Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rainy Day at the Beach, But Got My Mt. Olive Peanuts

Unfortunately, it has rained all day today, the only full day I'll have here at Topsail Beach, NC.

However, I did go to the Jolly Roger Pier looking for a copy of the Wilmington Star-News newspaper.  They didn't have any, but did have a jar of those great peanuts as prepared and packed by the First Methodist Church Peanut Crew from Mt. Olive (a town also famous for their pickles which are now sold in Illinois).

Just seven ounces and I paid $3.99, but worth it.  Some of the best you'll ever eat.  I also like the jars for pens and pencils.

One other place you can buy the jars is at Wilber's BBQ in Goldsboro.

Only Sold At the Most Discerning Places, You Know.  --RoadDog

Scenic Spring Drives-- Flowers Here, There and Everywhere

From March 26, 2014, CNN Travel by Briana Fasone.

"The arrival of spring inspires us to break out of winter's hibernation and embrace the fresh outdoors.  A road trip naturally satisfies that spontaneous travel urge, and we've mapped America's best spring drives-- routes that bring you up-close to nature's finest floral displays....."

Personally. I get pretty excited when I finally see my first bulbs pushing up through the snow.

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY BLUEBONNET TOUR, 87 miles.  Lady Bird Johnson started the campaign to beautify America and vast gardens of bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, were planted.  Start in Austin and take US-290 west to Johnson City and do the wildflower loop, then US-281 North to Burnet, the official Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.

ACADIA ALL AMERICAN ROAD, MAINE, 40 miles.  Around the woodlands of Acadia National Park. 27 miles.

ANTELOPE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA, 70 MILES.  From L.A., drive north to town of Lancaster on Route 14, Antelope Valley Freeway.   Golden poppies in March in Mojave Desert, but especially in the 17,600 acre Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve has one of the best concentrations of California's state flower.

Pretty Flowers Here, There, Everywhere.  --RoadDog

Friday, March 28, 2014

Shivering to North Carolina-- Part 3: Micro-Cassette Recorders

While driving through Elburn, Illinois, past the second-most expensive gas station on my Il-47 Chicago bypass, also at $3.87 like Stark's Corner, I had to quickly drop my micro-cassette recorder down to my lap as I passed an Elburn cop off to the side of the road. //// As of January 1st, it is illegal to be using a hand-held cell phone in Illinois and I have a lot of friends who have gotten tickets and/or warnings for using them. I imagine that from a distance, a micro-cassette might look like a cell phone and perhaps it might even be classified as a sort of cell phone. //// I didn't get pulled over. //// Personally, I don't have a problem with not using cell phones while driving. About the only time I do is when on a big trip like now, going to and from N.C.. But, I do know people who have to have a cell phone plastered to their ears at all times. Plus, I always think those blue tooth things on ears look kind of silly, about as silly as those baseball caps with the straight-across bills. //// --RoadDog

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shivering My Way to NC:-- Part 2: How to Avoid Those Pesky Stoplights

Huntley, Illinois, is quickly earning the title "Stoplight City" from me because of the ever increasing number of them along Illinois Highway-47. The population of Huntley has boomed ever since the opening of Del Webb's Sun City and now it is just one subdivision after another. Every year it takes longer and longer to drive through town, especially when the lights gang up on you. //// And,they've always had the "Old Catcha Stoplight" at Main Street. I think in several hundred times through it, I've caught it green only three times. //// We now leave Il-47 and take Il-176 to Marengo and then Il-23 to DeKalb if we're going to NIU. But, driving to NC or Route 66 (Dwight), we have to go through Huntley. //// I have been getting over a cold and it is breaking up so I have to do a lot of spitting to get rid of the flim. I coughed quite a ways north of Huntley and needed to spit. I was able to get myself at the back of the line of cars on then four lanes and really needed to catch a red light to get rid of it. People sure don't want to see you spitting out the window if you're in front of them. //// That NEVER HAPPENED. I never once caught a red light (but did have to slow down a couple times as lights turned green). It took very little time to get through Huntley. I guess it is like reverse psychology. If the stoplights know you don't want to stop, they make sure you stop. Want to stop. No way you get a red light!! //// I even got past the new pesky light at Big Timber Road south of town and just had to slow down a little to get through the US-20/Il-72, Il-47 light by Stark's Corner. //// This has also happened in other "Stoplight Cities" when I wanted to look at a map or look up a phone number. //// Try It, What Do You Have to Lose, But Time. --RoadDog

