in the Los Angeles area, which of course I didn't go to. On my trip you go through Oregon cropland during the daylight hours. In October it's not wonderful; in the summertime it should be superb.

Now I'm in Seattle. I've been here two other times for a full week both times, so I had quite a few pictures. I decided to visit Bainbridge Island by ferry - which I hadn't been to before. When I got to the ferry terminal, that ship had left but the Bremerton ferry was still there. Hmm...wait an hour for the Bainbridge ferry to make another run, or go back to Bremerton...Bremerton, please.



Returning from Bremerton, I walked up to Third Avenue and caught a bus to Fremont, where I visited the Troll...



and made sure Lenin would be warm this winter...



before firing off my very last frame.



So...what have we learned?

Traveling by train is great. Everyone should do it.
Spending two days in one town would be better than spending one day in each of two.
Larger backpacks! They're critical!

I had to call the cops on myself today. They were very nice.

After writing today's installment in my Infinite America series (tomorrow's the last day!) I got dressed, put my laundry in the back seat of my car, and drove off to the laundromat. I never made it. Smoke started coming out from under the back seat. Okay, no problem: I'll just put this thing in neutral, turn off the engine and coast home. (I wasn't far and it was downhill.) Then a LOT of smoke, then flames...I found the nearest place to pull over, did so, pulled the handbrake and got the fuck out of the car. Dude, there ain't NOTHING left. Flames thirty feet in the air. It looked like something out of a movie. The fire was so bad the windows melted. (I will, however, attest to the high quality of Saab gas tanks: The car was burning so fiercely I thought it would explode, but it didn't.)

I called 911 right after I got out of the car. A fire engine showed up and put the fire out. Two cops also arrived to direct traffic and take a statement, which didn't take long..."1987 Saab? Electrical fire? Yeah, that happens...no problem, we'll call a rollback to get it out of here."

I didn't get hurt, no other cars were around so no one else got damaged, and I didn't have anyone else in the car. Tomorrow I'll get new clothes to replace the ones that got burned up. At the end of the month I'll have a different car.

Infinite America, Part 6: From coast to coast in one fat post

The Story So Far
Part 1: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825480
Part 2: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825709
Part 3: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825986
Part 4: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018826315
Part 5: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018826928

When I left you, we were in New York City getting ready to go west. I saw Yankee Stadium...



...34th Street...



...the United Nations...



...midtown Manhattan...



...the Brooklyn Bridge area...



...the new World Trade Center...



...and, of course, the famous New York subway system.



You hear all these horror stories about the New York subway. It's dirty, it's dark, it's worn-out, it's full of criminals, it's just this awful, awful place. I used four subway systems on this trip: Washington, DC; Boston; New York; and San Francisco. The only one I'd count as "dirty" and "worn-out" is the DC Metro. All subways are "dark," no matter where in the world they are - which is a side effect of building a train station twenty feet underground. And as for "full of criminals"...I don't think I saw any "criminals" even on the DC Metro, but I haven't memorized what all the Republican congressmen look like. But they forget to tell you the REAL fun part about the New York Subway: how unbelievably hot the stations are. New York City has a huge public steam system. The steam system parallels the subway system, and the heat off the pipes winds up in the stations. Anyone sensitive to heat should only ride buses in New York City in the summer.

Now it's time to do a little nighttime training...





We rolled out of Penn Station a little after 3:30 pm bound for Chicago...



...passed through the Adirondacks...



...and returned to Union Station a little after 9 am.



The westbound California Zephyr is a very well-scheduled train: it goes through the flat, boring parts in the middle of the night. It also goes up the eastern side of the Rockies then, depositing you at Denver's Union Station very early in the morning...





which leads us to...







Now that we have the mandatory picture of a weed store out of the way...

I'm only going to show you two more pictures from Denver:



and



Denver has a lot of things to DO. Things to SEE are another story: it is a pretty, midsized Mountain West city but the really spectacular stuff is outside the city limits. If you want to go to Denver, take a week, rent a car and snag a Mile High Culture Pass. I found a food trailer selling doner kebabs, and that was kinda cool - he got the meat and the sauce right, but he is forced to use the wrong bread: American flatbread rather than the impossible-to-find Turkish doner kebab roll. I'll let him slide on that one.

