Friday, July 29, 2011

Boating to Our Dinner

We just got back in from a later-than usual boat cruise for din-din. Wednesday, it was too stormy so we went to Donovan's to play NTN. Yesterday, we were steaming in Milwaukee at the Cubs game. Steaming both because the Cubs stunk as usual and steaming because of the great humidity.

Today was steamy until about 5, so I went to the movies and saw the excellent Captain America: First Avenger and may go back to see it again, it was that good.

We boated across Fox Lake after clearing off the little pond of water we had from Wednesday and Thursday's storms.

Captain's has a full slab of ribs, salad and fries on Fridays for $10. I can live with that in these days where most full slabs run $15 to $20.

We then did a slow cruise over to where the eagles are and saw one fly into the tree and believe we heard another one. Everyone on the Chain of Lakes is hoping the eagles remain despite their nesting tree being knocked down by the July 11th derecho.

It was getting dark, so put the boat up and drove to Hidden Point by Kamikaze Alley where Nippersink and Fox lakes come together. For many years it was Korpan's Landing and it has been many places in the last eight years. I doubt that this newest bar is going to make it.

Then, it was on to El Puerto, out on-the-water Mexican restaurant for more drinks. We had the Chain Crawl book signed at both these last places.

I Like Sawbuck Ribs. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Springfield April 29th Trip-- Part 1

This past April, I had a Sons of Confederate Veterans Division meeting (Illinois Division) in Springfield, Illinois, one of my favorite cities anywhere, even if our ex-governor, the Blago would rather live in Chicago than the Governor's Mansion there.

Gas in Woodstock was $4.20.

We left April 29th. Enjoyed the "Got Mulch" sign by a landscaping place on Il-176 east of Marengo.

The Dekalb County Courthouse in Sycamore, where Liz and I got our marriage certificate, had construction work going on. I guess you can expect that from a 100+ year-old structure.

Gas in Dekalb was $4.06. Other prices there: $4.10 to $4.16.

We usually take Il-47, but a huge construction project is underway in that fast-growing town, so decided to take Il-23 as an alternate. It also runs north-south.

Leaving Dekalb, we saw a wind farm, evidently a new one as none of the windmills were turning.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Great Day Boating-- Part 2

Monday, July 25th.

Great sitting out at Freddie's tiki bar and enjoyed the $2 drafts and food. I sure wish they hadn't gotten so expensive, but that's their call.

We then cruised the short distance to Ben Watt's Marina and went to Moretti's for another stamp on our Chain Crawl passports.

We were already aware that the place is REALLY hard to find by boat. You can see it at all times, but you just can't get there from here for the most part.

We cruised down several channels between the boats and had to turn back. But, eventually even the blind squirrel finds the nut as Frank likes to say, and we found the correct way to the Moretti's pier, tied up and walked a ways to the place.

Their piers could use some repair. Mondays, they have $2 pints and $7 mountain lasagna, not a bad deal at all. Plus, the bartender was mighty friendly and we ended up staying for a couple beers. The bartenders at Vicki's in McHenry could sure learn something about being friendly from the Moretti bartenders.

The more you talk with customers, the more your tip. That should be obvious.

Last stop was back at the Legion where we downed a few more 50 cent brews and talked with the regulars.

All In All, Even a Bad Day Out on the Chain Is Better Than a Good Day at Work. --RoadDog

Tidbits: Stuff to See While Cruising the States

From this week's American Profile Magazine


MICHIGAN-- The CHERRY BOWL DRIVE-IN THEATRE in Honor (pop. 328) has been open every summer since 1953. Now, that is one vintage place, hearkening back to the glory days of the drive-in.

It is located in northwest Michigan which calls itself the Cherry Capital of the World, hence the name and features a kids' playground and mini-golf for pre-movie fun. Last time, i was at a playground, I fell out of the swing. I stay away from swings now.

My big problem these days with drive-ins is that the shows start too late, around 9 around here and to get my money's worth, I want to see the second feature. Way too late for an old fart like myself.

MINNESOTA-- The oldest cemetery in Minneapolis is PIONEERS AND SOLDIERS MEMORIAL CEMETERY with burials dating back to 1853. The place is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Three War of 1812, many Civil War and twenty Spanish-American War veterans are buried here as well as many of the area's pioneer settlers, early blacks in the area and abolitionists.

MISSOURI-- Bolivar (pop. 10,325) established in 1835, is named after a Tennessee town that was named for South American hero, General Simon Bolivar. On July 4, 1948, President Harry Truman and Venezuelan President Romulo Gallegos attended the dedication of a memorial statue of the liberator.

Just Some Interesting Things to See. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tidbits: Stuff to See While Cruising the States

From this week's American Profile Magazine. Since I live in the Midwest, I get those tidbits. They have tidbits on all states based on section. You can check them out at

Doing the "I"s.

ILLINOIS-- At 22, Chicago Bulls player DEREK ROSE became the youngest player to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player. He was born and grew up in Chicago and now returns to play for his town.

INDIANA-- The official Hoosier state pie (Have we come to official state pies? I wonder what Illinois' is? Probably Gov. State Pen Pies.) is the SUGAR CREAM PIE. (Now that sounds like something I would like to try.) It dates from Quaker settlements in the eastern part of the state in the early 1800s.

Wick's Pies in Winchester (pop. 4,935) is famous for its Sugar Cream Pie which is made from milk, sugar, flour, shortening, vanilla and nutmeg.

