Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Unfortunately, I just had to take the flags in as we have what looks like and sounds like a vicious storm rolling in from the west right now in northeast Illinois. So far, Saturday and Sunday have been ideal days for celebrations, especially since Memorial Day weekend is usually accompanied by really lousy TNCW (Typical Nasty Carnival Weather).

We officially kicked off summer yesterday for the first band party at Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake ( a part of Illinois' famous Chain of Lakes). It "ain't summer" till we been to the Sunday afternoon party at Captain's.

Today, we go to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, just over the border about ten miles from here for their annual parade (unless the storm cancels it). We meet up with friends at Main Street Tap for drinks while waiting for the veterans to come marching by.

A big thank you to all the veterans who have enabled us to enjoy this great life we have here in the US.

Thank You Big Time!! --RoadDog

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 16-- Heading Home

We drove Route 66 back to Braidwood.

Usually, we get off in Dwight, Illinois, and take Il-47 back to Woodstock, but we had a hankering to check out the newly reopened Riviera in Gardner, so continued there.

Sure love the new signage through town as they have really gotten into their Route 66 heritage (hear that B-N!!). You have signage and even shields drawn on the pavement.

North of town, we were in for a disappointment. The Riviera was not open. And it looked like it might have been closed for awhile, not just Sunday. We wondered if they weren't open as we didn't see the place mentioned in any of the Red Carpet Corridor information. We found out later that the new owner was still having problems with Gardner and that it was closed.

Let's hope they get their differences settled. This is too big of a deal to allow to continue being closed.

We were then "Forced" to drive to Braidwood and have a banana split at the Polka-Dot.

From there, it was Il-113 to Il-47 and home.

Sure Did a Lot in That Weekend. --RoadDog

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Celebration-- Part 15

One thing in the Schenk's Garage that is a tad out of place is the Beatles Lunchbox sitting on top of the vintage refrigerator. Everything else deals with our road, but I guess kids might have had lunches lovingly packed by their moms for those family excursions along Route 66. Dawn doesn't EVEN like the Beatles, even the pre Sgt. Pepper ones when they were into the old RnR. Ask her about this lunch box.

Hillbilly Jones might just rank up there with my other favorite Route 66 band, Asleep at the Wheel. You can have a mighty good party with these guys. And, they don't just play Rockabilly songs even if they do put it on other songs.

Besides that great Hee Haw song, they did Jimi Hendrix, the bee gees' "Staying Alive" (Disco Rockabilly??!!), "Viva Las Vegas," and "The Weight."

They thanked the Schenk's for "having us in the coolest garage anywhere in the world."

It was a wonder that the stand up bass was still in one piece when they finished. It sure took a beating that day.

When they finished, we knew we still had about a four hour drive to get home so had to leave right away.

About Time to Head Home. --RoadDog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 14-- Will We Ever Get Home?

Hillbilly Jones, classic cars, Route 66 nuts and kindred souls, not a bad way to spend an afternoon out on the Mother Road. The weather was threatening, but we never got a drop of rain.

Dawn was nice enough to have the band stop while the awards were being given out at the car show.

While we were there, about ten people from Tasmania, Australia came by and, of course, Dawn invited then to stop for a spell. Tasmania is the large island off Australia's southeast side.

They had flown into Los Angeles, then to Detroit where they rented a car and drove to Chicago where they picked up Route 66 and were on their way to Santa Monica Pier in California. From there, they drive up the coast to San Francisco. That is quite a trip.

The stretch of 66 from Joliet to Towanda is always a great drive here in Illinois, but even better when you can hit it when there is a linear celebration going on like the Red Carpet Corridor.

They especially had smiles when Hillbilly Jones did the "Pppthuh" song from Hee Haw. You know, "Where oh where are you tonight? .... You met another and pppthuh you were gone." I sure wish I knew how to spell that word. My best guess, anyway.

They were heading for Springfield and had no specific plans, so I recommended they stay at the Route 66 Hotel and stop at the Curve Inn. Then Monday go to the Cozy Dog, Bill Shea's and the Lincoln Home and Museum

Looking at what they wrote in the guestbook it was several "Bloody awesomes." They also wrote in Bernie, Australia, which I have since found to be a small town in Tasmania.

How Do You Beat a Good Time on 66? --RoadDog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 13-- Back to Towanda

Last entry May 21st.

Now we're back at a favorite Route 66 place, Schenk's Garage in Towanda, a fairly new and somewhat private place that is not always open, but whenever Dawn or Mark are at home, their garage is your castle. Everybody's welcome and don't be too shy to impose.

They've been at the house for 11 years and decided that since they are right by Route 66 and that is one of their favorite roads in the world, to turn their garage into a Route 66 Nirvana (and partly to show off Dawn's ever-increasing collection of Mother Road stuff).

Entering that garage is special. Not only that, but the whole outside of the garage and yard has Route 66 stuff.

We sure had a great time listening to Hillbilly Jones and ended up staying for the full time they played and missed the northern part of the Red Corridor.

I made a lot of video of the classic automobiles leaving the car show and it was even better with Hillbilly Jones playing in the background. Quite a few of those vehicles had to make a swing by the place to show off. Some decided to go the extra rubber and burn some for our enjoyment. One guy wasn't so nice and left his mark on Mark's Route 66 shield he painted on the road and got in trouble for (as he didn't have permission).

More to Come. --RoadDog

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just What Kind of Route 66 Nut Are You?-- Part 4

Liz and I would definitely be classified as "Purists." We drive 66 whenever possible, except perhaps through Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, and that one stretch in Chicago that scares us.

We eat at authentic diners and stay in those old motels whenever possible (well, at the ones that are kept up.

Why go 66 and eat at Chili's or Applebees or stay at the Hyatt, when you're after the experience? We do get something to eat at McDonald's when we have bathroom breaks. That's only right.

Great motels in Illinois were Pontiac's Downtowner (since torn down), the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center (the state's first Holiday Inn) and the Travel Lodge in Springfield. Now that Art's Motel in Farmersville has been restored, we plan on staying there as well as the Lincoln Inn in Lincoln which has been taken over by Best Western so will be fixed up.

