Street Performance… it’s a living.

Street performers add an element to the tourist environment that sometimes defies historical significance of location, but they do add sparkle. I especially enjoy musicians that add their artistry to soften the harsh sounds of daily reality on the streets, subway stations, etc.

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Santiago, Spain

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Santiago, Spain

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Santiago, Spain

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Segovia, Spain

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Madrid, Spain

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Chicago, Illinois subway platform

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Downtown Chicago, Illinois

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Downtown Chicago, Illinois

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Santiago, Spain with a boot to collect donations.

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How to experience nature and history near Chicago’s O’hare Airport

Looking for a hiking, exploring experience near Chicago’s O’hare Airport?  About ten miles from the airport you can find Schaumburg Park  which is an interesting and free nature center that is open to the public.  It is located at 1111 E Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, Illinois which is about ten miles from O’hare Airport.

Chicago-1050451dmvpopWe wander down the path to find a pond with lily pads lounging in the still water.

Chicago-1050453dmvInformation plaques are located throughout the park to educate us.

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Spring Valley Volkening Heritage farm info gives a glimpse into life on a farm in this region of Illinois in the 19th century.  They host living history events from April 1 to October 31.  These events involve a recreation of activities on a 19th century farm. The August calendar of events included laundry, rural cooking, barn chores, German sweets and coffee time, bread making and historic gardening.
Chicago-1050487plhpThis colorful rooster roams the farmyard.

Chicago-1050473plThe chickens are too fast for a 21 month old.

Chicago-1050471plRandy found new friends in the pig yard.  These friendly critters remind him of doing pig chores during his days as a kid growing up on a farm.

Chicago-1050462dmvcrThe sign does not deter Randy as he has determined that these are friendly pigs that enjoy a little scratching and petting.  At least he didn’t feed them.

Chicago-1050498plhpBeautiful flowers line the walking path along the Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary located in the park.

Chicago-1050502pophpcrInsects are buzzing and enjoying the flowers, as well.

Chicago-1050446fp20pop50dmvNicely paved walking paths wind through the nature area and farm and Rachel uses a walking stick just like Grandpa.

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The beauty of taking a walk is the simplicity.  No fancy equipment required since comfortable shoes, curiosity and an appreciation of nature is good enough.

Home is where you make it

 “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”  ~ Irish Proverb

We hop through the Chicago Blue Line train doors and look for seats.  I glance over to a solitary figure in the corner back seat.  He makes eye contact, gives a smile that shows his missing teeth and gestures that I may sit in the seat next to him.

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I am usually chatty and he is, too.  We immediately engage in lively conversation about Chicago, the sites to see, etc.  He is a wealth of information as to free events going on in the city. My goodness, I must be sitting next to the Good Will Ambassador of Chicago!

As our conversation continues he volunteers information about himself.  He is 60 years old, spent five years in the Air Force, moved to Chicago with his parents at age three and lives on the Chicago subway train system. Yes, this is what he calls his home since it is much safer than the homeless shelters.  He says that a 60-year-old man is a target on the streets and in the shelters, so he feels safer on the train.

I ask my new friend, Nate, about his family. His parents both lived to their mid 80’s to 90’s and his mother died from Alzheimer disease.  We have this in common so our conversation never lags. He entertains me with stories of his mother’s forgetfulness which I can relate to.

Nate shakes his head and laments the fact that so much food is wasted in America, but it’s to his advantage if good food is thrown in a dumpster or somewhere that he can retrieve it.

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I am aware that Nate is working me for a handout, but that’s O.K.  Interesting conversation, information about the sites and events in Chicago, and a little insight to another world that I am fortunate not to have experienced.  Maybe he isn’t homeless and it’s just a scam, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  I give Nate some money and a cold bottle of water and he seems genuinely appreciative.  He has his eye on a pork sandwich from a vendor he knows, that is a good value and lets me know that the cold bottle of water I gave him is such a treat.

We arrive at our stop and the train doors open.  We say our goodbyes and walk through the door, continuing to play the role of tourists.  Nate, on the other hand, stays on the train hoping another nice tourist hops on the train and finds a seat next to him.