Friday, January 30, 2009

Search for the Warm-- Part 1

Well, all this cold and white has finally gotten me down, so the answer to the blues is to go somewhere warm.

Took Il-47 south to avoid the Chicago Hassle as usual. As usual, the BP station in Elburn was the most expensive, at $2.10 a gallon (it was $1.86 to $1.90 around home). Then took I-74 and super slabbed it the rest of the way.

Got gas at the Pilot station in Crawfordsville, Indiana, for $1.64 (I've found they are usually the cheapest in the area) and this is where we first ran into the snowstorm that hit Indiana yesterday. I had to stand in ice sludge to pump. Even more fun was jumping between right and left feet while waiting for a lady to clean the men's room.

Driving was messy, but at least the roads were clear after that.


COLUMBUS, INDIANA

Took I-65 from Indianapolis and got off in Columbus to play NTN at Fourth Street Bar with Mr. Burns. Columbus is known for its remarkable architecture, but I give them low marks on snow removal. Lots of fun with snow and ice.

Unfortunately, we were running late and Mr. Burns had already left when we arrived. Fourth Street is a unique place fromthe time you see the outside to the inside. We did play a game with Fish and another guy before leaving. Friendly bartenders, and one remembered us from last October when we visited on way back from the NIU-Tennessee football game.

I Need Warmth!! --RoadDog

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 10-- Lincoln Highway and Home

Drove through Rochelle, Illinois, past that wonderful old-restored gas station and the Hub Theater. Sad to see the Beacon Restaurant with that great old sign, closed and for sale. Hopefully, someone will reopen it. We've never had the opportunity to eat there.

I dropped Liz off at Fatty's on Lincoln Highway (Home of the most-excellent Cajun-fried potato salad) so she could meet our friend Gayle who is a teacher at Northern Illinois University. I went over to the Convocation Center to see the NIU-Central Michigan game. Parking was FREE and I got a great seat for $9. Unfortunately, I had messed up on my time, and arrived at half time. Also, unfortunately, we don't have much in the way of a team this year, and were fairly well blown out in the second half.

Proud to say, Liz and I attended the very first show at the Convocation Center when it opened, when Bill Cosby came to the corn. I also saw the very first basketball game played in it. This building is a real credit to NIU and Dekalb.


RECORD REVOLUTION


Stopped at my favorite old-time mom and pop record store, Record Revolution, on Lincoln Highway and bought a Cameo-Parkway Records Greatest Hits package featuring the likes of the Orlons, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, Tymes and others. There were quite a few good ones I'd never heard of before.


Every time I'm in Dekalb, I always stop in to buy at least one thing. Mom and Pop stores are going the way of Circuit City. Record revolution has been open since the early 1970s. How much longer they can survive is doubtful in this age of downloading. Not only that, but they play some great music over the intercom. Today it was Neil Young.

Then drove out to Sycamore Road and played NTN at B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) with Liz and Gayle, before driving the hour and a half home.

So Much for the Eagles and a Mini-Cruise. --RoadDog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 9-- Lincoln Highway

As usual, we missed the route to I-88 and ended up on I-80 going east. They should really put up directional signs along I-280. We ended up driving through some mighty pretty farmland and small towns to get north to I-88. A real winter wonderland all decked out in white.

Took I-88 to Dixon, then cruised the Lincoln Highway (Il-38) the rest of the way to Dekalb.


FRANKLIN GROVE

Finally got the opportunity to stop at the Lincoln Way Cafe in Franklin Grove. It's been closed the last several times. They are open for breakfast and lunch and have really great prices. Liz and I had the $6.25 perch dinner which came with soup or salad, rolls, two big filets, steamed vegetables, potatoes, and ice cream. All the sandwich meals were under $5!!

They have a map of the whole Lincoln Highway along one wall with Franklin Grove in big print. There is also a picture of downtown Franklin Grove in the twenties or thirties. Well worth a stop.

Went across the street to the H.L. Lincoln store which now serves as the visitors center for the Lincoln Highway. I was told that the recent PBS special on the road has drawn a lot of inquiries and interest as well as 30 new members to the LHA. The story behind the paintings in the cafe was that they were done by a guy named Barnum who is related to famous circus guy P.T. Barnum. So, the Lincoln Highway has its own artist like Route 66 has Bob Waldemire.

Several trains rumbled by while in the cafe and Lincoln building. Imagine trains in this part of Illinois? Of course, Rochelle, train capital of Illinois, is right down the road.

Liz did not want to take the old unpaved stretch of the Lincoln between FG and Ashton, however.

More to Come, But About Home. --RoadDog

It's Them, Not Me: Unmitigated Gall of AIG

Things that really burn my pancakes.

Completely unbelievable. What absolute gall. One of the first groups of GRBs to saddle up on the federal dole, AIG, has announced that they are going to give $450 million in bonuses to the top folks in their division that was responsible for the high risk loans. This is to the tune of about $1.1 million apiece.

These people apparently don't believe they should have to pay the price for their greed. As a matter of fact, let's reward ineptitude, or is it stupidity, or is it lack of morals?

With all the people across the country losing their jobs and having retirements wiped out, this is the most uncaring thing I can think of a group doing.

The government needs to attach a lot of criteria to the bail our monies. First and foremost, all upper level management and financial advisors should be fined most of the money they earned/made the last two years, then, of, course, be fired and blacklisted from any company doing like business. They also can not be appointed to boards of directors. I would even consider jail time (for which they will pay).

