Friday, April 29, 2011

Taking the New Car Out for a Spin

In a short time, we leave for Springfield, Illinois, taking Il.-47 to Dwight and then Route 66 the rest of the way. Hope to stop at the Palms Cafe in Atlanta for lunch.

I'll be keeping careful watch on the price of gas along the way and recording it.

Normally, I'd be listening to the Drive's, WDRV FM 97.1 Chicago, semiannual A to Z where they play over 2000 classic songs for a whole week. Seaver has just started playing songs that begin with the letter "E," "Ebony Eyes" by Bob Welch right now at 7:11 am.

However, we have three months free XM radio with the new car so will be taking full advantage of it for that time. Definitely hoping I won't find it necessary to subscribe to it after that. I do like channels 5 to 8, fifties to eighties music.

Tomorrow, I have a Sons of Confederate Veterans Division conference with the other five camps in the state. Right now, I belong to the Camp Douglas Memorial Camp in Chicago, named for the infamous Confederate POW place in the city.

I will be looking for other Civil War (non-Lincoln) sites along the way and in Springfield. This would include local museums, cemeteries and memorials. This would be in plans for a Route 66 Motor Tour of the war along the famous road.

On the Road Again, Hope I Can Afford to be on the Road Again. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our New Car

With the 2003 Malibu having topped 100,000 on our trip to Panama City Beach this past February, we figured it was time to get a new vehicle. This past Monday was the day.

We went to Ray Chevrolet and test drove four cars: a Cruze, Malibu, Impala and a Camaro. We were definitely considering a Malibu on the way in as I'd been watching ads for new ones in the newspapers for several months. From that, I knew the least we could expect was $16,000 to $17,000 with taxes and other fees on top of it.

Of the four, we liked the Impala and Malibu the best (well, I could have gone for the Camaro, but there was no way Liz would go for that, something about too hard to get in and out). However, the Malibu got the best mileage.

We had intended to trade in the Dakota, but they wouldn't give us an acceptable trade-in. We ended up buying the very same Malibu we test drove for $17,100 out the door after the GM Card's savings were applied. Took me two efforts to write the check (we paid in full) as that is a lot of money!

We now are a four-vehicle (and a boat and lawn tractor) family: 2003 Malibu, 2005 Dodge Dakota and 1985 Pontiac Firebird. I'll probably sell the truck later this summer because of the low gas mileage.

Set for Cruising Again. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 11-- Cruising the Calooshatchie


We went to RC's and later Tim and Liz came cruising up the channel in their boat and picked us up.

We did a river cruise up the Calooshatchie River (how's that for a name?) which separates Fort Myers and Cape Coral and goes quite aways inland. Always great to go out boating, especially when it's another person's boat. That is when you really get to relax and enjoy the sights.

There was a huge car show going on at the Edison-Ford home site in Ft. Myers. Poor Dave, who usually would have been there photographing, looked on sadly as we went by it.

Signs warned boaters to go slow east of town because of manatees (something you don't often see on our Chain of Lakes here in Illinois. There is a huge gas fired power plant and they congregate in the warm waters.

We saw other manatee slow areas as we cruised.


With seven guys on a boat, beer is bound to run out...and it did. There are not many places to stop, but Tim knew of one and we pulled over.

I stayed in the boat, and pretty soon saw Canadian Al motivating quickly from the building with a puppy hot on his heels. Al got away, but stayed in the boat after that.

I don't know what happened in the building, but the others came out chuckling about it.

As we were leaving, the puppy nobly assisted us with the dock lines. Wish I'd had a camera.

A Day Out on a Boat is a Good Day. --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida 2011-- Part 10-- Old Cars and an Astounding Remark

February 5, 2011


After a hearty breakfast of cheese omelets and sausages, we were back on the balcony of the room looking out when Frank looked over it and exclaimed, "Hey, someone has the same Aveo rental car."

I looked, "But, Frank, that's our car."

"Oh!" replied the easily-confused Frank. In his defense, we had gotten back late last night.


Drove what seemed like forever (that Cape Coral is a very roomy city) out to this school. For some reason, I have never equated a school with a tropical isle. Perhaps it isn't as painful.

