Road info to know before you go

 

I90 and O'Hare info road changes to know (J Jacobs)
I90 and O’Hare info road changes to know (J Jacobs)

Now that more folks are vaccinated, travel and local road traffic has picked up. If traveling around your state or through other states check their department of transportation website’s for road closures and expected delays. In Illinois it is IDOT closures.

Among the latest info releases is one from the Chicago Department of Aviation regarding O’Hare international Airport.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) the Kennedy Expressway will be working on a configuration change between Harlem Avenue and Interstate 190 beginning April 15 at 5 a.m. and continuing until fall, 2021.

As a result, westbound motorists on I-90 will merge onto a new collector-distributor road just after Canfield Avenue to access the I-190 ramps to O’Hare. The merge is about one mile before the current ramp access. Motorists should expect delays or use alternate routes.

More information on the Kennedy Expressway improvement work is available from IDOT Roadway Information.

In addition the lower level of the O’Hare pickup area is under construction until sometime in 2022 so better pick up options are for cars to park then meet guests.

A different kind of helicopter

 

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, 2021, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, 2021, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Escape from our earthly pandemic April 12, 2021 via NASA.

Tune in to NASA Live or NASA online early, actually very early, Monday morning when, if all goes as planned, Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, will be seen moving and hovering beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT.

A post flight briefing is planned for 11 a.m. EDT, April 12.

Ingenuity’s inaugural flight will livestream to (hopefully) demonstrate the first powered flight on another planet.

Don’t expect the kind of helicopter tour often touted for visiting Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. Ingenuity will be starting out slow and low in Mars’ freezing temperatures and thin air. If all goes well, it will move just a few feet up and hover a few seconds before landing.

‘That will be a major milestone: the very first powered flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars, ” said a NASA statement.

Ingenuity demonstrations are expected to continue with greater altitude and distance for approximately 31 Martian days (sols). Then, Perseverance will continue its exploratory mission.

The helicopter was attached to the Perseverance rover that landed at the Jezero Crater on Mars, Feb. 18, 2021. Perseverance released Ingenuity upon reaching what was considered to be a good “helipad.”

For this and more NASA events visit NASAonline.

 

Full moon will appear super

The Moon, or Supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Moon, or Supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky)

If the light of the moon was keeping you up last night it’s because the first full moon of spring is March 28 but looks full March 27 and March 29.

And because this spring (Northern Hemisphere) full moon is closer to earth than the ones in January and February it appears brighter and is considered by some sky watchers as a “Supermoon.”

Actually, its perigee (closest part of its orbit) is March 30 so it still will continue to appear very bright and mostly full.

Don’t worry if your area is cloudy. The full moons  in April, May and June will be even closer and will look like Supermoons.

Called  the Worm Moon, Crow Moon or Sap Moon by some native American tribes, this full moon also sets Easter, which, in 2021, is April 4.  See Tonight | EarthSky

Fun Fact:  Do you know what syzygy means?  It’s when three bodies, such as the Sun, Earth, and the Moon, are in alignment. See Time and Date for the term and alignment.

Time and Date also does an excellent job of explaining how long the moon really is fully illuminated and why due to the earth’s tilt it may not appear at total illumination, noting that the degree of illumination somewhat blends what appears to be a Full Moon and the last stage of a Waxing Gibbous Moon or the beginning of a Waning Gibbous Moon.

On NASA’s site a sidebar tells that the term “supermoon” was “coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth.’

The site also connects the first spring moon’s names from native Americans and different religions. It notes that this weekend’s Full moon is also called the Pesach moon on the Jewish calendar, Paschal moon for Western Christianity and Medin in SRI Lanka.

For more word definitions and moon phases visit Space.

Spring Vacation Destination Part Two: Presidential location

Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)
Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)

With COVID cases down and more people having received vaccines, travel has picked up. However, health officials still considered driving as a better alternative to flying.

In the Midwest a drive to Springfield, IL means following Route 66 for road buffs and finding that the Lincoln Museum is way better than a family may expect. It is something to experience.


