Category Archives: Travel

Bell Tower of Xi’an China

Built in 1384, you might think the Bell Tower of Xi’an China may be one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.


The often overshadowed historical site plays “second fiddle” to the Terra Cotta Army, also located in the city of Xi’an. Both locations are wonderfully preserved for tourists to visit, but only the Army is teeming with tourists.

The best part of The Bell Tower was it’s location from our hotel: This was the view taken out of our hotel room’s window on our first morning in China.

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A Magnificent View

One of my favorite things about Chicago is how different the view of the skyline can be just by moving a block or two in another direction.

When my wife and I were preparing for our wedding, we toured a few hotels for our wedding guests to stay in. I was like a child in one of the hotels because it’s location was in the heart of the city.  As we went from room to room, I couldn’t help but stare out the windows at the city. I missed most of the presentation from the hotel representative because Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world, with one of the greatest skylines to match.

This view is from the Near West Loop, not far from the southern tip of Goose Island.

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Water Taxi on the Chicago River

In early May I made my way through downtown Chicago and walked along the beautiful Chicago River. (I used to really think the river was dirty, but then I traveled to India, Nepal and a few other countries and realized our river is just fine.)

The City of Chicago has done a spectacular job of making the Chicago River a marque location for tourists and locals. It’s a pleasant stroll along the river with various restaurants and cafes set up along the river walk for an afternoon snack.

And yes, if you follow along on Facebook, there is an Instagram’d image looking strikingly similar to this one. The two images were taken seconds apart.

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Farm Field Church

One of my favorite areas to photograph is the Southwest corner of Wisconsin.

Being from Chicago and having ten million of my closest friends and family within an hour’s drive, getting four hours outside of the big city and life changes quite a bit. A traffic jam is nothing more than a tractor puttering along down a two-lane road. There are small stands set up along the road with farmers selling their extra corn, potatoes, tomatoes or whatever else.

The roads are fun to drive, too, as they’re old roads the milk trucks used to drive to get from farm to farm. Those roads have since been paved, but a lot of them haven’t been maintained much after they were paved. Driving down the roads is nice to do with a GPS, because I can get lost and look for random fun stuff without worrying about finding my way home. On one of those drives down various roads, I came upon this small church seemingly engulfed from the surrounding corn crop.

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Ancient Tree Roots

Ta Prohm, part of the Angkor temple complex, is one of the most popular temples with tourists. The temple was left mostly uncleared of trees and other signs of time, so the century old trees soar high into the sky and oftentimes took root right over and along various walls. (Most of the other temples were cleared of overgrown trees to allow easy access for tourists.)

The temples near Siem Reap, Cambodia are a history fan’s heaven, and as a result of leaving the trees alone to show their age, Ta Prohm may be the highlight of any trip to the Angkorian temples.

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A View From the Top of the World

Soaring high above Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the Burj Khalifa.  Its the tallest building in the world.

The trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck is made up of a variety of long hallways with graphics and videos of the building’s construction process.  After the observation deck, there are more twists and turns down hallways showing the original design and how it was adjusted along the way.  It’s a quick and interesting tour for someone like myself, who is easily bored by tours, but I’m sure an absolutely riveting tour for someone who is into architecture (complete with various wind tunnel models).

Small museum pieces aside, however, and the view from the top of the Burj Khalifa is worth the price of admission.  Taking a page from the John Hancock Building in Chicago, one of the highlights from Dubai’s tallest structure is an outdoor observation deck, complete with large openings to get an accurate idea of the wind and to, most notably, look down.  (The John Hancock Building’s outdoor area is completely fenced in.)

The only downside of the visit is the amount of desert sand blowing in the wind. Instead of watching the United Arab Emirates fade off into the distance, the view is eventually obscured by sand.

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St. Louis Arch

For quite awhile, St. Louis, Missouri has been on my list of places to drive down and do a “photo safari” through, for something like 24 hours.  It wouldn’t take much time or money, but if I set out and really went full-throttle, it’d be fun to do.  The Arch, Busch Stadium, that whole downtown night-life area, the Mississippi River are a few of places I’d like to hit.

