Design.

As a college trained (but not graduated) Civil Engineer, I have a strong interest in highway design and the flow of transportation infrastructure in general. After living in a major American city for several years, I can say without a doubt that I do not miss driving the streets or expressways of Chicagoland.

Tucson has pretty much resisted the freewayification of the city, and alas has but two Interstates passing through: Interstate 10 (which runs coast to coast from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida) and Interstate 19, which is rather short for a two-digit numbered Interstate route as it’s less than 100 miles long as it heads to the Mexican border at Nogales. There’s a suggestion of an expressway along what was going to be Interstate 210, but it’s short and I’ve never seen it crowded.

Both of the main Interstates can get rather busy at rush hour here in Tucson, but for the most part I find them well designed and marked for what they are. I-10 could probably use an upgrade by adding a lane in each direction to the east of the city, but for the most part, traffic moves reasonably well. I’ve always been a fan of ADOT’s traffic engineering practices and getting to know these things a little more intimately, being an Arizona resident and all, is part of my general Road Geek happiness.

Some folks like to complain about the absence of freeways and loops here in Tucson, and granted I’m probably lucky because I don’t commute to work every day, but I don’t find getting around the city to be that bad. Everything is 20 to 30 minutes away from home. North, South, East, West, it doesn’t matter. It’s a half hour drive.

That’s half the amount of time it took for us to get anywhere in Chicago.

I’ve always found ADOT’s signing practices to be among the best in the United States, and that trend continues as they constantly replace sun-bleached signs. The brown “Attractions” signs don’t stand much of a change in the longevity department after a few years in the Sonoran Desert sun.

Anxiety.

Earl and I went shopping at one of the many locations of The Home Depot in Tucson today. There were a lot of people milling about doing their Saturday chores. The vast majority of them were wearing masks, as required by Pima County and The Home Depot (despite what the governor says).

A few folks were not wearing masks and I maintained an extra amount of distance from them and gave them an eye roll. They probably didn’t notice, they were too wrapped up in their false sense of importance in this world.

Even though I was wearing a mask, maintaining distance, and on the vaccination path for COVID-19, I still feel a great deal of anxiety when out in public. Every person I see, masked or not, is a walking petri dish of God knows what and I have not desire to sample their sickly soup. As a society we have too many people that can’t be bothered to park in one parking space let alone take care of one another by wearing a mask during a global pandemic.

I hope that I’ll be over this anxiety by the end of the summer so we can enjoy all our desert home city has to offer.

Right now I’ll just maintain my distance.

Bon Bon Voyage.

My first cousin once removed, Devin, and her girlfriend Jade are building their first home together. Their new home is a renovated school bus. They’ve traveled the world together, now they’re traveling the country together.

I think this is awesome.

Feel free to follow their adventures at their blog BonBonVoyage.

Road Trip.

Dirt road at night.
Interstate 55.

I took the day off from work and meandered around the rural parts of Northeastern Illinois. I generally kept it between Chicago and Peoria. Other than getting beyond Joliet and coming home after having a bite to eat for supper, I drove back roads and scenic routes.

There’s a fewer number of Trump signs on lawns in the villages. I saw more Biden signs than ever, which I found surprising for the rural parts of the state. This gave me a glimmer of hope.

Whenever I stopped folks were generally wearing masks; there was maybe one or two people total that didn’t have a mask on when I stopped at a Walmart to use the rest room.

I let my mind meander as I meandered around the Illinois River Valley. It’s a good way for me to figure things out.

And now I’m ready for a proper weekend.

Sunrise.

This morning’s sunrise was filled with glorious color. I tried to capture it in a photo, but the pictures don’t do it justice.

Mother Nature is awesome.

Prosperity.

Shell Oil pioneered the “neighborhood service station” beginning in 1958 when they introduced their ranch style buildings. As part of what we now call the “Mid-Century Modern” era, this design has always reminded me of what I’ve read about the mid 50s and early 60s: it was an era of prosperity and the United States was reaching for the stars. If you were part of a middle-class, white American family with 2.45 children, a house in the suburbs, and a white picket fence around your carefully tended-to lawn, you had it good.

At least this is what I’ve read.

Societal analysis aside, I’ve always loved the architecture from this part of the 20th century. Here’s an original Shell station without 21st century improvements:

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mark Potter and was found via a Google search

Shell stations like this were found all over the place near where I grew up in Upstate New York until Shell Oil left the area in the late 1970s. Many of the buildings still stand (at least the last time I was there), though they’ve been rebranded by another oil company or have been repurposed as something else. The Shell station of this design closest to my grandparents in the city was turned into a Jreck Sub shortly before I started driving in 1984. The chimney on that building remained, usually it’s removed as part of renovations, as seen in the top photo I took today on the corner of California and Fullerton here in Chicago.

