Home From Above: An aerial view of my life

A few years back Microsoft build the TerraServer as an advanced database research project.  Basically it’s a huge satellite image database.  And it was always fun to play around with from time to time.  Long after I originally learned of the TerraServer’s existence, I stumbled across the ACME Mapper from ACME Laboratories.  The ACME Mapper provides a very simple and easy to use front-end to the TerraServer.  And using the mapper you can quickly find and mark locations on the satellite images.  Again one has to wonder what practical things can I do with this?  Thus I arrived at the conclusion of mapping and documenting all the places I’ve lived.  Okay, maybe not practical but it makes for good blogging fun!

My early and most formative years were spent growing up in a subdivision called Grandwood Park, in Warren Township, Illinois just outside of Gurnee, Illinois.  I remember there were these two putrid black text on green billboards near the two main entrances that read "If you lived here, you’d be home now!".  Uh, really?  Okay, whatever.  It’s was your basic 1960’s tract housing that was built in what was once a cornfield….something that was pretty hard to avoid in northern Illinois at that time.  Now days it’s mostly subdivisions and strip malls instead of the cornfields!  But in any case, it provided suitable clean and comfortable family surroundings from my parents perspective.  This was my home from birth (9/13/64) until I got married (1/18/86…the first time…a long story unto itself).  Thus our first stop, 7711, then 7727 and finally, 18547 W. Geier Road Gurnee, Illinois.  And if I still lived there, you could reach me at (312)356-5873 and later (847) 356-5873 when they changed the area code.

18547 W. Geier Road Gurnee, Illinois   

In January of 1986, just prior to my first marriage, I rented my first apartment in the booming metropolis (relative to Grandwood Park) of Gurnee, Illinois.  At the time I lived there the population was about 3,600.  According to the 2000 census, it’s now 28,834.  So I guess I lived there before it was a booming metropolis…which it still isn’t, but it’s certainly much bigger!  I no longer recall the name of complex or exact the street address.  But I do recall that all of the streets in the complex had bird names.  I lived in a third floor apartment on the back side of the building, about 100 yards from a set of dual railroad tracks.  Not just any old tracks, but part of The Milwaukee Road.  This is a main passenger and freight route between Chicago and Milwaukee and points beyond in all directions.  And all hours!  One of the only things I remember about living in this place was that I always knew when it was 3am Monday morning.  There was a lumber yard just up the line to the north that got their rail deliveries in the wee hours.  And with the average length of the trains, the engines would be just outside the apartment.  Gotta blow that whistle before you go you know!  Welcome to Finch Court!

Finch Court Gurnee, Illinois

Live was good and I was working at 70-80 hours a week and getting paid on an hourly basis.  The cash was rolling in good considering I was just out of school.  My wife was also making reasonable money and it became rather apparent that the taxman was wait for our arrival.  (Unrelated Side Bar:  Sad but kind of humorous.)  In an effort to avoid his wrath, it was time to purchase a house.  We hadn’t planned on buying one for several years as I figure we couldn’t afford too.  So, just after my 22nd birthday we bought our first house.  A two bedroom raised ranch at the end of a dirt road.  The house was less than 1000 sq. ft. in size, but it also had a 400 sq. ft. deck that ran the width of the backside.  There were sliding patio doors that led onto it from the dining room and master bedroom.  All this and it backed up to a 200 acre forest preserve.  Nice.  The downside would be the dirt roads and gravel driveway, but it was a wonderful place to live.  So in January 1987, we arrive in the swanky (by name anyway) "Orchard Heights on the Fox" at 2619 Baldwin Road, McHenry, Illinois.

2619 Baldwin Road McHenry, Illinois

My wife and I really liked the house on Balwin and had wanted to do a number of things with it.  In the end, we really didn’t do much because once you’ve got a house you are automatically poor!  Between the mortgage and the upkeep, it’s a steady way to drain your bank account.  But it didn’t matter too much anyway, because after being on Baldwin for about 2 years, I took a job transfer to Buffalo, New York.  And with this came a return to apartment life.  We hadn’t planned on it, but we couldn’t find a house we liked during our house hunting trips.  We ended up opting to build a new house and stay in an apartment for "a few months", ha!  "A few months" turned out to be nine long months through the summer with nearly all of our belongings in long-term storage.  Joy, joy.  My fondest memory of this place was coming home one afternoon to find that my wife’s dog -who was not supposed to be there, per the terms of our lease- had eaten the place!  He went absolutely nut and ripped up our beat up old couch and a number of house plants and pretty much knocked over anything that would move.  So welcome to the prison of which will I will call "The Bedell Prison Apartments" because I don’t remember the name and it has now changed…right off Grand Island Boulevard on Bedell Rd.

The Bedell Prison Apartments - Grand Island, New York

After a very rainy spring and other various construction delays we were finally able to move into our new home in Alden, New York in September of 1989.  Not particuarly fancy, but on a big lot and suitable for our needs.  Being a somewhat rural area, it lent itself quite well to my cycling addiction and also allowed me to cross country ski right out my back door.  It was while living here in 1991 that my son Colin was born.  So until November of 1997, 1660 Willow Woods Lane, Alden, New York was my home.

1660 Willow Woods Lane Alden, New York

When my wife and I split up in late 1997, my friend Eric was kind enough to take me in.  Obviously this was a time of much change and turmoil and including moving into the most urban area in which I had ever lived, Eggertsville, New York.  Technically a part of Amherst, New York, it sits right on the Northeast corner of the city of Buffalo.  This in itself was a an adjustment for a silly whitebread suburbanite like me!  The roads in the area had a good deal of traffic and their condition left quite a bit to be desired.  So the first several miles of every ride was usually not a lot of fun, but then again I avoided a lot of it by riding early morning.  This was the start of my pre-dawn night riding regimen that I still maintain.  Although initially done out of necessity -because my evenings were often spent with my son, it slowly became an obsession.  This routine and a lot of idle mental hours allowed me to log my highest yearly mileage total ever, 3173.08mi.  Beyond that, my most vivid memory of living at 64 Jasper Drive Eggertsville, New York was laying in bed one night and hearing a single gunshot ring out.  Ah, life in the "Ring of Death"…my term for any locations located within the I-190 and I-290 loop.  That was a first (and only)!

64 Jasper Drive Eggertsville, New York

In September of 1999 Mary Lou, my then girlfriend, now wife purchased a house in North Tonawanda, New York.  This house was built in 1935 and had some "remodeling" done on it over the years.  We liked the house very much when we first looked at it, but she loves to cook and the kitchen, well, you could say it fell a little short of the mark.  The mark it did fall on was lovely circa 1970 dark pressboard paneling style cabinets.  Needless to say, the renovation work started before we ever moved in…and will probably continue until as long as we continue to live there.  It’s not our ideal location, but it’s a wonderful house in a nice area.  It’s reasonably accommodating to my cycling needs and has adequately housed us thus far.  Plus it has plenty of room for our growing family.  Although we talk about moving to a more rural area in the future, it will probably be some time before that happens.  In the meantime we will remain here at 255 Falconer Street North Tonawanda, New York.

255 Falconer Street North Tonawanda, New York.

An there it is, an aerial view of my life.  More that I originally intended this entry to be, and likely way more than you wanted to know!  This is also my longest blog entry by far!
March 16, 2004 @ 12:54 pm | Category:
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