This week, guest host, I. J. Khanewala, is looking at The Ordinary as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Whilst walking round the track at our local gym last week, I couldn’t help thinking that this ordinary piece of exercise equipment bore a strong resemblance to the praying mantis in our garden, only on a much larger scale. Once the idea got into my head, it persisted until finally I had to stop and whip out the phone to take a picture.
I always enjoyed participating in scavenger hunts, from the day-long searches that involved driving from town to town in order to collect or take pictures of the items on our list, to the “what’s in your handbag?” games at bridal and baby showers, so when Tina suggested a Treasure Hunt for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, I was eager to get started, all from the comfort of my own home. Here is the list of items we must find.
Challenge Items: Sunrise and/or sunset, Something cold and/or hot, a bird, a dog, a funny sign, a bicycle, a seascape and/or mountain landscape, a rainbow, a church, a musical instrument, a boat, a plane, a waterfall
Extra Credit Items: An expressive portrait of one or more people, a very unusual place, knitting or sewing, a fish, an animal you don’t normally see, a bucket, a hammer, a street performer, a double rainbow, multiple challenge items in a single image.
To start the hunt, I found a rainbow (looks like it might almost be a double) over our garden and a waterfall at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan.
Next up; a bird hood ornament perched on a car at Volo Auto Museum, a mermaid (not a creature you usually see) and a fish that were part of a Disney display also at the Auto Museum (which a cousin visiting from England this past weekend observed was a very unusual place), the massive organ in the Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota and a sunset over the waters of Lake Michigan.
From there we move on to a plane flying over a boat at the Air & Water Show in Chicago, a funny sign in McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston, Texas and some remarkable sewing on display at a quilt show in Columbus, Indiana.
Next we have two street performers in Chicago one of which has a musical instrument, and a clown with an expressive face.
Lastly, a man on a bike who was competing in a marathon race among the mountains of Utah, a dog all dressed up for Christmas, a cold drink and ice cream on a hot day and a blacksmith with a hammer and bucket at the Wade House Historic Site in Greenbush, Wisconsin. Thanks, Tina! That was fun! I’m definitely in favor of doing this challenge again on a regular basis.
This week, Patti has asked us to Find Something Red for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can take a leisurely stroll around downtown Chicago with the camera.
This week, Tina has chosen Leading Lines as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The following images were captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Spring Valley Nature Center, Navy Pier in Chicago and Volo Auto Museum.
Some fancy lines at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina for Becky’s Square Lines Challenge.
Or should that read ‘on and by the river?’ I’m not quite sure what constitutes being ‘on the river.’ Anyway, be that as it may and not withstanding, we spent the day in St. Charles, mostly on and by the river, the river being the Fox River as you can probably tell by the statue of the foxes overlooking the river from Main Street bridge.
There are some noteworthy and historic buildings on the banks of the river near Main Street. The St. Charles Municipal Building was designed in 1940 by architect R. Harold Zook, who is also known for designing the art deco-style Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge. On the opposite side of the river is Hotel Baker which was built in 1928 on the site of the old Haines Mill and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Along the river walk we came across some interesting sculptures, the first being ‘Reflections’ by Guy J. Bellaver. Bellaver also created ‘Ekwabet’ which means ‘watching over.’ The statue was dedicated by the city and named by members of four bands of Potawatomi at a ceremony in 1988. The statue replaced an earlier tribute to the Potawatomi, erected in 1915, that was destroyed by vandalism in the 1960’s. There was also a fascinating piece made, appropriately in the shape of a fox, entirely from recycled (no pun intended) bicycle parts by Francis J. Gagnepain IV.
Walking under the bridge, just south of Pottawatomie Park, we came in sight of the James and Joann Collins Pavilion and Tower. Always up for a challenge, my daughter and I climbed to the top where we got a slightly limited view of the river.
We left the river for a few hours to visit a giant Flea Market held at the Kane County Fair Grounds but returned later for a ride on one of the paddle boats. We took a leisurely cruise past the golf course and a couple of nature preserves towards Elgin. Any boat ride on the Fox River in this area is somewhat restricted as there is a dam both in St. Charles and Elgin.
You don’t see one of these on the river every day! I must admit we were all rather alarmed when we first noticed this car driving down the ramp and straight into the water but quickly realized it was one of those fancy amphibious vehicles. It went past us several times, drawing a rousing cheer from everyone on the boat, sometimes at a sedate Sunday-drive pace and sometimes with all the power and panache of a speedboat.
