Saturday, January 30, 2010

Serously Cold Last Night, Snow This Morning

Waiting for the Global Warming to Kick In.

I'm getting ready to head back to Woodstock for the continuation of the Groundhog celebration.

Last night, I saw the "Awakening of the Groundhog" on the front portico of the Opera House, the Pennsylvanian House in the movie. It used to be the "Lighting of the Groundhog" but PETA found it offensive, or so I'm told.

Enjoyed the Italian buffet and oldies band at the Woodstock Moose Lodge, where the Groundhog Dance/Auction took place in the movie.

More Details Later. --RoadDog

Friday, January 29, 2010

Heading Out for Groundhog Days Festival in Woodstock, Illinois

As soon as I finish this post, I'm heading out for Woodstock, Illinois, to get my fill of the "Groundhog Day" movie that came out in 1992 starring Bill Murray.

This is one of my top three all-time favorite movies, and, it was filmed mostly in Woodstock, which stood in for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, much to their disgust. I definitely agree with them. If it took place in Punxsutawney, it should have been filmed there. But, since Woodstock is about 18 miles from my house, I'm happy it was filmed there.

Every year since the film, the town has had a several day festival to honor the event and the day. They even have their own little varmint they call Woodstock Willie (Sorry Phil).

Today, they have the "Awakening of the Groundhog" ceremony, followed by a dinner dance at the Moose Lodge where the movie's dance and bachelor auction occurred.

I'll be stopping along the way at Vinyl Frontier to buy some used CDs.

Do road dogs eat groundhogs?

Getting My Hog On. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our First, Stormy Trip on Route 66-- Part 1

The story about the two guys in 1946 reminds me of our first experience on Route 66.

I'm sure we'd been on Route 66 before. Back in 1967, my family drove out to California and came back on what probably was Route 66. After graduating from high school, that summer, Liz and I and a couple friends drove from Palatine to Springfield on what probably had to be Route 66 or, at least part of it as I-55 was coming into existence at the time.

But back then, it was just another road.

We were both teachers, and, in 2002, I had gotten ahold of a book on Route 66 at school and decided I'd like to try it. We normally went to Florida over Spring Break, but this year, I had been too slow to get air fares and by the time I checked, they were way too expensive.

Hey, why not take a trip on Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis and maybe points farther west?

Well, that's what we thought.

Next, Fun and Sliding on I-55. --RoadDog

Driving Route 66 in 1946-- Part 3

Then, unfortunately, the fine (for December) weather turned. I guess Californians don't know much about Midwest winters.

Freezing conditions set in, and, worse, they found the heater didn't work. "Even our pea coats (both were sea men) didn't suffice, so we bundled up with blankets and took turns driving and sleeping. We passed all the roadside sites, only stopping at cafes for a quick meal at at gas stations to fill the tank.

"For lanes turned to two, the temperature kept dropping and we noticed glass-like frost encapsulated the bushes along the road. Our singing began to fade."

The storm they had found pretty much followed them the entire week.

"We were running out of time and money and regretfully passed by inviting little cabins with neon vacancy signs. We pushed on: Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Arizona, and even in Arizona, it didn't warm up. We pushed on: Winona, Kingman, Barstow.

"Racing to get home by Christmas, we finally drove the rust bucket (so that's why they call it a rust bucket) down the Cajon Pass and suddenly the stormy sky opened up to a clear blue and we were happy to be back in California."

Ah, home sweet home, that sunny California.

They still keep in touch, even though one lives on the east coast and the other in California. There was no mention of whether they ever drove Route 66 again.

Quite a Trip. Quite an Experience. --RoadDog

Driving Route 66 in 1946-- Part 2

I checked with Wikipedia to make sure that they had heard the famous song and it was written in 1946 by Bobby Troup and performed the same year by Nat King Cole, so it checks out.

So, now, we have two young men ready to take the trip of a life time, as if serving during World War II wasn't already at the top.

What sort of good times and adventures lay in front of them? Read on to find out.

They thought, "Why not buy a car and drive home on Route 66?" Calls home had their savings wired to them and they went out to buy a car. And not just any car would do. This had to be a ragtop. They bought a 1936 Ford convertible. Later, they found out it could be classified a rust bucket. Being from California, they had no idea what a rust bucket was.

The trip started off fine. Relatives in New Jersey and Detroit were visited and then it was on to Chicago to pick up Route 66. Now, finally heading west, they were prepared to get their kicks, "it was early morning and we were singing "Take the highway, it's the best on Route 66.'"

Then, things began to turn.

Stay Tuned. --RoadDog

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Driving Route 66 in 1946-- Part 1

From December 31, 2009, Pasadena (Ca) Star News "Pair made Route 66 trek after WWII" by Claudia Heller. This is part 8 of a series of columns by her on Route 66. I've seen several and they are worthwhile checking out for all interested in the Mother Road.

What she described was one of those defining road trips of youth, one that the two young men would always remember.

Manny Avila and Dick Sproul were the best of friends growing up in a neighborhood in Los Angeles, but then World War II came and before the end of it, ten of their twelve closest friends had enlisted. Manny joined the Navy and Dick the Merchant Marine.

After the end of the war and their duty, they still had some time to kill before entering college and decided to visit New York City, working their way along the east coast of the US on an Army Transport Service freighter. They arrived at their destination in December 1946.

Here were a couple of 19-year-olds in the big city and having the time of their young lives. They even got front row seats to see Nat King Cole performing Christmas songs at the Paramount Theater. At one point, he sang a new song. Get Your Kicks on Route 66."

This inspired them to actually make the drive back home on said route.

Hitting the Road Up next. --RoadDog

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Talking About Numbered US Highways Around Kansas City

November 28, 2008 Kansas City Tribune "US-24: Historic Highway in Kansas City Region" by William Worley.

Kansas City is not all railroads and interstates. There are also quite a few numbered US highways coming through the area: 24, 40, 50, 69 and 71.

US-71 is the old Jefferson Highway running from Minneapolis to New Orleans.

The National Old Trails Road (NOTR) entered KC east of US-24 and exited on US-50N, now US-561.

