Tuesday, July 29, 2008

45 Places Your Friends Don't Know About-- Part 2

WISCONSIN'S RUSTIC ROADS-- Already familiar with these. Well worth your while to pull off the road and go on any of these. We especially like the one east of Lake Geneva called Snake Road. These will put you out in the country with some of the most beautiful scenery you're ever going to see. The state has a pamphlet listing all of these. www.dot.wisconsin.gov

GEORGE S. MICKELSON TRAIL-- South Dakota-- 109 mile long converted railbed through Black Hills, rail threstles, and one-time mining towns. www.mickelsontrail.com

YELLOW RIVER STATE FOREST-- Iowa-- OK, it's the name of my favorite song by Christie and one that I'm likely to play over and over when I hear it, much to the dismay of my friends. Through rugged northeast Iowa terrain contradicting flat farmland image. www.iowadnr.com

CIVIL WAR MUSEUM-- Kenosha, Wisconsin-- Just opened. First museum to trace the war's impact on the upper Midwest. Not far from home, but I haven't been to it yet.


Lots to Do in the Midwest. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

45 Places Your Friends Don't Know About-- Part 1

The August 2008 Midwest Living magazine had an article about 45 places that haven't been "discovered" by the crowds and the authors, George Hendrix, Claudia Capos and Barbara Morrow, think you should check them out.

I'm not covering all of their suggestions, but some that I found of interest.


West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana with its inspiring lobby. Also, neighboring French Lick Springs Hotel. Both were in ruins and decay, but have been brought back to life. Doubt that I could afford to stay at these places, but are worth a walk-through.


Smoky Valley, Kansas-- 60 mile scenic trail through central Kansas hills. www.ksbyways.org

Historic Hills, Iowa-- follows the Des Moines River through Van Buren in southeast Iowa. Especially now that the flooding has receded. www.historichills.com

Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, Ohio-- Magnificent churches along a 38 mile route in western Ohio. www.ohiobyways.com

Nothing like a great drive through the countryside, especially when there is a theme to it.

More..... --RoadDog

Friday, July 18, 2008

LaQuinta's Top Ten Road Songs

Well, at least 6 of them are what I'd consider road songs. The LaQuinta motel chain had a contest among on-line members to pick their favorite songs to listen to while on the road.

Their TOP TEN:

1. *Respect-- Aretha Franklin

2. Route 66-- Chuck Berry

3. Hit the Road Jack-- Ray Charles

4. *YMCA-- Village People

5. *Wild Thing-- Troggs

6. *Oh, Pretty Woman-- Roy Orbison

7. On the Road Again-- Willie Nelson

8. King of the Road-- Randy Travis (Actually Roger Miller)

9. Take Me Home, Country Roads-- John Denver

* I don't consider these road songs. Good songs, yes, but not road songs.

How About "Borm to Be Wild?" --RoadDog

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to the Double Six-- June 19th

After leaving the Schenk's, the took the superslab, I-55, around Bloomington-Normal. The old 66 bypass, Veterans Parkway, is a major SHS (Standardized Homogenized Stuff--Wal Marts, Home Depot, TGIF, etc) and very slow going. Lots of stoplights and traffic.

The original 66, which follows US-51 through the cities is hard to follow especially north of town where there is now a huge subdivision. We have gotten lost many times trying to get through it, so don't much bother any more.

Plus, of all the Route 66 towns, Bloomington-Normal seems to be the least interested in pushing their 66 heritage. I am, however, happy to see that a former gas station is being transformed into a tourist center, cafe, and bed and breakfast, so, maybe things are changing.

Here's Hoping Bloomington-Normal Gets on the 66 Bandwagon. -RoadDog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Joliet is now the 4th Biggest Illinois City

Joliet passed Naperville earlier this year to become Illinois' 4th biggest city, after, of course, Chicago, then Rockford and Aurora.

It is one of the fastest-growing cities anywhere in the stateand square in the sights of the Chicago-sprawl.

For years, Joliet has been considered a victim of the rust-belt, with loss of jobs, deterioration of the infrastructure and downtown, along with dangerous streets. The city has turned a corner and is enjoying a renaissance centered on the gambling boat, the Rialto Theatre, and Route 66.

They have an excellent museum which features its Route 66 and Lincoln Highway connections. Plus, there are 66 celebrations and street art.

Definitely Good News to Hear. Congratulations Joliet, One More Great Place to See on 66. --RoadDog

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to the Double Six-- June 19th-- Part 4


Their house is perfectly landscaped, and there does not seem to be one blade of grass awry. They also said that they found out the house was a Sears home and they have been able to get ahold of the original plans.

On an earlier visit, we had noticed a structure across the street from them that appears to be an old gas station. It is and they are putting pressure on the owner to cut down the tress in front of it that obscure it. Then they would like to have some old pumps put out front. I'd guess the station would date from the 20s or 30s.

Between the Schenks, the Route 66 walkway constructed by the Normal High School students, and the new Kicks on 66 bar and grill, and possibly the old gas station, Towanda is getting into the Route 66 spirit.

Towanda on My Mind. -RoadDog

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Back to the Double Six-- June 19th-- Part 3

The Schencks of Towanda

Her husband has spent a lot of time working in that garage, which is so nice, you'd almost expect that they wouldn't park anything in it, but they do. I would nominate this as one of the really great party garages of the US.

The floor is black and white linoleum with a big 66 in the middle of it for some reason. Probably the neatest thing among the neat was the large map of the United States with each state, including Hawaii and Alaska, shown by its license plate. I'd seen one at Scotty's in Hamel and these usually sell for $3500, but her husband had made this one over two labor-intensive weekends (he says he will never do that again) with $150 worth of license plates purchased on E-Bay. Mighty sore hands and he went through more than a few band saws, but it is worth it.

He even painted a Route 66 shield on the road out in front of their house and GOT in a bit of trouble for doing so. After he finished, a state trooper pulled up and asked if he had permission to do it. Of course not. Who'd have thought that was necessary. He had to talk to the town's mayor and didn't get in trouble. One line used against him was that if you do it, then everyone will want to do it.

Quick, let's all go out and paint shields on the roadway.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back to the Double-Six-- June 19th-- Part 2

South of Pontiac-- About five railroad cars are still on their sides just south of the old State Police Headquarters south of town along 66. We saw the train derailment this past April and would have figured they'd have it cleared up by now. They were using the police headquarters as a base of operations back then. The old hq could sure use a grass cutting and bush trimming. This would make an excellent 66museum and especially one dedicated to the state police. Remember, it looks like a pistol from the air.

Towanda-- Drove by the Schenk's place in Towanda and saw the garage door was open. Now, if you don't know these folks, they take Route 66 fandom to another level with all the route stuff outside in their yard, then, there's that unbelievable garage, repository of all things Route 66. In her years of collecting, Mrs. Schenk says she has only bought doubles of items three times. Wish I could say that.

The door had been open before, but we hadn't gone in, but this time she was out in the yard doing work on the beautiful landscaping. Had a nice talk and bought a Route 66 wrought iron shield.

More to Come on the Schenk's. --RoadDog