Goose Island

Where most cities decide to use their islands for special purposes, say an historic prison or superb park, Chicago decided to go a different route and make an island of industry.  This is no natural island though.  It came into being by the city dredging a canal in the beautiful Chicago river to break off the east side.

On the south side sits a college that once housed the headquarters of Sara Lee.  Across the muddy river from it runs a large concrete plant where gravel is still brought in by barge.

Covering the east of the island are a Greyhound bus maintenance terminal, large mini-storage building, and solid waste transfer station.

The west side has a very sad boat dock and a Lexus car maintenance building(with the dealer being just the other side of the river), and a hazardous waste recycling building.

The center of the island houses an assortmant of industry and many small startup companies.  Automotive mechanic shops abound as well as grocery store distributors, a huge CTA materials warehouse, and a Fedex distribution center.  To top it off there is a dog hotel on the island.

The north side is the only section pleasing to the eye as the Mars(Wrigley) company has a few modern and attractive buildings with well mainicured, and well fenced, landscaping.

There is no reason for a tourist or even a local that is not employed on the island to visit it, unless you are one of the poor souls that must commute across Division Street.  That lone street being the only way to cross the island, where walking is usually faster than driving.

It is a shame this island has not been turned into a city park.  It is made for it.  A short walk from the beautiful neighborhoods of Wicker Park(Noble Square) to the west, Lincoln Park(Old Town or Cabrini-Green) to the east, River west to the south, and just across a bridge to the north for Lincoln Park(Ranch Triangle).

Come on Chicago and turn this dump of brick buildings and concrete into a fantastic park worthy of this great city where geese actually roam and grass and trees grow.

 

An Overview of New Zealand

The short and quick of it is that New Zealand is my favorite place on the planet.  Lets delve in a little deeper and see why that is.

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Let me start by saying that I have not just traveled through New Zealand, I have actually lived among the Kiwis.  I worked for a couple of months as a bicycle courier in Auckland and as a chef on the Southern Island, but those are both stories for another time.

Natural beauty.  It is well known that New Zealand has it and it is incredible.  Anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings(Terrible films) knows about this, but it goes deeper.  There are many beautiful and amazing places on the planet but there is something special about New Zealand that I cannot put my finger on.  The few days I spent at Milford Sound was my heaven on Earth experience.  Again, that is a story for a later time.  Auckland and Wellington are built into the hills which I love.  Going into the first floor of a building on one side and existing on the 7th floor through the other side is an amazing experience.  I could write a novel about the natural beauty but for this blog I believe I have said enough.

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The activity of the people is another huge benefit of the country.  Cycling through the country, skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding, rugby.  The people love being outside and that suits me just fine.  I’m so tired of everybody sitting inside watching TV and sitting on the computer.  They take sport so seriously that when I asked if I could play rugby with them or join a beginners team they said no way since I hadn’t been playing since I was a child.  They would have killed me on the pitch.

I love that they refuse to let any American navy ships into their seas since America ignored their rule of no nuclear powered vessels in the water.  It was strange to see a Chinese warship ship docked in Auckland but no American ships.

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I have a few items I wish they would change though.  Driving on the wrong side of the road is one, though it does make going through roundabouts and parking lots extremely exciting.  The architechture is terrible.  I wish the buildings were a bit more attractive.  I wish it was the perfect country but it suffers from the same issues as everywhere else, such as tearing up the cargo railroad lines because the truckers lobby asked them to.

I really wish I could put on paper why I love this country so much but it is impossible.  It is just a feeling I had when I was there and have never gotten anywhere else.  If you have never been you really have to go and put up with the 50 hours flying time.   I will add a little disclaimer to this.  If you are the type of person that likes fake beauty, then Dubai and Las Vegas are for you.  But if you are like me and care more about natural beauty and less about what man can make, then New Zealand is your paradise.