Harry Truman was once president of the NOTR and presided over the dedication of 12 Madonna of the Trail statues along the NOTR, each featuring a pioneer woman with babe in arm and a small boy clinging to her skirt and honored the courage and determination of these women. This was a joint effort by the NOTR and Daughters of the Revolution.

Hitting the Highway. --RoadDog

Illinois' Top Ten Road Trips-- Part 4

Continued from Jan. 19th.

From the 2007 Illinois Travel Guide before I pitch it out. These travel guides are something anyone touring the state should have.


This road was the brainchild of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who believed this road would cause lots of movement out west to the newly acquired territories and states of the Old Northwest. This is the nation's oldest Federally funded highway dating to 1806.

In Illinois, it runs from the towns of Marshall in the east to East St. Louis on the west.

Stops along the way:

** HISTORIC GREENUP DEPOT-- established in 1870

** VANDALIA STATEHOUSE-- Illinois' second capital. Lincoln served here. Also the MADONNA OF THE TRAIL honoring pioneer women who traveled along the National Road.

** CAHOKIA MOUNDS-- in Collinsville. The remains of an ancient Indian city

** WORLD'S LARGEST CATSUP BOTTLE-- popular 170-foot tall water tower built in 1949 by the Brooks Catsup Company in Collinsville.

My wife and I have toured this whole stretch of road. In June, the towns along it have a special weekend where most have activities and fairs along this route.

Lincoln Highway Up next. --RoadDog

Monday, January 25, 2010

The National Road/US-40 in Ohio

From the Dec. 28, 2008, Columbus (Oh) Dispatch. Joe Blundo's So to Speak Column.

Joe Blundo wrote about a true road fanatic by the name of Frank Brusca, 52, of Westerville, an authority on the US-40/National Road.

Currently, an instructional technologist at Otterbein College in Westerville, he has been fascinated with the route since childhood. he especially likes a 1953 book by George R. Stewart "U.S. 40: Cross Section of the USA."

Some of Brusca's favorite Ohio National Road sites:

*** Red Brick tavern, 1837, in Lafayette, about 25 miles west of Columbus. Especially fascinating since it is still operating.

*** Pink granite boulder with plaque marking the first recorded traffic fatality in Ohio in Norwich where a stage coach rolled over a man in 1835.

*** An abandoned brick section of the National Road east of Cambridge which was like a Deadman's Curve. They have actually found the remains of cars that had driven off the road.

Right now, Frank Brusca has a major project where he is rephotographing every picture Stewart took in his book from the exact location for a before-after look. He is also tracking down every person in the photos as well and hoping to have the book out by 2013.

Sounds Like an Interesting Book. Looking Forward to Its Publication. --RoadDog

Sleeping in a TeePee

An interesting article in the Jan. 23rd San Bernardino Press Enterprise about the Wigwam Motel located in that town.

It describes them as 19 cone-shaped, wooden-frame covered with concrete and stucco, 30-foot high structures located along West Foothills Boulevard that were built in 1949. They were the last of seven such motels built in the retro-style by Frank Redford, an Indian-enthusiast.

Redford constructed a teepee-shaped building at Horse Cave, Kentucky, in 1934, to show off his native American artifacts. He later added the cabins, also in teepee shape. The next one was at Cave City, Kentucky, near Mammoth Cave National Park.

Of the three built, only three remain: the one in San Bernardino, one in Holbrook, Arizona and the one at Cave City.

I was fortunate to get to stay at the one in Cave City and also saw the original location at Horse Cave. On our trip to Santa Monica, we visited the other two and were hoping to stay in one, but were too early to stop for the night. Next time through, however, we'll sleep in one.

Sleeping in a TeePee. Quite an Experience. --RoadDog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lincoln Logs: Bridge-- Main Street

Some new news about an old road.

1. BRIDGE-- A bridge in Wyoming that was on the original Lincoln Highway alignment is possibly going to be replaced. It is one of the oldest bridges along the Wyoming stretch of the road, having been built in 1921 and is near Fort Bridger on County Road 221.

Wyoming DOT says it is in extremely poor condition. Let's hope they replace it with something resembling the original and perhaps incorporate some parts of the original.

From Jan. 22nd Unita County Herald.

2. MAIN STREET-- Plans are being made to turn Lancaster, Pennsylvania's stretch of the Lincoln Highway into "Lancaster County's Main Street." They are looking to increase the number of tourist related business, landscape and decrease billboards.

From Jan. 22nd Lancasteronline.

Good to Hear the Second story. --RoadDog

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2009 Trip to North Carolina-- Part 9-- Coming Home

I hit the oval barn jackpot on I-74 between MMs 203 and 204. There were three of them. One of these days I'll have to find out more about them. They are unique and at least five are along Il-47, the road I take from home to Champaign.

While station jumping (pushing the old search button) I came across the really great station called the WHIP at 98.3 FM. They play music like you can't get too much of anywhere else, what they call Americana: blues, bluegrass, alternative country rock and gospel. That is quite a variety. You can get it from around Champaign, Illinois. They are located in Farmersville and I am happy to report that they stream live over the net. I now have it on my favorites.

By the time I got to Gibson City, home of the City of Gibson Water Works, I wasn't really hungry, but the McDonald's had McRibs. I wasn't going to pass up a chance for one, so I ate again. This had to be the all-time slowest McDonald's I've ever been to. I've been there before, and they were alright in the speed department. It took about ten minutes to get served, part of it due to the people in front of me. Had it not been for a McRib, i would have been out of there.

Then, I had fun with a freight train blocking Il-47 north of town. It was moving slow, then stopped, and then BACKED UP. I must have been there twenty minutes. I thought they had a time limit for blocking traffic.

I was beginning to think I was never going to get out of Gibson City!!

The rest of the trip was fine. All those new wind turbines by Odell, Illinois, were especially pretty at night with those blinking red lights out in the fields.

Sure Glad to Get Home. --RoadDog

2009 Trip to North Carolina-- Part 8-- Coming Home

When I'm on the road, I always try to stop at new places to play NTN. I ended up at four places on this trip, all returning home. I don't get to play a lot while in Goldsboro as no one else in the family plays there. Plus, at this time, no place has it.

