Recently Linda and I were able to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We are still planning our real celebration vacation (later in the year) but we decided it would be fun to just get away for a few days and relax a little. This was a little hampered due to the Bix 7 race which was set for the end of the month but figured the taper down week would work perfectly – catch 2 shorter training runs on the road and I’d be good to go. The next issue at hand was deciding where to go. My constant hints of Vegas were eventually trumped by a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo followed by a stay at French Lick Indiana. This way we could pack the cameras and catch a few state parks along the way … oh, and French Lick has a casino as well. More importantly, what does any road trip provide the opportunity for? Did you say PHOADTOGRAPHY?!? How right you are. A quick note, this time I stepped up my game a little and shot entirely on manual mode. It makes it a little more challenging when you are trying to get the aperture and shutter speed right for the proper exposure while cruising down the highway at 65… well more like 75+ if Linda is driving. So yes, there are some less than crisp shots, but overall I am pretty happy with the results. (in honesty, it was additional training to making the switch from bird on a stick to a bird in flight which is damn hard in the field)
Enough banter.. show us the shots
We were heading into Indianapolis and decided to top off the tank. You never know what the gas prices might be as you near the bigger cities, however, for some reason Peoria is always on the high end of the gas anyway. As we were heading back onto the highway I noticed this sign which summed up this leg of the trip perfectly.
Hit the jump to see the rest of the great (okay, that may be subjective) pictures from the road.
I couldn’t pass up this sign since it just happens to be Rizzi’s birthplace. Shuuuuuhhh, he doesn’t know he was adopted and certainly wouldn’t appreciate being called a Hoosier.
Now for some word association. When you think of Indianapolis, what is the first thing that pops in your head? Colts!! just kidding, I’m guessing you were thinking of racing whether Formula cars or Stock cars depending on your preference. Although I remember growing up and always watching or listening to the Formula cars with my father, ever since Caterpillar got into the NASCAR circuit I’ve tended to Brick Yard.
Thankfully, we were a week early for this year’s Brick Yard race and the traffic was calm… well, with all the construction around Indy make that relatively calm. The next sign made me laugh. This was taken near the place we stopped for gas earlier and was out front of a chain hotel. 44 going on 12 but what is life without some cheap humor.
Apparently the food is so bad in Indiana they had to change the popular food show to Man vs Hay. Although, this sign seems to indicate it should be more like Tractor vs Hay since it looks like little arms trying to force an egg roll down its grill.
Speaking of all the construction, it got a little hairy trying to navigate around Indy. The GPS was totally screwed up and since Linda was driving I was supposed to be Mr. Garmin. Let’s just be polite about it and say reading maps is probably not something that will make it onto my resume anytime soon. Reality of it is I can’t be messing with unreadable squiggly lines on a 100 fold piece of paper and still practice my phoadtography craft. The bad thing is Linda’s usually excellent internal directional finder was totally on the fritz this entire vacation. It is amazing we didn’t end up in Utah.
About a week before the 4th of July, the fine residents of Illinois tend to take quick drives to the East or the West. Our State’s corrupt government (that might be a little harsh, but then again one only needs to look at our fine track record for governors behind bars), seems fit to ban rather than reap the tax benefits of fireworks. You would think that the 50th worst financially state in this fine Union (a fact I just read today in the paper) would be looking at ways to generate revenue.
Interesting water towers are always a target for Phoadtography. This one actually looks a little like the Indianapolis Colts’ dome and even matched the team colors.
Figure I would throw in a scenic picture. Driving through Indiana reminds me driving through Illinois so I had to take what scenery I could get. Mountains were pretty much out and cows and corn don’t tend to excite many people.
I am not sure I ever figured out for sure what this structure was, but my money is on some form of dam. We were in the dry season so there wasn’t a whole lot of water spilling anywhere in the Great Plains. Can anybody confirm what this structure is?
I included this mainly because it was an unsolved mystery from the trip. All along the highway there were wide open tracks of land that looked like a tornado had come right down the side of the road literally destroying everything in its path. There were trees shredded to bits and only shredded wood left in its wake. It might have been done with the spinning blade on an excavator contraption they use around us in the country to keep the brush back, but based on the close cut to the ground and the size of what was cut it would need to a lot bigger than the one they use here. Even if I knew what did it, the mystery still surrounds as to the WHY.
In this family, road construction doesn’t always mean a bad thing. For one thing, our babies get to come out and play and that makes our bank account very very happy. Take for instance the compactor below. This machine comes out of our Paving Division based in Minneapolis.
Here is one of our bread and butter machines, the versatile hydraulic excavator. I think I mentioned previously, these machines along with motor graders will always be special to me having spent many years writing solid modeling systems to graphically route the hosing and tubing on these machines. The odd thing about this one is the contractor had the Cat logo on the boom replaced with their logo. Fortunately, our color is distinct (and copyrighted) and the striping is a dead giveaway for our newer line of machines.
Cat has a full product line ranging from the gigantic twin engined hauling trucks down to these mainstays of the construction arena. Our skid steers are primarily based in our Building Construction Products Division based in North Carolina. Linda and I recently had an opportunity to take one of these out for a spin. It is amazing how responsive these machines are. If you want to go left you’re left in a tap of the controls. It takes a little getting used to with the split controls but a skilled operator can work wonders hauling, grading, sweeping, drilling or whatever attachment you happen to fancy.
Speaking of the larger machines, her is one of our articulated wheel loaders. Caterpillar changed their logo not long after Linda and I started at Caterpillar. As a result, it is easy to distinguish the older models base on the coloring and branding. The older logo is shown on the machine below. The new logo has a triangle shoved up our A (sorry, running joke), where the older log represented our market share in the industry. The C is made out our 1/2 market share along with the two other quarters. Interesting enough, the newer logo can been seen near the hydraulic lifters for the bucket. Not sure which is the original, but the paint coloring suggests the older line. Oh, I left the competitor machine in the shot because it looks like we are getting ready to scoop that inferior machine up and rid the worksite of it.
Here is another vehicle from the same site. This is an articulate truck that comes out of the Waco Tx area. Both of these machines were taken at the French Lick area. Linda thinks they were in the process of building a reservoir. Apparently the contractor wanted it done right at the highest profit margins.
On our way out of Indianapolis we stopped at a State Park for some photo opportunities. Nothing makes us happier than seeing one of our fine gensets being used to provide peace and mind to public safety. This particular model comes from our Olympian line. If you look close you’ll notice we had The Beast out for this shoot. I had high hopes of shooting some water fowl, but there were only two geese to be found. I missed the big shot (almost used another word there) of the day there. Linda and I were walking the trails when all of a sudden a Barred Owl took flight out of the trees near us. It was long gone before I had The Beast ready to shoot. Still kicking myself for that miss, but at least we got to see it. The rest of the shoot I was reduced to taking shots of frogs and turtles.
I always appreciate it when construction projects go the extra mile to put some design elements into the final product. As we traveled through the Indianapolis constructions I noticed the railing detail.
What is up with these Odd Fellow places. I have never heard of them and now within two weeks I have seen two buildings proclaiming this organization (the last one being in a small town 30 minutes south of where I live). Is this like a Moose thing or is it a retirement organization for Barnum and Bailey?
I have to hand it to the marketing genius of Bassett Services. I spotted this truck two blocks away (yea, yea, I still wasn’t able to get the picture composed properly). Nobody can resist a floppy eared Basset hound and one with two T’s must be twice as good!
I better make this the stopping point for part 1 or I’ll be here all night. Hope you enjoyed and check back soon for part 2!