Wednesday, February 24, 2010

B-Dubbing It

Sitting here at the bar of the BW3, or Buffalo Wild Wings at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, Florida where we are playing NTN. Never did a post or went on line in a commercial establishment like this before. I understand all BW3s have internet access as do McDonald's.

I would have done this at the motel, but no reception in the room, just outside and it rained most of the day and was cold.

Ignore what I said before about a bad day at the beach. A bad day at the beach isn't much fun either. But, we went to Panama City and ate at a favorite place you don't see too often, Po' Folks. Hard to beat a chicken dinner with two sides and bread for $3.99.

We also played NTN at Joe's Corner Pub and had several top twenties and even played against two bars back home, Hello Folks and Donovan's Reef.

You Know What They Say About a Bad Day at the Beach. --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lenore Weiss

Liz and I were very sad to hear about the death of Lenore Weiss, one of Route 66's biggest advocates along with her husband John. We knew that she had cancer for quite awhile, but she never made an issue of it and continued on doing her works the whole time.

We have met and talked to her on numerous occasions and hold ourselves among the lucky ones to have had the opportunity to meet her.

You'll never find a more pleasant and approachable person to talk to.

Her death, coming so close to that of Bob Waldmire (and there is a great picture of the two of them taken from a few months ago, greatly decimates that special group of 66ers so responsible for the old highway's resurgence.

We'll Miss You, Lenore. --RoadDog

The Mayor and City Council

Sunday, February 21st, after Bahama Bob's and the ardent Canadians. we walked across the parking lot to Donovan's Reef. This is the same as the place we usually hang out in Wisconsin, so thought that was kind of neat. And, like North, this is a place that attracts all types of people which is just fine with us.

It was essentially dead when we got there and I was thinking of going back to the room (across the street), when Gary, the Mayor of Donovan's came in. We had met him last year and really had a good time talking with him. He had been in Saturday night, but it was so crowded and loud, we hadn't been able to talk with him much.

Gary is a retired GM worker from Detroit who has been living about a mile away since 1999. He makes an appearance most evenings around 7 to 8. A short while later, the rest of his city council started arriving. Jan manages a motel about a half mile away and says they are very selective as to patrons around Spring Break time. (The Driftwood does not allow anyone under the age of 21 unless a parent is in the same room.)

Then Herschel came in and was nice enough to drop off a Pizza Hut pizza in honor of his birthday which was today. He had sung two great songs at last night's karaoke. One was a rap song called "Gin and Soda" which he learned after Gary complained that he only knew four songs and kept singing them every karaoke. Gary hates rap so he has to be careful what he asks for in the future. He did a dynamite Hank Williams Jr. song "family Tradition" which really had the place rocking.

Then, Willie came in looking like Nanuck of the North. That was one covered guy and he complained about the cold they've been experiencing in the Panhandle this Global Warming winter. He used to be a bank president and has changed his name to Willie because of his resemblance to and sound-alike quality to the Willie called Nelson.

Always a Great Time Talking with these Folks. --RoadDog

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Canadians and the Argentine

Last night, we walked across Front Beach Road to the Bahama Bob's at the Calypso restaurant and found a big crowd watching the USA-Canada hockey game. And these folks mostly weren't cheering for the good old red, white and blue.

Got a couple stools at the bar and watched curling for awhile and the hockey game on another TV. Enjoyed the $1.35 pints while doing so.

We asked the girl sitting next to us who was watching curling, if she knew anything about the sport. She didn't, but we found out she was an exchange student from Argentina.

We did get to talking about one of my new favorite sports, rugby. She said they were big rugby fans in Argentina and have a team called the Pumas.

Three other guys were at the bar watching the hockey team and one began talking to her about the hockey game, which she wasn't familiar with at all. He informed her that she should be pulling for the guys in the red jerseys as they were the "Good Guys." Wait a minute the USA was wearing the white. How could red possibly be the "Good Guys?"

Just another Canadian trick to fool the uninformed if you ask me.

The US was up 2-1, but you should have heard the cheering when Canada scored to tie it up.

Sorry you Canadian visitors, but the real "Good Guys" won 5-3 despite Canadian 45-26 shots on goal. That is some great defense USA!!

Good Guys Win! Good Guys Win!! --RoadDog

Out Ta Beach

Sitting here at the picnic table at 3:07 pm and typing away on this little old blog. Listening to Alan Jackson sing "Living On Love" on a local country station, but reception on the headset and on the internet is not the greatest as we are blocked by the cabana row of buildings where we are staying.

We finally made it to Panama City Beach Saturday and checked into the Driftwood Lodge, where we stayed last year. This is a true mom and pop place, one of a dying breed here in the land of high rise condos.

The Gulf of Mexico rolls in just fifty yards away and the sea air is great.

Today started with a rainstorm and everything was so wet, I went to the local theater and got a chance finally to see "Crazy Heart" which unfortunately isn't playing anywhere around home. Great music and Jeff Bridges deserves an Oscar for best actor.

The sun finally came out so am enjoying the deck area.

