Monday, August 31, 2015

Route 66's Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois Getting 30-35 Bison-- Part 2

Midewin ecologist Bill Glass wants to know if the reintroduction of bison will help in the restoration process and if that will provide a habitat for grassland birds.

Much work has already been done to prepare for the bison arrival, including $700,000 of infrastructure.  They have consulted bison experts and the Nachusa Grassland near Franklin Grove in Illinois which has recently received its own bison herd.  (It is by the Lincoln Highway and I wrote about it in this blog.  Click on bison.)

Of the roughly 19,000 acres in the national prairie, the bison will only be on 1200 acres divided into four grazing pastures.  All of this is enclosed with 6-foot-high fences around the perimeter.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Route 66's Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie In Illinois Getting 30-35 Bison-- Part 1

From the August 27, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Midewin prairie preparing for arrival of 30-35 bison" by Susan DeMar Lafferty.

Until this past year, some 200 years had passed since bison roamed freely in Illinois prairies, but at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, some 30-35 will be doing that roaming this fall.  The staff of the U.S. Forest Service have been planning for this the past two years and they will be grazing on 1,200 acres of grassland where they will do their part to restore the natural prairie.

Midewin was created in 1996 from the Army's now-closed Joliet Arsenal, located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Will County.  This is right on Route 66.

They hope the bison will have an appetite for the grasses and devour enough so that other plants can thrive which will attract a more diverse population of birds and insects.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Perhaps BP's Gas Gouge Is Over

We were all shocked two weeks ago when gas prices around here in northeastern Illinois jumped 70 cents in one day, the day after the BP Plant in Whiting, Indiana, was shut down because of unspecified reasons.  I mean, gas prices went up 70 cents in matter of seconds.

We had found one station back then that was still at $2.70 and filled up with gas.  As we were leaving, the price was up to $3.40.

Gas in Fox Lake remained at that price for a week and a half before dropping to $3.36 and then $3.30 the next day  Yesterday it was at $3.

Gas can sure go up fast, but for some reason (read profit) it drops very, very slowly.

We noticed Tuesday though, that our Mobil Station in Johnsburg had dropped its gas to $2.70, the price before the gouge began.  Needless to say, I went there for a much-needed fill up.  I had decided to try not to buy gas during the gouge.

Yesterday, i went there to get gas for the boat and was more than happy to see gas down to $2.40.

Maybe We Are Joining the Rest of the Country.  Not Buying BP gas for a Long Time.  --RoadDog

A Trip to Milwaukee-- Part 1: Miller Brewery

AUGUST 18, 2015

A couple weeks earlier, my friend Kip had called me to say that the Lake County Farm Bureau, to which he belongs, was having a bus trip to Milwaukee to visit the three places in the title.  For $55, I figured that was a good deal, so said I'd go.

Met Kip and his wife Susie in Grayslake, Illinois, and then went to the bus at the Farm Bureau headquarters by the old Lake County Fairgrounds.

I always enjoy a trip when someone else does the driving.  Glad to see I-94 construction between the Wisconsin state line and Milwaukee is mostly completed.  This was a big reason we haven't been going to Milwaukee much the last several years.

Our first stop was at the Miller Brewery in what they refer to as Miller Valley.  Miller is my favorite brew company as I especially like Miller Lite and regular Miller (in bottles).  And, as they often point out in the guided walk and preliminary short movie, they have the free samples at the end.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

N.C. Summer Trip 2015-- Part 10: Not So Bad and Cheerwine

July 21, 2015

Running into the backup that far west of the airport did not bode well for my travel through the Raleigh-Durham Horror, as I call it.  That traffic is just horrible during rush hour.  Sure glad I don'y have to do it but six times a year coming and going.

But, after a several minute slow-down, it opened up and other than a few slow-downs, went extremely well.  I got extremely lucky.

Caught the US-70 Clayton bypass and on my way to Goldsboro.  Stopped at J-R's by I-95 and took a look around.  I actually thought I was going to get out without buying anything until i went into the Christmas, yes Christmas, section and just had to bu some ornaments.

Stopped at the Wal-Mart west of Goldsboro and stocked up on my two liter bottles of Diet Cheerwine.

I finally got to Goldsboro after driving 533.8 miles today and 1,026 since leaving yesterday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

N.C. Summer Trip, 2015-- Part 9: Andy and the Raleigh-Durham Horror

Full tank of gas, good listening music and an appetite not sated by the few peanuts, I headed for Andy's hometown, M. Airy, North Carolina. That would be in Andy as in Andy Griffith.  He grew up in Mt. Airy which was the basis of his Mayberry.   Unfortunately, Snappy Lunch was closed so no world-famous pork chop sandwich for me.

I went to Walgreen's to buy some murine and got behind a girl who took forever to figure out if she had enough money to buy two cartons of cigarettes.  Then, she tried several credit cards.  And then, after several more minutes reached the conclusion that she didn't have enough cash or credit.  All this sure made my day.

