Visiting Vigorous, Vivacious Vancouver, BC, Part 1

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The month of August has always been a special one for me. For one thing, I was born in August!  (No gifts, please.)  And, it’s been the month Susan and I have reserved for what generally as been a splendid vacation.

August of 2014 was no exception, as our travels took us to Vancouver, British Columbia.  This gem of a city in the Pacific Northwest was named by The Economist magazine as the third most liveable city in the world after Melbourne and Vienna.  (Note: Must get to Melbourne and Vienna soon.)

During our eight days staying at an awesome rental apartment in the Coal Harbour (note “Canadian” spelling) we did feel that we were living — not just staying — in a very special place.  For one thing, the weather was ideal — sunny and 80 degrees (that’s 27 degrees Celsius) — and there are world-class attractions in close proximity.  But overall, we found cool things to do just strolling the parks, neighborhoods and along the Seawall.

In this first installment, I’ll share some visual memories of our time in Vancouver. It will be followed with some thoughts.  But before we get to the images below, a shout out to the people of Vancouver: This public relations pro thinks you’ve built positive awareness for your city the best way possible: By being friendly, polite and welcoming.

The waterfront was a  short walk from our apartment. The walkway has designated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

The waterfront was a short walk from our apartment. The walkway has designated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

 

The Kisilano neighborhood, or Kits to the locals, was once the old hippie quarters. Not sure if too many hippies are left, but this football-field sized outdoor pool and beach still attracts hundreds.

The Kisilano neighborhood, or Kits to the locals, was once the old hippie quarters. Not sure if too many hippies are left, but this football-field sized outdoor pool and beach still attracts hundreds.

 

The Lions Gate Bridge links Vancouver with North Vancouver and places north like Whistler. This elegant structure is best seen from Stanley Park.

The Lions Gate Bridge links Vancouver with North Vancouver and places north like Whistler. This elegant structure is best seen from Stanley Park.

 

The Olympic torch sits in a plaza near Canada Place. Wish I could have visited in February of 2010.

The Olympic torch sits in a plaza near Canada Place. Wish I could have visited in February of 2010.

 

This image, taken from Granville Island, epitomizes modern Vancouver.

This image, taken from Granville Island, epitomizes modern Vancouver.

 

I mentioned the friendliness of Vancouverites. This man here with Susan, named Parker, offered directions and shared details on his life with two strangers.

I mentioned the friendliness of Vancouverites. This man here with Susan, named Parker, offered directions and shared details on his life with two strangers.

 

A day trip to Whistler included a stop at Howe Sound. And, we saw an eagle!

A day trip to Whistler included a stop at Howe Sound. And, we saw an eagle!

 

Vancouver has an outstanding public transit network. Some people even commute by sea plane.  How cool is that?

Vancouver has an outstanding public transit network. Some people even commute by sea plane. How cool is that?

 

This final shot was taken at, appropriately, Sunset Beach.  The locals and visitors gather in the city's many parks and are treated to views like this.

This final shot was taken at, appropriately, Sunset Beach. The locals and visitors gather in the city’s many parks and are treated to views like this.

 

There are more image from our Vancouver Vacation on my Facebook page. Want more “travelogues” from The PRDude? Here are some posts to consider.

Staying Connected, But @ What Price?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

DATELINE — Someplace Outside Chicago.  People have asked what inspires me to write this blog. Well, there are three fundamental reasons:

1. Need to Communicate:  I’m a communicator by profession and this is a platform to do just that.

2. Because I Can: Need I say more?

3. The World Around Me: I get inspired by what I see and hear.

This post was triggered by #3.

Perhaps someday, the Smithsonian Institution will want these digital relics to show future generations what portable devices were like many years ago.

Perhaps someday, the Smithsonian Institution will want these digital relics to show future generations what portable devices were like many years ago.

Earlier this week, a chance encounter at O’Hare International Airport prompted me to wonder: In this world now and forever changed by digital sources of communications, just how connected to we have to be?

Case in point: The young man with the stylish Mohawk (or was it a Faux Hawk?) haircut sitting near me at Gate L8.

This gentleman was communicating –sometimes simultaneously, sometimes not — on three devices: A laptop (Macbook, of course), tablet (iPad) and (you guessed it) iPhone.

What he was communicating and to whom, I did not ascertain.  However, he was good at it. Wish I could tweet that fast.

