Saturday, October 25, 2014

256 Teams, 9 weeks, 8 Champions: IHSA Football Playoffs Set to Begin


Last night, i was at the Johnsburg-Harvard high school football game in Johnsburg, and after some games today, the groups of winning high school teams will be bracketed in eight different groups, 1A to 8A,and next weekend, the fun starts.

Some of the games are played on Friday nights, but best of all, the vast majority are played Saturday afternoons, which to me is the correct time that high school football games should be played.

Again, I will be running the Route 66-Lincoln Highway and US-12 (Rand Road)-US-14 (Northwest Highway)  Showdowns.

Looking Forward to It.  --RoadDog

It's NIU Homecoming-- Part 3: Lord Stanley's and the Footstompers

OCTOBER 11, 2014

We drove to Sully's on Lincoln Highway, but they didn't have the NIU game on TV, so went to Lord Stanley's, also on Lincoln Highway (the old Shamrock back in our student days) and were able to get seats at the bar even though there was already a big crowd there.  We were able to watch the rest of the sad homecoming game.  We played as badly as we could (think Chicago Bears on a bad Cutler day) and Central Michigan played well (think Packers on a regular Rodgers day) and it never was much of a game after the first quarter.

Talked with Rick, the tuba player with the Footstompers, who is a huge Huskie fan and he was more than a bit peeved by our effort.

Even so, the vibes in Lord Stanley's was high and everyone enjoying themselves, some way past when they should have stopped.  There were other college football games on and everyone was excited about the Black Hawks game which would begin soon.  Lord Stanley's is a huge hockey bar with all sorts of hockey stuff everywhere you look.  Obviously a whole lot of it is Black Hawk.

And, of course, the Footstompers were about to play.

A Great Time Looming, Even If Our 28-Game Home Winning Streak Was Snapped.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 24, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Trip: Great River Road at Mississippi Palisades State Park

By Robert Duffer.

This is one we've driven on many occasions and a great drive it is.

Starting at Galena, Illinois, Illinois' Great River Road hugs the Mississippi River south for 550 miles of bluffs and riverside stops that can rouse the ghost of Mark Twain.  Head south on Illinois Highway 84 through Savanna, in an area around the Mississippi Palisades  State Park, where eagles soar and a lazy road winds around the lazy river under the bluffs and along waysides..(Galena, however, is not actually on the Mississippi River, but the Apple River, a tributary.)

A drive up on the bluffs there affords great views of the river and Iowa. He recommends a drive south to the Quad-Cities.

Both sides of the river afford great views and vistas.  We like to cross the Mississippi at Dubuque, Iowa, and drive down the Iowa side to the Quad-Cities, always with a stop at beautiful Clinton, Iowa.

Mighty Pretty Driving.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 5: Parke County, Indiana, Covered Bridges

By Casey Williams.

This is one I plan on going to at some point, maybe even this year, but I hear it gets quite crowded, especially on the weekends.  Fortunately, being retired, we can do it during the week.

Maybe not quite the Bridges of Madison County, but Indiana's Parke County offers a beautiful fall drive to see 32 covered bridges of all shapes and sizes.  Begin at the visitor's center in Rockville, Indiana, about an hour's drive west of Indianapolis on U.S.-36 (Rockville Road).

From there, maps will guide you through curved, tree-covered roads and stretches between harvest fields.

Time it through October 19 to attend the Covered Bridge Festival (Oops, missed that one), with its seasonal food, arts and crafts.  The inn at Turkey Run State Park is a good place for dinner-- or for the night.

Go north on US-41 for continued scenery.

Gotta Go There.  --RoadDog

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 4: Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

By Robert Duffer.

This one goes all the way to the southern tip of Illinois.

In the Shawnee National Forest, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in the southern tip of the state, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail winds south of Carbondale (Home of Southern Illinois University and a wild Halloween party).

Take I-57 from Chicago and consider picking up off the Great River Road (Ill-3) along the Mississippi, then head east on Town Creek Road over the Big Muddy River to Route 127, where the trail begins.  Two-lane roads will take you to a dozen wineries.  Along the way, places like the Little Grand Canyon and Jackson Falls are treasures

Wine and Scenery.  Sounds Like a Winner, Just Don't Taste Test Too Much.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's NIU Homecoming-- Part 2: Alumni Tents and the Game

OCTOBER 11TH, 2014:  Checked into the Baymont Hotel on Lincoln Highway, parked and walked over to the Alumni tent area by the Barsema Center.  Most schools have tents and free food and goodies, so definitely on our list of places to visit.

There was a deejay and we saw NIU President Baker walking around on several occasions.  Unlike past presidents, Baker is of the people and we see him often at functions.

First stop was the Alumni Association tent and Italian beef sandwiches and deep-fried Cajun potato salad.  We had the potato salad because Fatty's Pub and Grill on Lincoln Highway was providing the food.  Mighty good regional food even if we're not in Louisiana.  I know of no other place that has it.