These people are some kind of arrogant. AND, using our money to do it!!!

Don't Look Back, They May Be Gaining. --RoadDog

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 8-- NTN-Buzztime

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we enjoyed the great pool and hot tub at the Ramada, and, we were the only ones at it until Friday night.

Thursday, we ate at the Golden Corral in Davenport. These are highly recommended for places to eat while out on the road. How they can give you that much great food for that price is beyond me.


BLEACHER BUMS, FUNKY MOE'S, UPTOWN BAR

Thursday, we played NTN-Buzztime at Bleacher Bums and Funky Moe's in Davenport. We had been to Bleacher Bums a few years back, but the Final Four was on and they wouldn't change any stations. Found out they had just gotten the game back a short time ago after having dropped it.

Funky Moe's ended up being the old Plucker's where we've often played. The last time we were there, they were not open. They also were threatened with a lawsuit by a place in Texas that had copyrighted the name.

Friday, we drove across the river to Moline to visit Dennis at Fargo Lounge, but he wasn't there. Dennis is well known for his top finishes during the morning and early afternoon. Then went to the new Jumer's Casino outside of Rock Island. Pretty impressive place with their own non-tobacco cigarettes. It replaces the old Rock Island Casino boat on the river, much like he Mississippi Belle II has been replaced by the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton.

Wanted to play NTN at Bleacher Bums or Funky Moe's, but they were really crowded with their 2-for-1 happy hour specials. Went back to Uptown Bar and played NTN while a local radio station had a remote show. They later had a live trivia game where Liz and I tied for first place and had to turn down a free pony keg party this coming Friday since we weren't going to be there.

On the Road Home, Next. --RoadDog

Monday, January 26, 2009

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 7

MORE EAGLES IN BETTENDORF

Took a short drive off US-67 to see the Bettendorf Lock & Dam and were rewarded with probably twenty bald eagles. There were also about thirty people stationed along the viewing area, many with huge camera lenses. These were by far the most active eagles we saw. They were moving so fast that it was hard to count, but we think twenty was a good count. Several also would perch right by us for some great views.

Several folks had their dogs with them and the dogs were quite fascinated with the biggest birds they'd ever seen.


NTN AND THE RAMADA

We're getting quite good with the GPS, or, I should say Liz is, and used it to get to Uptown Bar to play NTN. This is one we'd never been to, and, of course, we go to a lot of new NTN sites whenever possible while on the road.

Nice bartender and $4 for a NA and Miller Lite pint.

Checked into the Ramada where we got two free nights with Trip Rewards. They have a great pool area and is right next to an Old Chicago which has NTN. Now, that's a great combination.

However, we were shocked by their prices on beer. A mug of Lite (probably a pint) and an NA (non alcohol) cost $7.98!!! Now, that is ridiculous. Spent three nights at the Ramada and this was the only visit to Old Chicago. Doubt if we ever go back again, either.

Avoid the Old Chicago Ripoff. --RoadDog

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 6

CLINTON HISTORICAL MUSEUM

I forgot to mention that before leaving Clinton, I had driven back downtown to check out this museum that I had seen yesterday. It is open 9 to 11 AM during the winter.

I asked to see what they had on the Lincoln Highway and was shown an original Boy Scout marker that was a bit short due to someone backing into it. It still had the original Lincoln "penny" on it and I was told many of these large pennies had been stolen over the for the metal content, but this was an original one.

There is also a market by the court house.

They also had two large packets of pictures, postcards, magazine articles and newspaper clips pertaining to the Lincoln.


WORLD WAR II AND LSTs

I saw a picture of an LST from World War II that had visited Clinton in September. They had made a DVD of it and were going to show it next month. The guy I was talking to said he'd been on one during the war so we got to talking about his experiences.

He said he'd been on two in preparations for landings in the Philippines toward the end of the war in the Pacific. They were shallow draft and somewhat flat-bottomed so wallowed badly in the ocean, causing many troops aboard to get sick. He said the smell below deck was powerful and he stayed up top as much as possible, even sleeping underneath trucks at night ( better smell and cool breezes).

The LST crews weren't much in the way of regular navy and wore cutoffs, socks and shoes as a uniform more often than not. They also had a penchant to take anything they could get their hands on, but not so much from the soldiers they were carrying, but the equipment.

I sure would have liked to have visited this ship. Along with Higgins boats and Liberty Ships, these were some of the unsung technologies that won the war. I have really gotten into World War II a lot in the last year with my http://cootershistorything.blogspot.com blog.

Well Worth a Visit. --RoadDog

On the Road to see the Eagles-- Part 5

CLINTON TO BETTENDORF, IOWA-- January 21st.


Took US-67 south of Clinton and hit the eagle bonanza in Princeton. Also, the first open water.

It's a small town and we saw eagles all along the half mile or so river front. They were perched in trees and diving down on the fish. Lots of up-close looks. A few homes had them perching in the trees by them. Imagine looking out your window and seeing one of these fellers up close and personal. We saw at least 25 bald eagles. Sure makes up for all we didn't see yesterday.

Then, we saw another 20 in the short distance to LeClair, Buffalo Bill's birthplace. There were five in one tree. None in LeClair, however.


I-80 IOWA WELCOME CENTER

About a month ago, the Chicago Tribune Travel Section had an article about the boring I-80 drive through Iowa and Nebraska which suggested getting off the interstate. Well, any of us roadies "coulda" told you that!! See Jan. 15th entries.