Shivering My Way to Carolina: March 23rd-- Part 1: Special Songs

MARCH 23RD, Sunday: Mileage 24,809, 28.4 mpg. 34 degrees (the car had been parked in the garage), but feels more like 5 degrees with blustery wind. One good thing about leaving on a Sunday morning is getting to cruise with Bob Stroud's Rock and Roll Roots show on WDRV, the Drive. At 9:21, he played the Who's "Magic Bus," a good song to go cruising with as I passed Goat Hill on Il-120 outside of Woodstock. One goat was braving the cold. The Leaning Silo of Woodstock was leaning even more. On Queen Anne Road, my Woodstock bypass, I passed the house/farmette that I wouldn't mind occupying. The car thermometer read 21 biting cold degrees. //// Woodstock is always expensive on gas and most stations at $3.80. $3.87 at Stark's Corner (Il-72, Il-47 and US-20). //// WDRV was featuring Ten at Ten (ten songs from one year) all weekend and I got to hear one from 1972, always a fun choice and my last full year in college. First song off the bat was my favorite Jim Croce song, "Operator." //// Later, they played "Rocket Man" by Elton John, another favorite one and one that reminds me of another road trip I made in the spring of 1972. I drove my 1963 puke green Rambler station wagon, aptly-named "Ramblin' Wreck." That vehicle used about a quart of oil every 50-100 miles and people could smell it coming a ways off. Awesome smoke screens as well. //// Liz had worked with the spring carnival for NIU and they had Elton John performing at the Chick Evans Fieldhouse. We were center stage, about three rows back. And, the number one song in the country and Chicago-- "Rocket Man." ///// --RoadDog

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Watching the Eagles in Florida, Georgia and Iowa

Liz got me into this, but we have been watching eagle cams for the last several months showing nests in these three states. We're sure learning a lot about the growth and development of eaglets. //// The Florida bald eagles are in Fort Myers at Southwest Florida cam. Two eggs were laid and hatched, but the firt, E-3, died and E-4 has now branched and is about to fledge. //// The Georgia cam is at Berry College and it has one eaglet who is still quite young. //// The Iowa one is in Decorah. Three eggs were laid and are still being incubated, but there is a big fear that none of them will hatch because of the really cold temperatures we've been having. //// It's a Family Affair. --RoadDog

Oh, That Mercer University: Defeat Duke in 2nd Round NCAA Tournament

Like with Gonzaga back quite a few years ago, when I heard that some team named Mercer and seeded #14 had defeated #3 seed Duke yesterday (sadly, I did not watch it), I had no idea where this school was so had to do some research today. //// Turns out that Mercer is in Georgia in several different locations, but the one with the basketball (and football) team is in Macon. //// Now, I am a big Duke fan, but, as I said before, I always pull for the underdogs because of my affinity for them (Hey, big NIU fan here, the ultimate underdog school). So, I would have been pulling all the way for the Mercer Bears. //// Way to Go, MERCER! You're On the Radar Now. --RoadDog

Friday, March 21, 2014

Off Subject, But As the Geico Camel Would Say, "It's B-Ball Time!!!"

