Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Southern Tour, May 2009, Part 2: Birmingham and Nashville

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Hayden had to get out of Memphis a second time, for a day trip to a baseball game in Birmingham. A few days later, on our way back to Chicago, we all stayed the night in Nashville with Hayden’s sister Paige and her family.


On Wednesday, Hayden and his dad got to cheer on Hayden’s favorite baseball team, a mere 650 miles away from U.S. Cellular Field. The fates must truly support Hayden’s love of the White Sox. Somehow the stars aligned so that my mom’s surgery was scheduled the day after Memorial Day, putting Hayden in prime position to get to Birmingham the following day for the Rickwood Classic. Only once per season, the White Sox’s AA affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, play at Rickwood Field, “America’s oldest ballpark.” Even being hoarse from his sore throat, Hayden couldn’t help feeling in heaven.

Rickwood Classic Ballpark

Exterior of Rickwood Field, the oldest operating baseball park in the United States

Rickwood Field Hayden up to bat

Hayden up to bat at Rickwood Field

I won’t relate all the details of the stadium and the game, only because Hayden promises to write a full recap later. More photos and video are here.


On Sunday, we headed to Nashville—followed closely by Ashley, Sydney, and Clayton—to see Paige, her husband Mike, and their kids, Jackson, Andrew, Reid, and McKenzie Hayden. I don’t know what could have made their dog, Greer, think of making a brief escape. Hayden and I also went out that evening, not for escape, but to see our friend Brad. Fortunately, Eva had plenty of distractions to keep her from wanting to leave Paige’s house.

McKenzie Hayden gnaws on a toy by the pool

McKenzie Hayden gnaws on a toy by the pool

Ashley, Hayden, and Paige

Ashley, Hayden, and Paige by the pool

Drew Greer and Sydney

Andrew, Greer, and Sydney after Greer’s escape and capture

Eva on the "Get it" rug

Eva on a maize, aka “get it” rug

On Monday, we packed up the car and had a smooth drive back to Chicago—except for half an hour of bad thunderstorms in Indiana.

A thunderstorm on I-64 in Indiana

More photos and video are here.

Southern Tour, May 2009, Part 1: Greer’s Ferry and Memphis

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Starting Memorial Day weekend, we spent nearly two weeks in the South, visiting family and friends.

Greer’s Ferry

Eva and I stayed put most of the trip, she at Hayden’s dad’s place in Collierville, and I at my parents’ house in Memphis. However, Hayden left town the day after we got to Memphis. He went to his dad’s place in Greer’s Ferry, Arkansas, to fish and, of course, look for Bigfoot with his dad, sister Ashley, niece Sydney, and nephew Clayton.

Dad and Sydney fishing

Hayden’s Dad and Sydney fish in Greer’s Ferry Lake

Sadly, both Hayden and our old Canon ELPH digital camera got sick. Fortunately, Hayden’s sore throat and coughing subsided after about a week. Unfortunately, the little digital camera didn’t make it. Don’t worry though; there are still plenty of photos from the rest of the trip. Somehow Hayden was able to get over his loss and pick out a new camera, with his friend Daniel’s help, the very next day. More photos and video are here.


I started my trip, without a camera, by hanging out with my sisters Lisa and Stephanie and seeing Summer and Elaina and their adorable kids Silas and Eva (not named after our cat). On Sunday morning, we brunched with our friends Brett and Vanessa. Later, Hayden saw his friends Daniel and Melanie, in town from LA, while I had a girls’ night with some friends from high school and college. Because two of the girls are moving away this summer, one to northern Georgia and the other only 2.5 hours south of Chicago (yay!), I commandeered the new camera.

Amber, Charlotte, Jennifer F, Caroline, Apryl, and Jennifer B R

Amber, Charlotte, Jennifer F, Caroline, Apryl, and Jennifer B R celebrate the last girls’ night for a long while

After sleeping most of Sunday and Monday, Hayden woke up long enough to go to a Memorial Day cookout with my mom, dad, sisters, and brother-in-law Adam. On Tuesday, I got up around 6:00 a.m. to go with the rest of my family to an outpatient surgery center for my mom’s gallbladder surgery. That woman has a higher pain tolerance than anyone else I know; she took only four pain pills and was back at work on Friday. Because she was so lucid Tuesday night and Wednesday, we were able to spend lots of time relaxing and chatting.