They suggested a stop at this place, so we stopped there. This definitely isn't your standard welcome center with just travel info and bathrooms. There were lots of Iowa products (including wine) as well as free coffee and a great view of the Mississippi from the bluff where it s located. There is even a walk around porch to further enjoy the vista. Well worth a stop.

More Day 3 to Come. --RoadDog

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 4

NO EAGLES IN CLINTON

Drove into Clinton, Iowa, right on the old Lincoln Highway, and drove along the levee where we had seen about ten bald eagles last year, but there were none. The whole river was also iced in as well. We also did not see their casino boat, the Mississippi Belle II.


J & D STEAKHOUSE

Ate at our favorite restaurant, J & D Steakhouse. We've been eating here for many years. It is an early cafeteria style steak place, where you place your order, get your tray and move along the line getting your soup, salad, drink and desserts before going to your table. They bring out your order when its ready.

We got one of the lunch specials for $5.99 which included a delicious soup, salad, baked potato, butterfly pork chop and garlic bread. Great deal. This is the only remaining store of 27 that operated from the 60s to 70s. Evidently a loyal following as they knew most of the customer names.


WILD ROSE CASINO

Drove along the Lincoln Highway south of town through an area they call Lincoln Way which features several bridges and lights with their distinctive Clinton/Lincoln logo.

The reason the Mississippi Belle II is not along the levee any more is that the Wild Rose Casino bought it and has opened a land-based casino south of town. We checked it out and it is impressive. I especially liked the nickel black jack machines.


MCRIB IS BACK

On the way to Clinton, we were listening to a country station out of the Quad Cities when I heard those wonderful words, "McRib is back" at McDonald's. I REALLY love my McRibs. Was it possible they might be here in Clinton?

After checking into the Super 8 ( where we usually stay when in Clinton), we went next door to what used to be Lassiter's Bar and found it was now a country bar called 8 seconds (after the broncing buck time limit. We always like to find a motel where we can walk to a bar to avoid DUIs. Good drink prices, but unfriendly bartenders and kind of dead, so we left.

There was a McDonald's across the street, so checked it out, AND, they had MCRIBSS!!! Just had to have one and even bought a second McRib for a BUCK!! It was as good as I remembered!!! The bar's loss was McDonald's gain.

That's It for the Second Day. Nine Eagles So Far. --RoadDog

Friday, January 23, 2009

On the Road to See the Eagles-- Part 3

Spent Monday night where we usually stay, the Swiss Inn on US-20 in East Dubuque, Illinois. It is a mom and pop effort with about ten rooms and an attached bar you could call Cheers West for the camaraderie and talk in the place. Always like not having to drive when I'm drinking. Topics of discussion were NFL teams never winning a Super Bowl, Pro teams not ending with the letter "s" and collegiate teams not ending with "S" or having a color in the name. One guy has a commercial fishing license which enables him to use nets to catch flathead catfish which can be up to 50 pounds. Plus, a mile from the Mississippi River and Dubuque.

January 20th

Disappointed only to find two bald eagles at the Dubuque Lock & Dam. Thinking this might not be a great eagle viewing trip as there is a lot more ice than usual. The eagles need open water. Lock & Dams are great places to look as are power stations.

Took US-52 south and this is a beautiful drive any time of the year with great vistas on each side as you run along a ridge for much of the way. Very twisting drive with lots of ups and downs past forests and farmland.

Eagles were more plentiful in Bellevue, and one even was nice enough to land in a tree right behind the viewing area. Word to the wise, you don't want to be in line of fire when one of those birds eliminates waste. Big bird equals big.... Sure glad we weren't under it. If that hit your windshield, you'd certainly be blinded. We saw seven eagles going about their eagle business.

Love Those Eagles. Next, Clinton, Iowa and the Lincoln Highway. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the Road to See Da Eagles-- Part 2

Next, we drove straight to Galena, considering stopping in Freeport as it was getting dark and snowing quite a bit. You don't want to hit all those dips, rises and curves along this stretch of US-20 when its slippery.

Went the whole way, though. There are two large round barns west of Freeport, where US-20 goes from two-lane with extra large shoulders to a regular two laner. They are within a quarter mile of each other with the one on the north looking good, but the southern one looks to be ready to fall down.

We miss the great old Pontiac and Buick signs on the old auto garage in Elizabeth.

We were also happy to find that the Log Cabin Restaurant in downtown Galena is now open seven days a week. It used to be closed on Mondays. This is a special place for us as we ate there on our honeymoon back in 1973 and have eaten there every several years since.

The place opened in 1937 and hasn't probably changed much since then, definitely not since 1973. The current family has owned it since 1975 with second generation now.

A 24 ounce T-Bone dinner with potatoes (suggest the home-made hash browns), soup or salad, bread, and relish tray now costs $22.95, though. A bit more than we usually spend, but this place is special and not only is the food great, but a guaranteed second meal.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On the Road to See Da Eagles-- US-20

Picked up US-20 in Marengo, Illinois. Great small-town Midwest America vibe in this place. The linear Main Street lies along Il-23. If you like old cars, visit Cruising Main, great food and drinks prices, but alas, they dropped NTN a while back, but still worth a visit. One of the homes along 20 is purported to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, but it seems most old towns in the Midwest have at least one home that is supposed to be along with one place Al Capone visited.

I believe I'm going to give Belvidere the name of "Stoplight City." It's just one after another and long waits on the US-20 bypass. Sorry to see the huge Chrysler plant is closing down.