Returning to




...this is where it gets really good.













This picture fairly screams, "bring a camera with between-frame data imprinting and a handheld GPS on a trip like this!" When I got the film back from the lab, I kinda thought this was a Montana picture. Then I looked a little closer. See that building just to the left of the three two-story buildings? It says "Walker's Toggery" on it. A quick Google search shows Walker's Toggery in Truckee, California. Nope, not Montana.

With as much film as I had, getting confused is understandable. If you write down the time and GPS coordinates of everywhere you expose a frame, then use Google Maps to display the locations when you get home, you'll never get confused. There are only five cameras I know of that will print the data BETWEEN frames, which is what you want: Nikon's F4 and F5 have optional data backs, the Nikon F6 includes it as a standard feature - with the price tag of an F6 being what it is, they SHOULD give it to you! - and in medium format, both the Hasselblad H-series and the Mamiya 645AF series will do it. If you want a medium-format autofocus camera and you see either of those, grab it QUICK: because both are designed to accept digital backs as well as film backs, people buy used bodies to mount digital backs on. The back itself is between $10,000 and $20,000, so you can well understand the attraction! My recommendation: Get an F4 with the MF-23 back. There are a lot of them out there, they're super cheap (less than $200, in most cases) and they work extremely well. If I'd have had enough room in my pack to hold a second camera, I would have brought mine.

There are a lot of tunnels on this route. One springs to mind quickly: The train staff got on the intercom and announced that "once we pass through this tunnel, we will be at the highest elevation Amtrak travels." Naturally, I'm sitting there staring intently through my viewfinder, finger at the ready, prepared to shoot the glorious scene from the top of the world when the mighty Zephyr roared out above the highest point in the entire Amtrak system...and then the train actually emerged from the tunnel. The trees up there were so dense, seeing anything would have been like looking through a green Berlin Wall.





Strange thing: a lot of the Rockies are bare of trees. It's not because of clearcutting; an Idahoan can spot a clearcut from twenty miles away. It's more like the ground has lost the ability to support trees there. I'd love to take a handful of Republicans on this route and ask them, "what the hell?" but you know Republicans would never support a socialist enterprise like Amtrak. (They stick to socialist enterprises like the air traffic system and the highway system.)

We coursed our way out of the Sierra Nevadas and around the Navy's floating maritime graveyard to arrive at Emeryville, California - the worst-placed station on the whole Amtrak network. Amtrak knows this, so they have bus service between the station and San Francisco. Of course, I didn't remember you could buy tickets for the bus through the Quik-Trak kiosk sitting right there, so I decided to walk (a very long walk at that) to the BART station and ride the subway into San Francisco.



Speaking of the San Francisco subway...if the word "sparkling" can apply to a subway, it applies to BART. They do things right there.

The first of my two days in SF was spent on the waterfront, or walking to it...



This is the back of the Ghirardelli factory, where the chocolate is made. Strangely enough, you can't smell chocolate on the air around here.

Please help me out here: There's a CVS drugstore where Jefferson Street becomes The Embarcadero. In it they have a good assortment of San Francisco souvenirs. One of the things they sell is an "Alcatraz gift basket" with a bunch of Alcatraz-themed crap...and also a chocolate bar labeled "Alcatraz Good Behavior Bar." (I got some chocolate, but not THAT chocolate.) Come on...did they actually give these to inmates, or is this just invented tourist crap?



This is why I'll never move to San Francisco: the houses are zero inches apart - literally; they TOUCH, which is one of the reasons every house in San Francisco is masonry - and the streets are kinda steep. Strange thing: everyone knows about Lombard Street, the "crookedest street in America." It is not, however, the STEEPEST. Leavenworth Street leading up to the base of Lombard is worse. There are streets even worse than that. Would you like to be the richest person in San Francisco? Start a company that does brake jobs in office building parking lots.



I usually shy away from "standard tourist photos" but a fella can't go to San Francisco and NOT photograph Alcatraz.



