Monday, August 31, 2009

Finished the Iowa Lincoln Highway Motor Tour, Missouri Route 66 Next

Yesterday, we arrived in Clinton, on the Mississippi to conclude our four days on Iowa's stretch of the Lincoln Highway. We'd driven it before, but saw many things we missed the first time. Congratulations to Jeff LaFollette for a job well done. I'll be writing more about it in the coming week

We spent the night in town at the Best Western. After getting our final passport stamp at the historical museum, we went over to catch the end of the Clinton Lumber King-Quad City River Bandit game. We got there in the fifth with the score tied. Unfortunately, the River Bandits won in the 7th (and final inning). Sure enjoy Class A Midwest League baseball. (Oh, by the way, no charge to get in at that late inning of the game.)

Drove around the riverfront park and downtown, past J & D Steakhouse (closed on Sundays unfortunately) and the Louis Sullivan-designed store. Also saw the Lafayette Apartments which used to be the LaFayette Hotel, a Lincoln Highway Control Point I believe. Yesterday, I heard a man talking with Jeff at DeWitt who said his parents spent their honeymoon at the hotel.

Sure enjoy visiting Clinton, what small-town America is all about.

In about ten days, we will be driving to Joplin, Missouri, to pick up the Route 66 Association of Missouri's Motor Tour across the state.

Heading home today on Illinois' stretch of the Lincoln today as far as Dekalb. Will visit the headquarters in Franklin Grove and eat lunch across the street at the Lincoln Cafe.

Can't Get Enough of Those Blue Highways. --RoadDog

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No More Lincoln Cafe in Belle Plaine

After we left Prescott's station, yesterday, in Belle Plaine, Iowa, we drove past the Lincoln Cafe, where we'd had an excellent and reasonable lunch the last time through.

It looked closed. At the museum, we found out that it was closed. The reason was that the owner had been being abused by her boyfriend, and, along with her son and daughter-in-law, had murdered him.

Whether or not the place will reopen is anybody's guess. Sure hope it comes back.

Sad to Find This Out. A Definite Stop on Any Trip Across the State. --RoadDog

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Yesterday, after leaving the rest of the Lincoln Highway folk at Youngville Station, we drove into Cedar Rapids and got a room at the Days Inn up on the north side of town where there were two new NTN places to visit.

We recognized the first place we went as soon as we walked in. The last time we were here, it was called the Cedar Rapids Brewery and had NTN. It is now called the Third Base Brewery. Played a couple games and were shocked to see Countdown Players Plus at 9000. Who'd have figured that.

Then went to the new BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings for you youngsters). We'd already been to the other one southwest of town. Saw that our home bar of Donovan's Reef in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, ranked #13 on one game, a little taste of home.

Third Base and BW3 are only about a third mile apart.


SOME BARS AND MEXICAN

We decided to check out some local bar scene closer to the motel, so went to the Pour House (good name for a bar, both pouring your drinks and a play on the poor if you spend too much time). In the same parking lot was Papa's. Almost felt embarrassed driving over to it, but felt we shouldn't take up a parking spot in front of the Pour House.

Watched the Cardinals game with some Cardinal fans. Found out that the Iowa football game we watched Friday night in Ames and Ankeny between Parkland and Dike was to honor the tragedy of Parkersburg's coach being killed by a former player and the disastrous 2008 tornado and flooding that hit the town.

We were evidently close to that town when we were driving along US-20 heading west. We stopped in Dike for a bathroom break and lunch. They are about 14 miles apart.

Also found out that Iowa has been getting a lot of rain, especially in this area which accounts for flooding we saw between Chelsea and here. One couple is going to Galena for their anniversary next week. They'd never been so we filled them in.

Stopped at the Casa Las Glorias Mexican restaurant next to the motel and split an outstanding fajita-style quesadilla. Mighty good eating!!

Nothing Like the Road. --RoadDog

Wine Drinking Across Iowa's Lincoln Highway

Not saying that these Iowa Lincoln Highway folks are a bit tipsy, but they just might be. When you think wine, Iowa doesn't immediately jump to mind. But, I can tell you that there are wineries out in those corn and soy fields amidst those rolling hills.

Since Thursday, we have visited three wineries across the state. Thursday, we went to the Loess Hills Winery in Crescent. Friday, we went to the Santa Maria Winery in Carroll, and yesterday, John Ernest Winery east of Tama.

We are the proud new owners of three bottles of Iowa's finest, each considerably different from the other. We'll be enjoying these out in the arboretum this fall.

Iowa road folk like their tours with a bit of the grape.


SURPRISINGLY COOL

Speaking of fall, I think fall arrived a bit ahead of schedule this year. Didn't get out of the low sixties yesterday with a definite cool crisp in the air. Perhaps down to 40 degrees tonight in Clinton, where the motor tour ends.

We're hoping to get in early enough to catch the second game of the Lumber Kings' double header against the Quad-City Bandits, Midwest League Class A b-ball. Nothing like a good minor league game to cool off the feet after a long-haul across Iowa.

Little Old Wine-Drinker Me. Who Needs That California Stuff? --RoadDog

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NTNing Down Da Road

We have visited 11 new-to-us NTN-Buzztime sites since we headed out on the 36th Anniversary/Lincoln Highway Motor Tour Cruise on the 25th. These are all places where we have never gone to before. All are in Iowa.

Waterloo-- Beck's Sports Brewery

Cedar Falls-- Pepper's and Beck's

Fort Dodge-- O'Goodie's

Sioux City-- BW3, Tom Roe's Point After, Town House

The above were all along US-20.

