Thursday, July 30, 2015

Central High

I haven't really taken many pictures of one of the most famous buildings in Little Rock - Central High School. It's a grand old school, built back in 1927. When it opened, it was considered to be the "most expensive, most beautiful, and largest high school in the nation." But Central would become infamous when the city tried to desegregate the school in 1957, but the crazy governor of Arkansas called out troops to prevent the nine African American students from entering. President Eisenhower sent Army troops to Little Rock to escort the students to the school, making it one the first big Civil Rights battles.

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Sixty years later, Central High is still a working school and annually ranks as one of the best schools in the state (which part of me hates admitting since Central was my high school's big rival - go North Little Rock Charging Wildcats!).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jurassic Presidential Library

I had a free evening, so I decided to go and try to take a few pictures. It was a stormy night, which resulted in a pretty dramatic sunset. This is the view from the Clinton Library, with some clouds being lit up by the sunset.

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And a view of the Arkansas River and a distant storm, from the Clinton Park Bridge. The storm here is actually above the town of Danville, which is about 75-80 miles away.

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And another shot of the front of the Clinton Library, with a dinosaur. There is a dinosaur sitting in the fountain because the Library is currently hosting an exhibit about dinosaurs.

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The exhibit has several dinosaurs placed throughout the museum, although I feel like they could have done better. How about videos of members of the Clinton Administration quoting lines from Jurassic Park (with Janet Reno, for example, saying "Hold on to your butts"). Or to have the animatronic dinosaurs placed in different parts of the museum (why not have a velociraptor sitting behind the desk in the replica of the Oval Office?).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

4th of July

On Independence Day, we headed to Riverfront Park in downtown North Little Rock for the annual Pops On The River fireworks show. For a summer day in Arkansas, it was surprisingly cool and pleasant outside, which is probably why the crowd seemed a little bigger in the park this year. This was taken by the I-30 bridge, looking across the river to downtown Little Rock.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chicago - Part 3

Later on that morning, we headed out to visit the Field Museum. The Field is a massive museum, actually one of the largest natural history museums in the world.

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And having just watched Jurassic World, we had to of course go and pay a visit to Sue. Guarding the first floor of the museum, Sue is the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found. She was uncovered in South Dakota in 1990, and is about 67 million years old.

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From there, we headed over to the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). Since this was once the tallest building in the world, the views from the observation deck (on the 103rd floor) are pretty good.

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The Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world from 1973 to 1998, when it was surpassed by the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia. It is the second tallest building in the US (only the new World Trade Center in New York is taller), and the 12th tallest building in the world.

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It was raining when we were there, but the weather didn't obscure much of the city skyline. The spires of the Hancock and the Trump towers rose up high above the city. It's amazing to see all of the various types of architecture on display in Chicago.

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The observation deck has three glass boxes which stick out four feet from the side of the building. It's not a good spot for people who are scared of heights, since they are 1,353 feet above the street below.

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This was taken a few hours later at dusk, from the window of our hotel room. It was raining, and Michigan Avenue was reflecting the bright city lights above it.

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The next day was our last in Chicago, we would fly out in the afternoon. But we had a little bit of time before having to go to the airport. So we walked over to the Hancock Tower and visited the observatory there.

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The Hancock Tower is 100 stories, making it the fourth tallest building in Chicago and the seventh tallest building in the US. The observatory, located on the 94th floor, offers some great views of the city and Lake Michigan.

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It was also the first time on our visit to Chicago that it was sunny. Although we really couldn't complain about the weather. The high temperature for most of our time in Chicago was in the 60s, a nice contrast to the high temps back home.

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The view looking down on the old Water Tower, which is dwarfed by all the tall buildings surrounding it.

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And a wide view, looking across downtown and the lake.

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And one last shot from Chicago, of the old church that sits in the shadow of the Hancock Tower.

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From here we left downtown and made one last stop at a brewery tour of one of my favorite beers before arriving at the airport. It had been a long week, with a lot of walking across DC and Chicago. Thankfully there wasn't any more airport drama and our flight back to Little Rock was short and uneventful. And while I wasn't necessarily ready to get back to work, it was nice to get back home to our two dogs (who were happy and spoiled by our dog-sitters).

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chicago - Part 2

The main reason for taking our trip was to attend a U2 concert in Chicago. So that night we headed out to the United Center to catch the show. I've been lucky in that I've been able to attend a few of their shows over the years (and they are an amazing band to see live), and this one ranks as one of the better concerts I've seen.

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I wanted to find some time to take some city pictures of Chicago around dusk, but we were too busy and I couldn't make it happen. So the only alternative was to wake up extra early and try to take pictures before sunrise. I am definitely not a morning person, so I hated the alarm clock with a severe passion when it went off at 4:30 am. But I sleepily grabbed the camera and tripod and headed out to try to take a few pictures.

Since we were staying downtown, I didn't have to walk far to go back to the old Water Tower. It was foggy that morning, obscuring the tops of the skyscrapers that flank the old Water Tower.

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The streets were quiet, with only a few cars driving by. The only people out were working, getting stores ready to open or cleaning the sidewalks. It was nice to be able to take pictures without having to worry about crowds of tourists getting in the way. This is the view of the river, by the Wrigley Building. I liked this angle because it was the one where the "TRUMP" logo was the least obnoxious.

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And the view from across the river, looking back at the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.

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And the view of the Chicago River from the side of Wacker Drive.

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And the view from the Wabash Avenue Bridge. Although it was foggy and cloudy, I still tried to hurry to get photos before the light got too bright.

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It was hard to get good photos from here. Traffic was starting to pick up, and all the cars driving by were causing the bridge to move.

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I headed back towards the Michigan Avenue bridge, which actually dates to the 1920s. The artwork on the bridge was finished in 1928, and has sculptures that show scenes from Chicago's history. This one shows workers rebuilding the city after the fire in 1871. The Wrigley Building sits in the background.

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And the view from the Michigan River Bridge, as fog continued to cover the tops of the buildings. It would rain that day, and the high temperature only got into the 60s (a nice contrast to back home, where it was nearly 100).

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And one last shot, of the Wrigley Building and the Trump Tower. The fog hides the top of the Trump Tower, which is actually the fourth tallest building in the US.

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After that I walked back to our hotel and tried to get some more sleep. After getting some rest, we headed out to do some more sightseeing. More on that, coming soon!