IOWA-- What is 13 stories high and a half-mile long? You'll find it between Madrid (pop. 2,543) and Woodward (pop. 1,024) and it's the High Trestle Bridge which gives bicyclists a grand view of the Des Moines River Valley. (Can you outbike that full-throttle train?)

Just Some Interesting Stuff. --RoadDog

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Great Day Boating-- Part 1

Made even better because we were out on Kevin and Kelly's boat.

They met us at the American Legion on Fox Lake here on the Chain of Lakes in northeast Illinois. We had to wait for Sue and Paul so were "forced" to drink those 50 cent drafts, the special on Monday.

No big surprise to have to wait for Sue and Paul.

Cruised under the US-12 bridge and over to Famous Freddie's on Pistakee Lake. Sat out by the tiki bar and met up with Sue and Paul, Kristina and Jim and had the $2.50 drafts and went inside to order food.

I got the pulled pork bbq sandwich and Liz the cod sandwich, both with fries and for $4.99. I used my new debit card for the second time at the counter. I just got on it as our bank has a 3.01% interest for those on the card if you use it 12 times a month. That shouldn't be a problem.

We used to go to Freddie's a lot back in the old days when everything was much cheaper and they had NTN. At one time the half pound burger was 99 cents and beer most days was $1.50. Wednesdays they had 50 cent pretty much anything you wanted to drink. That $2.50 beer today is the very cheapest they get all week.

The big problem of going to the place was (and still is) turning left across the four lane US-12 Speedway. You really took your life in your own hands. Some folks are driving the speed limit, but most want to pass you even if you're doing ten to twenty over the speed limit.

Ya Can't Beat Fun Out on the Chain. More to Come. --RoadDog

Ten Insights from Traveling Route 66-- Part 2

4. WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH OKLAHOMA?-- They voted against Obama and Republicans rule. Their favorite son is Will Rogers and they refer to 66 as the Will Rogers Highway. (So, what's wrong with voting against Obama?)

5. WIND ENERGY FROM THE TEXAS PANHANDLE-- The panhandle is "the Saudi Arabia" of wind energy.

6. AMARILLO HAS A GOOD GAY SCENE-- There are more gay bars in Amarillo than in Albuquerque, which has a much larger population.

7. THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF COWBOY HATS-- "...every cowboy has at least two hats: a dark felt hat to keep them warm in the cool months and a white straw hat to keep cool during the summer." And, you shouldn't wear your straw hat before Easter.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top Ten Insights From Traveling Route 66-- Part 1

From the April 26, 2011 Huffington Post by Paul Hogarth.

Mr. Hogarth was able to fulfill a life-long ambition and had just flown to Chicago and spent three weeks driving Route 66 from there to Santa Monica. he had some interesting comments about the Mother Road. I will list them with his comments and some mine in parentheses. For the whole thing, search for it.

1. ILLINOIS DOES THE BEST JOB OF PROMOTING ROUTE 66-- "Every town milks its connection." That is, except for Bloomington-Normal which apparently has no idea about the road. And, we have the best signage.

2. ST. LOUIS REMINDED ME OF NEW ORLEANS-- (And, not in a good way.) It is an old town that has fallen upon hard times where he "witnessed the worst inner-city poverty I have ever seen." (I take it he went through the north part of 66 from the Chain of Rocks to downtown.)

3. MISSOURI'S POVERTY WAS OVERWHELMING-- It was especially bad in the Ozarks part of the state. (I don't remember it being that bad and sure wouldn't mind living there which may come sooner than later if my property taxes here in Illinois keep going up at the present rate.)

More to Come. --RoadDog

When the Going Gets Hot, the Dazed Go Out Anyway-- Part 2

Well, it was H-O-T!! today. When you water the plants, bushes and trees (we also have a several week drought going on, the horses are complaining that the grass is too brittle and hurts their mouths when razing) and you sweat from all the "exertion," you know it's hot and muggy.

Anyway, it was also H-O-T last week and weekend, but that didn't stop us from going out.


We did a boat float and went to see the bald eagles and take more pictures with the regular camera. We then had a delicious steak and well-traveled shrimp fry at Sue and Paul's place on Long Lake. The shrimp had been brought up from the Gulf of Mexico on ice the night before, so this is about as fresh as you can get this distance from them.

Plenty of food and beer as well as Pete's famous pasta. We brought along a six pack of Beck's and we toasted our planned trip to Munich for Oktoberfest in two years after Sue and Paul retire from teaching.

And, It Was Hot, But Who's Counting? --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well, I Got Hotted Out Today

I wasn't going to let the heat wave (I heard 100 degrees today) striking the Chicago area get me down, but I was hotted out. Tomorrow, I will stay inside except to go to Donovan's for some NTN.

Today, I went out in the boat in the early morning from 8 to 10, and it wasn't bad floating out on Fox Lake as there was a strong breeze coming in from the south. However, putting the mooring cover on in the channel wasn't very pleasant because there was NO breeze. I can handle the hot as long as I have air movement.

I had to go to McDonald's afterward to cool off.

Then, I went to Menard's and bought sixty interlocking landscaping stones. Loading those brought back a sweat, but not too bad as some of their folks helped me load.

However, when I got the stones home, that was another story and I was soaked by the time I got them unloaded.

I did get the chance to cool off at the Fox Lake Theatre watching the new "Harry Potter" movie.

Liz and I met the "Usual Suspects" at Tommy's in Spring Grove for their pizza special ($10 for a 16-inch, one topping and buck beers.

The place is usually crowded, but especially today as folks were going outside and it was too hot to cook at home anyway. Unfortunately, something must have been wrong with Tommy's ac, as it got more uncomfortable as the place filled up.