Council Bluffs-- BW3

Ames-- Okoboji

Ankeny-- BW3 and Okoboji

We have two more planned visits tonight in Cedar Rapids: a BW3 and Third Base.

Spending way too much time playing NTN, again.

NTNing Down Da Road. --RoadDog

Running Behind Again...Thanks to CGLG

Today, the rest of the tour left Boone, Iowa, at 7 AM. Yesterday, we went on to Ames and Ankeny to play NTN, ans spent the night in Ames on the southeast side. Regardless of what the posting time says (I don't know how to correct it), it is presently 8:39 AM.

We are about ten miles on down the road toward Nevada, the first stop, but they are already there and will be leaving at 9:45 before we get on the road.

We didn't catch up completely with the rest of the folks yesterday, until the lunch stop in Carroll. And, that was the 4TH STOP. We got in one the trail end of their visit to Denison, the Home of Donna Reed, but they left while we were still checking out that wonderful downtown.


CGLG

And the reason we're ALWAYS BEHIND on motor tours, CGLG. That stands for "CAN'T GET LIZ GOING." She stays up most of the night and then, for some reason can't seem to get going in the morning.

That is the same problem any time we travel. Starts are almost always at 10 or 11 in the morning, because of CGLG.

By the way, I can write this because she doesn't usually read the blog. Don't anyone tell her. Please.

One other thing I can say, Jeff LaFollette sure runs a tight ship. He was right on scheduled leave and arrive time most of yesterday. He can sure run a motor tour.

Any Guesses as to What Stop We'll Catch Up With Them Today? --RoadDog

A Big Driving Tip for Iowa

Iowa certainly has its wide-open expanses. They're beautiful, but if you are going to need some creature comforts such as store-bought items, gas, food, or a place to sleep, you'd better get them when you can. Don't figure there will be another one "down the road."

You can go for miles and miles and miles before you get to that "down the road" place you need.

This especially holds true for US-20, I-39 (?) running along the western border between Sioux City and Missouri Valley, I-80 from Council Bluffs to Des Moines, I-35 from Ames to Ankeny, and the same with US-69 from Ankeny to Huxton.

We have encountered these situations in I-35 and I-39 this trip as well as US-20 and US-69. The Super 8 we found in Owana(?) was the only motel between Sioux City and Missouri Valley (about twenty miles north of Council Bluffs).

There have been some mad dashes for bathrooms and fruitless motel searches on occasion.

Beautiful State, But Definitely Go When You Have to Go. --RoadDog

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Ready for the Motor Tour-- Part 2

Listening to the Surf, 94.9 FM out of North Myrtle Beach, SC, I heard Ted Bell say that the big Beach Music festival in Charleston is this weekend and they would be broadcasting from it. Ain't that internet somethin'? Sitting here in Missouri Valley, Iowa, getting ready to go on the Lincoln Highway Motor Tour across Iowa, and listening to a station down in South Carolina. Never would have thought that I'd be doing this 20 years ago.

None of them had been on the Lincoln Highway Motor Tour Pre-Tour Yesterday, but several had been on the one last year, so were familiar with the paces we went.


DON WILLARD

One topic of conversation was Don Willard at the Lincoln Highway Garage in Crescent,Iowa. He is 84 years old and the real deal. What a character!! He collects all sorts of things, but especially Model As and Ts and Army jeeps. And, he has a story to go with each and every one. Start listening to him, and you just might be there for an extended time.

I said that he reminded me of Illinois' own "Old Coot on Route 66," Ernie Edwards, owner of the Pighip Restaurant in Broadwell, just north of Springfield. You can easily listen to his stories for hours.

Another man said Mr. Willard reminded him of George Prescott, who was featured on Johnny Carson and ran Prescott's Garage on Lincoln Highway in Belle Plaine, Iowa.
Unfortunately, he died a few years ago, but he had had the fortune to meet him.

You've got to meet these old-timers of the road as soon as you can. No one knows how much longer we can enjoy their presence.

This is only the third time I've had to type this, thanks to internet problems yesterday. Today is the 29th.

Having Fun Out on the Road. --RoadDog

Getting Ready for the Motor Tour-- Part 1

Up at 7 AM this morning and greeted by some mighty heavy fog. The poor classic car guys were out there wiping down their cars frantically. Their poor vehicles had probably not been left out in the elements for a whole night in a long time. Saw one guy in a orange Judge Goat leaving, no doubt to go to the local car wash.

One nice thing about being on the road with a bunch of road folk is the conversations at breakfast in the morning. Quite a few people at the motel's continental breakfast. Many were wearing road tee shirts, so easy to pick out. Others were only too happy to join in on any conversation.

Two couples said they had driven parts of Route 66, but not the whole thing. Of course, I bragged that I'd been the WHOLE way, quite smugly. They both said that Illinois gets high marks for its signage and that in otter states they were often unsure if they were on 66. This is unlike the guy at the Munger-Moss get-together for their anniversary who felt that there should be no signage as that was just part of the fun of driving old roads.

Road Folks, the Good Folks. --RoadDog

Thursday, August 27, 2009

US-20 in Illinois-- Part 2

Like I said, US-20 is a great drive through the farms from Marengo, and then goes to four lane at Belvedere and continues four lane until west of Freeport. Imagine a town in the middle of Illinois with the name Freeport.

There is talk of making a four lane by-pass all the way to Dubuque to alleviate traffic and I'd be all in favor of it as long as they keep the old two lane as well. The traffic, especially the trucks, is the only drawback of the drive.