Great Route 66 places to eat are especially numerous in our state, starting with Lou Mitchell's in Chicago, Dell Rhea's and White Fence Farm in the suburbs, Launching Pad in Wilmington, Polka-Dot Inn in Braidwood. the Old Log Cabin in Pontiac, Palms Cafe in Atlanta and Cozy Dog in Springfield are just a few.

So, We Are "Purists." --RoadDog

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Hoover Dam Bypass-- Part 2

This new bridge is 900 feet above the Colorado River and will cost $160 million. As a result, US-93 will be detoured around the dam and the whole project is considered to be quite a feat of engineering.

The bridge is to be supported by two huge twin arches made up of 53 individual 24-foot long sections which are being cast on the site. Once finished, each arch will stretch 1000 feet across the river.

Since it spans between Nevada and Arizona, it will officially be known as the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. O'Callaghan was the governor of Nevada and Tillman was a former football player from Arizona who was killed while serving his country in Afghanistan.

Construction started in 2005 and is slated to be finished next year.

The Hoover Dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete in it to build a road from New York City to San Francisco. The water behind it is called Lake Mead and took six years to fill. The original road which is being bypassed opened the same time as the dam, 1936.

I figure they will probably have some accidents due to gawking. Right now there are two huge towers with suspension wires holding the parts of the arch in place until they are completed. I've heard they then plan on removing them, but I kind of hope they don't as those towers sure look neat.

I'm Tired of Bridges That Don't Look Like Bridges. --RoadDog

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hoover Dam Bypass

A friend sent me an update on the continuing construction of this new bridge which will afford a great view of the dam and eliminate the current mess at the top of it as people are slowed down by checks by homeland security on US-93. That would be really bad if terrorists set off explosives on it.

The pictures show an impressive superstructure at this time, although most will be removed at completion. The suspension part is just to hold up the massive twin arches during construction, but hopefully they will put something back. I always hate driving over a bridge and not knowing its a bridge.

Maybe two towers just for show would be in order. Hopefully the sides of the bridge will not be built in such a way as to obstruct any views of the dam.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Just What Kind of Route 66 Nut Are You?-- Part 3

Liz and I are definitely not in the Drive-by classification. That would be those who slow down just enough to take a picture then speed on out way. This is one reason our 2006 end-to-end Route 66 drive, which we expected to take a week, ended up taking 15 days.

We had planned to just "Drive-By" places we had already been to and really start slowing down west of Tucumcari where we had never been before. Well, that just didn't work out.

But, even when we stop by a place we've already been, there is always something new or someone new to talk to.

Spendin' Way Too Much Time with This Route 66 Stuff. --RoadDog

Saturday, May 22, 2010

America's Top Ten Underrated Cities

Yesterday's Yahoo Travel had a list of ten American cities that they belive to be somewhat underrated when it comes to tourism. Explanations for why this is so ranged from proximity to bigger, better-known cities to people being unaware of efforts to renew the cities.

The list

1. Providence, Rhode Island
2. Portland, Oregon*
3. Baltimore, Maryland
4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida*
5. Houston, Texas*

6. Kansas City, Missouri*
7. Louisville, Kentucky*
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota*
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
10. Sacramento, California

* Ones I've been to.

For pictures and the whys, go to http://travel.yahoo.com/p-interets-34348516.

Love Those Brown Sandwiches from Louisville. --RoadDog

Just What Kind of a Route 66 Nut Are You?-- Part 2

Back on May 15th, I had an entry where four classifications of Route 66 nuts were given. Liz and I are actually a combination of three of them.

We are ROADIES in that we belong to the Rt. 66 Assoc. of Illinois and have gone to many Rt 66 festivals and road tours. We will be on the Illinois' Association's motor tour in a few weeks.

We are always "spreading the word" and have taken friends on short excursions several times.

Of course, this whole blog is about the "Road" experience and a lot of the entries have been on Route 66. I also cover all sorts of other road stuff.

While I was still teaching, my kids knew a WHOLE LOT about the road when they got out of my class. Once, two girls had to go to Normal, Illinois, and stopped at and took pictures at Pontiac's Old Log Cabin and Wilmington's Launching Pad restaurants. That was one of the neatest things any kid ever did for me. You always wonder how much you're doing with them sinks in.

Two More Nutty Things Coming Up. --RoadDog

Friday, May 21, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 12-- Towanda

Like I said, there was a really big crowd both in and outside of Kicks. One guy came in and ordered "Three beers and an ice tea" Then he said he drank an ice tea once and got sick, so that is why he now drinks beer.

The Alabama-Tennessee girls softball game was on and at first was really boring with the Tide up 7-0. It is amazing how fast those girls can throw that softball underhanded like that. Then the game got interesting before the Vols ended up losing 7-6.

Next stop was Schenk's Garage after we drove slowly by all those great old cars out on 66 for the car show. I got to see the 67 Firebird and a '68 as well. Made my day.

A 3-piece rockabilly group calling themselves Hillbilly Jones was already playing out in the driveway by the time we got there. If there ever was a group to play better out by the old road, I'd sure like to know who they might be. We enjoyed them so much we ended up staying till they quit.

They've released four CDs since they got together in 2002 and are working on their fourth, but unfortunately they didn't have any with them. The music is great, frenetic and professionally done, but half the fun is their presence. They occasionally change instruments during a song, have all sorts of jokes and the stand-up base player is prone to play it behind his head.

Some More Partyin' Comin' Up. --RoadDog

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor-- Part 11- Back to Towanda

On Sunday, May 2nd, we drove back to Towanda.

First, we went to the town's North Park where we were yesterday. Today, a band that bills themselves as Country Rock with a Midwest Twist, the Cattle Bandits, were playing at the gazebo. Listened to their first set, which, of course included that classic "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" which seemed somehow appropriate.

Several trains rumbled very fast through town while we were there. We liked their "Living on Towanda Time" to the tune of "Tulsa Time." We did not see them do some of their own songs like "Ol' 66" about Route 66, "Beaches of Rural Route 1" and "Haunted Grove" about Funks Grove.