Friend Randy, from the Legion, played a very appropriate song on the jukebox, David Johansson's "Hot, Hot, Hot." Was that ever on the mark.

Like I Said, I Been "Whupped" By the Heat and Join All the Others."

See That World War II Plane

If I do go, it will be to the Chicago Executive Airport where the planes will be July 22nd to the 25th.

It is where I thought it would be, only I knew it as Palwaukee Airport when I was growing up in Palatine. Back in high school, I drove by the place many times.

The airport started in 1925 when it was called Gauthiers Flying Field and consisted of 40 acres.

In 1928, it was renamed Palwaukee Airport after the two highways that form the eastern and southern borders of it: Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue, US-45/Il-21.

It is the third busiest airport in Illinois after O'Hare and Midway.

Seriously Thinking About It. --RoadDog

Fly in a World War II Plane

I saw an ad in today's Chicago tribune for what they call "The Ultimate Living History Experience," the chance to tour two World War II bombers and probably the most famous fighter plane from the war.

The Wings of Freedom Tour, put on by the Collings Foundation, has come to the Chicago area.

The fighter is the P-51 Mustang and the bombers are a B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator.

I have been writing about bombers in my history blog at Http://

World War II's planes are becoming of great interest to me. I even have a daily calendar and a monthly calendar featuring them.

July 20-22 at the Greater Kankakee Airport

July 22-25 at the Chicago Executive Airport

July 25-27 at the Porter County Regional Airport

July 27-29 at the Griffith-Merrillville Airport.

WALK-THROUGH TOURS are $12 for adults, $6 for children. Then, there's the biggie, you can actually go up in one. To go up in one of the bombers will cost you $425. (A World War II bomber crashed in the Chicago area a month ago.

The primo event gives you "stick-time" flying the P-51 (which is dual control). But that costs $2200 for a half hour and $3200 for a full hour.

Expensive, but the costs go to keeping the vintage aircraft running.

Thinking About the Walk-Throughs. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cruise Around Fox Lake: Storm Damage and Bald Eagles-- Part 4

Liz had read on the Fun on the Fox website that the Chain's pride and joy, the pair of nesting bald eagles and their offspring, had become homeless when their tree and nest were toppled during the storm.

They had one on the channel between Nippersink Lake and Grasslake, maybe an eighth of a mile from the Grasslake Road Bridge. Everyone starts looking for the eagles when passing this area. Quite often, you can see one flying. The pair have been there for three years now.

Their nest was in a copse of trees and about half of these trees were down and others had lost limbs.

We were happy to see an adult perched on a branch and a juvenile on another. You can tell the difference because the young ones don't have the tell-tale white heads and tails, although they are as big as their parents. And, they had plenty of eagle talk going on.

We didn't see the other adult and hope it is still around and not hurt or dead.

Liz took photos on her cell phone, but we were too far away to get a good shot.

Here's Hoping We Get to Keep Those Magnificent Birds. --RoadDog

Cruise Around Fox Lake: Storm Damage and Bald Eagles-- Part 3

This last Thursday, we took the boat out for a cruise around Fox Lake to view storm damage from last Monday's storm.

There were many limbs down as well as hole trees splintered. Many of the people along the shore line did not have power yet and, upon leaving Electric Harbor, we saw a couple homes which were actually damaged by falling trees. Several had blue tarps on their roofs.

Cruising along the north shore of the lake now and we saw that the garage doors were down at Captain's Quarters, meaning they were closed. Neighbor and manager Melanie later told us they were closed from Monday to Thursday and finally got electricity Thursday night and were able to reopen for business Friday. That is a big loss of money for places that depend on the short summer season to make a profit.

Though we didn't officially have a tornado July 11th, the hit and miss location of damage sure would indicate one.

And then, what about our bald eagles.

Much Worse Than I Initially Thought. --RoadDog

Monday, July 18, 2011

When the Going Gets Hot, the Dazed Go Outside Anyway-- Part 1

Continuing with our Big Oil Staycation, sticking close to home as a protest against the ridiculous gas prices. And, it is getting H-O-T around here. Maybe all that Global Warming we've been hearing about.

Sure is plenty to do around here.

THURSDAY JULY 14TH-- Out boating around Fox Lake looking at damage from Monday's storm and there was a lot. Fox Lake finally got power back today. Stopped at Electric Harbor and had a couple beers and enjoyed the view from their tiki bar.

Sadly, we heard the tree the bald eagles nested in near the Grasslake Road Bridge near Blarney Island was knocked down. Went by it and it was, but one mature and one juvenile eagle perched in a nearby tree.

Drove to Antioch, Illinois, for the first night of their Taste of Summer celebration. Sat out on the deck behind The Lodge of Antioch while waiting for the show to begin and enjoyed retro beer, PBR, and 25 cent wings. Their barbecue wings are great as are the Cajun. All of the Usual Suspects agreed these were outstanding wings and a great price. They also have 25-cent medium peel-and-eat (deveined) shrimp everyday, but we were too full to enjoy them.

A Jimmy Buffett band, Pirates Over 40, had a show at the band shell. They do have one 49-year-old "youngster" in the band. Great show and lots of folks dancing and singing along. Played not only JB, but Zak Brown and the other country/beach acts as well as reggae. More fun than folks should be allowed and we'll definitely be seeing them again.

More to Come. --RoadDog

The "Big Mama" of the Mississippi

On July 14th, I wrote about the world's largest steam-powered stern wheeler towboat ever built, the Sprague. I did some more research on the boat in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia of Dubuque.