Just watch your speed, especially around Freeport, AS THIS STRETCH IS PARTICULARLY WELL-PATROLLED. I once got a speeding ticket the first time I took the old 1967 Firebird convertible out for a cruise. We almost always see at least one police car.

AS pretty as the first part of 20 is, once you get to Freeport, it just continues to get better and better. We have one stretch of what I call a rollercoaster road, where it goes up and down a series of hills.

Once through Stockton, you start climbing and then get some fantastic vistas and looks "down-in-the-valley."

Then, you get a tunnel drive through Tapley's Woods, and then comes...GALENA.

Who Says Illinois' All Flat? --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

US-20 in Illinois-- Part 1

Yesterday, we were on one of my favorite roads in Illinois, US-20, taking it from Marengo to Galena. As a matter of fact, we spent last night on US-20 here at the Ramada.

The cruise is scenic, and two lane until you get to Belvedere, where it is four. You bypass that town, Rockford, and Freeport. West of Freeport, the home of Little Wrigley Field, a new tourist spot for those of you like me who can't AFFORD the real WF in Chicago, it reverts to a two-laner.

There is a really good tourist place east of Freeport, well worth a stop to to find out about area attractions. Very friendly staff as well. This was our second stop there.


GOOD-BYE ROUND BARN

Of course, those by-passed towns all have great original stretches of the road, well worth a drive as well.

Sorry to see that one of the two round barns about a mile west of Freeport where US-20 reverts to two-lane, is mostly down. It, unfortunately, was allowed to deteriorate until this was the result. This is the one on the south side of the road. The north side one is still standing, however.

Also, sorry to see that the observation tower west of Elizabeth is still closed. Quite the magnificent view from it. However, the park is open and you can still see some impressive vistas from it.

Sorry to Lose that Round Barn. --RoadDog

Beach Music On the Road

Sitting here in Galena, Illinois, listening to the Beach Music on the Surf, 94.9 FM on the internet. It's great to have my Beach Music while on the road, since no stations I know of in Illinois and Iowa play the stuff. Ain't the internet sumptin'?

Reading Michael Till's US-20 in Iowa at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/USRoute20/message/1177. Never understand why the Yahoo groups are listed under financial groups. A good account of the original US-20's route across the state.

I think we'll have to wait to another time to take the original route as we have to get across Iowa to Sioux City on the Nebraska border by tonight, and there are seven NTN places we'd like to visit along the way.

We'll take today's US-20. It's raining here, so picture-taking is out of the question any way.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On the Road Again

Drove to Galena, Illinois, today. Thirty-six years ago, a very tired, newly-wed couple arrived here around 2 AM in the morning, after a wedding and reception in Dekalb, Illinois.

We are staying at the Ramada which was built on the site of the Palace Hotel, where we stayed that night. The Palace was a classic mom and pop place to which we returned many times over the years.


MORE AND MORE ROAD CONSTRUCTION

This summer can surely be called the season of orange road flowers as we encountered it most of the way after leaving home, despite several changes in our usual route.

We ended up taking Il-176 to Marengo, where we picked up US-20 and took it the rest of the way.


ONE BEAUTIFUL DRIVE

I have driven many roads during my days, but US-20, the US Grant Highway as it is called, is one of the most scenic. For anyone who thinks Illinois is flat, I invite them to take a ride, especially the stretch west of Stockton.

Like Willie Said. --RoadDog

Monday, August 24, 2009

Roads With a Civil War Connection

Today, we were on US-12 which is called the Iron Brigade Highway, named for the famous brigade from the Midwest. I believe it is called that from Michigan as well.

Tomorrow, we will be on US-20. which through Illinois, at least in Illinois, is called the US Grant Highway. I would imagine that is because he was living in Galena, Illinois, when the Civil War broke out, and that town is on US-20 near the Iowa border.

A Road By Any Other Name. --RoadDog

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee-- Part 7

Now pinch-hitting for San Diego, Tony Gwynn.

Wait a minute, Tony Gwynn is no longer playing baseball, and if so, wouldn't he be too old. The announcer said this in the seventh inning. Then, Tony Gwynn got up and promptly doubled.

Tony Gwynn is one of my all-time favorite players and a real class-act.

But, this just couldn't be the Tony Gwynn I know. After all, he was drafted in the third round of the 1981 MLB Draft and a member of the Hall of Fame. He spent his whole career playing for the Padres (1982-2001). He never hit below .309 in a complete season and had a lifetime batting average of .338 with 3,141 hits and 1,138 rbis and a fifteen-time all-star.

It couldn't be, could it?

It wasn't. The Tony Gwynn here was the SON of the Tony Gwynn I so admire. I found out later that Tony Gwynn, Sr. was commentating in the press box at the game. He MUST have been one proud papa/

Tony Gwynn, Jr., was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and just traded to the San Diego Padres. He graduated from San Diego State University as did his father who is currently the manager of that team.

Junior is currently batting .271, and it appears that he currently holds the center field position.

"Put Me in Coach, I'm Ready to Play _______."

Let's Hope It's a Case of Like Father Like Son. --RoadDog

50th Anniversary of the Kanc

The weekend of August 15th and 16th marked the 50th anniversary of one of the great drives in the nation, New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway (pronounced Kanc-uh-maw-gus). It is usually referred to as the "Kanc."

Construction of the 34 mile long road took 23 years and was quite an accomplishment considering obstacles that had to be overcome. It runs east-west through the White Mountains, following New Hampshire Highway 112. Every fall, it is packed with "leaf peepers" intent on seeing the colorful foliage. It has been classified a National Scenic Byway.