Springfield, IL

Driving RTE 66 west to LA sounds awesome but if you’re a Midwesterner with only a long weekend or a Spring Break week,  look closer to home. Think Springfield, Illinois’ state capital on historic US Rte. 66.

Getting Started – if you call Chicago ‘home’ your city marks the beginning or ending (however you see it) of Rte. 66. Just don’t try to find the number on current maps. Today’s interstates connect the road’s big cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Los Angeles (remember the song) and such smaller, interesting towns as Litchfield, IL and Kingman, AZ.

To start out historically, begin near the Art Institute of Chicago (supposedly it started at Jackson Bvd. The sign is on Adams across Michigan Avenue from the museum so take Adams Street west to Joliet Road and onto Interstate 55. Or take your easiest way to the I-294 Tri-State Tollway where you can connect with I-55 (known in Chicago as the Stevenson Expressway). In Illinois, I-55 basically follows historic Rte 66. Illinois has posted Route 66 signs along the popular old road west.

Tip: Chicago to Springfield is about 197 miles so plan about 3 ½ hours. The police do patrol the highway so enjoy the scenery. Remember, you are on vacation.

Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)
Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)

Go – Springfield is about Lincoln, about state government, about historic homes.

Lincoln – Renew your acquaintance with the 16th President at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. You will be in for a remarkable two hours. Yes plan to spend that amount of time to see the movies and exhibits that peel away the myths from the man and the times.

The Old Capitol building is normally open to visitors but It is supposed to be closed for updating in 2021 so you might only get pictures outside.

Go across from it to the Springfield Visitors Center in the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office at 1 S. Old State Capitol Plaza. It may still be closed for renovations but see the building from the outside.

Yes it's OK to touch Lincoln's nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)
Yes it’s OK to touch Lincoln’s nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)

Lincoln’s home, operated by the National Park Service, is currently available virtually but the neighborhood can be toured.

Drive north of downtown to the Lincoln Tomb where he, his wife and three of their four children are buried.

Back to downtown, the dome of the Illinois State Capitol, 361 feet above ground, can be seen from miles away. Go inside to see where legislation has been argued and passed from 1888 to today in the House and Senate chambers on the third floor. Some of the building may be closed to the public due to COVID restrictions.

Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. (J Jacobs photo)s
Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. (J Jacobs photo)

Historic homes include a Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the best examples of his work is the Dana Thomas House in Springfield. It still has all of its original art glass and much of its original furnishings. Also put the Vachel Lindsay Home on the itinerary. Built in the late 1840’s, the house was home to Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister Ann. Vachel Lindsay’s parents bought the house in 1878. It was the poet’s home until his death in 1931.

Route 66 – Springfield loves historic Route 66. Some of the old places are gone but newly renovated stops have added to the fun.  Visitors can go back in time by taking in a double feature at the Route 66 Drive In or stop for a bite at the Cozy Dog Drive In, a diner at 2935 S. Sixth St. where the Waldmire family make the famed hot dog on a stick served since 1946.  More place can be found on Legendary Route 66.

Lincoln's New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)
Lincoln’s New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)

Save time to see Lincoln’s New Salem.  It is a terrific reconstructed village about 20 minutes northwest of Springfield on IL Hwy 97.  Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site has been recreated with the timbered homes and stores that existed when a young Abe Lincoln worked there.

Where to stayVisit Springfield is a great resource for places to stay. If you like historic inns and B&B’s consider The Inn at 835. An early 1900’s former apartment house, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If retro 1950’s is more your style check out The State House Inn which recently underwent a redo. Both places feature complimentary breakfasts and free parking. The last is a plus in Springfield where visitors have to feed the meters.

Tip – Wear comfortable shoes and bring the sunscreen. This is a walking town.

For more information see Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and  State Historic Sites Springfield.

