Saturday, May 30, 2015

Indy Bound-- Part 4: They'll Be Back

Went back to the RV and Paul made up some great Hebrew Nation Hot Dogs, Smoky Links and brats on the grill.  The folks on the other side of us were playing some great 80s country songs.

.38 Special was playing at the track by turn four, but we couldn't hear them unfortunately.  I am a big fan of that Southern Rock outfit.

One thing we were wondering about was what will happen next year to the American Legion Post 500 in Speedway, where we are staying,  Last year we were led to believe this would be the last year for them at this site.  Sue found out that they will still be here for the 100th Running in 2016, but that it will be relocated nearby the following year and that they would again have RV sites.

Good News.  --RoadDog

Friday, May 29, 2015

Indy Bound-- Part 3: Cocktails and Main Street

MAY 22, FRIDAY

Once the RV campsite was set up, time to relax and have some cocktails.  The folks next door to us were from California, New York and Utah.  It was a family with three generations of guys.  This is a nice thing to come together for a family.  The younger ones, early 20s, sleep in the compartments below the RV.

We then walked over to Main Street of Speedway, where we had so much fun last year.  This is another area of urban renewal in Speedway and they are doing a great job with it.  There are several bars and restaurants and room for more.  Also, several race car builders have their headquarters there.

We were a bit early, though, and not much was going on until several hours later when they have Rockin' On Main Street with bands, libations and food.  We were disappointed that a microbrewery that had promised last year to be open this year still wasn't open.

Bourbon & BBQ had a good crowd, but their band hadn't arrived yet.  We stopped at Dawson's for a drink before heading back to the RV.

There is a new traffic circle between Georgetown Road and Main Street which is why Georgetown access is limited as it is blocked off at the south end.

--RoadDog

Driving You Car to See Other Cars-- Part 6

Bloomington, Indiana, is home to Indiana University and the town square has a good selection of American and ethnic restaurant.  Weekend traffic can be a nightmare and Sunday breakfast out seems to be obligatory so expect long lines at restaurants.

Then, for a real treat, get on Indiana Highway 46 and head east on one of the great drives anywhere through winding and rolling country.  Stop in beautiful Nashville and continue on to Gnaw Bone (how's that for a town name.  On May 9th, the "world's most difficult 10K run" was held.

That Indiana Highway 46 from Columbus, Indiana, (also an interesting visit) is spectacular.  I think those Hoosiers are keeping it secret.  You rarely hear about it.

--RoadDog

Driving You Car to See Other Cars-- Part 5: Bloomington, Indiana and Nashville

MARCH MADNESS

DESTINATION:  Bloomington, Indiana

TRAVEL TIME:  Under 4 hours, mostly on I-65 to Indianapolis.  Then highways 67, 37 to Bloomington and 46 to Nashville, Indiana).

RECOMMENDED VEHICLE TYPE:  Full-size flagship sedan because you've got to show off the returns on that college adage of fake it till you make it.

OK, back in late March, there was this Final Four thing going to happen in Indianapolis, and, of course, Bloomington is the home of Indiana University, somewhat known for its college basketball program.

--RoadDog

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ouch! Gas Here in Northern Illinois Hits $3.25!!!

Gas when we came back from the April-May trip was around $2.70.  We have since had four really big gouges.

Two weeks ago, it went to $2.92, dropped back, then to $2.99, drop back down.

Three days ago, it hit $3.10, then the next day $3.25.

Big Oil must not be making enough profit.

Why?

Why, MORE PROFIT!

It was nice while it lasted.

Crying in My Beer.  --RoadBrokeDog

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Indy Bound-- Part 2: Georgetown Road Access

Cruised into Indianapolis with no problems and thanks goodness for GPS and instructions as that involved several different roads coming in from the north as out usual Speedway exit of I-465 is open, but closed at Georgetown Road, where we turn on to get to the American Legion RV lot.  You have to have a Georgetown Access sticker on your vehicle to get on this road this year.

Speedway is doing a huge amount of urban renewal, which I for the most part consider for the better.  Just as long as it doesn't get too high-faluting like so much of Vegas is now.  I was completely confused, but John had accurate instructions and Paul got us to the Legion at 12:30 p.m. (most likely Central as I forgot to change the watch to Eastern.  Not a big fan of the Eastern Time Zone myself.  Everything is way too late.

No problems checking in at the Speedway American Legion Post 500 (good post number) and we were in the same place as last year and under trees.  Nice view of the Speedway across Georgetown Road and the famous Pagoda looming over that.  Best of all, electric hookup, but it comes at a price, $350 for four nights (we were only there for three, however).

Sure glad Paul was doing the backing in as it was not easy to do this with our behemoth.

