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Christmas Photos

Illinois Insulators

Our man Henry is nothing if not just a little bit obsessive 🙃, and he spent many weeks ahead of our trip to Galena—where he caught the insulator-collecting bug during our March trip—plotting efforts to grab more of the little glass gems.

On our very first afternoon in town, we headed to Dubuque to meet up with Uncle Ted’s friend Tom who gave us three insulators!

The following morning, we grabbed some equipment & root beer at the hardware store, then headed out to the 1888 Winston Tunnel. The winding path got us turned around a few times, but thankfully Uncle Ted was our eye in the sky, texting us guidance right to the tunnel.

Despite a huge application of my elbow grease as I stood atop a very sketchy stump, we just couldn’t dislodge any of the insulators we found. At least the root beers hit the spot before we refueled with fried cheese curds at Culver’s.

The next day (Christmas), Hen & I took a long walk down the tracks below Grandpa Nack’s childhood home. “I feel like Tantalus,” he said, as we noted tons of insulators that were just out of reach. We came away with just a shard of glass as a consolation prize.

Afterwards we dropped by Uncle Louie & Aunt Dolores’s house, and in the course of catching up with their family, we talked insulators with Joe Nack. Having gathered insulators as a kid, he gave us some good pointers on where to go Sunday.

To our great surprise, Joe showed up at our house on Sunday morning, offering to take us out on a hunt. Thanks to his ladder & tools, we immediately scored an insulator that had previously eluded us, and shortly thereafter we hit pay dirt—finding tons of poles out past Rec Park. “I hope you brought diapers, Henry,” said Joe, “’cause you’re about to crap your pants.” 😝

In the end Joe & I teamed up to climb high & score an additional five insulators for Henry. As Margot texted in response, “Joe Nack saves Christmas!”

Check out our gallery, as well as Henry’s video recap of our three outings:

Categories
Christmas Photos

Chitown Christmas ’21

Though I can hardly believe it, nine years have passed since our last Christmastime visit to Chicago and Galena. Back then we took the dudes around the city (see gallery & post) and to the Murrays’ house before heading to Big G. This year we were all set to see the gang at Liz’s house, but sadly Covid put the kibosh on those plans. Thankfully, we were able to see Aunt Jane for a bit & fuel up on Lou Malnati’s before heading down to the Palmer House.

I have fond memories of visiting the Marshall Field’s windows & Walnut Room with its giant tree, as well as of myriad trips to Water Tower Place, so the next morning we enjoyed bundling up & taking the dudes to these old haunts.

Our pal Samantha (who escorted Henry on a little train & photo safari back in 2018; see post) lives right downtown, and it was great to drop by her place & warm up over good stories & a little Irish whiskey. Afterwards, while Margot & Finn took a pit stop at the hotel, the rest of us stopped by Millennium Park to visit the “Bean” and the start of Route 66:

Afterwards the four Nacks headed to one of my folks’ old haunts, the Italian Village restaurant that’s just across the street from the building where they both worked. We had a ball hiding out in one of the tiny dinner alcoves that probably haven’t changed in all the intervening decades.

Lastly, after a second night at the hotel, Henry & I took a whirlwind tour of the former State of Illinois Building (one of my favorite places to visit & photograph as a kid), noticing & posing with various Blues Brothers movie locations along the way.

Here’s a big gallery showing our days on the town.

Categories
Christmas Photos

Christmas Carvings 🦉🦁

For many, many months now, our former nanny Yvonne’s brother in law has been quietly applying his patience & skills to the task of carving some really amazing, beautiful animals for the boys—a lion for Finn & an owl for Henry. It was great catching up with Yvonne after all these years, and Seamus took a shine to our new animal buddies. Check them out in our gallery!

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Photos Videos

A Pirate’s Life for G! 🏴‍☠️

I’m thrilled to say that our theatrical young Henry recently made his triumphant stage debut, revolutionizing the character of Yellowbeard in Hoover Elementary’s rousing rendition of “Pirates! The Musical.” 😛 His drama class took their bow right before the four of us saw Hamilton on stage in downtown San Jose, making for quite a night.