Before its construction, there was no direct route from Lincoln to Conway.

Looks Like a Definite Road to Check Out. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee-- Part 6

RETIRED BREWERS NUMBERS

They have five retired numbers and names posted in the outfield. Four of them I recognized, but not the fifth. In parentheses is the year the number was retired.

#4 PAUL MOLITOR (1999). Played 12 seasons as a Brewer. That great 1982 team. Also MLB Hall of Fame.

#19 ROBIN YOUNT (1994) MVP 1982 and 1989. First Brewer in MLB Hall of Fame, 1999. That great 1982 team.

#34 ROLLIE FINGERS () He of the handle-bar mustache. Cy Young and MVP 1981. Five seasons as Brewer. Would have won the World Series in 1982 had he not been injured.

#44 HANK AARON (1976) Hammerin' Hank. Played for the Milwaukee Braves 1954 to 1965. !975 and 1976 with the Brewers. 755 home runs

I though a lot, but couldn't remember any Brwer player wearing the #42 or the name Robinson. Turns out it was Jackie Robinson who broke baseball's color barrier. His number was retired on all teams in 1987 by MLB.

Also, Bob "Must be in The Front Row" Uecker's name is up there with the number 50 for the years he has been in baseball


BREWER WALK OF FAME

I didn't see it, but will look for it next time I'm at the park (if that cop learns how to direct traffic). I know most of these guys from that great 1982 team that should have won the World Series if Fingers hadn't been injured.

CLASS OF 2001: Aaron, Yount, Molitor, Fingers

CLASS OF 2002: CECIL COOPER batted .302 in 11 Brewer seasons (now Astros manager); BUD SELIG former owner and baseball commissioner.

CLASS OF 2003: HARRY DALTON-- Brewer GM 1978-1991, built the great '82 team; Bob "Must Be in the Front Row" Uecker. Who else? Great baseball tradition.

CLASS OF 2004: JIM GANTNER and GORMAN THOMAS, both from the great '82 team

CLASS OF 2005: HARVEY KUEHN, manager of the great '82 team; DON MONEY-- on the you-know-what.

Sure Loved That Great 1982 Team. Lousy Cardinals!! --RoadDog

A Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee-- Part 5

Some other interesting things in Miller Park. Continued.

*** I found the job I want to do in retirement. Every time the Brewers or other team change pitchers, someone drives a new truck along the outfield warning track from one side to the other. In the 6th inning, the Brewers had three different pitchers, so the poor guy really had a workout. Hey, I promise to stay within the lines and not drive onto the grass or hit the wall. I can do this job and believe I'm qualified.

*** There is an Air Tran bar at ground level in right field with the bar positioned so patrons can look out onto the field and up at TVs as well. Imagine, seeing it live and with a quick eye movement, seeing the replay on TV.

*** There are electronic signs in either outfield corner with numbers on them. We weren't quite sure what they were for until there was a strike out by a Brewer pitcher and a Brewer home run. The numbers changed. This would be for team totals for the year. When I wrote the numbers down, it stood at 417 strike outs and 115 home runs.

Take Me Out to the New Ballpark. --RoadDog

Said She Didn't Like the Blues, Changed Her Mind

This past Thursday, Liz and I went to Antioch's It's Thursday party (Illinois). We were having two of the most bodacious steak sandwiches ever (called The Trophy Ribeye and was that ever appropriate) on the deck of the Sequoit Lodge when a younger woman walked by and asked what was going on over by the band stand.

We told her the Blooze Brothers were getting ready to play. She kind of wrinkled her nose and said, "Blues!! I hate the blues. Why can't they have something good like country." We told her they played music from the Blues Brothers. She had never seen the movie (unbelievable) and didn't know anything about it.

She no doubt thought they would play the slow, crying in your beer blues, something she obviously didn't care for. (Hey, aren't some country songs cry in your beer as well, the song "There's a Tear in My Beer" comes to mind.) We told her she should go see the band for awhile and see if she liked it.

The concert started, and as we were getting ready to go over to it, we saw the afore mentioned lady coming back, all smiles. She was grooving to the beat and all smiles. She held out a DVD of the Blues Brothers movie that the Blooze Brothers had given her for dancing up on the stage. She was going to put it back in her car and return to the show.

I think she must have liked it.

We saw her later get up on the stage again when the group invited a group of young girls to dance on the stage. They didn't invite her, but she got up anyway.

Warning, Listening to, or Watching the Blues Brothers, or a Tribute Band of Theirs, Can Get You Addicted. Poor Gal Will never Be the Same. --RoadDog

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee-- Part 4

Some interesting things in the ball park.

*** During the 7th inning stretch, "Take me Out to the Ball Game" is played, followed immediately by "Beer Barrel Polka" even though we weren't having a barrel of fun at the time. Somehow, that second song would be appropriate for Milwaukee.

*** They also do a rousing "YMCA"

*** Near the end of the game, Brewer relief pitcher Todd Coffey was brought on to a loud cheer. Hey guys, we're down 13 to 4. What's the excitement? Then I saw someone running from the outfield at full speed. I mean, this guy was F-a-s-t!!! The crowd was going wild. Then i saw the scoreboard had his picture, stats, and "Fastest Time 13.39!! I found out later that he is noted for those runs.

*** Bob says it was a starling, but any way, there was a bird that spent the whole game out in left field. He wouldn't fly away even when a player came near. It would walk a little ways and stop. Wonder how much it paid to see the game. We shelled out 40 bucks.