While my mom and I were lazing around, Hayden was with his mom cleaning out things in his old bedroom—including lots of old baseball cards—on Tuesday and with his dad at a baseball game in Birmingham on Wednesday (see more in Part 2).

Baseball Cards

Hayden’s tin of baseball cards

On Thursday, Hayden had lunch with his friend Greg, and I with my friend Becky. Then Hayden did a show on WEVL. After a nice chat with Judy, we went to dinner with my sisters and brother-in-law and stopped by Lisa’s house so Hayden could see how big her crazy cat J.P. Hubert has gotten.

On Friday, we introduced Stephanie to the Bar-B-Q Shop (she and Adam went back a week later) and enjoyed watching the Redbirds play in old Memphis Chicks uniforms (thanks for the tickets, Adam!). We ended the night by staying out much later than we had intended, until 2:00 a.m. Our friend Caroline was having a going away party, and every time we turned around, more friends of ours showed up.

Redbirds vs Cubs Stephanie and Apryl

Stephanie and Apryl at a Memphis Redbirds’ game

We dragged ourselves out of bed on Saturday to have lunch with our friends John and Julie and dinner with Brian, Michelle, and their sweet-tempered, smart, and funny son, Joe.

Hayden Apryl Julie and John

Hayden, Apryl, Julie, and John after a delicious lunch

Joe going down the slide, aka escalator

More photos and video are here.

End of the Year – lists

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

So, we’re back home. And it was a great holiday break (short sleeves, really?) But as always, even though it seemed like we were always visiting, we still didn’t manage to see everyone. Hopefully, we will see all those we missed on our next trip back South. Of course, I took photos, which I will load on Flickr today or tomorrow. Until then, I thought it would be appropriate to end the year with a few End of the Year lists. So, here we go:

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2008
10. Dent May – Meet Me In The Garden
9. TV on the Radio – Family Tree
8. Silver Jews – Strange Victory Strange Defeat
7. The Avett Brothers – Murder in the City
6. Bon Iver – Re:Stacks
5. Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me
4. Breathe Owl Breathe – Playing Dead
3. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
2. Destroyer – Foam Hands
1. Vic Chesnutt – You Are Never Alone

Top 10 Concerts of 2008
10. (tie) Harlan T. Bobo – Schubas/Caleixco – Millennium Park
9. Dolly Parton – Chicago Theatre
8. Ornette Coleman – Chicago Jazz Festival
7. Radiohead – Lollapalooza
6. Jarvis Cocker – Pitchfork Music Festival
5. Magnetic Fields – Old Town School of Folk Music
4. Girl Talk – Lollapalooza
3. Animal Collective – Pitchfork Music Festival
2. Bill Callahan – Millennium Park
1. Andrew Bird – Millennium Park
Honorable Mention: Vanilla Ice – Cans

Top 5 Cities Visited (work related) in 2008
5. New York
4.New Orleans
3. Charleston
2. Boston
1. Reno/Lake Tahoe

Top 5 Places Visited (non work related) in 2008
5. Mount Horeb
4. Memphis
3. Nashville
2. Greers Ferry
1. McGregor/Prairie du Chien

Top 5 Celebrities met in 2008
5. Bill Rancic
4. Mark Wahlberg
3. Garrison Keillor
2. Cookie Monster
1. Svengoolie

Top 10 Tourist Stops of 2008 (in no particular order)

  • Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb
  • Sears Tower Skydeck
  • Architecture Boat Tour, Chicago
  • Hopper/Homer Exhibit at the Art Institute
  • Fenelon Place Elevator Cable Car in Dubuque, IA
  • College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, IN
  • Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
  • Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, IA
  • Cheers Bar in Boston
  • Weird Chicago Tour

Top 5 Most Memorable Moments in 2008 (other than Obama)
5. Sox win the AL Central.
4. Apryl graduates from IIT.
3. Eva gets cancer. And is okay.
2. The Tigers play in the NCAA Finals.
1. McKenzie Hayden Madden is born.

Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2008 (in no order)

Sox seats


Lake Tahoe

Apryl Graduate

house show

Perhaps more lists to come later. Perhaps not. Either way, here is a selection of other photos from the past year. Goodbye 2008!