As a kid, my family took a weekend trip to St. Louis and saw a show on one of the boats and went high up in The Arch.  More recently, some buddies and I went down for a weekend and watched our beloved Blackhawks play the St. Louis Blues.  It was a fun weekend with the guys, but it’d be nice to do something 100% photography driven.

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Lobster Traps and Fishing Boat

Maine is a beautiful place, especially around autumn.

Even busy places, like a pier used as a headquarter lobster fishing is a beautiful and relaxing place when it’s not during the chaos of boats coming and going, fishermen loading and offloading.

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Monkey Enjoying a Banana

When we travel, if there is a “monkey temple” nearby, we’ll make our way to it.  So hearing of one near Jaipur, India, my wife and I hired a car and took off in an attempt to explore the ancient temple before the sun set too low.

The journey to Galta Temple involved a lot of twists-and-turns on the narrow roadway, then our driver stopping and motioning for us to walk the rest of the way.  We hiked through the small temples in the (what I can only describe as) tiny village. The village reminded me a lot of Petra, Jordan with it’s high pink rock walls and two story buildings built right up against the cliffs (in Petra, however, the temples are built *into* the rock wall).

As we walked through the village and approached the temple, I took the above picture of the first little monkey we saw.  He was enjoying a couple of bananas, presumably leftover from a previous tourist.

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Inside the Burj Al Arab Hotel

Located in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the Burj Al Arab hotel.  The hotel boasts its rating as the only “seven star hotel in the world,” but since hotel ratings only go up to five, it’s just a self-proclaimed title.  What you need to know is it’s a fancy place.  Reeeeeally fancy place.

The Burj Al Arab hotel sits on reclaimed land in the ocean and has a private bridge connecting the property to the mainland.  At the start of the private bridge, security is heavily controlled and only those with reservations may enter. Knowing this, Alisha found we could still enter by making “afternoon tea” or “cocktail hour” reservations.  (Those, too, are pricey, but far cheaper than the $2,000 per night for a room.)

We decided to show up a bit earlier than our afternoon tea reservation so we could wander around the hotel to see what opulence looks like.  For as nice as the staff was, as clean as the facility was and as comfortable as the hotel is, I can understand the four-digit price-tag per night.  I just can’t afford the four-digit price-tag per night.

So today’s picture is looking directly up from the second floor of the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel.  Out of context it’s a crazy looking tunnel that reminds of something I’d see in a space movie (in the Middle East Gallery is a black and white version that’s really space movie-like). Having been there and viewed things first hand, it’s no space movie set, it’s sheer opulence.

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Rowing Along the Mekong Delta

I’ve been doing  a lot of behind the scenes work on my website lately.  Because of this, I’ve been scanning through a lot of images from past adventures, and for some reason, this image caught my eye as I scrolled through pictures from Vietnam.

Alisha and I spent some time exploring Vietnam, from Ho Chi Minh City south to the Mekong Delta.  The history and way of life in Vietnam is fascinating, and no better example is the vast Mekong Delta.

Life moves at a slower place in these parts, and it’s a nice change from the hustle and bustle of big cities.  (One of my favorite images can be found in the Asia Travel Gallery with the man and woman motoring to market, while a gentleman washes his hair in the background.)

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Cable Cars in San Francisco

While spending time in San Francisco, I was transfixed with the cable cars.

The city is full of hills and the cable cars steadily chug up and down them, bringing tourists on an delightful journey.

Strangely, for as enamored with the cable cars as I was, I never rode one.  I had a rental car and used that instead, racing to various spots around the city looking for scenic vantage points.

With this particular picture, I drove by the street and noticed the scene just as it was about out of view.  I circled the block the next chance I had (no easy task with one way streets) and circled for a bit to look for parking.

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Abandoned Truck

Driving through the Namibian desert was no picnic.  Alisha and I traveled on rough, gravel roads and didn’t see another vehicle pass us by for hours.  On our way back towards Windhoek, the woman assisting us with check-out suggested we stop by the town of Solitaire for some apple pie.

Solitaire is a good name for the town.  There is a gas station, bakery, hotel and car repair shop all on the property and not much else.  Near the road are a few abandoned cars which, I’m guessing, didn’t get to where they were going.

July 2011. (3652)

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Early Morning Balinese Pride

This guy was really, really proud of what he’d just accomplished.

