travel

THE CITY OF BRIDGES

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which happens to be the twentieth largest in the United States, has been appropriately referred to as the "Steel City" due to the fact that it is home to more than 300 steel-related businesses.  While this has been well publicized, many are not aware that the city of Pittsburgh has also been coined the "City of Bridges" due to the fact that it contains 446 bridges - the most of any city in the world...except Venice, Italy. 

Pittsburgh has also been a manufacturing giant of aluminum, glass, shipbuilding, sports, computing and electronics. The city houses world renowned medical and research centers, museums, and libraries along with a vibrant cultural scene as well as laying claim to having the most bars per capita in the United States. Some of the world's biggest names in tech have offices located here.

 

Pittsburgh is a palette begging for an artist with a brush. Photographers have endless opportunities to create a plethora of stunning imagery including but not limited to world class architecture and jaw dropping skylines. I look forward to returning to this wonderful city to bask in all its glory. 

WALKING THE STRIP

I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a long weekend of work-related events.  Although I had a detailed shot list for sites I wanted to photograph, reality left me with very little time to actually make images.  After completing my obligations, I headed out down the strip at 11:00 pm on a brisk and windy March night. As I walked around trying to capture the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip, I settled on an area with active traffic and a backdrop of hotels including Treasure Island, The Venetian and The Mirage.

Lighting up the Strip

The extended light trails lead the eye straight down the strip populated with gargantuan hotels filled with casinos, high-end retailers and countless five-star celebrity-owned restaurants.  This level of excess and grandeur can only be seen in aplace known appropriately as Sin City.

ALL ABOARD

I recently visited the Jingle Rails Exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum in downtown Indianapolis featuring numerous train layouts of famous landmarks made from materials such as moss, twigs, nuts, etc. Jingle Rails is a representation of the Real Great American West as well as an imaginary version. For those who grew up tinkering with model trains, you will greatly appreciate the attention to detail placed throughout this exhibit.

The exhibit features local Indianapolis treasures such as the Eiteljorg Museum and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Lucas Oil field served as host to the Superbowl back in 2012 and continues as home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. Notice the great attention to detail with regards to the field surface inside.

Monument Circle celebrates the Holidays every year with a lighting ceremony that draws large volumes of people from miles and miles away.

The Indiana State Fair remains a staple in the fabric of Indiana Summers while entertaining large crowds every year.


Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota has been an iconic landmark since 1925 featuring the faces of former Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

Old Faithful Geyser, the world's most famous Geyser located in Yellowstone National Park was named due to it's reliable ability to erupt every 65-92 minutes which still holds true today.

While in Yellowstone, why not stay at the Legendary Ahwahnee Hotel, which has seen countless celebrities throughout its long existence.

One last stop on this tour is the one and only Hoover Dam which sits on the Arizona-Nevada Border and takes in approximately 1 million visitors per year.

This is an exhibit that has been airing for the past six years around the Holidays and is definitely an attraction worth adding to your itinerary when visiting Indianapolis.

 

WELCOME TO THE MISSION

I recently traveled to Mackinac Island for some rest and relaxation and spent a few days at the famed Mission Point Resort.  The resort was bought by a Detroit businessman and renamed Mission Point as a tribute to the part of the Island which housed one of the first churches and the Mission House, an historical landmark which still stands on the property. The resort has gone through changes over the years improving its structural integrity and overall esthetics.  IN 2004, Fodor name the resort as one of the top ten best waterfront hotels in America.

Hotel Lobby

As you enter the main entrance, you are greeted by a rustic yet inviting atmosphere along with towering wooden ceilings.  The front desk seen to the right work diligently to ensure the happiness of each and every guest during their stay.

Round Island Bar and Grill

hether its settling in for your favorite libation during happy hour or fueling up before a long day of sightseeing, the Round Island Bar and Grill is a great place to start or end the day.

Reading Room

One of the nice amenities this hotel provides is numerous seating areas throughout the lobby. These seating areas are great for scintillating conversation or simply enjoying a good book.  The wicker furniture and supple green leather chairs complement the wooden decor quite nicely.

Once you have completed the latest thriller and you have worked up an appetite, the ideal choice for dinner is Chianti, the hotel's flagship italian restaurant.  Fine dining and impeccable service will provide a night to remember.

Chianti Restaurant 

The wooden theme continues throughout the hotel providing a warm and comforting environment to enjoy a delicious culinary experience.

The Mission Point Resort sits about a 15 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  This provides a great deal of solitude allowing one to enjoy expansive property overlooking the Lake Michigan.  The multitude of Adirondack chairs provide a great way to relax on a sunny afternoon.

Take a load off

Mission Point Resort

As old man winter begins to arrive, the island will soon be closed to visitors.  Having said that, I look forward to returning next year for another memorable and relaxing vacation.

 

 

THE DRAKE HOTEL CHICAGO - STEP BACK IN TIME

Located in Chicago's Gold Coast, the legendary Drake Hotel has been a timeless property which provides its guests the ultimate access to the city's finest restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

The Drake is one of about 260 hotels and resorts in the country to be admitted into the Historic Hotels of America due to it's ability to preserve and maintain its historic architecture, integrity and ambiance. 

