Saturday, February 26, 2011

Larry's Fault and the Problem with Palm Trees

Sitting out here this morning at 9:08 am with the sun shining, temp at 65 rising to 73, salt breezes blowing, gulls a-squawking, waves rolling in about 100 yards away, and trop-rock blaring in my headphones.

Thinking about popping open a beer, and if I do, it is Indiana Larry's fault. He who pushes the beer drinking time every day because, as he says, its five o'clock somewhere.

Plus, we're going to the Mardi Gras parade and party at St. Andrew's at 2 pm. Plus, sadly, tomorrow, we leave for the frozen climes to the north (after a stop at Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Walking over to the Osprey for coffee, I noticed that every car parked under a palm tree had this tell-tale green covering from the plant. We sure have it all over our car, so now avoid parking under them. And, after I washed all the melted snow/salt off the car from our trip down. Nice palms!!

The Problems with Paradise. --RoadDog

Friday, February 25, 2011

Darn Right!! There's Gators in Dem Waters

And, we're not talking about that pretentious group in Gainesville, but the big reptilian ones that hand out in ponds and swamps here in the Sunshine State.

Even if we didn't see any out on Sanibel Island at that conservation area, they were there, hiding among the mangroves and thinking how tasty the last batch of tourists were.

I see in today's Panama City News Herald that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering extending daily hours for gator hunting during the August 15th to November 1st season.

Some 6,000 permits are issued annually for the alligator harvest season with each permit allowing up to two of them. Since 2000, the total harvest has tripled to 2009when 7,884 were killed.

The average length, however, has decreased from 8 feet 8 inches in 2000 to 8 feet in 2009.

Here in Bay County where we're at, in 2009, 14 were harvested with average length of 8 feet, 5.2 inches.

So, Next Time You're Thinking of Going Into the Water, Better Look Around a Bit. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wait a Minute, Maybe It's a Canadian Cohort

I should mention that we've met a lot of Canadian folks here (and am good friends with Canadian Rick. We've run into him several times at Reggae Js as well as around the motels.

When I was counting cars, the most, 18 in all (the most for a US state was Illinois with ten), came from Ontario. Then there was one more from Quebec. Figure he got lost on his way down to Hollywood Beach, south of Ft. Lauderdale, where English is a second language to French.

However, Midwesterners outnumber our friends to the north.

OK, we also have to sing "Oh, Canada" when we sing the National Anthem.

Hey, Even Canadians Get Tired of the Cold. --RoadDog

Redneck Riviera, Midwest Getaway, Or Both?

The Chamber of Commerce refers to this stretch of beach as the Emerald Coast. My nephew Andy calls it the Redneck Riviera. This time of the year, I can definitely say there are a lot of Midwesterners.

We have met folks from Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois at the two motels (Driftwood Lodge and Osprey).

This morning, on my way out to the car to go to McDonald's, I took a walk through the motel parking lots and the one across Front Beach Road and did a tally of license plates which follows:

Minnesota: 3
Texas: 1
Vermont: 1
Michigan: 2
Pennsylvania: 1
Tennessee: 1
Maine: 1
Alabama: 4
Georgia: 1
Wisconsin: 5
Kentucky: 2
Ohio: 7
Illinois: 10
Indiana: 6
Florida: 6
Missouri: 5
Iowa: 3

I don't have proof about the Redneck aspect of Panama City Beach. Definitely, not all Southern tags belong to rednecks.

But, I can say that at least in our little neck of the beach that there is a heavy Midwest representation with a majority of the vehicles, 41of 59 coming from that region.

So, a Major Destination for Midwest Mollies Then. --RoadDog

More Mardi Gras

Yesterday, we had a Mardi Gras lunch here at the two motels. They provided the red beans and rice and the gumbo. People brought snacks and desserts and one man even brought along his homemade wine.

We went to Winn-Dixie and bought a King Cake for $10.

Plenty of food and an overabundance of desserts, so much so that our King Cake wasn't even opened (there were two others as well). Now, we're going to have to finish that off before we leave and they are really sweet. Ours is filled with raspberry cream cheese and the others weren't.