Prices were a bit expensive at the festival grounds, so decided to check out Kicks Bar and Grill (as in Kicks on 66) for a bite to eat. It was hard to find a parking spot thanks to the classic car show on the abandoned southbound lanes of Route 66 just a few hundred feet away. Both inside and the outside patio garden were packed with people drinking, eating and talking.

We felt lucky to find two seats together at the bar. I ordered their signature Pig Wings for $5.75, and was not happy to find out they had run our so had to settle for a pulled pork sandwich for $3.50. Liz got her usual pork tenderloin sandwich for $4. Outstanding food!!

My ears perked up when I heard a guy behind me talking about his car at the show, a 1967 blue 326 Firebird which he described as being in perfect shape. I had a '67 Bird from 1987 to 2002. Loved driving it, but there was too much wrong with it (and I found out that I don't like working on old cars), so sold it. He said he had paid $20,000 for it.

Kicks has outside entertainment once a month on Saturdays from May to September. Definitely something checking out.

Schenk's Garage Next. --RoadDog

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paul's Place-- Rocky Point, NC-- Part 2

Times were tough in the Great depression, but even rougher during World War II when meat was rationed, causing problems with Paul's chili used on hot dogs. Beverly Paul, A.A. Paul's son, began experimenting with different ingredients and spices to come up with a "mock chili without meat."

The result was a huge success and the popularity of Beverly Paul's hotdogs with special sauce continued to grow until he became known as "The Hot Dog King." It continues to today with third generation David and Beverly Paul who still run the family business.

One or the other is there most days.

They serve other items like blts, ham and cheese sandwiches, slaw dogs (I've got to try one of those one of these days) country ham and breakfast sandwiches. However, i have never ordered anything else but the hot dog, especially since I don't get by there too often these days.

The hot dog meat is just so-so, but when served on a steamed bun with the sauce, well, welcome to hot dog nirvana. You can get the three dog and pop drink for around $5.

As Sheriff Taylor Would Say, "G-o-o-o-o-d!!" --RoadDog

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paul's Place-- Rocky Point, NC-- Part 1

Famous Hot Dogs says the sign and they aren't kidding. This place has been a must-stop for my family when on the beach from even before I was around, and that is a l-o-n-g time.

The place first opened back in 1928 by Mr. A.A. Paul (I always had though Paul's Place was named after a first name, but 1928 is even too far back for me. The place has been in the same family ever since.

The first building burned down in 1932 and the present structure was erected on the same spot. In 1951, the year was born, it was moved to its present location at the intersection of US-117 and NC-133 and remodeled.

Originally it was a full service restaurant, country store and gas station. In years gone by, the place was also a night spot where couples would come for dining and dancing. Rumor has it that Pender County's first telephone was also in the building.

Then, there are those great hot dogs.

It's a Hot Dog Thing Coming. --RoadDog

Route 66 in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois-- Part 3

We drove all over the place, but just couldn't find any motels close to bars. When we're traveling, we like to find motels with bars on premise of within walking distance. I don't like to drink and drive in towns and places I don't know. I'd sure hate to get on an one-way street the wrong way and get pulled over after drinking.

It became apparent there was no such an animal so we decided to go to one called Mugsy's and then go by the old standby, Super 8 out on Veteran's Parkway.

Mugsy's proved to be like Maguire's in that it was a townie bar, even though there were some students there as well. Beer was $1.25 a mug (they'd better have mugs with a name like that. Too bad there wasn't a motel by it.

Checked into the Super 8 (came to $55 with tax, a WHOLE LOT BETTER than the $140 at the Holiday Inn) and saw there was a Lone Star Steakhouse right across the street so went there. We usually stay away from these sort of places as drinks are too expensive, and at $4 for 23 ounces it was pricey, but at least close enough I felt safe.

Very friendly bartender who had just graduated from ISU in Normal. I highly recommend their blooming onion appetizer.

Quite a Busy Day. --RoadDog

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Marine Corps Highway

From the Chowan (NC) Herald.

Parts of two US highways in the state of North Carolina are now to be called the Marine Corps Highway as of this past weekend. US-70 from New Bern to Havelock and US-17 from Holly Ridge to Edenton received their new name Sunday.

It covers a one hundred mile stretch, and, of course, the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune is located in the area. Ceremonies were held Saturday at Edenton, Williamston, Washington and New Bern.

It came into being because of House Bill 1021 which was pushed by North Carolina Congressmen.

According to the Camp Lejeune Globe, the east coast has been home to the Carolina Marines since 1941. During World War II, there were eleven Marine Corps Air Stations in North and South Carolina, most located along US-17.

US-17 passes through Camp Lejeune and you have to go by guards. At one point, there is a sign you wouldn't normally expect to see on a highway "Tank Crossing."

Watch Out for Those Tanks, Now!! --RoadDog

Route 66 in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois-- Part 2

Picked up US-51 in Normal and drove onto Bloomington and stopped at Maguire's to play some NTN. Maguire's was one of the first places we stopped on our very first Route 66 trip in 2002. We had just come through a late spring snowstorm which was was extremely bad between Joliet and Pontiac and almost caused us to cancel the trip.

We had driven I-55 instead of 66 figuring it would be in better shape as far as snowplowing; it wasn't. And then the trucker's were zipping by at 75+ mph to make it even more scary.

Had we not enjoyed Maguire's so much and gotten into a better mood, that probably would have been the end of it. No Route 66 for us, for better or worse. Maguire's is a locals-type bar even with both colleges nearby. Plus, the first time they had some delicious goulash.

Just one other person was playing.

Then, we drove out past Veterans Parkway (the old Route 66 Bypass) to the east of town and out to the B-Dub (Buffalo Wild Wings or BW3 as us old-timers call it) to watch the Kentucky Derby and play NTN. The place was packed and lots of cheering. There was a hotel next door, but they wanted $140 with AARP, way too expensive for us.

We got a list of motels and bars on GPS and went looking for a bar and motel close to each other. We also found out that there is a Hooters coming to the towns and that, surprisingly enough, they are going to have NTN.