I visited two places in West Virginia the night before. I hit two today in Brownsburg, Indiana, west of Indianapolis, off I-74.

I found the first one with GPS and the NTN sitefinder. Quarter Mile Pub is just off I-74. I asked the bartender how the place got its name and she wasn't sure. I thought perhaps because it was a quarter mile off the interstate. She said that the logo had a race car on it (and, of course, it is not too far from Speedway. Indy 500, you know.)

Looks like good food, but I had already eaten.

Apparently, they just had gotten NTN as the top Players Plus score was 125,000.

I had a much bigger problem finding Tripp's which was north of I-74, not south as it was shown on the sitefinder. Plus, it came up incorrectly on the GPS. After driving around a lot, I finally had to stop at a service station to find out where it was.

It was just a short distance off the interstate, but a bit hard to find parking outside. The first place was more of a sports bar. Tripp's is more of a locals hangout. Even the guy who dominated the board was named NOORMM.

They have drink specials and 25 cent specials on hot dogs, shrimp, tacos during the week. It is close to the Applebees.

Both places are very close to each other and located in small strip malls.

Cruisin' Down da Roads and Playing NTN. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Road Name Battle Brewing in Utah-- Part 2

Two signs proclaiming US-6 to be the Grand Army of the Republic are still standing at the Colorado and Nevada entrances to Utah. Evidently, there are no others.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was organized by Union veterans after the war and was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). In the 1930s, the SUVCW asked every state along US-6 to name their part of the road the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. By 1953, California became the last to do so.

Utah named its portion that name in March 1949 and allocated $150 for road signage.

Eric Richhart's request for road signs was turned down by UDOT because they were unable to find anything in the records about the name. In 1963, there had been a recodification of the roads in Utah and GAR Highway had been dropped.

Mike Dmitrich served in the legislature for 40 years and traveled this route back and forth from his home constituency.

Richhart is willing to accept the road bearing both names as long as GAR gets top billing.

Neither sign is going up right now as no money has been appropriated.

As a member of the SCV, I am hoping they do reinstate the GAR Highway. It was an honorable and great organization.

Can't We All Just Get Along? --RoadDog

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Road Name Battle Brewing in Utah-- Part 1

From December 21, 2009, Salt Lake City Tribune.

It's the state versus the SUVCW, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (the counterpart of my SCV, Sons of Confederate Veterans). The road in question is US Highway 6 which since the 1950s has been called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Highway, named after the fraternal organization set up by members of the Union Army after the Civil War.

It would seem that recently, Utah's lawmakers decided to name part (or all of it, the article wasn't too clear on how much) after retired colleague Mike Dmitri. They claimed they did not know the road already had a name.

However, this did not escape the attention of the state's SUVCW and they called them on it. Officer Eric Richhart, whose great-great grandfather served in the Union Army, said the Grand Army of the Republic Highways stretches from coast to coast, including the section through Utah. He has had a request for new GAR signs was recently turned down by the Utah Department of Transportation.

The group's national president has sent a letter to Governor Gary Hebert objecting it.

Sounds Like the Makings of a Civil War Right There in Utah. More to Come --RoadDog

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2009 Road Trip to North Carolina-- Part 7-- Coming Home

Information I Didn't Need

Eating breakfast the next morning at the Super 8, I overheard some hunters talking and learned that if you hit a deer four inches below the shoulder you'll drop him dead right on the spot and won't have to follow it.

One guy once shot a deer (obviously not four inches below the shoulder) and it ran off into a neighbor's property who refused to let him get it. A cop was called who came and let the hunter have the carcass.

Took I-70 west through Indianapolis, then I-74 northwest to Champaign,Illinois.

East of Indianapolis, I saw a sign for Nameless Creek. West of town was Dandy Creek by a big dam. Interesting names.

NTNin' Down the Road

Today's big NTN stop was in Brownsburg, Indiana, where I had seen two sites listed which I had never been to. Used the old GPS and found the first one easily. QUARTER MILE PUB is south of I-74. The second place, TRIPP'S, involved a lot of driving as GPS didn't have it and the NTN sitefinder had it in the wrong place.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

Illinois' Top Ten Road Trips-- Part 3

Illinois' travel logo is a great road one, "Mile After Magnificent Mile," Can't get more road than that. Mine is "Cruising on Down That Two-Lane Road." And, we have cruised all of these top tens on a few and a lot on the others.


Runs parallel to the Ohio River at the southern edge of the state. Skirts along Shawnee National Forest, a destination in itself.

*** GARDEN OF THE GODS-- (Is this REALLY Illinois?

*** CAVE-IN-THE-ROCK-- famous 55-foot-wide cave used in movies and by river pirates.

*** ELIZABETHTOWN-- The old Rose Hotel (1812 and you can stay there) and a river view.

*** METROPOLIS-- real town and home of Superman. Also, Fort Massaic.

*** CAIRO-- sad, but very historical. Meeting of Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

We have driven the whole length of this.

4. ROUTE 66

Keeping the spirit of the Mother Road alive across central Illinois, or, as they like to say around here, "Where it All Begins." From Chicago to St. Louis by way of Springfield.

Being a Big Time 66er, I will list all the places they list to see.

*** JOLIET-- Route 66 Raceway/Chicagoland Speedway, Route 66 Welcome Center. A town that loves its Route 66 heritage.

*** WILMINGTON-- 28-foot tall Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Drive-In.

*** SHIRLEY-- Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup. The guide calls it Shirley (Don't call me Shirley), but we know better.

*** McLEAN-- Dixie Trucker's Home-- The Route 66 Association's Museum and Hall of Fame is no longer there, however. Someone's not doing their homework.

*** SPRINGFIELD-- Cozy Dog Drive In and Bill Shea's Gas Station. Hey, what about the Lincoln stuff?

*** STAUNTON-- Henry's Rabbit Ranch

*** MADISON-- Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

Of course, we know there are lots and lots and lots more to see and do along this great stretch of road.

We've been the whole stretch except a ten or so mile one between Chicago and Berwyn. Just too afraid to drive it.

And, We've Still Got Six More Drives to Go. --RoadDog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Illinois' Top Ten Road Trips-- Part 2


Follows the flow of the Mississippi along western edge of the state. Covers 550 miles from Galena to Quincy.