Took Business US-20 into Rockford. This is a major shopping and restaurant area as well as the original US-20 alignment and called State Street. We played NTN at Buffalo Wild Wings and Don Cater Lanes (a bowling alley). Both were new places for us. There are another two NTN sites on State.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Monday, January 19, 2009

On the Road to DC

The Jan. 16, 2009, Chicago Tribune had an article that recounted reporter Josh Noel's 11 hour 15 minute drive to Washington, DC, with minimal stops and moderate speeding as he admitted.

He took all interstates, many of which were tollways (spent $32.25 in tolls) and only stopped at oases.

He was doing this a s a guide to Chicagoans who are traveling to Washington, DC, for Obama's inauguration. In keeping with these theme, he listened to the audiobook of Obama's "Dreams from My Father."

"Food and gas oases sit off the highway every 40 or so miles and the options are predictable and uninspired: Hardee's, McDonald's, Burger King and so on."

Interesting Read, But Should Have Gotten Off the Interstates to Enjoy the Drive Some More. Although, This Was a More of a "Forced Drive." --RoadDog

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Groundhog Day" House May become Real B&B

From the Oct. 21, 2008 Chicago Tribune "Deja vu revisits movie's home" by Carolyn Starks.

The classic and striking Victorian house in Woodstock, Illinois, that was used for outside shots and the window on the snowy street scenes in the great 1993 "Groundhog Day" movie starring Bill Murray, may soon be an honest-to-goodness Bed & Breakfast if Everton and Karla Stewart Martin have their way.

They bought the 114-year-old house after searching for two years to find a place to establish their dream B&B. At first, they weren't even aware of the house's past. They were looking for a place with a wrap-around porch, ornate historic details, a highly visible location, and a friendly small town. That house matches all of these, then, there is its movie history, a real bonus.

In the movie, it became the Cherry Street Inn, where Bill Murray stayed and woke up every morning, every morning, every morning. Interior shots, however, were filmed on a sound stage in nearby Crystal Lake. The real interior was nowhere near as big as the one portrayed in the movie. Woodstock was chosen to play Punxsutawney, Pa, after it was determined that its square would better represent Phil's being stuck than a linear street.

The City Council was to vote to give a permit to convert the home into a five bedroom inn.

The house was built in 1894 and has ten-foot ceilings, a solid wood staircase, ornate mouldings and stained glass. In 1962, it was bought by Fred and Kady Rachford, who raised nine children there were the most recent owners.

Woodstock has had a Groundhog Day celebration ever since the movie was made and I have attended the last several. There are free showings of the movie at the theater featured in the movie, a walking tour, wood carving, and a symposium. Plus, the Tip Top Cafe is open for business again. I plan on being there again this year before I head down South for some warmth.

I know some place I want to stay.

I Always Toast to World Peace. --RoadDog

Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 Thanksgiving Trip to NC-- Part 1

Taken from the old dictaphone while on the road.

November 11th-- Friday

Gas in Woodstock, Il at $2.10-$2.12, $2.10 in Huntley, $2 Stark's Corner, Elburn BP station $2.20 (always the most expensive along Il-47). Yesterday, filled up in Fox Lake for $2. Northern Il-47 always more expensive until you get to Morris. Sometimes also cheap in Yorkville. These are the lowest prices I've seen in a long time and never thought I'd see it this cheap again.

In Elburn, passed the Great Lakes Leadership Conference (Evangelical Church) which is located in the home of a former Lincoln Highway consul. I don't know why, but I always seem to time my drive through Elburn when a long freight train stops traffic. Tradition, I guess. South of town, I passed the old Lincoln Highway.

Il-47 is aligned with US-20, US-30, and US-6 st different parts.

The Il-47 construction has really paid off. Last winter, while driving it on the way to the Gulf Coast, almost ran through one of the two stop signs south of Huntley while trying to avoid the potholes, some of which had their own potholes.

Listening to Bob Stroud on WDRV (the DRIVE), as he was playing songs from 1970. "Ohio" by CSN, was about Kent State. At the start of 1970, I was a freshman at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb and pledging Delta Sigma Phi. I was living in Lincoln Hall and that was quite a time on campus after Kent State.

More. --RoadDog

2009 Dozen Distinctive Destinations

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has just released their list for this year. It is always an honor for any community to make it. Of course, with a Preservation group listing them, this is a priority.

I've been to the ones with an asterisk (*).

1. Athens, Ga* (went to UGA for a year)
2. Briston, RI
3. Buffalo, NY* Buffalo WINGS!!!!
4. Fort Worth, Tx
5. Franklin, Tn* Civil War battlefield here
6. Hot Springs, SD
7. Lake Geneva, Wi*-- about 20 miles from us. Just there three days ago
8. Lititz, Pa
9. Santa Barbara, Ca
10. Santa Fe, NM-- Next Route 66 trip we'll go here. The first time we went through Albuquerque.
11. Saugatuck-Douglas, Mi*-- want nautical, you got it
12. Virginia City, NV-- a long time ago on a family vacation.