A Bar, a Motel and Another Bar. --RoadDog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seabreeze Not the Resort it Once Was

From the June 27 2009 Wilmington Star News "Sea Breeze not the resort it once was, but the fishing remains" by Amy Hotz.

The small town of Sea Breeze is noted for its fresh fish and clams. It was established in the 1920s and soon became a favorite destination for black tourists since the other beaches were segregated and it was one of the few places they could go.

At one time, there were ten restaurants, several hotels (one of which was three stories tall) and many nightclubs and beach cottages. There was even an amusement park. The restaurants were well-known for their clam fritters.

The town is all but deserted today. The Civil Rights movement opened other beaches to blacks and the town began a slow decline. In 1996, Hurricane Fran wiped out most of the remaining structures.

Sad to see success destroy a historical town like this.

It was not on the ocean, but on the waterway near Snow's Cut. I have seen a sign for the town along US-421, but have never been to it. About twenty miles away, there was the Town of North Topsail which catered to blacks and was on the ocean. To the south, near Myrtle Beach, there was a black beach town called Atlantic Beach which is in similar decline.

That Sea Breeze. --RoadDog

Route 66 in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois-- Part 1

May 1st.

Towanda was the southernmost town on the Red Carpet Corridor and we decided to spend the night in Normal, just to the south.

We took Route 66 out of Towanda even though we almost always get on I-55 and bypass B-N. We did this even though every time in the past that we have tried to take 66 through the two towns, we have gotten lost, usually in the subdivision north of Normal.

Even though 66 signage in Illinois is the best along the whole route, B-N for some unknown reason is the worst stretch. It is almost like the towns do not want heritage travelers driving through.

We passed the wonderful Route 66 trail created by Fred Walk and his Normal High School students and into the aforementioned subdivision. We were shocked, neigh, flabbergasted, to be able to follow signage through the subdivision.

We were able to see the Sprague Super Service Station at 305 Pine Street, a two-story Tudor revival building dating to 1932 when it was a combination gas station, cafe and garage with living quarters on the second floor. It closed in 1976 and was in danger of falling apart, but recently efforts have been made to save it, although it looks as if little has been done.

Just down the street, at 208 Pine Street is another former gas station now being used for other purposes. Both former stations are on the 1926-1940 alignment.

We continued on Route 66 past part of Illinois State University and some fraternity houses to Business US-51 which was aligned with 66 at one time. Took it past Monical's Pizza in Normal at 1219 S. Main Street, which is in the original 1934 Steak 'n Shake building. Too bad Steak 'n Shake can't buy it back and turn it into a restaurant like the one in Springfield, Missouri.

(This information taken from David Wickline's "Images of 66 Vol. 2.)

Could B-N Be starting to get 66 Crazy? --RoadDog

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just What Kind of a Route 66 Nut Are You?

In today's Route 66 e-mail group, Darleen Crosley was compiling a list of Route 66 definitions which will help us fanatics to determine exactly how far gone we are.

1. ROADIE-- one who lives, works and volunteers or is otherwise involved with the preservation, education and promotion of Route 66.

2. DRIVE-BY-- Tourists who slow down just enough to get a photo of a motel or other Route 66 establishment without actually visiting it.

3. PURIST-- desires the authentic Route 66 experience, stays off the interstate as much as possible, eats at authentic Route 66 diners and stays at those old motels.

4. ROAD WARRIOR-- one who has conquered the entire length of Route 66 by any means of transportation.

Which One Or Combination Are You? --RoadDog

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 10-- Towanda

Still back on that May 1st trip, and I haven't even got to the second day.

Next stop was little Towanda, just to the north of the Bloomington-Normal area. This little town embraces its Route 66 heritage to a major degree, very unlike the two towns to their south.

Just the trail created on the southbound lanes of Route 66 puts it way ahead of B-N.

We passed by the Kicks Bar and Grill which is housed in an old gas station. I sure wish they hadn't taken down the old roof over the gas pumps, but this is now a great place to have a drink or take care of your hunger.

We drove to the park and, as usual, caught the very last song of a band playing at the gazebo. For some reason, Liz and I always walk into a place right when the band is getting ready for a break.

There were lots of vendors and booths selling stuff. We missed the town's booth and went to a couple places asking where we could get the puzzle piece. Those people had no idea what we were talking about.

We finally found the booth and got our piece. At this time, we were definitely planning on going to the six northern towns to finish our puzzle. We were growing fanatical.

Last Towanda stop was at Schenk's Garage where we talked with Dawn Schenk. She told us they were having a party and a band the next day and invited us. Definitely something to think about.

We always stop by Schenk's "Best Damn Garage on Route 66" when in town. Lots of Route 66 stuff on the outside of it and in the yard, but even better is the inside with more Route 66 stuff on the walls than should be allowed, a real 66 Nirvana. Both Mark and Dawn couldn't be any friendlier.

Time to Go to B-N. --RoadDog

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Historic Highways of America

This would be of great interest to ll roadies. I found that on eBay the 16 volumes of Archer Butler Hulburt were being offered at a starting price of $49.95. Sounds like a great set, but I have WAY TOO many books to read as it is, so not likely I'll bid on it.

These were published from 1902-1905. The volumes:

1. Paths of the Mound-Builders
2. Indian Thoroughfares
3. The First Chapter of the Old French War
4. Braddock's Road and Three Relevant papers
5. The Old Glade (Forbe's Road
6. Borner's Wilderness Road
7. Portage Paths: The Keys to the Continent
8. Military Roads of the Mississippi basin
9. Waterways of Western Expansion
10. The Cumberland Road
11. Pioneer roads and experiences of Travelers
12. Same
13. The Great American canals
14. Same
15. The Future of Road-making in America
16. Index

Looks Like an Interesting Set. --RoadDog

Sherman, Illinois' Proposed Veteran's Memorial/Route 66 Rest Area

Some of the Discussion in the Route 66 e-mail group in Yahoo centers on a proposed new Veteran's Memorial/Rest Area north of Sherman, Illinois (located north of Springfield). The mayor of the town made a presentation at the Route 66 Association's quarterly meeting this last weekend and also showed a rendering of the project.

