Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Don't Stop Believin'

We were invited to the see the Rock Pack at the Family Arena last Friday night. I've heard of the Rat Pack, but the Rock Pack? Time for Google. The show bills itself as "a unique concert experience featuring the greatest classic rock singers of all times". Apparently there is a rotating cast of "iconic" singers. For the St. Charles show, the group consisted of Lou Gramm from Foreigner, John Payne from Asia, Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger, and Steve Augeri from Journey. So I could take a Journey to Asia dressed as Night Ranger, but would probably be considered a Foreigner. Bah!

Rock Pack
Invited through a friend of a friend, we had the VIP experience, with free parking, food and drinks in a nicely-located suite. There were only eight of us, so that provided an opportunity to get to know the others. It was my first time in a suite at the Arena, as well as my first concert in the venue.

We had a blast! Listening to the music from the 70s and 80s, you couldn't help but think back on where you were and what you were doing when the songs were hits. In some cases we weren't even married yet but still living the college high life, and in many others we had not yet started our family. I love how music can easily transport you to a different time. It was a great evening, all the way around.

Another first for us this weekend was trying the Shake Shack. This chain was started in 2004 by St. Louis native Daniel Meyer, but it took him until November of 2017 to open a location here. The restaurant has been hopping since day one. Many people reported standing in line outside for an hour. As no food is worth that to us, especially in the dead of winter, we went in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. There was a short line inside, but it moved quickly. They have an app you can download, so you can order and pay for your food through the app, and set up a pick up time. That way you can avoid the line altogether. I downloaded the app but didn't use it on Sunday since we were going at on off time. If there had been a line outside, I would have ordered from the car through the app.

All the employees were very friendly, and they keep the dining area neat. We each got the single ShackBurger and a shake - chocolate for Jim and Salted Caramel for me - and we split an order of fries. The burgers are like Steak'nShakes, but with better buns. The shakes are like the ones at Crown Candy Kitchen, but much smaller. The frozen custard is supposedly like Ted Drewe's, but we didn't try any. We thought the burgers and shakes were great, but the fries were pretty ordinary. We'll skip those next time. The bill came to around $25, so they are on the pricier side for St. Louis. Because the restaurant is located in the Central West End, you have to pay to park as well, though we found a free meter since it was Sunday. There is no drive-thru, so between the cost of the food and parking, that could make your evening of dining out pretty expensive.
Shake Shack

Friday, February 9, 2018

Shooting the Breeze

Audubon Center at Riverlands
Last weekend was somewhat gray, cold and windy as has been the case January heading into February. On Saturday a photographer friend joined Jim and me as we set out to go hunting (with our cameras) for eagles along Illinois Route 100. We stopped first at the Audubon Center at Riverlands, a wintering spot for a number of migratory birds. While we saw a few, it was nothing like the number of birds I had seen back in December.

We continued on our journey north through Alton. Normally teeming with traffic this time of year, the Great River Road was relatively empty - and so were the trees. Of leaves and birds. For a change of pace, we took the Brussels Ferry across the Illinois River to Brussels. After leaving the ferry, we spied what appeared to be a large gathering of birds. Driving down a gravel road to get closer, were we ever surprised! It was a decoy spread. What the flock?
In Brussels we found several interesting buildings to photograph. The first was a barn just as you entered town. The second one was an abandoned "duplex", and the third a barn quilt. It is always a good day for me when I find a new barn quilt!

Brussels, Illinois
Following lunch at a local dive in Brussels (not a good choice, unfortunately) we decided to change up the scenery by taking a different ferry back home. I found a couple things to photograph while waiting for the ferry to return to our side of the Mississippi River.
Mississippi River
Alas, for all our driving there was not an eagle in sight. Well, except for this one - ha!
Golden Eagle Ferry