I've got plenty of toys. Some are grown up toys like my digital music library and my DVD collection of my favorite movies and TV shows.
Then there are some things that, according to most people, a man in his 50's should have like: puppets, a miniature radio controlled helicopter, a Duncan yoyo, a Slinky, and a plastic egg filled with Silly Putty.
I really enjoy all of my toys. They provide real stress relief when I need it and help foster my creativity.
During the last half of 2012 I added a new type of toy to my menagerie...Legos. But enjoyment of those interlocking blocks of plastic isn't just an "all of a sudden" thing.
I have always had a bit of a fascination with Legos. But the start of my current interest can be traced back to October 2011. That's when Legoland theme park opened in Winter Haven, Florida. The opening was covered extensively by a few of the podcasts and video casts I listened to and watch each week.
In that coverage I saw some of the really cool things that could be built. I saw models of New York's Times Square and the Statue of Liberty and entire cities in the pictures of the park.
In the spring of 2012, at a local Barnes & Noble's store, I saw a collection of Lego kits based on architectural wonders of the world. These included replicas of the White House, the Seattle Space Needle, and the Empire State Building.
That's when I started thinking that perhaps I could get away with playing with Legos by building some of these kits. I liked the idea but I still worried about what "people" might think of a man my age playing with "kid's toys."
Then came our August 2012 trip to Chicago. During our shopping excursion in the Water Tower Place mall we found a Lego store. I hadn't been in one since 2004. I really really loved this store.
I was reminded of that visit when standing outside the Chicago store I saw a giant Lego model of Woody from Disney's Toy Story.
What really impressed me most were the large models of Chicago landmark buildings on display in the store's front window.
These buildings really inspired me and I finally decided that when I got back home I would get one of those Lego Architecture kits: the Willis Tower. More on that later.
The indoor shopping mall was named after a building just across Michigan Avenue from it's entrance. The castle like structure is the only public building that survived the infamous Chicago fire. It a city that was full of amazing architecture the Water Tower was my favorite.
As we made our way from the 2nd floor of the mall I was treated to yet one more Lego model. In the area of the cascading fountain in between the up and down escalators was a Lego version of the Chicago Water Tower.
I've already posted pictures of all the Lego displays I've I written about in one of my series of posts about our Chicago vacation. To see them again just go to the post: "Weekend In Chicago Day 1 Part 2" published on August 26, 2012
On that day in Chicago, the Lego seeds were planted in my mind and I would soon begin a new hobby.
It seems ironic that on that Windy City shopping trip the immediate excitement of the Lego store was soon forgotten when we went to visit the Disney Store.
That's because one of my first ventures into Legos would be a combination of both those two worlds.
Come back for part 2 and you'll see where my trip down the plastic brick road leads me.