Note from the image at left, that I, too have embraced technology while traveling.  In the photo you’ll see my four-year-old Dell Studio (with srs PREMIUM SOUND!), a first-generation iPod Shuffle (with metal carrying case and original ear buds) and my trusty  BlackBerry Curve.

A slave to the “must-have-the-latest” technology, I am not.

But I recognize the value and need to communicate and be kept informed these days. I do, however, question is it really necessary to be connected all the time.  Not sure about Mr. Mohawk, but I was heading out of town on vacation.

That raised other questions.

Do I really need my laptop? (Well, you wouldn’t be reading this if I failed to lug it along.)

Where am I? No, it's not Normal, Illinois.

Where am I? No, it’s not Normal, Illinois.

Will I actually work?  (I’ve checked office messages and replied to work-related stuff many times.)

Is because of the preponderance technology plays in our lives today, will those who grew up with a handheld or tablet know what it’s like not to have one?

Will the “art of conversation” be a lost art to future generations?

I don’t know the answers to the above, but I do know I’m going to stop this online communication now, stroll by the waterfront and later have some sushi and a beer.  Maybe two beers. I don’t plan to tweet about it or post images on Instagram.

And, I won’t have this laptop tethered to my arm.

One more thing: Where am I? Check out the photo at right and guess.  No fair if you follow me on Facebook.

 

It’s About Time I Got Back to Normal (Illinois, That Is), Part 2

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude

Last week, I shared a pictorial “travelogue” perspective of our recent visit to Illinois State University and the surrounding twin-towns of Normal and Bloomington. Or, Bloomington and Normal, if you prefer. Or Normington.

Enough.

Now for some recollections, insight and observations gained from 48 hours in a place that had a profound impact on my life.

Shout out to these three cool members of the Vidette staff for their hospitality.

Shout out to these three cool members of the Vidette staff for their hospitality. Glad to learn the newspaper continues to thrive.

The Vidette: One of the highlights of my time on the ISU campus this July was the short visit made to the offices of the ISU Vidette, the university newspaper. For a couple of semesters, I was a member of the Vidette editorial team; my assignments ranged from features and editorials to the student government — one of the top beats. Thanks to the three friendly Vidette staff working that day, I got an opportunity to scan through archives of issues from 1975 and 1976 and read some of my articles. Some leads were pretty weak, but overall I was proud of my copy.

My Vidette takeaway: While on staff, I learned what it was like to work in a newsroom, a lesson that served me well after I landed my first post-graduation job at the City News Bureau of Chicago. Better yet, the experience taught me how to work in a team environment.

Whose byline graced the top two articles on page one of this 1976 issue of the Vidette? Yes, Edward Bury.  I added the "M" a few years later.

Whose byline graced the top two articles on page one of this 1976 issue of the Vidette? Yes, Edward Bury. I added the “M” a few years later.

The Campus: Even before I visited ISU during a “Preview ISU” tour offered to incoming freshmen, I was somewhat enamored by the campus, especially the Quad, with its trees and crisscrossing walkways and framed by buildings of various architectural character.  That magic was still there, as I remembered all of the buildings — all of which were open — the names of streets near campus and the hulking dominance of Watterson Towers from just about anyplace on campus.

My Campus takeaway: Hearing a student on the ground floor of Cook Hall practicing the xylophone.  I listened behind a closed door and felt both pride and jealously: Proud that like me decades earlier, a student was pursuing his or her passion; jealous that I wasn’t starting that phase of my life.

Yes, they grow corn, and soybeans on the flatlands around ISU. Thankfully, much of it still remains undeveloped, like this road on the outskirts of Bloomington.

Yes, they grow corn, and soybeans on the flatlands around ISU. Thankfully, much of it still remains undeveloped, like this road on the outskirts of Bloomington.

The Community: My Chicago neighborhood had turned into a pretty rough place during the 1970s, a predominant reason why I wanted to earn my college diploma someplace far away, someplace where I wasn’t afraid much of the time. I found that place just three hours away, in a place called Normal. The lure of college-town U.S.A. didn’t keep its hold on me much beyond my three-and-a-half years as a student; but the community gave me a chance to learn about life outside the streets of Chicago.

My Community takeaway:  Three of the houses I lived in off campus were gone, replaced by apartments or retail strip malls. As a long-time real estate communications guy, I fully understand the principles of highest and best use and supply and demand. But it was a little sad to learn that progress now overshadowed memories of living in old homes on South Fell, West Willow and South Main.

No, I did not finish the entire sandwich.

No, I did not finish the entire sandwich.