For a hotel to be honored with this distinction, it must be at least 50 years old as well as being designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Drake has been recognized for almost century as the premier destination the high society crowd to assemble. The ability of the hotel staff to ensure each guest receives nothing less than The Drake Standard of Hospitality ensures it's high level of customer loyalty. 

During the 1920's the Palm Court became the desired location for the city's elite to indulge in the ongoing tradition of Afternoon Tea. This room has seen the likes of Bing Crosby, Walt Disney and Charles Lindbergh imbibing on their favorite cocktails. 

The tradition of Afternoon Tea has become a city staple comparable to the Chicago Hot Dog. This quintessential hotspot has been frequented by royalty such as Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana who enjoyed their favorite tea and snacks. 

The tradition of afternoon  tea was created by the Seventh Duchess of Bedford back in 1840. Since there was such a long interval between meals, the duchess began requesting tea and cake be brought to her room to satisfy her hunger pangs. She soon made this a daily ritual and invited some friends to join her. This has now become a highly desired experience at the hotel and reservations are strongly recommended.

The hotel has become synonymous with great customer satisfaction while providing the ultimate guest experience. The attention to detail can be seen throughout the hotel through its ornate decor and ambiance. While visiting Chicago, this hotel should be on everyone's list even just as a walkthrough while providing a unique perspective on the Windy City.  One final note, I must insist you stop at the restaurant Coq D'or and partake in a Lobster Roll - you will never forget it.

DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to getaway for a night absolving myself from the responsibilities and obligations of everyday life. I jumped in the car and headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan which has quickly become one of the fastest growing cities with it's enticing offering of breweries, restaurants and a vibrant art scene. 

Blue Bridge

Located in the heart of downtown lies the iconic pedestrian bridge simply known as the Blue Bridge. The bridge connects the city center on the East bank to the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University facilities on the West. This pedestrian bridge provides a convenient connection between the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus of Grand Valley State University as well as the Grand Rapids Public Museum and other attractions on the east side of the river.

This location has proven quite popular while providing a backdrop for wedding parties, prom pictures with its unmistakeable "Lake Blue" color.

Back to the city

Off to the left, in the two previous photos, is the JW Marriott Hotel where I spent the evening. Excellent service and attention to detail provide the perfect complement to the eye-catching contemporary architectural design.

Waterfront Downtown Grand Rapids

The downtown area is an ideal venue for taking in the all glorious options a large vibrant city has to offer. There are walking paths along the water which allow you to experience big-city excitement without the usual big city hassles. There are multiple dining, shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing opportunities all within a 10-minute stroll.

Pearl Street Bridge

 

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum happens to be one of the oldest history museums in the United States. The museum contains a cafe, gift shop, as well as a rather unique feature, a 1928 Spilllman Carousel. The museum offers attractions for everyone as well as those interested in Astronomy by way of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. 

Upon completing the museum tour, a simple stroll across the street brings you to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. 

Gerald R Ford Museum

Since September of 1981, the Gerald R.Ford Museum has provided visitors a snapshot into history with exhibits and interactive learning to better understand the highlights of the Ford Administration. The museum offers a gift shop to provide momentos of history while also serving as a host for naturalization ceremonies and the annual fourth of July fireworks,

 

Grand Rapids continue to flourish as one of the fastest growing cities with all its unique offerings and I look forward to returning to visit its newest attractions. 


THE ICONIC LEGGS INN

Perched on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan lies the world famous Leggs Inn Restaurant which exhibits a rather unique and mysterious approach with its architecture and decor.

Entry Foyer 

Located in Cross Village, Michigan, this restaurant features medieval looking stone, timber and driftwood taking us back in time to an experience unlike any other. The creator, a Polish immigrant by the name of Stanley Smolak, used his love of the inhabiting Ottawa and Chippewa Indians as influence for the blend of Old World European and Indian Cultures seen throughout the interior decor. Above is the entry foyer which displays an elaborate collection of nature and hand carved furniture made of tree stumps, limbs and roots which are seen throughout multiple rooms in the restaurant.

The Pool Room

The pool room continues the theme of meticulously handcrafted wood as the mainstay of its architectural foundation. 

Entrance to the game room

The cuisine is a balanced offering of authentic Polish and American dishes. Every dish is given the proper attention to detail to ensure an extremely enjoyable and memorable experience. In addition,the bar serves a multitude of accompanying hand crafted local beers not found at most establishments.

Step up to the bar

After satisfying customers for decades, the Leggs Inn has become a world famous destination acquiring praise from countless national magazines, publications and broadcasters throughout the country. 

Best view in the House

The Smolak family has gone to great lengths to enforce world-class friendly service to deliver amazing culinary delights. The waitstaff deliver the perfect combination of friendliness and attention creating a rather unique and unforgettable experience. This place has earned a guaranteed visit on my next trip to Northern Michigan.