I've been watching a lot of the first two days of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, always my favorite sporting event of the year. One loss and you're out. Doesn't get more serious than that. //// And talk about the excitement. //// I always pull for the lower seed, even against my big-boy faves like Wisconsin, Duke, Carolina. You've got to love the underdog "Cinderellas." //// Plenty of those yesterday. And, Mercer beating Duke!!! Who'd have figured that? //// They've finally gotten the game viewing right. Show them on four channels. The split screen definitely didn't work and I really hated having to watch blowouts when there was a close game going on. Now, I have control over what I watch. //// I Really Like That. --RoadDog

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interesting Illinois High School Nicknames-- Part 4: Hoopeston Cornjerkers

Sweet corn is pulled (jerked) off the stalk. The leaves are then shucked off and the golden ears thrown into wooden wagons pulled by mules during the days of yore. This is known as cornjerking. The many workers in the field (before the advent of machinery) were known as Cornjerkers. //// Hoopeston is known as the Sweet Corn Capital of the World. --RoadDog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From the Frozen Tundra to Land of a Thousand (Or More) Ponds

Well, all that snow we received (and kept) this winter has finally started to melt, causing more than a few flooded fields, sometimes encroaching on roads. //// Last week, we drove to DeKalb, Illinois, to watch our NIU Huskies play in the first round of the MAC Basketball Tornament against Bowling Green. //// We saw flooded fields the entire way and some instances sort of felt like Moses at the parting of the Red Sea where there were still walls of snow on the sides of the road with nothing but water on the other side. //// But sure glad to get rid of some of that snow!! //// The Huskies won the game (but lost the next one). //// While in DeKalb, we ate at Tom and Jerry's on Il-34 (the Lincoln Highway) and had some of their famous gyros. After the game we had naked nuggets at Pizza Pros (also on the Lincoln Highway). This is a variation of the famed Dekalb area beer nuggets in that the dough is baked instead of fried. //// Mighty Good Eating. --RoadDog

Interesting Illinois High School Names-- Part 2: Cobden Apple-Knockers

This small southern Illinois town of 900 had quite a thrill back in 1964 when its high school basketball team made a dramatic run in the state tournament before teams were divided into classes. The school at the time had 147 students. They played in the championship game before losing. (Hebron High School near me here in northern Illinois, went all the way in 1952 with an equally small school. Real "Hoosiers.") Today, the town's population is 1,157 according to the 2010 census. //// The area is known for its peaches and apples and named for a British politician and free-trade advocate Richard Cobden. //// A strong packing industry thrived for decades. The high school did not have a nickname so other schools began derisevely calling them the Apple-Knockers and the name stuck, so much it became the official name. //// Knock Me If You Must. --RoadDog

I Reckon the Des Plaines Oasis Is No More

We're now past March 16th, so I figure the old Des Plaines Oasis is now closed. It was one of the rip-off Illinois Tollway oases, six of which were built over the road. I remember stopping there on a few occasions back when we used to go into Chicago and drive through the city. //// --RoadDog

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interesting Illinois High School Names-- Part 1: Freeport Pretzels

At one time, Freeport was swimming in pretzels, thanks to Billerbeck Bakers, established in 1869. Today, there is an annual Pretzel Festival held the last weekend in June. //// Another source said that an 1895 Daily Democrat article referred to Freeport as Pretzel City because of the many German bakeries in the city. The Billerbeck Bakery, established in 1881 really produced a whole lot of pretzels. //// And, you can buy pretzels at the welcome center east of town on US-20. //// --RoadDog

Something I Never Much Thought About: Route 66 and the Black Experience

I Came Across this interesting bit of information on the Route 66 News from today. "Where Are the Surviving Green Book Businesses?" A National Park Service Historian is searching for surviving buildings that once were listed in the "Negro Motorist Green Book" directories that were issued from 1936-1964 during the Jim Crow era. It was published by Victor Green. //// Indeed, traveling any American road was a different experience for blacks as there were many places throughout the country, and especially in the South, which would not do business with them. //// The places listed were motels, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, stores, beauty shops, barber shops and such who catered to blacks. //// The article had a complete 1949 guide (which takes much downloading, unfortunately). Of interest to 66 Roadies are the ones located in major cities of Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles. There were black places in seven of the eight Route 66 states (evidently none in the 13-mile Kansas stretch). //// It is hard to imagine a time like that in these days. //// --RoadDog