But, the thought of grazing at the local Golden Corral down the road kept me going.  It did not disappoint.  We often wish they'd open one near us at home but probably are glad they haven't.   Way too big of a temptation.

On US-52 now and heading to Winston-Salem.  This will eventually become I-74.  Then US-421 to I-40.  Clear cruising on the 40, but I still have that Raleigh-Durham horror in front of me and iy was getting to be evening rush hour.  Nothing to look forward to but one long, long traffic jam.  It usually starts when I hit RDU Airport, but we started to slow down significantly about five miles west of it.

Syopping Again in Raleigh.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

N.C. Summer Trip, 2015-- Part 8: Peanuts, Gas and Classic Country in Virginia

July 21st.

On through the West Virginia Turnpike and a stop at the Virginia Welcome Center.  main reason here is the Virginia peanuts.  These are without a doubt the best peanuts I've ever had (even better than my Mt. Olive peanuts).   Plus, there are all those neat brochures, especially the Civil War ones.  (Northern Welcome Center on I-77, the one at the south border, does not have peanuts.)  It is too bad they don't sell the peanuts there.

About twenty miles from the Va. W.Va. border, I can pick up WBRF-FM out of Galax, Virginia at 98.1, Classic Country.  And, they sure do play the classic country, quite often songs I don't know.  I can keep listening to this station until I get near Greensboro, N.C...

Gas as usual at Wytheville, Virginia, always the cheapest gas on my trip.  ($2.36)

Then, the long seven mile ride down the side of the mountains (including all those runaway truck lanes) to the N.C. border.  This is a hard drive, especially because of the beautiful views down into the valley with Pilot Mountain, N.C. out in the distance.


Monday, August 24, 2015

N.C. Summer Trip 2015-- Part 7: Tailgate Radio

No problems through Ohio on US-33.  Passed by Athens, home of Ohio University and then the straightaway to West Virginia and I-77.

Approaching Charleston, West Virginia, i was seeking radio stations and came across a very interesting one called Tailgate Radio at 107.3 FM.  It bills itself as America's first tailgate party music station.  And they play music you'd expect to hear blaring over boomboxes and the like at a football tailgate party.

They play a great variety of party music from pop, hip-hop, rock, rap, country and even oldies.  Whayever is good fast, upbeat football tailgate music.  Often it is played in what they call 12-packs, groups of twelve songs.  Then, we had "Sweet Caroline."  OK, everybody do that hand thing.  I listened all the way through Charleston and considerably south.  A station I will look for next time through.

But, I have to get around to writing down the numbers of favorite stations along the drive to North Carolina as I don't always readily remember them.

there are evidently two or three other Tailgate stations: one in Florida and another in West Virginia.  I don't know if it is canned music or live deejay.

What Other Music Would You Like At Your Tailgate Party?  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 22, 2015

N.C. Trip Summer 2015-- Part 6: Stuck in Rush Hour Anyway.

July 21st, Tuesday.

Left the motel and had quite a wait to get out onto the road as I was right by an entrance ramp to I-70 and it was backed up with people getting on it to go yo work in Columbus to the west of me.  So, even my plans to avoid the rush hour came to naught.  And those people would not give me a chance to get over to the far lane.  Thanks, folks.  As I finally crossed over the bridge, I saw traffic on I-70 was moving very slow heading west.

It is about a 6.3 mile drive south to US-33 from I-70.  Once on it, it is almost a freeway.  There are only three stoplights between where I got on and Lancaster and anywhere from 60 to 70 mph.  Not much traffic heading southeast like I was.

There are large stretches of limited access four lane highway as well, but the only drawback being the near constant changing of speed limits from 55 to 60 to 70.  Made it a bit hard to use the cruise control.

As usual, I got gas at Dogwood Crossing in Rockbridge, Ohio..  Usually the cheapest along this stretch.  You want to have a full tank getting across West Virginia which is usually almost as high as the Chicago area when it comes to gas prices.

Surprisingly, there are even two rest areas on this stretch of road.  You usually don't see these on U.S. Highways.--RoadDog

Friday, August 21, 2015

N.C. Summer Trip 2015-- Part 5: Gas Prices

I drove 492 miles the first day, July 20th.


Date, where, price, gallons bought, cost.

7-20  Yorkville, Ill.--  $2.69
7-20  Mahomet, Ill.--  $2.44  2.356 gallons for $5.75
7-20  Engklewood, Ohio  $2.56--  7.156 gallons for $18.31
7-21  Rockbridge, Ohio  $2.54--  3.905 gallons for $9.91
7-21  Wytheville, Va.  $2.36--  7.517 gallons for $17.73

7-29  Smithfield, N.C.  $2.43--  7.724 gallons for $18.76
7-29  Wytheville, Va.  $2.36--  7.273 gallons for $17.16
7-29  Rockbridge, Ohio  $2.35--  8.269 gallons for $19.42
7-30  Richmond, Ind.  $2.38--  4.858 gallons for $11.56
7-30  Crawfordsville, Indiana  $2.09--  3.097 gallons for $6.47
7-30  Yorkville, Illinois  $2.45--  5.867 for $14.31

I especially liked the big drop of gas in Crawfordsville, Indiana, which was $2.33 on my way to N.C.  Just wished I could have put more gas in the tank, but definitely took the advantage to top off there.