*** A highlight of any Brewer game is the Clement meat guys race from third to first base along the warning track by the plate in the middle of the sixth inning. Everyone picks who they think will win. They even keep standings. So far this year:

Hot Dog-- 17
Chirico-- 10
Brat-- 10
Polish-- 7
Italian sausage-- 13

The Polish won tonight.

Who Used to Say, "Ahh, You Can't Beat Fun at the Old Ballpark."?-- RoadDog

A Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee- Part 3

We finally got to out seats near the end of the second inning (thanks to the construction and cop). The Brewers had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a home run that we listened to on the car radio. We missed the back-to-back Padre home runs at the top of the second, but did see the tying run score.

The bottom fell out in the 6th as San Diego scored six runs. Then, three more in the 7th. Final score was Padres 13 Brewers 6. It sure helped leaving the park as most of the 37,040 in attendance were gone by the time we left, when the last out was made.

There were a total of four home runs, two apiece.

Disappointing game. However, I really like this new park, even though I was also a fan of the previous one, County Stadium. I must admit that I am more of a Brewers American League than the National League version. I sure had a good time out there back when the True Blue Brew Crew went to the World Series in 1982.

Always True Blue. --RoadDog

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee-- Part 2

We finally got to the park and had a really long wait to get to the parking lot, which by then was about as far away as you could get.

We'd have been there considerably earlier, but a cop was directing a third lane to move up to the front of the area our two lanes were going to get to the parking area. This of course, caused the wait to increase dramatically. When three lanes goes down to two, this causes back up.

I guess someone should explain traffic patterns to the guy, but you'd really think he'd know. This is what causes road construction delays. If people get over into the lanes going through the bottleneck right away, things flow easily. It's those yokels who insist on moving up as far as they can and then merging that cause the traffic jam.

For all this joy, we got to pay $8 and get a lot of walking exercise getting to the ball park.

Where's My Seat? --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 6

AUGUST 5th
Broken Oar-- Fox River
Orlando's-- Fox River
Kief's Reef-- Fox River
Snug Harbor-- Fox River
After the Fox-- Fox River

AUGUST 12th
Old Bridge-- Fox River
Bimbo's-- Fox River

That's 27 bars. Not bad. But just ten years ago, there were probably another twenty in the areas we have covered so far.

Better Do Our Drinkin' Now, before They're All Gone. --RoadDog

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 5

Continuing with the list of bars. These were all visited by boat, School's Out...Forever!!

JULY 27th
American Legion-- Nippersink Lake
Castaways-- Pistakee Lake
Oak Park-- Pistakee Lake
Famous Freddie's-- Pistakee Lake

JULY 28th
Baja Benny's-- Fox Lake

JULY 29th
NAC (National Athletic Club)-- Fox Lake

AUGUST 3rd
Port 'O Blarney-- Grasslake
Blarney Island-- Grasslake
Gasoline Alley-- Grasslake
El Puerto-- Nippersink Lake

AUGUST 4th
Bridgeport Inn-- Fox River

More to Come. --RoadDog

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 4

We have not yet been to every bar on the chain, and think there are about five or six we haven't been to. But here's a list of some of them, where they're located, and the day we visited.

JULY 20--
Electric Harbor-- Fox Lake
Captain's Quarters-- Fox Lake

JULY 21
Blueberry Hill-- Nippersink Lake
Aquarium-- Nippersink Lake

JULY 22
Mineola-- Fox Lake

JULY 23
Sand Bar-- Lake Marie
Thirsty Turtle-- Channel Lake
Choppers-- Channel Lake

JULY 25
Hidden Point-- Fox Lake

And, There's More. --RoadDog

A Trip to Miller Park, Milwaukee-- Part 1

Last Tuesday, a group of former teacher buddies and I went to Miller Park in Milwaukee for the Brewer-Padres game.

I haven't been there since its initial season when I had to go to see that retractable roof in action. That's quite a marvel, and they closed it at the end of every game that season. Stuck around for it, was awed, and then got caught in one really-big traffic jam while leaving. I wasn't the only one sticking around for that.

Huge traffic jam on I-94 which has a major road construction program going on this summer. I was told they were expanding from three lanes in both directions to six. At one place north of Racine, they have removed an overpass and it went from three, to two, to one lane. It took us 45 minutes to go 4 miles. Between that and the parking mess at Miller Park, we didn't get to our seats until near the end of the second inning.

At least the dadburn lane jumpers weren't able to creep up and jump in as all lanes were stopped.

More Fun and Games getting There Coming Up. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 3

Good Old Wikipedia says this about the Chain of Lakes in what they call a stub until they get a better article.

It is the second largest water orientated recreational asset in northeastern Illinois (the first being Lake Michigan). It ranks second in popularity in the United States (behind the Intercoastal Waterway).

There are 15 lakes, 40 miles of the Fox River, and 450 miles of shoreline.

The lakes were formed by melting glaciers thousands of years ago. There are nine major lakes: Fox, Marie, Catherine, Channel, Nippersink, Pistakee, Grass, Bluff, and Petite. The lakes are connected by channels.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources operates the large Chain O'Lakes State Park by it.

A Little Background Information. --RoadDog

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 2

This summer, Liz and I are attempting to visit every single water accessible place on the Chain of Lakes here in northeastern Illinois that serves alcoholic beverages and/or food.

This covers a large area, almost going into Wisconsin and as far as Algonquin along the Fox River. Toward the northern part are a series of lakes that are interconnected, giving the area its name, Chain of Lakes.