Anyway, school was not in session, but memories sure were. There were lots and lots of old cars there, 100 in all. Lots of people as well. I was impressed with a 409 '65 Chevy Super Sport. There were, HOWEVER, NO '67 ot '68 Camaros or Firebirds.

RC and Dave were both there. Dave was busy taking photos of all the cars. he probably has the biggest collection of old car pictures from car shows in the US.

Frank and I weren't really hungry, but they were selling some of the most-delicious-looking all beef hot dogs I've ever seen. For $3 you got the dog with all the trimmings, chips and a pop. We just had to eat.

Old Cars and Hot Dogs!! Sign Me Up!! --RoadDog

2011 Most-Endangered Roadside Places

The Society for Commercial Architecture has released its list of ten most-endangered places along the nation's roads this year. In other words, you might want to hurry up and get out to see these places. They might soon be gone.

1. Airplane Filling Station-- Knoxville, Tn. (We've been through Knoxville many times, but haven't seen it.)
2. Bartles/Maguire/Washam's Service Station-- Waukesha, Wis. (We've been to Waukesha but never seen it either. Maybe next time.)

3. Boots Motel-- Carthage, Missouri. (We've seen this many times. Even driven behind the front.)
4. Buckhaven Baths-- Mesa, Az.
5. Diving Lady-- Mesa, Az

6. Doo Wop Motels-- Wildwoods, NJ
7. Giant Santa-- Haubstadt, Ind.
8. Premier Lanes Sign-- Santa Fe Springs, Ca.

9. Roundtop Filling Station-- Sherwood, Ark.
10. Wagon Wheel Motel-- Oxnard, Ca. (destroyed)

I'm not sure why they would list the Wagon Wheel if it was already destroyed.

Thanks to Route 66 News blog for alerting me to this list.

See 'Em Now or See 'Em Not. --RoadDog

Monday, April 25, 2011

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 9


To get those Chinese Wallboard fumes out of our noses, we had to go to a local bar called Hustler's where we got drinks and sat outside. I just love sitting outside in early February and not freezing.

Not much scenery as we were next to a busy road, but the bartenders and wait staff were all female and Fridays they wear pretty skimpy outfits. That sort of made up for the road.


I sure could get used to them. We stopped by RC's house, which he is renting until he sells his home in Illinois. Like Dave's, he has the Lanai and pool outside and it is all Florida, with high ceilings, fans and Floridian stuff.

We then went to Tim's house which was the same, but newer. Liz, Tim's wife took me for a tour around her garden. Love that Florida vegetation and she has grown some palm trees from seed.

We had another round of Wii bowling which I really stink at.

A Long Boar Ride Tomorrow. --RoadDog

Statistics for Catoosa's Blue Whale

From the Gadget Blog for CNet.

So, you've always wanted a big blue whale in your yard or swimming pool. If your subdivision association will let you have it, here's what you'll need:

2,650 feet of rod
1,179 feet of two-inch steel pipe
100 feet of one-inch pipe
2,520 square feet of plaster lathe
125 bags of concrete mix
19.5 square yards of Redi-Mix concrete
19,400 lbs crushed stone
15 tons sand
2,454 linear feet of wood
20 pounds of nails
along with assorted tubing and valves

Mix thoroughly and place in pre-heated oven for fifteen days (just kidding).

Back in the 1970s, this would cost $3000. Plus, you'd need to find a friend willing to donate 100 hours of welding time. It will take about two years to make it.

These stats were from Hugh Davis who built the famous Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma from 1970-1972.

I Wonder If i Can Get Liz Talked.... Nah Never Mind. --RoadDog

Friday, April 22, 2011

Zipping Across America

From the April 15th American Profile Magazine.

In my history blog, I wrote an entry about the men from Sudbury, Massachusetts who took part in the Battle of Concord, April 19, 1775. This town has the Zip Code 01776, a very patriotic one at that. It probably would have been better to be 01775 which belongs to Stow, Massachusetts.

The US Postal Service initiated the five-number ZIPs in 1963 to better manage the growing amounts of mail.

