Friday, May 27, 2016

Trip to Pontiac IL

Christi and I made our get away this Memorial Day weekend to Pontiac Illinois. Last year we took a Route 66 trip from Joliet to Tulsa, and we were impressed with the wall murals and the town of Pontiac. Hence, this desire to return to spend more time.

The wall murals in Pontiac are real cool. The museums there are the best. The swinging bridges unique. I have to say, with the artist we have in NW Indiana, and wall murals by Felix Flex Maldonado (among others), one has to ask one's self why in the world would you ever leave NW Indiana? Answer: There is life outside Indiana, believe it or not.

To go out and see is to go out and learn. Experiencing life in all it's grandeur is how you become appreciative, even for the life back at home. Yes, I have a lot that I can photograph out my "back door" as it were. Though I do see the world, even the universe should I get that chance, as my photography studio. People of all kinds. Cultures of all kinds. Cities of all kinds. This big blend all has a uniqueness that I want to find. That uniqueness is what creates the rifts that make you go "nice", "ah huh", "beautiful", "wow". This give and take is what makes life real. I want that in my photography.

Here are some photos of our round robin trip to Pontiac, IL, with a quick jont to Urbana and our trip back home through Odell. I hope you enjoy this and find some interest to go check it out on your own at some point in your life. The first couple of photos are from our stop at the Polka-Dot Drive In, in Braidwood Illinois.

The 1906 jail in Gardner. This time Bubba was behind bars, and next to a restaurant (now museum).

This sign reminds me of "Back To The Future". I am sort of guessing they intended that.

Pontiac, Illinois

Behind the museums is a small parking lot. It is lined with buildings and murals that are really cool, along with a bus.

Inside the Route 66 museum.

The "Bob Waldmire Experience", Bob's Road Yacht.

My bride and Bubba at the wishing well . . .

The Vermilion River that passes through Pontiac. Jut above in the foreground is the hanging wing chimes. In the background is one of three swinging bridges that cross the river.

The tourist area of Pontiac includes public restrooms on a corner (to my back). While we stopped to use them, I saw this shop across the street with a cool Route 66 t-shirt in the window, so Christi bought one for me. This same street has some interesting older buildings that I photographed too, along with Bubba.

Bubba really likes our mailman back home, who delivers the mail in his open door truck. Bubba saw another open door truck coming and found it interesting, probably hoping to get his treat from the driver as he does the mail person.

Another one of the swinging bridges. I guess they do swing if you were to make it. What they do well is to bob up and down as people walk across. Christi did get a little dizzy.

One of the last swinging bridges . . .

Back to the museum. These first set of photos are of the war museum. This multi-museum is all free to the public. Thank you Pontiac! There are donation jars around. I would encourage you to support this volunteer effort by donating. (We did.)

The war museum is the best I have seen. It is packed with history dating as far back as WWI I believe. You can tell that the people who support the museum are enthusiasts because of the quality of the displays, including the model airplanes. (It would be difficult to have a real one in there.)

I also have to say, this particular war museum is very special. You have to go through it to understand why.

Yes, this is Patton's sword, on loan to the Pontiac museum!

I am not one to go around and chat and ask questions. What I did observe were all of these uniforms on manikins with tags of who the uniform belonged to, where they lived (all from the region I believe), where they served and in what branch and rank in the military. A lot of people in the Pontiac region have served our country. I could not think of a better way to preserve their memory. What is very powerful are their medals, many of which were the Purple Heart decoration for those wounded or killed while serving. All I could do to honor them was to take off my hat while I toured, and to limit my photography.

The "Life in the 1940s Exhibit" is part of the museum building. It is always interesting so see and perhaps understand how people have lived. A lot of detail and furnishings in the 1940s, for those who could afford. Me, I prefer simple, however enjoy looking at what decor meant or means to others.

Another interesting museum is the "Museum of the Gilding Arts". This museum is in a separate building down the street. It shows the craft of gold and silver leaf gilding, ancient in a way, yet still practiced today.

I enjoyed the detail of gold leaf on the sewing machine, while Christi enjoyed the hot air balloon frame. This material is super thin. Creating it and applying it are different skills / crafts. True artistry all around.

Though it is very difficult to see with all the reflections, the next photo is a gilded Harley Davidson fuel tank.

The next museum we went to was the "Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum". What a collection! Not that there are a lot of cars. There are a lot of items including cars. Thought he cars are few, the condition of them are mint. It was thrilling to see the history of this brand. If you happen to be re-building a Pontiac, you must visit. The library of original design drawings, and service manuals is huge. They do advertise their displays change often. So the vehicles you see in my blog may or may not be there the time you visit.

Unfortunately I became wrapped up in all the displays, and did not take a photo of the library which is behind this display.

Back in my day we had fiber oil cans with metal tops and bottoms. It was nice to see all the different brands of oil cans displayed.

I doubt this is a complete collection. However it is a great collection at minimum, of the hood ornaments through the years.

Just NW of Pontiac is Humiston Woods Nature Center. All 355 acres of it! We attempted to hike it given there was a good breeze to keep us cool. We did not get too far.

The sky this one evening was sunny and blue, so I took a couple photos of my bride Christi looking at the cloud line coming in.

At "Dargan Park" you can see 3 statues made of welded steel plate that represents the "seasons of life". I best not try to put more in words. You can read more about these cool statues by clicking "here". I had hoped to get there early morning to photograph near sunrise. That did not happen, though I still found some shadow to play with.

A couple years ago I had been to the University of Illinois in Urbana, to work with the engineering department on a project. I found the area around Boneyard Creek of the campus very pleasant. So we drove there to check it out again. Unfortunately this time there was a lot of construction there, so we found another area to photograph - Illini Union.

Our last day we went around town photographing more murals we missed . . .

The "Daily Leader" is Pontiac's local news media that covers the communities of Pontiac, Fairbury, Chenoa, El Paso, and Dwight Illinois. When we took our Route 66 trip last year, I recalled the imagery on the side of the building, however just photographed one side. I saw this time that there is an "evolution" to news that wraps around the building in this imagery that is pretty cool.

The second photo fits in here because of the first photograph of both the Daily Leader and the Pontiac Museum Complex. This is the museum complex that houses the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, the Livingston Co. War Museum, the Walldogs Mural & Sign Art Museum, the Bob Waldmire Exhibit, and the Music of the Civil War Exhibit.

On the way back home, because the shop we wanted to visit in Pontiac that was close all Memorial Day weekend, we stopped by the shop in Odell, Illinois. This 1932 Standard Oil station is now their Route 66 visitors center. There is a lot to look at inside, and they are always open. This is a very small out of the way, and quiet, place to visit. You can read more about it by clicking "here".

We enjoyed Pontiac. You can probably visit everything we did in 8 or 9 hours. This Memorial Day weekend one of the shops we wanted to go back to was closed. Unsure why. Perhaps the owner went on vacation. The shops also close early for such a touristy place. The restaurants and museum stay open later. So I would suggest planning visiting the shops during the day, and the swinging bridges, murals, and museum for morning and evening.

There are also many more shops and points of interest to see, that Christi, Bubba and I did not see. You can click "here" to see a map of everything. Pontiac is definitely worth a day trip. You may find it even more enjoyable to make it an overnighter, so that you can spend a relaxing time.

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