Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Trip Back to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for That Gorgeous Fall Color

Liz and I took a drive to the town of Lake Geneva and around the lake last Thursday.

We liked it so much, we went back again yesterday with buddy Frank.

We again drove the original US-12, now Highway H from Genoa City, on the Illinois line. Took Wells Street past all those old motels, to downtown and parked in front of Popeye's (paid 25 cents for every thirty minutes) which has been dishing up great food and atmosphere since the early 1970s.

You get a great view of the lake and the historic Riviera Docks building and all the classic old Gage Line ships anchored there. The hills were ablaze in fall color. They were still having their Oktoberfest celebration so Liz and I ordered German food and Frank got their famous rotisserie chicken that is grilled outside. Even better, we had a 50% off coupon. Works for me.

Afterwards, walked around the corner and saw that the old video arcade was indeed closed. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune back in August saying that it was closing for good in September, a victim of the times. Kids have all that new technology and can even carry around games of that sort. A bit of Americana gone.

Walked over to the Riviera Docks and viewed the impressive classic boats. We were especially impressed with the Polaris, a diesel launch from around 1900 which used to ferry folks from the Riviera to one of the mansions along the shoreline.

Talked to someone working on it who said the zebra mussels which have invaded the Chain of Lakes where we keep our boats have been in Geneva Lake for several years, but after at first causing problems, aren't as bad. And, the lake has never been cleaner and clearer.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Library Head Fired for Not Being Honest Like Abe

The headline in the Charlotte (NC) Observer summed it up as well as it could be.

The head of the Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, was arrested twice for shoplifting at a local mall. The first time, it was for $300 worth of purloined silk ties and the second and most recent, for $40 worth of DVDs.

Well, you know that librarians, curators, and museum folks don't get paid much, but this is ridiculous. No, WAIT a minute, Rick Beard, 61, the director was making ALMOST $250,0000 a YEAR!!!! And, at 61, you'd think he knew better.

I'll Take the Job for Half of That!!! --RoadDog

Springfield's Union Station Getting Honors

Without a doubt, one of Springfield, Illinois' newest must-visit sites, along with all the others, is the newly restored Union Station, across from the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (and nothing from the station was shoplifted by the Museum director).

This also serves as a Springfield and Illinois tourism center. The building, its tower, and landscaping are IMPRESSIVE.

The October 22nd Springfield State Journal-Register reports that Union Station has recently received two awards.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation gave it one of its 21 National Preservation Honor Awards.

Friday, it will receive one of 8 State Preservation Awards from Landmarks Illinois.

A Job Well Done. --RoadDog

A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway-- Part 2

Some more previews of the show.

1. INDIANA-- Jeremy D. Bonfiglio in the October 25th South Bend Tribune said the 1915 Lincoln Highway in went through Fort Wayne in the east, through Elkhart, Osceola, Mishawaka, South Bend, New Carlisle, LaPorte, and Valporaiso.

In 1928, this northern stretch was abandoned for a more direct Ft. Wayne to Valporaiso route through Columbia City, Warsaw, and Plymouth.

Rick Sebak and crew ate three times at B & J's American Cafe in LaPorte and during the rest of their trip, never ate at any other place more than once.


2. THAT OTHER ROAD-- Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee said that Channel 6, PBS, there, will be running "Mother Road" right after the Ride. This features a mother-daughter get-to-know-each-other trip across Route 66. Her mother was born the same year Route 66 was. Good show as well. Here in Chicago, WTTW PBS didn't show it.


3. OH, REALLY???-- Rob Owen in the Oct. 27th Toledo Blade said, "Unlike past Sebak productions, Lincoln Highway offers more of a historical focus with less emphasis on oddball Americana (or maybe Lincoln Highway enthusiasts just aren't prone to saying wacky things)." It appears Rob also missed the general idea of what a seedling mile was all about.

Personally, it is the oddball stuff on these old roads that really get my attention. The odder, the better, I always say.


Cruisin' the Old Lincoln. That's for Me. --RoadDog

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway

Rick Sebak's PBS documentary "A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway" has been spurring quite a bit of interest and reviews. It airs on PBS stations this Wednesday at 8 PM CDT.

An article in MyCentral Jersey.com by Ava Gacser says that the Lincoln Highway goes by many names in New Jersey. In Princeton, it is Nassau Street. In Brunswick it is Albany Street, French Street and Somerset Street. It goes by Raritan Street in Highland Park. However, in Edison, it is simply the Lincoln Highway.

Rick Sebak and his crew visited Beana's Mexican restaurant in Rahway. It is owned by Kerry and Gina O'Connor, a bit Irish, but great Mexican food nonetheless.

Even though the New Jersey segment is short, it is difficult to drive because of poor signage.

Looking Forward to the PBS Presentation.

Another Great Local Drive--And, Fall Color-- Part 2

Continuing up and down a couple hills, you'll drive by Sunnyside Tavern. At one time, this part of Johnsburg was called Sunnyside before it became a part of the older town. Raymond's Bowl, on your left also, is a new structure.

At the intersection of Johnsburg and Chapel Hill, there are several old structures dating back to the early 1900s, including the venerable Johnsburg Tavern which unfortunately has been closed the last several years but at one time had some really great chicken. Turn left onto Chapel Hill Road.

You will cross a bridge over the Fox River, part of the well-known boating mecca called the Chain of Lakes, reputed to be the second busiest inland waterway during the summer. Only the Intercoastal waterway has more traffic.

There is a neat old sign with a palm tree for the Paradise Motel on the south side of the river.