The parade we went to Saturday in Panama City was the first of three planned for the area. This Saturday, there is one in St. Andrews (next to Panama City) and then the following week, one that will go down Front Beach Road in front of our motel and end up going down the street in Pier Park. We're seriously considering going to the one in St. Andrew's.

Too Cold to Go Outside for Mardi Gras at Home. --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Got My Mardi Gras

Had a great time Saturday at the Panama City (PC) Mardi Gras parade. Downtown PC is an old-time Florida city, before the homogenized strips and Orlandization of Florida cities. There are small one and two story stores along the main drag, Harrison Street.

We took a walk around before the parade started then stopped at the Corner Pocket bar to wait and have some alcoholic beverages. They're famous for the "Big Ass Draft," a 32-ouncer that was quite popular for the parade,

The parade consisted of two marching bands and eight gaudily decorated "floats" with fun-loving folk dressed in costumes, depending upon the theme of the float, throwing the beads and having more fun than should be allowed.

We were standing back on the sidewalk, away from the main bead accumulation, but even then, still came home with fifty strands.

Afterwards, took a walk through the park where people were selling stuff and cooking up some of the best-smelling food I've ever had the honor to sniff.

Afterwards went to Zachary's, a very unique bar where we were joined by the members of the Parrothead float, who were in major partying mode after all their bead-throwing exertions.

And, We Have Two More Mardi Gras Parades Coming Up!!-- RoadDog

Picked a Good Time to Come

We sure didn't want a repeat of last February's cool temperatures, and so far haven't had it, with temps in the 70s and very sunny. When it gets windy, though, there is a lot of cold in it, which we don't like.

Our friend Larry from Indiana, who we met three years ago and spends December to February at the Driftwood Lodge, said it was horrible as far as cold all January and February up until last week.

You sure don't want to drive 1000+ miles to get here and find cold. But even when it is cold here, it is still 20-30 degrees warmer than home.

I see high today in Chicago is predicted to be 29 degrees. High here 71 degrees. I can live with it.

A Sad Look at the Future

Woke up to a very foggy morning and it is still that way.

Sitting here a two-finger-typing away at the McDonald's in Panama City Beach, Florida, right now. A little while ago, Liz was sitting across from me on the laptop and I was reading the local News Herald newspaper. Between the two of us, we were exhibiting the past and future of the printed news biz.

Liz only uses newspapers for crossword puzzles and gets all her news off the internet, even comics. I still prefer the feel of actually holding the newspaper in my hands, but the time is rapidly approaching when I won't be able to do that any more.

So, in the meantime I will enjoy it while I can.

Sure Gonna Miss It. --RoadDog

No Place for a Packer-Backer

This past Thursday, on our way down to PCB, we stopped at a few NTN Buzztime sites along the way. Of course, I was showing my Green Bay Packer colors. Right proud of our boys.

One was at the BW3, Buffalo Wild Wings in Birmingham, Alabama. While sitting at the bar, I somehow got the feeling something "evil" was lurking behind me. I turned around and the whole wall was "STEELERS." Banners, pictures, Steeler colors, Big Ben posters, the whole nine yards. Two prominent signs said this was the home of the Heart of Dixie Steelers Fan Club.

It figures that there might be a lot of Steeler fans in Birmingham as this city was the heart of steel production in the South for many years. A lot of Pittsburgh folk came down because of this production, so a bit of history here.

And here I am in my green and gold wearing my Super Bowl XLV Champion hat. Good thing there were no HoDS fans there. The bartender said they get anywhere from 100 to 200 Steeler fanatics in the place for games and that it was to capacity for Super Bowl. I inquired if there were any Packer fans there and he said two or three, but they stayed quiet.

Ambush Avoided. --RoadDog

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Heading for the Mardi Gras

In just a few minutes, we're heading east to Panama City where the Downtown Krewe of St. Andrews is having the first of three weekends of Mardi Gras parties and parades with the really big one scheduled for the first weekend in March, but we won't be here for that one.