It was built in 1901 by Captain Peter Sprague who obviously named it after himself. It's nickname was "Big Mama" and the ship was 276 feet long, had a 61-foot beam and draft of 7.4 feet., powered by coal-fired steam. It operated on the Mississippi and other rivers from 1902 to 1948 when it was decommissioned.

A model of it is at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium at Dubugue, Iowa, where it was built.

In 1948, Vicksburg, Mississippi bought the ship for a $1 and turned it into a restaurant, museum and theater until May 15, 1974 when it caught fire and was destroyed.

Pieces of the massive boat are scattered around Vicksburg. A group, the Friends of the Sprague sponsored a mural of the vessel which is located along Vicksburg's Riverfront Murals. Something to see the next time you're in Vicksburg to see the Civil War battlefield.

Interesting Story. --RoadDog

America's Five Most Underrated Cities

From the July 12th Yahoo! Real Estate.

1. Chicago
2. Pittsburgh
3. New Orleans
4. Milwaukee
5. Buffalo

They had their reasons, so check out the article. As usual, lots of rust-belt cities as you'd expect.

I've been to all but Pittsburgh.

My kids in class had a really hard time spelling #2. That silent "h" got them every time. Plus there was, and still is that difficult to spell Cincinatti, or is it Cincinnati? Sorry Denny.

Then, Again, a Lot of My Kids Wanted to Visit Hawii for Vacation. Still Haven't Figured Where That Place Was. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cruise Around Fox Lake: Storm Damage and Bald Eagles-- Part 2

Nothing to do with the storm or eagles, but yesterday, I forgot to mention that Baja Benny's is still closed and for sale. It is on the south shore of Fox Lake and has been a favorite watering hole of ours for years.

It was Costello's Pub-Grub for around ten years and we were good friends with owners Frank and Sharon and their German shepherd Blitz, who could clearly say "Pepperoni" when he wanted some from a customer. That dog got a lot of pepperoni from that little trick. He had us trained well.

This was also the home base of the Usual Suspects for our Bear games on Sundays and continued to be after they sold it and the place became Baja Benny's. Cheap beer and free hot dogs, plenty good friends, and lots of TVs as well as the lake view, great way to cheer on Da Bears.

Plus, Costello's had free peanuts and later Benny's had free popcorn.

Frank's last name was Costello and he was a retire Chicago cop so a lot of his buddies would come out. One of his brothers also owned popular pizza/bars in Wauconda and Lake Zurich called J.J. Twiggs, which also have free peanuts. Once, we were in the Lake of the Ozarks and went to a place which had NTN and saw they had peanuts in metal buckets with the name J.J. Twigg's Wauconda on it. Something you wouldn't expect to see in Missouri.

It ended up that one of the Twigg's owners had opened this place there and today it has moved near the dam and is a real taste of the North Woods and Chicago in the Ozarks.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cruise Around Fox Lake: Storm Damage and Bald Eagles-- Part 1

Yesterday, we took a boating cruise around Fox Lake, part of Illinois' Chain of Lakes to look at damage from Monday's storms.

We saw quite a few downed trees and piles of branches on all sides of the lake. The Village of Fox Lake evidently got their power back last night around 8 pm. Rick, whose pier on the channel is where we keep our boat, said that the last two days, he an his neighbors had had big cookouts as people cleared everything out of their freezers (they lost electricity at 8 am Monday).

The "Hotel," what we call that mega-mansion on the east side of the lake, had lost a bunch of trees.

We wanted to stop at the new Fairmont Shores restaurant and bar on the lake, but it was either still without power or didn't open until 4.

We did stop at Electric Harbor and enjoyed their huge tiki bar out by the water. There was obviously much talk about Monday's storm and the first thing people said was always, "You got power?" Bottled domestic beer is $3 and today they have half-price appetizers. Have to check it out Wednesday for $2 Johnsonville brats and fries and $3 frozen drinks. Got a hankerin' for a rumrunner or frozen 'grita. Maybe a mudslide.

Cruise Continues. --RoadDog

State Tidbits: Cruising and Seeing on the Old Roads

From the July 10-16th American Profile Magazine.

MISSOURI-- Actors, newscasters and politicians (especially the Prez) owe a big thanks to Hubert "Hub" Schlafy (1919-2011) who was born in St. Louis and helped to invent the teleprompter, debuting in 1950.

NEBRASKA-- Ward Bond Memorial Park in BENKELMAN (pop.953) is named for native son and star of TV's Wagon train. One of my favorite shows with Ward as Gil favor and, of course, Rowdy Yates. Let's "Head 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out."

NORTH DAKOTA-- Judge Ronald N. Davies High School in FARGO honors the federal judge best known for ordering the racial integration of schools in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. He died in Fargo. Dedication ceremonies for the new school are set for this August.

OHIO-- The first ceramic cookie jar created in 1929 by Brush pottery of ZANESVILLE (pop. 25.487). The lidded green jar was embossed with the word, get this, "Cookies." there are lots of pottery places in and around Zanesville, one of the things it is noted for along with the famous "Y" Bridge.

I Wonder If the Teleprompter Had Anything to Do with the Karaoke Machine? --RoadDog

Now, What's with This Gasoline Spike?

Gas here in northeast Illinois just spiked again yesterday. After dropping down to $3.80 at most stations (even got down to $3.78 at the BP station in Fox Lake on US-12), yesterday, I noticed stations at $3.85 and $3.90.

Last night at 10:15, the Philips 66 in Fox Lake was $4!! I quickly pulled over to the BP which still had it at $3.80 and filled up, figuring they'd be at $4 today.