Even a Rainy Day at the Beach is Still Better Than.... --RoadDog

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quest for Warmth-- Part 3 Talking About 'Bama Drivers

Two things I can tell you about drivers here in Alabama (well, at least on I-65 and around Birmingham): they are fast and there are a lot of them.

The speed limit on I-65 is 70. I was keeping it right around there for fear of making the acquaintance of a state trooper. These fast things kept blazing by me. I finally figured out they must be vehicles when one had to slow down some when another one cut them off. Trucks were driving almost as fast.

Plus, I am just about positive that every soul in Alabama has three cars AND, they have somehow figured out how to drive all three at once.

They are all over the place, especially in Birmingham. Their traffic grid pattern seems to be arranged in such a way as to insure your getting extra time to admire the city at the many, many traffic lights. We saw a LOT of Birmingham.

Plus, never let anyone say Alabama doesn't get traffic jams. Yesterday, we had a big one getting back onto I-65 near the UAB campus, then another one once on the interstate. It finally let up and we cruised a bit further before we encountered a third one because of road construction.

The Perils of Driving in Alabama. --RoadDog

Quest for Warmth-- Part 2 "Heart of Dixie"


Writing from the Days Inn here in Prattville, Alabama, about ten miles north of Montgomery. This is the home of the Confederacy, but the motel was definitely overrun this morning, not with invading Yankees, but golfers. With all the baseball (er, golf) caps, I thought I was perhaps at a high school athletic contest. At least none of them were on backwards.

We found out about Prattville last night while playing NTN at Loco's in Birmingham and got to talking with a man at the bar. He mentioned this as a good place to stay if we were heading to Montgomery. Lots of restaurants, bars and motels.

We both were sure he said "Preble" but couldn't find it on GPS. Finally figured that he must have said Prattville as this place was close to where he said it was.

Must have been that Southern Drawl Thing you hear so much down and around here.

Good place though. The motel features a hot breakfast if the golf folk haven't ravaged it yet. They sure drink a lot of coffee and seem to be a breed onto themselves. Didn't hear a single mention of the Tiger's apology yesterday, though.


We went to the Beef O'Brady's last night after we checked in. Many of them have NTN, but, unfortunately, not this one. They did, however, have $1 bottles of Nattie Light (Busch Natural Light) and Miller High Life Light so that made up for it. A buck is a GOOD price these days.

Then had a drink and ordered a signature offering at O'Charlie's. That would be the Southwest potato twists where they took two potatoes, curly cut them, fried them and put all sorts of good tasting stuff on them. I highly recommend them.

Good Eatin' and Drinkin' in the Neighborhood. --RoadDog

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quest for Warmth 2010-- Part 1

We actually got off fairly early yesterday, at 8 am. Those of you who know Liz will understand the significance of that!! But, we also got of at 6:30 am for the eagle watching trip earlier this month (because of the groundhog).

Took the usual way to avoid the Chicago hassle, Il-47 south down to Mahout, Ilinois and then east on I-74 past Champaign and Danville to Indiana-63 and south to Terre Haute, home of Indiana State and the National Road.


Stopped at the McDonald's in Yorkville, Illinois, for a bathroom break and breakfast. Sadly, I saw that they still had McRibs, but we were an hour early so had to settle for the breakfast.

Picked up US-41 at Terre Haute and took it all the way to Evansville. Lots of fruit and vegetable stands along the way which, for some reason, were closed. Sure can't understand that.

The whole state of Indiana was covered with snow. Usually, by the time we get to Champaign, snow cover is gone.

Gas prices were generally around the $2.60 range, although some Shell stations in Illinois were $2.70 and even $2.80. I did see gas for as low as $2.50.

Cops and Red Lights in Evansville Up Next. --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ranking the Five New NTN Sites

My official rankings of the new sites based on how much I enjoyed the place. That would include other players, whether the game was on a TV when we entered, drink and food prices and so forth.

1. Frackie's-- Davenport, Iowa

2. Tequila Roadhouse-- Dekalb, Illinois

3. Parkside-- Moline, Illinois

4. Otto's-- Dekalb, Illinois

I don't rank the major chains as they are always the same. And, that's not a completely bad thing either.

I've Got to get a Life. --RoadDog

Cruisin' and NTNin'-- Part 2

We went to three new-to-us sites in the Quad Cities.

We also visited two others in Dekalb, Illinois.

TEQUILA ROADHOUSE-- I have written about one Feb. 6th as it was a very pleasant surprise, combining three of my major interests. And that one would be the Tequila Roadhouse by Greek Row. They have the drinks, NTN and also Route 66.

They haven't had it very long, but hopefully will keep it, but you never know about college students. Perhaps they have other things ontheir minds at their local watering holes.

OTTO's-- Doesn't open until 6:30 and they are very strict about it. I'm not really sure why they got it as the place is more of a live music venue. However, you can watch the trivia game through a window on the street in case you're stuck in a line.

We also played at Fatty's on Lincoln Highway. They had it at one time, dropped it, and now have it back but have had nothing but problems with the system since they got it back so I don't think they'll be keeping it for too long.