You will go by Bay Road, a nice side track back out to US-12 if you desire.

Continuing on Chapel Hill Road, you will see the Chapel Hill Country Club on your right.

At Lincoln Road, you will have driven six miles. You will see one of the nation's last remaining drive in theaters at the intersection, and this one was a concrete screen, not one of those billboard ones. It is called the McHenry Outdoor theater, one of the "C" You at the Movies chain. This past year, it cost $7 a person to see a double feature.

To Be Continued... --RoadDog

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another Great Local Drive-- And, Fall Color

And it only covers 8.6 miles. It is along the eastern border of McHenry County in the northeast part of Illinois, near the Chain of Lakes.

This would be from Johnsburg Road at US-12, to Chapel Hill Road, to Illinois Highway 120 west to McHenry, to Green Street and to the River Walk along a channel to the Fox River.

Along the way, you will have hills, tree canopy, a barn turned into a home, a barn turned into a church, a one room church, a beautiful church with towering spires and steeple, two bridges, a drive-in theater, an old-style candy store, two lions, an old Dog N' Suds now a used car lot, and a gazebo.

That's a lot to pack in less than ten miles.


THE START

Turn left (south) at the intersection of US-12 and Johnsburg Road. To the north is another great ride along Wilmot Road into Wisconsin.

You will first encounter a fairly steep hill with tree canopy and several beautiful newer homes. A white fence will take you downhill to Sunset Road, but continue on Johnsburg. At the top of the next hill, to the east, there is an old barn that has been renovated into a large home.

Two miles into your drive, you will see a white wooden one-room church at the intersection of Ringwood Road. Then, you're in Johnsburg.

More to Come... --RoadDog

The Fall Color-- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-- Part 2

We then drove along the south side of Geneva Lake (usually referred to as Lake Geneva, the same as the town). Drove along South Lake Shore Drive and once we neared the Majestic Ski Hill, we drove down by the water and saw some magnificent trees in gold along with beautifully landscaped homes.

We also saw quite a few mansions. Some really great water views as well. The stretch of South Lake. In Fontana, we stopped at one of our favorite places, the Abbey Resort, dating back to the 1960s. This resort is going somewhat condo, but has been left essentially as it was. We're mighty thankful for that. Walked the grounds which overlook a boat basin and Geneva Lake.

Then drove to Wi-50, and took it to Williams Bay past the Yerkes Observatory and saw some beautiful trees in a neighborhood near the downtown. Next, we cruised along the shore of a lake just to the north of Wi-50 from what used to be Interlaken resort to Mars Restaurant. Another pretty drive.

Just had to drive Snake Road one more time on our way back into Lake Geneva.

One Great Day for Color. --RoadDog

The Fall Color-- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

This past Thursday was a bit on the chilly side, but sunny, so the wife and I decided this would be a prime time to drive the 25 miles to Lake Geneva to see nature's finest fall colors.

We were not disappointed.

We took US-12 through Richmond, Illinois, and then Highway H (the original US-12) from Genoa City to Lake Geneva. Not a lot of color, but always a beautiful, rolling drive with a couple old motels along the way.

Where H was diverted to the new US-12 bypass, we continued on Wells Street past at least eight old motels, including an tourist court. Some of the trees were in color as well.

Drove around the old residential area to the west of downtown Lake Geneva off Wi-50. There are quite a few maple trees here and the colors are always brilliant. Then, it was on to Snake Road off Wi-50 at the city limits. This is a Wisconsin Rustic Road and any time you see one, you should detour. They are all great drives, but this is probably their best.

There are hills, tree canopy, rustic fences, some great entry gates, horses, and all sorts of color on this drive. A top one for Liz and myself.

I was filming the scenery on my camcorder and had it on the whole three or so miles on this road. It is THAT impressive. I had figured that my half a film remaining would be enough. It wasn't, so had to backtrack to the local Wal-Mart to buy some more VHS-C tapes. That's right, VHS-C tapes. I'm that far behind other folk.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Thoughts on the Bel-Aire

Ever since getting interested in Route 66 back in 2002, I have seen this venerable old motel decay quite a bit. I like staying in old motels whenever possible, but this would NEVER be one in its current condition.

However, you can easily see that it is salvageable. Plus, there is still the sign, the googie ball, and the seal.

Next door to it is the Route 66 Motors building, which, besides the cars that it sells, has a large room with vintage cars and auto-related items that many folks don't know about. In addition, there are buildings across the street with interesting architecture. This has the makings of an excellent historic area.

And, of course, just to the south, you have the Cozy Dog and the newly restored Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center.

I'd sure like to see something done with the Bel-Aire before it is too late.

Perhaps it could come back as a motel or place for small businesses if tax breaks are given. Maybe, even mixed use for business and motel. Even senior housing/assisted living is an option. Hey, we're getting older.

Keeping My Fingers Crossed. --RoadDog

Editorial on Springfield's Bel-Aire Motel

Today's Springfield State Journal-Register had an excellent editorial on the plans for the decaying Bel-Aire Motel on the city's southside (just north of the Cozy Dog and Route 66 Hotel). Apparently this will be initiated by the city, but the paper points out that getting the needed funds from state and federal sources may be quite the obstacle in these hard economic times.

The state has a major budget deficit and has even severely cut back on the operations of historical sites.

It was a positive approach to it saying that this would "bolster a still-viable inner-city neighborhood." However, the $900,000 asking price for the motel "is excessive." The Bel-Aire has been a trouble spot for years and the Harvard Park neighborhood Association has made huge efforts to keep the city informed on the motel's demise over the last few years. This neighborhood is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and consists of 850 homes and 25 businesses.

Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin says no city money will be used. Plans call for the city to take temporary ownership of the property before turning it over to a Route 66organization.

The original neon will be restored and there will be a theater to show a Route 66 film ala the Lincoln Museum one with flashing lights, rumbling seats, and fans. There will also be a center for Route 66 artifacts and a vintage gas station.

Plus, the city needs to consider the needs of the motel's current residents and relocate them.

It closes with the city needing a Plan B in case there is no funding. Its location lends itself as a viable place for a private business.

Nice Job Sj-r and Good Points --RoadDog

Some More on the Tourism Economic Plan for Route 66 in Illinois

Becky Hargett of Becky's Barn on Illinois Highway 4 between Chatham and Auburn, was at the meeting and reported more information in the Route 66 e-mail group on Yahoo.

### Among other things, she said that plans call for a passport for tourists which can be stamped at businesses along the way. I've heard this idea often at Route 66 meetings and in e-mail groups.

### Converting Springfield's Bel-Aire Motel into a Route 66 interpretive center. It would be great to save this great old structure before it is too late. It goes back to an era gone by.

### Route 66 signs, possibly neon, for all towns along it. I always like the Lexington sign.

### A website download for MP3 players--like the ones you find at museum headsets. These might get some more of the digital-age folk interested. It would be like have your own personal tour guide, although I don't think the Weiss' would be too happy about it.

### A reconstructed toll booth at the Chain of Rocks Bridge. I've seen pictures of of the original and it is impressive.

All good ideas. Hope there is enough money to implement them. Thanks for the report Becky.

On With That Great Old Road. --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Speaking of Lincoln

As in Lincoln Highway.

A few days ago, I wrote about some interesting folks we met in Dekalb last Thursday when we visited. The guy taking pictures of the various Huskies on Parade was Rodney. Kay wrote that a RoadDog was seen lurking around Dekalb for NIU's Homecoming in the Illinois Lincoln Highway Association's e-mail group on Google. I wasn't lurking, just eating, buying and videotaping those doggies. I have not and never have lurked. Maybe snuck around, but never lurked.

Also, this next Tuesday, October 28th, PBS is showing the recently completed "A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway" documentary. It will be shown at 8 PM here in Chicago on WTTW.

Thanks Diane and Brian. The actual showing will be the next day, the 29th. I'll be glued to the TV and thinking of all the ghouls and goblins coming in two days. I'll have to give up my scary movie to see it, but it will be worth it.


And Who Says TV is a Vast Wasteland? --RoadDog

Illinois Tourism and Economic Development Plan Along Route 66

The October 21st Springfield, Illinois State Journal-Register had an article about Monday's announcement of a statewide plan to increase tourism and economic development along the state's stretch of Route 66.

I often hear Route 66 folks downplaying what there is to see in our state, but I regard it as a great stretch of pavement with plenty to see and do.

Two relatively new business owners were also there.

They were Stephanie Weber of Springfield's Sonrise Donuts and Diner at 1101 S. Ninth Street with that really impressive sign. She says the place originally opened in 1947 and that only a small percentage of her customers are 66 buffs, but word is getting around. I remember having a really great breakfast there back in the summer of 2005 while I was attending a Lincoln conference in town.

Becky Hargett operates Becky's Barn between Chatham and Auburn on the the Illinois Highway 4 Route66 alignment.

Anything for 66 is Good for Me. --RoadDog

Down Da 66: 70,000 Attend-- Elevator's Up-- Bel-Aire Motel

Down Da 66:Some New News About an Old Road.

Some news from Illinois.


1. 70,000 ATTEND-- The September 28th Springfield State Journal-Register reports that attendance at the Route 66 Mother Road Festival in Springfield at the end of last month was comparable to last year, at about 70,000 according to the CVB.

There were 847 registered cars and about 1000 participants in Friday night's motor parade. Always quite a sight. Best of Show was Jeff and Joe Jordan's 1958 Impala convertible.

Liz and I usually go, but we went to North and South Carolina that weekend.


2. ELEVATOR'S UP-- The October 10th Pontiac Daily Leader reports that the new elevator at the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum and Livingston County War Museum passed a very detailed three hour plus inspection. It was funded by tax increment financing and a $75,000 donation from the Humiston and Bryne trusts.

This will be make getting up and down those steep stairs much easier plus open the upstairs areas to the disabled.

Thanks folks.


3. BEL-AIRE MOTEL-- The October 20th Route 66 News blog reports that the City of Springfield, Illinois, and the state are in discussion about coverting the rapidly deteriorating and crime-infested Bel-Aire Motel into a Route 66 Discovery Center.

However, the state today faces a huge deficit so I doubt funding will be available.

It is sad to see this place with the neat sign and googie ornaments fall into such disrepair, so hope it all goes through.

Now You Know. --RoadDog

Can't Believe He Ate the Whole Thing

Back on September 20th, I wrote about Denny's Beer Barrel restaurant in Clearfield, Pennsylvania and their HUGE burgers. Well, one fella done ate a whole big one, and he did it in under the allotted time.

Brad Sciullo of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, finished a 15 pound cheeseburger in four hours and 39 minutes and still had 21 minutes to go on October 13th. The picture of him and his adversary is currently one of the most-e-mailed photos on Yahoo.

I imagine he got the cheeseburger for free since he accomplished the task. Otherwise, it would have cost $49.95.