The first numbers were based on geography with 0 in the East and moving to 9 in the West. The next two numbers represent regional areas and the last two a specific post office.

The highest Zip Code is 99950 in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the lowest 00501 which routes mail to the IRS processing center in Holtsville, NY.

Waban, Massachusetts may have the easiest to remember, 02468. Errol, NH, has 03579. Kerby, Ore, has 97531.

Luckiest Zip Code is Newark's 07110 and 70011 in Metarie, La.. The binary ZIP is in New York City 10101. Melrose, NY, has the dance ZIP 12121 while Columbus, Ohio, has the countdown ZIP 43210.

Only one residence in the US has its own ZIP and that would be the White House with 20500.

Wonder What Zippy the Pinhead Would Think? --RoadDog

Welcome to the Garden of Weedin

I just had to put that in the blog. I came across an article in the Holiday 2010 issue of McHenry County (Il.) Living, the county where I live. This is a sign in The Woodshop, located in the town of McHenry right by the Fox River.

I've driven by the place many times, but never stopped, but the next time in town, I sure will, if for no other reason than to buy that sign if it is not too expensive. Even better, it is made of old, recycled barn wood.

And appropriate as well, as that is one of my major chores all growing season long. It's my Garden of Eden, but I sure do a lot of Weedin. Just yesterday, I'm sure one of those weeds I was digging up must have stolen my protective glasses. I looked everywhere, but couldn't find them. It had to be a case of payback.


He was retired, but came out of it to save old barn wood from the fire after the barn was torn down. McHenry County at one time was a major agricultural area. It still is, but on a much lesser scale. There were lots of old barns, but the ones that have been abandoned are fast deteriorating and we lose many every year.

Novak and his two partners, Lou Merceiri, a retired cabinet maker and Joe Handel, who scouts out the barns and wood, get excited whenever they come across weathered wood.

Not only do they make signs, but all sorts of furniture as well.

The Woodshop is located at 3301 Elm Street (Ill. Route 120) in McHenry, Illinois.

A Place to Visit. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Walk on the Lincoln Highway

From the April 20th South Bend, Indiana paper. "Local mayors, kids to join hiker on Lincoln Highway trek."

Goshen, Indiana, native Jeff Blair, 63, is walking the 170 mile width of the Lincoln Highway across the state. Today, the mayors of South Bend and Mishawaha as well as school kids will be joining him. He is doing the walk to raise money for the Lincoln Highway Association of Indiana and Alzheimer's. The road goes through both cities.

Mishawa Mayor Dave Wood will meet Blair at the intersection of Lincoln Highway East and Blueberry at 9 am and will walk with Twin Branch fourth graders from there to Capital Avenue where they will be joined by third graders from Beiger Elementary School and walk to Byrkit Street. Hey, anything to get out of class!!

Then, Blair, who is traveling west to east and has picked some of the worst weather in the Midwest's recent history to do his walk, will continue into South Bend where Mayor Stephen Luecke and members of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association will meet him at the Lincoln Highway historical marker at the southwest corner of Michigan and Washington streets where Blair will make a presentation.

Luecke will then walk with Blair on Washington, then north on Lafayette Blvd and out of the city on LaSalle/Lincolnway.

He started the walk on April 14th, the exact day that weather in the Midwest went from bad to worse.

You can follow his walk at

I Sure Wouldn't Want to Be Walking Out There Right Now. --RoadDog

Livermore's Duarte Garage on the Old Lincoln Highway

From the Dec. 23, 2010 Silicon Valley (Ca) Mercury News "Take a big steo back into the past at Livermore's Duarte Garage" by Alan Elias.

The Lincoln Highway is 3,389 miles long and went straight down Livermore's Portola Avenue.

Frank Duarte saw a business opportunity and bought a triangle of land at the corner of Portola and L streets and opened his highway garage of Livermore (later called Duarte.

Considering the poor quality of early tires and cars, Duarte did well.

In 1950, the Lincoln Highway was realigned to the current I-580. By that time, the garage was run by Frank's son, Fran. As a result, business dropped significantly.

By the 1970s, the city was growing very fast and the shop was in bad shape. The city wanted it for a park.