Needing to Go Somewhere Warm. It Was -19 degrees This Morning, --RoadDog

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who Says Interstates are Boring? --Part 2

Still in Iowa along I-80

5. Antique City, Walnut, Exit 46-- Can burn time and cost you lots of money, but, enjoy. Main street is now antique drive. www.Iowaantiquecity.com/welcome.php

6. Maid-Rites, Avoca, Exit 40-- Iowa-born delicacy. Fast-food long before McDonald's (over 80 years now) with a loose-meat sandwich you might have to eat with a fork and watch out for the mess. This is a new store, though, not from the 1920s in the Wings of America Travel CenterYou can also stop at Exit 225, Williamsburg at the Amana Colony which is a trip in itself. www.maid-rite.com


NEBRASKA

7. Robert Henri Museum, Cozad, Exit 222-- famous artist. Family home at 218 E. 8th Street. www.roberthenrimuseum.org

8. Pony Express Station, Gothenburg, Exit 211-- Moved from original location outside of town to Ehmen Park downtown. The entire route covered 1,996 miles using alternation riders and horses. Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address carried length in a then-record 7 days, 17 hours. Put out of business by telegraph.

9. Bailey Yard Switching Station, North Platte, Exit 177-- Eight story observation tower overlooking 2,850 acre railroad yard. Huge canteen to greet soldiers in WW II as well. Also, Fort Cody Souvenir store, a classic old-timey tourist trap with lots to see and do. Also, Buffalo Bill's home and the old Lincoln Highway, the nations first transcontinental highway. www.goldenspiketower.com

10. Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge, Paxton, Exit 145-- Definitely not your same old, same old cookie cutter eating places. Stuffed big game animals from around the world. "This place makes the Field Museum of Natural History look like an amateur operation." Ole's opened at 12:01 AM, August 9, 1933, the day after Prohibition ended. It's been a place to slake your thirst and get a bite to eat ever since. www.olesbiggame.com

11. Boot Hill Cemetery, Ogallaha, Exit 126-- The real deal in this authentic wild west town referred to by some as "Gomorrah" and considered more dangerous than Dodge City.

Are We There Yet? --RoadDog

Who Says Interstates are Boring?

Well, actually they can be very boring, but NOT if you get off from time to time.

The December 14, 2008 Chicago Tribune had and article by Mike Conklin titled "Rev up your drive aloooong I-80" which through Iowa and Nebraska was described as being about as boring and monotonous as you can get. And, that's at 756 miles, nearly one=fourth of the coast-to-coast road. One 72-mile stretch in Nebraska between Grand Island and Lincoln is about as completely straight as you can get, maybe a few yards either way.

HOWEVER, you can break up the 13-14 hour trip with eleven, count 'em, eleven "quirky sites within just a few miles off the route."

Here they are starting with the Mississippi going westward:

IOWA

1. Iowa Welcome Center, LeClaire, Exit 306-- scenic view of the Mississippi River. Plenty of information as well. Isn't Buffalo Bill's birthplace near there and this time of the year, possibly bald eagles. www.Iowawelcomecenter.com

2. I-80 Truck Stop, Walcott, Exit 284-- Opened in 1964 and not your normal truck stop. Has a truck museum (great place for one) and 30,000 square foot showroom and fantastic buffet. www.iowa80truckstop.com

3. Louis Sullivan Bank, Grinnell, Exit 182-- Interesting downtown, train station turned into restaurant and the Jewel Box Bank on Broad and 4th designed by famed Chicago architect and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan.

Built 1914 as the Merchants National Bank and now Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. www.grinnelliowa.gov.SullivanBank

4. Bob Feller Museum, Van Meter, Exit 113-- at 310 Mill Street. Hall of Famer Bob Feller grew up on a nearby farm and was pitching for the Cleveland Indians while still in high school.

It includes the baseball bat Babe Ruth leaned on while giving his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. They were playing the Indians that day and the Babe pulled Feller's bat out of the rack on his way to home plate. www.bobfellermuseum.org

Not Finished Exciting You. --RoadDog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ten Most Amazing Streets-- Part 2

#5-- 9 de Julie Avenue, Argentina-- World's widest. Six lanes each direction.

#4-- Lombard Street, San Francisco-- World's crookedest. 8 hair-pin turns, would have been too steep to navigate otherwise.

#3-- Magie Roundabout, Swinden, England-- world's worst roundabout. (Personally, I'd vote for the one in Boston near Logan Airport, perhaps the scariest at least. However, as far as I'm concerned, any traffic circle is horrible.)

#2-- Savoy Court-- only street in England where cars can legally drive on the right. (I could even drive on this one.)

#1-- Baldwin Street-- Dunedin, New Zealand-- designed by British town planners who simply overlaid a grid without any idea of elevation. This has a 35% grade and is so steep, the top is made of concrete because asphalt would slide down the hill in hot water. (This is one steep street.)

How about any Boston Street, Especially in the Old Part of Town. The Only Place I Know That Whenever You Turn, You Risk Hitting a Building as the Streets ARE THAT NARROW!!!-- RoadDog

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Most Amazing Streets

The January 11, 2009, List Serve ranked their ten most amazing streets. They are:

#10-- Gravity Hill in various locations where things appear to defy the laws of physics.

#9-- Ebenezer Place, Scotland-- World's shortest street, 6.8 feet long and just one house, actually a hotel, on it.

#8-- Pan-American Highway-- The world's longest at 29,800 miles through 15 countries.

#7-- Parliament Street, Exeter, England-- world's narrowest, 25 inches at narrowest, dates from the 1300s and is 50 meters long.

#6-- Road to Giza-- Oldest paved road-- 4,600 years, 6 and a half feet wide, 7 and a half miles long. Connected quarries to the Nile River for pyramid construction.

More to Come. RoadDog

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Most Endangered Sites in the Cape Fear, NC, Area

Of course, one job of all roadies is to try to preserve as much of the significant old stuff as possible.