The next 30 minutes were spent squaring it away and putting out the outside sitting and drinking area.

Indy At Last.  --RoadDog

Driving Your Car to Places to See Other Cars-- Part 4: Hudson Autos

Travelers from Chicago anxious to depart the Indiana Toll Road can access historic U.S. Route 20 from the Toll Road northwest of South bend.  US-20 varies from two to four lanes during the stretch and you cut through South Bend, the home of Notre Dame University and wanders east through Elkhart toward LaGrange.

Take Route 5 north to Shipshewana, a small town with Amish-Mennonite traditions like homemade meals, crafts (which they are only too happy to sell to you) and slow-moving horse-drawn buggies.

The spectacular Hudson Auto Museum features Hudson, Essex, Terraplane, Railton and Dover vehicles collected by Eldon and Esta Hostetler.  The Histetlers often accompany their most unusual cars to summertime concours and shows.  The museum is in an event center marked by a large red-and-white barn.  It launches its 2015 season on April 1st and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m..

Contact the museum at 260-768-3021.

Beep Beep.  --RoadDog

Driving Your Car to Other Places to See Cars-- Part 3: Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum in Indiana

Built for Comfort.

DESTINATION: Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum, 760 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana, Indiana.

TRAVEL TIME FROM CHICAGO:  2-plus hours, 135 miles.  And, you can cruise on the historic US Highway 20 for part of the way.

RECOMMENDED VEHICLE TYPE TO DRIVE THERE IN:  Cadillac or Buick, anything with a history of length and steel.  Like bluesman Willie Dixon would say, anything "built for comfort."

--RoadDog

Why I Write All These Blogs

It was pretty well summed up in the May 23, 2015, Bizarro comic strip.

There is a cave man sitting on a rock, looking down at another man sitting cross-legged on the ground with a stone tablet, a sharp stone in hand and using a stone hammer to make marks on the tablet.

The sitting one says:  "But if you start writing everything down, these won't be prehistoric times anymore.  Are you willing to accept the responsibility?"

Of course, now with blogs and all the social media, a whole lot of history is getting written or photographed down.

But, anyway, I try to do my part.

Still Typin'.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Indy Bound-- Part 1: Good Breakfast, Bad Rest Area

MAY 22ND, FRIDAY
  We drove to Sue and Paul's house in Long lake, Illinois, and I put my stuff on board their RV.  Paul's brother John arrived and we left for that big old race at 7:15 a.m..  We made a stop for gas at a Pilot station in Indiana along I-65.  I decided to have a go at a Wendy's breakfast (I didn't even know Wendy's served breakfast).  It is mighty good.

Along the way I saw a milk truck container with two cow statues on top and the words "We Got Milk & MOOORE.  Kind of liked that one.

We stopped to change drivers again at what probably has to rank as the rankest, worst rest area I've ever been to.  Certainly not a good reflection on the State of Indiana.  Sue had to navigate a series of potholes that make even those in Chicago after a long hard winter look small.

Then, the bathrooms were closed and they had some mighty smelly and gross port-a-potties lined up outside.  A lot of school kids were at the stop and their teachers were trying to get the girls to use those port-a-potties and those girls were surely grossed out.

Hey, Indiana, ya gotta clean 'em out once in awhile.  I had to go, so held my breath and tried not to look and managed to get out without gagging.

Not Exactly a Hoosier Welcome.  --RoadDog

Monday, May 25, 2015

Back Home From This Race in Indiana

Arrived back home here in Illinois earlier this afternoon and immediately had to take a shower and a nap as I was worn out, but sure had some time.

This was my fourth trip to the Indianapolis 500, that Carl Fisher track he developed to test cars back in their early days, even before he came up with the ideas for the Lincoln Highway, Dixie Highway and Miami Beach.

The old boy's legacy could not be in better hands and more loved by the thousands who were there this past weekend.  We pitched camp, well TV, at the American legion Post # 500 (good name) on Friday, and I saw lots of familiar faces.  Right next to us was an RV loaded with three generations of one family, some of whom had driven here from California and Utah.

Yes, the Indy 500 is good cause for a good party, but also an opportunity for families and friends to get together.

More to Come.  --RoadDog

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Driving to Indianapolis for This Race

Leaving tomorrow morning for the American Legion Speedway Post 500 (for some reason) where I will be staying in friends Sue and Paul's RV for the 4th year in a row.

The Legion Post is a great site as it is right across the street from the Speedway and we can see the top of the Pagoda from the campsite.  Sadly, this might be the last time there as the City of Speedway is buying all the property on our side of the street to turn it into some sort of a pedestrian place.  Hopefully, a close-to-the Speedway site will be provided to the Legion in exchange.