***MAIN STREET GALENA-- what can I say about Galena? All this and Gen. Grant and Mrs. Butterworth as well. Always a stop on the "Eagle Watch Tour." Dinner at the Log Cabin.

MISSISSIPPI PALISADES in Savanna (no "h")-- jaw-dropping views.

JOHN DEERE PAVILION in Moline-- Nothing Drives Like a ____ _____.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL in the river off Rock Island

EAGLE WATCHING-- better on Iowa side, though. Any place there is a US Corps of Engineer dam and locks is a good spot.

NAVOO-- restored Mormon town


At confluence of Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Particularly striking along Highway 100 between Grafton and Alton. Cliffs on one side and river vistas on the other.

PERE MARQUETTE STATE PARK in Grafton-- 8,000 acres of fun and scenery.

ELSAH-- first town in US to be completely listed on National Register of Historic Places in its entirety.

ALTON-- Underground Railroad, great architecture and the Piasa.

LEWIS & CLARK INTERPRETIVE CENTER-- Camp Dubois where they overwintered and prepared for the epic trip across the US.

Eight More to Go. --RoadDog

Illinois' Top Ten Road Trips-- Part 1

After getting my feel of NFL football and college b-ball over the weekend, it is time to start think of hittin' the old road before BO gets the price of gasoline up too high again.

While looking through my 2007 Illinois Travel Guide before tossing it out, I came across an 8 page spread on the top ten drives so just had to mention it here. Do you thing the Lincoln Highway, National Road or Route 66 will make the list?

"Looking to get off the main highway and discover the real Illinois? We've picked 10 top road trips that are getaways in themselves or simply great ideas for places to visit when you're passing through and want to take a break from the interstate. From the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago to the rolling hills of of the Shawnee National Forest, you'll find that the scenic route is the best way to go. For even more getaway suggestions, log on to

We're thinking about taking our annual "Eagle Road" from Dubuque to the Quad Cities (although on the Iowa side of the Mississippi) this week.

The roads listed also have a short summary of things to see and do.

Getting Ready to Hit the Road (Hope It Doesn't Hit Back). --RoadDog

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2009 Road Trip to North Carolina-- Part 6-- Coming Home

It was getting dark when I got off I-77 to play NTN in the two sites in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

I first went to the BW3, Buffalo Wild Wings. I am sure that you can't open one of these restaurants without having NTN. Typical B-Dub, but this one had pop priced at $1.69. Most BW3s now charge $2.39, but at least you get free refills.

I finally found my way to J. P. Henry's, evidently a very popular place considering how far back behind the place I had to park. There is a large front lot, but if that is full, check around back.

This place is new with 14,400 for the top local Players Plus points. Sadly, not one TV was tuned to either trivia or Texas Hold 'Em.

Really nice place and I hope someone clues them in as to how to use the system, something you'd think Buzztime would do?

Back on the interstate and shortly crossed the Ohio River, through Marietta, and north to Cambridge and west to Zanesville where I stopped at the McDonald's by the Super 6 and had a McRib meal. Love those McRibs and always look forward to their return. On the way down, I had stayed at the motel and had seen they had McRibs. Since we don't have them around home, I sure wasn't going to miss my chance.

The motel was considerably more expensive than coming down because hunting season was in gear. I finally got the desk person to $70. Still a bit higher than I like, but I was too tired to proceed.

One More Day. --RoadDog

The President Talks Lincoln Highway in 1917-- Part 3

Lincoln Highway Association President Henry B. Joy in the April 25, 1917 Outlook Magazine.

Joy continues talking about people's views of roads had now grown from consideration of just those around their locality, but it was becoming more national in scale. "Now, however, our viewpoint has widened. The local selfish interest in the roads of our own township and county is becoming submerged in a greater interest in the roads of the Nation."

Interest was just in "the improvement of the little stretch which we personally traversed for business or pleasure." This had led to much waste of funds.

Of course, Joy had an answer for a national road.

On the Lincoln. --RoadDog

Friday, January 15, 2010

Down Da 66: Cars 2-- Pontiac Museum-- Lots 'O Discussion

Some New News About an Old Road.

1. CARS 2-- The Route 66 News reports that release of the movie "Cars 2" is slated for 2011. Doc Hudson, who was voiced by deceased Paul Newman will be retired from the sequel according to Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). No word about the status of Fillmore the hippie van who was voiced by George Carlin who also died in 2008. Of course, Fillmore's inspiration, Bob Waldmire died this past December. (Thanls Lulu for the heads up on Bob.)

2. PONTIAC MUSEUM-- The Route 66 Association of Illinois' Museum and Hall of Fame celebrated its fifth year this past summer. There are plans for a preservation library, film library and even a radio station. What? News for 66ers?

3. LOTS 'O DISCUSSION-- There has been lots of discussion on the Route 66 Yahoo e-mail group about the date of the big festival this June in Joplin, Missouri. Right now, it is scheduled for June 18-20. If it is moved up a weekend, it would be the same as the Illinois Motor Tour. Hope things stay as they are. I'd like to do both.

Plus, there is also the Lincoln Highway Association National Conference scheduled to be held in Dixon, Illinois, from June 22-25th.

I'd Like to Attend All Three Events. Let Keep It the Way It Is. --RoadDog

Hitting the Road (and Sea) in 2009-- Part 2

Continuing with my road and sea cruising for 2009.

JUNE 10-21-- Rome- Pompeii- Amalfi Coast- Mediterranean Sea- Alexandria, Egypt- Cairo- Egypt Museum- Pyramids- Sphinx- Port Said (Suez Canal)- Engine Room Fire- Back to Cairo--

JUNE 22-28-- North Carolina- Goldsboro- Topsail Beach

JULY 18-19-- Milwaukee

August 25-31-- Galena, Illinois- Iowa Lincoln Highway Motor Tour

September 9-17-- Route 66 Illinois- Route 66 Missouri- Route 66 Missouri Motor Tour-- Springfield, Illinois.

NOVEMBER 19- DECEMBER 3-- North Carolina

Boating on the Chain of Lakes here in northeastern Illinois July 16 to October 13th.