DeKalb Barbs

I don't know how I forgot about the DeKalb High School Barbs, in DeKalb, Illinois, home of my Northern Illinois University when I was mentioning other interesting high school nicknames. //// --RoadDog

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some Irish Music For You This Green Day

I wrote the names of the songs from side one of this my ST. PADDY'S PARTY #1 cassette tape on my Down Da Road I Go blog. This is side 2: The Pub With No Beer // Drink It Up // It's All For Me Grog // Paddy on the Railway //// Merry Ploughboy // Biddy Mulligan // Gypsey Rover //// Reels // Irish National Anthem // Rising of the Moon //// Bridget Flynn // Goodbye Mrs. Durkin // The Wind That Shakes the Corn //// The First Love In Life // Whiskey In the Jar // Loch Lomand //// Finnegan's Wake // The Moonshiner // Whiskey You're the Devil // Whiskey In a Jar // Beer Beer Beer //// --RoadDog

My Picks, Best High School Nickname Tournament

ELITE EIGHT: Apple-Knockers vs. Cornjerkers (Hard choice here) // Zee-Bees vs. Whip-Purs // Marcos vs. Grenadiers // Blue Bullets vs. Flaming Hearts //// FINAL FOUR: Apple-Knockers vs. Marcos // Whip-Purs vs. Flaming Hearts //// CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Marcos vs. Flaming Hearts //// WINNER: Marcos. //// Hey, I can just hear the chanting now. One side yells Marco and the other Polo. //// Hey, they forgot the Genoa-Kingston Cogs and Antioch Sequoits. //// Marco...Polo... Marco... Polo. I Like It. --RoadDog

Nom De Hoops: Strange Illinois High School Names-- Part 5: Final Four

FINAL FOUR ROUND: Freeport Pretzels vs. Polo Marcos // Zion Zee-Bees vs. Chadwick Milledgeville Missiles //// CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Freeport Pretzels vs. Chadwick Milledgeville Missiles //// WINNER: Freeport Pretzels. //// Good name-winner. Congratulations Pretzels. By the way, if you're ever on US-20 heading west, there is one of the better welcome centers I've ever been in east of Freeports, and, yes, you can buy pretzels there. //// See Who My Winners Would Be Next. --RoadDog

Non De Hoops: Strange Illinois High School Names-- Part 4: A Recap of All names

Here are all 16 teams the Tribune selected: Freeport PRETZELS // Cobden APPLE-KNOCKERS // Hoopeston CORNJERKERS // Teutopolis WOODEN SHOES // Zion-Benton ZEE-BEES // Evanston WILDKITS //// Hampshire WHIP-PURS // Lake Forest Academy CAXYS // Carmel CORSAIRS //// Polo MARCOS // Elk Grove GRENADIERS // Highland Park GIANTS //// Chadwick Milledgeville MISSILES // Knoxville BLUE BULLETS // Effingham FLAMING HEARTS // Illinois Valley Central GREY GHOSTS //// I'm sure there is a good story behind everyone of these names. Many no doubt reflect local history. //// Final Four Next, Then My Final Four. --RoadDog

Nom De Hoops: Strange Illinois High School Team Names-- Part 3: Polo Marcos (My Own Personal Favorite)

Again, the Tribune took the teams from Sweet Sixteen to state champion. Winners were judged strictly on neat-sounding ones (I suppose). INTERESTING PERSON REGIONAL: SWEET SIXTEEN: Carmel Corsairs vs. Polo Marcos // Elk Grove Grenadiers vs. Highland Park Giants //// ELITE EIGHT: Polo Marcos vs. Elk Grove Grenadiers //// FINAL FOUR: Polo Marcos. //// WEAPONS/SUPERNATURAL REGION: SWEET SIXTEEN: Chadwick Milledgeville Missiles vs. Knoxville Blue Bullets // Effingham Flaming Hearts vs. Illinois Valley Central Grey Ghosts, // ELITE EIGHT: Chadwick Milledgeville Missiles vs. Effingham Flaming Hearts // FINAL FOUR: Chadwick Milledgeville Missiles. //// On to the Final Four. --RoadDog