Duarte sold it to the city and moved to Arizona. When the economy went south, the city did not have enough money to start the park and it was cancelled. The Livermore Heritage Guild stepped in and took over the garage. Today it is mostly restored.

Well, One Good Thing About the Recession. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The End of the Mineola?

The Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake, Illinois, has been condemned by the village for all sorts of structural problems.

It was built in 1884 along the lines of the Grand Hotel in Mackinac, Michigan, only smaller. It has been a tourist spot on the Chain of Lakes ever since. Although now, just a restaurant on the lower level is open to the public.

The restaurant is in good shaped, but there is fear that the upper floors could collapse. The whole upper part of the structure is in bad shape and has been neglected by owner Pete Jakstas for many years.

He has thirty days to submit a structural report.

"Mineola Pete" as he is called, has owned it for many years and also operates Mineola Marine next door. To his credit, he hasn't torn it down to make way for condos. However, he does not want to put any of his own money into the Mineola.

My own thought is that the building is too far gone to be saved which is too bad when considering its age. That would be too bad as it is one beautiful building.

Article at the April 20th Northwest Herald "Fox Lake Condemns Mineola Hotel."

Check out pictures of it on Google Images.

The Mineola reopened about two weeks ago. 5-5-11

Hope It Can Be saved. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 8


We met the real estate agent back at the Holiday Inn Express and then went condo-looking. The first one was on a canal and $50,000. Looked promising.

After that, we went to a bunch of them that just went from bad to worse. Cheap, but I wouldn't want to live there. Neither would Al. We did find one near the end that had potential.


Even though Al wasn't looking for a house, there was one for $165,000 listed that looked like a mini-mansion in the picture, so stopped by it. And, from the outside, it was jaw-dropping. Wow!! Just $165,000. Maybe I've found my house?

But, when we walked in, a pungent smell clobbered us. It was then we learned why folks can't live in a house with this Chinese wallboard. That is why this house was that cheap.

In the homebuiding boom, they ran out of drywall and began buying it from China. However, Chinese requirements are much less than those in the US and then they had the problems.

Too bad.

Something to Watch Out for If Buying in Cape Coral. --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The "Miraculous" Jameson's Bottle

This past Sunday, Liz and I met Kevin and Kelly at A.J.'s Horsin' Around bar in Round Lake Park, Illinois. A friend of ours and a great entertainer, Terry Spizzeri, was playing an afternoon show for a local bar crawl.

We used to see him a lot and he even played for Liz and my 40th birthdays, but we then went for years without seeing him until last fall when we caught a show out on the deck of Dock's in Wauconda overlooking Bang's Lake.

He plays a great variety of music from the 30s all the way to current, and even with that Italian name, does a great Irish repertoire. (His father was Italian and mother Irish.)


This was the other couple's first time seeing him and we were having a blast and good time when Kevin looked over at the bar and saw a bottle of Jameson's Irish Whiskey illuminated by sunlight. All the other bottles next to it weren't.

We took this as a sign and it had to be shots and toasts all around. Well, that was our excuse, anyway. Even terry and his nephew on keyboards had a drink with us.

It Was a Miracle, I Tell You!! --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 7


Besides all the For Sale signs, we saw some advertising as well. One had foreclosure listings for $2. Another said "$1 Moves You In." Then, there was Show-Me Foreclosures.

We learned that Shadow Inventory were homes the banks had, but weren't being offered for sale in an attempt to prop up the housing market.

There were also free foreclosure lists offered at one builder's model.


We drove out to Matalacha again. What I really like about this place is all the small, colorful buildings, many of which resemble little more than shacks. Most are painted in vivid colors. This must be what Old Florida looked like before it became Orlandized and South Beached.


We returned when the real estate agent for Canadian Al called to set up an appointment for later in the afternoon.

Frank was hungry again so we went over to a little place called Jimbo's a couple blocks from the motel. Last year, Frank had accidentally run into friend Kora at this place. We had some mighty fine burgers while sitting out on a screened-in deck overlooking one of the many, many channels in Cape Coral.