It looks impressive and will be another credit to the state's stretch of Route 66 is it comes to be.

This will use a small section of unused Route 66 which will be used as a walk path.

There was also some suggestion that it be named for Ton Teague who was so instrumental in founding the Illinois Route 66 Association.

I hope this happens and that it has Tom's name. It would be a fitting memorial to him.

One More Thing to See in Illinois? --RoadDog

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Big Thank You to Route 66's Fred Walk

From the Mau 11th Bloomington (Il) Pantagraph.

Here is a teacher who really gets his students at Normal High School involved with history, and in this case, good old Route 66.

He recently bought his students out to the abandoned stretch of the southbound lanes of the Route 66 bypass in Towanda and planted trees, weeded flower gardens and cleaned up the Route 66 Trail.

He was a guiding force and largely responsible for its existence after coming up with the idea of "A Geographic Journey" on Route 66 back in 1998. His students and others helped establish this great stretch of road which has all eight Rt. 66 states, Burma Shave signs and is nicely landscaped.

The Kicks Bar and Grill in Towanda provided lunch and Fred the refreshments.

Kicks used to be Eddie's Pure Truck Stop and was also a gas station for many years, but is now a popular Route 66 eatery.

Quite the Teacher, Mr. Walk. --RoadDog

New NTN Site on the Lincoln Highway in Dekalb, Illinois

It was a rainy and chilly day yesterday here in northern Illinois, but we hit the road anyway. We met officials at Altgeld Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois and formally set up our scholarship in the College of Education.

Afterwards, we met friend Gayle who has just graduated from NIU with her master's degree and treated her to a really great meal at a new bar and grill downtown called the Upper Deck. We went there first back in February, on our way back from seeing the eagles along the Mississippi and liked it then, but really liked it now as they have gotten NTN Buzztime.

Eating, drinking and playing NTN, a mighty fine way to spend an afternoon.

They even had NTN bingo, which some of the regulars were playing and plan poker tournaments. The trivia hasn't caught on yet, however.

We split an order of onion loaf and I had the half-pounder Alumni cheeseburger with tater tots. Tuesdays, its buy one sandwich, get one free for up to $6 and $6 pitchers of domestic beer.

They always have cans from what they call the Bleacher Beer section for $1.50. These are the beers your dad used to drink like Blatz, Schlitz, Hamm's, Genesee, PBR, Old Milwaukee, Old Style and Lacrosse. That took us back since we were "forced" to drink Old Milwaukee at Northern. A six pack was always 99 cents while a six pack of Coke was $1.49. You had to save up your money so you could go out and do the Lincoln Crawl to the many bars located along Illinois Highway 38, otherwise known as the Lincoln Highway.

There are now two NTN sites on the Lincoln Highway in Dekalb, Upper Deck downtown and father west, Fatty's, Home of NIU Huskie Sports and that famous deep-fried Cajun potato salad.

As Arnold Would Say, We'll Be Back. --RoadDog

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gone NTNin'

Two weeks ago, while on the Red Carpet Corridor Festival, we stopped at two NTN sites in Bloomington, Illinois, Maguires and B-Dub (Buffalo Wild Wings). These did not count as new sites as we had been to both in the past.

Maguires is more of what you'd call a townie bar (Illinois State University is located in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington). We had been to Maguire's once before on our very first Route 66 trip in 2002. It was a welcome respite after the huge snowstorm between Joliet and Pontiac. We had some great goulash if I remember correctly.

We hadn't been back since as we normally drive around B-N as there is very little of Route 66 left, not do the towns seem to care. So, usually its I-55 around from Towanda to McLean or Shirley/Funks Grove.

Today, we are driving to Dekalb where Liz and I will be signing papers for our scholarship in the College of Education. I see that the B-Dub, Otto's and Fatty's (home of deep-fried Cajun potato salad and on Lincoln Highway) still have it, but one other place has dropped it.

However, Upper Deck, on the Lincoln Highway which serves at Main Street through town, now has NTN, plus, so does Joker's in nearby Sycamore, so plan on adding these two to our nearly 900 list of different NTN sites we've visited. I doubt that anyone else has ever gone to as many.

Cruisin' and NTNin'. --RoadDog

When Winneconne Seceded from Wisconsin

Winneconne is a small town in Wisconsin located a little to the west of Oshkosh and Lake Winnebago. This is the only town in Wisconsin ever to announce it planned to secede from the state.

Back in 1967, they were left off the official state map. All there was was a dot between lake Poygan and Winnebago. The town was unhappy with Governor Knowles' response and decided they would try to secede.

With tongue-in-cheek, the Sovereign State of Winneconne came into being, like Key West's Conch Republic. A flag was created and a festival planned. They even had a state animal, the skunk; state flower, poison ivy and state bird, the dodo.

The Sovereign State came into being July 21, 1967.

Governor Knowles apologized by phone at 4 pm, and in 1968, the town of Winneconne magically appeared on state maps.

This year the festival honoring the even will be July 16th to 18th. Sounds like fun.

Those Cheeseheads!! Too Many Brats and Too Much Beer. --RoadDog

Monday, May 10, 2010

Route 66's Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 9-- Lexington

At the booth giving out the puzzle pieces, we were given an envelope with coupons for various town businesses, a good idea that should be adopted all up and down the line.

Unfortunately, we didn't open it until we got home, so weren't able to take advantage of them. Give me a coupon and you have one happy roadie here.

This is good for local businesses and the traveler.

10% off Route 66 items at Koch's booth.
Kemp's Upper tap on Main, free French fries with sandwich
A free prize from the Commerce Bank on Main Street

Kenny's Restaurant and Lounge: Route 66 Lunch Specials: Hot roast beef sandwich and mashed potatoes $6.60, grilled chicken salad $6.60, giant pork tenderloin sandwich (always a Route 66 favorite) for ____. And for dessert an ice cream sundae for 66 cents.