There are CABLE cars, which the tourists ride, and STREET cars, which everyone rides. This is a streetcar. There are several, and no two look alike.



For reasons unknown I have a vast collection of pictures of coves.



Did they "restore" The Castro Theater, or did they keep it nice and not have to? Either way, it's beautiful - and a lot more fun than your ordinary cineplex.



Figure this shit out: How in hell do you build a COUNTRY CLUB (that's what the sign says, "Castro Country Club") on the side of an 80-percent grade in the middle of the most densely constructed city in America?



The Castro relishes its history as the West Coast's epicenter of the Gay Rights movement, like the Haight-Ashbury district celebrates its place in hippie culture. They do not, however, seem so willing to relish actual hippies and gay people: as soon as the hippies fixed up the Haight and the gays fixed up the Castro, the landlords priced both groups out of their homes. Now the gays are working on the Tenderloin...which desperately needs it.



They're sluts. But that doesn't change the fact this bank actually LOOKS like a bank, not a dentist's office.

I returned to Emeryville and waited for the train. Ten pm comes. No train. Ten-thirty comes. "We are delayed because there is a car stalled on the tracks in Oakland." Hang on for a second kids, that's what the train is for: recruit twenty or thirty people from it to go outside and push the car back, and the problem's solved. Eventually they got the car out of the way, the train arrived, and we loaded on and immediately went to sleep.

Tomorrow: we're pointed at Seattle; that will close out our little excursion.

Infinite America, Part 5: On the joys of being Captain Asoh

Where we've been so far:

Part 1: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825480
Part 2: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825709
Part 3: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825986
Part 4: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018826315

Captain Kohei Asoh was a World War II veteran of the Japanese air force who was employed as a captain for Japan Air Lines. On November 22, 1968, he landed a DC-8 in San Francisco Bay - so gently they were able to fish the plane out of the ocean, repair it and fly it for 32 more years. He then ended the NTSB investigation of the incident by telling the panel, "as you Americans say, I fucked up."

I tell you about Captain Asoh because I pulled an Asoh while writing this: I had a really nice post going, and then I closed the window and erased it all. Aargh! So...attempt number two follows.



I left Boston at 8:30 in the morning and arrived in New York about four hours later. Unfortunately, the sky was so cloudy and dark along the route I couldn't get any good pictures. (Note to all: ISO 400 film is Good.) I arrived at Penn Station just in time for lunch, and visited NY Pizza Suprema, which is right across the street from Madison Square Garden. There I learned the real reason genuine New York slices taste so much better than "New York Style pizza" anywhere else: it's the oven. Bake greasy pizza in a cast-iron Real Pizza Oven for fifty years, and the aromas from those millions of pies will saturate the pores in the metal to produce a flavor you'll never get from one of those hot-air atrocities people who've never been to New York attempt to make "New York style" pizza in. Word to the wise: Never eat New York pizza if you aren't in New York.



Manhattan is a Las Vegas Casino Buffet for the eye. The hardest part of photographing there isn't finding photos, but in holding yourself back.







Another of the (very few) pictures I preplanned: the Brooklyn Bridge - which everyone knows about - is in the foreground, the relatively unknown Manhattan Bridge in the background.



This is the side of the Brooklyn Bridge's Manhattan approach. Does anyone know why there are doors in it?



How do you get a "different" look at Yankee Stadium, one of the most-photographed things in New York? Set up in a side window of the subway station, of course!



(And be sure to get a ground-level picture of it too...)



Under the subway is also...well, interesting.

The moral of this story: New York really needs a full week.

Tomorrow: Off to Denver.

Infinite America, Part 0: Will do very large issue tomorrow

This is my earliest work day, so no time to make a new article. A thousand apologies and will make up for it tomorrow.

The land of the bean and the cod: Infinite America, Part 4 - Massachusetts

Part 1: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825480
Part 2: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825709
Part 3: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825986

Infinite America's eastern leg visits Washington, DC; Boston; and New York City. There are many ways to string those three cities together into a coherent whole; the least expensive way is to use the red-eye train between Boston and Washington, which leaves one city in the 10 pm hour and arrives in the other in the 7 am hour.