Not only did he eat that 15 pounder, but he also had to consume over five pounds of toppings to bring the total weight to 20.2 lbs.. That would include the bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, mild banana peppers and a cup each of mustard, relish, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

I could have handled that except for the banana peppers. Yuck!!!

I think I'll have to drop by this place next time heading for NC. Plus, I see that Punxsutawney and State College (Home of Penn State) are in the area as well. I'm a big fan of Papa Joe and Phil.

Want Some Fries With That Burger? --RoadDog

Monday, October 20, 2008

Artist With a License Plate-- Michael Kalish

The Fall/Winter 2005 Dodge Magazine had an article with pictures about artist Michael Kalish who makes a living fusing old license plates into art.

It said that about ten years ago,he saw a license plate from the Peace Garden state, North Dakota, and where others might see "a metal rectangle decorated with a prairie scene and a bunch of letters and numbers. He saw art."

Some folks like me just nail them up in garages if they're not thrown out. But not Michael. With metal cutters and acetylene torches,he creates works of art that are sold in the country's top galleries.

He has amassed a huge collection of license plates from all states by going to flea markets and junk yards. I'm sure this is getting more difficult since states today just send out stickers instead of new plates every year.

He has done license plate portraits of Einstein, John Wayne, Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe and even Mickey Mouse.

www.michaelkalish.com

He says he is obsessed by Americana.

I Guess So. --RoadDog

As Long as We're on the Subject of Teibel's

Noted Lincoln Highway author Brian Butko, in his great "Greetings from the Lincoln Highway" book, had more information on Teibel's.

He said that the US-30-US-41 intersection is called the "Crossroads of the Nation" since both highways are transcontinental. Teibel's has been at this intersection since 1929 and greatly expanded over the years. At one time there was also a tourist court with 30 steam-heated cabins for overnight stays, but that is long gone.

There was also an impressive red, blue, and orange neon sign at one time, but it was accidentally knocked down a few years ago, that has since been replaced by a modern version.

Mr. Butko also included two postcard scenes of the place.

If you're on the Lincoln Highway and want a great guidebook. This is the one to get.

Thanks Brian. --RoadDog

Lincoln Logs: Pine Motel-- Welcome Center-- Teibel's

Lincoln Logs. Some New (Well somewhat new) News About an Old Road. Still catching up from the "thumb" Problems.


1. PINE MOTEL-- Fulton, Illinois. Dale and Darlene Keitelson and Donald and Beverly Skoff bought the motel in 1989. Dale and Darlene run the day-to-day operations. It consists of 9 rooms and 1 cottage. Located at 19020 13th Street. 815-589-4847. Inexpensive and clean. Looks like a good place to stay the next time there.


2. WELCOME CENTER-- a Lincoln Highway welcome center/museum in Ligonier Township has been delayed by the state. The proposed $3 to $5 million, 15,000 square foot attraction on a six acre site is along the eastbound lanes and will be delayed until 2010.

According to Olga Herbet, executive director of the Lincoln Highway, in 2004, a non-profit group bought the land. It was once a biker bar and service station. The old building was razed and a lot of money was spent for cleanup of the old gas tank.

Plans call for a new one-story building with an art deco-style atrium highlighted by a giant painted postcard. It will also feature two restored tourist cabins and a 25 foot vintage gas pump. This should catch travelers attention.


3. TEIBEL'S-- Located at US-30 and US-41 in Schererville, Indiana. In 1929, two brothers, Martin and Stephen Teibel started a 12-seat diner that became quite a local institution.

An old picture of the place shows the price for half a chicken at 50 cents!!! www.teibels.com. A joint meeting of the Illinois and Indiana Lincoln Highway Association chapters was held there earlier this year.

A Place to Stay, a Place to Visit, and a Place to Eat. --RoadDog

Some Interesting Folks in Dekalb, Illinois-- Part 2

Some more people we talked with during our trip to Dekalb to see the Huskies on Parade.


BLACK MAGNETIC RIBBONS

I parked outside the University Center while Liz went inside to purchase the black magnetic ribbons commemorating the horrible event on Valentine's Day when five NIU students were killed. These had been sold out when we last visited campus in late May for a friend's graduation.

Liz came back and said the Bookstore no longer sold them. She talked with the manager (or at least we think she was the manager). We had talked with her back on the Tuesday after the murders and she was irate at Village Commons Bookstore which hadn't closed during the week of mourning. They already had items for the event. She didn't because the University Center had been closed.

When we went back in May, VCB didn't have anything and they told us that only the University Bookstore could sell those items. Of course, as I said before, they were out. Now, the University Bookstore couldn't sell the items either because of an article in the student newspaper, the Northern Star, saying that no donations were being made to the February 14th Scholarship Fund from the sale of the items. She said they were selling them at cost, but the administration took away the ribbons anyway.

Regardless, someone should be able to sell the commemorative items.


HOW ABOUT $3 GAS!!!

Saw that gas in Dekalb and Sycamore was going for $2.05 to $3.10 (that's $3.04.9 to $3.09.9). Then, at the Marathon station on Lincoln Highway by the new bridge over the Kishwaukee, we saw it at $3 ($2.99.9). I was beginning to think we'd never see gas that "cheap" again. Stopped for gas.

Talked with the station owner and told him I didn't think I'd ever see $3 gas again and he said I'd better enjoy it now as after the elections, no telling where the price will go.

I had expected Big Oil to drop gas prices before the election, but would have figured they'd start it earlier this summer. FINALLY, A LITTLE RELIEF!!!


PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE DOGS

At one of the last Huskies on Parade sites we went to as the sun was setting, "Justice" out off Sycamore Road, we saw a guy taking pictures of him. We talked some and found out it was his intention to get pictures of all the Huskies on Parade. We talked about our search and he of his. There were some we couldn't find because they had been removed or were inside. He said he was thinking of a poster of the dogs.

He said he worked for the university archives and he knew Kay who is the director of the Lincoln Highway Association in Illinois.

I'll be writing more about the Huskies on Parade.

Sure Enjoyed Our Trip Out to Dekalb to see the Huskies. --RoadDog

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Interesting Folks in Dekalb, Illinois

Yesterday, Liz and I drove to Dekalb, Illinois, to view the Huskies on Parade dogs scattered in and about the area.

We met some interesting people on the trip.

We met one man at STEVE AND BARRY'S who was stocking up on Northern Illinois University jackets and tee-shirts. He must have had eight of each.

Asked him if he was stocking up for Christmas. All items were $6 apiece. He said it was for his football party tailgating at Huskie Stadium this Saturday (which is NIU's Homecoming against arch rival Toledo). He says he gets things for his group every year. Poor Steve and Barry's Dekalb is one of the stores the company is closing. Get 'em while you can.

DEKALB CHAMBER OF COMMERCE-- Went in here to see if they had a map to the pooches, but they didn't, just a list of the Huskies and their sites and sponsors. We were having problems finding some of them. The lady went on the computer and gave us a map that helped a lot.

As we were about to leave, Chuck came in. He might be in charge of the place and we had a nice talk with him. Turns out he is a long-time Dekalbite and was in on the construction of a lot of the university buildings and other places around Dekalb. He had just come from the Hillside Restaurant which was having their annual Octoberfest celebration and he raved about their food, especially the sauerkraut.

We told him we were alumni and would have been more than happy to have stayed in Dekalb had we been able to find teaching jobs when we graduated in 1973. We like Dekalb that much. We were married on campus at the Newman Center and had the reception at the Holiday Inn (now Best Western)on Lincoln Highway.

The Chamber is located in the old First National Bank building on Lincoln Highway which was given by the former owners with the stipulation that it continue looking like a bank. The west part of it still has the teller spots and takes you back to the 30-40s in regards to design and architecture if the interior.

Both these people couldn't have been more friendly or helpful.

More Folks Coming. --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Huskies on Parade Along Lincoln Highway in Illinois

The cities of Dekalb, Sycamore, Malta, and Northern Illinois University are participating in a Huskies on Parade program modeled after Chicago's Cows on Parade.

It was felt that after the sad events of 2-14, Valentine's Day when five NIU students were slain, that this would be a way to bring the communities together. Also, this weekend is Northern's Homecoming.

The more than 50 painted fiberglass huskies are scattered throughout the communities and will be on display until this Saturday, when they will take part in the Homecoming parade. Afterwards, they will be auctioned off with monies going to the February 14th Scholarship Fund.

Looking at the list of names sponsoring groups have given to the pooches, there were some good ones. Some of the better ones:

Oorah,
Paw McCartney,
Kaycee sponsored by Kishwaukee Community College,
Rx Rex sponsored by Kishwaukee Community College,
one real estate company had There's No Place Like Home,
Huskie Paws
All America Huskie
Happy Huskie Homeowner by Century 21
Breaking Stigma by Youth Service Bureau
Lincoln on Lincoln by the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition

AND THE BEST ONE

Hold Your A-Paws by the NIU Convocation Center

I'm thinking of driving out there tomorrow to view them as I will be busy on Saturday.

Dekalb and Northern's Gone to the Dogs. --RoadDog

A Visit With Andy in Mayberry, NC

Well, actually not Mayberry. That place never existed, but it was based on Andy Griffith's boyhood home of Mt. Airy, NC.

This town has embraced its connection with that famous TV show in a big way. And, it grows every year. The first time we went through town about ten years ago, there was some, but not nearly as much as now.

We arrived late Tuesday night, September 23rd, and checked into the Mayberry Motor Lodge right there on Andy Griffith Parkway. This is a mom and pop type of a place and we could tell it was well-kept up judging from the elaborately manicured lawn and shrubs.

We drove across the road to Aunt Bea's BBQ and had a great meal of western Carolina-style bbq pork for a very reasonable price. Then, we took a ride around and found the downtown which has a lot of shops selling Mayberry souvenirs.

We came back and stopped at Goober's 52, right next to Aunt Bea's BBQ and across from our motel. This is a Caribbean-styled place with ska playing from the speakers. They have an enclosed outside dining area as well.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Lenox, Illinois Seeking Landmark Status for L-H Sites

The September 29th Herald News reports that the New Lenox Historical Society has its third landmark, the Francis Field, and is going for a fourth, the Haven School.

Francis Field has been in the Fred A. Francis family since 1898 and is an 18 acre site with barn and fieldhouse used most recently by the 4-H Club.


LINCOLN HIGHWAY SITES

Plus, the society is looking at two other sites after these. Both are on the Lincoln Highway. The first is the SCHMUHL SCHOOL, a one-room schoolhouse. In 1932 there was a fire and a new brick structure was built while students had classes in a Schmuhl tourist cabin. It was designated a Will County Landmark in 2002.


The second is the Old Brick Tavern (also called the Lincoln Hotel. It was build ca. 1842 as a stage stop, but soon was offering food, drink, and a place to stay for all travelers. It is unique because very few Will County structures from this time were built of brick.

There is an unauthenticated story that Abraham Lincoln spent a night here while working as a lawyer for the Illinois Central Railroad. In addition, it is rumored that the place also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was declared a Will County Landmark in 1995 and is on private property.