Is it because of the weather damage we had Monday? Or, most likely, Big Oil came up with another one of their "reasons."


Something needs to be done with these GRBs of the New Axis of Evil. They are sure keeping the price high and they don't need to be doing that. Surely they have made enough profit recently and should give us poor folk (even poorer because of them) a break.

Still Keeping Close to Home, Though. I Could Afford Their Exorbitant Prices, But Don't Want Those GRBs Any Richer. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Times on the Chain...Well, Almost on the Chain-- Part 3

TUESDAY, JULY 12TH-- Spent about two hours working on the electric chainsaw, but couldn't get it to work. I needed it to cut the sumac tree which was blown down by yesterday's storm. It was only about 15 feet tall, but had some thick branches.

I did trim the leaves off and smaller branches by hand. Pretty sappy work.

Went to Donovan's Reef in Twin Lakes to play NTN and for those huge Maxwell Street Polish sausages they feature on Tuesdays for $2. It includes sauerkraut and grilled onions for that price, $1 extra for fries. We had about eight top twenties.

Lance fixed my chainsaw and I won $107 on Shake -A-Day with 5 fives!! They're about to ban me from the place as a month ago I won $340 on it. Before that, i had never won. Now twice in two months.

WEDNESDAY JULY 13TH-- Unfortunately, the chainsaw didn't work. Cooler temps so worked out in the yard on Frances' Back Forty. Friend Paul came over with his chainsaw and was nice enough to cut up the tree.

Met him, his wife Sue, Kora and Pam at Castaways on Pistakee Lake and sat out on the deck, enjoying those $1 drafts and 40 cent jumbo wings. Then went inside and had a great time singing along with and harassing Jim Seig, the one-man entertainer.

Stopped at Chef DaVito's in Johnsburg on the way home.

Planning on boating today and then meeting the Usual Suspects in Antioch for 25 cent wings at The Lodge and to hear the Pirates Over 40 Jimmy Buffet band at the band shell.

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

State Tidbits: Stuff to See While cruising the Old Roads

The Tidbits information appears roughly every other week in the American Profile Magazine. These are from the July 10-16 issue.

INDIANA-- CHURUBUSCO (pop. 1796) gained attention in 1948 and 1949 after a huge turtle was spotted in Fulk Lake. People named it Oscar. Reporters and visitors came to see it (no mention if they did), but every year they have a Turtle Days Festival. Wonder if it bites?

IOWA-- The world's largest steam-powered stern-wheeler towboat was built in 1902 by the Iowa Iron Works in DUBUQUE (pop. 57,637) The ship once moved 11 million gallons of crude oil in one tow.

KANSAS-- If you want to see which way the wind is blowing in HARPER (pop.1,473) all you have to do is look at the 9-foot-long fish weather vane on top of the water tower where it has been since 1887. Something's fishy in Harper.

MINNESOTA-- The new pride and joy of HUGO (pop. 13.332) is Daniel McKeague who quacked out 12,500 others to become the new voice of the Aflac insurance company's duck mascot.

His New Name, Sir Quacks-A-Lot. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good Times on the Chain...Well, Almost on the Chain-- Part 2

No boating yet since Friday, maybe tomorrow.

One thing about this gas gouge (prices around here from $3.80 to $3.90, at least a buck and a half TOO HIGH!! I have been making it my objective to return the favor to Big Oil and the others responsible for this travesty. That means sticking close to home as much as possible.

And, there is plenty to see and do right here in northeast Illinois.

We're in the middle of Fiesta Days in McHenry and tomorrow, Antioch's Taste of Summer begins. Both towns are about ten miles from Spring Grove. Between the town celebrations and the parties out on the Chain, we have plenty to do.

And close to home which means less gas which means up yours Big Oil!!

Plus, when boating, we usually stay close to the home channel where we dock the boat. A typical cruise involves a lot of floating. We turn off the engine in the middle of the lake, crank up the radio, and read. Not much gas in that.

My Own little Futile Protest Against the New Axis of Evil. --RoadDog

Good Time on the Chain...Well Almost on the Chain-- Part 1

Sunday, July 9th-- Listened to two country countdowns out in the gazebo then drove to All Sports Bar in McCullom Lake (by McHenry, Illinois) and enjoyed their $5 pitchers of beer and one of the best pizzas (12 inch, one topping) that I've ever had, also $5.

Then, joined friends at Peterson Park for Fiesta Days and saw two really good tribute bands: Creedence Again (CCR) and Marakesh Express (CSNY).

MONDAY JULY 10th-- Had planned on boating over to McDonald's for breakfast, but glad I didn't as we had quite the nasty storm come through at 7:45 am. We lost electricity for a couple hours, but some of the people in the area still don't have power and not expected to get it until Friday or Saturday. Trees down everywhere.

Checked out the boat in Fox Lake and it was ok, but the whole town was without electricity. Ended up driving to McHenry and had the great $1.75 cheeseburgers and Miller Lite bottles at Gambler (special for July).

Went to the Green Street Cruise-In for classic cars (best for me, the 1967 Camaro) and saw the Rockin' Fenderskirts playing 50s-60s music out on the flat bed. Later saw Shakespeare in the Park at Veterans Park. Shakespeare is infinitely better understood when you get to see it in live action.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If You're Into the Civil War...Right Here in Lake County

This past Saturday and Sunday, an annual event called Civil War Days took place at the Lake County Discovery Museum at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, Illinois.