As we pulled back in at the boat dock, we got another view of the gingerbread tower and pavilion at Pottawatomie Park. And as we walked back to our car, I got a nice parting shot of a cormorant perching on a light pole high above Main Street Bridge. All in all, a lovely day on and by the river.
Despite discouraging weather predictions, I decided to head downtown on Saturday to see the Chicago Air & Water Show. As usual, I took the Metra train to Ogilvie Transportation Center and strolled down Wacker to the Riverwalk. Looking back at the River Point building I should have been warned by the cloud reflections that things were going to get rather wet but, ever the optimist, I continued on. I’d brought a light raincoat with me and now I was there I was determined to make the most of the day.
I walked east, past the floating gardens that are designed to attract butterflies and was pleased to see that, despite the gloomy skies, they seemed to be serving their purpose.
There was a good deal of traffic on the river including a flotilla of kayakers, water taxis, and sightseeing boats as well as all the private craft that were bobbing up and down and skimming along the waterway.
By the time I got to the Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Fountain and Water Arc, it had started raining so I took shelter under the fountain which gave me an interesting perspective of the waterfall and, as luck would have it, I was there in time to see the water shoot across the river, causing a tour boat to wait prudently until it had subsided.
I retraced my steps back to Michigan Avenue and walked down towards Oak Street Beach but by the time I got to Water Tower Place the rain had increased and I was feeling rather peckish so I decided to duck in there and get something to eat. I was met by the sight of hundreds of screaming teenagers (and some considerably older) flocking in to see someone called Jeffree Star. I had no idea who he was so I whipped out the phone and Googled the name. Apparently he is a You Tube personality and has made a fortune out of promoting his life-style on the internet. He was visiting Chicago to open one of his cosmetic stores and the fans were going crazy! Seven floors of yelling devotees chanting “Jeffree! Jeffree!” I’m always looking for a good photo opportunity so I abandoned the idea of getting lunch and went up to the third floor where most of the action was taking place. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out what was going on, the crowd was already about 5 deep all around the balconies, there was no way I could squeeze in and security was extremely tight regarding where you could stand. When Jeffree finally put in an appearance and the screaming reached a crescendo, I could only glimpse the top of his head. He stepped out and waved to the crowd, cut the ribbon and disappeared inside the store. It was all over in a matter of minutes. That’s one of the reasons I love coming to the city! You never know what you’re going to see!
It was still raining when I left Water Tower Place so I went a few doors down to The Cheesecake Factory for some pizza. By the time I emerged into the daylight again, the rain had eased off so I continued on until I reached Oak Street Beach just in time to see a trail of colored smoke left behind by a team of jet planes. It was already late afternoon and there was nowhere dry to sit so I took up a position on the path and waited to see what, if anything, would fly by. Eventually three stunt planes came into sight, diving and soaring and doing loops. But somehow the clouds seemed to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm and when the rain started up again I joined a stream of people heading back to Michigan Avenue.
My last shot was of the Old Water Tower with the John Hancock Center beside it. Despite the miserable weather it was an interesting, if watery, day.
Continuing with Becky’s Spiky Squares themed photo challenge, here are a few sculptures and plants that were just a bit on the pointy side at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Arriving a little late to the party, I’m finally pulling up a seat at a relatively new photo challenge over at XingfuMama. It’s always nice to find a seat in a picturesque spot and, going through the photo files, I see that I have not only sat on some of these seats but also taken pictures of them. So for my first submission here are a few shots from my most recent visit to Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois earlier this year.
Cantigny Park is undergoing extensive renovations which are likely to continue through next year but there is still a lot to see. It’s hard to imagine how you could possibly improve on a place as lovely as Cantigny, especially the gardens, but they are certainly giving it a try. I miss some of the old features and it will take some time for the new plantings to get established but I think eventually the place will come together and continue to be one of the brightest jewels in the Chicago suburbs.
Cee has left the topic open for her Black & White Photo Challenge this week so I thought I’d revisit my trip downtown recently to get a different perspective on some of the things that I saw there.
Looking up at one of the lions outside the Chicago Art Institute on Michigan Avenue.
Taking the long view outside the Lyric Opera House on Wacker Drive.
On a day crowded with walkers, runners and tourists down for the Air & Water Show, these artists on the River Walk managed to stay very calm and focused on their projects.
Looming overhead, the stainless steel headdress of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, in Millennium Park.
A view within a view at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.
Getting the bird on the River Walk. Some of you may remember this little guy from a previous post. He was very obliging and allowed me to take lots of shots from different angles.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Open Topic.