So far, since we put the boat in the water July 16th, we have been to 27 different places (and many a second or third time).

Very sadly, however, every year there are fewer and fewer places. The owner of the Oak Park Hotel and Bar said that when he bought the place back in the 70s, there were 17 bars on Pistakee Lake. Today, there are only four.

Out on the Chain and Feelin' No Pain. --RoadDog

Monday, August 17, 2009

Doing the Chain Thing-- Part 1

We've been boating on the Chain of Lakes in northeastern Illinois for 25 years now, since our first boat in 1985. I had been deejaying at various places along the Chain (primarily Neptune's Cove and the Puppet Bar) since 1983 and saw the boaters having so much fun, I decided we should get involved with it.

We'd lived in Round Lake Beach, which is close by, since 1975, but had never been bitten by the old "boating" bug. Our first boat was a metallic gold Imperial semi tri-hull. The second one was a 1990 Four Winns 19 footer. We currently have a 2003 Bayliner. All were and are open bow, the perfect Chain boat.

This summer, we're going to attempt to visit all the remaining bars and restaurants that are accessible by water. Unfortunately, that number drops with every passing year. I'm fairly sure that there will be none left in the not-too-distant future.

It Will Be a Slice in History. --RoadDog

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Down Da Road: Lotsa Oldies-- Mrs. Mantle-- LH Gazebo

Old New News About Old Roads.


1. LOTSA OLDIES--This past weekend, they had what probably is the largest old car show around, the Woodward Dream Cruise, in suburban Detroit. It was along Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan. The first bone was held 15 years ago and it has grown every year since. Might just have to go there one of these times. Hey, an US-12 goes to Detroit as well.


2. MRS. MANTLE-- On August 10, MLB.com reported that the widow of baseball great Mickey Mantle, Merlyn, died of Alzheimer's. They met while he was a star at Commerce High School (he was nicknamed the Commerce Comet) in that city in Oklahoma and RIGHT ON ROUTE 66. She was a cheerleader at arch rival Picher High School. Their first date was in 1949 at the historic Route 66 Coleman Theater in Miami, Oklahoma.

They were married Dec. 23, 1951 and had four children. They were married for 43 years until his death August 13, 1995.

If he just didn't have to had played for that New York team with the lousy name.


3. LH GAZEBO-- The Aug. 14th Plainfield (Il) Sun reports that the village will be getting an interactive gazebo to mark its stretch of the historic Lincoln Highway which was completed there in 1921.

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition is ten years old and 34 towns along or near the route belong to it.

It is hoped that it will be open by this fall to take advantage of the increasing popular form of travel called heritage tourism. The village kicked in 20% ofthe cost, $3,080. There is also talk of a mural honoring the village's Lincoln Highway heritage.

Now, You Know. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Number 1,000

The blogger dashboard records the last entry as being my 1000th entry. Spending way too much time on this blog thing. Really need to get a life at some point.

But, I enjoy doing road stuff, both from my travels and what others write.

One blog is too much, but dumb old me developed three others. This was the first one, however and started with the help of my niece Andrea in White House, Tennessee.

When I got back home, I was having a hard time getting it to come up, and while experimenting, started my second blog, Down Da Road I Go. Since then, it has become the one where I talk about my life and music. That one passed the 1000 entry mark last month.

I found that I was getting more and more Civil War and history entries on it, so spun two more blogs off of the Road Blog. These are now around 700-800 entries each.

I don't know how much longer I'll keep these going, but right now I enjoy researching and writing about these things.

http:downdaroadigo.blogspot.com
http://cootershistorything.blogspot.com
http://sawtheelephant.blogspot.com

Forever Writing Away. --RoadDog

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dixie Highway in Illinois-- Part 2

She says the author, James R. Wright, grew up on the Dixie Highway and drives it almost every day, but it is the loss of places along the route that got him to write this book and collect the pictures. Today, there is no official Dixie Highway, but a lot of it runs along Illinois Highway 1.

It was planned by Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Speedway, Lincoln Highway, and Miami Beach, as a way to connect the Midwest with Florida. In 1914, automobiles were beginning to reach the masses in much larger numbers, and, they needed a place to drive.

Construction began in 1915 and wasn't finished in Illinois until 1927. It started in Chicago at the Art Institute and ran along the eastern border until Danville where it headed southeast to Indianapolis.

I especially liked the German POW picture as most people today do not know of the prison camps scattered throughout the United States.

Looks Like Another Book I'll Have to Add to My Collection. It's Arcadia Publishing, So You Know It's Good. --RoadDog

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Dixie Highway in Illinois-- Part 1

The June 28th Arts & Literature section of the Chicago Tribune had a Lit Life column by Julia Keller about the new Arcadia book "The Dixie Highway in Illinois" by James R. Wright.

Three pictures accompanied the article. One of the 29-story Stevens Hotel in Chicago, boasting 3,000 rooms, which was the world's largest when built. Then there is a picture og German prisoners being marched to a Hoopestown factory to work. They lived in a camp near the Dixie Highway. These prisoners helped relieve the manpower shortage and picked vegetables and worked in canning factories.

Then, Ms. Keller made a picture taken in 1915 in Henry Scheer's News Agency in Steger, Illinois, come alive. I'll just quote from her, ""Buddy Marciariello looks like he just spun himself around on the stool...to face the camera, propping his elbows on the counter, crossing one slim leg over his knee. He's wearing a white tee shirt and light trousers. His head is tilted sideways."