Hoping to Match or Surpass If Big Oil Doesn't get Too Greedy. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hitting the Road (and Sea) in 2009

I took advantage of the drop in gas prices and really hit the road big time in 2009.

So much, in fact, that I spent 59 nights in motels, not counting eight days on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean whose engine room caught fire. A fun experience.


Jan. 19-24-- Eagle watching along the Mississippi River-- Galena-- Dubuque, Iowa-- Quad Cities-- Dekalb.

Jan 29-Feb. 10-- Panama City Beach, Florida

March 19-April 3-- Illinois Route 66-- Independence, Missouri-- South Carolina-- Charleston-- Bluffton, SC-- US-52 to Mt. Airy, NC.-- US-52 Ohio.

April 17-19-- Route 66 Illinois-- Springfield-- Litchfield.

April 23-27-- Indianapolis-- National Road-- Richmond, Indiana-- Cincinnati

Trip's Not Over Yet. --RoadDog

Route 66 Road Decay?

The New Geography Blog of December 20, 2009, was about the state of the US Highway System. The general gist was these days, you'll have to get your kicks on Interstate 44 because Route 66 is mostly just a memory."

And, "as older folks pass away, Route 66 will decay entirely."

Well, I'd have to argue that statement. It might have been in danger of passing away at one time, but events and people over the last twenty years would make me believe it will live on.

The blog then went on to talk about other US Highways.

Terre Haute, Indiana, is at the intersection of Dixie Highway and National Road, now US-41 and US-40.US_101 and the Pacific Coast Highway are interchangeable and in Florida, you have Highway A1A.

I-80 is often called the George Washington to San Francisco Bay Bridge.

"A great road trip is to pick an appropriate highway and just follow it across the country." Is that ever a true statement, something, unfortunately, that most Americans do not do.

Daniel Jelski has done that with US-2 from Michigan to Washington and US-20 from Chicago to Oregon. "These roads are healthy, being great tourist routes unaffected by interstates."

He would also like to drive US-52.

I have driven US-52 from South Carolina to Illinois and part of Iowa. I have been on US-20 through Illinois and Iowa.

A Real Highway Fan.--RoadDog

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

David Wickline's Roadhouse 66 Appetizers-- Part 4

I just found the Roadhouse Appetizer list from David's place north of Columbus, Ohio. definitely a place for good eating that every 66 enthusiast should include in their itinerary when in the area.

David used a lot of Route 66 stuff when naming the creations.

The cost for the below are $5.66

ROADHOUSE 66 CFB-- 3 ($3.66) or 5 tasty strips of Chicken Fried Bacon served with country sausage and gravy. I had this and it is something you have to try once in your life.

BETTY BOOP'S TICKLE PICKLES-- five lightly battered dill wedges served with Ranch Lube.

OATMAN BURRO EARS-- basket of freshly made, thin sweet potato chips served w/ Chipotle Lube.

BREADED HUSHROOMS-- Hush hush....keep our mushroom recipe a secret! served with Ranch Lube.

ROUTE 66 O'RINGS-- basket of thick beer battered onion slices served with Chipotle Ranch Lube.

BUDVILLE BASKET OF FRIES-- Small $3.66 Large $5.66-- Enough crispy & seasoned Route 66 Fries to share with your Buds!

66 WETS-- Plate of crispy Route 66 Fries wetted with brown gravy or cheddar cheese.

PULLED PORK & CHILLI NACHOS-- $7.66-- topped with shredded cheddar cheese

SQUAWK 'N' SKOOT JUMBO WINGS-- $6.69 (Well, you know about $6.66) Six jumbo breaded wings (Naked only on request).

Those of you who know Route 66 will appreciate these names.

I had the Roadhouse 66 CFB and that was a taste like I've never had before and REALLY THICK pieces of bacon. You've got to try it.

If I Hadn't Just Eaten a McRib Sandwich, I'd Really Be Hungry After Typing This Up. --RoadDog

Down Da 66: Frankoma Pottery-- Visitors

Some New News About an Old Road.

1. FRANKOMA POTTERY-- Lots of discussion on the Route 66 Yahoo e-mail group about the pending sale of Route 66 landmark Frankoma Pottery. The owner says business has dropped 60-70%. The place opened in 1933 and has had 4 owners in the last 35 years. Employees have been laid off and now just three remain. Hoping it gets back in the black again. Really fine pottery made from that good Oklahoma clay.

We have quite a few items from the place.

2. VISITORS-- Also on the e-mail group, Judy Wallmark has been reviewing the visitor book at the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri, for 2009. Their people counter reported 12,306 visitors and 2,666 signed the guest book.

They came from 46 states and Washington, DC. There were no visitors from Rhode Island, Delaware, Idaho and Maine, come on guys, let's get with the show!!!

Also, people came from 36 foreign countries as well as 151 Missouri towns and cities.

On the Road Again, Can't Wait to get on 66 Again. --RoadDog

Springfield's Curve Inn-- Partying on Route 66 Since 1932-- Part 1

That is, Springfield, Illinois. So named today for the curve Route 66 took by the place as the road left the city heading southward toward St. Louis.

It was built in 1932 and called Copp's Corner and owned by the Copp family until 1945. In that year, Guido Manci bought it and renamed it the Curve Inn. Guido's nephew Louie Manci currently owns Louie's on Stanton Avenue in Springfield (looks like a place we'll have to check out the next time we're there).

There was also a grocery store and gas station next door (where McDonald's is today?). Just to the north, there was a packing plant called Pegwill Packing. Workers used to come over for a drink during breaks.

Illegal gambling as well as prostitution took place on the premises. Customers would ring a buzzer at the bottom of the back stairs to gain admittance to the ladies upstairs.

More tomorrow.

Still a Good Place to Slake Your Thirst. RoadDog

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The President Talks the Lincoln Highway in 1917-- Part 2

Continued from January 5th.

LHA President Henry B. Joy then estimated that there was "one motor car to approximately every 25 inhabitants of the United States, cinsidering babes in arms, women, children and aliens." (Evidently, those listed were not driving.) This would lead to the assumption that in many sections of the United States every man who can afford the initial investment in an automobile and its subsequent maintenance owns one." (Of course, Joy also being the president of the Packard Automobile Company wouldn't have anything to do with it.)