Plus, Kenny's, located on Main Street has a Sunday brunch the first Sunday of every month. For this one, it was buy one, get one for, guess what, $6.60. Just something about those numbers.

Reckon we'll have to stop at Kenny's and Kemp's the next time in town.

Sure Wish We'd Opened the Envelope. --RoadDog

Founder of Sonic Drive-Ins Died October 26, 2010

Troy N. Smith, Sr. died at age 87 in Oklahoma City. In the 1950s, he ran the Top Hat Drive-In which had car-hop service in Shawnee, Oklahoma. he started using call boxes for ordering which reduced trips the car-hops had to make and led to the slogan "Service at the speed of sound. Unable to trademark the Top Hat Name, Mr. Smith used his slogan and came up with the name "Sonic."

Today, the Sonic Drive-In chain is one of the fastest-growing ones in the US with 3,600 units in 42 states which served over a million customers daily. We just got one up in our area, Chicago's Northwest Suburbs, in Lake Zurich, Illinois. Surprising because it gets so cold around here.

Mr. Smith was born in 1922.

He was helped in establishing the chain by Charles Pappe who stopped into the Stillwater site and was so impressed he invested.

A Self-Made Man. --RoadDog

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carper Corridor Festival-- Part 8-- Lexington

Drove by the former site of the 1910 Ballard Elevator. It wasn't pretty, but stood there all those years like a giant sentinel. It's site is south of Chenoa. You will see two small buildings and some sort of a railroad shed with the word Ballard on it.

Sadly, Memory Lane wasn't open. I was pretty sure that it would be.

There was nothing going on in downtown Lexington other than several garage sales, one in an old auto repair garage. We were directed there, of course, by the 1949neon sign.

The festival was being held on the vacated southbound lanes of the old four lane Route 66. There were a lot of vendors both selling stuff and food. I finally got my pork chop sandwich I'd been wanting along with a root beer float and a corn dog which, while not a Cozy, wasn't bad at all.

We picked up our fifth puzzle piece and were starting to consider driving north tomorrow to get the other six pieces.

Unfortunately, the weather was getting a bit nippy and the southbound lanes were raised just enough to give the breezes with all the cold in a clear shot at us.

Getting Hooked on Those Lousy Puzzle Pieces. --RoadDog

Ohio's Historical Marker Program-- Part 2

Continued from May 1st entry.

As of the end of 2007, there are 1,200 markers. People are invited to nominate new ones. They must be of historical properties, persons and events on local, state or national level. It should address at least one important aspect of Ohio's historical, natural, or physical development in one of the following areas: history, architecture, culture, archaeology, ethnic association, natural history or folklore.

Once approved, the marker is manufactured by Sewah Studios in Marietta, Ohio.

A grant was set up in 2006 to help organizations and communities to defray cost. Up to 20 markers a year are selected to receive $750 to lower the $1,900 to $2,150 cost.

www.remarkableohio.org

Love Those History On a Sticks. --RoadDog

Friday, May 7, 2010

World War II Naval Construction Batallion Center-- Oxnard, Ca.

This has been the home for the military group called Seebees since World War II. The word Seebees comes from the words construction battalion. They were established May 18, 1942. During World War II, the Seebees were responsible for shipping 20 million tons of supplies and 200,000 men in the Pacific Theater.

A new $12 million 33,000 square-foot museum is planned to replace a run-down World War II-era building. It will be the main repository of Seebee operational information and artifacts.

During World War II, the Seebees built airfields, bridges, roads, gasoline storage tanks, warehouses, hospitals and housing.

The base at Oxnard was where over 100,000 Seebees trained during the war.

In May 2007, another World War II structure on base was rehabbed into sleeping quarters.

In August 2009, groundbreaking was held for the new museum which will be located outside the base for easier public access in these War on terrorism days. It is expected to open in the spring of 2011.

And this story grew out of a post on the Wagon Wheel Motel in Oxnard, California from April 17th.

Something Else to See.

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Festival-- Part 7-- Chenoa

Drove past the old Illinois State Police headquarters, the one with the $150,000 worth of asbestos and my favorite Illinois Route 66 bridge with the four spans and arrived in Chenoa.

We drove downtown where the festival was to be taking place by the gazebo and saw a taped off area, but absolutely no one around. No one was even walking on the sidewalks. We looked at the brochure and found that we could get our puzzle piece at the Redbird Antiques store out on US-24, near the railroad tracks.


REDBIRD ANTIQUES

Very friendly owners, got our piece and were told that the festival had been moved to a park from downtown because the front of a building is in danger of pulling away from the rest of it and collapsing onto the street. That explains it, but they really should have had signs up redirecting people.

This is a great antique store with a lot of vendors and very reasonable prices, but I am glad to report that I managed to get out without buying anything, though I was tempted on a few items. If you're an Illinois State grad or fan, this is the place to visit, plus they have several old tractors in a museum. This was our first time ever there, but well worth a stop.

Drove the couple blocks to the park, but it was already breaking down. No porkchop sandwiches which the town is famous for and a deejay, and maybe five other people.

On the way back to 66, we drove through the downtown to see this building. We approached from the back and you could see inside the rooms as it had collapsed. The taped off area we had seen in the street is in front of the building and the bricks are several inches pulled away. Definitely an event waiting to happen and good call on the town's part.

The building that is falling down is just one store removed from the old Chenoa Pharmacy store so hope this won't have an adverse effect on it.

Heading for Lexington. --RoadDog

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy 90th to Chicago's Michigan Avenue Bridge

From the May 5th Chicago Tribune CityScapes blog by Blair Kamin and Wikipedia.

San Francisco has its Golden Gate, New York City its Brooklyn Bridge and Cincinnati it Roebling Bridge (a practice run for the Brooklyn). Chicago has its famous Michigan Avenue Bridge.

May 14th, the Friends of the Chicago River will hold a 90th birthday party for it which is a great double-leaf, double-deck, trunnion bascule Beaux Arts bridge linking the Loop with the Magnificent Mile to the north.