Sun and Warm is Better Than Snow and Cold. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 6

February 4th

Al, Mark and Frank were impressed with the "hot" breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express. Today, we had bacon and scrambled eggs.


Al, Frank and I took a ride back out to Cape Coral Beach and we walked to the end of the pier where we had a nice talk with the local old guys' coffee club. they brought their own coffee in a huge thermos and had muffins as well. Mighty friendly group as well. Most were originally from the north and wanted to know when we'd be joining them.

Hey, coffee and conversation sitting out on a pier and with a great view all-around at the beginning of February sure beats sitting in a local fast food place looking at the parking lot with snow piled all around is something I might just be able to get used to.

There was a sign on the pier with a picture of a sawfish on it. If anyone sees one, they're supposed to call a number and report it. Sure is a strange looking fish.


A big reason we were in Cape Coral was all of the foreclosures that are taking place there as a result of the Recession and housing bust. Frank has been there several times looking at places and always fantasizes about a Florida home. Of course, Canadian Al is planning on retiring in ten months and has decided he's had enough with the cold. Imagine a Canadian having had it with the COLD?

I have to admit that I have also thought about buying a second place down in the warm, especially after these last four lousy winters.

Poor Cape Coral was in the middle of a building boom when the troubles struck. Home prices were going up fast and people buying in a frenzy. It was ranked as the second worst hit town after Las Vegas.

Driving around, we saw lots of for sale signs as well as businesses offering great deals on houses.

Oh, Give me a House Where the Warm Breezes Blow. --RoadDog

Monday, April 18, 2011

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Florida-- Part 5

We drove out to Pine Island, past that neat little village of small-colored houses called Matalacha. Then we drove north past one palm tree nursery after another. They should change the name to Palm Island.

Destination was Bokeha at the north end, hoping there would be some sort of bar. There wasn't, just one restaurant, but pretty views of sand and water. After all that white, anything non-white was alright with us.

There was a south end of the island that we were heading for, but got a call from Mark and Al that we were going to meet up with some railroad friends, so drove back to the motel. I also would like to take a walk around Matalacha sometime.

We met retired railroad guys Bob and Dave and followed them over to the Twisted Conch a couple blocks away. Enjoyed their two-for-one happy hour bottles and I had one of the best shrimp baskets ever.

Afterwards, we were off to Dave's place which is over run with little dogs. They have two and another couple there had two. These folks were WII Bowling fanatics.

Homes in Dave's subdivision are built on raised mounds because of hurricanes. Hurricane Charlie was evidently quite a bad one.

A Pleasant Change. --RoadDog

Worst Roads in the US-- Top Ten (Or, Is That the Bottom Ten?)

The March 25th Main Street website ranked the states in the US with the worst roads.

These were based on these four criteria:

** poor-condition roads
** deficient and obsolete bridges
** fatalities
** congestion

10. Alabama
9. Kentucky
8. Pennsylvania
7. New Jersey
6. Hawaii
5. Arkansas
4. West Virginia
3. Oklahoma
2. North Carolina
1. Louisiana

I'm kind of surprised that home state Illinois isn't there, especially after one of our winters. The stretch of Route 66 from Williamsville to Broadwell sure needs repaving.

Tires Going Whappity, Whapitty!! --RoadDog

Friday, April 15, 2011

66's Getting Press

Well, commercials, actually.

I have seen the commercial promoting Illinois tourism several times lately. It has two things specifically Route 66, a sign and the Bunyan Giant in Atlanta (at least they didn't show that...water tower).

And then there are related 66 sites like Chicago and Springfield. One shot shows Abraham Lincoln's rubbed nose at his grave.

Always good to get the publicity here in the state where the road begins.

One "good" thing that might come about with the price of gas is tha folks will stay closer to home and get off the interstates (hey, the faster you drive the more gas you use). And we've got just the place fir you to visit.

Gettin' Our Kicks on Something. --RoadDog

The Surf's Back and Just in Time for SOS

Usually when I'm sittin' here a'typin' away with my little two fingers, I have a Beach Music station on. Earlier, this morning, I was listening to Ted Bell on WNMB in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

I have enjoyed his show since he was on the late-great 94.9 FM WVCO, the Surf, which used to have the late-great Billy Smith, the dean of all Beach deejays. Well, this morning, I found out that while we won't be getting the Old BS'er, Billy Smith, back, the radio station is back.