As such, the average American is more interested in not only roads, but GOOD roads more than a tariff or the Panama Canal. (And this is considering the approaching entry of the US into World War I.) "Good roads are a live issue in this country to-day one of the livliest issues we have. They have become a concrete matter--the pun is unintentional." (Henry had a sense of humor.)

Cruising on Down That Two-Lane Highway. --RoadDog

Friday, January 8, 2010

Iowa's White Pole Road-- Part 3

A book has been written "Reflexions Along the White Pole Road" which mentions that there are 700 painted poles along the 26-mile-stretch that has been recreated. Also, you can find sites dealing with Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde and President Truman.

Casey, Iowa, has a population of 478 and, besides Slayton's Rock, is noted for quite a few antique stores. Slayton's Rock is one of Iowa's largest, fully-exposed glacial deposits.

Of interest or rock as well, between Casey and Stuart you will find Freedom Rock a little ways off the road. Pictures of this rock have made their way around the internet many times since a young local artist began painting this rock annually with patriotic themes around Memorial Day. First paintings were done in 1999.

You can go to the site for annual pictures of it.

Getting Some Kicks on the WPR. --RoadDog

Tracking US Highway 12 in 1926

Probably my favorite US Highway is Route 12. I grew up most of my life near that road, starting with 7th grade in 1963 to 1970, living in Palatine, Illinois, and continuing ever since 1975 to the present.

I have driven the road many times, and especially today living in Spring Grove about a half mile from it.

Looking at that 1926 map prepared by AASHTO that laid out the US Highway Network:

EASTERN TERMINUS was in Detroit and it went through An Arbor, Michigan to Kalamazoo to the shores of Lake Michigan. Then it hugged the shore south to Michigan City, Indiana and then around to Chicago.

From Chicago it headed northwest into Wisconsin where it passed through Madison and Eau Claire. From southeast of Eau Claire to Minneapolis, Minnesota it was duplexed with US-10.

It went to Ortonville, Minnesota to Aberdeen, South Dakota (I believe US-12 had its own version of Cyrus Avery at this town who wanted 12 to go through and in front of his place there.

After running along South Dakota's northern stretches, 12 entered North Dakota's southwest corner a short time before entering Montana and ending at Miles City which was US-12's western terminus at the time.

Of interest, i was looking at historic Illinois road maps in the Route 66 Association of Illinois' website and found that no US Highways were shown until the 1929 map, even though they had already been in place since 1926.

The Road to the Northwest, Both Old and New. --RoadDog

2009 Roadrtrip to NC-- Part 5-- Returning Home

Climbing that steep grade from NC into Virginia was extra fun because of the fog at several points that reduced visibility to practically nothing. Slowed down considerably and put on flashers. Most other drivers intelligent as well, but still had some dummies flying by.

Gas was a bit more expensive by a few cents in Wytheville, Virginia, than it had been two weeks ago while coming down. Filled up with gas to avoid West Virginia's high gas prices.

The rain, which had begun in Raleigh, continued in West Virginia a ways, but thankfully stopped about Charleston.

Stopped at Tamarack at MM 45 and walked around. Neat place with all sorts of unique state-made products, but considerably over priced. I did enjoy the West Virginia Music Museum with information, pictures and records by state musicians. Bill Withers and Soupy Sales hail from West Virginia.

Paid my three $2 tolls on the Turnpike.

The dome of the state capitol in Charleston is always an impressive gold sight. Striking.

Getting Home with Every Mile. --RoadDog

Thursday, January 7, 2010

US Highway System Map 1926

Robert Droz in his US Highway Yahoo e-mail group had a just-before-final rewrite map of the US Highway System that came to be. He had gotten it from good old Wikipedia.

Some Illinois US Highways back then.

US-32: Chicago, Joliet, Rock Island
US-20: Chicago, Elgin, Freeport, to Dubuque, Iowa
US-30 skirts Chicago: Joliet, Rochelle to north of Quad Cities
US-66: Chicago, Bloomington, Springfield to St. Louis (Mo)
US-51: Beloit (Wi), Rockford, Bloomington, Decatur, Cairo
US-40: Terre Haute, (In), Effingham, St. Louis (Mo)

Of interest, US-12, which goes close to my house, ran west out of the state to Miles City, Montana, where it ended and became US-10.

There was no US-14, Chicago's Northwest Highway.

And, there was also a US-330 and US-430 bypasses of US-30 around Chicago.

Love Dem Old Roads. --RoadDog

2009 Road Trip to NC-- Part 5-- Porkchop Sandwiches

On the way back home from North Carolina.

December 2nd, I left Goldsboro and enjoyed rain all the way from Raleigh, NC, to Wytheville, Virginia.

I was happy to get to Mt. Airy in time to eat at Snappy Lunch. However, at noon I figured I'd have to wait in line (and I WOULD WAIT in line for one of those porkchop sandwiches) but was surprised to find only about ten people in the place.

Took a seat at the counter and ordered a porkchop sandwich which now costs $4. Heard the waitress say "Goodbye Billy Bob" as he left the place. Two evidently out-of-town business men came in and took a seat but soon left when they found out Snappy doesn't serve Carolina BBQ.

Far be it for me to put down Carolina BBQ in either its eastern or western form, but, when in Mt. Airy and Snappy Lunch, YOU GOTTA TRY THE PORKCHOP SANDWICH!!! The clowns got up and left. As the guy on "Princess Bride" would say, "Inconceivable."

And, one of those sandwiches will fill you up, although on an earlier visit i was told that a guy once ate four of them. The pig did not give his life in vain.

The waitresses are definitely not your garden variety "Hi, I'm Cecily and I'll be your server today" type.

After I finished, I walked to some of the stores and bought an Andy Griffith Show book. For some reason, there are lots of Mayberry items for sale in Mt. Airy.

Gomer Says Hi. --RoadDog

Iowa's White Pole Road-- Part 2

Tuesday, I wrote about this road west of Des Moines and have since been doing a lot of research on it. I'll definitely have to visit this 26 mile stretch the next time we're in the area. It is small town America at its best and tying in a common heritage, an old road. Just the kind of stuff I like.