The city has done a great job with Speedway's main street which has become a big party area during the Indy 500.  This is especially so tomorrow night.

My guy Hinchcliffe won't be driving because of a really bad accident during trials, so not sure who I'll be pulling for.  I am actually, after four years of going to Indy, getting to know some of the drivers' names.

Helio Who?  Sorry Terri.  --RoadDog


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Driving Your Car to Places To See Other Cars-- Part 2: Corvettes

Continued From May 16th.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is still an attraction even though the striking Skydome is still closed for repairs from the sinkhole until June or July.

And, GM's Bowling Green factory, the exclusive maker of Corvettes, is across the street.

There are still enough displays to see and enthusiasts to talk to to make a trip here worthwhile  The new National Corvette Museum's Motorsports Park opened in April.

Add a day and check out the marvels at Mammoth Cave National Park, just 22 miles north of the museum (and sleep in a WigWam at the TeePee Motel in Cave City).

Worth a Trip.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

News From Along Route 66-- March 2015

MARCH 22ND--  Big Texan record holder Molly Schulyer returning in April.  She set the record by eating that famous 72-ounce steak and sides in less than five minutes.  She will be returning April 19th to defend her title.  She plans to eat three of the steaks in under an hour.

There are videos of her on You Tube and they are not for the squeamish.  She essentially bites and swallows with no or very little chewing.  Then plenty of washes.

To me, that sure isn't the way to enjoy a steak.  Surely no savoring.

MARCH 24TH--  The Sears Tower in Chicago was sold for $1.3 billion.  I refused to call it by that other name and won't call it by whatever its new name is.  I'd rather go out on that skyledge and jump up and down.

MARCH 25TH--  Pictures of what shape the Tropics sign is in at Lincoln, Illinois, are very disappointing.  How could a city that aware of its Route 66 heritage let something like this happen?  Maybe they should get an online effort started to save that.

MARCH 28TH--  In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Aztec Motel sign was taken down, the rest of the motel was torn down in 2011.  At this point it is not known what will happen to it but it might become a part of a Route 66 park.  The original Aztec Auto Court was built in 1933.

At least save part of the place.

Mother Roading It.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66-- March

MARCH 13TH--  Missouri State University is developing a mobile archive on Missouri's Route 66 motels.  And, I'm sure that would include my favorite, the Munger-Moss in Lebanon as well as the Wagon Wheel in Cuba and I sure would like to get a stay at the Boots Motel in Carthage.

MARCH 14TH--  Lebanon may rename Elm Street as Route 66.  Something I'd sure like to see.  What would you rather have, a 66 or an Elm?

MARCH 16TH--  Hundreds turn out for the Gary Turner memorial at Gay Parita Sinclair station west of Halltown, Missouri.  He was one special person, one who made the old road so much of a great place.  He'll be missed.

MARCH 18TH--  The Mill in Lincoln, Illinois, is having an online campaign to help finish its restoration.  They've come a long way from when we first saw it in 2002.  Hopefully it will be completed.

MARCH 20TH--  Albuquerque approved condotel plan for the old De Anza Motor Lodge.  If you can't save it as is, I'm always in favor of alternate use.

Roading it Down the Road.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66: Here's a Great Concert

From the April 6, 2015, KY3 News "Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will play at Springfield Route 66 festival."

The concert will take place at the Gillioz Theatre Friday, August 14th.  Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, famous for songs like "Fishon' in the Dark," "Mr. Bojangles" and their "Will the Circle be Unbroken" album will headline.
Special guest will be Pure Prairie League.  Their breakout album was their second one "Bustin' Out" with the hit song "Amy."  Plus they were famous for using Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post cover of the old cowpoke, Sad Luke.  Pure Prairie League was a major influence on the country rock genre.

I really like both of these groups and am a confirmed Prairie Dog as PPL fans call themselves.  I have always figured that if I ever become a disc jockey at a radio station and have my "Down Da Road" show, the PPL tune "Two Lane Highway" would be my theme song.

Might Even Be There.  --RoadDog

Monday, May 18, 2015

News From Along Route 66-- March: Some More Illinois

MARCH 12TH--  RIVIERA ROADHOUSE  in Gardner, Illinois.  This place burned down in 2010 and the well was improperly capped.  There is a person now who would like to see a hand pump installed there, but it would cost around $3,000.  And, it should have some sort of marker at the site.

Bob and Peggy Kraft operated it until 2008.

It broke my heart when I heard of the fire.  We still have never gone by the site since then, but are sure are glad we got to go to it and meet the Krafts.  Fantastic food and Bob liked to hold court in that basement bar.