Check out a few photos I snapped from the crowd, along with a video of the production recorded by his teacher. As you may hear, Hen is one of the few (if not the only) kids to go the extra mile in affecting a piratical accent. Arrr son is alright. 😌

As it happens, Finn is preparing for tomorrow’s debut of his class production (for which he’s handling props), and hopefully these will be just the first of many exciting shows to come!

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Stalking “The Wild Maria”

Thanks to a chatty Ace Hardware employee who talked me up after seeing my ND jacket, we learned about Russian Gulch and its striking waterfall just outside of Mendocino. As we began our trip south, we did a quick detour to take in the beautiful redwoods.

Here’s a video of the waterfall up close:

Check out our photo gallery for the full set of visuals.

And for the piece de resistance, our budding naturalist Hen, aka Dr. Alias Fakename (“Elias Fah-ke-nah-may”) filmed “The Wild Maria” traipsing around her natural habitat, Sasquatch-style. Check out his report (sound on!). 😝

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino: From Sea Glass to Sunrise

Following our railbike outing, Hen & I met back up with the crew for Giant Burgers at Jenny’s (“next to Denny’s,” the locals helpfully noted—as apparently all directions are relative to Denny’s).

Margot & Finn were looking for a little downtime, so they peaced out to the campsite with Seamus. Maria had dropped by the local Sea Glass Museum, so armed with new knowledge & a little guide book, she took Hen & me out to Sea Glass Beach to hunt for treasure:

If you squint, you can just see the two of them hunting amongst the crags in this interactive drone panorama:

I swear, I almost had to crowbar the two of them off the beach as the sun set. 😌 It was worth it, though, as they collected quite the haul:

Some locals had recommend a funky local seafood joint called The Sea Pal Cove, where fishing boats pull right up to the pier to drop off their hauls. While Hen & Maria got us a table, I drove back to reclaim the rest of the crew & bring them to the fishy scene.

After a good night’s sleep, we again hit the beach. Talk about live & learn: Seamus grinding his face into a log full of barnacles left him smelling deeply gross for our four-hour ride home. 🙄

And Maria learned just how quickly the sea can turn on you & soak your feet 😅, necessitating some fireside steaming:

Check out our gallery for the full set of pics & vids.

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino: Skunk Train Rail Bikes! 🦨🚂

Back at the tail end of 2014, we had a ball riding the famous Skunk Train out of Fort Bragg (see photos and video):

For Christmas break last year we were all set to visit again, even booking tickets—but then <sad trombone> the ‘rona had other plans.

Happily we were able to reschedule for this year, and Hen and I took full advantage by renting a pedal-powered railbike!

Check out the high-speed silliness in this video:

We even got the Lego family (complete with Lego Maria & her dog Tippy) in on the action. See more in the full gallery.

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino a-Go-Go!

After having a terrific Thanksgiving at home with our visiting pal Maria, we packed up the Westy—complete with the spacious new “techno-yurt” Margot bought for my birthday & which finally arrived at the last possible minute.

First we zipped across the Golden Gate Bridge under picture-perfect skies:

Afterwards we made our way north to Hopland & Ukiah, where we visited an antique store & then an army surplus store, both recommended by our friend Marcos who grew up in the area. From glass insulators to fake teeth to all manner of MAGA madness, the selection & clientele were eclectic & memorable, to say the least.

From there we made the long and very winding path out to the coast, arriving in Fort Bragg to set up camp just outside of town, then score some pizza and supplies. The new tent went up like a champ & kept Finn and Maria cozy all night, with an assist from space heater Seamus.

The campsite was located just a short walk from the beach—which proved delightful to visit the next morning.

Check out our gallery from the first day’s adventure, and stay tuned for lots more from the weekend.