"If you could step into this moment, Buddy would probably give you the once-over and say, 'How're you doin'.'"

A clerk by the name of Mildred Kuetemeyer is at the end of the counter. Perhaps they are boy and girl friend? Ms. Keller gets you to thinking.

Guess I'll have to look more closely at pictures.

"A love letter to an Illinois highway" by Julia Keller, Lit Life.

This Lady Sure Has a Way With Words.. --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kenosha, Wisconsin

Yesterday, I took a trip north to Kenosha to meet some friends and take a trip out to Miller Park in Milwaukee for he Brewers-Padres game.

I can definitely state that there is a LOT of road construction going on on some of the streets. I kept hitting closed roads.

Drove Wisconsin Highway 50 past the world-famous Brat Stop out by I-94 and then most of the way downtown until I was stopped by some ROAD CONSTRUCTION. Kenosha has a beautiful lakefront with a big park, museums, an island, and a lighthouse among many points of interest.

I saw several classic old signs, including one for Oliver's Bakery and a drugstore. Also drove by a drive in called Andy's. This is a town that definitely warrants a more complete visit.

Great Spot to Visit. --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

US-12 and Detrot's Cadillac Square

One town I have never visited is Detroit, Michigan. I believe that I once passed through it on a family vacation back when I was in school, but we drove and did not stop.

I know that Detroit has all kinds of detractors because of inner city decay, but one place I would really like to see is Cadillac Square, which I understand to be Us-12's eastern terminus.

Back on July 28th, Shorpy, an old photo site, ran a picture of Cadillac Square, circa 1916, showing the beautiful Hotel Pontchartrain and the square as viewed from City hall. www.shorpy.com

These pictures are really neat because you can see it full-size and then scroll around and really get some detail.

Also, there were pictures of the hotel and square in 1907 and 1910 enabling you to see changes that had occurred in the intervening years.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Monday, August 10, 2009

US Highway 12

I am a big fan of US-12. Growing up in Palatine, I hit that road many of a time going to restaurants, Honey Hill, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Plus there were all the trips back to visit Liz's parents who stilled lived in Palatine after we moved to Round Lake Beach.

After Liz's father died, her mom, Frances, lived in an apartment complex on US-12 in Arlington Heights for many years.

Now, we live in Spring Grove, Illinois, just a half mile from US-12. I never expected to live this far north along the highway and remember back in high school and college, driving through Spring Grove and thinking, "Man, is this place far away."

Now, we take US-12 (or Rand Road as it is known in the northwest suburbs) into Richmond, Illinois, and into Lake Geneva. We sometimes pick up Walworth County Highway H in Genoa City. This is the original 1926 route before today's expressway US-12 was built to Elkhorn.

This is a very scenic, country drive through the rolling hills of Wisconsin. Plus, entering Lake Geneva on Wells Street, there are many old mom and pop motels, including one with cottages.

That US-12, One Great Road. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Historic Homes in Lexington, Kentucky

Besides the University of Kentucky and all those wonderful horse farms around this Bluegrass town, there are also some historical houses located there.

The HUNT-MORGAN home is that of Confederate general John Hunt Morgan, whose raids in the state and north of the Ohio River are very well known.

MARY TODD LINCOLN home, where Abraham Lincoln's wife grew up before coming to Springfield to live with her sister. Of interest, her family owned slaves.

ASHLAND-- the home of 19th century statesman Henry Clay.

PLUS, there is that great ride along US-421 from Richmond, through Lexington, capital Frankfort, and on to historic Madison, Indiana, on the Ohio River. This is one of the best drives I've ever made.

It's a Blue Thing. --RoadDog

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sugar Bowl Sign to Be Saved-- Part 5

Chicago Tribune July 22nd.

The Sugar Bowl sign protrudes from the building (whereas today signs are flat on them) and features the word "restaurant" in white on a red background. Also the word "Air Conditioned" is below that. On top of it is the two-handled sugar bowl. This is really a striking piece of work.

The newest owners, Steve Morakalis and George Prassas, took over in December and renovated the restaurant, opening about three months ago. They agreed to keep the sign after talking with the city of Des Plaines. The words sweet cream will be removed and "pancakes and more" added.

Owner Steve Morakalis didn't know much of the restaurant's past, but learned. "The Sugar Bowl has a history behind it. We have customers here that...worked in here. Their kids worked here."

Glad to See This Sign Is Being Saved. --RoadDog

What's This Thing Called Lambeau Field-- Part 2

People were all over the place, many standing in a particularly long line that I later found out was where some company was giving out Packer flags.

The meeting started right at 10 AM as they had announced. I'd say the stadium was maybe a quarter full. Green Bay had allowed fans to buy as little as one share, which is what Kip had done. Kip is what you'd have to call a rabid fan. He probably has enough Packer stuff to open his own store, but he could never part with anything. He even has a Packer Christmas tree!!!

Unfortunately, it had been raining and continued to drizzle off and on for the whole meeting. The bigwigs had a covered stage, but us fans had to sit in the rain. Fortunately, Kip had pieces of plastic which we were able to put down on the seats to avoid unsightly water marks.