A real loss for the road.

I Miss It.  --RoadDog

News From Along Route 66: March 2015: Illinois

These are taken from the Route 66 News blog site.  It includes lots of other items about Route 66, but these are some that interest me the most.

MARCH 11TH:

What's Happening with Shea's Route 66 Museum, Art's Motel and the Sale of the Ariston.

This was especially interesting to us here in Illinois, a part of the Mother road which is often overlooked.

ARISTON CAFE in Litchfield is for sale since October for $1.2 million and remains operating in the meantime.  I don't know, but that really a lot of money for a restaurant in a small town like that, even as great of a one as it is.  Let's hope whoever buys it continues with it as is.

BILL  SHEA'S ROUTE 66 MUSEUM in Springfield was closed in December 2013 after his death.  His son would like to sell the entire collection as a whole to one buyer.  The Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac has show interest in it, but it would have to be a donation.

Bill's son, Bill, Jr. was there at the museum most times I ever went there and I thought he was interested in keeping his dad's place going.  And, considering Bill's dislike of the Illinois Route 66 Association, a donation might not happen.

ART'S MOTEL in Farmerville had been restored and reopened after being closed for a long time and operated until the summer of 2011.  It is a 13 unit motel with restaurant on the premises.    Its sign we redone by the Illinois Route 66 Association.  If it is torn down, it is hoped that the sign will be saved.

This is one place I always wanted to stay and eat, but that perhaps will not happen now.

--RoadDog

Two Midwest Towns Celebrating Their Orson Welles Connections

From the April 19, 2015, Chicago Tribune.  "Happy birthday, Orson Welles: Celebrations to mark famous centennials" by Mary Bergin.

"Two Midwest cities that are 45 miles apart declare the same legendary actor-writer-director as a native son and are giving him star treatment during this centennial year of his birth.

"Orson Welles, the mastermind behind the 1941 film "Citizen Kane" and 1938 "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast was born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"Across the Illinois state line, Woodstock considers itself his adopted hometown because Welles lived there eight years while attending Todd School for Boys after his parents' divorce and his mother's death..

Both cities are having nearly month-long celebrations to honor him.

Screenings of "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) will be shown at both towns.

Woodstock recently tore down the dorm where Welles lived and Marion Central Catholic High School now occupies the landing field used ofr planes for the school's boys.

--RoadDog

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kenosha, Wis.,-- Orson Welles Territory-- Part 2

Some planned events:

May 1-27-- Welles Trivia Crawl.  Discover historical facts and Kenosha Orson Welles connections at downtown businesses.

May 6th--  Kick off celebration

May 7th--  Orson Welles and FDR.

May 8th--  Public Craft Brewing Company will have the official release of itsOrson Welles inspired beer and the possibility of some of Welles' relatives showing up.

May 9th--  Downtown Kenosha Featuring "War of the Worlds."  Walk with the aliens.

May 15th--  "Citizen Kane" shown at Parkside University student center cinema with discussion.

May 24th--  "The Magnificent Ambersons" film screening near hisbirth home.

may 27--  Orson Welles Trivia Night.

May 30-31--  Orson Welles 100th Anniversary Memorial Walk.  Also, Aliens in the Outfield with the Kenosha Kingfish baseball team at historic Simmons Field, built in 1920.  Orson Welles-themed baseball.

'Nuff Said.  Scare Me to Death.  --RoadDog

Kenosha and Woodstock-- Orson Welles Territory-- Part 1

From the March 25, 2015, Hi-Liter "Kenosha to celebrate Orson Welles: Month-long series of events to honor 100th birthday of native son."

The City of Kenosha, Wisconsin, will commemorate the 100th birthday of the late Orson Welles this year with a month-long series of events.  Mr. Welles was born in Kenosha in 1915 and was an actor, writer, director, and producer and altered the mediums of theater, radio and film.  Of course, he was probably best known for his "Citizen Kane" movie and the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast which scared folks in the U.S. so badly back in the 1930s.

He also attended school during his formative years in Woodstock, Illinois, where he developed his skills.  Woodstock is also the home of Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould and where the famous film "Groundhog day" was filmed.

--RoadDog

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Spring Beach Trip-- Part 4: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and My Senior Pass

It had been probably since the 1970s since we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and we had time to kill since we left a couple days early to go to Savannah, so we figured that we should drive through the park from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina.

We had a bit of an extra drive getting from Gatlinburg to the park entrance as we got confused by the signs leaving town and headed toward Pigeon Forge, before realizing it.  Back on the bypass around Gatlinburg to the park entrance, we got to the welcome center.