Waking up early to watch the fishermen head out to sea in Bali, Indonesia, Alisha and I strolled down the beach as the sun rose in the sky.  Most of the boats had left before we woke up, but there were always a few coming and going as we made our way down to the fish market.

Most of these types of fishing boats sometimes use three, four or five men pushing them off of the beach and into the ocean.  The large pieces of wood jutting out to the side are great to keep the small boats from turning over while at sea, but add a lot of extra weight getting them on and off the beach.

As we approached this particular boat, the pilot and his buddy began to shove off into the ocean from ten or fifteen meters up on the beach.  As the water got deeper, the pink-striped guy jumped in, while the other one finished pushing.

With a final burst of energy, he got his friend out into the ocean and on his way.  Knowing us two tourists were strolling by as this unfolded, the gentleman paused and posed for the camera as if to say “Most boats use five guys; I can do it myself.”

October 2010. (6361)

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Willis Tower in Chicago

Usually when I’m out taking pictures in and around Chicago, I’ll try to swing by the city’s Planetarium to snap a few pictures of the skyline on my way home.

I love the Chicago skyline and how much it changes, yet stays the same.  Even subtle differences — like the Sears Tower changing its name to the Willis Tower — are fascinating to me.

September 2010. (3590)

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Kinsale Harbor at High Tide

After reading through various guide books, I had the impression Kinsale, Ireland was a small town, but not that small.  When we arrived in the sleepy Irish harbor town, I was surprised to learn we could walk across town in a mere ten minutes.

I realize the guide books are targeting a wide audience, and Alisha and I can perhaps cover ground quicker than others, but even walking out to Charles Fort was a much faster journey than expected.

It turned out to be a nice thing, because we could cover ground faster than expected, and see all the small fishing town of Kinsale has to offer.

June 2011. (1066)

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More of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse at Sunrise

I have a lot of images of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, and a majority of them are around sunrise.

The sun coming up from behind the landmark never ceases to impress me, and many times the fog, clouds or lighting is awesome.  As such, it’s an often photographed spot in the City of Chicago, but Mother Nature never gives the same photo opportunity twice.

February 2009. (1862)

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Cricket on the Sidewalk

While wandering around India, my wife and I realized just how popular cricket is there. Sure, I’ve heard many stories of cricket frenzied fans but never realized how frenzied it really was.

On our way back to the hotel, we were walking along the street and passed a park with droves of kids playing cricket.  Some were in jeans and T-shirts, some were in tattered clothes, and some were in traditional religious wear. It was fascinating to watch, but after a short while, they boys took quite an interest in my wife.

Everywhere in India we went my wife was quite popular. We weren’t sure of the exact reasoning, and it was further complicated when a older gentleman briefly chatted with us and mentioned she looks eerily similar to a famous Bollywood actress.

While we were watching the boys play cricket, one eventually came over with his camera phone to snap a picture of us. (And by “us,” I mean he motioned for me to slide out of the picture.)

Since turnabout is fair play, we continued to watch the boys play cricket, but before we left I took a few photos of them.

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Great Wall of China Drifts Into the Sky

It was truly an enjoyable experience to wander around the Great Wall of China so early in the morning by ourselves.

For the first 15 or 20 minutes Alisha and I explored the wall, having the time of our lives experiencing a bit of history first-hand.  Shorty after that 20-minute window passed, a few more people started to gather on the wall. Then a few more.

Suddenly the Great Wall of China seemed packed with tourists.

Everywhere we turned there were people walking by with their radios blaring, tour groups shouting amongst themselves and children screaming as they ran by.  It became a bit of a headache, but we still were able to force ourselves to enjoy the moment.

We really ended up cherishing our earlier time alone on the famed wall.

October 2010. (4634)

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Unfinished Church

Construction began in 1874 in St. George, Bermuda on a replacement for the town’s St. Peter’s Church.  However a series of problems developed, from a storm ravaging the near-completed site to financial concerns and political infighting within the parish.  Construction halted and the church began to crumble over time.

In 1992 the Bermuda National Trust stepped in to preserve the structure in its unfinished state.  To this day the church remains unfinished with its towering stone walls, grassy floor and massive sky-light.

March 2010. (1924)

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