When I was in school at Fort Devens in 1982, it cost $3 one-way to take Greyhound between Ayer and Boston. The bus went to South Station, which is pictured here. In 1982, South Station was not a nice place to be. Sadly enough, North Station was better and it was old and worn-out. (It had character, though, which the North Station they built in TD Garden does not.) Thirty-three years was plenty of time for them to fix the place up, and they did well.





I hope whoever invented the wedge-shaped building took out a patent on it. I have quite a few of them in my book, and everyone who sees it "knows" exactly where a particular building is. Unfortunately for me, most of the places people "know" are places I have never been. (This particular specimen is two blocks from the Garden.)



Until I did the day before Columbus Day in Boston I didn't know how big a deal it is there. I also didn't know there was a movement afoot to replace it with Indigenous People's Day. Columbus being one of history's more prominent assholes, they've got a point





The Coast Guard has a fairly good-size presence in Boston.



This was pretty slick of one of Boston's previous police chiefs: Convince the state police to pay to patrol the city waterways.



Zoom in on the green sign on the building in the middle, read it out loud, and it becomes clear Bostonians can laugh at themselves.

On to Day 2...





A lot of towns wrap their streetside utility cabinets because ugly-ass grey steel boxes are...well, ugly. Why hasn't anyone else turned one into a Tardis?



This is the old railroad control tower in Salem, and it's one of the reasons I like New England so much. A lot of the country will stick a sign at a Famous Historical Place..."In this place was a dilapidated old house in which George Washington had slept. We tore it down and built a sparkling new McDonald's in which he had slept." New England fixes up the dilapidated old house...and puts the McDonald's in it.



This is about the best shot of the House of the Seven Gables you're going to get if they don't hire you and let you set up a lot of equipment inside another building on the grounds.



It's impossible to forget the "McDonald's" joke because it was only two pictures ago, but here's proof: Whatever this WAS a hundred or 150 years ago when they built it, it's a seafood restaurant now.



This is not a classic ship from the era of sail. It's fifteen years old and was built with the best knowledge and technology as a floating museum...one that's certified by the Coast Guard and is sailed occasionally. Still pretty, though.



I'm pretty sure the boaters of Northeastern Mass were pissed when the Friendship was delivered; this boat launch looks to be in good shape and was probably in heavy use until the National Park Service closed it.



Yes, I had to put a picture of a cemetery in here somewhere.



Salem embraces its maritime heritage. Fortunately, Salem Harbor is too shallow to take a container ship.



Salem also embraces the atrocity that was its witch-trial heritage. So we have this nice little statue of a witch on a broom..."why in hell does the witch look exactly like Elizabeth Montgomery?" Because it IS Elizabeth Montgomery: the statue was donated by the TV Land network, who airs Bewitched.



They embrace their seditious history too...the plaque on the corner of this building explains its role in the Revolution.

Well...off to New York, shall we? Catch ya this time tomorrow!

Infinite America, Part 3a: Solving the Great Debate - In-n-Out or Shake Shack?

It's the Heavyweight Championship of the Burger World!

In the western corner, weighing in at 305 stores clustered around California, we have In-n-Out! They offer a basic menu of burgers, fries and shakes, all customizable to the nth degree.

In the eastern corner, weighing in at somewhere around 35 stores, say hello to Shake Shack! The brainchild of a fine dining magnate named Danny Meyer, they offer a broad assortment of gourmet hamburgers, fries, frozen custard, hot dogs, beer and wine.

I ate at both, and chose meals as close as I could get to each other for a fair comparison.

First, Shake Shack, which I visited at Washington's Union Station. It was VERY busy in there. It's a very modern-looking place. They've got a foosball table on the second floor. It's pretty, I'll give them that.

I had a Double ShackBurger, a Shack Fries, a Shack Coke and a pint of chocolate frozen custard.

