Grant Park: Icons on Chicago’s “Front Yard”

After writing a couple of great articles about the Art Institute of Chicago and Second City, I talked pal Jon Rochetti into another article, complete with some of his photos, from his recent trips to Chicago. Enjoy!   Even before the Chicago Fire of 1871, civic leaders realized that the city’s lakefront was something that should be protected to be enjoyed by all Chicagoans.  Chicago’s Grant Park (map) lies between the downtown business “loop” and The Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.) and Lake Michigan.  It covers 319 acres and hosts three exceptional museums: the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, and the Field Museum of Natural History, along with many of Chicago’s favorite icons. Much of the park is actually landfill from the Chicago fire and the city’s first underground subway system. An old tunnel system was built to hold underground telephone cables but after […]

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The Art Institute of Chicago

Today I have a guest post from a very dear friend, Jon Rochetti.  You may have seen his photos accompanying many of my posts, and if you haven’t, take a look here or here or here.  Today, I’m very excited to share with you some of his great writing, along with his photos. ——————- The Windy City”¦The Second City”¦City of Broad Shoulders”¦The City of My Youth – Chicago. I visited Chicago last weekend in a role I haven’t been in years – a tourist.  Usually I visit old friends or travel for business; but this trip was a brother/sister trip to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday and her first trip “home” in over 15 years.  After visiting childhood homes, old schools, parks where we played as children and even the church were my parents were married, we toured some of the city’s more famous […]

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NYC: The Hudson River Bike Path to the Little Red Lighthouse

A guest post from my pal, Jeffrey Whelan. —————————- Yes, there really is a little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. It is right at the edge of the Hudson River on the Manhattan side, and I have biked up to it many times. In recent years, New York City has spruced up and expanded the bike path, building parks and recreational piers along it to attract people to the water’s edge.  The ride up is varied and scenic, and takes only 45 minutes from midtown. The lighthouse itself was immortalized in the 1942 children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”  written by Hildegarde Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward. The book itself is still in print, and is largely responsible for the preservation of the lighthouse after  the U.S. Coast Guard deactivated it. The NYC […]

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10 Last Minute Ideas for Your Kids' Last Days of Summer Vacation

The idea of vacationing at home seemed to resonate with readers, both as a money saving idea, and as a practical solution with time remaing before school starts.  Here are some ideas for those of you in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area.  For those of you who don’t live in this area, use the ideas to think about what’s available in your hometown. What are you waiting for?  Pick one.  Pick another.  Send the kids back to school with lots of fond memories about the best summer vacation ever. Pacific Science Center:  Dinosaurs, butterflies, and insects co-mingle with technology and astronomy in creating exhibits that make you think and wonder why. Woodland Park Zoo:  All the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you. . . . Come see the lions, and tigers, and bears in natural habitats.  Don’t forget […]

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10 Tips to Help You Deal with Airport Security

Most days I really love my job.  It’s not glamorous, like you see in the movies, but it provides me a great deal of flexibility, variety, and personal enjoyment while meeting my needs to make a living.  While I occasionally have a lousy flight (or trip, or sometimes even a month), the good still overwhelmingly outweighs the bad. That’s part of the reason why a day like today is so difficult. I know that all the passengers on the plane have been through hell ““just to get to the plane.  It may not make you feel any better, but we had to go through the same thing.  We know what it feels like.  The security lines are long, and tempers are short, and patience is in short supply.  There are a lot of people who didn’t make their flights today, […]

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Seattle Underground: The Subterranean Neighborhood

This neighborhood just isn’t like it used to be!  No one can argue with how the Pioneer Square area of Seattle has changed over the last couple of decades.  Before it was what you see now, there was a whole other neighborhood of streets and storefronts, all of which were destroyed in the Seattle fire of 1889. The fire turned out to be a good thing for the city.  Although it totally devastated 29 square blocks of the city, including nearly all of the business district, most of the wharves, and the railroad terminals, the rebuildding of the city post-fire was a turning point in Seattle’s history.  At that point, Seattle began the proess of becoming a real city. The day after the fire, a town meeting was held, and it was agreed that the city would be rebuilt with […]

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Money Saving Travel Tips

Everybody wants to save a little money these days.  A few dollars here, a few dollars there, and pretty soon it is real money! There are a variety of ways to save money when it comes to traveling.  The first thing you need to think about, though, is what you have to give up to save the money.  If you’re not giving up anything, it’s an easy to choice.  But realistically, to save a couple bucks or two, something’s going to have to give.  Maybe it’s just a little expenditure of time; maybe it’s some unneeded luxury; maybe it’s something you don’t want in the first place.  All those are easy trade-offs to save some money. Just be careful in a trade-off that involves something that you really want.  If you really want to stay at a hotel in a […]

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How to Ask for an Upgrade

One of the easiest ways to get an upgraded seat on an airplane, or room at a hotel, is to simply ask.  It won’t work every time, but when it does, you’ll be glad that you tried it. Your approach is important.  This is not the time to try to impress anyone with how important you are, how valuable a customer you are, or to try to bluff you way through the process.  Instead, this is a time for politeness, and graciousness, to the person who is in the position to do you a favor.  I’m not suggesting that you pull a major suck-up act, that’s just an offensive as bluster, but good manners matter in this situation. Two types of upgrades will be available:   Upgrades for free:  The ultimate something for nothing.  For airline travel, ask the agent […]

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How to Cope With Car Sickness

I’m not really a car trip person.  I come to this conclusion honestly: As a child, car trips with my father were a marathon drive session, interrupted by a short time spent doing something, and then the marathon drive continued. I get carsick. I don’t remember getting carsick as a child, but then I always remember having lots of things to do in the car.  Books, games, paper and pencil, color books, etc. Riding in the car, watching the world go past, engenders first a headache, which, if quick intervention is not provided, soon spreads to a general feeling of lethargy throughout my entire body.  This can be after as short a period of time as 10 minutes, or it can take upwards of an hour or so for the onset. Part of me would really like to embrace the […]

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Converting Celsius to Fahrenheit

I’ve been traveling in Canada the past couple of weeks, and have had to contend with converting to the metric system. In my zeal to warm up my chilly hotel room, I misjudged the Celsius scale, and turned the room into a (pick one): Sauna Inferno Circle of Hell My ignorance apparently knows no limit in this regard, and if you were listening really carefully, you would have heard me mutter:  “What’s wrong with Fahrenheit?  Why can’t they just do it the way we do?” Fortunately, common sense returned to my addled brain, and relying, once again, on the kindness of others, I finally was able to recall the little formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit: Multiply the Celsius temperature by two, and then add 30.  (It’s not exact, but it’s close enough for my purposes.) So, when my temperature […]

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