Spring Break, Part III: Chicago

We started our full-on tour of Chicago on Thursday morning. I had been to Chicago a few times before, but the last time I was there was for Lollapalooza back in the summer of 2009, (but we were just there for the music–not the sight seeing). Previous to that, the last time I actually took in the sights of Chicago was on a band trip in 2007. So needless to say, it’d been quite a while since I actually did touristy things in Chi-Town

We started by meeting up with Andrew’s friend, Ryan, who lives and works in Chicago. Ryan knew all the best places to eat, and he took us to an authentic German restaurant, The Brahaus. Despite growing up in a mainly German town in northeast Iowa, I had never had German food before. (And those of you that know me, know I’m am usually skeptical when it comes to trying foods that I cannot pronounce.) The restaurant was quite authentic–the waitstaff was all from “the old country” and spoke in thick German accents, and the only drink choices were either beer or water. I ordered the hüner schnitzel (basically boneless, breaded, fried chicken, German style) and it came with leberknödel suppe, which is a bowl of liver and dumpling soup. At first I stared wide-eyed at the grey mass in the soup bowl before me, but after trying a few bites, I discovered that I actually liked it.

Next we were off to the Shedd Aquarium. We were surprised to have to stand in line to get in at 1:30pm on a Thursday. The place was very busy, which made photographing quite difficult. I snapped a few pictures while waiting in line.

Chicago Skyline © Holly Hildreth 2012

Chicago Skyline, with a storm building up in the background

I had been to the Shedd before, but it had been probably 9 years or so. They had done a lot of remodeling and adding on, which was a nice surprise. I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked to, because you had to wait your turn to see the animals on display at some of the exhibits, and the bigger animals (dolphins, belugas, sea otters,) were off display as they were doing training, so we didn’t get to see them at all.

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

Scuba Diver © Holly Hildreth 2012

Scuba Diver feeding the fish and cleaning the tank

When we got our tickets, we opted to pay the extra $3 to see the jellyfish exhibit, and I am so glad we did, as it was my favorite part of the day. Jellyfish are very tricky to photograph as they’re constantly moving and mostly kept in low-light tanks, but I am happy with the images I got.

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

While we were touring the aquarium, it decided to come up and rain. Luckily it was starting to clear up as we were leaving. Our next destination was the Sears (Willis) Tower. We had paid a parking meter $10 to park for 4 hours at the aquarium, and we still had 2 hours left on our time, so we (foolishly) decided to walk to the Sears Tower and back.

Us © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andy and I outside the Shedd Aquarium after the storm passed

Lake Michigan © Holly Hildreth 2012

Lake Michigan and part of the Chicago Skyline

Lake Michigan © Holly Hildreth 2012

Gratuitous flower photo

So we walked to the Sears Tower. Poor choices all around. It was vastly farther than any of us figured. Ryan’s phone told us it was 1.2 miles. After getting home and looking on Google, we discovered it was a 4+ mile round-trip. We got our tour of the city, and I got my fill of the “wild life”.  The last part of the walk was difficult as it was rush hour and we were fighting a crowd, going the opposite direction against the flow. We finally got to the Sears Tower (I still can’t bring myself to call it “The Willis Tower”.) Luckily, we came at the right time and there was no line to get in. We were able to grab our tickets and go right up without any wait. Due to the rain, we weren’t able to see as far as you could on a clear day, but it was still a sight.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

South Chicago and the Chicago River

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Panoramic of the South side of Chicago and Lake Michigan

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Northeast side of Chicago (Hancock Observatory is the tall black building in the middle/slightly right side of the photo).

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Looking down. We later found out that the building in the bottom left corner with the grass on the roof is where Andrew's sister works. We stayed with her while we were in Chicago.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andy in the new glass overhangs. These were new since the last time I'd been there. If you look down, you definitely get vertigo. Still really neat.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

After our sight-seeing at the Tower, we made our walk back. My feet were ground down to bloody pulps by the time we reached the car and completed out 4+ mile urban trek. We were absolutely exhausted. We dropped Ryan off at his house and then made our way to Andy’s sisters’ for the night. His sister, Mary, took us out for Greek food. (I had also never had Greek food. Go ahead, gasp. I came from a small town in Iowa. We don’t exactly have anything but corn and beef at our dinner tables.) We walked (oh the agony) to The Athenian Room. I decided to try the Kalamata Chicken. The 1/2 chicken is served on a bed of fries with sauce. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was actually really good. It had a lemon+vinegar taste. After supper, we walked back to Mary’s (my feet were worn ground down past the ankle by this time,) and we were so exhausted that we basically passed out as soon as we got in the door.

