Scenes from a Cell Phone Lot

After the wedding, Sally spent four days in Arkansas with her mom. She flew home on Saturday with a layover in Atlanta. Her flight was due at O’Hare at 2:54. I left home at 1:15 because I had to take Beth to her part-time job at Target on the way. (Her car was in the shop having a new clutch installed.)

Halfway to Streamwood, a storm hit. Massive amounts of rain fell for about 20 minutes. Stoplights were out, streets were flooded and traffic was slow. I arrived at O’Hare at 2:50, right about the same time the gas light on my dashboard lit up.

I texted Sally to let her know I was in the area and began looking for the cell phone lot. The signage was pathetic. There was the occasional direction to the lot, but in between signs there were plenty of opportunities to turn one way or another. After driving around in circles for a while, I found it, as far from the terminal as it is possible to be and still be on airport property.

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I parked for a couple minutes, and then got a text from Sally saying her plane was in a circling pattern over Indianapolis and wouldn’t leave the area for another 20 minutes. This gave me time to go get gas.

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When I got back to the lot, the rain had lessened considerably. I’d brought a book, but I was too restless to read. I realized I had the red chair in the back seat, so I decided to take a photo.

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This got me some very strange looks from the people in the other cars.

I then decided to make a complete photo record of the lot.

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I kept checking the Delta web page online and texting back and forth with Sally. Her plane landed in Indianapolis, but they weren’t allowed off. At one point, she was told they were flying to St. Louis, but that didn’t happen.

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I finally got so bored I drove to a nearby Target and wandered about and bought some Pepsi and chocolate. Back at the lot, I took a few more photos.

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The plane finally landed at 6:00. By the time I picked her up at arrivals, it was 6:35. I had been planning on taking her home and then returning to Target to get Beth, but it was so late we just picked her up on the way home.

The sunset as we drove home was spectacular. I pulled over on Old Sutton Road and took a photo out the window. I didn’t do a thing to this shot, not even cropping. This is just as it appeared on my phone.

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We finally got home around 8:15.

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Blue Box Cafe

A new sandwich and coffee shop recently opened in downtown Elgin. It has a Doctor Who theme. I’m not a huge fan, but I know Kelli’s kids are, so I invited them to join me for lunch.

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They could have done more with the Doctor Who theme, but my Italian sub was very good.

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John Hancock Center Observation Deck

It was a cloudy day, but we were in the neighborhood, so we paid our $18 and went up for about an hour.

Looking southeast

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Looking north

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Looking west, with Moody visible just beyond the third red crane.

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Looking north as the fog crept in over the Loop.

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More photos from this visit on Red Chair Road Trip here and here.

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Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Photography had not been what I’d hoped and had only taken 15 minutes to view. We still had half a day ahead of us, so we walked up Michigan Avenue to The Museum of Contemporary Art. Admission to this one was $12, but it was a little bit larger. Not much, but a little bit.

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Outside is one of three “Wind Sculptures” that “captures the movement of a billowing bolt of fabric. Their design was inspired by the sails of ships whose patterns derived from Dutch wax fabrics.”

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A lot of the pieces were just plain weird.

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Others were fun in a childish sort of way, but art?

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One exhibit featured the works of Alexander Calder.

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There were some pieces that I would consider art —  works that could be said to reflect or point to beauty or truth, but there were also some that celebrated depravity and others that were, in my opinion, attempts to promote a cause and be original without possessing talent. But that’s just my opinion.

Exhibits change frequently. Perhaps another visit would be more rewarding. It won’t be anytime some. But I can check it off my list of things to do in Chicagoland.

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Museum of Contemporary Photography

I’m not sure how I heard of this museum, but I obviously did because I put it on my list of things everyone should do in Chicagoland. After returning downtown from Graceland Cemetery, Nate and I visited.

The museum consists of three floors in a building on the Columbia University campus on  Michigan Avenue, across from Grant Park. In all, there were maybe 50 photographs and other art pieces scattered about. It was free, which was one point in its favor.

The exhibit on display was called “Phantoms in the Dirt.” According to the brochure, it “brings together artworks that scrutinize and make use of the rough word of matter (the dirt beneath our feet, so to speak), but the artists whose works are presented here are also equally attuned to the mutability of photographic meaning and to the equivocal presence of remnants and traces.”

Another paragraph states, “We all exist in a physical world in our all-too-material bodies … but it’s worth remembering that the ground beneath our feet isn’t necessarily neutral or inert; like so many things, dirt can contain and carry much more than one can see.”

So … it was an exhibit on the importance of dirt.

The main room contained a few scattered photos on the wall, a rusted, dented 50-gallon drum and a wall make from tree bark.