Great food and you definitely have to try the Cajun fried potato salad. A $5 appetizer of it comes with a pound of that good stuff.

So, for the trip, we hit five new NTN sites and played at two that we had previously seen how stoopid we were.

Spendin' Way Too Much Time Playing NTN. No, Maybe ZOG Spends Too Much Time. --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Old Chicago, Bettendorf, Iowa

Another reason we like to stay at the Ramada in Bettendorf is that Old Chicago is right next door and they have NTN. Nothing finer than staying at a place where you can play NTN without driving. I don't like driving ANYWHERE after I've been drinking, especially in strange towns. That's just asking for it.

There is also a BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings) about a mile to the north of the Ramada.

However, I don't like the drink prices at Old Chicago. Way TOO high. Since when did Bettendorf become Chicago in that area. Judging from the large numbers of people who frequent the place, this recession must not be too bad in the area.

The happy hour drinks are acceptable, though. And they have them in the afternoon and late night.


The food is really good there. We had some of the best loaded fries ever for a happy hour price of $2.99. We got hungry later on as well and took advantage of their three course meal for $9.99 and $10.99. We split it.

After the appetizer, it took a really long time to get the entree because of a problem in the kitchen and they were nice enough to let us have the whole meal for free. Appreciated that.

This Old Chicago is also the lair of the Zog, a big-time NTN player with over 32 million Players Plus points. Old Chicagos also have a club you can join if you drink over a hundred different beers. If I recall, ZOG said he was a member of it more than twenty times over. That's some drinking and NTN playing.

Eating and Playing NTN. --RoadDog

Cruisin' and NTNin'-- Part 2

Spent all day February 4th in the Quad Cities, enjoying the pool area in the morning and afternoon before going out bar hopping. Today was devoted to former places with NTN Buzztime. It is sad to see so many places that have it one time and then drop it. I blame it on lack of follow up by the company.

Once you get it in a place, someone needs to drop in every so often and if it is found that people aren't playing, make suggestions to the ownership and give hints as to play. Let's face it, playing team with the objective of making a national board is a lot more fun than playing individually.


UPTOWN-- our first stop and only about a mile from the hotel. Great prices like $1 bottles from 3-5 and then they go up to $2. One day a week, they have a live trivia game. There is no way NTN should lose a place that has a long-running live trivia game.

BLEACHER BUMS-- According to the Sitefinder, they were supposed to have it, but the bartender said they'd dropped it. They had it before, then dropped it, got it back and now have dropped it again. We showed our displeasure and left without buying anything. But again, who sells the game in this area? This is ridiculous!!!

RIVALS-- Used to be Chicken Pluckers (nice play on words for a place that is known for their wings) and was a real fun place to play. They had a 2 for 1 happy hour.

Sad to See So Many Sites Go By the Board. Shouldn't Happen. --RoadDog

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cruisin' and NTNin'-- Part 1

We visited five new-to-us NTN Buzztime sites on the recent trip to see the bald eagles. One was in Iowa, the other four in Illinois. We also went to three other previously places that used to have NTN and two that still do.


We spent two nights here at the end of the eagle spotting part of the trip. If you want to see bald eagles, you definitely have to get yourself out to the Bettendorf Locks and Dam.

When we arrived in the QC area Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, we immediately went to the three new NTN sites, starting with Frackie's and then crossing over the Mississippi into Illinois.

FRACKIE'S-- An absolutely great place located close to the river and west of Davenport's downtown area. Received it's name from the first part of the owner's name and the last part of his wife's. His mother was bartending and a major pusher of the game which was on most of the TVs. Everyone coming in gets a board whether they want one or not.

Definitely your Cheers kind of place with lower prices than you'd find at the big chain stores. They just got it and should hopefully keep it.

BW3-- Moline-- Buffalo Wild Wings to you younger folks. Pretty standard, but they always have them. Out south of town by bypass and a big mall.

PARKSIDE-- Closer to downtown. One TV tuned to NTN. No one playing. More of a locals place with good prices.

More NTN places coming up, AND, The Dog Rankings.

Too Old To Go Clubbing, Too Young to Go to Sleep. --RoadDog

Paul Added to NRHP

Feb. 11, 2009, KATU TV, Portland, Oregon and Oct. 5, 2008 Portland Tribune.

Portland's Paul Bunyan statue has been entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

He was built in 1959 for Oregon's Center Exposition by Victor A. Nelson and his son Victor and stands 31 feet. Paul was built to last for six months, but was so well-liked, he remains to this day. The Exposition was in honor of Oregon's centennial celebration to honor the state's connection to the lumber industry.

The steel frame and plaster statue is recognized as a prime example of roadside architecture, the kind that I really like to see.

It is located in the Kenton neighborhood of the Killingworth District. The neighborhood loving keeps the statue in good order, repainting as needed.

The more famous statue of Paul Bunyan is in Bimidji, Minnesota and stands only 18 feet, but already was on the NRHP.