The best thing on the menu was the frozen custard. It may be the best ice cream I've ever eaten, and I've had a lot of it. Since Shake Shack is based in NYC, the frozen custard capital of the universe, they have very high expectations to meet and, from what I see, they did pretty well. (Strangely enough, you'd think a NYC-based fast food chain would also serve egg creams, but Shake Shack doesn't even in Manhattan.)
The Coke was just utility-grade Coke, but it's served in a pint cup - one just like the custard came in. It's about three times the price of a large soda from McDonald's and it's less than half the size. Plus, no refills. List this as a total ripoff.
Fries? Out of the freezer. The customer wanted frozen crinkle-cuts and that's what he got. Nothing either bad or good here; they are what they are.
The burger is the issue. The biggest problem is you can't taste the meat! Imagine an eight-dollar gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and you know what a Shackburger is like. There's a reason the Smoke Shack, which puts peppers and bacon on a Shackburger, is so popular: at least you can taste those things.

Scale of 1-5: decor 5, popularity 5, food 2.5 - and if I'd have skipped the frozen custard it would be 2. Not worth the money, which is substantial. (IIRC it was around $23 for that meal.)

Next comes In-n-Out. I went to the one on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. There's good and bad here:

First, the food. It is good. The hand-cut, single-cooked fries are as close to crisp as I've ever had from that sort of fry. The burger - I got a Double-Double - is tasty, with a nice meaty bite balancing out the cheese. I had both a lemonade and a shake - In-n-Out doesn't sell ice cream so this is as good as it gets, and I added the lemonade because it was hot and I was thirsty. (And it was really good.) Prices are reasonable.
The decor is "Nineteen Fifties Diner Traditional." That's fine.
Now for the bad: WAY too little room for the customer flow they get. I went in October and there were so many people in there you couldn't breathe; I can just imagine what it would be like in July. People were walking away because it was so damn crowded.
I wanted to try some of the Secret Menu you guys who love In-n-Out rave about...but after I saw the 2000 other people in there I realized I'd be a total asshole to ask for something special, and got just the "regular menu" chow. I will have to drive to California and hit an In-n-Out when it's not packed to see what all the fuss is about. Regular menu ain't bad, tho.

Scale of 1-5: decor 4, popularity about 25, food 4.5. A good deal if you don't starve to death waiting to be served.

The verdict: For mass-produced burgers In-n-Out is clearly the choice, but compared to a small chain like San Francisco's Super Duper Burger it's just okay. Go to Shake Shack for the custard and forget about the rest of the menu.

And now the fun begins! Infinite America, Part 3: Chicago to Washington, DC

Part 1: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825480
Part 2: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018825709



We arrived at Chicago's Union Station a little after 5 pm. At this point I could get all poetic and talk about the surging masses of humanity eagerly streaming toward the streets of the vibrant city. Naah...we were all headed toward the restroom.



That taken care of, I found Union Station's main staircase, which was made famous in Kevin Costner's The Untouchables. It's still there, and now features escalators! Progress is good.



Amtrak is restoring some of its more historic stations, and there are few more historic than Chicago's Union Station.

I spent one night in Chicago, and lodged at Hosteling International-Chicago. Hostels are the civilian equivalent of open-bay barracks; since I lived in the barracks for over a decade, I figured I'd fit right in. This place is like what you'd get if Conrad Hilton had joined the Army, or an HGTV makeover show invaded Fort Bragg - REALLY nice, and really close to the lake. My room had a window that looked right out on the L, so I kinda felt like I was Elwood Blues. Naturally, at breakfast the next morning I had two pieces of dry white toast.

HI-Chicago is on Congress Avenue. If you walk out the front door and turn left, walking a few blocks gets you to Buckingham Fountain. You'll notice it's off. It normally runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. thru mid-October, but on the day I was in Chicago they were preparing the area around it for the Chicago Marathon and the wind was coming in from across the lake...yeah, it would have been pretty miserable trying to erect tents while getting drenched by the water coming off the fountain.



It also gives you a pretty decent view of the historic, and expensive, Congress Hotel...