The next morning we met for lunch with Ryan at an Italian restaurant where he works in Harlington Heights. We planned to tour the Field Museum next as it was pouring rain outside. After lunch, we headed toward downtown, but got stuck in stand-still traffic. After an hour and a half, we had only gone 4 of the 8 miles to our destination. By the time we hit our exit for the Museum, we realized we’d only have an hour to look around and decided that for the price of admission, we wouldn’t get our money’s worth by only being there for such a short time. So, we decided to keep driving. We met Andy’s parents in Bloomington, IL, for supper. We ate at Jim’s Steakhouse, which is absolutely amazing every time. After supper, we drove to Mt. Pulaski, IL, to Andy’s parents and stayed the night. The next morning we were headed home.

Part IV, coming soon.

All Images © Holly Hildreth 2012 | http://www.hhildretphoto.wordpress.com

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The City Lights

One of the biggest problems photography students have is not shooting during their Summer breaks. I am just as guilty as the next. Last summer I took a portrait photography class. It was 3 hours a day, Monday-Friday. After doing that, I didn’t feel like doing any personal work. Once the class ended, the only reason I picked up my camera was when there was money involved. This Summer, I vowed to not be lazy and to keep myself sharp by doing random photo shoots over my break.

When there’s nothing interesting to photograph, I always use Stoli as my fallback plan. He’s always willing to be my subject, and he’s a bit of a ham.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

I promise we don't give our dog drugs! © Holly Hildreth 2011

I promise we don't give our dog drugs!

 

The Kansas City area has seen a few storms move in recently. Weather photography is something I find to be really interesting and fun. I think my sister rubbed off on me as a kid, because she was getting her meteorology degree and interning when I first started getting in to photography. Here are a few pictures from a recent storm. I wasn’t able to get any fantastic storm pictures as you need cloud-to-ground lightning, and not cloud-to-cloud lightning like you will see in these photos.

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

On Sunday, Curry and I took a trip to the Plaza in Kansas City. Curry had been working 16 hour days for a week straight, so we hadn’t seen eachother or hung out since we took the trip to Wisconsin. We wanted to do something fun, especially considering I was leaving the next day to go to Iowa and Atlanta for 2 weeks. After I got off work, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for a nice dinner, and then we walked around the plaza and I took some pictures. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains, as it has the most fountains and public statues of any city in the world. I have been wanting to get up there and do a fountain shoot for over a year, but the timing was never right. Anyway, it was a great way to spend our evening, and I think I got a few good shots. What I love about extended exposure photography of the city and these fountains is how soft and colorful the photos become. Also, the images posted to my blog have been downsized to prevent people from stealing my work. As a result, the pictures here may look a little grainy, or the color of the sky might seem blotchy. The original photos don’t look that way, but that’s something that happens when you drop the resolution on the image to prevent theft.

 

Curry and I on the Plaza © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

We tried so many times to take this picture, but finally gave up and settled for a blurry image. The exposure was 5 seconds, and as you can see, we both apparently can't sit totally still for that long!

We tried so many times to take this picture, but we finally gave up and settled for a blurry image. The exposure was 5 seconds, and as you can see, we both apparently can't sit totally still for that long!

 

Poseidon © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

Kansas City Lights © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

The Cheesecake Factory Tower © Holly Hildreth 2011

The Cheesecake Factory Tower

 

One of my recent posts was a photo tour of my new apartment. Since moving in, I’ve had a handful of “interesting” experiences. To summarize, sometimes I start thinking I live in a trailer park, and not the University apartment complex. Anyway, my newest neighbor is a raccoon that lives in my patio. Here’s a photo of him in the dumpster next to my car. Any name suggestions?

Raccoon

Raccoon

 

My family and I will be traveling to Atlanta at the end of the week for a family vacation. This is our first REAL family vacation, so I’m excited. I’ve never spent any time in Atlanta, so any suggestions of fun things to see and do would be appreciated! Stay tuned for more photos of my adventures.