The Historic Wilmington Foundation has released their list of most-endangered sites for 2008.

This was released this past May, which is preservation month.

On the list: 1. Shallotte Point Community-- a small old-timey coastal fishing community
2. Moore's Chapel AME Zion Church
3. Snipes Academy in Wilmington-- art-deco structure
4. North End of Wilmington's Central Business District
5. Northeast corner of the block at 17th and Castle streets in Wilmington
6. Wrightsville Beach-- The Glenn Hotel which preserves the character of Wrightsville during the early 20th century. One of the last architectural links to that time.
7. Rosenwald Schools-- Pender County. In the early 1900s Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, who made his fortune with Sears & Roebuck, had 500 schools built for black children across 15 states. Pender County has several of them, but they are falling apart.
8. Wilmington's Humble Historical Homes
9. Brunswick County, NC-- one of the fastest-growing regions, but the county's historic and cultural resources have not been surveyed or inventoried.

www.historicwilmington.org

Save It Now, Or Miss It KLater. --RoadDog

Down Da 66: Gay Parita-- Oklahoma Films-- Milwaukee Irish

Some New News About an Old Road.


1. GAY PARITA-- Friend Lulupic sent the website of Gary Turner's Gay Parita about 25 miles west of Springfield, Missouri, one of Route 66's newer must-see places. It was originally owned by Gary and Gay Mason (hence the name Gay). Lots of great pictures, including some great night neon.

http://gayparitasinclair.com


2. OKLAHOMA FILMS-- The Dec. 27, 2008, OKC Oklahoman reports that the state is expecting more films to be made there because of the small-town streets, wide-open spaces, and, of course, our historic Route 66. In doing so, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office is preparing a film database.

Movie producers and site managers only need to log into it to look for locations and props. It is estimated that now, movie production in the state brings $18 million to the economy.


3. MILWAUKEE IRISH-- Liam Hughes and Corey Taratuta of Milwaukee will be leaving Jan. 13th for a month-long trip to Los Angeles to record all things Irish along the way. They will be roughly following the old 66 for part of the way. Here's hoping on the way back that they just stay on 66.

They will be maintaining a travel log at www.irishfireside.com

Now, You Know. --RoadDog

Sweet Home Indiana and the Lincoln Highway-- Part 2

Continued from yesterday.

We hadn't been to an oasis in a long time, and needed a bathroom break anyway. Gas was about 15 cents more than elsewhere, fairly common practice on the tollway.

All of the Illinois oases had been extensively remodeled several years back as they were showing their age. They had been built in the 1960s. The Lincoln Oasis had several fast food places. The McDonald's didn't have any dollar value items. There was also a Southland Tourist center information booth. We stood by the windows for awhile watching the cars and trucks whiz by several feet beneath us. Definitely an interesting experience.

Got back on I-80, and drove to exit three (later, it becomes the Indiana Toll Road, but not here). The object was to go to the Indiana Welcome Center to view the "A Christmas Story" movie exhibit that I had read about that was open until Jan. 11th.

This is one really nice welcome center with a John Dillinger Museum as well. Besides the tourist information available, there is a large exhibit hall and a wall of important people from this northwest part of Indiana.

The "Christmas Story" exhibit was well worth the extra travel (and, I heard on the way out, that it will be reopening for each of the next six years). It originally were the Macy's Windows in New York City. I wrote about it this past December.

We spent quite a bit of time in the gift store and I was sorely tempted to buy either the $40 set of 8 people and the lamp, or the $29 Leg Lamp Clock with the leg as the pendulum. Couldn't figure out where to put these things, so didn't buy any. Sure was neat, though.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sweet Home Indiana and the Lincoln Highway-- Part 1

January 3rd, I wrote about our trip along Route 66. This is a continuation of that day.

I-80 AND THE TOLLWAY

We took the super slab from south of Joliet into Indiana. We stopped at the Lincoln Oasis as long as we were on what had become the Illinois Pay-That-Toll Forever and Let's Double the Toll for Out-of-Towners Tollway (or is it Toolway?). I think we paid 50 cents for the privilege of driving a few miles on it, BUT, WE MADE GOOD TIME!!!

We don't have one of those I-Pass transponders as we rarely drive on the Illinois Tollways. Hey, we're old-roaders anyway so try to stay on the two-lane instead of four-lane. But, we've especially avoided them since the authority came up with another way to rake in the money under the guise of convenience and speed. If you have an I-Pass, you pay the regular rate and don't have to come to a stop to pay at the booths, just drive through. All others, wait in line and pay twice what everyone with a transponder pays.

Chicago and the State of Illinois are always looking for new ways to relieve you of your bucks. And, this is a good one.

Avoiding Those Double Tolls. --RoadDog

Something I've Always Wondered

David Lazurus in the Jan. 7, 2009, Los Angeles Times, asked one of my perennial questions, "Why the nine-tenths of a cent on gas prices."

He writes that "gas stations go out of their way to mislead people with their archaic pricing system that serves no purpose but to make drivers believe they are getting a better deal at the pump than they are."

"Or, maybe you think it makes perfect sense for people to be charged nine-tenths of a penny per gallon more than the whole numbers displayed on the gas station sign."

Most people have never questioned it. That is just the way it is. Ask most people what $1.75.9 is, and they will say $1.75. Such a deal, only a mother could love. I always refer to that price as it really is, $1.76. Hey, if you BUY ten gallons, you save the whoop-de-doo sum of a whole penny!!! You can sure do a lot with that penny these days.