I attend most years, at least the Saturday offering. Free parking and $8 admission for adults and $4 for ages 4-18. For that, you get to experience life 150 years ago (after all, it is the sesquicentennial of the war).

Along with both Union and Confederate troops (infantry, artillery and cavalry), there is an 1863 agricultural fair, skits and speakers. Many characters from the war also are ion the grounds, including Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary. Mr. Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address from memory.

There are many sutler stores as well where you can buy all sorts of Civil War items. It is always refreshing to see all the young kids, especially boys, running around with military hats and toy guns. How many of them will become the next generation of Civil War nuts?


Each day caps off with a full-fledged skirmish featuring all branches of both military units. It is also narrated for those close enough to hear it, but usually novices are near buffs who can do some explaining, such as the case of the Union soldiers with green uniforms. A couple near me wanted to know why they weren't wearing blue. I explained that they were Berdan's sharpshooters.

You haven't lived until you experience the shock wave produced by cannons firing. Even though we were off to the side, that hot blast of air on your face was very evident.

Note to folks with alarm systems in their cars. The battlefield here is near the parking lot and each cannon blast is followed by a whole lot of beeping and sirens from the lot. You might want to disable the system.

And, the South Still Lost. --RoadDog

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Convenience Store Day: Let Me Be the First to Wish You A...

While writing checks today, I happened to notice while entering them, that today is a time to honor those purveyors of Big Gulps and my favorite, Slurpees!!!

The date says it all, July 11, 2011.

That translates to 7-11-11. Actually, it's double day with the 11-11.

And, I missed it (bet you did too), but four days we were supposed to honor them again on 7-7-11.

Man! Now I've got a hankerin' for a Slurpees and the inevitable brain freeze.

Do you remember back when 7-11s first came out with Big Gulps? Before that, most places served 12 and 16 ounce drinks. Sort of shook up the pecking order.

Things You Didn't Need to Know. --RoadDog

Checking Out the Music of Summer 1971

I'm not going to be listing it here, but Bob Stroud, on his Rock and Roll Roots show on Chicago's WDRV, the Drive, has been doing monthly trips back to the summer of 1971 in honor of its 40th anniversary.

I have been doing set lists on my Down Da Road I Go blog, with both Stroud's and my comments. If you remember that summer like I do, check it out.

Some songs played July 3rd:



Ten Points If You Can Tell Me the Artists. --RoadDog

It's a Summer Thing: Cruisin' and Music-- Part 5

From Bob Stroud's June 26th Rock and Roll Roots "Summer Show."

All comments mine.

HOT SUMMER DAYS-- IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY-- I remember having to buy the album for Liz's roommate, Debbie, when I somehow lost the album civer, even when she still had the album. I sure wasn't happy laying out the $5 for an album she already had.
MR. BLUE SKIES-- ELO-- Great harmony and pretty close to an orchestra sound.

IN THE SUMMERTIME-- MUNGO JERRY-- If I had to vote for one song to represent summer, this'd be the one.
SUMMER SUN-- JAMESTOWN MASSACRE-- A great little-known nugget from a little-known Chicago group.

MISERLOU-- DICK DALE-- Can you say "Surf Music?"
SUMMERTIME BLUES-- BLUE CHEER-- Wow, what a hard rock acid, psychedelic trip this one was.

SUMMERTIME-- BILLY STEWART-- Let's hear that stutter singinging, Billy.
SUMMER-- WAR-- Like that low-riding groove.

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME-- SLY & THE FAMILY STONE-- Second-best summer song if it shows up.

I Need to Get That Old '85 F-Bird fired Up and Out Driving. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Civil War Days Again

In just an hour or so, I'll be driving US-12 to Wauconda for the annual Civil War Re-enactment at the Lake County Forest Preserve and Discovery Museum off Il-176 and Fairfield Road.

I belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and we'll have a tent there and will be trying to enlist members. We're also having our monthly meeting.

I always enjoy getting together with the members of the Camp Douglas Camp, named after the infamous Union prison in Chicago. Plus, there are those fanatical Civil War buffs who do the re-enacting. Always plenty of good conversations and I love those sutler stores with all the CW stuff.

And, Away I Do Go. --RoadDog

Losing Neat Old Stuff: Old Gas Station and Old Sign

Here in Fox Lake, Illinois, along US-12, we have lost two things that harken back to an older era in the past two months.

Most recent was the demolition of an old gas station, dating back to at least the 1930s and possibly 1920s. It was a small station with glass blocks at either end and the remains of a pump area out front. Not much to look at, but still a bit of history.

Then, a few months ago, the American Legion in Fox Lake took down their old art deco, probably 30s-40s, neon sign. It had been bought from a Legion Post in Rockford in the 50s and was starting to get in bad shape, with all its neon tubing shattered.

It has been replaced by one of those moving, flashing signs.

The old sign has been cut in half, painted and there is talk of putting one side back up on the side of the building so am hoping they at least do that.

I had even offered to deejay for free to raise money to save the old sign and fix the neon.

Guess I Won't Have to Do That Now. --RoadDog

Boating to McDonald's

After cruising through Nippersink Lake, we went under Beer Can Bridge into Pistakee Lake. We were quite in need of cooling off by then so headed for McDonald's for the ac and a drink.

This McDonald's, on US-12, is one of only two or three ones in the US you can boat to. We normally get food (usually breakfast, and eat out on the boat and feed the ducks), but, like I said, we needed to cool off.

Liz wanted to go to the Lagoon Lounge next door to McDonald's and get a passport stamp in our Chain Crawl book. I just wanted a pop, so went to McDonald's.