We were disappointed when we got in yesterday and found that the big party would be after we left, but last night, while at Donovan's Reef Bar across the Front Beach Road from us, there were four somewhat inebriated folks who said they were going to be on the pirate float in today's parade.

Weren't sure if they were legit on it, but picked up the local newspaper today. and it was on the front page.

We will also go next weekend. I need my Cajun, zydeco, Dixieland and Second Line Music!!!~

Plus, our motel is having a Mardi Gras party and lunch here this Wednesday.

Reckon I'll Be Getting My Mardi Gras On. --RoadDog

Made It to the Warm

Arrived here in Panama City Beach, Florida, yesterday and sitting out by the Gulf of Mexico right now, about 100 yards away from this spot. The sun is shining and temp at 70 degrees.

We put on 1060 miles in the effort.

I understand back home in Illinois, we have a winter storm warning with 1-3 inches of that rotten white stuff expected and to be topped off by ice.

Guess Where I'd Rather Be. --RoadDog

Now That's Trop-Rock for You

Finally got the old radio headset going out here on the deck by the Gulf of Mexico. For some reason, it was tuned over to the AM side (which I usually don't listen to except for games, too much yap otherwise and when I listen to the radio, I WANT music).

After a Mexican station, I ran into WPCF 1290 AM which plays nothing but Trop-Rock, Jimmy Buffett-style music. Every so often, they have members of Trop-Rock bands say something, and so far I've heard Howard Livingston of the Mile Marker band and Johnny Russell of the Beach Bums. We've seen both at Captain's Quarters up on the Chain of Lakes back home.

They also play soca, reggae and zydeco music.

Digging on WPCF, 1290 AM and hoping they stream over the internet, as I'll definitely listen to it at home.

So, I Have Found My Station While We're Here. --RoadDog

Friday, February 18, 2011

Got My Loveless Yesterday

One of the main things I wanted to do this trip was to go to the Loveless Cafe outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I've heard a lot about the place from Denny Gibson and other friends and have read a lot about it. Liz, however, had never heard of it before.

We left I-24 and took some absolutely gorgeous roads, Tn-49 to Ashland City and then Tn-249 to US-70. Talk about your twisting, winding and stone walls. It has to be really something during the summer.

We got there about 9 am, and it wasn't crowded and got a table by the window. Man, those biscuits and jam selection are something else. I wouldn't have minded making a meal just out of that.

Liz ordered the ham and eggs. I considered the Southern omelet, but when I saw the barbecue and eggs plate, I knew what I had to order. I've never had bbq for breakfast.

All great food. This was the most I've ever spent spent for breakfast (about $32 with tax), but I will be back, as Arnold said. And, we had enough left over for dinner last night.

It's Loveless for Me. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We Found IT!! Warm and NO SNOW!!!

It was warmer back home in McHenry County, Illinois, than it has been in a long time when we left yesterday. All that melting snow really caused us to get a lot of spray on the newly-washed car so that you wouldn't hardly know that it had been done.

Finally, though, really felt warm when we got to Gibson City, Il., where we had a pit stop at the local McDonald's. The water treatment plant of Gibson City is called City of Gibson for some reason.

Then, just north of Vincennes, Indiana, we stopped seeing any vestiges of the white stuff, although Liz, who was wearing sunglasses initially thought the rocks for drainage was snow.

Obviously, by the time we got south of Yorkville, these folks had not received anywhere near the amount we got during the Groundhog Blizzard as I have seen it called.

And, speaking of Groundhog Day, I understand that Woodstock Willie's (in Woodstock, Illinois) prognostication had to be put off until the weekend after the 2nd because they couldn't find his burrow under all that snow. Even if they had, no one would have been able to shovel out to the square.

Not Going to Miss That Lousy Snow. Hope It's All Gone and Done for the Winter When We Get Back. --RoadDog

Got My Packer Gear

Well...hat, actually.

OK, I showed the green and gold down in Cape Coral, Florida, and environs before, during and the next two days after the game on the 6th. Now, I'll be showing it through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and back to Florida, albeit, another part of the state.