Lazarus talked with a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores says that people perceive $2.29.9 as cheaper than $2.30. Right, one-tenths of a per cent cheaper.

Then, there was something about the federal governments Revenue Act of 1932 that imposed a penny tax of a gallon. At that time, gas stations switched to the .9 thing, and that's the way it's been ever since, even though the act is no longer with us.

I guess that at one time, 30.9 cents as compared to 31 cents would seemingly make a difference. But, definitely not at $1 and up (the column says we hit the buck a gallon mark in 1979). Come on, $3.99.9 or $4. I do remember seeing a lot of stations staying at $2.99.9 or $3.99.9 for considerable time, figuring the bad reaction to that addition of the extra one-tenth of a cent.

Thanks, Mr. Lazurus, for bringing up this question. Next time you're out, ask folks how they read those prices. Most will drop that nine-tenths.

It's Time to Drop That Nine-Tenths of a Cent. --RoadDog

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Riviera Road House-- Part 2

Continuing with the Dec. 15, 2008 Daily herald article.

There is a very old 1950s era Schlitz Beer sign hanging from the front of the place. Kind of sets it in its place in time. Bob Kraft is 64 and Peggy Kraft is 85. Peggy still does the cooking. All of it is great, but especially the house dressing and her spaghetti sauce which both are beyond compare.

Bob doesn't have a car and never had a license. Why get one, if he is hungry, the restaurant is right there. If he's thirsty, so is the bar. Bob works the bar, but has not been there the last several times we visited. Sure glad he was there on the 30th when we visited.

They will remain living above the place until April. If there are no buyers, they are considering auctioning it off.

There is also an old street car diner that has been restored by the Route 66 Association of Illinois' Preservation Committee.

Sure Gonna Miss This Place. --RoadDog

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Cruise Along Route 66-- Part 2

From Gardner, we drove through small towns along the route and through Braidwood where we saw the old railroad depot which will soon be moved to a new site, the old tire company, the Braidwood Motel which was featured in the John Candy/ Steve Martin movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." Of course, then there is the Polka Dot with its great food and statues of Elvis, Betty Boop, and Blues Brothers outside.

A short distance away, we entered Wilmington and passed the Blue Star Memorial Highway marker in front of the VFW that Liz and I had been at its dedication a few years back. The river was right at flood stage because of all the run-off from the thaw a short time ago.

North of town stood the green old Gemini Giant holding that rocker next to the famous Launching Pad restaurant.

Then, it was onto a favorite part of old Route 66, the four lane stretch to Joliet and past the old Joliet Arsenal Ammunition Depot, which is now being turned into the Midewin Tall Grass Prairie National Park and the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

This stretch of divided four lane brings back memories of what Route 66 was like in its bypassing glory days of the 50s and sixties.

We also drove by the two race tracks, one of which is the Route 66 raceway. There were also several businesses with Route 66 in their name.

Once in Joliet, we took I-80 north and east to the Indiana line.

Cruising Down That Great Old Road. --RoadDog

Riviera Road House

The December 15, 2008, Herald News had an article by Kim Smith about the closing of the Riviera in Gardner, Illinois. I had known about it much earlier after reading about it in the Route 66 News, your place for up-to-date Route 66 information.

It will close Jan. 2nd after being owned and operated by Bob and Peggy Kraft for 36 years. Bob says he has lost count of how many times he's said "There is food here" after it comes down the dumbwaiter behind the bar from the upstairs kitchen. The bar and restaurant are located in the basement.

The place originally opened during Prohibition in 1928 with the legitimate restaurant upstairs and a secret bar downstairs. Legend has it that Al Capone and brother Ralph were regular visitors because of alcohol stills in Kankakee County. Tom Mix and Gene Kelly also were regulars.

James Girot was the original owner and once had a gas station. In the 1930s there was also a park and a zoo as well as campground.

The Krafts bought the place in 1972, after reading about it in the Chicago Tribune and were only the second owners in its history.

We'd been there on several occasions and have talked with both Bob and Peggy. Bob used to hold court behind the bar and could spin some great stories like why he is the luckiest man in the world. One time, I remember Peggy, after learning we were first-time visitors, went upstairs and got Bob to come down after he was done working for the night. Then, we had some of her great spaghetti. I also liked their home-made salad dressing.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lincoln Highway Diner Headed for St. Louis

The Dec. 27th Lisbon (Oh) Morning Journal had a photo of the historic Crosser's Diner being disassembled in Saturday's spring-like weather. Current owners Gail Beck and Paul Hammond are salvaging as much of it as possible in hopes of reconstructing it on the outskirts of St. Louis, Mo.

It is rare Sterling Model and located at 127 W. Lincoln Way and has been closed for years. Today's Lincoln Highway News reports it is now headed for St. Louis. Perhaps it will be rebuilt along Route 66 close to Ted Drewe's.

It is in "sad shape" according to Brian Butko in the Lincoln Highway News. Denny Gibson took pictures of it a while back.

It would have been better to keep it where it was, but, at least it will be preserved.

Order of Ham 'N Eggs to Go. --RoadDog

A Cruise Along Route 66, The Red Carpet Corridor-- December 31st

Got gas in Pontiac, usually the cheapest in this area, for $1.57. Evidently, Big Oil is getting their way again as the Freedom station a block away from Thorntons was at $1.72. Now that barrels prices are rising, it's time to sock it to us again.