Nom De Hoops: Strange Illinois High School Basketball Names-- Part 2: Cobden Apple-Knockers

As I said, in honor of the tournament, the Tribune listed these schools in a Sweet Sixteen format. I'll take each region to the Final Four. FOOD RELATED/FOOTWEAR REGIONAL SWEET SIXTEEN: Freeport Pretzels vs. Cobden Apple-Knockers,// Hoopeston Cornjerkers vs. Teutopolis Wooden Shoes. ELITE EIGHT: Freeport Pretzels vs. Teutopolis Wooden Shoes FINAL FOUR: Freeport Pretzels. //////// EXOTIC ANIMAL/FROG SOUND (The sound a frog makes) REGION SWEET SIXTEEN: Zion-Benton Zee Bees vs. Evanston Wildkits, Hampshire Whip-Purs vs. Lake Forest Academy Caxy's // ELITE EIGHT: Zion-Benton Zee Bees vs. Lake Forest Academy Caxys // FINAL FOUR: Zion-Benton. //// Some Mighty Interesting Names. --RoadDog

Nom de Hoops: Strange Illinois Basketball Team Names-- Part 1: Zion-Benton Zee-Bees

From the March 16, 2014, Chicago Tribune "Main Event: Nom de hoops." //// "If it weren't for the high school basketball tournament (well, also football playoffs), many people never would see some of the great mascot names across the state. No Eagles or Wildcats or Panthers here. But which distinctive Illinois high school nickname rules the roost?" The Tribune folks divided the schools into a Sweet Sixteen format and four distinctive regions: Food-Related/Footwear Regional, Exotic Animal/Frog Sound Regional, Interesting Person Regional and Weaponry/Supernatural Regional. Left Side Regionals Next. //// --RoadDog

Saturday, March 15, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Weekend 30 Years Ago in 1984

One of the great things about keeping a journal is that you can look back 20 or 30 years and see exactly what you were up doing. MARCH 15, 1984, was on a Friday and after school, I drove to Woodstock, Illinois, (from Round Lake Beach) and deejayed at the old McHenry Courthouse (or possibly the Woodstock Operahouse). I was not happy as I had to tote the equipment up two long flights of stairs and, even worse, had to park around the corner of the building, causing a real long walk to get to those TWO LONG FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. //// But, it was ideal place to have a party. I set up behind the old judge's bench in an actual old-time courtroom which had been draped in black crepe paper in honor of the Irish wake theme of the party. //// A casket with occupant was further provided although the occupant, far from being dead, was seen to imbibe and talk with well-wishers. //// At the onset, I had problems with the sound, but got it going and we had a great time. //// I was paid $125 and afterwards had those wonderful stairs and long walk, but had fun overall. //// --RoadDog

Friday, March 14, 2014

Remember Wag's, Mr. Steak or Steak and Ale?

If you remember any of those, check out my Cooter's History Thing blog from yesterday where I listed some places from the Chicagoland (and nation-wide) which are no longer with us. There is also information on how you can look at pictures of these long-gone venues. //// --RoadDog

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thomas MacDonald "Forgotten" Road Man-- Part 4

MacDonald went to Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts (now Iowa Stae University) in Ames, Iowa, (later on the famed Lincoln Highway), to learn road building and studied under Anson Marston, receiving a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1904. //// He wrote his senior thesis with L.T. Gaylord and it was titled "Iowa Good Roads Investigation." //// After graduation, he married Elizabeth Dunham of Ames, Iowa, and they eventually had two children before she died in 1935. //// --RoadDog

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Illinois Tollway Oases-- Part 2