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In smaller room to the right, we discovered this photograph of a lake, dipped in the water of that lake.

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And tucked back into a corner next to the stairwell we found this piece.

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These “photographs” were on the second floor. If I understand correctly, film was buried in radioactive soil and this was the result.

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The spots in this painting appear to be a swarm of locusts.

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And finally, this photograph. There were three by this artist, all consisting of a man holding a white piece of cardboard in a bleak landscape. I think I get this one — the cardboard is his red chair.

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The whole museum took maybe 15 minutes to see. As we left, we discussed the pretentious nature of modern art in which anybody can point to anything, come up with a highfalutin-sounding description and call himself an artist. Very plebian of us, I know. It’s a matter of taste mostly. But how some of this stuff points to beauty or truth (the essentials of art, in my opinion), I fail to see.

Out on the street, two guys were arranging a window display, so I thought I’d take my own contemporary photograph.

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Graceland Cemetery

Nate and I headed into the city for a day of adventure. We rode down on the Metra, then walked across the Loop and caught the red line north to the Sheridan stop. We walked about half a mile to Graceland Cemetery. The very kind woman in the office gave us a map and sent us on our way.

It was a poor choice of days — as humid as it could possibly be with frequent rain, but we had the cemetery to ourselves. We found almost all the graves of famous people, many of whom we had never heard — but they were on the map, so they must have been famous.

Dexter Graves (1789-1844) — Hotel owner, early settler. Larado Taft created the monument “Eternal Silence”

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John Kinzie (1799-1881) — Trader, first white settler in Chicago

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On the east side of the cemetery, there were a lot of fancy tombs. I kept thinking that no matter how impressive the tomb, the guy buried there is just dead.

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I held my camera up to the window of one of them. It looked like this inside:

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Jack Johnson (1878-1946) — First black boxer to win world heavyweight championship

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Victor Lawson (1850-1925) — Newspaper publisher who owned the Chicago Daily News. Larado Taft sculpted the monument”Crusader”

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Peter Schoenhofen (1827-1893) — Brewer. Tomb designed by Richard Schmidt

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George Pullman (1831-1897) — Railway industrialist, inventor of the sleeping car

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William Kimball (1828-1904) — Piano and organ business

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Potter Palmer (1826-1902) — In cotton and dry goods, real estate investor who sold his dry-goods store to Marshall Field

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John Altgeld (1847-1902) — Lawyer and judge, Governor of Illinois who pardoned the Haymarket anarchists

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Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) — Architect of the Columbian Exposition of 1893. His tomb was on an island accessible by a bridge.

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H.H. Getty — Lumber baron. Tomb designed by Louis Sullivan

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Joseph Medill (1823-1899) — Owner of the Chicago Tribune, Mayor of Chicago, one of the founders of the Republican Party

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Philip Amour (1832-1901) — In the meat packing industry

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The largest tombs, and the largest congregation of famous tombs were clustered around the small lake.

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Lucius Fisher (1843-1916) — Civil War veteran, real estate investor

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) — Architect who perfected the International Style

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Bruce Goff (1904-1982) — Architect known for innovative one-of-a-kind design and an “uncongenial use of material”

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Marshall Field (1835-1906) — Owner of largest retail and wholesale dry-goods company in the world

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William Hulbert (1832-1882) — Founder of the Chicago Cubs and the National League

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Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884) — Founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency

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Random scene

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I showed Sally this next gravestone and we made a pact not to bury each other under a similar one.

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We were there about an hour and a half and saw nobody except a couple landscapers. It’s not a tour I want to take frequently, but it was interesting to do once. And it gets me another check on my 30 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD DO IN GREATER CHICAGOLAND list.

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Historic Auto Attractions

“Auto Attractions” doesn’t begin to describe this museum. The guy who created this collection bought everything he could find that had anything to do with anybody you’ve ever heard of — from Abraham Lincoln to Laural and Hardy to John Dillinger. It’s housed in a prefabricated warehouse in an industrial park in the small town of Rockton, just a short distance from the Wisconsin border.

Here are photos of just some of the items, to give you an idea of the eclectic insanity of the place.

Many of the items were displayed with documents to prove their authenticity, and my feeling is that they were likely genuine. If you pay attention, you will notice that, for some items, it doesn’t actually say there is a direct connection with a celebrity, like Khrushchev’s limousine for example. There’s a 1950 Russian Zim limousine, no doubt genuine, and there’s a photo of Khrushchev, and you know it’s likely that he rode in a Zim limousine, but it never quite says he rode in this very limousine. Things like that lead me to believe that the items with specific claims really are what they are claim to be.

