Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Keep the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher Funded

From the July 23, 2015, Wilmington (NC) Star-News by the Star'News Editorial Board.

{People know that the aquarium is a great place to visit.  Users of Trip Advisor recently ranked it as the nation's 16th best aquarium.  Star-News readers ranked it as the region's top family attraction in last year's Shore Picks rankings.

This spring they brought in colorful parrots from Australia called lorikeets which will be there until October.  Last year they had a butterfly exhibit.  In 2009, they bought Luna an albino alligator.

The centerpiece of the place is the 235,000-gallon Cape Fear Shoals exhibit, often called the "Shark Tank," but also including moray eels, grouper, stingrays and others species of aquatic life.

In addition, it is located near the popular Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry.

There is a North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory proposal to move management of the three N.C. aquariums, along with state parks and recreation areas from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to the Cultural Resources Department and this has aquarium as they believe they are not just in the business of pleasing visitors as they work to preserve wildlife.

State funding for the aquariums dropped from $10.5 million in 2007 to $7 million in 2014.  Ticket prices have been raised.

We went to it a few years ago and it is definitely worth the admission price.


Monday, July 27, 2015

North Carolina Rich in Outdoor Theater-- Part 2

Other outdoor theater:

ASHEVILLE--Five to six Shakespearean plays by the Montford Park Players.  Both indoors and outdoors at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre.

CHEROKEE--  "Unto These Hills":  Long-running drama about the Cherokee people.

HALIFAX--  "First for Freedom":  The adoption of the Halifax Resolves, the first official declaration of independence from England just celebrated its 40th year.

SNOW CAMP--  "American Patriots" and "Pathway to Freedom":The former is a tribute to the Quakers during the American Revolution.  The latter is an account of the Underground Railroad.

VALDESE--  "From This Day Forward":  Tells the story of the founders of the town of Valdese, who hailed from the Alps in Northern Italy.  This year is its 48th consecutive season.

WILKESBORO--  "Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend":  Dramatization of the well-known love triangle of the popular song.

WILMINGTON--  Cape fear Shakespeare On the Green held each June at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.  Two different productions, one by children and one by adults.

But Wear Your Skeeter Repellent.  --RoadDog

Friday, July 24, 2015

North Carolina Rich in Outdoor Dramas-- Part 1

From the July 23, 2015, Wilmington *NC) Star-News "Take it outside."

This was in connection with the outdoor play "The Hermit of Fort Fisher."  I wrote about it in my Running the Blockade blog.

One of the best-known outdoor dramas is "The Horn in the Wesr" in Boone which has been performed since 1952 in the Daniel Boone theater.  It tells the story of Daniel Boone.

The other one is "The Lost Colony" which plays in Manteo, perhaps the best known of all outdoor  dramas.  It is the story of the famed but doomed English settlement on the Outer Banks and has featured such players as the late Andy Griffith.

But, There Are Others.  --RoadDog

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The State of Roads in DeKalb County 100 Years Ago

From the July 25, 2015, MidWeek (DeKalb, Il.) "Looking Back.  News from 100 years ago.

July 1915.

The poorest main-traveled road reaching Sycamore is the road known as the State road which crosses Mayfield near the center and South Grove Township through the northern portion.  That portion of this road for about three miles from Sycamore to Five Points has been macadamized and is in fine condition, but the remainder, which reaches a territory with which Sycamore has much business, needs prompt attention.

I believe this road is today's Il-23 and the area Sycamore did much business with was probably DeKalb.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Opossums in the House

I spent my first day in North Carolina helping my brother move two opossums from his basement out to a wooded area for release.  He has a cat door and evidently the two opossums entered through it.  A few days ago, he was startled by what he thought at first was a snake hanging down from the overhead, but turned out to be an opossum.

He went to the city and they gave him a trap to catch it which he installed in his basement yesterday and caught one.  Later that night, he heard a rustling in his garbage can, looked in and there was another one.  He cornered it and put in in his dog kennel.

We took the two out to a wooded area.

My brother decided to set the trap again in his basement and just an hour ago, he called to say he had caught another one.

Here a Possum, There a Possum.  --RoadDog

Monday, July 20, 2015

Indy 500-- Part 17: The Race

On lap 45, Dixon in lead, Pagenaud #2..  Lap 60-- same.  Lap 63, a crash by Claussen   Dixon led 52 of first 64 laps.  I see last year's winner Ryan Hunter-Reay is number 28.  What's up with that?

Lap #84, Tony Kanaan #1, Sue, Paul and John are happy.  Pagenaud #2, Dixon #3 and Powers #4.

The top seven drivers are pulling away from the rest of the pack.

What I want to know is where is "Pinkie?"  One of the two female drivers in a pink car.

Lap 103 (of 200) Pagenaud #1.