Lots of Trees in Oregon, or So I've Heard. --RoadDog

2008 Chicagoland Endangered Sites

Some other of the 13 sites recognized as being in danger in the Chicagoland area by Landmarks Illinois on their 2008 list.

1. FIRST YWCA BUILDING IN CHICAGO-- Built in 1894 at 830 S. Michigan Avenue has been vacant for nearly 30 years. Last used as a hotel in the 1970s and is in poor architectural condition and continues to deteriorate.

2. CHARLES G. DAWES HOUSE-- 225 Greenwood St in Evanston. he was Calvin Coolidge's vise president. In 1894, he bequeathed the building to Northwestern University. It has one of the few intact 19th Century interiors in Chicagoland. University officials report that $4 million in repairs are needed.

3. NEON ADVERTISING-- like the "Z" Frank auto dealer near Western Avenue, Stars Motel sign near Lincoln and Kedzie avenues are highly ornamental signs. They are in danger of disappearing like the striking Magikist red lips signs.

4. WILLIAM F. ROSS HOUSE-- in suburban Glencoe is part of Ravine Bluffs, is part of a six-home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1915. vacant for two years and has fallen into serious disrepair.

Save Those Old Buildings!! --RoadDog

Save That Old Building!! A Piece of the Old Route 66

Came across an old article from the September 19, 2008, Chicago Tribune about Chicagoland sites that were listed as endangered by Landmarks Illinois. This was their 7th annual list.

Of the most interest to me was the Castle Car Wash at 3801 W, Ogden Avenue which was built in 1925 as Murphy's Filling Station along what was then Route 66. It's name now reflects the castle-like facade of the building.

Back in 2008, it was vacant and deteriorating.

I am happy to report that I have read that through the efforts of Dave Clark, it has a new owner who is restoring the building with intentions of turning it into a Route 66 center.

I have never been by it as I am more than a bit afraid of the neighborhood it is in, even though Dave always assures that it is not as bad as I think. This is one stretch of 66 that Liz and I have never been on.

Always Great When a Piece of the Old Road is Saved!! --RoadDog

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Eatin' at the Lincolnway Cafe in Franklin Grove, Illinois-- Part 2

One of the specials the day we visited, on a Friday, was a whole fried catfish. It came with soup or salad, potato, vegetable, the aforementioned garlic knot bread, and ice cream. It cost $6.25!! Try getting that much for that price anywhere else and everything was absolutely delicious.

You could also get a perch dinner for he same price.

I was amazed at the prices for the other menu items. These are all deluxe meals coming with fries and soup or salad: patty melt$ 4.45, cheeseburger $4.25 and chicken parmesan $5.50.

How can you beat these prices in any other restaurant. Even J & D Steakhouse in Clinton, Iowa, isn't as cheap.

The Lincoln way cafe is at 137 N. Elm (the original Lincoln Highway) in Franklin Grove, Illinois. Phone number is 815-456-2359.

Definitely Stop By the Next Time You're Cruisin' the Lincoln. --RoadDog

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eatin' at the Lincolnway Cafe in Franklin Grove, Illinois-- Part 1

We schedule trips out that way according to being able to make a stop at this, one of our favorite places to eat along the Lincoln Highway.

Judging from how many folks came in, it is a popular spot for locals as well (also because there are many or any other places in town to eat).

We sat at the at one of the round booths by the window. A nice view of the Lincoln Highway National Headquarters and that big sign, but I don't suggest doing this in the winter as you get a blast of cold air every time the many, many folks come in.

The folks working there wear the Lincoln Highway shirts and there is a mural of downtown Franklin Grove back in the day (taken from a photograph). Then there is the whole Lincoln Highway shown on a map stretching half way across one wall. No doubt that this is a place proud of its heritage.

The first couple times in town, the place was not in business, but the last several years it has been open (but I think I remember seeing it closes around 3 pm Mon-Wednesday, so check it out ahead of time).

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Route 66: How About a Dog Museum? --Part 2

Since they haven't selected a site for the proposed Walldog Museum, I have a little suggestion. How about the old District 6 Illinois State Police Headquarters located south of Pontiac, Illinois, on the old Route 66.

It was still being used when we first drove the Mother Road in 2002, but was closed in 2003 and these days there is much evidence of deterioration each time we drive by. The last time we saw in use was several years ago when there was a train derailment about a half mile south of it.

This would be a great place for the museum, and being right on Route 66, another place to stop.


And, speaking of murals, whatever happened to the Pontiac history mural on the back of the old Downtowner Motel which has since been torn down. Hopefully, they left the back wall standing or at least moved the wall. If neither was done, it would be alright with me if it was repainted elsewhere in town.

Just a Suggestion. --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Route 66: How About a Dog Museum?

From one RoadDog to another Dog, I like the idea. The Jan. 19th Bloomington (Il) Pantagraph reports that tourism in Pontiac, Illinois, was at an all-time high this past summer and a lot of that had to do with the well-known group, the WallDogs, who came to town and painted lots of murals all over the place.

