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    The Next Adventure
    09.25.2009 10:00PM

    Even though I've had a travel adventure filled year (Peru in January, Europe in May/June) I still can't help but think about and "plan" my next adventure. I guess I've always been that way. Hell I began planning for my vacation of a lifetime to Egypt in first grade. And if you haven't noticed yet, it seems as though travel is in my family's blood. I'm pretty sure my next intercontinental travel will be the Turkey (and daily non-stop flights from O'Hare makes that even more inviting) but I don't think that's the next adventure. No, I've had another idea rolling around my head for quite some time now.

    The beauty of traveling in America is hitting the open road. Road trip anyone? My parents did pile four kids into the car and travel by van from Louisville to California and back. It was on that trip I first experienced the Badlands, Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, and Yellowstone National Park. That was over 16 years ago, and my urge to visit Yellowstone has returned. It's with that in mind that I think my next adventure will be a 10 day road trip, round trip Chicago to Yellowstone no later than May 2011.

    The plan would be to spend 3 days traveling to Yellowstone, stay 4 days in the park, and spend the final 3 days returning to Chicago. The route to Yellowstone would be U.S. Route 14, which for all intents and purposes runs parallel with I-90. It is one of the original national highways from 1926 and it's two termini are Chicago and Yellowstone, so I would travel its entire length. It would also allow me to stop at the Badlands and Black Hills. The return trip would be U.S. Route 6 via Denver. Route 6 essentially runs from sea to shining sea, but I'd just pick up the middle portion which essentially runs parallel with I-80. Taking the U.S. Routes rather than the highways would allow me to experience small town America through out the Midwest.

    I'm currently soliciting volunteers to join me. I plan to do it over the Memorial Day holiday so when coupled with another weekend, only five vacation days have to be used. This adventure really takes the best qualities of an American vacation - the open road, it's natural beauty, small towns - and makes it an awesome ten day adventure. You may think I'm crazy, but I'm going to do it. And you're invited to join me. And then I'm off to Turkey and then...



    An Olympic Decision
    09.23.2009 7:00PM

    In nine days the International Olympic Committee will vote on the host city of the 2016 Summer Games. My new city, Chicago, is in the running along with Rio De Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo. If you believe what you read, it appears as though Chicago and Rio are the co-favorites at this point, but all four cities seem equally qualified. The knock against Madrid is that London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Games and the strike against Tokyo is the fact Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games. Rio De Janeiro may have one advantage over Chicago in the fact that a South American country has never hosted the Olympics. It is projected to be one of the closest votes ever.

    While I can usually be found vehemently on one side or the other when it comes to taking a position I am quite ambivalent about the prospect of Chicago hosting the Summer Games. If Chicago does nab the games then I imagine for two weeks it'll be complete hell trying to work downtown. The bid has practically all of the events taking place within a 5 mile radius which essentially stretches from the northern boundary of the city to the southern edge of the city. But it'll will also allow me to attend some of the events.

    If Chicago doesn't get the games, my life goes on per usual, and I'll set on my couch, as I've done for every Olympiad of my life, and watch them unfold on television, live or on tape delay. The mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, thinks the Games will pull Chicago up from the ranks of the Second City and put it on level playing field with New York, at least on the international level. Keep dreaming man. And that is a strong argument voiced by opponents. Chicago doesn't have to compete with New York, its a wonderful city as it is, the jewel of the Midwest.

    The IOC noted that Chicago would need to upgrade its public transportation to nearly double its capacity (haha, yeah right!) and was not too fond of the city using existing areas or temporary structures for events (which in my mind is what makes the Chicago bid quite appealing). No city seems to have completely won over the committee so the vote next Friday should be close. I get the feeling that the people of Chicago will be fine no matter the outcome. As long as no public money is spent on the games as promised by the Mayor.



    Colors of the Rainbow
    09.21.2009 7:00PM

    On Saturday when I took these amazing photos at Millennium Park, I also captured five minutes of video that depicts Zaha Hadid's pavilion cycling through a rainbow of colors. For your pleasure I have taken the five minutes of footage and created a 37 second time lapse of the color shifts. Check it out below.



    I hope you enjoyed the photos and the video as I plan on more of the same in the near future, here at Beavers and Ducks.



    Perfect Night in the Second City
    09.19.2009 11:00PM

    Without a doubt the transition from summer to fall is my favorite time of the year. Warm humid nights are replaced with pleasantly cool nights that allow a variety of activities. And tonight in Chicago was one of those perfect nights. I took full of advantage of the clear skies and ideal conditions by grabbing my camera and taking the El downtown. Ever since the Millennium Park pavilions were installed I wanted to head back down and take some photographs of the installations glowing various colors.