Lap 105-- crash  Lap 112, two car crash.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Annual Downriver Trip-- Part 4: Gin House, Riverside and Sunnyside

At the Gin House, we got a Chain Crawl passport stamp (it is several blocks off the Fox River) and the bartender asked what we thought about Stormy Monday which used to be her bar when it was Baja Benny's.  We told her about the death of Frank Costello, who owned it when it was Costello'.

We had hoped to stop at Broken Oar, but that place was so packed, we proceeded on to Riverside by Burton's Bridge.  This place also had a big crowd, but we got our stamp and even tried their 1/2 pound burger and fries for $4.

Decided to make a stop at Cabanas on Pistakee Lake to see Jim Seig play his music, but he wasn't there.

We ended the trip at Sunnyside Tavern in Johnsburg.

Lots of Fun Today, Even With the Rain.  --RoadDog

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Annual Downriver Trip-- Part 3: From a Dead End to a Low Life

July 16, 2015:  We left Port Edwards and drove a good distance along the east bank of the Fox River with great views and eventually ended up at Dead End Saloon in Fox River Grove.  It is on the river and by the US-14 bridge.  We had a drink there, got our stamp and braved the huge amount of traffic to turn left.

This is the section of the trip where we usually get lost and that happened again.  One of these days we will remember to bring along Nancy, our GPS gal.  But we sure see some pretty homes, great landscaping and scenic drives, even though by now we had a light rain falling.  As usual, we ended up by the Nordic Hills Ski Jump way up there in the sky.

Next stop was Herman's Low Life in Barrington Hills (I think).  This is a favorite place of ours and one we'd never have known about except for the Chain Crawl.  So, we went from a Dead End to a Low Life place.  This place was packed.  Of course, it is a small place so it doesn't take that many people to fill it up.  Met a couple there who have a trailer up at Captain's Quarters and we see them most Sundays.

We were so full still from the shrimp, we did not have the Hot Cop Porn.

Going to the Gin House.  --RoadDog

Annual Downriver Trip-- Part 2: Going Nautical at Port Edwards

July 16, 2015:  We drove to Algonquin and stopped at Port Edwards, right by the Algonquin Dam and the Algonquin Road Bridge.  This is the farthest south of our passport stamps for the Chain Crawl and probably the most nautical-themed place on the Chain Crawl.  The only other place I can think of in the area with this much nautical theme would be Popeye's in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

We had drinks and used our coupon to get $10 off an appetizer, so ordered the pound of steamed shrimp.  They were big and filled us both up.

Port Edwards tends to be on the expensive side, but is quite the experience, so worth it.

The place has so much stuff, they have a Nautical Walking Tour pamphlet.  Just outside the place in the parking lot and by the entrance, they have these items:

RIVERSIDE LIGHTHOUSE--  Retrieved from the Milk Pail Amusement Park in Dundee, Illinois.  It has been refurbished and designated Fox River MM 88.


SPANISH SHIP'S CANNON--  Salvaged from the Bahamas.  Circa 1780.

FIVE FOOT LOBSTER--  Their commissioned commemorative 40th anniversary lobster.  Subject of many photos and with signs asking patrons not to climb on it.

And There Are Plenty Other Items Inside.  --RoadDog

INDY 500-- Part 16: Pace Car Leads in Early Part of Race

Then came the words, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your engines."  The first four laps are practice.  For this race, since Hinchecliffe wasn't in it, I was pulling for Scott Dixon.  John, Paul and Sue always pull for Tony Kanaan.

I see the Pagoda and Gasoline Alley to my left.  The sun is shining and there is a nice breeze keeping us cool.  What a great day for a race, and, as they say, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Out there on the track, we have 11 American drivers and five former Indy 500 winners.  There are now eleven rows of three cars as they get into position for the green flag and go.  This is its 99th Running as they refer to it.  Next year's 100th should be something else.

They start and there is an accident right away on Turn One.  Lots of debris and we saw it all taking place right by us.  This led to a 10 lap precaution where there is no passing.  At this point, the Pace Car had led for most of the race.  Not exactly what we hoping for.

These cars always sound like a lot of angry bees to me as they by.

The early laps were a battle between Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

And, They're Off.  --RoadDog

Friday, July 17, 2015

Taking Our Annual Downriver Trip-- Part 1: By Car, Not Boat and The Flag Store

Yesterday, July 16th, we went to Crystal lake, Illinois, to have our emissions test.  While down that far south, we like to go to some of the places on the Chain Crawl.  In the past we used to do it by boat, but lately it is by car.  And it was a good thing because part way through our visits, it started raining and was poring by the time we got home.  Being on a boat in the rain is not much fun, especially in an open bow one.  You get wet even with a Bimini top.