Two other items in the Iowa Tourist Guide of 2009 from the road.

STUART, IOWA-- East End of the Western Skies Scenic Byway, a 140 mile drive featuring long vistas, terraced hillsides and Danish villages from Stuart west to Missouri Valley (Lincoln Highway). Although not on the WPR, this sounds like another great cruise, and, then you get the Lincoln.

CASEY, IOWA-- Slayton Rock features a visitors center open April to Nov. 1st. The rock is a 500,000 pound Boulder moved to its present site by a 3000 horsepower skid.

Thinking White (and Not Just Snow). --RoadDog

Sure is Crummy Weather-- Nailed!!!

I'll be getting caught up today on some backed up various alerts dealing with roads, the Civil War and World War II because of this lousy snow storm. This is the third straight year we've had what I consider to be a LOUSY WINTER. That would be too much cold and snow.

I don't mind some, but this is ridiculous. Being retired, I might think about heading southward, but they're getting cold, so I might as well stay here and "enjoy" our own cold.

Just as well we didn't leave to do the snowbird thing as yesterday I took he '03 Malibu in to the dealer, Ray Chevrolet in Fox Lake, to have the oil changed. I mentioned that the engine coolant light was coming on every so often and for them to check it out.

The lower gasket was allowing the oil and radiator fluid to mix. Bad news and the word gasket is at least $500. We pick it up today, if we can get out of the driveway. Sets me back $840!! Ouch!!

I Must Be in the Wrong Bidness. --RoadDog

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Old Gas Stations

The Jan-Feb issue of Preservation Magazine had two articles on old gas stations.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS-- The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently ran a This Place Matters campaign in which people around the country sent in pictures of places in danger of leaving us. More than 2000 photographs arrived. Twelve finalists were chosen and the public voted. See finalists at

The Humble Oil station in San Antonio won. It is deteriorating, but its striking canopy still stands. Hopefully, this contest will help preserve it.

BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY-- The Standard Oil station was built in 1921 at the southwest corner of Circus Square in the downtown section. Over the years. more automotive-related places opened until it became known as Automotive Alley.

After the arrival of the interstate, the area began a slow decline. At one time, it appeared the station's days were numbered, but in stepped Dorian Walker of the Bowling Green and Warren County Historic Preservation Board, and after a lot of time, money and effort, the station today stands tall and proud and has become a major photographic destination.

Nice back-then, disrepair and today pictures accompany the two-page spread.

Fill 'Er Up. --RoadDog

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Iowa's White Pole Road

I was paging through the 2009 Iowa Travel Guide and in the West Central section, came across a photo of this road with a giant neon sign for White Rose Gasoline at Menlo Oil Co. in Menlo, Iowa, with the caption White Pole Road, Dexter to Adair.

Under the town of Dexter, the attraction read WHITE POLE ROAD with these words:

"Designated in 1910, the original White Pole Road followed along the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad from Des Moines to Council Bluffs. Poles along the route were painted white, and drivers were encouraged to travel the 'Great White Way.'

Sections of the road eventually became part of US Highway 6, once the longest continuous east-west route in the United States.

Today's re-created section of the White Pole Road links Dexter, Stuart, Menlo, Casey and Adair. Watch for the White Pole Road markers.

Visit historic depots, family parks, heritage attractions, and a Jesse James Gang robbery historic marker."

I've never heard of this road, but have driven I-80 before but never seen any signs for it. Perhaps this is a new tourism effort, but one I will check out.

You can get more information at

Looking for Those White Poles. --RoadDog

The President Talks Lincoln Highway in 1917

That president would be Henry B. Joy, President of the Lincoln Highway Association, who evidently had gotten the mud off him from that fun 1915 trip he took across the US from Detroit to San Francisco, mostly on his highway.

This is from the Spring 2009 Lincoln Highway Forum which reprinted an article from the April 25, 1917, Outlook Magazine.

He reprinted a letter, one of the thousands received weekly by the LHA from every state inquiring about the feasibility of traveling by car. he said that every touring organization in the US received thousands as well.

"The point is that the average American in the year 1917 when planning a trip think first of his motor car as a means of locomotion. If motor transportation is out of the question, due to road conditions, he turns to the railway or steamship lines; but the motor first. Why?

"Careful statisticians estimate that there are in use in this country this year 4,000,000 self-propelled pleasure vehicles."

To Be Continued. --RoadDog

More Fancy Route 66 Writing

Going back to the March/April 2008 issue of Preservation Magazine which featured an good-sized article on good old Route 66.

"On the Road Back? Route 66--past,present, and future" by Krista Walton.

At least this part had pictures of a vibrant 66 with a night time shot of the Blue Swallow Motel and daytime of one of the Tee Pee motels with an old car parked in front of it along with three vintage postcards.

A few interesting quotes:

*** "And it has lingered as a symbol in the imagination of the nation evoking everything from freedom and adventure to the fading American frontier and, now, distilled nostalgia."

*** "Indeed, no other road has so outshone its humble origins of asphalt and concrete to be so frequently immortalized in the arts, be it John Steinbeck's The Grapes of wrath, the Dust Bowl Photography of Dorothea Lange, Jack Kerouac's On the Road, the 1960s television series Route 66, or the ditty sung by Nat King Cole, "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66."

*** "By the 1940s. rest stops and diners began to spring up along the way, offering respite to weary travelers. But it wasn't until after World War II, when Americans were more mobile than ever before, that Route 66's heyday truly began."

*** "With the new tourism industry fueling rapid growth, the kitschy landmarks that are now synonymous with Route 66--motels shaped like oversized teepees, enormous roadside sculptures of everything from astronauts to whales, and signs in every color of the neon rainbow--infused the Mother Road (as Steinbeck dubbed it) with a healthy dose of Americana and the average road trip with a good little bit of flair."

Man, I sure wish I could write like this!!

She went on to talk about how so much of these great places along the road are in a state of "limbo, suffering from lack of maintenance and threatened by pressure from developers."