We stopped for information and I decided this would be a great time to pick up my National Park Senior Pass.  For $10, once you're 62, you can get one which gives you free admission to every national park (even if it is hard to find those elusive National Park quarters).

I bought one, even though I was told you didn't need one for this park as it is free.  I still, however, plan to give donations at each one.  These parks are one thing I sure don't mind paying taxes.  Worth most every cent.

--RoadDog

Driving Your Car to Places to See More Cars-- Part 1: Corvettes

From the March 29, 2015, Chicago Tribune "Spring Break Drives."

Well, a bit late for spring break, but still places you can drive to see neat old cars and automobilia stuff.

CAVES AND CORVETTES--

Destination: National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green Kentucky.

Travel Time, miles:  6+ hours, 406 miles from Chicago

Recommended vehicle type to use for trip:  America's sports car (Corvette), preferably convertible.

The sinkhole that swallowed eight vintage Corvettes on Feb. 14, 2014 has been filled and is now an official part of the museum's 21-year-old history.  Sadly, only 3 of those 8 were able to be restored and the museum is preparing an exhibit on the sinkhole.

More Vette to Come.  RoadDog

Thursday, May 14, 2015

In Search of Tybee Island's "Local Character"

The last two days I have been writing about searching for one John Potter of Savannah, Georgia, at one of his local hangouts on Tybee Island called Huck-A-Poos.  This is in my Running the Blockade blog.  I came across his name and Huck-A-Poos  while writing about the man who has recently come forward to admit that the supposed photograph of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia was his hoax.

After I found that he had a picture of himself on a wanted poster at the bar with something about a record for drinking PBR beer in one night, I knew I had to check this place out.

It starts with a trip out to Savannah's dive bar, Pinkie Master's (and I have no doubt he used to go there as well) and eventually leads to a traffic jam going to Tybee Island and a trip to Fort Pulaski.  Well, it is a Civil war blog after all.

But, this could also be considered a road blog, so give it a read.  Just click on the Running the Blockade Blog to the right of this entry.

Love Those Local Characters.  --RoadDog

A Spring Beach Trip 2015-- Part 4: More Gatlinburg Nightlife

APRIL 22ND

Sure glad that the incessant rain falling when we arrived in Gatlinburg had finally stopped.  Made walking around much nicer.  After Old Hickory Holler, we went by some souvenir shops, something that abound all over Gatlinburg.

A warning to those easily offended by the Confederate flag.  This is not the place for you as you are going to see a fair number of them, especially in the tee-shirt and souvenir places.  There also will be some people walking around in that attire.  Gatlinburg is often referred to as a redneck paradise so be forewarned.

We thought we'd maybe stop at Dick's last resort, but beat a hasty retreat when we saw bottles of beer at $4.75.  We also passed by another place selling Moonshine and offering free tasting, but I'd already had my fill.

We found a place called Puckers which is sort of a sports bar and stopped there for a pitcher of beer for $10.  Ran into a couple from Muskogee, Oklahoma, that were just out for a motorcycle trip around the South and had a good talk.  Then went up[stairs to a place called Hogg's for another drink.

Lastly, we ended up at Crawdaddies, right next to the Four seasons where we were staying.  It is upstairs and great place to watch people walking by on the street below.  They had karaoke so enjoyed some good, some bad.

A Good Night in Gatlinburg.  --RoadDog

A Spring Beach Trip-- Part 3: A Night in Gatlinburg, Bluegrass Music and Moonshine

APRIL 22ND, WEDNESDAY

We finally got to Gatlinburg (there was a lot more traffic on Tn-66 than i would expect during this off season weeknight and with the rain).  We arrived in Gatlinburg and took a drive around to see if we could remember where we'd stayed before.  We finally determined it to be the Four Seasons Motel which advertises the best rates in Gatlinburg.  Plus, it is right in the middle of  wherever you want to walk to in Gatlinburg.

We got a room, unfortunately on the second floor and requiring a goodly walk to get to it.  I ended up having to make four trips to get our stuff into the room because of oversights.  I wasn't too happy about that.  Almost too tired to take a walk around town.

We went to the main street and heard music coming from nearby and followed it where we found a place called the Shamrock on a side street.  They had an entertainer playing guitar and singing outside under a tent flap, but no one at the tables which were uncovered and wet because of the rain which had finally stopped. He was good, but the seats too wet so went inside for a drink.  Very Irish inside for some reason.

Then, took a walk down the street and heard some music coming out of another venue off the street so followed it and found a new place called Old Hickory Holler which sells the now legal, and taxed, Moonshine.  That elixir of the mountain folk.  The Baldwin sisters' "Recipe."  And, even better, "Free Tasting."  I tasted, tasted and then tasted.  Good stuff.