It is considered an engineering miracle built between 1917 and 1920 designed by architect Edward H. Bennett. Later, this type of bridge became known as Chicago-style bascule. It is 220 feet long and a pair of 108 horsepower motors operate it. In 2006, the McCormick Tribune Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum opened in the southwest corner of the bridge.

it was built as part of Daniel Burnhams's 1909 Plan of Chicago.

That Is One Impressive Bridge Even If Not as Long as Some. --RoadDog

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festval-- Part 6-- "Walking Tacos"

Before leaving Pontiac, we took a walk around the square where they had a regular carnival going on and lots of vendors. We stopped at the Lions' Club and bought what they called walking tacos. I'd never heard of them and was curious. It turns out to be a Frito bag with crushed chips. They put a big chunk of shredded beef and dollop of sour cream in as well. Delicious and a good deal for $1.50 and a good cause.

We were saddened when we drove by the old site of the Downtowner Motel. We had stayed there on several occasions. Clean rooms for about $50 and even better, within walking distance of four bars, especially that great Bob and Ringo's. We always love it when we can go out drinking and not have to worry about driving, especially in strange towns.

The mayor did say something about B&Bs located near the downtown so might have to check them out.

Heading for Chenoa. --RoadDog

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 5-- It's a Walldog Thing

I went to their website www.walldogs.com/ and saw that to become a Walldog doesn't take much. All you have to do is show up at an event with a paintbrush or volunteer to help carry, clean, or set up for them. Maybe I will become one at Danville this August.

While at the museum, Pontiac's mayor, Robert T. Russell, came in and introduced himself to us. We congratulated him on the city's commitment to its Route 66 heritage (I sure would like to talk to the mayors of Normal and Bloomington about THEIR commitment).

I told him we were disappointed that the old Downtowner Motel had to be torn down. He said he was as well, but at least the space (along with several other buildings north of it) will be used for needed county buildings.

It came to him that it would have been neat to have turned the motel into the Walldog Museum and to have it continue as a motel as well, but that was too late. I was happy to learn that the Pontiac mural on the back of the Downtowner had been taken down block by block, stored, and at some time in the future will be rebuilt somewhere.

Gas in Pontiac was the cheapest on the trip, at $2.82 ($2.81.9). The rest of Route 66 was $2.90. While on Il-47, gas was anywhere from $2.96 to $3.17.

This Walldog Museum is Definitely a Welcome Addition.

Heading Out for Chenoa. --RoadDog

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 4-- Still in Pontiac

THE WALLDOGS MURAL MUSEUM

There was a tent set up outside the new Walldogs Museum at 217 Mill Street and cake, pastries and veggie dip inside. Two rooms are devoted to original art works by various Walldogs and are for sale, so if you're looking for that special piece for a wall, this be the place. They are not cheap, though, but hey, original.

All along one wall are tee shirts that were worn by the Dogs at various towns in gatherings over their career. They have members all over the world and take their name from artists who did outdoor advertising (on the sides of buildings mostly) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

They also have several dioramas. I was told there were 23 Walldogs in and around town for this grand opening. I believe there are plans to add one more mural every year to those already existing.

The next Illinois Walldogs event will be in Danville, along the Indiana line the first weekend in August where 12 murals are planned. In June. they will be at Plymouth, Wisconsin from the 22nd to 26th for 15 planned murals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival-- Part 3-- Pontiac

Then, past the Merramec Caverns barn, the Old Log Cabin and into Pontiac which had one of the largest celebrations.

Stopped first at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum, signed in, and asked where the new Walldog Mural and Art Museum was and found it to be on the square right across from that wonderful courthouse of theirs.

I told the guy at the association's museum that I wished the Walldogs could have been at the old State Police Headquarters on 66 south of town. He said that the place could be bought for $1, but then there would be a $150,000 asbestos cleanup before anything could be done to it. It might have become a state police museum, but there already is one in Springfield.

All around town, there are miniature cars and trucks which local artists have painted as the summer project for the town, modeled on Chicago's Cows on Parade. One outside the Walldogs Museum was based on wonders of the world and painted by art students at the high school.

The Walldogs museum will be a welcome addition to Route 66 in Illinois. Part of the reason it is there is because of last year's huge project where about twenty murals were painted around the downtown square.

From One Dog to Another. --RoadDog

Gardner, Illinois' Riviera Restaurant

On the way home from the Red Carpet Corridor on Sunday, we decided to go out of our way and visit the Riviera in Gardner, Illinois. It was one of our favorite places and I'd heard they were open again.

This is a bit out of our way as we usually take Il-47 at Dwight to get home. We were disappointed to find it closed, but hoped that maybe they just weren't open on Sundays. We WERE REALLY happy to see that the entrance by the road had been paved. There was some big-time potholes where we bottomed out whenever I would forget about them.

The place looked a bit run-down and there was a chain across the backyard where the diner is located.

Today, I read in the Route 66 Yahoo E-Mail group that the owner and town are having some serious problems and it is closed for now. Let's hope they work it out. They need each other, especially now that the town has all that great Route 66 signage and even shields on the road.

We were "forced" to cruise on up the road to Braidwood where we were "forced" to stop at the Polka-Dot and had the first banana split I can remember having in a long tine. It was huge and had two halves of a banana in it and was around $3.60.

This is a Special Place. --RoadDog

Monday, May 3, 2010

Illinois' Route 66 Red Carpet Festival-- Part 2-- Odell

Those windmills stretch way south of Odell, almost to Pontiac and could likely be one of the largest Wind Farms in the US. I sure can't imagine one being bigger. Definitely a new TO-SEE thing on the Route.

The home with all the gas pumps out front was open in Odell and there were quite a few people at the Odell Standard Station. I walked in and signedthe book. A group of motorcyclists pulled up just after we arrived. They were on the road for a cure for cancer. One biker was towing a small corvette for storage, a neat touch.

I asked Liz where we were to get the puzzle piece and she said in the station. No one had said a word to me about it while I was in there. Liz went in to get it.

We saw work going on at the old Smaterjax restaurant (Fedderson's before that). Looks like they are gutting the place. Hopefully it won't be torn down. We were shocked when the Smaterjax owners sold all that great automotive memorabilia, including the straight run of license plates with the same numbers and letters from the 1920s to 1980s. That was amazing, but now some private owner has it.