As a result, the town is strongly considering the "International Walldog and Sign Art Museum." Walldogs are artists from all over the US who gather in a designated community each year to liven up the sides of buildings with their historical art.

This museum will not be confined just to the group, but to all of the American signage. Funding and location have not been determined yet. Will there be tourism and tax increment funds?

The town is also considering at least one new mural each year.

Give the Dog a Bone. Bark, Bark! --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Doing the Lincoln Highway Crawl

This was my earliest crawl, dating back to my college days in 1972 and 1973 and every homecoming for many years after that.

Main Street in Dekalb is along Illinois Highway 38, otherwise known as Lincoln Highway, the original one. There have always been lots of bars, both townie and college along it.

Bars both today and back then are concentrated between 1st and 4th streets.


My old fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi pioneered going to the former townie bar called Andy's back in the early 70s. As soon as I was old enough to go in (and even before), we started partying there along with the AKLs. It was especially the place to go Thursdays for quarter beer night and they always had really good local bands like the Dekalb Footstompers (polka and rock), Mr. Myers (Buffett, reggae and Caribbean) and Howard and the White Boys (blues).

Back then, we had The Uprising and Shamrock on the south side and Andy's and McCabe's on the north.

Farther east there was the CandleLight by the railroad tracks (with free peanuts) and Sullivan's.

We did the Lincoln Highway Crawl, but had no idea of the significance of the road.

Coming Up, the New Bars. --RoadDog

What Exactly is a Crawl?

It's like the Bourbon Street Crawl or Duvall Crawl. It is when you pick a street or road and start barhopping along it. This would hold true for most colleges or tourist spots where a lot of bars are located in a short space.

I know we have done the Green Street Crawl in Champaign, home of the University of Illinois. We even got carded and THEY WERE SERIOUS ABOUT IT as we found out.

A couple years ago, we did the Cumberland Crawl (US-70) in Knoxville when Northern played Tennessee and almost beat them. Had a great time drinking with our niece and nephew and other Vol fans.

To be properly done, you start a crawl walking and perhaps end up crawling before you're finished for apparent reasons.

Probably the hardest is the Duvall Crawl from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and Mallory Square. At one time, there weren't a lot of places at the Atlantic end, but the bars have spread to it, so it is even harder.

By the time you pass the Bull, Ricks and get to Sloppy Joe's, you've had a few cocktails.

Oh, yes, must not forget the crawl around the square at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Feets don't fail me now.

Probably Getting Too Old to Crawl...Nah!! --RoadDog

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Boy Scouts

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. Chicago publisher W, D. Boyce had visited England and became so impressed with the scouts that General Robert Baden-Powell had started that he wanted the organization here in the US.

I was a member as was my dad, brother and one nephew even became an Eagle Scout, scouting's highest award. Over the years, it is estimated that 112 million boys have belonged to it.

The organization had a definite impact on the Lincoln Highway as on September 1, 1928, Scouts across the length of the road erected thousands of seven foot long markers along it. They were octagonal shaped at the base and had a square head on top, featuring the red, white and blue LH logo and a copper profile of Abraham Lincoln. On one side, there was an arrow to be used as directions.

Thanks, Boy Scouts. --RoadDog

Great Idea in the Quad Cities

This is one really great thing to happen for public transit and for party folks. You can now hop on a bus and get driven to the down towns of all four Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River.

We'll have to check it out the next time we visit as I always get lost in the Q-C. To me, you're either east or west of the Mississippi River. Here, you're north and south of it. I know full well that is the case, but it doesn't make any difference. My mind won't accept north and south, so here's old dog going the wrong way all the time.

Like I said, it connects all four down towns: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois.

Even better, all this week, it is free. After that, it is $1 between each two towns, or you can get an all day pass for $3. The buses are orange and have the word Loop on them in regards to the 14-mile loop they make. They can carry 30 people and operate Thursday to Saturdays from 5 pm to 1:30 am and Sundays from 11:30 am to 6 pm.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come. Wonder If We Can get a Party Bus Like That Out Here in the Suburbs? --RoadDog

Topicin' the Eagles Trip

Setting the topics for our five day expedition.

FEBRUARY 2nd, TUESDAY: No Hog-- Slip Slidin' Thataway-- Baldies in 'Buque-- Eatin' Cat-- Drinkin' Clinton

FEBRUARY 3rd, WEDNESDAY: Up Close and Personal-- Baldie Nirvana-- Quad Cities-- NTNin'-- Grazin' at the Corral-- Poolin' Out

FEBRUARY 4th, THURSDAY: Poolin' Out Again-- Serious Bar Hoppin'-- NTNin' at Old Chicago with the Zog

FEBRUARY 5th, FRIDAY: Didn't Get Lost-- "Da Lost Eagle"-- Eatin' Lincoln-- Da Dean-- NTNin'-- Da Lincoln Highway Crawl-- NTN at Fatty's-- Deep-Fried Cajun 'Tater Salad

February 6th, SATURDAY: Lincoln Highway Crawl Redux-- B-Ball at the Convo-- Huskies Lose-- Fat Boyz-- McD Deja Vu

So, That's About It. --RoadDog

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Back Home Again

Arrived back home last night after a successful eagle watching expedition to the Mississippi River. I'm using a count of 40 and Liz says we saw 50. As long as you see one, you have been successful. Then there was the unexpected one I wrote about yesterday.