The Packer Super Bowl XLV hat is new, however. Tuesday before we left, Liz and I took a drive north to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, figuring we wouldn't find much in Illinois. The Wal-Mart had a big display and I bought a hat and Liz got a tee shirt.

As long as we were there, we ate at one of our favorite places, Popeye's (not the chicken chain) overlooking Geneva Lake. I was surprised to see a bald eagle flying over the lake near the Riviera Docks.

Granted, I would have rather had a Bears Super Bowl hat, but if Da Bears can't do it, let Da Pack do it.

Reckon the Favre (Is That How You Spell It?) Era is Officially Over. --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Have to Check It Out the Next Time: Dandridge, Tennessee

I just saw the National Trust for Historic Preservation's (NTHP) annual list of Top Twelve Distinctive Destinations in the US.

One of those places, Dandridge, Tennessee, looked very familiar.

I realized that this is where I fill up the old gas tank whenever driving I-40 from North Carolina to Nashville. There are several stations right by the interstate, one of which is the Pilot where I usually stop. Evidently, there is always a gas war on there.

You definitely do not want to fill up in Asheville if you can help it as they are usually 20 cents more expensive that Dandridge or the rest of NC.

The NTHP cites Dandridge as being nestled in the "foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains (close to Gatlinburg and Knoxville farther west) with a small-town spirit, a charming historic downtown and a quintessential Southern Appalachian town."

A Place to Check Out the Next Time Through. --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hitting the Road for PCB, Fla.

Even with the heat wave approaching the Illinois-Wisconsin line (40s and even one day of low 50s), it has become time again for some of us to head for the beach. This time it will be Panama City Beach.

We keep getting conflicting reports of weather with 70s sometimes and 50s at others. Hoping for the former. It was way too cold there last February. Either way, it will still be 20 to 40 degrees warmer or more than here.

We stay at the Driftwood Inn, an older, but well-kept up mom and pop motel with two stories by the road and one floor of cabana rooms right by the water where we'll be staying.

CDs for Listening:


Plus, several cassette tapes I recorded.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

T-Giving NC--2010-- "No Knockin'" Here

With a full belly and burping that sweet porkchop sandwich all the way to Winston-Salem, I hit the road, US-52, soon to become an interstate. Definitely keep an eye on your speed as there are more than a few cops between Mt. Airy and W-S.

At some point, I saw a sign reading "GULF OIL IS BACK! THE LEGEND IS BACK!!" Wow, Gulf Oil stations. I haven't seen them for a long time, but remember fondly the old Gulf No-Knock gasoline and those great commercials. They had people sitting with outstretched legs and driving around like cars, complete with shifting gears. This was quite the special effects for the 60s. When their "engine" knocked, they went into spasms. Real Funny Stuff!!!

I managed to get through the nightmare that is I-40 around Raleigh-Durham. This is one of the best places I know of to get into a traffic jam.

With a smile upon my face, I finally got to Goldsboro, NC, after putting on 1077 miles and the truck topping 37,000 (with 37,249).

Good to Get Back to the Old Homestead. --RoadDog

T-Giving NC 2010-- Mt. Airy, NC, Everybody's Home Mayberry

Mt. Airy is definitely always on my list of places to stop on my way to NC when going via I-77.

You can really see all aspects of Andy Griffith's Mayberry in this small town. And the people proudly hold up this heritage and embrace it. You see Andy Griffith (AG) stuff all over main street, once US-52, but now bypassed.

One thing I really like about the town is that they have free parking along the main and side streets plus lots of public lots. Something Chicago would never do.

You can probably buy any sort of AG souvenir you can imagine on main street. This year, I bought several packs of AG trading cards for Liz who is a real big fan of the show.

There is even a Floyd's Barbershop where you can get a haircut for $8 and have your picture taken and put on the wall. Walk next door to Opie's Candy Shop. South of town is Wally's Service Station.

In September they have a huge festival in town for the TV show. One of these days we'll have to go there.