Next, From One Dog to Another. --RoadDog

Illinois' Route 66 Red Corridor Festival-- Part 1-- Dwight

The Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival is held every first weekend in May. Twelve Illinois towns along the northern part of Route 66 from Joliet to Towanda participate. Of course, Bloomington-Normal has nothing to do with it. For some reason those two towns choose to ignore that aspect of their heritage.

This was our first time on it and we certainly will be back next year as, thanks to Mark and Dawn Schenk in Towanda, we didn't get to cruise the northern part. And because of that, we only got six of the twelve puzzle pieces they were giving away. Thanks a lot Mark and Dawn!!

We arrived in Dwight (because it is on Il-47, our Chicago bypass) and went to the Ambler-Becker service station to start our trip. We picked up flyers and our first puzzle piece. We have seen this place go from endangered to preserved since we first started cruising the Mother Road and were excited when we found out the city was going to preserve it and turn it into a tourist center.

However, we have never been able to go into it because it is always closed when we drive by. There were very friendly and informative people there to greet us. Definitely another gem to add to all the great stuff to see on Route 66 in Illinois!!

We drove downtown, but there wasn't anything going on, so drove to stop #2, Odell, past that huge Wind Farm.

Another Gas Station. --RoadDog

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Skyview Turns 60

The Skyview Drive-In in Litchfield, Illinois (between Springfield and St. Louis) turns 60 this year. It opened in 1950 and is the only original drive-in on Route 66 in Illinois still operating.

A celebration will be held June 26th in conjunction with the annual Route 66 Classic Car and Motorcycle Festival.

The drive-in operates from April to October, showing double features for $2 a person. What a deal!!

We have been in Litchfield many times, but have never seen a show there. Either they weren't open or we didn't want to see the movies offered.

One of These Days. --RoadDog

Woodstock, Illinois-- May 1st

As usual, we took Illinois Highway 47, south to get to Route 66 so as to avoid the Chicago hassle.

We started at Woodstock, one of our favorite towns. One reason was to see the ruins of Grace Hall, a once magnificent Prairie-style structure that served as a dormitory for the Todd School for Boys and where Orson Welles lived. It was knocked down Thursday after a long battle between preservationists and the current owners. All that is left now is a pile of bricks and wood with a couple pieces of heavy machinery sitting on top of it.

Sad that Woodstock, a village known for its preservation, would have allowed this to happen.

We then took a ride around the square which dates to the 1850s. This is small town ambiance at its greatest. Springtime it is particularly beautiful with all the blooms on the trees.

Had we not been in a hurry to get to Dwight, we would have stayed as there was a huge farmers' market taking place with booths lining two sides of the square and in it. Lots of people milling around.

Sad to see that the new restaurant that had opened in the building which served as the Tip Top Cafe in he movie "Groundhog Day" was for sale. For some reason no business has been able to succeed in that location and I sure would like to eat there sometime. I believe if someone reopens it as the Tip Top, it would be a success.

The Victorian home that served as Bill Murray's Bed and Breakfast in the movie is being reopened as an actual B&B. They had hoped to have it open for the Groundhog Day Festival this past February, but it wasn't. It still isn't open, but they have rebuilt the fence that was featured in the movie.

On the way back to Il-47, we drove down Lake Street which has a half mile long row of purple lilacs which were all in bloom.

The Good, the Bad Woodstock. ---RoadDog

4th Annual Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival

Nice article in the May 2nd Bloomington (Il) Pantagraph "Travelers on Mother Road get red carpet treatment" by Jordan Goebig.

We were on it yesterday in six communities from Dwight to Towanda. Goebig concentrated his story on one of the better celebrations which was held at Towanda, a really small town just north of Bloomington-Normal. For such a small town, under 1000 population, they outdid themselves with vendors, antiques, food, and even a band.

Susan and Jim Arteman coordinated this segment. Susan said this is an effort to get people to travel the old road.

One visitor from nearby Lexington, which also had its own celebration, Carl Painter, remembers driving 66 to Chicago to visit relatives long before I-55 was built.

Today, besides another band and a band at Schenk's Garage in Towanda, there is also a classic car show on Old Route 66.

Always good to be back on the old road.

Down Da 66 Again. --RoadDog

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ohio Historical Marker Program-- Part 1

From the Jan. 3, 2008, Wilmington (Oh) News Herald "Ohio Historical Society observes 50th anniversary at marker program."

Markers made of cast aluminum are located in all 88 Ohio counties and pay tribute to a diverse array of happenings from "natural wonders, Native Americans and settlers, government and politics, entertainers and artists, athletes, inventors, struggles for freedom and equality, business and industry" plus many others.

In 1953, the Ohio Sesquicentennial Commission began erecting Corporate Limit markers and City Lines. On these, in 13 words or less, they told something historically significant about the town. By 1957, many felt 13 or less words was not enough. The Ohio Historical Markers Program was established to be coordinated by the Ohio Historical Society. Their new markers would have from 90 to 300 words.

The first marker was in Akron and about the significance of Portage Path, the famous portage place between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers. As of 2007, there were 1,200 markers across Ohio.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Miami Marine Stadium and the Coppertone Girl

The October 8, 2009, Miami Herald reported that the Miami Historical Preservation Board voted 8-0 to give historical designations to these two sites.

A group called the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium have purchase the site. It was built in 1963 for use in power boat racing.

The Coppertone Girl billboard had stood on Biscayne Boulevard for decades until the sign, without neon, was moved to a Flagler Street building. The Dade Heritage Trust donated it to the Mimo Biscayne Association which is promoting the revitalization of that historic district that highlights 1950s Miami Modernism architecture (and you though Miami was only famous for its Art Deco),

Coppertone will cover the restoration costs (good move for that company). Coppertone was developed by Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green in the early 1940s. The toddler with bare butt thanks to a mischievious pooch was developed by a Florida artist in 1959.

Save the Girl!! --RoadDog