I’ve Been Working

Sunday, August 31st, 2008


I had a good shoot in Reno last week. The best part, though, was when we went out to Lake Tahoe for an amazing dinner at the Gar Woods Grill and Pier Restaurant. Absolutely, the best shrimp and lobster bisque I have ever had! And what a view!

Lake Tahoe

More Reno/Lake Tahoe photos here.

When I got back home, I had a shoot the next day with Stephen Baldwin. Yes, that Baldwin.

Our 2nd Anniversary

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Hayden and Apryl at Pikes Peak

Last week, Apryl and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by visiting the Upper Mississippi River in the small town (pop. 871) of McGregor, Iowa. McGregor and the even smaller town of Marquette are located right across the Mississippi River from Wisconsin’s second oldest city, Prairie du Chien. Throughout the weekend, we split our time among these border towns.

Unlike the drive for our last anniversary trip, which took over ten hours, this one took just over four hours. On the way, we stopped over in the Troll Capital of the World, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, because we saw a billboard with a name of a restaurant—the Grumpy Troll—that mimicked the name of our cabin in Iowa—Grumpsters Log Cabins. We took the similarity in name as a sign and took the exit. While our lunch was merely okay (afterwards, we heard the locals talking about the real place to go), it was still worth the trip to visit the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. Sure, there were a few troll statues around town, but it was the real oddity of a mustard homage that sparked our interest. Below are a few photos from the museum:

Mustard Museum Sign

Mustard Museum Display

Mustard Museum Vending Machine

(The world’s only mustard vending machine!)

After leaving Mount Horeb, we got back on the road and made our way to the Wisconsin/Iowa border.

(to be continued…)

City of New Orleans

Monday, July 7th, 2008

New Orleans Bridge

Crescent City Connection Bridge

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

Market Cafe Group

Jazz group performing at The Market Cafe.

Cafe du Monde Night

Cafe du Monde at night.

Cafe du Monde 2

Outside service at Cafe du Monde.

Cafe du Monde Beignets

An order of three beignets and iced cafe’ au lait. Worth the trip alone!

Santa's Quarters

You will see many strange things in New Orleans. This is one of them.

Boston and Charleston and New York, Oh My!

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

In the last three days, I have been on seven flights that took me to video shoots in Boston, Charleston and New York. This was my first time in Boston and New York, though there wasn’t much time to go sight seeing. Most of the trip was spent at the airport or in the air, though there were some highlights.

After our shoot in Boston, I walked around downtown for a few hours, taking in a city that I have been wanting to visit for years. Below are a few photos I took:

Boston Hotel Room

Boston from my hotel room.

Boston Public Library

The first public library in the United States.

Boston Church

Church across from the Boston Public Library.

Boston Public Toliet

I know I probably looked silly taking this picture, but I was fascinated by a public restroom that takes credit cards.

Public Garden

As soon as I got to Public Garden Park, I knew I was close to the Cheers bar. The park, which overlooks the business district, was shown a lot during the series to transition from scene to scene. I took a few photos, but none of them do justice to the park’s beauty.

Boston Public Park Photo

Another section of Boston’s Public Garden Park.


The Bull & Finch Pub, better know worldwide as the Cheers bar, is located just outside of the Public Garden. Sure it might be a tourist trap, but being a huge fan of the television show, I have been wanting to see it for myself for some time. Of course, the exterior was the only part of the bar used for the show, though it did claim to be the original inspiration for Cheers. I bought a T-shirt for myself and a postcard for Apryl.

That night, Mike (the camerman) and I ate at a sports bar near our hotel. While eating New England clam chowder, we watched as both the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics lost their games.

After our work was done in Charleston, we attended a baseball game of the River Dogs, a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees. That night, they were taking on the Greenville Drive, affiliates of the Boston Red Sox. Our front row box sets cost a whopping ten bucks! The Drive won 3-2 in 11 innings. The best part? The ball park was two blocks from our hotel!

Charleston River Dogs

I never even had the time to take out my camera for the New York part of the trip. We got into New York around noon and headed straight to the location for the shoot. When we were done around six o’clock, we headed straight to LaGuardia for our flight. The best part of the trip in NY, other than the fact that I can now say I’ve actually been to the city, was that our shoot was in the Chrysler Building. I’m looking forward to the day when I get to go back and visit for real.

Next week, we head out to Tulsa.