There are seven oases (soon to be six). In 2011, over 11.8 million people visited them. They all have gas stations, fast food restaurants and other shops as well as tourist information. //// Six are built as bridge restaurants and the one at Dekalb is on the side of the tollway. The three original ones featured Standard Oil stations and Fred Harvey Restaurants. //// The Des Plaines Oasis was featured in the movie Blues Brothers where Carrie Fisher blew Jake and Elwood up in the phone booth. The oases: BELVIDERE I-90, Jane Addams Tollway; //// DEKALB I-88, Ronald Reagan Tollway //// DES PLAINES I-90 Jane Addams Tollway; //// These are all on the Tri-State Tollway I-294: HINSDFALE, LAKE FOREST, CHICAGO SOUTHLAND/LINCOLN and O'HARE. //// --RoadDog

Monday, March 10, 2014

Illinois Tollway Oases-- Part 1

From Wikipedia. //// An Illinois Tollway Oasis is a commercialized rest area, usually built over an interstate in northern Illinois. There are seven of them and are found in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, DeKalb and Belvidere. //// They date back to 1958 (though all weren't built then) during the original tollway construction. They all were redeveloped in 2003-2005. //// Of course, back then, the public was told that the tolls would be removed once the new highways were paid for. Right?. //// --RoadDog

Des Plaines Oasis to Close March 16th-- Part 2

Last fall, Tollway officials announced the need to close the Des Plaines Oasis to make room for a $2-billion plus I-90 reconstruction program that calls for the addition of a fourth lane in each direction. //// The project is needed to ease some huge congestion along the road in that area and to accomoddate up to 30,000 additional vehicles. The whole project is expected to cost $3.4 billion and completed by 2025. //// As part of the demolition process, the Tollway agreed to pay $9.3 million in termination costs to SFI Chicago Tollway LLC, which leases and operates all seven oases in the Illinois Toll System. //// --RoadDog

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thomas MacDonald: "Forgotten" Road Man-- Part 3

Thomas MacDonald supervised the construction of 3.5 million miles of highway. Later, he also personally directed the construction of the Alaskan Highway. //// Historian Stephen B. Goddard says MacDonald "was a force as powerful as his counterpart at the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, yet virtually unknown to most Americans." (Myself included.) //// He was born in Colorado, but his family returned to Poweshick County when he was a youngster. He attended school in Montezuma, Iowa. His father was a partner in T. Harris & Company, a grain and lumber dealer. Thomas grew up very frustrated by the poor state of Iowa's roads. //// Roads back then had been essentially forgotten with all importance placed on railroads. //// More to Come. --RoadDog

Thomas MacDonald: "Forgotten" Road Man-- Part 2

From Wikipedia. //// Thomas Harris "Chief" MacDonald (July 23, 1881-April 7, 1957). American civil engineer and politician who had tremendous influence in building the U.S. Highway System). //// MacDonald served as the Chief of the Iowa State Highway Commission, Chief of the Bureau of Public Roads from 1919-1939 and Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Roads from 1939 to 1953), a very formative time for roads in the United States. //// Overall, he directed the national road policy for 34 years, serving under seven U.S. presidents. //// More to Come. --RoadDog

Friday, March 7, 2014

Des Plaines Oasis to Close March 16th-- Part 1

From the March 6, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Jonathan Bullington. //// Less than two weeks to visit the Des Plaines Oasis over the Jane Adams Memorial Tollway, I-90, by Chicago. Illinois Tollway officials announced it closes for good at 8 p.m. March 16th before it will eventually be demolished as part of a road-widening project. //// The Oasis opened in 1959 and I have visited it or driven under it many times in the past, but not so often anymore because of the increased tolls and rarely ever going to Chicago or around it anymore. //// The Oasis spans over the tollroad and it was quite fun to get a bite to eat and sit and look at all the cars passing by underneath. //// The rip-off gas stations and convenience stores operated by 7-Eleven will remain open for the time being. //// I Just Might Have to Fork Over the $1.40 Toll to Visit It One More Time (Then Maybe Go to Rolling Stone in Norridge). First Randhurst, Now This. --RoadDog

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thomas MacDonald "Forgotten" Road Man-- Part 1