We passed the emissions test and are good to go for two more years on that count.  We then went to downtown Crystal lake to one of our favorite places, The Flag Store.  This is one of those places I should try to avoid as it is pretty-well guaranteed this is going to cost me some money.  It did.

They have all the great stuff I'd like to put on my basement walls (but sadly i am pretty well out of space now.  I did buy one of those heritage banners featuring four different logos of the Blackhawks since their inception to now.  We believe the Hawks have the best looking logo in any sport.  i also got a White Sox yard flag and a pair of Blackhawk earrings for Liz.

Fifty-five bucks later, we were on our way to Port Edwards in Algonquin, the farthest place on the Chain Crawl.


Indy 500-- Part 15: "Back Home Again in Indiana"

The track broadcast went to the Space Station and we saw them on the giant TVs, but didn't get sound.    I believe I heard that Jordan Sparks sang the Star-Spangled Banner.  A giant U.S. flag was unfolded on the infield near us during its singing.

There was a flyover by the Indiana National Guard and then those great words, "Drivers to your cars."

Then we had the Indy 500 tradition, the singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana" which they have been doing since 1946.  The last however so many years by Gomer (Jim Nabors).  This year it was done by Indiana's Straight, No Chaser.  Jim was watching it from his home in Hawaii.

I always enjoy the release of the thousands of red, white and blue balloons.  I wonder how far they get.

James Hinchecliffe, my favorite driver, had won a position but had been seriously injured in a pre-race accident and there is some talk that his racing career might be over.

We sit on what is called the catwalk (way high up with those man-beating stairs) half way between the first and second turns so have a great view of anything happening in that area and can see almost to the third turn.  Great seats (and expensive at $185).  For that price, I ought to get an elevator and nearby bathrooms.  You can see downtown Indianapolis out to the southeast and that huge Lucas Oil Stadium.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Indy 500-- Part 14: Race Preliminaries

We hung out under the bleachers for awhile before commencing that real long and hard walk up the stairs.  That walk really wears me out.  I thought I was going to get sick as we neared the top.  To avoid unnecessary trips up and down the stairs, I don't have my first beer until there are only about 70-80 laps left.

I heard that David Letterman, a native of Indiana, was there.  We then were welcomed to the race, which they loudly proclaimed to be "The 99th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Colletti was a rookie and there were two women drivers, neither one was Danica Patrick.  Scott Dixon won the pole position in the qualifying races.

And, this being Memorial Day Weekend, it was announced the race was to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and our dwindling number of World War II veterans.

Danielle Cranberry sand "America the Beautiful."  Then we had a Spirit of '45 where those veterans from 70 years ago turned over the "Spirit" to veterans of more recent wars.

Parachuters then dropped down from the sky.  Florence Henderson sand "God Bless America."

News From Along Route 66: June 2015 Jensen's Point Is Back

JUNE 6TH--  Pacific, Missouri announced that Jensen's Point will reopen as a city park in February after improvements are made.  The city bought it with a $350,000 grant from the St. Louis County Parks.  The city has another $85,000 available for improvements.

It was built by the CCC in the 1930s and opened in 1941.  named after Lars Peter Jensen, the first manager of Shaw's Garden which became the Missouri Botanic Garden.

Jensen's Point remained under private ownership into the 1990s.

I have often wanted to go to the top.  Looks like I will now have the opportunity.  Thanks Pacific.  I just hope I can make the climb.

JUNE 10TH--  A Route 66 Association was formed in Japan.  Always like to see that.

JUNE 10TH--  The final cruise and closing of Jobe's Drive-In in El Reno, Oklahoma.  It is being sold by the owner who has had it since 1969.  It opened  in 1958.

One Less Place to Eat.--RoadDog

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

News From Along Route 66: Bloomington, Il. and Arizona

The June 7th Bloomington Pantagraph said that more than 300 antique cars were on display at the Route 66 Cruise-In in downtown Bloomington, Illinois.  Could it be that Bloomington and Normal are at long last finally realizing that they have a Route 66 heritage and it is definitely good for business?

The June 2, 2015, Las Vegas Review-Journal listed 9 sights you've got to see on Route 66 in Arizona:

OATMAN--  Of course, those wild animals.

KINGMAN--  Historic Route 66 Museum in the Power House Visitors Center.

HACKBERRY--  Hackberry General Store and Visitor Center. Wasn't that Bob's old place?

VALENTINE--  Old schoolhouse for Hualapal Indian boys.

WINSLOW--  Standing On the Corner

ROCK ART CANYON RANCH--  Extensive petroglyphs

CHEVELON CANYON BRIDGE--  Near the previous place.  One of Arizona's oldest bridges and you can now drive across it.

HOLBROOK--  Petrified Forest National Park  Agate House, Wigwam Motel.