Chicago!!!

Two weekends ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my friend Chelsea in the beautiful city of Chicago, Illinois. I spent three glorious days in the Windy City eating and drinking my way through the amazing city, while soaking up the amazing architecture in this metropolis that 9.5 million people call home (2.7 million in the greater Chicago area).

Chicago, the third most populous area in the USA, was founded in 1780 and officially was recognized as a city in 1837. Chicago had a spectacular fire in 1871 which destroyed many homes and left over 100,000 people homeless. This didn’t stop the city from rebuilding and by 1900 the construction boom and population influx left the city as being the fifth most populous city in the world at the turn of the 20th century.

Chicago is now an international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, technology, communications, and transportation. It also is a massive destination for tourism, with over 58 million visitors annually!

Below is a handful of the photographs that I took on my weekends adventures with Chelsea. I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of her friends while I was there.

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September 2nd 2016 – New Zealand Day 13

Today I was woken up at 4:37am by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The van was shaking slowly from left to right, but I couldn’t hear any wind. This odded me out, so I tried going back to sleep, but the shakes kept happening. At first I thought it was some punks who thought shaking my van would be funny, but I looked outside and saw other campers also shaking. I thought to myself earthquake, and then went back to bed because I was in no immediate danger.
I woke up again at 7:00am to a message from my father stating that there had been an earthquake in New Zealand. I looked on the news and it was a 7.1 magnitude, which is a fairly reasonably sized on. It occurred over 300 km away from where I was, so I was surprised to have felt it. Upon talking with others throughout my day they also confirmed that they had felt it too. Some areas of New Zealand, specifically around Gisborne, where temporarily evacuated because of concern over a 1 metre tsunami, but were allowed to return later in the day.
I started my day by having a quick breakfast of yoghurt, and cheese on toast before hitting the road. Today was mostly a driving day. My first stop was the town of Waverly where I saw a war memorial tower.
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My next stop was Patea, where I saw a piece of artwork; a Maori canoe on top of an arch.
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The next stop was Hawera, which had a water tower that I paid $2.50 to go up. Hawera is Maori for “burnt place”, from fighting between two local sub-tribes, which culminated in the setting ablaze of the house of the tribe under attack. The name became apparent in 1884, 1888, and 1912 when extensive blazes occurred. It was decided that a water tower was to be built in the centre of town to increase its water pressure for fire fighting duties. The tower was closed to the public is 2001 after falling into disrepair, and after a vote to keep the landmark instead of tearing it down, it was opened again in 2004 after extensive restoration. The tower stands 55 metres tall and holds nearly 700,000 litres of water, but is no longer required due to having an adequate water supply now.
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From the top of the water tower I could see Mount Taranaki, albeit a bit a cloud cover. It looks like a mini Mount Fuji.
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My next stop was New Plymouth, where I walked around for a bit admiring more Art Deco architecture, and a mix of Victorian and Art Nouveau, the predecessor to Art Deco. I then made a special stop at Market Patisserie and Cafe to see Kira and her husband Chris, who own the place. My very good friends Marc and Jennifer at home told me I should visit them when I was in New Zealand. Jennifer and Kira went to school together in Calgary, before Kira moved to New Zealand. Chris wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but Kira and I talked for a bit before I ordered a grilled chicken wrap, and a coffee. She brought them over to my table, along with a delicious donut that I could choose how much cream I wanted to put instead. The food was very good! The lunch time rush was coming in so I said my goodbyes and went back to my camper.
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I had a fairly long two hour drive along a windy road to Waitomo, where I choose this adorable little place that has cute hotel rooms in an airplane, a boat, a train, a little hobbit houses. The camping was free for the time being because the site was currently being built and had no power, toilets, showers, etc.  I ended up finding a lot more about the site the next day, but more on that tomorrow!
Tomorrow I will be visiting the Waitomo glow worm caves!
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September 1st 2016 – New Zealand Day 12

Today I woke up at 4:45am. I didn’t sleep good and kept tossing and turning. I ended up reading for a few hours before making breakfast, and then heading to the Southward car museum, only a few kilometres away. The museum was absolutely outstanding, with over 250 cars and motorcycles dating back to 1895! The facility was immaculate, the cars were immaculate, and attention was made to every little detail. There was also a rather large collection of oil antique containers, signage, model cars, etc. The Southward Car Museum was opened in December 1979 by Sir Len Southward when he realized his collection was becoming too large and needed a place to store it. 

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After spending over three hours at the museum I drove to the town of Foxton, where I walked up and down the Main Street. I came across a gravel parking lot down a short narrow lane with a bunch of old trolley buses from the 1940’s, as well as a pretty rustic building with more inside. I didn’t want to snoop around as it looked deserted and not well maintained, and I didn’t want to impose on private property, even though it wasn’t marked accordingly. It turns out that the owner and his wife unfortunately passed away a few years ago and the place has been left to fall apart, unless someone takes it over. I certainly hope so because the place and the buses have a lot of character.

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I was getting hungry so I made myself a sandwich for lunch before driving onward towards Whanganui, which was a really cool little city. I visited Durie Hill Elevator, which is New Zealand’s only public elevator. It connects Anzac Parade, beside the Whanganui River, with the suburb of Durie Hill through a 205 metre long 3 metre high tunnel. The construction of the elevator started in 1916, and was completed in 1919. The elevator, which is 66 metres tall, also has a flat-topped tower encasing the elevator machinery, and it even has a wrought iron staircase on the outside so you can go on the top to see a view of the city. I paid $4 to do a return trip on the elevator. It was well worth it! The current operator, Zena Mabbot, has been operating it since 1971! She was a very friendly!

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After riding the elevator and taking some photos of the tunnel I walked next door to the war memorial, and walked up to the top. The walk took about six minutes and was well worth it. The views from the top were incredible! There was also many locks that were secured to the top of the structure. Over to the north I saw a water tower, which I wanted to go view next. 

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After driving over to the water tower I was confronted with a disappointing gate leading to the top. The trip to the top wasn’t going to happen, but instead I took a couple of nice photos.

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It was time to find somewhere to stay the night. I had lots of selections, but most had unfavourable reviews, so I settled on the best one, which was in an aquatic centre parking lot next to the highway. 

I actually got an overall good sleep, except for an 7.1 magnitude earthquake at 4:37am, but more on that tomorrow!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.