Back on January 27th, I did an entry about a Shorpy photo of a man holding various old U.S. Highway signs (Jan. 21, 2014 Shorpy "Routes: 1925). The Shorpy site said the man's name wasn't given, but one of the people making comments said he thought the man was Thomas MacDonakld, chief and later commissioner of the Bureau of Public Roads and that much of today's interstate system (that would be the original U.S. highway system dating from the 1920s, not today's interstate system) and its standards are a result of his work in the early part of the 20th century. //// I had never heard of him and I am a big roadie. I have heard of Cyrus Abvery and Carl Fisher, but not Thomas MacDonald. //// Further investigation was needed. //// --RoadDog

Burning Down the House: Firehouse Restaurants That Is

From the Dec. 26, 2013, Preservation Nation Blog "Firehouse Restaurants Coast to Coast" by Lauren Walser. //// Here are some places where you not only get some good food, but also get a dose of fire department history in these former fire stations now converted into restaurants. //// The winter 2014 edition issue featuredthree of them in the print edition: Sixth Engine in D.C.; House 22 Firehouse grill in Rochester, N.Y.; and Chicago Firehouse in Chicago. //// But Walser says there are many more "amazing firehouse renovation projects offering diners top-notch meals with a smoking side of history." She had photos and information on each of these: //// Engine Co. 28 in Los Angeles, Cal. //// Firehouse Restaurant in Sacramento, Cal. //// Firehouse Restaurant in Portland, Ore. //// Historic Firehouse Grill, Evanston, Ill. //// Firehouse Restaurant in Harrisburg, Pa. //// Jack's Firehouse in Philadelphia, Pa. //// Two Steps Downtown Grille in Danbury, Ct. //// Wonder If Any Have Flaming Offerings? --RoadDog

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tom Marker's Lundi Gras Music

On Monday, Tom Marker of WXRT, 93.1 FM, Chicago's Finest Rock, had his annual Lundi Gras Show on his Bluesbreakers from 9 to 10 PM. I only regret that it is but one hour long. Personally, I could live with four hours for this one. //// These are the songs he played: MARDI GRAS MAMBO-- Hawkettes // PARTY TOWN-- Marcia Ball // BOURBON STREET PARADE-- James Andrews and Trombone Shorty //// WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN-- Louis Prima // BUCKJUMP-- Trombone Shorty and the rebirth Brass Band // LOUISIANA STOMP-- Clofton Chernier //// BABY PLEASE DON'T GO-- C.J. Chernier // DARKNESS AT THE BOTTOM-- Anders Osborne // GOING BACK TO LOUISIANA-- Clarence Gatemouth Brown // TROUBLES HAVE DOUBLED-- Johnny Sansone. //// Always Gets Me in the Mood for M.G.. --RoadDog

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Looking For Mardi Gras Here In Northern Illinois

We spent the afternoon searchiung for something even remotely like Mardi Gras here along the Illinois/Wisconsin border and didn't find a whole lot. We did see one other guy with beads, but that was it. Some people didn't even know it was Mardi Gras. //// First stop was at the Snuggery on the Fox River in McHenry which was advertising a Mardi Gras party with beads (none that we could see), but they did have some mighty fine Hurricanes for $3 apiece so had a couple. Also had a Chain Crawl coupon we needed to use before it expires on March 31st. Spend $10 and get a free order of what we regard as the best beer nuggets anywhere, (complete with marinara and garlic butter dipping sauce). //// Then, it was into McHenry where we stopped at Cork Screw Pointe for a fantastic muffeletto sandwich, one of the best we've ever had. But, no Mardi Gras, despite having one of Louisiana's finest offerings in the sandwich. //// Next stop was the new Buffalo Wild Wings in McHenry (or BW3 as we old-timers call it). The bartenders were impressed with our beads and Mardi Gras shirts, but other than that, no celebration. We did play NTN on the new pad boards. That will take some getting used to. //// Then, across Il-31 to Twisted Moose. No Mardi Gras there, but they were getting ready for the BlackHawk game (a big deal complete with red flashing lights, air horns and "Chelsea Dagger"). //// Last stop at O'Leary's in Ringwood. Several years back, they had king cake, but, sadly, not tonight. //// We Did Get What We Could Out of It. --RoadDog