Always Good to Preserve. --RoadDog

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Short Drive on the National Road

September 23rd

We'd been on I-70 ever since the Indiana line and getting near I-77 when I decided we'd had enough super slab and it was time to get off on a two-laner.

This past spring, I drove most of the National Road/US-40 through Ohio using their excellent auto guide, and I decided Liz would like to see my favorite stretch from Zanesville to Cambridge.

Got off west of Zanesville and found that the McDonald's DID NOT have McRibs!! Not too happy about that.

Drove across the Y-bridge and past the courthouse which Liz agrees looks a lot like the beautiful one in the square in Pontiac,Illinois. East of town, we stopped at an old place called Mickey's for a really good pork tenderloin lunch. They date back to at least the 1940s.

Continued on our way on some old brick alignments, the first recorded traffic fatality, and those two beautiful S-bridges. Liz agrees that this is one of the great old road drives anywhere.

Needed a Break. --RoadDog

Listening to the Surf-- "All Summer Long-" Bike Week Down-- Billy's Gator

While listening to Billy Smith, the Old B-Ser, on the Surf broadcasting out of North Myrtle Beach, I heard two bits of information of interest. It's 8:23 AM CDT, 7:23 EDT, and Billy is playing "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock. What's i tell you about that song. The Carolina Beach Music e-mail group had someone say that the Kid is just trying to get today's youth interested in our old geezer music. That may be, but regardless, a great summer song.

The news said that motel occupancy was down 21% from what it had been for fall bike week a year ago. The sad economy got a lot of blame as well as high gas prices. And, of course, there were the ordinances aimed at the bikers.

Also, Billy said that when he got to Jimmagan's Hideaway on the intercoastal for his afternoon show Friday, a guy was waiting outside and said animal control was coming because an alligator had crawled up to enjoy the festivities and perhaps nibble on a patron or two. Hey, after all they have a free buffet. All that and Uncle Billy live and up close and personal. What self-respecting gator could resist? Drink specials as well. Billy didn't say what happened to the alligator. Perhaps it just shagged away the afternoon.

Straight from the Grand Strand. --RoadDog

Been Beachin' It-- Part 4-- The Pit and the Spot

Topsail Beach to Carolina Beach September 28th

Drove over to Snead's Ferry looking for the Pit Stop to play NTN. That took a lot of looking, but, we finally found it behind a laundrymat. Have a Bud while you do your suds. Sounds like an idea to me. Unfortunately, they only had Texas Hold 'Em.

Got out to US-17 and took it to Hampstead and stopped for their annual Spot Festival.

Great story as to how the place got its name. According to legend, George Washington was passing through and the residents decided to have a big shad bake for him. The shad (fish) weren't running and then had to have ham instead. True or not, that's a good story.

Word to organizers. Get someone out there to level off the ground in the parking area. Walk at your own risk.

It cost $2 apiece to get in and there were lots of crafts for inspection. Of course, a lot were of a nautical nature.

It cost $8 for a spot dinner which came with two spots (type of fish with a big spot on its side), fries, hushpuppies, tea, and slaw. Liz and I split a dinner. My cousin had warned that spots have lots of bones. Let me tell you that that is an UNDERSTATEMENT. The boniest fish I ever ate. Not bad once you extricated the little meat from all those bones. I don't think I'll eat spot again, dog or otherwise, but when in spot, do as a spot.

Enjoyed listening to a band doing Beach Music, a coastal favorite, and not you Beach Boys stuff either. The Craig Woolard Band was playing later, but we had other things to do and I've seen them twice already. This is one of the hottest Beach bands around these days.

Wilmington, Here We Come. --RoadDog

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Been Beachin' It-- Part 3-- A Day at Topsail and a Godwin

Topsail Beach-- Day 2

We went to several local souvenir places in Topsail Beach. These are not your huge Wings-type stores, which they have several in nearby Surf City (where there are two girls for every boy according to Jan and Dean).

There is also a great old gas station general store called Godwin's that has been in operation since the earliest civilian occupation of the island. The present owner is the son of the original one. His father ran it for 30 years and Danny has run it for 32.

This store has living quarters above the gas pumps and reminds me a lot of he famous Lucille's in Hydro, Oklahoma, on Route 66. This place looks exactly as it did originally. As Danny Godwin says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Liz said the place reminded her a lot of the deli her father operated in Chicago, right down to the shelving.

We spent a lot of time out on the beach and constantly had to retreat, eventually to the dunes, as the tide was coming in.

We ate that night at the Sea Breeze Inn, one of the oldest restaurants on Topsail Island. This is the second building to house it. The original one was the old military mess hall. Part of the place is over the sound and there are great views of it. They had some of the best hush puppies I've ever tasted and seafood is done up Calabash-style.

Like I Said, a Good Day at the Beach... --RoadDog

Friday, October 10, 2008

Been Beachin' It-- Part 2-- Ocean Encroachment and Missiles

Continued form October 4th.


Topsail Beach-- Drove US-17 from I-40 and took some back roads into Topsail Beach over the Swing Bridge, one of the few left in the US.

Once at Mom's townhouse, we walked over to the beach and found the waves crashing up against the sand dunes. This past year, millions of dollars were spent in beach nourishment which is what they call putting more sand on it. Between Hannah and this really bad nor'easter the past two days, most of the beach had washed away.

The waves were coming up right under the beach access pier and large sections of the dunes had been washed away. If this keeps up, Mom's Second Row (what they call the next line of beach cottages from the ocean) may soon become oceanfront. It was cool and windy, so didn't stay long.

