Friday, April 11, 2008

Ginkgo Watch 2008 - April

Last year, I posted about my special secret tree friend, a ginkgo that grew on one end of Riverfront Park. I use the past tense because, late last summer, the ginkgo and many other trees in the vicinity were cut down. Those trees surrounded an amphitheater at the east end of the park. And honestly, they were originally planted 35 years ago to shield the theater from the pathways beyond. It takes a lot of young trees to shield a theater. After 30 years of growing and over growing, it was time for a change.

And, it really was a positive change. The amphitheater is visible again (and rehabilitation has begun). You can see the river now where it splits to surround the park. And this area now looks like it is part of Riverfront Park, and not some forgotten corner.

So the parks department thinned the trees. And, on a second little hill that used to be jammed full of pines, there is another ginkgo.

Man my observation skills aren't very good. Goodbye ginkgo friend. Hello new ginkgo friend. I'll see you next month.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Road Trip! - Chicago

In March, I traveled to Chicago for a convention. It was called GlobalShop and it was about store fixtures and Point-of-Purchase advertising. Woo-hoo! But I did do a little sight seeing, and ate a lot of pizza while I was there.

First I had to get there though. I flew Northwest into St. Paul. Which is an odd airport in that all of the terminals you can easily get to are operated by Northwest or an affiliate airline. As Airports go it is a very busy closed shop. Oh sure, they have one international terminal. But even that is used primarily by KLM, an affiliate.

Apparently, it is also the home of the Mall of America. Honestly, I thought it would be, well, bigger.

It rained while I was in Chicago, but it wasn't very windy. My hotel was in an area of the city called North Loop. The original Pizzaria Uno was just a few blocks away (very yummy) and I was also just a block or two from the Miracle Mile (high end shops and an Apple Store) and about six blocks away from this view of the river. The tower under construction is the Trump Tower and Hotel. My hotel, a Courtyard Marriott, was a 12-story place hiding behind the Trump.

I was also fairly close to Millennium Park which is home to the big silver bean, some giant video walls and a great outdoor concert facility. Parking? under your feet. The bean is a lot more impressive than I believed from just looking at pictures.

Under your feet. If I have any lasting impression of Chicago, it is layers upon layers of city. Many of the roadways are stacked two to three deep in places. On one bus, we came out of a tunnel to a busy intersection, took a ramp up to another covered area with a busy intersection and then came up again into a covered intersection (many stories of parking above) before heading out into the light. Its like, every time Chicago reinvented itself, it covered up the layer before but left the systems in place.

I had a fun three days in Chicago. But am happy to be back in Spokane.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring almost here

Yes, the first day of spring was back on March 20th. But it snowed again last Sunday (briefly) and there is still some snow in the yard. Climate change is not going well for those of us who would prefer a bit more warm. But things may actually start warming up this week and the last ofthe snow drifts may be gone soon. Its just that the last time it felt like this, we woke up to many inches of snow. Here's hoping spring will actually start soon.