Monday, March 3, 2014

Music from the Movie "The Big Easy"

Taken from my "The Big Easy" soundtrack album. //// These are the songs that turned me on to Mardia Gras, New Orleans and Louisiana Music: IKO IKO-- Dixie Cups // TIPITINA-- Professor Longhair // MA 'TIT FILLE-- Buckwheat Zydeco //// COLINDA-- Zachary Richard // TELL IT LIKE IT IS-- Aaron Neville & the Neville Brothers // ZYDECO GRIS GRIS-- Beausoleil //// OH YEH YAI-- Terrance Simien & the Mallet Playboys // HEY HEY (INDIANS COMIN')-- The Wild Tchoupitoulas // CLOSER TO YOU-- Dennis Quaid // SAVIOUR, PASS ME NOT-- The Swan Silvertones. //// Before the movie, I had just heard of "Iko Iko" and "Tell Iy Like It Is." Dennis Quaid was the star of the movie. An unknown, to me, John Goodman was also in the movie. //// Really Turned Me On. --RoadDog

"The Big Easy" Opened My Eyes

There was a time I wasn't really familiar with Louisiana music for the most part. I'd never been there and just didn't have much opportunity to hear the music (in those pre-computer streaming days). //// Then came the movie "The Big Easy." That shattered my non-knowledge in a big way. I saw it at the theater and just was knocked off my feet by the music. Where in the world is this music coming from and how come I went so long without hearing it? I was hooked immediately. And then started to go out and buy as much zydeco, Cajun and New Orleans music as I could find, starting with the artists performing on the soundtrack. //// I now have a good-sized collection of albums, cassettes and CDs of the music and made several cassettes for my deejay shows, especially around Mardi Gras season. I had one traveling tape as well as it is ALWAYS a GOOD TIME to hear Mardi Gras Music. //// If That Don't Get Your Toes A-tappin', Nothing Will. --RoadDog

Getting My Zydeco, Cajun, New Orleans Mardi Gras Music On

Been listening to my Mardi Gras/Louisiana CDs and cassette tapes this past week, getting in the mood for what little passes as Mardi Gras around here. The heavy snow Saturday kept us from Mardi Gras parties at Captain's Quarters and K.C.'s Cabin (and even the possibility of going to Twisted Moose or Tommy's to watch the Black Hawks play the Penguins at Soldiers Field). This rotten winetr has also lampooned our annual trip to the Gulf Coast and Mardi Gras celebrations at Mobile and Panama City. Between how cold it is there (generally 20-30 degrees warmer than here in northern Illinois), still, a 30-50 degrees difference to drive that distance just doesn't make it worth it. Plus, there has been that awful weather and storms between here and there. //// Anyway, we'll be looking for something around here the next two days. //// Gotta Find me a King Cake. --RoadDog

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Twenty Places Every American Should Visit-- Part 2

10. **French Quarter, New Orleans // 9. Mount Rushmore // 8. **Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco // 7. The Alaskan Wilderness // 6. Times Square // 5. Yosmite National Park, California // 4. **National Mall/Smithsonian Institute // 3. Yellowstone National Park // **Grand Canyon // **Niagara Falls. //// Well, No Route 66 or Lincoln Highway, or, Even the National Road. What Gives? --RoadDog

Twenty Places Every American Should Visit-- Part 1

From the January 21, 2014, International Business Times by Mark Johanson. ** means I've seen it. Subscribers voted and these are the ranked results: 20. **(Boston's Freedom Trail // 19. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City // 18. **Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, featuring Independence Hall. // 17. **The Great Smoky Mountains // 16. **Pearl Harbor // 15. **The Pacific Coast Highway (At this point, I was sure I'd see Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. Were they on the list? Keep reading.) // // 14. **Battle of Gettysburg // 13. **Colorado Rockies // 12. Glacier National Park, Montana. 150 glaciers (before they melt) // 11. Ellis Island. //// --RoadDog