 

 

 

Spring Vacation Destination Part One: Golf

Famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. (J Jacobs photo)
Famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. (J Jacobs photo)

If watching The Players Championship, a major golf tournamentheld at TPC Sawgrass this weekend, you will constantly see shots of its famous island hole. Ponte Vedra, FL,

A place to try a copycat hole is a short distance west at the World Golf Village near St. Augustine. WGV is akin to Hollywood for movie buffs.

The island hole replicated at the World Golf Village. (J Jacobs photo)
The island hole replicated at the World Golf Village. (J Jacobs photo)

 

If playing golf, picking up anecdotes about golf and walking where legendary golfers have walked gets the adrenalin going, put the Sawgrass Marriott Resort Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. or Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. on your vacation list.

Sawgrass Clubhouse may not look as you expected. It's worth a visit. ( J Jacobs photo)
Sawgrass Clubhouse may not look as you expected. It’s worth a visit. ( J Jacobs photo)

TPC Sawgrass

Imagine teeing off on TCP Sawgrass’ famed 17th “Island Hole in Ponte Vedra, FL. It has already swallowed more than one pro’s golf ball during the Players tournament going on now, March 11-14, 2021. A major tournament, the Players was moved from May to March this year.

When the tournament is over you can play the course and see if you can land a ball on the green.

Arguably, the best way to snag the tee time you want is to stay at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort. If not staying there, call and ask about a Resort Day Pass

While visiting TCP Sawgrass, soak up the legendary atmosphere with a Storyteller’s Tour of  the Clubhouse and bring your camera. The Clubhouse is TCP headquarters. It and the course were built for the tour’s players.

Plan to lunch or do dinner at the Clubhouse. When weather permits, get a table on the veranda of the casual “19” restaurant for its view of The Players’ presentation area.

If time allows, book a lesson at the Tour Academy TPC Sawgrass. You can take your lesson on a course walked by the world’s greatest players.

Visiting the Golf Hall of Fame at the World Golf Village ( J Jacobs photo)
Visiting the Golf Hall of Fame at the World Golf Village ( J Jacobs photo)

World Golf Village

Or stay at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village about half an hour south of Ponte Vedra on the western outskirts of St. Augustine. You can call over to TPC Sawgrass 14 days ahead to see if you can get a tee time.

At World Golf Village, you can try to reach its version of the 17th hole. Actor Bill Murray had landed a ball on that island green when in town for the Caddyshack Tournament he has sponsored at a World Golf Village course before The Players.

Then, chow down on great hamburgers and other pub food at Murray Bros. Caddyshack Restaurant.

Be on the alert for celebrities  Golfing greats occasionally drop by because it is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and the King and Bear course Palmer designed with Jack Nicklaus (the only course they worked on together). The resort’s other course is the Slammer and Squire. Sammy Snead and Gene Sarazen were consultants to course designer Bobby Weed.

Stroll the Walk of Champions to read Hall of Famers signatures engraved on the path to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

No matter whether bedding down at the Sawgrass Marriott or the Renaissance Resort, be sure to visit the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Exploring the Golf Hall of Fame (J Jacobs photo)
Exploring the Golf Hall of Fame (J Jacobs photo)

Head upstairs to see Hall of Famers’ lockers, learn the origins of golf and attempt to swing like the pros in a bay. Take a photograph as each of you cross St. Andrews’ famed bridge. Another flight up is the trophy room.

Tip: You might think the visit can be a quick in and out but you will find yourselves spending two hours in World Golf Hall of Fame.

World Golf Village is also the place to shop or sharpen your game. On the grounds is the PGA Tour Stop, a two-level, 30,000 square-foot golf pro shop, and the PGA Tour Golf Academy.

Visit St. Augustine, FL (J Jacobs photo)
Visit St. Augustine, FL (J Jacobs photo)

Both resorts are a good base for visiting the old city of St. Augustine,  founded 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

Walk the historic area, boat the harbor and drive over to the Alligator Farm, where hundreds of birds nest in the trees knowing that animals can’t get to their nests because of the alligators below.