They are on the air right now in the Myrtle Beach area and hope to be streaming over the internet by next week. Right now, the Surf and WNMB are doing a simulcast.

I searched for the station, but they don't have a website yet.

And all this as Beach Music fans from all over descend on the Grand Strand for the annual SOS (Shagging On the Strand) Spring Safari. What a bonus to that great Beach tradition, something I want to do some day.

This must have just happened because I scooped the others on the Carolina Beach Music Yahoo e-mail group.

Great to Have It Back!! --RoadDog

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hitting the Local Bars

APRIL 12th--

We met Sue and Paul at FIRE WOOD in McHenry, Illinois. Last year, this place became where the usual suspects met to watch the Bears games and we hadn't been there since the end of the season.

Tuesdays they have 50 cent tacos, 50 cent 10 ounce drafts and $1 pints as well as AUCE personal pizza for $2.99.

On the way home, Liz and I stopped at CHEF DAVITO'S in Johnsburg for the first time ever. It is where our old watering hole, Tom's Cafe was located. It is now an upscale Italian restaurant, but reasonable with meals from $13 to $25. Draft beer is $2, not bad for a fancy place. We'll definitely be back.

APRIL 13th--

Met Kevin, Kelly, Sue, Paul and Pam at CASTAWAYS on Pistakee Lake. Sat out on the deck and enjoyed $1 drafts and 40 cent wings. Then went inside for popular local entertainer Jim Seig's show starting at 6. Sun, deck, warm, cheap beer and eats as well as entertainment and a view of the lake. I can live with that.

APRIL 14th

Went to DONOVAN's for the $1 pints, NTN and chicken popcorn and fries. On the way home, stopped at the new WILMOT TRADING POST which was Mar's Trading Post Inn until Saturday. It is essentially the same, but drafts and bottles are $2.

Way Too Much Time in Bars. Little Old Beer-Drinker Me. --RoadDog

Down Da 66: Braidwood-- Pontiac-- Springfield

Some old news from Route 66 in Illinois.

1. BRAIDWOOD-- From the Dec. 10th Braidwood Journal-- Bob and Nancy Scamen own property at 261 Kane Street and would like to have the old train depot moved there. They are upset that they have received no response from the city.

Back on Dec. 11th, Braidwood agreed to pay $150,000 for a vacant lot at 111 N. Center Street on which to place the structure. The Scamens were asking $140,000 for their property, but dropped it to $110,000.

2. PONTIAC-- Dec. 9th Pontiac Daily Leader-- The bike path along Route 66 is getting closer to being after Chenoa approved its stretch Dec. 8th. It will begin south of the railroad tracks and go south on the former southbound lanes.

3. SPRINGFIELD-- Dec. 10th State-Journal Register. The historical Maisen home might be moved today to a temporary wooden structure inside the hole where it is to be moved. Court and Karen Conn's home has been sitting in the middle of Jackson Street between 6th and 7th streets for nearly a month and face fines of up to $1000 a day. This home was built by a friend of Abraham Lincoln and rumor has it that Lincoln loaned the money for it.

On the Road Again. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

John L. Lewis Home in Springfield, Illinois

Here's something I have never come across in my travels along Route 66 in Illinois, but besides Mother Jones' grave in Mt. Olive, Illinois, another labor leader had his home in Illinois, and that would be John L. Lewis, the renowned labor leader who lived at 1132 West Lawrence Avenue from 1917-1965.

Leaving school at age 15 to work in coal mines, he was soon elected president of the local chapter of the United Mine Workers (UMW) until he was blacklisted for union activities.

In 1920, he became president of the whole organization and held it for the next 40 years until he died.

May 4th, I will be following in the union tradition and riding a bus to Springfield myself, only I will be there for an Illinois Education Association rally.

Union Strong!! --RoadDog

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 150th Anniversary of Fort Sumter Sure Had an Impact on Me

OK, I wasn't there (even if some of my students thought I was that old), but I sure do remember living through the Centennial Commemorations and now we have the Sesquicentennial.