Hard to beat those $1 drinks right now, especially on a hot, sweaty day. Almost too cold though. I hate when places really crank up the ac.

A Much-Needed Break. --RoadDog

It's Boating Season Again: No More Aquarium for Now

Launched the boat Thursday and went for our first cruise yesterday.

Floated in Fox Lake until it got too hot. Sure could have used a breeze.

Slow cruised through Nippersink Lake and saw that the Aquarium was indeed closed as we heard. That place, home of the minnows has had serious problems the last five years and has been closed most of the time.

We thought it might have turned the corner when Demitrius Maravela ran it a couple years ago, but something happened and he was no longer there. Sad to hear that earlier this week, he has crashed his cruiser into the breakwater off Milwaukee's Summerfest Grounds and had been killed.

Last year, another person tried to get the place running, but that fell through as well. The Aquarium is noted for its Minnow Club, which you join by swallowing or crunching minnows. I joined it a couple times. Not very pleasant.

They are on the Chain Crawl, so we'll have to see what happens with that organization.

Here's Hoping They Get the Place Open Again. --RoadDog, Well, SeaDog

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Chain of Lakes By Boat, Finally

One of the biggest inland boating areas in the United States is located just a mile from our house here in Spring Grove, Illinois, the Chain of Lakes, consisting of nine lakes and a long stretch of the Fox River.

We've been boating on it every year since 1985, when we bought our first boat. That's 26 years and three boats counting out newest, a 2003 Bayliner.

So far this year, we've been out for about thirty minutes one time because of steering problems, but I now know that those problems have been supposedly repaired and we intend to pick the boat up and launch it at the Legion later this afternoon.

Here's hoping that it will run and that we'll be able to get the '11 boating season underway at long last.

A-Boating We Will Go. Hi-Ho the Dairy-O, A-Boating We Will Go. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ultimate Food Trails: Southwest Indiana

From the July-August Mudwest Living Magazine.

This is big-time farm-to-table country with such delights as pork tenderloin and sugar cream pie. The Trail starts in Bloomington, goes along US-41 and all those farm markets. You also go through Hoosier National Forest and that great town of Nashville.

A primitive map accompanies the article, but gives you a good idea. Recommended time: a weekend, but better stretched out to three days.

Places you'll visit along the way:

FarmBloomington, Prairie Acres Market, US-41 farm stands, Home of the Bug Peach, Apple Hill Orchard, Dot's Custom Cakes and Catering, Schnitzelbank restaurant, Tell City pretzels, Capers Restaurant.

More places: Blue Heron Vineyards Bed and Breakfast at Rocky Point, Bryant's Blueberries, Capriole Farmstand Goat Cheeses, Huber's Orchard Wineryand Vineyards, Joe Huber Family Farm and Restaurant, Schimpff's Confectionery, Kensington Tea Room and Butler's Pantry Coffee Shop and Restaurant Tallent.

Getting Hungry Typing This Up. --RoadDog

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Old Cars and Retro Diner-- The Lodge's BBQ Wings-- Aunt Janet Band

Continuing with June 30th, now in Antioch, Illinois, right on the Wisconsin border.


At the liquor store I noticed an old car show going on at the retro diner across Il-83. I don't pass up old cars when I have the opportunity so drove over and took a look. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but will have to eat there in the future as I had my taste buds set for some of those great bbq wings at the Lodge.


Thursdays are 25 cent wing days at the Lodge of Antioch (also known as Sequoit Lodge (named after a local Indian tribe). They are not big, about the size of those at Buffalo Wild Wings, but that barbecue sauce is one of the best I've ever had. Ordered ten. Good eating for $2.50.

The place was packed as usual. A lot of the people were going to walk out behind the Lodge to see the band.


Thursdays are the appropriately named Antioch music festival called "It's Thursday." Someone certainly put a lot of think time into that. The bands play at the music shell behind the east side of Main Street (Il-83). I try to get to it every time I can.

Today's band was called Aunt Janet and I was unfamiliar with them. They have a female lead singer and play classic rock and modern pop. Very good band.

Not a Bad Day At All. --RoadDog

"Chicago: Second to None"-- Part 1

From the June 29th Chicago Tribune "Pure marketing" Slogan is for tourists" by Phil Rosenthal.

Phil thinks it's pretty good, and for real and, at least, it beats that one they use in Buffalo.

Furthermore, it is better than the one before it, "Make No Little Plans."

The previous one made an allusion to Daniel Burnham's visionary plan for the city back in the early 1900s, but Rosenthal thinks it might get folks thinking about a more ambitious vacation.

The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau is putting $6 million in a campaign to lure tourists and their dollars to Chicago.

With the high gas prices, people will most likely stick closer to home and with the weak dollar, foreign tourist might be coming.

Regardless, however, it is better than Buffalo, New York's new "Buffalo For Real" that came out last month.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday, USA!!!

All my flags are flying. In a little bit, I'm thinking of going over to Horse Fair Park here in Spring Grove, Illinois, to attend the festival and watch the parade, although last year I swore up and down that I'd never do it again after all the hassle they put us through to do so.

Most places with parades close off street it will be going down as well as a few close by. My dear little village essentially closes off the whole place from US-12 north to Il-173 near the Wisconsin border, about four miles.

And, they have police to make sure you don't drive the roads anyway.

Well, it is my hometown of the last 19 years now.

We'll probably go back this afternoon to see the band and then will watch the fireworks from our front yard. We can still see them fairly well despite the fact that the subdivision's trees have gotten considerably taller in these last 19 years.