I then locked up my camera and headed to Giordano's on Jackson Boulevard, just a few blocks away from the hostel, for a Chicago Casserole. The official name for this dish is "stuffed pizza," which is a misnomer. I've also heard it referred to as a "stuffed pie" or an "Easter pie," which are closer to the truth. Imagine making a two-crust apple pie with cheese and pizza meat rather than fruit in it and pizza sauce baked on top, and you're on the right track. It is very tasty and if I lived in Chicago I would eat a lot of them, but tastiness does not change what it is - and what it is, is not a pizza. The other problem is how big these are: I can normally slam down a "small" pizza by myself in one sitting, but a "small" one of these would be a hard row to hoe for two. Some homeless guy got a pretty decent meal that evening. Giordano's has a lunch version of this sized for one, which they should serve all the time.

Amusing Giordano's story: Every Mafia movie has a restaurant with a private dining room in the back where the Mafia met to hammer out deals. Giordano's has one of those rooms...and they seated me in it...next to a table with six guys hammering out a deal. The deal sounded legitimate, but I still thought it was pretty cool.

Before I left Coeur d'Alene I printed out a list of all the places in Chicago where the Blues Brothers was filmed. If the sky was blue I was planning to visit at least the two bridges and the area where Matt and Aretha's restaurant was. And, of course, have some fried chicken somewhere along the way - I don't think I could eat four whole chickens no matter how many Cokes I had with them, but half a chicken is definitely doable. If the sky was gray, I was going to look at the lake and the downtown area.

The sky was grayer than John Boehner's lungs. Downtown, here I come.



Chicago is no longer Carl Sandburg's Hog Butcher for the World, but it's still a Player with Railroads. This particular specimen is part of the Metra Electric District.

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The advantages of buying in bulk: the Chicago River, and the canal connecting it to Lake Michigan, are festooned with drawbridges that all look basically alike.



Like they say...if ya got it, flaunt it. What a lovely place to spend your lunch hour, or to stroll on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Chicago has one tiny problem: The Land Stretcher has not been invented. Creative architects have devised ingenious solutions to that issue, like...



putting an apartment building above a parking garage...



or a road on top of another one...



or a restroom forty feet above street level. Hey, if you can't jump up there you really didn't need to go that bad, now did you?



The Columbia Yacht Club uses this retired Canadian ferry as its clubhouse. A sign posted next to it says the ship will hold an entire passenger train, which makes a ton of sense: if you need to cross a wide body of water, it's better to use a ship than a bridge.



No historical significance here: I just liked this one.



The Merchandise Mart is the nation's premier B2B salon for the furnishings, fixtures and appliance industry. If you are in that industry, you can go in here and see anything you might ever want to sell or install. (If you're not in that industry you can't go in here at all.) At one time the Merchandise Mart was the biggest building by square footage east of the Mississippi, but from the other side of the canal it looks nowhere as big as it is. Maybe it's an optical illusion; it's actually one of the shortest buildings on the canal.



I have some pretty decent photos of the Great Hall at Union Station, but the problem is, the 45mm lens (equivalent to 28mm on my Nikon) I was carrying just isn't wide enough to take in the grandeur of the thing in one frame. I'm thinking "fisheye lens, and lie on the floor pointing straight up" action. So...I present to you one of the coolest lampposts you will ever see.

Finally, I dined at Al's Beef although "dined" seems a bit prissy for the way you eat here: lean over the table, chow down with gusto and worry about the stains on your tie later. The Italian beef sandwich is one of the finer culinary creations this nation has ever produced: a "French dip" sandwich dunked in au jus, and covered with the giardinera Chicagoans put on everything.



A bit after 6 pm, the Capitol Limited took off for Washington. This is one of the wonders of the modern world: huge rock outcroppings were laboriously chipped away over a century ago, and the rock formations would have made beautiful images...if you were carrying a pair of night vision glasses to shoot through, because it is REALLY dark in there. I'll leave you with this little river shot and go on.





Ah, America's favorite Republican-infested sewer.



This is where our best Republican president was shot...



...and this is where he died...



...and this is where he never would have seen the inside of if he had to put up with teabaggers.



There are two ways to plan any vacation. You can buy a guidebook and meticulously arrange your journey to take in all the touristy attractions...or you can stick a pin in a map and find photos there, which is what I do. This is one of the few shots I actually planned before I left.

Unfortunately, today I have to make this short (gotta go to work very early to scrub out a plate processor) but tomorrow...it's off to Boston!
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