Then, we went to the School of Education tent and saw the dean of it and also our contact with the NIU Foundation for our scholarship in education, Terri.

The Huskie Marching band came by to play a couple of songs and we had speeches by the president and others.

We caught a golf cart over to the stadium and went to the Dog yard area, but it was closing down because the game was beginning.  We had decided not to buy tickets to the game as we would have to leave by half time if we wanted to get into Lord Stanley's and find a seat to see the DeKalb Footstompers.

We watched the first quarter from a rise near the apartments south of the stadium and were right near the ROTC howitzer that they fire whenever the Huskies score a touchdown.  We scored six in just a little over a minute.  Things were looking good, but Central Michigan came right back to score and then scored two more times.  A pretty bad start as NIU was trying to stretch our winning home streak to 29 games, the longest in the country.

We then walked over to Fatty's to watch the second quarter, but the lione waiting to get in was clear out to the parking lot so got the car (Baymont is next door) and drove downtown to watch it there.

A Sad Day As It Turned Out for Huskie Nation.  --RoadDog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finally, Decent Weather: Boating and Driving for Color

If anything can be said about this year's fall, it is that the weather has been exceedingly crummy.  Almost all extreme cold, rain and bluster.

However, today looks to be a good one with nothing but blue skies and sun today and temps near 60 degrees.

A perfect day for a boat cruise around Fox Lake and then an auto trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin along US-12 for a while and then through Genoa City at the Illinois-Wisconsin border and Highway H, the original US-12 to Lake Geneva.

We then drive around Geneva Lake and have some great spots we know about for color, and, of course, the old Owl Bar.  The to Fontana, Wisconsin, and the historic old Abbey Resort and those beautiful vistas.  Then to Williams Bay and then a drive along the shores of Lake Como and then Snake Road, which is on the list of Wisconsin Rustic Roads and about the prettiest 3-mile drive you can imagine.

Last stop will be at Popeye's for dinner right on the shore of Geneva Lake across from the Riviera Docks.

Color Here We Come.  --RoadDog

Midwest Fall Foliage Trip-- Part 3: East to Gilmore Car Museum, Michigan

By Jerry King, Tribune Autos contributor.

Admittedly, much of this drive around the southern tip of Lake Michigan is about the destination, but it offers plenty of opportunity to check out the "other" side of the lake before winter.

Reaching Hickory Corners in Michigan is a pleasant journey once you've gotten Interstate 94 in favor of quieter roads beyond Kalamazoo.  The two-lane road then twists and turns through forested areas.  The area still has a rugged, old-fashioned, vacation feel to it.  You wonder what is around the next bend.

Then you get to the 90-acre Gilmore Car Museum.  It is home to 115-years of automotive history.

There is a Spooktacular auto event planned for October 29 at Gilmore.

Sounds Like an Interesting Drive and Museum.  --RoadDog

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heading Back to DeKalb in a Bit

We're going to another NIU football game in DeKalb in some really crummy weather this time.  Last Saturday we had perfect football weather and enjoyed viewing the foliage as the trees were just starting the Big Color Blast.  It's all overcast and drizzly today, so that will definitely take away from the enjoyment of seeing the trees.

As the holders of a scholarship to Northern for education students while student teaching, we are invited once a year to the President's Reception at the Barsema Alumni Center and that comes with parking there, food and drinks and a chance to meet and greet President Doug Baker.

Then, we have prime seats at the game right by midfield and with regular seats.  But, watching football outside in the cold and the rain is not one of my favorite things to do.  We'll have to see.

Rah, Rah, Ras.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 17, 2014

Twenty Years Ago Today Was the Beginning of the Round Lake Teacher Strike

It started October 17, 1994, and it went on for 38 school days.  It had quite a profound impact on me, including a change of political parties.  And who ever would have believed it would go on so long (not to mention going to school until after the 4th of July).

It was the intention of the school board and administration to "Break the Union."  They didn't.  Only about ten of the 400+ teachers crossed the line and in the end, after they couldn't get anymore of those people, they were forced to actually begin negotiations.

And, we ended up with most of what we had asked for at the beginning.

I will be writing about it in my Cooter's History Thing Blog today.

Actually, today we are planning on going to Waukegan to walk the line with those teachers, who begin day eleven of their strike today.  Wonder if I can fin my old "Don't tread on Me" flag.

Something That Needn't Have Happened.  --RoadDog

Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 2: North (from Chicago): Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers

By Rick Popely, Chicago Tribune autos contributor.

Wisconsin Route 60 west of Madison winds along the north bank of the Wisconsin River through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and interesting towns like Spring Green.  There are apple orchards and organic farms selling locally-grown food.

Wi-60 ends at Prairie du Chein (and the site of Wisconsin's only War of 1812 battle) on the Mississippi River, about 100 miles from Madison.

