Monday, December 6, 2010

Signs of the Seasons

"One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving in the murk of March thaw, is the spring."

-Aldo Leopold

When living in 'Da Nort' you know that seasonal changes are inevitable. Although it is not March and spring is not on its way for many more months, the geese are telling me winter is on the way. Last week I was outside with the dog and the distinct sound winter was just across the street.

There is a lake across the street from our house and it is always the last lake in our area to freeze over in the winter. Since it is the only open water around, the last waterfowl to head south use it as a place of rest. During the summer months we very rarely hear any ducks or geese on the lake, but once the temperature starts to drop the honks and quacks are bountiful. As the honking from the geese gets louder and louder it tells me winter is just around the corner.

Frozen Footsteps.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bur Oak

One time someone asked me what tree best represents me. I surprised myself by coming up with a quick response, "Bur oak, because they are big and reliable, like me!"

I was working in Missouri last month and I paid a visit to one of the largest bur oaks in the United States. It is listed in the National Register of Big Trees.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn Sunset

After an extended sabbatical, I am hopefully back for awhile.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mohawk Trails

I have been working out in western Massachusetts for the last couple of weeks. Today was my day off and I wanted to do some hiking, someone had suggested Mohawk Trails State Park, so that is where I went. I hiked to the top of Todd mountain, and through some old growth forests. The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and the trees were big. I came across come Lady Slipper flowers at the top of Todd mountain, and an old abandoned truck on the middle of the forest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Break a Bat, Plant a Tree

I haven't been traveling too much lately, and have been working in front of the computer for the last month or so. Therefore I havent had much time to take photos, or get in the mindset of writing about traveling.

I did come across this article about trees and the Minnesota Twins that I wanted to share. The Twins plan to plant 100 trees in Minnesota State Parks for every bat a Twins pitcher breaks.

"The Twins claim that on average, a team breaks one bat every game. That would result in 16,200 new trees planted on Minnesota state parks and trails as a result of Break a Bat, Plant a Tree."

I think this is a great program, and I hope more teams start doing things like this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Candlewood Suites

I called the Candlewood Suites in Elgin, Illinois home for about two months this winter. I have to say that I really lucked out with this hotel! The hotel was only about 4 months old when I stayed in it, so everything was pretty much brand new and super clean. Most hotels I stay in talk up their work out facilities and they end up being some old crappy equipment from the early 80's. The Candlewood had some really nice workout equipment that I got some good use out of, granted the hotel is brand new so the equipment hasn't been used to much in the first place. One thing that I really like about all Candlewood Suites is that they have FREE washer and dryers! Most hotels charge an arm and a leg to use their washer and dryer, if they even have one. The rooms were equipped with a full kitchen, granite counter tops, DVD players, flat screen TVs, and very comfortable beds.

A couple of views of my room.

The staff of the Candelwood of Elgin was also a treat. Everyone was super friendly and very helpful with anything I needed. The hotel is also pet friendly, as you can see my dog Cloey relaxing in the room.

I would highly recommend staying at this hotel if you are in the western Chicago area.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring is in the Air

I walked outside the door this morning and was hit in the face with the sweet smell of spring. The sun was shining brightly, and the temperature climbed above freezing. When the temps warm up and the snow starts to melt, it usually means that some ice will start to hang around. On the back of our house there is a fine collection of icicles hanging from the eves. I am planning on knocking them down soon so they don't do any damage to the house, there is alot of weight hanging there! But before I knock them down I wanted to get some good pictures of the ice. Enjoy this spring weather, cause I am sure it wont be here long!

The Melting Ice

Some Black & White

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Doors of Elgin

I have been working in Elgin, IL for the last few months and I went out the other night and tried some night time photography. I wasn't having much luck finding anything interesting to photograph until I came across the side entrance of a church. I have seen many different pictures of doors, so I know it isn't anything new, but I thought I would see how I could do at it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Plywood, Fake Snow, and Skyscrapers

If anyone has been to Illinois you know that there isn't much for big or little hills in this state. Despite the lack of vertical ground in Chicago they still have snowboarding competitions here. The other weekend I went with a co-worker to check out a snowboarding competition going on in Grant Park, which is in downtown Chicago. They built a plywood platform, threw on some man made snow, added a few rails and boxes, found some local youngsters, and put on a competition. Here is an idea of what it is like to snowboard in downtown Chi town.

A veiw of the skyscrapers in the background

A little tail slide action.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hotel Tips

I don't have an accurate count, but I am guessing that I spend over 200 nights a year in a hotel. I have been in a lot of different hotels, some nice and others that are not so nice. Since I pretty much sleep in hotel beds more then I sleep in my own bed I have learned a thing or two about hotel life.

The first thing I want to share is that before you go to sleep at night you should always lock your door! Not just shut the door tight, but turn the deadbolt and use the chain. It doesn't matter if you are staying in the crappy motel that had the only vacant room in the city, or if you are staying in a five star Hilton. Lock your door!

Most hotels now use key cards to open doors. I always thought that would be enough of a security measure to keep other people out of my room, how many people are going to get a card programed for my room? It took me awhile but I learned that just the key card lock isn't always enough.

It was a Friday night, probably around midnight and I was asleep because I had to work the next morning. I woke up to the light in my room being turned on, and I looked towards the door and there is some random guy standing in my room. Once he saw me sit up in the bed he immediately started apologizing and said that the front desk told him that he was staying in that room and he had no idea that I was in there. Before I woke up enough to realize what had just happened the guy who was just standing in my room was gone. I am pretty sure I scared this stranger more then he scared me.

I am lucky that I look scary enough when I wake up to make strangers turn and run away. I was also lucky that this guy was not breaking into my room to rob me and steal all my stuff. But this foreigner to my hotel room made me realize that I need to be a bit more careful while staying in hotels. This could have happened to anyone in any hotel, it just takes the person at the front desk to make a little mistake.

I am defiantly not trying to scare people out of staying in hotels. I still feel very comfortable sleeping in hotels the majority of the year. I just want to share my experience with others, and help them avoid the situation I was in. And if you are fortunate enough to look like me when you wake up, and make intruders run for the hills, then locking your hotel room door shouldn't be a worry for you!

Even Monsters Hibernate

Winter is here, and it is cold outside. I am working down in Elgin, Il and winter is in full force here. Yesterday the windchills were reaching -15 F, and earlier this week we were hit with 8" of snow. My hotel is on the outer edge of town and surrounded by farm feilds. Every evening I take my dog for a walk in the feilds and we found this combine hibernating in the feild for the winter.