The Flatlands: The terrain in and around Chicago is pretty flat, even though we have suburbs named Mt. Prospect and Arlington Heights.  But I never new flatlands until I spent a few years living in Normal. From the top of Watterson Towers, one could see the proverbial patchwork quilt of fields from horizon to horizon. The prairies and plains of Central Illinois probably won’t match the Grand Tetons for awe-inspiring natural beauty. But for this Chicago kid, they were serene and beautiful in their own way; plus in 1973, I could ride my bike for 20 or so minutes and be in a world far beyond the confines of the campus.

My Flatlands takeaway: On our drive down to ISU, we stopped in Pontiac for lunch, where my appetite was suppressed by one of the largest sandwiches on earth.  (See accompanying photo.) From Pontiac we found one of the few stretches of old Route 66, the Mother Road, and followed that to Normal.  Not much to see but farms and road signs — what you find on the flatlands; but that was okay.

After all, I was looking to get back to Normal.

 

It’s About Time I Got Back to Normal (Illinois, That Is), Part 1

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Forty-one years ago this month, my life was changed forever just by taking a drive 130 miles south of Chicago.  The destination: Normal, Illinois, home of Illinois State University.

I had not been back to my alma mater in decades. So a few days ago, Susan and I packed up the Camry and visited ISU, downtown Normal, and the bigger town next door, Bloomington.

What follows is a photographic account of our two-plus days in and around the I-State campus in flat, but still beautiful, Central Illinois.  I’ll follow up soon with some thoughts and insight on my three and a half years in a place much different than Chicago.

Relaxing on the site of the old Walker Hall, my first address after leaving Chicago. There's a state-of-the-art health facility on the site now, and it even has a climbing wall. We never had a climbing wall!

Relaxing on the site of the old Walker Hall, my first address after leaving Chicago. There’s a state-of-the-art health facility on the site now, and it even has a climbing wall. We never had a climbing wall!

 

On the north end of the ISU quad, a way-cool green space that looked just as good as the last time I visited. I remembered all of the buildings, and even some of the trees. Glad to see the Bone Hand of Friendship was still there.

On the north end of the ISU quad, a way-cool green space that looked just as good as the last time I visited. I remembered all of the buildings, and even some of the trees. Glad to see the Bone Hand of Friendship was still there.

 

 

Downtown -- no, they call it Uptown now -- Normal has changed for the better. And the old theater is still there.

Downtown — no, they call it Uptown now — Normal has changed for the better. Planners installed a neat traffic circle and opened up areas to encourage pedestrian access.  And the old theater is still there.

 

One mainstay during my day was Mother Murphy's a real "head shop,' man. Never got to meet Mother, though.

One mainstay during my day was Mother Murphy’s, a real “head shop,’ man. I recall having visited once or twice. Never got to meet Mother, though.

 

Watterson Towers, the Darth Vader of dormitories. I spent two semester in one of those rooms. Reportedly, it's the tallest structure between Chicago and St. Louis.

Watterson Towers, the Darth Vader of dormitories. I spent two semester in one of those rooms. Reportedly, it’s the tallest structure between Chicago and St. Louis.

 

Downtown Bloomington, looking north. Much of the town looked pretty good, but one of my old haunts, Miller's Metropole was gone.

Downtown Bloomington, looking north. Much of the town looked pretty good, but one of my old haunts, Miller’s Metropole was gone.

 

Surprise! This new bike path, once a railroad right of way, was a welcomed diversion. We learned the bridge was called a "camelback" in order to provide clearance for locomotives.

Surprise! This new bike path, once a railroad right of way, was a welcomed diversion. We learned the bridge was called a “camelback” in order to provide clearance for locomotives.

 

So what the heck is this? It's a grain elevator, and it was across from our hotel. My first time seeing one up close.

So what the heck is this? It’s a grain elevator, and it was across from our hotel. My first time seeing one up close. But they’re all around ISU.

 

Couldn't resist this: I'll bet they have friends like Jim and jimmy, Tom and Tommy, Joe and Joey. You get the picture.

Couldn’t resist this: I’ll bet they have friends like Jim and Jimmy, Tom and Tommy, Joe and Joey. You get the picture.

 

As you can see, the corn crop is looking pretty good. When I went to ISU, I could ride my bike for 10 minutes and be in corn fields.

As you can see, the corn crop is looking pretty good. When I went to ISU, I could ride my bike for 10 minutes and be in corn fields.