Side trip along the Mississippi River from Prairie du Chien to La Crosse on Wi-35 and then.  Popely says there are plenty of scenic views of the Mississippi as well as many independent restaurants on this drive.  On return, go south on the Minnesota side and to Iowa-26 to Prairie du Chien, cross back to Wisconsin and take US-18 to U.S. 61 to Dubuque and then US-20 to Galena, Illiinois to Rockford.

Anyone who thinks Illinois is all flat needs to drive from Dubuque to Freeport, Illinois.

From Chicago to Prairie du Chien will take about five hours and cover 267 miles.

Great Fall Color. --RoadDog

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trips-- Part 1: Five Favorites

From the October 12, 2014, Chicago Tribune.

"It's time to roll out the crockpots, wool socks and hoodies, but there's time enough to get out and enjoy the autumn splendor before construction season falls into winter.  Midwestern forests make for great scenic driving on uncrowded roads undulating through bluffs and dells, past single-light small towns and alongside rivers of all sizes.

"While destinations like Door County, Wis., Starved Rock State Park, Il., and shorelines elsewhere on Lake Michigan remain popular, we came up with a lost of drives worth the destination.  In most cases, until teleportation becomes possible, you'll have to flee the city via interstate construction zones to get to our favorites."

And, believe me, the "Color Wave" has arrived here along the Wisconsin-Illinois border.  The Tribune had four writers give their five fav drives.

In a few minutes, we'll drive on a very short one about ten miles to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, taking Johnsburg Road, which becomes Wilmot Road into Wisconsin and then a few others to Twin lakes.  This is always a pretty drive, especially the hill going down to US-12 and past the Chain of Lakes State Park.

Looking Forward to Seeing the Color.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Well, we have now missed it.  Most Americans think, including me, that Oktoberfest takes place in October because of the name.  But actually, it doesn't.for most of its run.  It is actually from late September to the first weekend in October.

From the September 25, 2014, Lake County (Il.) Suburban Life.

What do folks look forward to during Oktoberfest?  "Great food, abundant drinks and festive music" are the biggies for most, including myself.

Generally it is considered an adults-only party.

"Oktoberfest is the world's longest fair, running for sixteen days from late September to the first weekend in October.  More than six million people from around the world attend the event in Munich, Germany, each year.  Smaller Oktoberfest parties are held elsewhere."

I have often thought that I sure would like to go to Munich for it, but have heard the prices are astronomical, crowds huge and a big head of foam is considered the only way to drink one of those huge steins.  I don't like overpriced or big crowds and definitely hate having a big head of foam as that is beer you pay for but can't drink.

We are starting to have a lot of them around here, including the annual one in Fox Lake, Illinois, which is why the weather was so cold and miserable around here on October 4th.  Every year we get that extra shot of crummy weather thanks to it, like the Round Lake spring carnival brings in May.

But, I am a huge fan of the German oom-pah music and polkas.

Maybe, One Day, Munich.  --RoadDog

Road Work Ahead, NC 2014 Trip: Beach Walking, "Lima Beans" and the Jolly Roger Pier

JULY 29TH:  Bob and I walked the mile from the cottage to the Jolly Roger Pier and sat out at the end (after paying our $1 entrance fee) and watched the fishermen and enjoyed their "stories."    They had a big tank of water at the end and fishermen would drop what they caught in it.  One guy caught a small Spanish mackerel on it.  There were a lot of much smaller spots in it who kept as far away from the mackerel as they could..  That mackerel was quite agitated and really swimming around the tank at a fast clip.

I collected quite a load of the "lima bean" rocks going there and back.  These are ancient stones that have been ground and polished during thousands of year in the ocean and so named because of their size and shape.  Actually, it was Dad who named them for us.

Sometimes they are all over the beach, sometimes you can't find any.  The best ones for me are the small ones that are almost opaque.  I have never seen these "lima beans" on any other beach, even the nearby Carolina Beach


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's NIU Homecoming 2014-- Part 1: The Ol' Pumpkin Trail

OCTOBER 11, 2014

We left home at about 11:15 and drove the usual, avoid Huntley if you can) way so out to Il-120 to Il-47 to Il-176 to Il-23.

This is big-time fall fest here in northern Illinois.  We passed two huge agri-business places, each with several hundred cars parked out in grass-covered parking lots.  The first one was Stade's, about two miles from us.  Then there was a small one just south of Woodstock on Il-47 and another big one on Il-176 heading for Marengo.

Along with these big places, quite a few farmers had pumpkins for sale by their places.

Trees are starting to turn colors and some of the maples are just brilliant.  I'm figuring next week should be prime time.

We stopped at Wal-Mart in DeKalb and bought some NIU souvenirs and a black sweatshirt as the alumni are pushing a black-out where everyone wears black and i don't have a black sweatshirt.

The weather is absolutely beautiful today, a perfect day for a football game.

Go You Huskies!!  --RoadDog