Birds flock to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine ( J Jacobs photo)
Birds flock to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine ( J Jacobs photo)

 

If you go

Sawgrass Marriott Ponte Vedra, 1000 PGA Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.  800-577-6009 and 800-457-4653  800-457-4653

Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, 500 S. Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, Fla. 888-740-7020

 

The Snow Moon

Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

According to several astronomy sources it was northeastern native Americans who dubbed February’s full moon the Snow Moon.

Given the amount of snow that covered much of the United States in February, the moon is well named. It’s also called the Storm Moon and Hunger Moon.

That orb will be lighting up the landscape Thursday, Friday and Saturday but best time to view will be Friday night from when it appears above the horizon in the east as the sun sets to midnight when it is overhead.

Some studies mentioned by EarthSky have been done on the relationship of full moons to sleeplessness from the light point of view. Hopefully, scientists will also look at the tidal pull of full moons on sinuses.

More information on the Snow Moon can be found at TimeandDate, NASA and Old Farmers Almanac.

Go to AZ for MLB spring training and warm weather

Listen up baseball fans. Spring Training 2021 tickets for Chicago teams go on sale this week: Cubs 1 p.m. CT Feb. 19, White Sox, 11 a.m. CT Feb. 20.

Chicago weather is supposed to get better the last week of February, maybe even going up to 40 degrees. But imagine yourself in Phoenix, AZ where daytime temps are in the 70s and you exchange sweaters and sweats for shorts and T shirts.

Chicago Cubs (J Jacpbs photo)
Chicago Cubs (J Jacpbs photo)

The Cubs’ AZ home is Sloan Park in Mesa. A smaller version of Wrigley Field, Sloan Park is often called Wrigleyville West. It is bordered by roads  named Waveland and Sheffield Avenues and Clark Street.

The Sox play at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb known as a restaurant, entertainment and sports mecca.

Go to spring training and wave your Chiago Whtie Sox cap. (M Temkin photo)
Go to spring training and wave your Chicago Whtie Sox cap. (M Temkin photo)

It may be easier to find tickets for your team’s games at competitors’ parks so get to know the schedule.

The Cubs’ schedule starts with the Padres away on March 1 and at Sloan Park against the KC Royals, March 2. Questions can be sent to mesa@cubs.com. The Cubs regular season begins April 1 when they play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.

White Sox  open at home against the Brewers, Feb. 28 then away against the Angels March 1.  For help in getting there visit Trip Planner. For more ticket, protocols and other information visit White Sox Spring Training.

The Sox play their first game away against the Angels on April 1 and are away until they play KC at home on April 8. For the regular season information visit White Sox Tickets. and Schedule.

Related 2020 articles with town and stadium color:

Take a spring training vacation

Spring training at Wrigleyville-West

Enjoy spring at Camelback Ranch or Sloan Park

 

Go to van Gogh

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

Put Chicago on the go-to list to experience Immersive Van Gogh.

Yes, the artist is supposed to be spelled Vincent van Gogh with a lower case v but the exhibit doesn’t worry about Van vs van.

After impressing Parisians and folks in Toronto, the exhibit is now the hot ticket in Chicago where it already sold out through March.

Immersive Van Gogh is about color, movement and mood. It is presented in a way so the public will appreciate an artist who died broke and was not valued in his lifetime.

Visitors will hear Mussorgsky’s “Pictures From an Exhibtion.” But they shouldn’t expect to see “Sunflowers,” “The Bedroom in Arles,” “Starry Night” or any self-portrait hung on a wall in its museum frame.

Housed in the Germania Club Building, a just redone landmark at 108 Germania Place on Chicago’s near north side, Immersive Van Gogh totally surrounds visitors with the artist’s famed works.

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

As scenes change, so does accompanying music ranging from Edith Piaf singing “Non, Je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing)  and choral works to Mussorgsky and a Handel cello suite.

A multi-story, 350 degree art experience, Immersive Van Gogh is in a building  refitted by Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago for it and future exhibitions.

Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults, $24.99 for children 16 or younger. For more information about Immersive Van Gogh visit vangoghchicago.com or call 844-307-4644.

Super Bowl commercials and more

 

KC Chiefs (Photo courtesy of the Chiefs)
KC Chiefs (Photo courtesy of the Chiefs)

Some people watch the super bowl for the game/half time and a chance to party, others like or dis the ads.

If in the latter category you’ll want to know that Super Bowl LV is touted as a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and that the Buccaneers have home court advantage. The game is at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa at 6:30 p.m. ET.

If watching for either reason you can check out the NFL website and the Road to the Super Bowl for inside info to spread among family and friends.

To learn more about the team you favor, visit the Chiefs or Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

But for those folks who think the ads are as good or better than the main event there are a couple of broadcasts and websites to watch.

The M&Ms will be back. It is rumored that Coke and Pepsi won’t be. Also  Dolly Parton who does a great 9 to 5 version on Blue Mountain’s online  birthday cards, will adapt her version to a Kierra Cotton ad this year.

For the best commercials in the past few years, try to catch your local CBS station tonight Feb. 3, 2021. In the Chicago area it is on at 7 p.m. CT.

Here is a link to some popular ones a few years ago on you tube including a Budweiser horse that makes the team and the baby stock trader.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Nature plays major role in new Lake Forest boutique hotel

Bar at The Forester
Bar at The Forester

When The Forester, a hotel now going up in Conway Park at Lake Forest, opens in April 2021, visitors will find a prism-shaped front desk constructed from a white oak tree trunk, locally done botanical illustrations and foliage designed light fixtures over the bar.

The first boutique-stye hotel built under the Hyatt Place brand, The Forester will cater to business travelers and company meetings but will also welcome area residents to its restaurant, bar and event spaces.

Even though the hotel is in Conway Park, a business-focused property that includes Abbott Diagnostics, Pfizer, Trustmark, the Chicago Bears and the City of Lake Forest’s municipal services, The Forester’s ambiance embraces the City of Lake Forest’s motto “Naturae et Scientiae Amor” and is unique to the brand, according to Forester General Manager Marlena Karwowski

“The Forester Hotel is the first and only boutique-style Hyatt Place in the world.  No other Hyatt Place has its own independent-style brand identity, The Forester was inspired by science and nature, the City of Lake Forest’s founding motto, and features custom nature photography and scientific botanical illustrations of native plants commissioned by a local artist to reflect the juxtaposition of science and nature,” said Karwowski.

Lobby rendering of The Forester Hotel
Lobby rendering of The Forester Hotel

“You will see science and nature reflected throughout the hotel,” she said. As an example she added, “The restaurant features a mural with a crosscut tree trunk putting the natural pattern of tree rings on display.”

Karwowski noted that unlike the standard Hyatt Place brand hotel, it would have a full-service, chef-driven local restaurant and bar. Called Oaken Bistro + Bar, it is headed by Executive Chef Kristen Burman, formerly of Limelight Catering and Anthology San Diego. It will feature seasonal American dishes, wine and signature cocktails infused with local flowers and herbs.

Local flora and connections are important to Karwowski. “I’m working with the LF/LB Chamber to partner with them on events and I’m thinking of creating local events – something for families and pets after COVID is gone.

She said she was also working with Lake Forest Open Lands about flowers native to the area. Among her thoughts is to have designer postcards with seeds of lupine in them. Also on her list is to develop tours of old farms that are still in the area.

“I think people will find that The Forester is an escape from the city,” she said.

“The Forester brings you all the modern comforts you have come to expect from Hyatt Place like Hyatt Grand Beds and free Wi Fi, while offering a new boutique experience with individualized branding, custom design elements, and enhanced offerings,” said Karwowski.

“We are honored to be opening the first boutique-inspired Hyatt Place hotel in the world in the picturesque city of Lake Forest,” she said.

The Forester is at 200 N. Field Dr., Lake Forest, IL.

For more information visit The Forester.

Jodie Jacobs