"Goober Says Hey." --RoadDog

Monday, February 14, 2011

T-Giving NC-- Pork Chop Sandwiches

Always good to get back to the old home state.

I got off the interstate at NC-89 and took it into Mt. Airy, Andy Griffith's hometown and one that has taken full advantage of its Mayberry connections. NC-89 is a nice back-country drive, but watch out for the lower-than-you-might-expect speed limits. You never know where old Barn might be hiding.

I am glad they once again are coking the pork chop sandwiches at the grill by the front window of the place. They cook a lot of them at a time, then take them back to the kitchen for use when needed.

The price of one is now $4 and is really a meal in itself, with much of the stuff coming out if you don't hold it down hard enough.

It is always fun to listen to the locals talk and waitresses obviously don't have assigned areas as anyone might take your order, bring it, refill your drink, give you your check and take your money. They sure know a lot about the locals and talk as if they were family.

If you're ever in the area, you definitely have to stop by Snappy Lunch for one of those great pork chop sandwiches. But come early as the place closes after 1 pm. They do serve breakfast as well, but go for the pcses.

Real Good Eatin'. --RoadDog

Down Da 66: Tattoo Guy Gets Another-- Pad for Sale-- "Cars" Fanatics

Down Da 66, just some more stuff about an old road.

1. TATTOO GUY GETS ANOTHER-- Hard to believe it (well, not so hard), but noted Route 66 Tattoologist Ron Jones got another one Feb. 12th, his 88th of which 87 are of places along the Mother Road. This one is of the Admiral Twin Drive-In (but he didn't say where) which operated from 5-24-51 (my birthday) to 9-3-10.

He is quite the walking-talking Route 66 man.

2. PAD FOR SALE-- It was announced back in December, that the Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois, long a Route 66 mainstay, is for sale, asking $625,000, which many 66ers feel is too much. That great muffler guy, Gemini Man, stands outside of it holding a rocket.

The Eagle Hotel in downtown Wilmington, dating back to pre-1850 is also for sale.

3. "CARS" FANATICS-- Friend Lulu wrote into the Yahoo Route 66 e-mail group about an interesting trivia site about the movie "Cars" at

Lots of interesting stuff.

Now, You Know. --RoadDog

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cape Coral Trip-- 2011-- Part 5

FEBRUARY 8th-- Tuesday

Last day, sigh! Drove out to Sanibel Island and took a walk around Sanibel Island Lighthouse. This place is too rich and high class for me.

Uncle Al had never seen a real live alligator (what do you expect from a Canadian), so we paid to drive through the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, but didn't see any gators.

Then drove out to Ft. Myers Beach, walked around and had lunch at the Dairy Queen, with a view of the beach.

Back to the hotel and packed then looked at one more condo before going over to JR's house. Then to airport and back to the C-O-L-D!!!

I Could Learn to Live in the Warm, Even with the Occasinal Hurricane. Beats All These Global Warming Winters. --RoadDog

Cape Coral Trip-- 2011-- Part 4


Super Bowl Sunday!! And, one of my teams, the Packers, was playing in it. Always makes it more fun when one of my teams is in it.

Went over to Dave's and hung around before going over to Paradise Deli where we had some of the best-ever hot dogs.

Back to the room and rested before looking for a place to watch the game. We had several near the hotel, but we went over to a really upscale place called Harbour Cove, but at 5 were too late to get a table.

Dave called and said we should come over and we did. Watching the game outside at a pool was a new one for me. And, Da Pack WON!!


Fr, Myers Beach, Big Carlos Inlet, Grazing at the Corral (Golden that is). Car Show, Parrot Key Bar, Big Game Bar, Dave's.

I Could Learn to Live With It. --RoadDog

T-Giving NC-- 2010 To North Carolina

Drove the West Virginia Turnpike and I-77 into Virginia and got as far as Wytheville where I turned in for the night. The truck hit 37,000 miles as I got off the interstate. Wytheville is always one of the cheaper places to get gas on my trio, so I always fill up before getting into West Virginia which is usually 20 cents more.