Happy 4th. --RoadDog

"Bad Teacher"-- Antioch-- A Liquor Store-- The Problem with Bourbon

Continuing with June 30th.


After those dee-licious Charcoburgers and a little bit of root beer at Dog 'N Suds in Ingleside, I went to the Fox Lake Theatre and saw the movie "Bad Teacher." In these days of anti-teacher sentiment, this movie can hardly help our case even if the characters were definitely to the extreme.

One thing I can relate to with the lead character, was her not knowing her students' names. I had a BIG problem with that, especially toward the end of my career. Only, I really tried to learn their names whereas she didn't.


One of the great local villages we have here in northeast Illinois. This one has a real downtown where every building is occupied and everyone appears to be doing well.


I went to Antioch Liquors at Il-173 and Il-83, a favorite browsing place for me when I'm in town. Huge selection and some really good specials. I ended up buying an Old Forester Bourbon set put out in 2008 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. Old Forester got a special government exemption so they were able to continue producing bourbon for medicinal purposes during Prohibition. That's one slick owner!


Personally, I didn't much like bourbon, other than those neat water towers in Bourbon, Missouri, along Route 66. Just thinking about those towers being filled with bourbon brings a smile to my face. Actually I got to liking bourbon on an American Road Magazine road trip to Kentucky back several years ago.

We stayed at the Wig Wam Village in Cave City and went to the Heaven Hill Distillery on the auto tour. Plus, at nights, I "had" to drink friend Denny's bourbon after I found out we were in a "dry" county. Had I known of its dryness, I would have toted my hooch in with me.

Feeling a Bit in Need of Some "Medicine" Myself. --RoadDog

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Taking You Back to 4th of July 1971

If you can remember that summer, 40 years ago (40 YEARS AGO), you're getting MIGHTY OLD!!

I sure do (because I'm getting mighty old these days). I was getting ready for the Marine Corps later this month back then.

Tomorrow, from 7 to 10 am, CDST, Bob Stroud will be having his second instalment of his annual summer Rock and Roll Roots show. He already did the first of June. He will do the same thing in August and September.

Stroud started doing this for the Summer of 1967 and has done it for every year since.

So give it a listen at WDRV-FM, 97.1 and 96.9. It goes out over the internet at

I Know Where I'll Be. ==RoadDog

Just in Time for Your Fourth of July Driving Joy

The good folks at Big Oil (BO) and their close allies, Big Speculators (BS) have given us a little present here just in time for our holiday in the form of a ten-twenty cent price spike at the pump!!

Nice gougin' guys!!

Friday morning, I heard that gas prices in Ohio had jumped because of some problem at a refinery in the state and that "gas prices might spike a bit here in Chicagoland."

Well. it did. Here in Spring Grove, it jumped twenty cents at the Hugo Chavez station. In Fox Lake, it was up ten cents and twenty cents at Rock Corner (Il-173 and Wilmot) by the Wisconsin border. And that was all by noon. Sure didn't take them long to raise prices, did it?

How convenient that this just "happened." Especially since they weren't able to pass along their "Summer Driving" gouge this year. Guess we call it the "Summer Oops!"

Still looking forward to seeing the profits BO will be posting for second quarter. Whatever it is, it is actually probably to double or triple because of creative accounting.

Thanks a Lot BO and BS (Hey,These Letter Combinations Also Stand for Something Else.) --RoadDog

It's a Summer Thing: Cruisin' and Music-- Part 4

Some More Summer Cruisin' Music.

SUNNY DAYS-- LIGHTHOUSE-- Are they from Canada?
SCHOOL'S OUT-- ALICE COOPER-- Thanks, Alice, for the name of our boat, "School's Out...Forever!"

SUMMER BREEZE-- ISLEY BROTHERS-- Doing their version of that great Seals and Crofts song. Soul, anyone?
RIDE THE WILD SURF-- JAN AND DEAN-- I once tried to surf, but could not master standing up on that slippery board. So, this old dog never rode the wild surf, but did swallow quite a bit of it while trying.

SUMMER ROMANCE-- ROLLING STONES-- Wonder what Keith's idea of a summer romance is?
GRAZING IN THE GRASS-- HUGH MASAKELA-- An instrumental. I once went to a Grateful Dead concert where those folk have their own idea of grass grazing.

SURFER GIRL (LIVE)-- BEACH BOYS-- Why they show off on the surf boards. I certainly never entertained a little surfer girl except, maybe, to make them laugh at me getting on that stupid board.
GOOD DAY SUNSHINE-- BEATLES-- Just makes you smile and sweat.

Just Groovin' Out Here on the Deck and Typing Away. --RoadDog

Friday, July 1, 2011

Retro-Eating at the Dog: Feastin' and Spillin'

Having fun here at home.

Yesterday, I went to the Dog 'N Suds in Ingleside for their 99 cent Charcoburger special (regularly $1.99), one of the best burgers around. It is just something about the mix of fixins' they put on it and the taste of the charco broiled patty.

A whole bunch of other folks had the same idea.

And, Dog 'N Suds is a holdover from those days of the 1950s popularized by "Happy Days" and "American Graffiti." You order on a speaker and then a carhop brings your food.

Also had a small part of one of their signature root beers until mine tipped over while I was trying to position it to keep my wrappers from blowing away. Real fast reflexes saved about 4 ounces. Definitely did not make my day!!

I was driving the new Malibu and didn't want to spill anything in it so was eating outside at the picnic tables. It is either me or maybe they just don't design cars to eat inside them anymore. I seem to remember it wasn't difficult at all back when I was growing up.

Love Those Charcoburgers. --RoadDog