Sad to say that gas around here (northeast Illinois) is now $3.40 thanks to BP's plot to increase profit.  It had been as low as $2.70 this past Wednesday.

Sure Loving These Lower Gas Prices.  --RoadDog

The Midwest Still Has Ferry Crossings-- Part 1: Mississippi River

From the August 8, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Midwest still home to unique ferry crossings" by Mary Bergin.

About 130 bridges cross the Mississippi River which is one of the longest rivers in the world at 2,300+ miles.

Unknown to many, ferries still are a mode of transportation across the river, but becoming increasingly rare because of new bridges, funding cuts, weather and floating debris.  The Mississippi's oldest continually operating ferry began service in 1853 between Canton, Mo., and Meyer, Ill.  Service stopped in 2014 because it was deemed too expensive to repair.

Only 11 public ferries still cross the Mississippi.  One of them is the Pride of Cassville which takes 17 minutes to cross between Cassville, Wi., and Clayton County, Iowa.  ferry service began there in 1833 when a flat, wooden boat was oared across until ywo horses on a treadmilled started propelling it 25 years later... Everything crossed by horsepower until engines replaced the horses around 1912.

Operations ceased for 40 years until 982.  The village owns and operates the ferry from May through October.  It costs $2 one-way for a walkon rider and $12-$15 for car or van.

A Ferry We Will Go.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 20, 2015

News From Along the Lincoln Highway-- Part 2: Preston's Station

In 1923, George Preston Sr., a junk dealer, bought the station for $100 and moved the station to 13th Street to accommodate a change in the Lincoln Highway's routing.

Today, the station is almost completely covered in old road signs  Preston died in 1993 but was known for his love of talking with visitors.  He was the real draw to the station, not just the signs.

Today, George Preston's granddaughter, Mary Preston, owns it and is working to restore it.

Next to it is a former three-room motel and a garage.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back Then on 66: 66 Bowl in OKC and the Chenoa Depot

66 BOWL--Back on Oct. 10, 2010.  The contents of the 66 Bowl on OKC, established in 1959,  were auctioned off and it will now become a Spices of India food store. The unique sign was the highlight of the auction and went for $3,900 to Chuck Clowers and Cameron Eagle who run Junk Yard daddies who will restore it and put it up for sale.

A genuine Route 66 sign sold for $500.

CHENOA DEPOT--  The May 25, 2011, Shorpy Photo site had a picture of it circa 1905.  "Station and buildings of Chenoa, Illinois plus circus posters.  Some interesting comments.  Plus another postcard view of the buildings.

Showing wooden sidewalks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

News From Along Route 66-- July 2015: Phillips 66 Cottage Stations and the Tropics Restaurant

JULY 9--  The Oklahoma's Brihanna Bailey wants to track down old Phillips 66 cottage-style gas stations in the OKC Metro area.

She has found four so far: two on Robinson Avenue (old US-66).  One is now an auto repair shop and the other is a delivery place.  One is on Northwest 23rd Street (Route 66) and now vacant and once was Market C Catering.  There is another one in Norman, Oklahoma, now Ellison Feed and Seed.

These are really interesting architectural nuggets.  We have one here in Fox Lake, Illinois.

JULY 10--  The Route 66 Association of Illinois has inducted the Tropics Restaurant and Lounge in Lincoln and Steve's Cafe in Chenoa into its Hall of Fame.  Both iooperations are now defunct.

The Tropics and that great sign of theirs, was opened by Vince Schwenoha in 1950 after serving in the military in Hawaii but that was not the inspiration.  he got that from a trip to California.  It was managed by Lew Johnson until 1992.  The restaurant featured one of the first smorgasboards in Illinois.

It started a decline in the 1990s, but the building is still there.

I'm sure it won't be there too much longer.  We are fortunate in that we got to eat there and watch a Bears game as well before it closed.  The building itself wasn't too impressive, but then, that sign, wow!

Steve's Cafe opened in 1924 as a garage/gas station and lunchroom.  It was one of the first places to feature air conditioning outside of Chicago.  It closed in 1997.


Monday, August 17, 2015

News From Along the Lincoln Highway-- Part 1 Preston's Station in Iowa

From the June 21, 2015, cedar Rapids Gazette "Iowa All Over: Preston's Station in Belle Plaine still a draw for passing drivers" by Kiran Sood.

Belle Plaine, Iowa.  Mitch Malcolm believes people today are too much in a hurry to get to their destination.  They don't take the time to stray off the interstates and find neat stuff.

Preston's gas station is not operational today.  Doesn't matter, though, as there is no way to drive by it and not look at all that stuff. Some folks might even call it cluttered.

It was built by Frank Fiene in 1912, a year before the Lincoln Highway was dedicated.  It was first located on the original Lincoln Highway route on 21st Street.