We played at five new NTN Buzztime sites and two others that we had already played at.

Saw lots of great roads, sites, and drives as well as the Lincoln Highway in Clinton, Iowa, and from Dixon to Dekalb, Illinois.

Plus, quite a bit of barhopping: Tuesday-- 3; Wednesday 3, Thursday 4; Friday 7: and yesterday 3. That's 20 in five days.

Good eating too: J&D's Steakhouse in Clinton, Golden Corral in Davenport, Old Chicago in Bettendorf, Lincoln Way Cafe in Franklin Grove, Fatty's in Dekalb and McDonald's in Woodstock (McRib's, what can I say). And, we had great prices on those meals as well. I had two whole catfish dinners, one for $7.99 and the other for $6,25.

Stayed four days in three motels as well with one free and the others averaging $80 with tax.

Dekalb shocked us with their 10% sales tax. What do they think they are, Chicago?

Great Trip and Hoping to get back on the Road Again Around the 15th of This Month. --RoadDog

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bald Eagle Flying Along Lincoln Highway in Illinois

We had a pleasant surprise yesterday while driving along the Lincoln Highway in Illinois a few miles west of Franklin Grove. Liz was looking at the fields when she saw a bird she first thought to be a sea gull, but, as it got closer, it was way too big, plus, it had that tell-tale white head and white tail feathers.

Here was our nation's symbol flying over flat fields quite far from the Mississippi River and a great addition to our 40-50 bald eagles that we've seen so far this week, not to mention an unexpected one.

We doubled back to see it, but by then it had flown off into a copse of trees and we waited but didn't see it again.

Too Bad, But, Wow!!! --RoadDog

Two Old Farts Doing the Lincoln Crawl-- Part 1

Well, these days, it is more of a tottering than crawl, but at least with a crawl, you're closer to the ground.

Arrived in Dekalb, Illinois, yesterday, and after a two hour talk with the Dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois about an endowment, we checked into the Magnuson Inn & Suites on Il-38, the old Lincoln Highway.

We then hit the road to do some NTNin' and visiting old haunts.


Our first stop was to visit a new place out on Greek Row, north of campus, called Tequila Roadhouse. They just got NTN which was the main reason for going, figuring that they had a Mexican/southwest ambiance. You know, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!!"

Were we in for a surprise.

The first thing I noticed on walking in was a complete set of all eight Route 66 state shields along one wall.

Then, I saw a 66 shield on the bar. Mentioned to the bartender as he was getting out boards that we appreciated all the Route 66 stuff, something you don't expect to see at a college bar. He said to look at the bar.


Starting at one end and working its way along to the other were a series of postcards and pictures of the Mother Road starting in Chicago and working its way to Santa Monica, along with shields and the crest of every fraternity on campus these days, unfortunately, no Delta Sigma Phi since we have now had two chapters fold.


Sure didn't expect this pleasure. I don't think they will have NTN too long as on a Countdown as we started late and I played poorly on the last five questions, getting 3,300 points and had the number four score for the month. A 6,400 Buzz Time score landed me at number two.

The bartender was a Phi Sig whose house was right across the street (now that sure is handy. he said the owner also has a place in Wrigleyville in Chicago called the Roadhouse 66 and that has even more Route 66 stuff.

The bartender is in his last semester and can't wait to get out of town and to Chicago. I can't imagine anyone preferring Chicago to Dekalb. I sure wouldn't want to live there.

Remember our last guv, Blago, who wouldn't live in the governor's mansion, preferring instead to keep residence back in Chicago.

Hey, Just Getting Started Here. --RoadDog

Must Be a Very Endangered Time

I was looking at one of my alerts for Most Endangered and there sure are a lot of them out right now. Mighty long list.

Just today's had these places either announcing a list of most endangered or calling for people to submit endangered places: Texas, Colorado, Providence, Rhode Island, Knoxville/Knox County, Tennessee and District of Columbia.

February must be an endangered month. Wish it was. I don't have much good to say for it except that now I'm retired and can go elsewhere.

Feelin' a Mite Endangered Myself. --RoadDog

Friday, February 5, 2010

Norb Andy's is Back!!

While we were talking with the guy from Springfield, Illinois, he mentioned that a favorite place of ours is back, Norb Andy's. Until it closed several years ago, no trip along Route 66 in this town was complete without one trip to this venerable institution, located just a few blocks from the current state capitol building.

Loved those $1 drafts and just people watching. Our favorite was a very flamboyant lobbyist who was always there and worth a listen.

This is also where we had our very first-ever Central Illinois food called a horseshoe. That first time, we had seen the name at a bar and someone had told us Norb Andy's was the place to get one so we walked a short distance over to it.

This is where I also made the poignant question, "What's the difference between a horseshoe and a ponyshoe?"

