I’ve gotten so much good use from my Olympus XA since I bought it in 2012. It’s so small and easy to take along, and it has a great lens.
I used to wear cargo shorts to the Mecum auction every year because could stuff my pockets full of small cameras. My Kodak EasyShare Z730, my Canon PowerShot S80, and my Canon PowerShot S95 all came along every year. I had two battery packs each for the Z730 and the S80, and four for the S95. I routinely took more than a thousand digital photos at the auction, which drained every battery.
I used the digitals to make some pleasing shots, but also just to document the cars. When I shot film — and only one or two rolls, to manage costs — it was always about making pleasing shots. The Olympus XA treated this 1938 Chrysler Royal right.
I had a lot of good photographic luck on our early-January trip to Chicago. So much so that I’m still sharing photographs from the trip in late March! I made these crossing the Chicago River at both Jackson Street and Adams Street. On Adams Street, we were walking to our breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s; on Jackson Street, we were on our way back. It was the end of our trip; driving home followed breakfast. I had Kodak T-Max 400 in my Olympus XA, and I hoped to finish it before we got back to our parking garage. I failed, but it was fun trying. I’m usually careful not to waste shots when shooting film, but on this walk I photographed freely. It was a lot more fun that way!
Red Line information Olympus XA Kodak T-Max 400 2020
Indianapolis’s bus system has never been all that great. The routes don’t serve large parts of the city, and the buses come at most every half hour.
The city is trying to change that with a new set of rapid-transit bus lines. The first, the Red Line, opened late last year. It runs north-south along a critical transportation corridor, connecting the University of Indianapolis on the Southside to Broad Ripple (and, in some cases, almost the north city limit) on the Northside. The Red Line’s electric buses reach stops every ten minutes.
I took my team at work to lunch in Broad Ripple last fall, and we rode the Red Line both ways. This is the stop Downtown at the bus terminal, where we began and ended our trip. It sure beat driving and finding a place to park.
Driving across the Chicago Skyway Bridge Olympus XA Kodak T-Max 400 2020
I barely slept the last night we were in Chicago. So I handed my car keys to Margaret. It gave me this lovely opportunity to photograph the Chicago Skyway Bridge while we were crossing it.
This bridge, built in 1958, carries the Chicago Skyway, also known as I-90, across the Calumet River. At the end of the Skyway, eastbound, is Indiana. This is a toll bridge, but thanks to my EZPass transponder I have no idea what the charge is. I just add some money to my account before we go and let the EZPass pay the toll.
It was midmorning Monday. Traffic was light. For a moment, it looked like we had this busy bridge all to ourselves.
Inside the Palmer House Hilton Olympus XA Film Washi D 2020
Because I never take notes as I shoot rolls of film, once in a while I get an image back that I can’t place. I shot this whole roll of Film Washi D in Chicago, so it’s narrowed down that much. But I couldn’t remember whether I shot this inside the Cadillac Palace Theatre or the Palmer House Hilton. Peristent Googling turned up images that confirm this as the Palmer House.
Whichever it is, the Film Washi D did a nice job in the available light, delivering good tones in the marble. I like how the light falls off, giving this scene an air of mystery.
The fine folks at Analogue Wonderland gave me this roll of film in exchange for this mention. Film Washi films go in and out of stock at Analogue Wonderland; see their entire selection here.
Route 66 begins — or ends, depending on your perspective — in Chicago, in the Loop. Two key landmark sites remain on old Route 66 in downtown Chicago. Both are restaurants with glorious neon signs: The Berghoff and Lou Mitchell’s.
First, some history about where old 66 ran in Chicago. When it was new in 1926, it began/ended at Jackson St. at Michigan Ave. In 1937, that terminus moved east two blocks to Lake Shore Drive. In 1955, Jackson St. was made one way eastbound at Michigan Ave. Westbound Route 66 moved north on Michigan Ave. for one block, and then onto one-way-west Adams St. So it remained until Illinois decommissioned its portion of Route 66 in about 1977. (Signs came down on the rest of the route state by state through 1985.)
The Berghoff’s roots trace to about 1870 when German immigrant Herman Berghoff came to America and began brewing beer in Indiana. He moved to Chicago in 1893 and opened his beer hall’s doors in 1898. With Prohibition he converted the place to a restaurant. After Prohibition, the Berghoff won Chicago’s first ever liquor license and beer was back. The Berghoff has been at 17 W. Adams St. for all these years.
My first experience with The Berghoff was in 1983, as a junior in high school. All of us who learned the German language — ich spreche immer noch genug Deutsch mich verstanden zu machen — made a field trip to Chicago. We capped the day with dinner at the Berghoff. It was the nicest restaurant I’d ever visited — and this blue-collar kid was not prepared for Chicago restaurant prices. The least-expensive meal on the menu was beef tips in gravy with potatoes. That and an insultingly thin tip tapped me out.
I visited it for a second time on a business trip in 2018 with a few of the engineers who worked for me. We stopped in here for dinner and a beer after our business was done. We lived a little higher on the hog than I did in 1983, especially since we could all expense our meals.
My wife and I had our Chicago getaway weekend in January. A bartender at the Palmer House Hilton, where we stayed, recommended a place called Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast the next morning. It’s on Jackson St., about a mile and a quarter west of Route 66’s beginning. You cross the Chicago River on the way.
Compared to The Berghoff, Lou Mitchell’s is a Johnny-come-lately to the scene, opening in 1923. That predates Route 66 by three years. But the restaurant plays up its Route 66 heritage, even posting a replica of an original Route 66 sign on a lamp post outside.
Our breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s was a wild ride. We were greeted with a donut hole as we entered — which neither of us took, as both of us must follow gluten-free diets. There was a small box of Milk Duds for my wife, too.
Our chatty, entertaining waitress at one point sat down next to me in our booth and talked with us for several minutes. She revealed that she’d worked at Lou Mitchell’s since the early 1990s! She also marveled in mock frustration at the rest of our dietary restrictions — my wife is allergic to egg whites, making breakfast a challenge. I have to avoid onions, garlic, and beans, which thankfully isn’t challenging at breakfast time.
I ordered the gluten-free pancakes and two scrambled eggs. While we waited, our waitress brought each of us a plate with a prune and an orange slice. What the heck; down they went.
I regretted it when breakfast came. The two pancakes looked to be a foot in diamater. The mass of eggs was as big as of both of my fists together. I couldn’t eat it all — and let me tell you, I can put away vast quantities of food. Our waitress told us that Lou Mitchell’s serves nothing but double-yolk eggs. I can’t imagine how they manage that! Then she revealed that when you order two eggs Lou Mitchell’s serves you four or five.
It’s a point of personal pride that I eat all of the food served me, but I just couldn’t manage it at Lou Mitchell’s. I left about half a fist’s worth of eggs and half of the pancakes behind.
May the Berghoff and Lou Mitchell’s prosper for many years to come. Being able to enjoy landmark places like these on Route 66 in Chicago or beyond is what makes following the Mother Road rewarding.