They also had an excellent bluegrass band playing at an outside stage with around 40 rocking chairs set up around them.  What a great way to watch some good bluegrass music.  And free as well.

A Great Addition.  --RoadMoonDog


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Spring Beach Trip 2015-- Part 2: Interstate Driving to Gatlinburg, Tn.

APRIL 22, 2015, WEDNESDAY

This was a day of driving the interstates to make some miles toward Savannah.  We eventually drove a little over 500 miles starting on I-74 to Indianapolis from Champaign, Illinois, and then I-465 bypass to I-74 again to the Cincinnati bypass.

We didn't stop along the way to eat as I had visions of a possible Skyline Chili stop in my head, but was beginning to wonder as there was not a single one, or much in the way of any restaurants along the Cincinnati bypass until we got close to I-75, and, there on the sign was Skyline Chili.  Oh Boy!!

We quickly got off and sated my love of that item (thanks a lot Denny).  I even have Liz liking Cincy chili, though she complains there is too much of it.  We both had had some left over for another meal.

Then, we took I-75 south through Lexington, Kentucky, to Knoxville, Tennessee and took the bypass there to the east.

I had been planning to stop at a motel along I-40 somewhere, but when I saw the exit for Tn-66 coming up, I knew that went through Seveirville, Pigeon Forge and out to Gatlinburg, so decided to drive that in a steady drizzle.  This is one huge tourist area all along the highway.  The Wisconsin Dells pales to this and until Dolley hit Pigeon Forge, in the 70s, there really wasn't a huge amount back then until you got to Gatlinburg.

--RoadDog

Monday, May 11, 2015

O.K., What Is a Steeplechase?

I do not believe I'd ever really heard the word before Wednesday.  I've seen it in movies and TV, though.  Kind of a strange name for the event, however.  Where'd they come up with the name steeplechase.

Good old Wiki to the rescue for a quick fill-in on steeplechases.

A Steeplechase is a distance horse race requiring jumping over diverse fences and ditch obstacles.  It originated in Ireland and are run in the U.K., Canada, U.S., Australia and France.

In case you're wondering about the name, it comes from its early races where the course orientation was referenced by church steeples.

The most famous Steeplechase race in the world is the Grand National run annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, U.K, since 1836.  I have been following the Andy Capp comic strip and that is where he and his buddies are of recent.  Watch out for those water ditches, Andy!!
In the U.S., the hurdles are almost always over National fences, standardized plastic and steel fences standing 52 inches tall.  One in S.C. is over packed pines and one in Vermont is over live hedges.

Thomas Hitchcock (1860-1941) is regarded as the father of American Steeplechases.

This looks to be a mighty dangerous race, both for horses and riders.

I Sure Would never Ride in One.  Way Too Scared.  --RoadDog

Nashville's Iroquois Steeplechase-- Part 2

The race is run on turf with a purse of $150,000.  It took place on May 9th this year, the 74th running.

Seven races are held and attendance is generally over 25,000 (which would explain all the signs).  Most are decked out in their spring finest wardrobes including women's hats to match those worn at the Kentucky Derby.  They say it is the best hats in the South.

Money is raised for the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt which has received nearly $10 million in funds from the event since becoming the cause in 1981.

The Iroquois Steeplechase grounds were constructed in 1936 as part of a parks improvement project to the Works Progress Administration, part of FDR's attempt to get the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

Had we been there three days later, we would have been in the middle of it.

Gost, Another Traffic Jam.  --RoadDog

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Well, We Were a Bit Early for Nashville's Iroquois Steeplechase

MAY 6TH, WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday, we were forced off I-65 because of an accident near Franklin, Tennessee, and ended up taking around six roads to bypass Nashville and get to Clarksville.  And these were some of the most beautiful driving we've ever done, even though having the feeling that we were lost much of the time.  Nancy, our British GPS gal,  helped tremendously.

At one point we started seeing all these signs for some sort of a big event taking place on May 9th (today) as we drove by and then we saw a stone sign for Iroquois Steeplechase.

Liz finally figured out what roads we were on and we located Iroquois Steeplechase.

I looked it up on Wikipedia.

IROQUOIS STEEPLECHASE is an American Grade 1 NSA sanctioned steeple chase race held each spring at Nashville's Percy Warner Park.  It dates back to 1941 and has been held annually except 1945 when it was cancelled because of World War II.

It gets its name from Iroquois, the first American-bred Thoroughbred to win the prestigious British Epsom Derby.

The race is three miles long, over national fences for four+ year olds.

Missed by just three days.