    As you'll see in the pictures the structures glowed green, blue, red, orange - all the colors of the rainbow, with the awesome Chicago skyline providing the perfect back drop. The AON Center (formerly the Amoco Building) was displaying the number 13 with lighted windows, counting down the days until the IOC announcement of the 2016 Summer Olympic Host City, which Chicago is one of four finalists (more on that in an upcoming post). Along with the pavilions Millennium Park offers the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (designed by FOG), the "Bean" (officially Cloud Gate), and Crown Fountain with its interactive display of changing faces, all perfect for photographing.

    I have posted the best of my excursion, here in the photo gallery. Next up, some shots of the city from the Museum Campus, as well as, Navy Pier. Night photography is one of my favorite hobbies. Do enjoy.



    Full Circle
    09.09.2009 7:00PM

    The unofficial end to summer officially brought my last four months full circle. Four months ago I had just finished up at Ball State and I said so long to all my Ball State friends. A few days later I was on a plane to Italy to participate in a study abroad program meeting new friends from across the globe. This past weekend, split between Indianapolis and Muncie, I was able to meet up with a few of my Ball State friends as well as a few students from the Politecnico di Milano.

    Saturday I headed to Indy and spent the day with my friend Michael. After a year and a half of hearing this or that about his wife I finally met Megan. Since it was opening weekend for college football Mike and I headed to BW3s for a few drinks and to catch some of the games. Between sports and architecture we caught up on the last four months. When you've been used to seeing someone nearly daily for close to two years, there's a lot to be said.

    After watching the Illini get totally embarrassed, I was the third wheel to Mike and Megan at a delicious tapas dinner. We then decided to cap off the night with some bowling. And we can all agree that bowling alleys are not the most glamorous places, but the bowling alley we headed to was quite frankly, shady. I am not going to do this place justice without photos (of which I have none) and ultimately we decided against going inside. But the place appeared large enough to have only a handful of lanes and the exterior was dominated by a liquor store. Obviously bowling and beer go together but something just didn't seem right. So there was no bowling.

    On Sunday I headed downtown to meet up with the Politecnico di Milano students to wander around the city. The weather didn't cooperate as it rained most of the morning and did not give up until after lunch. It only takes a few minutes to see how Indianapolis is the 2nd most monumented city in the US, behind only Washington DC. After lunch we took a tour of the Lockerbie historic district. This area is littered with beautiful homes and has a real sense of how neighborhoods should be designed. You can find a gallery of photos from my time around Indianapolis, here.

    Then on Monday I made it back to Ball State, which I swore I would never do. But I've sworn off a lot of things and reneged, so this is nothing new. But I didn't feel the nostalgia I did when I returned to UIUC for the first time after graduation. In Muncie I was able to meet up with Alonso and his wife Kate, and again I talked sports and architecture. You may begin to wonder if I spend all my time with architecture and sports. And the answer is, pretty much. Then in the afternoon there was an cookout to celebrate the Labor Day holiday. So in a single weekend I was able to bring most of my summer full circle.



    The Circle City
    09.04.2009 7:00PM

    How many times can one be around a city without actually visiting it? Well if its me and we're talking about Indianapolis than its really too many times to count. Since my first trip to the University of Illinois (and the many round trips in between) to my trips to Ball State and now standing between Chicago and Louisville I've been around the Circle City a lot. I've also been there for a handful of sporting events and even a studio project, but believe it or not I've never really visited the city. But that's about to change.

    I'm spending most of my Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. On Saturday one of my good friends from Ball State is going to show me around his hometown and then on Sunday, some of the Politecnico di Milano students I worked with this summer are heading to the States and spending time at Ball State, but not before a day in Indianapolis. So hopefully I can take in a lot of the city between those two days. Though I'm certain it has more than two days of stuff to offer and I probably owe it a few more days based on how much I "used" the city.

    Then I'm heading to Muncie, which I swore I would never do after graduation, but it'll be nice to show the Politecnico students Ball State and explain what we do for fun in the middle of nowhere. Granted, Milan isn't Italy's finest city but Muncie really does pale in comparison. And with it being Labor Day the professor is having a good old fashioned American cook out. It will be fun seeing some of my Ball State friends, as well as, the Politecnico students.

    I'll have my camera in tow, and you all know how much I love photographing new places, and for all intents and purposes, Indianapolis is new to me. So check back after Labor Day for a story or two from the weekend and a photo gallery of the weekend's events. Enjoy the unofficial end to summer (What summer? I know.) and hours on end of college football. If you missed it, which you did, Ball State lost to the #1 ESPN ranked Bottom 10 team, the Mean Green of North Texas yesterday.



    Gregory 'Jesus' Dowell
    Chicago, IL

    - Taking advantage of the unseasonably cool Chicago summer, while I have the chance. Work has provided a nice split of field work and time in the office. Stay right here at Beavers and Ducks for all the latest updates.

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