Gas the first two days on the road was a high of $2.87 in Morris, Illinois, and a low of $2.60 in Crawfordsville, Indiana (usually also a low price). Gas in Wytheville was $2.68.

I got a room at the Econolodge for $46.61 with tax and had the buffet at Shoney's right by it. I was a bit shocked at the 10+% tax on the meal. What do they think they are, Chicago?


An interesting ride leaving Wytheville as there was major fog in the valleys which was made really bright by the sun shining through and off it. You don't usually see this kind of weather.

One fun part of the trip is leaving Virginia where you go down a major decline, complete with run-away truck ramps. Always makes you think when you see that big 'ol grill coming up fast behind you.

Entering North Carolina there is a really nice welcome center.

Headed for Those Porkchop Sammiches. --RoadDog

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cape Coral Trip 2011-- Part 3


Sat out by the pool at the motel for awhile before driving out to Dave's Car Club's show at the Tropical Isle Elementary School. Lots of old cars, especially the muscle and Vette ones.

Went to R.C.'s where Tim came over on his boat and picked us up for a ride on the Caloosahatchie River. He had wanted to go over to Ft. Myers Beach, but it was too rough, so went upriver, past Ft. Myers and as far as the Franklin Lock and Dam.

Mighty rough on the way back once past Ft. Myers.

Met up with everyone at Hooter's and really chowed down. Came back and went to the Monkey Bar close to the motel.

Let's See, Old Cars, Boats, Wings and Bars Along With 80 Degrees. I Can Surely Live With That and Don't Call Me Shirley!!

T-Giving NC--2010-- Marietta, Ohio

Decided to take some time and look at Marietta, Ohio. I've gotten off I-77 before and driven east as there were a couple NTN sites that way, but obviously, this newer construction could not be the old town part.

So, this time I headed west along the what forever seems to be under construction road a couple miles and then found myself in the old part. It wasn't very big and was anchored by the historic Lafayette Hotel.

I stopped at a riverside park with a nice view of the Ohio and the hotel.


There is a nice welcome center once you get into West Virginia.

I was really amazed at how many dead deer were along the interstate. It must be really high rutting season, because they were all over. I wonder if W.Va. allows hunters to collect the carcasses?

Of course, I always enjoy driving through West Virginia's beautiful capital, Charleston and past that striking gold dome on the capitol building.

Shortly past Charleston, I-77 becomes the West Virginia Turnpike. I sure wasn't happy when they raise tolls (three of them) from $1.25 to $2. I'm not sure if that is what folks not having those transponder units pay.

Anyway, this stretch of interstate is a really pretty one as they really had to do some real big-time digging through those mountains.

Still On the Road. --RoadDog

Here's Da Place-- Iowa's Mississippi Valley Welcome Center

If you're ever traveling on I-80 and at the Mississippi River, definitely stop at the Mississippi Valley Welcome Center, high atop the bluff on the Iowa side and with a great view of the river and bridge.

My wife and I have been stopping here on all our eagle watching trips the last several years after a read an article about it in the Chicago Tribune. It is sponsored by the nearby Quad Cities, a great destination in itself.

During the summer, there is a great veranda to view the river. They even have free coffee and, of course, all that travel information. Their bathrooms are huge and extremely clean.

It is open year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Easter.

We always like to look at the eagle stuff and usually end up spending some money. There is also lots of keepsakes, antiques, Iowa souvenirs and what I'd call a mini-museum.

Located at 900 Eagle Ridge Road, LeClaire, Iowa, 800-747-7800 ext. 120.

Put It on the Old Itinerary. --RoadDog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cape Coral Trip 2011-- Part 2

February 4th

Rushed through the meal so we could meet the real estate lady, Chris, back at the hotel, a few blocks away, but a really great half pound Angus burger.

We went to about eight condos, many on a canal. Prices were $39,000 to $60,000. Al is getting ready to retire and looking for a place to live during the winter in Florida. He is from Canada and hates the winter. Imagine that.

Frank has been working with the real estate lady for a couple years, but is strictly in the looking mode. This recession that the government says is over, hit Cape Coral particularly hard and most everything is worth just a third to a half of what it was. Good deals abound.

