Many travels – Saint Louis

Many thanks to Kate for both hosting me and for taking all the awesome pictures.  Tim gets thanks for hosting too, and Tony gets thanks for driving me to the airport, and Cat gets thanks for just being awesome.

The *new* *improved* attraction of Saint Louis is the City Garden downtown.  Not only does this place have tons of awesome sculptures like the dancy chimes, the rabbits, and the giant-legged starhorse, but it was also chock full of fountains.  Prime fountaining location.  And they actually want you to play in them!

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Bunny!

Bunny!

Bunny again!

Bunny again!

Giant-legged starhorse

Giant-legged starhorse

We also ran off to IL for a gathering with a bunch of Tim’s friends, which was lovely.  There was a nice fire, a delicious hammock, plenty of great people and good conversation, some learning about companion plants, a shrimp boil, and tons of other awesome food to play with.  I did get bitten by mosquitoes quite a bit, and the tent was a bit rough on my ancient bones, but otherwise, a splendid time.  I especially enjoyed playing with my food.

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Finally, on Sunday I was part of the crowd watching True Blood at Cat and Tony’s place.  I had prepared for this, my first-ever viewing, by reading the wikipedia articles and all the online synopses I could find, and filling in my gaps with Kate’s extensive knowledge of the show.  I felt as if I’d seen the whole show from the beginning.  Alas, I had not, a deficiency which Ivy in Portland has decided she will soon correct.  And then I have to read the books.  In my copious spare time.

This concludes my travel section for the summer.  As of now, I am in Portland, settling in, mentally preparing for law school, and generally making a nuisance of myself.  Hooray!

Many Travels – Chicago, Part Jo and Suitcase

This will be a mostly pictoral adventure.

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Here’s Suitcase at the train station, taking a little rest after trundling all the way from Tina’s apartment.

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Jo-Jo and Suitcase grab a quick nap on the train.  It had been a tiring time for us all – exhaustingly fun, like being around me often is.

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Samba-stepping Jo leads Suitcase to an empty grassy area for more dancing!

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Finally both Jo-Jo and Suitcase collapse from shaking it.

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Suitcase takes a rest and poses with the giant reflective bean.

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Jo, Suitcase, and giant Chinese dinosaur.  Big Red was part of a sculpture exhibit of modern Chinese works.  I’ll leave the naked people/pig/red wrecking crane sculpture to your imagination.

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Suitcase makes a final stop at Cosi for lunch, and then he’s off to the Plains states.

Many Travels – Chicago Part 1

There are people who intersect your life not without impact, but without disruption.  A part of it has to do with knowing someone well.  Time passes, and regular communication may lapse, but still there is a strong connection.  Another part of it has to do with the pattern of a contrasting life.  Knowing someone parallels you in certain ideas, in humor or behavior, or in any number of other small kernels allows for you to walk in step with certain people more easily.  Jo is one of those people for me, so of course I went to Chicago to see her while she was in this country.  And it was good.  It was as if I’d spent no time away from my Jo-Jo.  It also allowed me to relax and for awhile not stress about all the life changes I have to worry about from moving cross-country.

The first day I was late to pick her up at the airport because I failed to correctly estimate how long it would take me to get out there on public transportation.  Point one against me.  Then we went into the city and just sat down to coffee and tea before we were supposed to meet some of my friends, Dave and Allie, for dinner.  Of course, then I totally messed up where we were supposed to meet them, and made them walk twenty minutes out of their way to find us.  Point two.  Still we had a lovely dinner at a reasonably authentic Mexican place, and Jo had a beer.  it was the first time I’d seen her drink alchohol in my life, since she’d taken a break from it while we were working together in China.  So here’s the shocking proof:

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Then we headed out to Oak Park, to meet with Tina, who was our host and hotelier for the next few days.  Yay Tina!

The next day we went to Buzz Cafe, which is a breakfast place just around the corner from Tina’s.  Jo had never eaten pancakes before.  Evidently the crazy little island (GB) doesn’t have real ones – they just have crepes or dense Scottish-type things.  So she was all about the diner experience – we wanted to get her an asthmatic, cranky waitress named Dolores.  Alas, our waitress was perky and totally not embittered.  Still, she did get some delicious fluffy pancakes.  And then we were on to the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Robie House.

Tina had been to the Museum before, and I had as well back in the days of my youth, but she had not seen the coal mine.  Jo thought it would be fun as well – I guess that coal mines are a rarity now in the UK, like pancakes.  I did remember the giant bug from the first part of the exhibit, but I did not remember the other extensive part of this exhibit, which is waiting in line forever.  Let me share:

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And it just gets better from here…

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We decided we deserved, nay, needed ice cream afterwards.

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We ended the day with a visit to the Robie house, a visit to the Trader Joe’s, and a nice evening of wine, bread, cheese, salad, and hanging out on the back porch overlooking Tina’s garden.

The next morning we were on our way when I discovered this sign.  I had to imitate:

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(The sign says “Danger – Keep Off Tracks.  High Voltage”  The figure does…what I am doing.)

The trip culminated with a morning at Millenium Park doing samba (yay free samba every Saturday), a visit to the Chinese sculptures, and lots of pictures with the reflective bean and the spitting fountain.  I’ll leave you with a few.

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Many Travels – Oliver Winery, Brown County, and other parts Indiana

Let me just say that I’ve discovered anew how much I like hicks.  Sure, they can be frustrating and annoyingly persistent in certain forms of hardheadedness, but so I can I.  With distance and time, somehow they don’t seem to be so bad.  And then I come back over Brickyard weekend, and they’re everywhere.  Muscle shirts, beer bellies, tractor baseball caps, mullets, the heavy traffic, the campers everywhere two days before and one after, the works.  And somehow that seemed homey, and kinda nice, as if I’d been missing out on the hoo-haa just because it was mine, because I’d grown up with it even if I was never really aware of the racing scene.  Sometimes, especially on the west side, it’s just unavoidably present, and that makes it even more fun for the rare periods I’m home now – it’s a little bit of hometown flavor, with very little discomfort or disruption of my life.

Oliver Winery – Near Bloomington, IN

So the family decided that as a part of my time at home, we needed more wine.  Not to say that we couldn’t stand each other’s presence without liquid aid, but rather that wine is something we all enjoy.  Coffee is as well, but I’d provided some of that with the stuff I brought back from Puerto Rico.  So, tasting tour for us.  And of course our favorites were not exactly the same, so we got several.  Here’s Shelly with hers:

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Most of the grapes are grown on-site, but they do use some from further afield.  Certain bottles are made exclusively from their vineyards, which is the Creekbend Vineyard line.  You can learn more about them here.  They do not sell any of their wines in stores out of state, but you can order online and have it shipped direct to certain states.  MA is not one of them, nor is OR, alas.  I am partial to the oddly somewhat dry Valvin Muscat, which of course you can’t buy online at all – only at the winery. And the grounds were lovely.  Next time, we’re having a wine picnic.

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Brown County

So onward, and uphillward, into the deep and spooky forests of southern Indiana.  Shelly and I bumbled along one of our favorite trails at Brown County State Park, since the wine tasting and long hour of driving had already taken quite a bit of spunk out of the older adults.  Mom did come along  for a bit of the hike though.  So, here’s a few sweet pictures of that:

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Above the amphitheater.

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In the amphitheater.  PS, who knew about the first H in this word?  News to me…

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At the horse bridge.  Yes, Shelly is on the phone and loving it.

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