About nine cars at the Old Log Cabin. The Merramec Caverns sign on the barn north of Pontiac looks a lot better since the Route 66 Association of Illinois' Preservation Committee got out to work on it this last summer.


ODELL AND DWIGHT

The Standard station in Odell was closed. Always like that beautiful church and the the tunnel entrance that was restored across the street. In the old days, Route 66 was so busy through there it was dangerous to cross, so a tunnel was built under the road to allow kids to get to school. Again, the Route 66 Association of Illinois' Preservation Committee worked on it to bring back this memory.

Still sad to think of all that great auto paraphernalia is gone from Smaterjax, the old Fedderson's, in Dwight. Great story as to how Smaterjax got it's name though. The owners had a dog named Jax. Whenever they came home, they'd say, "Whats the matter, Jax. It is still housed, however, in an old auto dealership dating back to Route 66 days. Plus, there is that great buffet.

The Old Route 66 Family Restaurant was doing a brisk business and the old Ambler-Becker station never looked better, but was closed as usual. Glad to see Dwight FINALLY got around to restenciling their famous Route 66 shields at the south and north ends as well as by the gas station. I've often thought it would be neat to own one of the old homes along the one stretch of 66 past the station. Sad to see the drive-in at the north end didn't make a go of it.

Dwight and Odell both have a series of Burma Shave-like signs welcoming you to their fair communities.


GARDNER AND THE RIVIERA

Gardner is a town that is really pursuing its Route 66 heritage. There are now lots of Route 66 shields on the pavement with directional arrows. Plus, now, the first alignment through downtown is marked. Before, you just took the bypass.

Of course, the Riviera is north of town. At 11 AM, it wasn't crowded at all. Not open either, but at least not wall-to-wall. The drop in temperatures last night had frozen the parking lot. Took several pictures of the place and that neat old Schlitz Beer sign then bid a fond adieu of the place.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 1, 2009

On the Road-- Dec. 30, 2008

The main objective the first day out was the Riviera in Gardner, Illinois, and the final days of operation.

We got a late start after a stop at Walgreen's here in Spring Grove for some of their 75% off Christmas stuff. I have to remember not to go into places selling decorations at half or that price.

As usual, took Il-47 to avoid the Chicago hassle, but got off on US-30 and went to NTN sites in Plainfield (BW3 and Sports Den), the BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings) in Shorewood, and Heroes West in Joliet. We were giving the new Tom-Tom GPS a workout, and, at the same time, figuring out how to operate it. It worked very well until we tried to find one other place in Plainfield and were taken to an empty field, but perhaps NTN was wrong with their address.

The Riviera was too crowded to stay so left. See the Dec. 31st entry.

Drove I-55 to Dwight and stopped at the BP station for restrooms. Then, on to Pontiac, Illinois, in the dark. Drove by the Old Log Cabin, but it was closed. Drove over the old Il-4 bridge (Route 66 replaced Il-4). They've done a great job restoring the bridge to look like the old one. I'd sure like to see the state adopt the old state road signs with numbers inside the outline of the state.

Took a ride around the square with that magnificent courthouse standing tall and proud and lit up. There were lots of white lights on the trees. Unfortunately, the old Downtowner Motel was still closed. This is where we would have stayed otherwise (walking distance to about seven bars).

Got a room at the Super 8 out by the interstate, and ate at the Baby Bull, a great little family restaurant on the old US-66 bypass (with those bull statues out by the road). There were two high school basketball teams eating there as well as the 70-year-old Pontiac b-ball tournament was underway. I had a very forgettable horseshoe sandwich, but Liz got a huge and delicious pork tenderloin (two pieces actually), salad, potato and dessert. I should have had that.

Stopped by the Wal Mart to look at what else, but Christmas decorations (when will I learn, but it's such a great deal!!).

Then,back to the motel and TV. Enough for one day.

Gas the whole day was between $1.60 and $1.70, with the highest at the BP station in Elburn which was at $1.90.

Day Two Coming Up. --RoadDog

"See the USA in Your..."

Many of the older readers might finish this with the word Chevrolet. My Uncle Bo would call it a "Broken Down Chevrolet." After one posting he privately replied to me that he had a great reply with his new words to the old song.

"See the USA in your Chevrolet, if you don't want to walk, you'll drive a Ford.

Drive the USA in your Chevrolet. Mr. Goodwrench guys will come aboard. You will spend all your money on car parts and when all that dame's done you ain't got no funds so you'll just have to find a Free Park."

By a Ford-owner.

My Uncle, I Think He's a Ford Man. --RoadDog

This Old Blog

This is the very first blog I started back on April 25, 2007, in White House, Tennessee. My niece, Andrea, had a blog and, after reading it, I decided I'd like to start one of my own. Being somewhat computer literate, I felt competent enough to start one, but needed Andrea's help to get going.

I was returning home from a trip to North Carolina and had driven Route 66 part way on the outward cruise. The very first entry was about Dwight, Illinois. Next entries were about Odell, Pontiac, Lincoln, Ernie Edwards at the old Pig Hip, Cozy Dog, Springfield, and Litchfield.

In 2007, I had 252 posts and 376 last year. So this is my 729th entry.

I shoot for at least one entry a day on the average. Hopefully, I'll meet it again next year.

This is the first of my four blogs. The others:

http:sawtheelephant.blogspot.com about the Civil War.
http://downdaroadigo.blogspot.com about me.
http://cootershistorything.blogspot.com about history in general, but especially WW II.

Two-Fingered Typing Away. --RoadDog