Al liked a couple of them.

Afterwards, we went to Hustler's, sat out on the patio and had a couple drinks. Fridays, the waitresses wear lingerie which made it hard to contemplate the drinks and warm weather.

Later went to R.C.'s place which he is renting while waiting for his home in Illinois to sell. Last stop was Tim's, who is a neighbor of Dave's. All have lanais and pools.

Sitting outside on a February day, having drinks and not freezing, maybe Uncle Al's onto something. Maybe I should be out looking myself.

A Different Way of Life. --RoadDog

Cape Coral Trip 2011-- Part 1

Left all the cold and snow here in the Midwest on Feb. 3rd, the morning after the Blizz of '11.

Until that morning, whether we'd get off the ground was highly questionable.


FEB. 3rd: Left O'Hare and flew to Southwest Florida Airport. Got rental cars, stocked up and checked into the Cape Coral Holiday Inn Express.

Frank and I took a ride to Cape Coral Beach and then to Pine Island.

Met up with Frank's friends R.C. and Dave at the Twisted Conch for dinner then went over to Dave's. To think, just a short time earlier, we'd been up to our ___ in snow, now 80 degrees and sun.

FEB. 4th: Mark and Al were along with Frank and me. All of these people are railroad guys, including R.C. and Dave. The last two live in Cape Coral.

Al, Frank and I went back to Cape Coral Beach and walked the pier where we ran into the morning coffee club. Drove out to Malatcha by Pine Island, then back.

Had lunch out on the covered deck at Jimbo's. Boy, this is the life!

More to Come on 4th. --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Is All This White Stuff on the Ground?

Enjoyed temps in the 70s and 80s until yesterday when the temp dropped all the way down to the upper 60s in the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area in Florida.

Last night, I came back to this!! Waiting for the van to take us to parking at O'Hare Airport, we knew right away that we weren't in Kansas, well FLA, anymore. It was 5 degrees and had some wind.

I even had to clear 2-4 inches off the driveway and sidewalk just now. Welcome home!! Yesterday, we were shaking off the sand at Sanibel Island and Ft. Myers Beach.

Then, the little birdies were hungry and out of seed at the feeder so walked around the side of the house to get to it. That was a mistake. There were some massive drifts. I thought I had found an easy route until I sank down about four feet and thought we might have to call in a crane to come and get me out. AND...the temp was 3 degrees with wind chill at -10.

Wonderin' If there is Another Flight Going Back? --RoadDog

TIMES CHANGE: 1978-- Passing a drivers test // 2010-- Passing a vision test so you can drive.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On the Road for the Super Bowl

Maybe I have found the perfect way to watch the Super Bowl. And that would be outside on a Lanai (?) by a pool. Obviously, something we can't do in northern Illinois, but something easily done here in South Florida in Cape Coral.

I ran into quite a few Packer fans as well, along with some of those AFC folk.

We were looking for a bar to watch it at, but were too late to get seats at several. Then friend Dave called to say we come over to his place, which we did. I was the only big-time Green Bay fan, but everyone else, except Dave's wife, were pulling for the Pack because they were from the Midwest (everyone either lives there or used to live there). I had my green shirt and hat to show my allegiance.

There was some talk of going in the swimming pool to watch it, but it wasn't heated, so everyone chickened out.

Thank goodness for all those turnovers or Pittsburgh would be doing the celebrating.

Way to Go, Pack!! --RoadDog

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Did Woodstock Willie See His Shadow?

Our resident groundhog prognosticator, Woodstock Willie, probably did not. Probably buried under two feet or more of snow, depending upon whether or not it drifted over his burrow.

At 7 am, when he was supposed to be pulled out, he wouldn't have seen his shadow as the Bliz' of '11 was still on. That, of course, means an early spring.

I doubt it. These Global Warming winters keep getting worse.

Tomorrow this time, I may or may not be in Ft. Myers, depending upon O'Hare tomorrow morning. I could sure use a break from the accursed snowmobile weather.

