Thursday, July 31, 2014

Updates to Sturgeon Falls - Coming Soon

I've been pretty busy on the Sturgeon Falls front.  I've added a couple more engines so that now all of my engines are in pairs.  Roads have been laid down and I got some people to populate the town.  That led to some modification of some of my buildings to make them more in scale.
I was hoping to get a picture of more of the layout this morning but the clouds weren't particularly cooperative (if possible, I prefer natural lighting).  I was however able to get a picture of one of my CSX engines.  If you look in the background, you might be able to make out some trees which were another addition to my set.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Too Soon....

As I was walking around the plant while I was taking pictures of the construction and as I wandered to the front of the building, I noticed that the birch trees were starting to turn color.  It seems that it is a little too early for stuff to be turning but then again.
 It seems like this year has been pretty wierd weather wise.  Normally the shipping season goes into Mid-January but it was cut short because of the ice.  Also, the ships start to stir around Middle March so that they can get through the various locks and canals for their openings.  Well, that didn't happen until almost the beginning of April.  Throughout April, icebreakers were busy opening the channels and keeping them open.  It wasn't really until the beginning of May that things got to some degree of normalcy.   We had a couple of hot spells but it's been mostly cool so far.
I know that it's more than the weather that causes trees to turn but it still seems like they are turning early.  I hope this doesn't mean that we are in for another brutal winter.  I guess I wont think about that too much because at least it hasn't been a brutally hot summer.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On The Way Home

And so it was time to get back on the Wolverine to head home.
 Just a shot as we were leaving the station.   Sadly, the lighting wasn't the greatest but I kind of liked the picture anyway.
 Pulling out of the Station.  Gave me a decent shot of the Willis Tower.
 Amtrak did a few engines in heritage schemes to commemorate their 40th Anniversary.
 Engine number 100.
 A view of the river as we passed over it.
 This is probably my favorite view as we leave Chicago.  This is I-94.
 A Grand Trunk Engine.
 A Norfolk-Southern
 At some points along the way, Amtrak actually owns the lines and they can get up to 110 miles per hour.  I'm not sure if this was one of those spots, but I wanted to give the illusion of movement.
 The Indiana Power Company at sunset.
 The Old Michigan City Lighthouse.
The Niles Station would be the last station I would take a picture of.
However, I did manage to get a shot of the Wolverine as it pulled out of the Ann Arbor station.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day but I think one of these times I might stay overnight so that I don't feel quite as rushed.

Waiting in the Great Hall

Sadly, my time in Chicago was reaching the end, so I headed back to the station.  At first I was waiting in the sea of humanity that is the Amtrak portion.  Then I decided to look at one of the monitors and saw that the Wolverine waiting area was the Great Hall.
 Now this is what a train station should look like.  Union Station was built in 1925 and replaced a station on this spot that was built in 1881.  This came out of an agreement between the Pennsylvania, CB&Q, Michigan Central, Chicago and Alton Railroad and the Milwaukee Road to build a combined station.  Like many other things, Union Station fell into decline with the decline of the railroads.
 Currently it serves as the station for the Metra and Amtrak lines.  I'm glad that they made the decision to restore this.
 And this is why it is called the Great Hall.
 I believe this stairway was used in the filming of the movie "The Untouchables" with Kevin Costner.
 Some of the columns.
 Looking up at the statue.
 The "To Trains" is my favorite.
 I just love the ornateness.
 Looking up at the column.

 Then I decided on a few black and white shots.  Somehow it seemed fitting.
 And makes it even more glorious, I think.
 Looking towards the exit.
And one more shot of the stairs.