I took my time and saw it all — or most of it anyway. I wasn’t much interested in the two rooms of race cars and my senses were overloaded by the time I got to the final couple rooms. And there’s no way I could have read all the signs or looked at all the autographed photos or studied all the trinkets. Here’s a video, but even this doesn’t fully capture the awesomeness of this collection.

There were a handful of other visitors, but most of the time I had the place to myself. The young woman who took my money was the only employee I saw, and she didn’t seem too worried about security or anything else. After finishing my tour, I asked if I could go back through with the red chair and she gave me permission without hesitation.

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I’m In Trouble

In a recent issue of McHenry County Living magazine, I read an article on the five best sandwich shops in the county. I was surprised to see that one of them was in Cary. I soon realized how I’d missed it even though it’s right next to the Ace Hardware where I shop upon occasion. The signage is pretty weak.

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I was greeted by a very friendly young man who complimented me on my choice of sandwich — the “ham and salami” which also includes pepper jack cheese and a fried egg on pretzel bread. It was very, very good.

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This place is about two miles from my house and has free delivery. Hmmm.

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McHenry County Historical Museum

I’ve lived in McHenry County for 16 years and have been intending to visit this museum for about that long. I didn’t expect it to be thrilling, but it is my adopted county …

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Like all historical society museums, it was filled with random items donated by local residents that have no connection to each other. Some of the items were pretty cool, but that didn’t diminish their randomness. Here’s a selection, with just a few comments.

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The small sign in the middle is the only reference to Cary I spotted in the entire museum.

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The sign from the fictional Tip Top Diner in Groundhog Day, filmed in Woodstock.

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Chester Gould, the guy who created and drew the Dick Tracy comic strip, lived in McHenry County. There used to be a Dick Tracy museum in Woodstock. I stuck my head in once, but didn’t go in. And then it closed.

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There was an old school and log cabin outside. The woman who took my money said she’d give me a tour if I wanted it, but I’ve been in enough old schools and log cabins to satisfy me.

After I finished touring the museum and was walking out, I noticed a small sign on the back of a display out in the middle of the museum that said “No photography without special permission from the staff.” Oops. Anyway, now I’ve seen it and can check it off my list of things to do in McHenry County.

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Poplar Grove Vintage Wings & Wheels Museum

On Tuesday, everybody left. Andrew and Lindy took off for Missouri. Sally’s family headed back to Arkansas — and took Sally with them for four days. I took the rest of the week off work and set forth in search of adventure. My first stop was this small museum in an old airplane hangar on a small airport in rural Boone County. I was the only visitor.

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The museum is lodged in a hangar, built in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration for the Waukesha County Airport in Wisconsin.

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I was greeted at the door by three dogs. I could see a woman in a back room, so I called “Hello,” and she came out to greet me and take my money. She busied herself most of the time I was there, but periodically came out to give me a guided tour of some exhibit or other.

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The museum is rather odd. It was ostensibly about the impact that automobiles and airplanes had on life in America, but this made for a very eclectic collection. There were three cars and three planes, and an exhibit on Boone County and another on the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop and another on Smokey the Bear and another on Henry Ford’s attempt to grow rubber in South America and another on Captain Elray Jeppesen who developed the first navigational charts for pilots. All of it was well done and interesting — just a bit oddly mixed together.

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1928 Ford Model A Roadster

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1931 American Eaglet — built during the Depression to be inexpensive ($1,395). It could carry two (small) people and fly 280 miles on a tank of gas. The car in the background is a 1940 Ford Deluxe.

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A 1931 Corben Baby Ace. It cost $995 when new.

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A 1924 Chevrolet truck with a box built from a piano crate. It was the first vehicle sold by a Belvidere car dealership that went out of business in 2013.

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A 1941 Culver Cadet that cost $2,395 and could fly 500 miles on a tankful of gas.

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There were all sorts of small displays scattered about, including one of models of early aircraft.

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Jeppesen chart book. The company is still in the same business today. It was started by Elrey Jeppesen, a mail pilot who got tired of navigating by  following rivers and the dangers of avoiding power lines

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A statue of Jeppesen stands in front of the hangar.

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The museum has several acres on the airport property and doesn’t just collect small artifacts. It also collects buildings and bridges and so forth.

A “T” hangar from Hamilton Airport in Milwaukee, built in the mid-1920s. The shape accommodated an airplane that was backed into the space.

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An early airport beacon light stands in front of a 1938 hangar from Commercial Airport in Springfield, Illinois.

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A Sunoco gas station, built in 1924 in Dayton, Ohio.

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Slim’s Garage, built in the 1920s in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

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It’s set up inside like a working garage and — I found this amazing — I was able to wander around at will all by myself. This by itself made the visit worth my while.

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