Reckon I'll Have to Do Some More Research on Steeple Chase Races.  --RoadHorse


A Beach Trip Spring 2015-- Part 1

APRIL 21ST, 2015, TUESDAY

Leaving on a really cool day with temps in the 30s.  Got a late start at 2 p.m..  Took Il-120 to Il-47.  Stopped in Dwight, Illinois, to eat at the Old Route 66 Family Restaurant on the old road.

By Mahomet, we got on I-74 and took it the short distance to Champaign and got a room at the Super 8 across from the TGIF and watched the Blackhawk -Predator game until it went to overtime and then went back to the room.  Found out later that the Hawks won in the third overtime.

I hate the 8:30 game times, especially with the 20 minute overtime periods.  We enjoyed talking with a woman in Champaign for training with Jimmy Johns, which started in nearby Jacksonville, Illinois, at Eastern Illinois University and now is headquartered in Champaign.

She was from Nashville and a big Predators fan.  She didn't know, nor did we, when the Predators started or where they got the name or logo.  She looked it up (I still haven't figured out how to use my 2002 flip phone)  The team started in the 1997-1998 season and got its name when work on the foundation for a big downtown building revealed the skull of a type of saber tooth tiger.  That would explain the name and logo.

--RoadDog

Buying CDs for Cruising

I did some CD buying in Panama City Beach during the recent trip and had plenty to listen to on our way back home.

Two of them were new CDs and I have yet to get around to listening to them.

Wilder Mind by Mumford & Sons
Now That's What I Call #1'S

I also didn't listen to The Essential Dean Martin ( a CD set).

Other CDs I did listen to (all double CD sets):

The Essential Kinks
I Told You So by Randy Travis
Tom Jones Gold
Oak Ridge Boys Gold

--RoadDog

Friday, May 8, 2015

Why I'm Calling It Beaches Spring Trip 2015

We just got back home last night after 3,005 miles taking us from Illinois, through Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and back to Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois.

It is beaches because we went to Tybee Island, Georgia, Jacksonville Beaches, St. Augustine Beach, St. George Island, Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach for a week.  Saw lots of water on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Sand in My Shoes.  --RoadDog

Still Some Bikers Around

May 3, 2015

Our friends from Indiana took  off on a ride to St. George Island this morning.  There are the occasional group of bikers, but nothing like the scads of them Friday and Saturday.  It is sure nice to be able to drive somewhere and find a parking place for a car.

Last night, we got together with some friends, Sue and Paul, from back home.  They are  here in PCB in their RV which I will be going on to the Indy 500 later this month.  We had cocktails and dinner at Sharky's just down the beach from us and later watched the first two periods of the Hawks NHL  playoff game with the Wild under the stars and that full moon.

--RoadDog

And Forget Illinois Highway 47 Between Yorkville and Woodstock

May 7, 2015

Looks like we are going to have to find another way to go south from our house in Spring Grove, Illinois, as Il-47 is every bit as bad as Nashville, Tennessee,  rush hour, but on a much-smaller scale.

Yesterday, as we were making the last leg of our Beaches Spring trip and with thoughts of home looming, we had a traffic mess essentially from Yorkville, Illinois, to Woodstock.  We did a lot of sitting in traffic.

Yorkville's stretch of Il-47 is torn up north of downtown (the southern part is finally finished and a joy to drive, even in rush hour).  maybe, one of these days the northern section will be just as good, but it surely isn't now.  One huge, 45-minute wait.  It didn't make my day.

Then, we had a huge backup at the area where US-20, Il-72 and Il-47 come together at the Stark's Corner area.  Lots of construction and long, long waits at each stoplight.  I mean, L-O-N-G!!!  waits.  We're guessing we waited through 3-4 green lights at each light.

Then, Huntley had three straight red lights waiting for us, which caused a huge backup.  Then, of course, the infamous, wait-a-long time Main Street Strangler light which formed an even longer line of traffic as we left town.

Then, there was a long wait at the Il-176 from Crystal Lake stoplight and a shorter wait at the 176 to Marengo light a half mile north.

Finally, we were surprised to find that Woodstock was actually not too bad.  usually, Il-47 is backed up for a mile during rush hour.

I am planning on avoiding this road for awhile.

Maybe It Was Just a Comparative Thing.  --RoadDog


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Forget I-65 Through Nashville

May 6, 2015

The Nashville Horror.  It is never fun to drive through Nashville, especially during rush hour.  Yesterday, I we entered Tennessee from Alabama on I-65, we stopped at the welcome center for motel pamphlets and information and overheard the person there telling some people getting a hotel room in Franklin for the night, that if they were not on the road by 6 a.m. to wait until 9 a.m. to drive through Nashville.