WHAT THEY SAID

Some interesting stuff between the 2008 and 2009 years (end March 31st)

First number 2009, second 2008

Television Revenue: $94,484,631-- $87,584,700
Home Game Revenue: 31,097,266-- 30,889,618
Private Box Income: $12,827,613-- $12,059,952
Concessions and Parking (net): 5,241,984-- $5,495,548
Player Costs: $138,697,272-- $124,651,348

Profits from Operations: $20,109,631-- $21,420,197
Other Income (expense): ($11,187,691)-- $14,369,619-- I don't remember what the 2008 expense was.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's This Thing Called Lambeau Field?-- Part 1

July 30th, I missed a day of boating (well, it was actually a rainy, threatening day so I really didn't miss it) and got up at the ungodly hour of 4 AM. (I had to figure out how to set the alarm clock, something I'd forgotten in the three years I've been retired. Just one of those little obstacles you have to overcome when you're retired, but I can learn to live with it.)

Went with Kip and Susie and picked up Paul in Kenosha, and drove to Green Bay, arriving at Lambeau Field, Home of the Green Bay Packers, in the rain about 9 AM for their annual Shareholders and Guests Meeting, done at this date to coincide with the beginning of preseason camp at nearby St. Norbert College in case anyone wants to get in on that action as well.

Kip had to get tickets before we were allowed to go in. The Packers have done a great job in building what they call the Atrium onto the outside of Lambeau. Inside there are bars (especially Curly's Pub, named after Curly Lambeau) and several souvenir places. One other time I was there, they were setting up for a private party. This way, they are able to get year-long use out of the field.

Someone really had a good idea for this one.

Next, the Meeting. --RoadDog

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sugar Bowl Sign to Be Saved-- Part 4

Last month, I wrote about the wonderful old Sugar Bowl restaurant sign being saved in Des Plaines, Illinois. It is a classic.

The Georgia Garvey article "Sweet memories help save a 1957 vintage sign" in the July 22nd Chicago tribune continued saying that James Peters, executive director of Landmarks Illinois worked unsuccessfully to save the half dozen Magikist signs that were once on almost every Chicago expressway. The last of these signs, which advertised for a now-defunct cleaning company, came down about ten years ago. I remember seeing one along the Kennedy many times while I was growing up. Plus, there was one that said "Bud...Bud...Budweiser" that I liked.

AND I MET THIS GUY

Tod Swormstedt of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio said, "There's this kind of heartfelt, warm, emotional attachment. These signs bring back memories and, as a rule, they're good memories.

If you ever want to know ANYTHING about the history of signs, this is the guy you really need to talk to. It costs $10 to visit his museum, and worth every cent of it.

This Sugar Bowl sign is quite the retro look.

Nice picture of the Sugar Bowl sign on Flickr. Picture of the Magikist logo on Wikipedia.

More To Come. --RoadDog

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Colonial Parkway-- Part 2

The Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile-long roadway connecting all five sites, and as such could easily be called America's Most Historic Road, even though some National Road, Lincoln Highway, and Route 66 folk might disagree. But this is a LOT 'O History on one small area.

Our first English settlement, a town where the foundations of the US were laid, and a battlefield where this new liberty was won, all within a short distance of each other.

The brochure says , "Enjoy spectacular views of the James and York rivers along this 'All American Road.' Watch for glimpses of the region's diverse wildlife, while taking in all of the Historic Triangle's rich natural and cultural history."


WIKIPEDIA

Looked it up in the good old Wikipedia, which said the road took over 25 years from concept to creation, from 1930 to 1957. The "scenic bucolic roadway carefully shielded from views of commercial development," and a major effort has been made to keep traffic signs and modern roadside items at a minimum. It is toll-free, which is a good thing since a group of tickets to get you into all five sites will set an adult back $80.25 (child $33.25).

It has been designated a National Scenic Byway, one of only 27 in the United States.

Definitely Worth a Drive. --RoadDog

The Colonial Parkway, Virginia-- Part 1

I received a brochure in the mail from America's Historic Triangle featuring Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. They have tickets and vacation packages that you can buy to visit the five major sites they have, all connected by what they call the Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile long road.

I think I might have visited Jamestown and Williamsburg with my family many years ago, but am not sure. Either way, I definitely plan to go to them at some time in the near future.


FIVE ATTRACTIONS

HISTORIC JAMESTOWNE-- the first permanent English settlement, now over 400 years old. The James Fort excavation is going on and you can watch real archaeology in action.

JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT-- a living-history museum.

COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG-- oldest and largest interactive history experience.

THE YORKTOWN VICTORY CENTER-- a museum of the American Revolution.

YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELD-- last major engagement of the war. Visit the Moore House where surrender negotiations were drawn up. Also tour the site of the British surrender.

www.AmericasHistoricTriangle.com

Now, Here's a Road with a REAL LOT of History. --RoadDog

Has It Come to This?-- Part 2

July 27th, I wrote about the comic strip Cathy where she received a trip notice from a friend that was JUST TOO MUCH.

Yesterday's Tribune ran one of her strips from August 2002 as Cathy is on vacation until this Monday.

This is along the same lines as the one from Sunday.

It starts with three of her office workers standing around talking.

The woman says: "...so there we were...the middle of nowhere...day four of a ten-day trip...with a full memory card and a frozen laptop!"

The two men look aghast, "Oh, No!"

"My husband got on cell to find a place that that could transfer files to CD...but we were nowhere! You couldn't even buy more digital memory!"

The two men, still aghast, "What did you do?! What did you do?!"

"It took 36 hours, but we finally got a PDA wireless web navigation connect to a mini-mart two counties over that could download and e-mail our vacation pictures home!"

The two men, "Wow! Bravo! What an adventure!"

Last frame, another woman comes in and says, "We saw Paris." All three run out of the room saying, "Yawn."

What in the world was the first lady talking about?

Has It Come To This? --RoadDog