While there’s nothing physically “space age” about Shell Oil or these ranch style buildings, I can’t help but think of the aforementioned space age prosperity of the time. Society seemed more hopeful.

Hope is a good thing.

Storms.

I’ve been watching the forecasts from the Storm Prediction Center all week. When they started mentioning severe weather yesterday, I told Earl I was interested in doing some storm chasing this weekend. He packed me a cooler with sandwiches, salads, fruit, and drink, along with the necessary silverware and other accessories, and told me to go have fun. “Be careful. See you Sunday.”

I’m writing this from the River Hills Mall parking lot in Mankato, Minnesota. I’ve been following heavy rain around all morning; the forecast calls for severe storms this evening and into the overnight hours. I’ll probably move to the east just a bit, as the forecast probability is strongest to the west of I-35 along the Minnesota-Iowa border.

Adventures like this are awesome. I am lucky to have such a supportive husband.

Beer.

I don’t care if a bar is calling themselves a gay bar or a straight bar. Once upon a time I would seek out a gay bar but then again, once upon a time a gay bar was the only place a gay man would go. If I’m going out for a drink I’m looking for a friendly bar and the only label I’m looking for is “friendly”. It’s a harmony that should be prevalent in the world.

I enjoy the taste of beer and I enjoy trying different beers. I use the “Untappd” app on iOS and apparently I have tried over 350 unique beers in the past five years. The picture on my profile is from 2013. My attitude is from 2018.

When Earl and I first moved to Chicago we discovered a pub down the street called “The Globe Pub”. This pub is known for its allegiance to soccer and The World Cup; it’s not uncommon to see folks drinking and watching the World Cup at 10:00 on a weekday. The space had a great vibe to it; their beer list is quite complete. Back in April they announced they were closing for renovations but they promised to be open for the World Cup.

The opened in the nick of time.

Earl and I stopped their tonight and found it to have a familiar vibe with a lot more space. Stephanie (according to the receipt) is still behind the counter; I tried a couple of different beers I haven’t sampled before. One of the local microbreweries, Begyle Brewing, is feature on their draft beer list. The beer I tried tonight is one of their darker beers. Some of the darker beers have an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 14%. I tried one of those tonight and then I tapered off with an Oatmeal Stout from Begyle. The alcohol content was around 5%. Given a choice, I prefer dark beers over the cutting edge hoppy taste of IPAs. I like trying different beers. As I type this blog entry the heavier ABV beer is kicking in a bit. That’s prolly why they serve it in a fancy glass.

I’m happy that The Globe Pub is open. I suppose as a gay man I’m suppose to patronize the gay establishments but I couldn’t care less how a bar labels itself. If my husband can sit next to me, the bartender is friendly, the clientele is hospitable, and the beer selection is good, how does my sexual orientation fit into the equation?

Gosh, I sound like a millennial.

I like to call “The Globe Pub” our neighborhood “Regal Beagle” even though Suzanne Somers isn’t looking for an outrageous salary. There’s a bunch of sports on the television, the beer selection is good and the staff and customers are friendly, even when my husband calls me sweetie.

Living in the big city is awesome. Living near “The Globe Pub” is awesome too. I’m happy they’re back online.

SuperBlueBlood Moon.

Image courtesy of NASA

Tonight is a Super Blue Blood Moon. The moon is full, it’s the second full moon of the month (blue moon), it’s in a point in its orbit around the Earth where it’s close (looking up to 17% larger) and there will be a lunar eclipse near dawn.

I might just have to get up and take a look myself.

Skaneateles, New York.

Skaneateles is considered the eastern gateway to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. Situated along US Route 20, this charming little town is at the northern end of Skaneateles Lake. Strolling amongst the charming village green along the lake shore, it is evident that there’s a bit of money in Skaneateles. As I understand, the Baldwins (Alec, Stephen, et al) and the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) enjoy spending some down time in Skaneateles.

In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “Skinny-atlas” when using the typical flat Central New York accent.

Earl and I spent the day relaxing today. We had the top off the Jeep, we drove amongst back roads and we just spent some quality time together. It’s a downtime weekend for us after about a month of traveling and being focused on our careers. One of our stops was in Skaneateles.

And it was a wonderful day.

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