Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Riding the Lincoln Service to St. Louis

I love train travel! I recommend Amtrak to everyone considering a regional trip in the states. Last month, my cousin Melissa got married in St. Louis and I thought this was a perfect opportunity for a train ride. There are a few Amtrak routes that travel between Chicago and St. Louis and I decided to ride the Lincoln Service on my way there.

The train has a snack car where drinks and snacks are served. They have breakfast sandwiches, chips, wine, beer, and a bunch of other things for sale. We upgraded our seats to business class and enjoyed the giant soft leather seats. I brought my laptop with me and took advantage of the wall outlet at our seats. I tethered my phone to the USB port and was able to surf the web and chat with friends.


The trip is only five and a half hours and we arrived right on schedule. We got a free drink with our business class upgrade and we both had coffee. When we got off the train, my parents were at the St. Louis Gateway station waiting for us. They drove us over to the famous "Gateway Arch" so we could do some sightseeing before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Inside the base of the Arch is a museum that celebrates the US expansion to the west. The whole park is formally called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and was built to reflect St. Louis and Thomas Jefferson's role in the westward expansion of the United States. In 1903 Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France (and Spain) and sent the Corps of Discovery (aka the Louis and Clark Expedition) to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.

We shot some photos inside the museum but the wait was too long to get up inside the Arch. The temperature outside was over 100 degrees F so we took a taxi to the hotel in Kirkwood and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the air conditioned room.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

Lincoln Park along Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline is Chicago's collective "back yard" and also host to a surprising diversity of wildlife. This black-crowned night heron was sitting on a log in North Pond right in front of the North Pond Restaurant. Next to it, on a neighboring log, was a red-eared slider turtle basking in the sun.

North Pond is currently home to over 195 species of bird and it's common to see people with impressive photography gear and binoculars just to view the birds. I'm always grateful to have this great park within walking distance from where I live.

The night heron eats small fish, water insects, mice, and other creatures small enough to fit in its mouth. Seeing a top predator like this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. I'll return to North Pond soon to get more photos of the wildlife I find there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ashland and Belmont

Ashland and Belmont, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

Saturday night in Chicago, walking back to Kevin's from Ashland and Belmont after seeing Clutch play at the Kuma's Corner block party.

In the words of actor Gary Busey -

"You only get to see a sunset like this for the first time once."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sneaky Sound System in Chicago

Sneaky Sound System in Chicago!!! I brought my camera and recorded some of the show. They don't get by here very often. I was a little disappointed that there were so few people there, but I guess the only reason I really know about them is because I've been to Oz a few times. Enjoy the show!


kansas city

miss connie dancing

sweet dreams