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Route 66 motels onto its 2007 list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

The issue had a nice 12 page spread on one of our favorite roads.

Still getting My Kicks on You-Know-What. --RoadDog

Monday, January 4, 2010

Never Ate There, But Roth's Blackhawk Gone

The Chicagoland restaurant scene is down by one more old place (and I don't think this is going to be the sneak Berghoff closing thing, it's gone).

Don Roth's Blackhawk has been serving food in Wheeling, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, for forty years until this past New Year's Eve when the last dinner were served. That means no more famous "spinning salad bowls."

Owner Ann Roth has decided the time has come to close the restaurant that dates back to 1920 in Chicago with the opening of the 600-seat Blackhawk restaurant at Wabash Avenue and Randolph Street.

Her adult children decided not to continue the family tradition.

Otto Roth opened the original one and by 1926 featured live orchestra broadcast over WGN radio as well as performances by the likes of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme and Perry Como.

Don Roth, who died in 2003, took over from his father in 1944 and later moved the restaurant out to a 150-year-old farmhouse in Wheeling at 61 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

The rise of TV caused him to go with "the food's the show" and he introduced his signature dish, the "spinning salad bowl. servers prepared the salad in front of patrons, tossing the 21 ingredients while spinning the bowl.

Of interest was a 1969 menu that had a New York sirloin steak for $6.75 and glass of wine for $1.

Jan. 1, 2010 Chicago Tribune by Lisa Black.

Guess I Should Have Eaten There While I Had the Chance, But Always Figured It Was Too Expensive for a Mere Teacher. --RoadDog

National Road

The Nov. 22, 2009, Cumberland (Md) Times-News had an article by Steve Colby about the National Road, the countries oldest federal road which was built specifically to ease the nation's move into what was the Northwest Territory in the early 1800s.

Many communities grew up along it and now there is a lot of hoopla about its upcoming 200th anniversary in 2011. An organization called the Cumberland Road Project is spearheading it. They are looking for any information to be had.

It has gone by many names, including National Turnpike (TOLLS!! and I thought that was an Illinois thing), National Road, National Highway, US Route 40 and other names.

A website is in development

Good Old Roads. --RoadDog

Zanesville, Ohio

One of those great towns along the National Road with lots of history and things to see.

Zanesville started as a 1790s settlement on the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum rivers by Col. Ebenezer Zane and his son-in-law John McEntire. They had blazed Zane's Trace into the Northwest territory.

In 1801, the village became known as Zanesville and Zane's Trace became part of the National Road.

In 1814, the first Y-Bridge was built. Ripley's Believe It Or Not declares it "the only bridge in the world you can cross and still be on the same side of the river."

Also, located by the Y-Bridge is the Muskingum River Canal and Lock System, the only hand-operated lock system still operating ion the US. It was built between 1840 and 1860.

Besides the bridge and locks, the buildings in town are architecturally significant, especially the court house. The National Road on both sides of town is a great drive, taking you back to both the 1800s and the US Highway system of the 30s to 60s.

I must admit that the first time I crossed the Y-Bridge, I didn't know I was on it. Who'd expect to find a stoplight in the middle of a bridge?

Well Worth a Stop. --RoadDog

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pushing Lincoln, Even Way Back When

The Spring 2009 Lincoln Highway Forum had an interesting January 26, 1914, letter from LHA Secretary A. R. Pardington to the directors of the road along its length to report on items of interest.

The LH had been marked in Bucyrus Ohio and that great interest had been shown in the area. A farmer in Chicago Heights had graded his yard down to the LH and was beautifying his property.

The San Francisco Examiner in its Dec. 24th issue had reported that Carl Fisher had proposed a plan of constructing experimental stretches of the LH to find out best construction for the needs. (These would be the Seedling Miles.)

The Standard Oil Company was printing 200,000 booklets which would include a map of the LH.

The Automobile Club of Southern California was marking a route from Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles, following the Owens Valley Route, about 500 miles.

The South Bend, Indiana,Tribune reported a committee was being formed to change the name of Vistula and Michigan avenues to Lincoln Way. The same was happening in Aurora, Illinois.

So, Even Back Then. --RoadDog

Down Da Road: Exton Hotel-- Rose Bowl-- Boots Motel

Down Da Road. New News About Old Roads.

1. EXTON HOTEL-- The hotel is located at the 400 block of East Lincoln Highway in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is a suburb of Philadelphia. The 150 year-old structure was built in 1859 by John M. Bea. Later it became known as the Exton House.

In 1903, Isabel Darlington bought it and leased it for summer boarding. She sold it in 1928. It has been bought and plans call for remodeling it.

2. ROSE BOWL-- The January 1, 2010 Tulsa News 8 says that the Rose Bowl bowling alley, which has been on Route 66 for 50 years has gotten a new lease on life with all the construction of late.

It closed several years ago and since then has been plagued by fires and vandalism. Sam Baker bought it and so far has spent three times the amount he paid restoring it. However, it will not be a bowling alley any more, but will hold concerts and private events.

The wooden floors remain as does the unique old sign.

3. BOOTS MOTEL-- The January 5, 2009, Carthage (Mo) Press reports that the co-founder Ilda Boots died at age 102. She and her husband Arthur opened the Boots Motel in the 1920s and Boots Drive In across the street at the intersection of garrison and Central.

She was born November 25, 1906 when Teddy Roosevelt was president and the first Model T rolled off the assembly line.

The Licoln and Route 66. --RoadDog

2010 State of the Blog

This starts the 4th year of my oldest blog, starting back in April 2007 with the help of niece Andrea. Wish it had remained my only blog, but then came a second and at the end of 2007, two more.

The first one, Down Da Road I Go, came about when I returned home and found that I couldn't get back onto this blog. This one became where I talked about things I liked and what I was doing.

Then, I noticed more and more posts dealing with history and especially the Civil War and spun off two more blogs.

This past year, I posted my 1000th entry in this one, and had 1,210 at the end of 2009. In December I had 45 posts and 475 for the year. In 2008, there were 376 and 2007, 352. Civil War
http://cootershistorything.blogspot-- history especially World War II what I'm doing and music

Got to get a Life. --RoadDog