Walked the block behind Mom's place and found the sound to be a lot nicer so sat out by there awhile.


Day Two-- Sat out on the front porch watching the ocean which was a lot calmer. Drove Liz around Topsail Beach and explained the missile towers. After WW II, the whole of Topsail Island was taken over by the US military and testing was done on our early missiles and rockets. Many of the towers still remain, some are incorporated into homes.

A Bad Day at the Beach is Still Better... --RoadDog

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"All Summer Long"-- Kid Rock-- The Summer Song of 2008

As I mentioned, this song was all over the airwaves on our trip from September 22nd to October 7th. We heard it several times a day on the radio and quite often in the bars, walked by stores, or were in souvenir places.

Kid Rock put together a classic summer song by putting together Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama." And what a great job he did. Once you hear this new-old song you just can't get it out of your head. A classic combination.

This song was just all over the place. We heard it on Beach, Country and Pop stations. I don't know about Black stations as we don't much like rap or hip-hop, plus, they often don't play music by white artists.

I belong to the Carolina Beach Music yahoo E-mail group, and there recently was a lot of discussion about the song. Most of the folks, and a lot of them are Beach deejays, don't like the song much, calling it a rip-off. One even says he won't play it.

I will play it when I get a copy of it. Downloading?? However, I won't play it at school functions. It has a few things that are objectionable even if the kids all listen to it.

While listening to one station on the trip, we heard the opening notes to "Werewolves of London" and immediately thought "All Summer Long." I might have to play "Werewolves" and "Alabama" before the new one.

Love This Song and I'm Not That Big of a Kid Rock Fan. --RoadDog

All Radio and Song of the Trip

We never once put a cassette (that's right, we special-ordered a cassette deck in our 2003 Malibu)or CD into the car radio and just listened to various stations the whole, nearly 3000 mile trip. Unless the station was playing a lot of songs of the type we like (Oldies, Classic Rock, Country) I'd push the seek button and go on to another station.


Heard a lot of really great stations, and, of course, listened to the Surf, 94.9 FM out of North Myrtle Beach from outside of Wilmington and all the way to Florence, SC. This is one great station and one that I'm listening to at this very moment on the internet. Good old Ted Bell can really play some great Beach Music.

Not too long, they also had Fessa John Hook whose Beach Music Knowledge is so deep its scary. Since then, the Fessa has gone on to establish the Endless Summer network which also plays Beach Music 24-hours a day. But, most of the time, it isn't live.

While in NC, I also listened to Jammin' 99.9 which plays some great 70s-80s music.


SONG OF THE TRIP

Without a doubt, the "SONG" of the trip is Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" which we first heard when the Coz man played it numerous and numerous times at Donovan's up in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. We liked it then, but now it will also remind us of this trip. We heard it at least several times a day, and on both top 40, country, and even Beach Music stations. As a matter of fact, Ted Bell just played it a few minutes ago.

It Was Before the Internet. --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finally Got Home

After 16 days on the road, we finally arrived back home yesterday.

We went to 9 states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We saw gas prices from a high of $4.20 to a low of $3.20. The farther we got from rip-off` city, Chicago, the lower it got. Of course, it was all lower the last week we were on the road. As usual, the lowest gas prices in the early going was Wytheville, Virginia. I highly recommend a stop there if you're on I-77.

Speaking of interstates, we went on I-74, I-70, I-77, I-40, I-20, and I-75. Also, there were many US and state roads along with a stretch of the very first federal highway, the National Road.

Always Fun to Visit Places, But Nice to Get Back Home, --RoadDog

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gatlinburg's Gone to the Dogs

October 5th, we went to Gatlinburg, since we were so close. We haven't been here for a long time. Thinking it might have been in the mid seventies when the brakes went out on the Ford Pinto coming down the mountain. Now that was a bit scary.

One thing I'll not forget about this trip is the spoiled pooches. These guys give new meaning to a dog's life.

We saw several older couples walking around pushing strollers. OK, so they're pushing their grand kids, or so we thought. These were some u-g-l-y kids who needed a shave and wagged a tail. At least they weren't dressed in baby clothes.

Then, we were sitting out in front of the motel watching folks walking by and two older ladies had a little eleven week old puppy that was cute as a button. Many people were stopping to look and pet it. Two Paris Hilton wannabes came by with their little dogs.

The best thing was when one couple with two young girls came by and one lady called out, "Come here, I want to show you something." You should have seen the look on the father's face. I couldn't help to think that had it been a guy saying that, arrests would have been made.

It's a Doggy World for You and Me. --RoadDog

Watch Out for That Tennessee Tax

Perhaps, it's because they can't catch the moonshiners here in the mountains around Gatlinburg, or it has something to do with the cleanup after old Johnny faced down his father in Gatlinburg in the "mud and the blood and the beer" for giving him "that awful name," but the sales taxes are about what they are in Chicago--HIGH!!

They are anything from nine and a half percent in Sevierville to 10% gere in Gatlinburg.

I walked across the street to the McDonald's for breakfast and was shocked to hear that the bill on the $3.80 meal came to $4.50. Now, that's exorbitant even by Chicago standards. I found out they charged 24 cents for a cup of ice water and then 10%.

My nephew says they don't have a state income tax here and take it out on us tourists.

Mighty Unfriendly If You Ask Me. And 23 Cents for ice Water. Ya Gotta Be Kiddin'? --RoadDog

Hard Times in the US-- Part 2

Exactly how bad has the US economy's demise been on those who make their living on tourism?