Snowmageddon

Warrensburg, Missouri, recently got pummeled by a mega-blizzard. Starting on Monday (1/31/11,) we started getting a steady amount of freezing drizzle mixed with periods of freezing rain. I had classes in the afternoon, and on my 4-block walk to campus and back, I ended up slipping and falling seven times. Everything was a solid sheet of ice. Monday night into Tuesday, we received the mother-load of all snowstorms (well, at least by Missouri standards. When we got storms like this back in Iowa is wasn’t really that big of a deal, but anything more than a dusting here causes widespread panic.) UCM ended up canceling evening classes starting at 5pm. All day Tuesday we dealt with heavy snow and 40mph winds, causing very low visibility, negative windchill, and drifts measuring from 5-1o feet in depth. I had gone over to my boyfriend’s house to use his computer for homework (I’m taking a required computer course and the college is sacrilegious and refuses to let us use Mac’s to complete the assignments, so I have to borrow Andrew’s PC to get my work done.) We ended up getting stuck at the house, so I spent all of Tuesday there as well since Andrew’s car has like 1/2 an inch of ground clearance and it was much too cold, windy, and the snow was too deep to walk home. Stoli was excited for the snow, until he got off the porch and promptly disappeared in the snow. It goes over his head, so in order to get around he has to jump from footprint to footprint in our tracks behind us. UCM cancelled all classes on Tuesday (2/1/11) and Wednesday (2/2/11). Tuesday night, one of Andrew’s friends with a pick-up stopped by and he was able to give me a ride home. I live roughly 6 blocks away from Andrew’s house, but it took us 15 minutes to get me home. We got stuck a few times, and the town was desolate–not a soul out and about. When I got home, I was greeted by the mother of all snow drifts. A massive drift encompassed my whole car. You couldn’t really even tell where I was parked. To top it off though, there was a drift up my front door that was waste deep. After digging the door out by using a snowboard I found in the driveway, I was finally able to get inside. I brought Stoli over for the day since Andrew and his roommates were all expected to report to the air force base for work today, and with my car being stuck and none of the sidewalks being shoveled, I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk over to his house every 3 hours to let the dog out.

I went out this morning to take some photos to document the snow-pocalypse. It’s tough to get around as the snow is knee high, and that’s not even in the drifts. While getting the mail I accidently walked into a drift and found myself waist deep with Stoli in tow. After I dug both of us out, I decided it was probably best to just stay inside for the rest of the day and pray that my landlord takes pity on us and decides to FINALLY plow the lot, (but I’m not holding my breath).

Anyway, here are a few snapshots of the end of the world snowstorm that has all of Missouri questioning God. Everyone seems to have lost their mind. Walmart is literally empty–no joke. Entire aisles are absolutely barren, so if you’re hungry for a turkey sandwich, you’re going to have to wait until next week when they get new stuff in.

So wherever you are, I hope you’re not trapped in an apartment with 22 inches of snow waiting for you outside your door.

 

Stoli and the small drift at the back door © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli and the small drift at the back door © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli compared to the snow on Tuesday Night. (We got more snow after this photo) © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli compared to the snow on Tuesday Night. (We got more snow after this photo) © Holly Hildreth 2011

Midnight view of the snow © Holly Hildreth 2011

Midnight view of the snow © Holly Hildreth 2011

Guess Where My Car is! If you guessed "buried under the snow drift of oblivion," Then you'd be right! © Holly Hildreth 2011

Guess Where My Car is! If you guessed "buried under the snow drift of oblivion," Then you'd be right! © Holly Hildreth 2011

Snow Vs. Apartment © Holly Hildreth 2011

Snow Vs. Apartment © Holly Hildreth 2011

My car is under that mound of sadness on the left. © Holly Hildreth 2011

My car is under that mound of sadness on the left. © Holly Hildreth 2011

Proof that there really is a car under there © Holly Hildreth 2011

Proof that there really is a car under there © Holly Hildreth 2011

Anyone up for some BBQ © Holly Hildreth 2011

Anyone up for some BBQ © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli's can't master the snowy stairs © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli's can't master the snowy stairs © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli playing in the snow on the porch © Holly Hildreth 2011

Stoli playing in the snow on the porch © Holly Hildreth 2011

UPDATE: as I was posting this, we got the word that there will be no school again tomorrow (Thursday 2/3/11.) That’s got to be a record.