My poor little snowblower was completely overwhelmed with the snow. There was not a bit of snow at the garage doors for about eight feet, then, like a mountain range, there appeared a four foot high snow drift. Once I had a path to the street cleared, I measured. The four foot drift was ten feet wide. Then the snow dropped until I had several feet of 20 inches. Then, it rose to three feet by the street.

And, I have a real BIG driveway.

Hoping for F-L-A. --RoadDoh

"Bite Me," Winter!!

Or, "I Fought the Snow and the Snow Won!!"

A friend of mine posted "Hey Winter!! Bite Me!!" Winter SURE did. It bit the R-Dog too.

And, tomorrow this time I'm supposed to be landing in Ft. Myers, Florida, for a much-needed break from all this global warming. That sure is to be seen.

Sitting here in the Dog Cave in the basement and there are drifts covering the two windows. And these are not your usual basement windows, but full-size ones. Actually, today it is more of a snow cave.

I heard that the Bliz of '11 just moved into Chicago's All-Time Blizzard third place when they just updated O'Hare's total to 19 and a half inches. Of course, measuring the amounts is difficult with all the blowing.

For anyone of you on that Face thing, Liz has posted pictures.

One thing I do know, and that is that my lil' old snow blower is definitely not going to be up to the task, nor is this old back. Perhaps I can get some of the snowmobile folks to come over and get us out before they go out and have their fun.

Oh, well, Bob Stroud is about to do a Ten at Ten on WDRV 97.1 FM here in Chicago back to the year 1967. Hey, that is the year of Chicago's All-Time Biggest Blizzard, 23+ inches. Or, maybe Bob will do songs having to do with snow.

Kind of Doubt I'll See Any Snowmobilers, Though. --RoadDog

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

T-Giving NC 2010-- Ohio's Bicentennial Barns

Heading south from the rest area with the Shenandoah marker, I saw an Ohio Bicentennial barn on the east side of I-77. I also saw one west of Columbus on I-70 earlier on November 21st.

Information from Ohio History Central site.

In 1997, the Ohio Bicentennial Commission selected Scott Hagan to paint at least one barn in each of Ohio's 88 counties with the bicentennial logotype.

He began in 1997 and completed the last one September 2002, in time for the celebration in 2003. Hagan would sketch the image on each barn by hand so no two are exactly alike.

During the course of his work, he used 100 paint brushes, 645 gallons of paint and put on over 65,000 miles on his truck.

All barns, and they were of all types, were still standing in 2003 for the bicentennial except one. In 1998, a tornado destroyed the one in Ottawa County. Hagan painted a second one in 2001.

Love 'Dem Barns-- BarnDog

The Shenandoah One of Six US Navy Rigid Airships

From Wikipedia.

Four of these rigid airships crashed, putting an end to the experiment.

They were:

ZMC-2: a metal-clad airship that operated 1929-1941

ZR-1: Shenandoah operated 1923-1925 before crashing in a storm.

ZR-2 (R-38): 1921, crashed

ZR-3: Los Angeles-- 1924-1939 decommissioned and dismantled.

ZRS-4: Akron-- aircraft carrier 1931-1933. Lost in storm. These two airships carried five F9C biplanes.

ZRS-5: Macon-- aircraft carrier 1933-1935-- lost in bad weather.

So Much for Rigid Airships. --RoadDog

T-Giving NC 2010-- Wreck of the Shenandoah

Still in Ohio, but working my way to West Virginia. Now on I-77. Stopped at the first rest area south of I-70. I had been here many years ago and remembered a marker there concerning the crash of a US Navy dirigible.

The marker reads:

Wreck of the Shenandoah "Wind increasing in volume. Got no chance to..." Last words from the Navy airship Shenandoah caught in a violent storm. Crashed 7 miles northwest of this spot near Ava at dawn Sept. 3, 1925.

Fourteen of the crew killed. Souvenir hunters stripped the wreckage.

US questioned the value of huge, rigid dirigibles. The last one crashed 1935.

Smaller blimps replaced dirigibles.

Ships in the Air. --RoadDog