The answer is bad according to motel and bar people we've talked to on this trip.

And that would include two really major tourist destinations: Myrtle Beach, SC, and Gatlinburg, Tn. That would also include carolina Beach, NC, a big destination, but not in the level of the other two.

Myrtle Beach was pretty empty when we visited this past week, that is until the motorcyclists rolled in for the Fall Bike Week, and even then, it was not in the numbers usually anticipated.

There were lots of folks walking along the sidewalk and cruising the main drag here in Gatlinburg yesterday. Our motel clerk said it was a really big crowd by Sunday standards, but business has been soft all year. Our bartenders said the same thing.

Scary Times Here in the US. --RoadDog

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bar-Hoppin' on Cumberland Ave (AKA US-70)

Before the NIU-UT game in Knoxville, Tennessee, yesterday, Liz and I along with my nephew and his wife did a little bit of the Cumberland Crawl to Neyland Stadium. The major UT student party area is along Cumberland Avenue which is US-70.

After a $15 parking space, we walked uphill and downhill (rough on us Midwesterners) to the street and joined lots and lots of orange-clad and a few red and black partiers bar-hopping from one place to another. I'm not sure exactly how many places are along this road, but there are a lot.

First stop was one of the oldest, at Old College Inn, a favorite place of Peyton Manning during his college days. Definitely an old bar. A group of Northern fans wanted to know what we were doing with Tennessee fans so explained the family situation to them.

Next stop was the Roamin' Gnome (great name for a bar) and we sat out on the deck overlooking the strip. Ran into the same group of Northern fans up there. Nephew Andy said this was his main stomping ground while he was a UT student. At that time, it was called Charlie Pepper's.

Definitely can't drink like we used to, so started slowing up here. Our UT fans left for some different pre-game celebrations and we continued on our way.

Next stop was the Long Branch and we sat outside by the street which was by now a mass of orange as fans were heading to the game. This place hit a new low for bathroom cleanliness and smell, but with $2 drafts, I could live with that.

Last stop was Moe's and then we got a bite to eat at Krystal's, a southeast fast food place somewhat like White Castle. I especially like their hot dogs.

Walked up and down some more hills to the stadium where we were hoping to get some cheaper seats than the $40 listed, but found none, so had to pay the big price. My nephew had said he thought it would be easy to get cheaper tickets since Tennessee is having a bad year (we were told many times by UT fans that they actually hoped we'd win so their coach would get fired). Plus, NIU isn't actually in the class of Alabama or Florida.

The score, remarkably, was tied 3-3 at half. A quick UT TD and field goal in the second half and we figured we'd be blown out, but that was it for their offense. Northern added two field goals and lost 13-9. If Tennessee can't beat us any worse than that, they are facing a long season.

Next Time, Maybe Half as Many Bars and a Few Pops Interspersed. --RoadDog

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hard Times in the US

Talked with an older gent from SC at the continental breakfast at the motel this morning. He is in his 70s and retired. He lives in Clinton, a bit north of Columbia and comes hgere quite often. He says he's seen a lot of the shows and likes them a lot.

He anbd his wife operate a bookstore/canteen at Presbyterian College in SC for twenty years. She is 11 years younger and still had to work, so she managed one of the huge RV parks in Surfside, SC, by Myrtle Beach, for ten years.

We got to talking about the CEOs and the horrible things they're doing to the country with their greed.

His biggest problem these days is finding affordable insurance. The cheapest he's come across so far is $900-$1100 a month. Currently, they have COBRA which is about to run out in four months.

With all this talk of the economy, the big problem of health insurance is nearly forgotten, but it is a major question for us regular folk.

Meeting Great People on the Road. --RoadDog

Been Beachin' It-- A Paul Dog or Two

Like I said, one of the big reasons for the trip, besides family, was to get some beach time in, especially those that we haven't been to for a long time.

Beach #1: Topsail Beach, NC

Arrived here on Friday, after stopping for the mandatory Paul's Hot Dogs in Rocky Point. They've been serving their famous dogs since the 1920s, and really hit a winning combination during meat rationing during WW II when Beverly Paul came up with his relish (which is what really separates his dogs from everyone else's).

After I-40 was built, they opened a place right by an exit ramp, but have closed it in the last two years, and now just have them from the original store on US-117. This is not a problem though, for superslabbers as you can get off at the exit to the north, drive about three miles on 117, visit Paul's, continue another three miles to Castle Haynes and get back on I-40.

Paul's has been a family stop as long as I can remember, even back in the days we always went to Carolina Beach.

Best deal is three dogs and a drink for $4.99. It was $3.99 last year, but you know how things are going in the US economy these days.

We took I-40 because Mom does not like back-country roads.

Mighty Good Eatin'. Wonder What Homer Would Say. --RoadDog

Friday, October 3, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Vol Land

Writing from Sevierville, Tn., not too far from Knoxville, where tomorrow night, good old NIU, Northern Illinois University, takes on the Tennessee Volunteers in a football game. I sure don't see much hope, but, GO HUSKIES!!!! Most people here seem to think we have a chance, but, I think they need somebody to pound on, and we're just the guys to do it.

Getting together with my brother and sister-in-law as well as nephew and his wife, who both went to Tennessee. So, it is a family thing.

So far on the trip, we have spent nights in Richmond, Indiana; Mt. Airy, NC; Goldsboro, NC; Topsail Beach, NC; Carolina Beach, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Little River, SC, and now Sevierville.

I'll be writing about this trip in more detail when I get home.