We had once met the owner of the Alamo Bar (home of the local Blues Scene) at that bar and found out he also owned Norb Andy's but had closed when the city tore up the street in front of it. But, we've heard there may have been other reasons.

Anyway, we sure are glad it is open again and look forward to going downstairs once again.

And, speaking of downstairs, I see that the Riviera in Gardner is once again open and featuring all the great food they were so noted for.

Welcome Back, Norb. --RoadDog

Out Drinkin' in Clinton, Feb. 2nd-- Part 2

Our last stop was back at he Frontier Motel in Clinton, Iowa, where we checked out the lounge.

There weren't many people in it, but we were there in time for the Monday-Thursday 4 to 7 happy hour double bubbles, buy one get one free. Two pints for $2.75, a deal I can live with.

We sat next to a couple guys who we found out were in town working on the airport runways. It seems that there are always lots of out-of-town workers in Clinton working on some major project. The Super 8 there was always filled with them.

One was from Springfield, Illinois, one of our favorite towns and we talked about our favorite places there. We go often as it is on Route 66 and I am a big Civil War buff (Lincolnia, you know).

He had often been to the Lake Springfield Tavern, Capital City, Cozy Dog, D'Arcy's Pint, Coz's and Charlie Parker's. He liked our story about the owner of Coz's being the brother of our friend Frank who used to own Costello's on the Chain of Lakes up by us.

He also was very familiar with the Curve Inn, or "Swerve Inn" as he called it. Good name. You can definitely swerve walking out of the place.

The other guy was from one of the Illinois towns east of St. Louis, and we talked about Alton and the River Drive. He suggested a place called Fast Eddie's Bon Aire which he said was a definite place to visit.

The bartender, Twyla was super friendly. She said that everyone was talking about the lack of eagles along the river this year. We also talked about Class A baseball because of the Clinton Lumber Kings (there used to be a major lumber industry in town with a lot of very rich men). I told her the team was once called the Lumber Barons, but she didn't remember and tried to look it up on her phone.

Had a Real Pleasant Time. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Out Drinkin' in Clinton-- Feb. 2nd

We checked into the Frontier Best Western, also on the Lincoln Highway. This motel was built in 1950, so is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It is kept up very well and has an indoor pool and hot tub, although it was unfortunately closed when we were there.

We used to always stay at the nearby Super 8 a little ways north, but the bar next door was out of business the last time we were there so we've changed the base of operations to the Best Western.

They are famous for their buffets, especially the fish fry every Friday and Saturday. Then, there is their outstanding breakfast buffet that comes along with the price of the room. If you consider motel continental breakfasts as so-so, you've got to try this one.

Within walking distance (during the summer) there are two good bars: Bonnie's and Legends.

Bonnie's is your locals-type tavern where everyone knows your name. We had mugs of Lite for $1.50. We didn't find the folks too friendly so drove across the lot to Legends which is more your sports/billiards bar. They are featuring new Reuben and Philly cheese steak pizzas which I would have liked to try but we were too full from J&D's. A pint of Lite was $1.75.

One More Place. --RoadDog

Three More Eagles and Clinton, Iowa

We were figuring that we were going to see large numbers of eagles at Bellevue, including one that is always perched in a nearby tree by the lock viewing area, but he wasn't there. We finally did see an eagle in a tree and two out on the ice by the open water.

This was way down from last year.

Drove to Clinton, Iowa, and ate at our favorite place there, J&D Steakhouse. We've been eating here for years and it is right on the old Lincoln Highway in the downtown section, a block north of the department store designed by architect Louis Sullivan.

For $7.99, I got a huge catfish along with soup, salad, bread and baked potato. Liz got two butterfly porkchops with the same sides for the same price. Now, that is what you call good-eatin' in the neighborhood, sorry Applebee's.

This is one of the precursors of the Ponderosas and Bonanzas. I'd say it is based on the old Tad's Steakhouse concept, where you order, get a tray, and go along a line getting your salad, soup and pop.

We then took a ride along the river levee, but didn't see any eagles, so ended up with nine for the day.

Liz realized she had forgotten a bathing suit so stopped at Wal Mart to get one. I bought a Jamey Johnson CD. I've been wanting to get one since I saw him on an awards show. He is country in the David Allan Coe, Waylon Jennings manner.

Out Drinking Next. --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Did "Saw" the Eagles

The drive from Woodstock to the Mississippi River along Il-47, Il-176 and US-20 was sloppy with all the spray being thrown up by cars and especially the trucks. Plus, it snowed all the way out until we got west of Rockford. I lost count of how many times I had to turn on the wiper spray and sure hope I have some left for today.

We did stop for breakfast at the local McDonald's in Woodstock. Love those dollar sausage McMuffins. We talked with a local character who could best be described as a semi-cat lady, who was worried about driving home in the snow because she had just moved here from Arizona.

Fortunately, the roads weren't slick. It is always a great drive, especially when you get out past Freeport when the land gets very hilly. Always a pretty sight, but now there was all that white, both on the ground and in the trees.