Walking Around Chicago

So I got off the train.  Normally, I would grab lunch at the Train Station (they have a couple of good restaurants there) but I wasn't particularly hungry, so I headed off on my walk.  I was actually thinking about heading over to the Art Museum, but I decided to wander over to the Hancock Building first.  It was actually a fairly nice day but a little on the humid side.
 At one time, there were seven train stations in Chicago.  It makes me wonder if Union Station was the one that was in the best condition or the best location.  It seems like it is a pretty good location as it puts most of the downtown area within easy walking distance.
 Just a shot down the Chicago River.  I was almost thinking of taking a boat ride again but I already did that last year.
 Looking up at the Willis Tower.  I guess I'm getting more comfortable with calling it that rather than the Sears Tower.
 I saw the Chicago flag and I had to get the Chicago shot, but I'm not quite sure about it.
 I kind of liked some of the details on this building.
 I liked the friezes on this one. 
 One thing that I like about Chicago is the fact that the buildings have character.  Other cities may have taller buildings but I don't think they'll be Chicago on looks.
 I'm a huge Blues Brothers fan and I just love this statue because of what happens in that movie.
 This is a statue that was built by Pablo Picasso.  Originally it got a lukewarm reception but I think the people have warmed up to it.  My favorite opinion of it is this one:
Newspaper columnist Mike Royko, covering the unveiling of the sculpture, wrote: “Interesting design, I’m sure. But the fact is, it has a long stupid face and looks like some giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect.” Royko did credit Picasso with understanding the soul of Chicago. “Its eyes are like the eyes of every slum owner who made a buck off the small and weak. And of every building inspector who took a wad from a slum owner to make it all possible.... You’d think he’d been riding the L all his life.”
 I thought this was a pretty cool looking building.
 The Trump Tower and Hotel was completed in 2009.  It has 98 stories and stands a little under 1389 feet tall.  Currently it is the 12th tallest building in the world.
 A George Washington statue.
 The Wrigley Building.
 I think this is a frieze of LaSalle.
 Looking down the Chicago River.
 This guy was pretty interesting.  He was a street magician.  He was performing quite a few slight of hand tricks.
 Looking up at the Tribune Building.  I kind of liked the flags with the lines.
 Looking up at the Hancock Building.  Currently it is the 4th tallest building in Chicago.  At one time, it was the tallest building outside of New York.  It stands at 1,127 feet tall and was built in 1969.  It is definitely one of the more unique buildings in the world.
 One of the Chicago Police cars.  The Chicago Police Department was formed in 1837, making it one of the oldest modern police departments in the world.  With over 12,000 sworn officers, it is the second largest police force in the country (after New York's).
 Another view of the Hancock Building.
 I was starting to get hungry.  I was thinking about going to one of the pizza places but the one I passed had a ton of people waiting.  I wasn't sure about that one and then I found one that I was familiar with but that also had a ton of people.  And then I decided on this place, the Elephant and Castle.  The food was pretty good but a little pricey.
 Another view of the Wrigley Building.
 And the Tribune Building. 
 I kind of like this one a little bit better.
 The Carbide and Carbon Building was built in 1929 for the Union Carbide Building.    the building was built with black granite and gold accents.  I hate to think of how much it cost to build.
 It is 37 stories tall.
 Looking down Michigan.  I'd swear this street is always busy.
 Trying to get a better angle.
 What they call the Space Bean.  I love the way the skylines look on this.
 And a picture of yours truly.
 I kind of like the TV screen.
 Well, I made it to the Art Museum but I looked at the time and decided I didn't want to pay for a couple of hours.  So I just continued my walking tour of Chicago.
 Looking down Adams Street towards the Willis Tower.
 I was kind of interested in this.  It looks like you make a move and then move to the next spot.  I didn't play though.
 The top of this building used to say Santa Fe for the railroad.  I think they removed that sign a couple of years ago.  Originally this was built as a railway exchange building for the Santa Fe railroad.    Currently it serves as Notre Dame's Business School.
 Looking up Michigan Avenue.
 I don't remember what park this was, but I liked the look of the statue with the birds on his arm.
 A Chicago Police Officer directing traffic.
 There was a Pro-Palestine Rally.  I really try hard to keep politics off the blog so I wont get into my thoughts on that whole situation. 
 The Chicago Art Institute.
 Chicago is the origin of Route 66.
 Looking up at the Chicago Board of Trade Building.
 This is a statue depicting industry.  Sometimes, you end up making a political statement when you really didn't mean it.  Behind the statue is what seems like the only industry that the United States is making itself these days.
 And taking the picture from a different angle tells a different story.
 Looking up at the Willis Tower again.
 An Elevated Train passes by.
 Looking down the other way at Adams Street.
 The globe in front of the Willis Tower.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do a little boatnerding.