We stopped for gas at Franklin at around 5:30 p.m. and did not even make it a mile towards Nashville when we hit sitting traffic.  Evidently, there was an accident or something ahead and traffic was at a standstill.

We ended up on some back roads and eventually US-70 and saw some of the most beautiful scenery ever before ending up at Clarksville, Tennessee, for the night.

--RoadDog

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Lowdown on US-98-- Part 2

From Wikipedia.

US Highway 98 runs along much of the U.S. Gulf Coast. between Mobile, Alabama, and crystal River, Florida.  It goes through Panama City and Panama City Beach. and really stretches out along the Florida Panhandle.

There are quite a few nice long bridges as well, including the one east of Apalachicola and the Hathaway bridge over St. Andrew's Bay connecting PC and PCB.  It is called 3,358 feet long and referred to as the Panama City Beach Parkway.

--RoadDog

The Lowdown on US-98-- Part 1

From the U.S. Highway site.

U.S.-98 goes through Florida, Alabama and Mississippi east to west and was established in 1933.  It hugs the Gulf coast for much of its 902 miles..  Originally it ran just from Apalachicola to Pensacola.  We drove it Wednesday from Apalachicola to Panama City Beach.

The eastern terminus is Palm Beach, Florida (West Palm Beach) and western is Bude, Mississippi, or Washington, Mississippi.

--RoadDog

Florida Poised to Set Tourism Record This Year

From the May 4, 2015, Panama City (Fla) News Herald.

Florida expects to welcome its 100 millionth visitor this year, and all-time high.  The state is spending many more dollars marketing itself, but this increase in tourism is putting a strain on its infrastructure.  In addition to the visitors, some 900 people move to the state each day.

Panama City Beach, where i sit right now, overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico drew 12 million visitors last year bringing with them an estimated $1.2 billion to boost the economy.  The city is looking to ways to ease congestion during peak visitation months.

The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport opened just five years ago, bringing even more visitors.

--RoadDog

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bikers On the Way Home

May 3, 2015

We're about to breathe a sigh of relief as the huge congestion and lack of car parking draws to a fast close as Thunder Beach ends today.  By the time I went over to the Osprey Hotel lobby for coffee, nearly 1/3 of the motorcycles were gone and another third left while I was there.  Reckon some folks have to work tomorrow.

Coming back from McDonald's with the Sausage McMuffins, I was even able to find a parking space in front of the Driftwood .Lodge.

Sure had fun partying with the motorcyclists these last several days.  Our next door neighbors came from Batesville, Indiana, and we've had some nice talks with them.  Last night, we met an 82-year-old biker from Spartanburg, S.C., who had motorcycled here all the way.  Sure hope I can do stuff like that when I get that old.

--RoadDog


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Motorcycles All Over the Place

And from what I hear, there will be a whole lot more during the course of the day and evening as people nearby start coming for the day.  However, the people I have talked to who come here every year say it will clear out quickly by tomorrow afternoon.

We spent some time last night out by Front Beach Road in front of our motel and watched them go by.  Talked with a guy from Platteville, Wisconsin, who says the town really misses the Chicago Bears training there as they once did.  There were some really LOUD motorcycles, but what I really liked were the ones with the lighting effects.

Yesterday, when we drove over to Salty Sue's for their delicious smoked chicken wings, Front Beach Road was backed up all the way to the west as was US-98.

A big crowd of motorcyclists at Donovan's Reef across the road from us last night.  Too bad they only had one bartender to keep up with them as you had some long waits.  They were sure enjoying the karaoke while we were a bit desperate to find out news about the Blackhawk-Wild NHL playoff game being played, which wasn't on/  We were delighted to find out the Hawks were leading after the first period 3-0, but not so happy after the second with a 3-3 tie.  But the Hawks won 4-3.

A Real Biker Paradise Around Here.  --RoadDog

Friday, May 1, 2015

What's So Loud About Thunder Beach?

Plenty of loud around here and it is only going to get worse in the next day or so.  Thousands of motorcycles here in Panama City Beach for the spring ride/takeover.  Just try to find a place to park your car.  As a matter of fact, we stopped in a place last night that we'd never been to because we saw a few car parking spaces.  Most of the cycles are acceptable as far as loud goes, but then there are a few that you think perhaps a jet just flew by.

Mighty friendly folks though.  We met a bunch over at Donovan's reef across the street last night and had a nice talk with them.  They'd been coming here for years and knew Gary, the mayor of Donovan's and Jan, his sidekick.  We even had a toast to ther Mayor's chair where he would have been sitting.

The folks next door to us just checked in and they are from Batesville, Indiana,  and here on their ninth Thunder Beach.

--RoadDog