Took a drive down Main Street in Galena and then continued to the Lock and Dam in Dubuque, Iowa, prime eagle watching territory. We saw two bald eagles perched in a tree as we got out of the car. Glad to report that the viewing tower was open again. The last several years it has been closed (perhaps for security).

On climbing it, we saw two more eagles in another tree and several out by where the ice and water come together south of the dam. Official count was six, but may have been more as they tend to fly around. Got some great video and a few photos of them.

Success Is If We See At Least One Eagle. --RoadDog

Didn't "Saw" the Groundhog

Yesterday, we had best intentions of being out in the Square to see Woodstock Willie do his prognostication, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

We had at least two inches of snow on the ground when we got ready to leave and it was still coming down furiously. Had to get the old snow blower out first and then did a slip-sliding away drive to Woodstock, arriving about ten minutes too late for the ceremony.

We inquired from some folks walking away who happily reported that no shadow was seen, so, you know what that means. We especially had wanted to see Richard Stenzel do his deejay "OK, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties, 'cause it's coooold out there today." He was there and was to reprise his moment of glory.

Saw one guy carrying a horn walking away wearing liederhosen and said this wasn't quite the weather for liederhosen. He replied, "Boy are you ever right!"

We did park by the square and watched the people milling around the gazebo which was featured in the movie.

Next, A Sloppy Drive Pays Off. --RoadDog

Monday, February 1, 2010

Groundhog Days 2010-- Part 2

I forgot to mention one other thing I learned at the trivia contest. Steve Tobolowski, who played Ned Ryerson in the movie, is also on some new show called Glee as a director of the glee club and his name on it is Ned Ryerson.

Drove the short distance over to the Moose Lodge and paid my $15 for the Dinner Dance/Bachelor Auction. This Moose Lodge is the same place used for that in the movie and where Bill Murray showed off his new chops on the piano.

Great Italian buffet with spaghetti and meat sauce, Italian sausage, linguine, chicken parmesan and Caesar salad. I fully availed myself.

Every table had people sitting at them so I asked a couple sitting by themselves if I could join them. That was alright with them. I found out that Drew and Jill had driven in from Alma, Michigan (a ways north of Lansing) and they were here as a surprise birthday present for her. What a nice guy.

She manages a theater there and he is a graduate of Michigan State. We both agreed that we didn't much like the University of Michigan. They were staying at the Town Square Inn on the square, a place I'd like to stay. It only has six rooms and theirs cost $100. He was surprised to get one just two months ago.

The Band and Auction Up Next. --RoadDog

Groundhog Days 2010-- Part 1

January 29th.

After leaving McHenry, I drove straight to Woodstock and parked alongside the historic town square and waited 15 minutes for the "Awakening of the Groundhog" to take place. It was way too cold to stand out in the elements any longer than necessary.

The square was ablaze in white Italian lights on the trees, gazebo and Spring House. A line of larger white lights are on the precipices of the buildings all along the square, making for a festive, Christmas scene.

About thirty people braved the elements. The emcee said that this event used to be called the "Lighting of the Groundhog" but that PETA had complained so the name was changed. I don't know whether this is true or not. We were
asked where folks came from and we had one couple from South Carolina and another who came in from California. The emcee wanted to know why they would be here in the cold instead of the warmer climes.

At 6 pm sharp, two sets of continuous fireworks went off and as they died down, there was the guest of honor, none other than Woodstock Willie waving to us. This Woodstock Willie is a person dressed in a groundhog suit.

He came down and posed for photos with folks.

We were then invited to come inside the Stage Left Cafe for a trivia contest. And these questions were hard, even for a Groundhog Day fan like myself. One question was who was supposed to play Phil Connors before Bill Murray. Answer: Tom Hanks. Another question was how many days was Phil "stuck" on February 2nd and the answer was 34. I'd have to disagree because I distinctly remember Phil telling Rita that it had taken him six months to be able to toss every card into the hat.

Dinner Dance Next. --RoadDog

The Vinyl Frontier, My Kind of Place

January 29th.

During the late afternoon, I left for Woodstock, stopping along the way at one of my new favorite places, a mom and pop used record and CD place at 1326 North Riverside Drive in McHenry, Illinois, called The Vinyl Frontier (Snork, Snork) and browsed through their CD cut out section. Lots of good stuff in there, but unfortunately I already had the CDs I wanted.

I did purchase two zydeco CDs, one by John DuBois called Rendez-Vous Louisianais sung completely in French, and Joel Sonnier's Come On Joe, a combination of French/country styles.

Had a great time listening to the albums on the way back and forth to Woodstock for the Groundhog Days festival the next two days.

I sure miss these old mom and pop places where the people actually know music.

Last year, we lost Record Revolution on the old Lincoln Highway in Dekalb, Illinois, and a few years earlier we saw the last of Full Cyrkle Records in Crystal Lake. Those were great places to browse and gab about records.

Downloading Just Doesn't Do It for Me. I'm Sure Going to Miss It When the Albums Are Gone. --RoadDog