It was the Civil War that got me interested in history. That led to my teaching history and social studies for 33 years as well as poor wife Liz getting dragged to just about every battlefield during that time.

I have spent way too much on Civil War books and magazines, but thankfully never got into artifacts which really would have been expensive. Then, there's all that mess and clutter in my study which I blame on the war.

I have belonged to The Civil War Round Table in Chicago and am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I am regarded as the Civil War Guy when we play NTN, the trivia game. But I must admit that even with my knowledge, I do miss some questions once in awhile.

Even my love of old roads that I currently suffer from is just another alignment of my Civil War interest.

And, then there is that very time-consuming Civil War Blog I've been running for over three years now.

Sometimes I Think It Might Have Been Better Had I Not Gotten So Interested in the Civil War. Nah!! --RoadDog

Hey, That's Bob Waldmire Up on the Wall

From the April 12th Pontiac (Il) Community News.

The first section of the new 66 foot long (get it?) mural of Bob Waldmire went up today.

It isn't completed, though. The rest will be painted this spring during the event surrounding the opening of the city's latest museum, the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum. I'm thinking the event may refer to the Red Carpet Corridor party from Joliet to Towanda this May 7-8th.

It will be finished at that time by local artists (probably my close cousins, the WallDogs), residents and celebrities (perhaps a Michael Wallis sighting?).

The mural is on Bob Waldmire's beloved Route 66 and near the Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame which contains Bob's ever-present VW van and "school bus home."

Here's Hoping We Can Afford the Gas to Go. --RoadDog

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do the Sting Ray Shufle, Or Sting Ray Hop, Your Choice

I must admit that I found the sign warning of Sting Ray Hop in the previous post, of interest, definitely something I've never seen before.

I imagine you shuffle your feet instead of directly stepping as a way of preventing a sting ray attack.

Anyway, I looked it up and this is what I found on

Sting rays rarely attack, but don't like being stepped on (me neither). "The ray's instinctive response will set you to hopping. These are "steps" you should take to avoid a painful experience:

1. Pay attention to posted signs, especially if you are the first one in the water.

2. Do the shuffle. It is difficult to spot a ray even in clear water because they settle into the sand. Instead of stepping, shuffle your feet forward to avoid stepping on one.

3. When snorkeling or diving, avoid the ocean floor If a ray feels threatened it is liable to strike with its tail.

4. Death is rare, but even a small barb in your foot can be dangerous.

Maybe someone should come up with a song called "The Sting Ray Shuffle."

To Step or To Shuffle? --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral 2011-- Part 5

Mark and Al decided their rented car wasn't fast or hot enough, so they drove back to the airport and got a different one. Frank and I went for a cruise to Cape Coral Beach which is more on a bay and not the ocean. I had been there once before with Liz when we were with Carlene. I remembered the little burger joint sitting on a deck above the beach and pier that a friend from the old Puppet Bar in Fox Lake used to work.

At 3:57, we were walking out on the pier. Just 24 hours earlier, my neighbor Dan and I were busy clearing four foot high drifts off my driveway back in Illinois, thanks to the blizzard. All-in-all, I'd rather be here.

We were entertained by a sea bird drinking out of the end of a hose, something you don't see every day. A lady was leaving, saying it was too cold. Actually, most likely she wasn't catching anything. It SURE wasn't cold, at least to us.

Parking at the beach was free, but swimming wasn't allowed due to high bacteria levels. A sign warned that from May to October swimmers should shuffle their feet while walking in the water or "Do the Sting Ray Hop."

Remember What happened to the Croc Man? --RoadDog

End of a Good Bar: Mar's Trading Post Inn, Wilmot, Wi.-- Part 4

We used to go there about once or twice a month, but sure increased that number these last two weeks.

March 31st we stopped on out way back home from Donovan's Reef in nearby Twin Lakes, This is when we found they were actually going to be closing April 9th. We had quite a few free drink tickets so definitekt the time to use them.

That day, we had the $1 meatloaf sandwiches and burgers. Their domestic pints were going to be a buck the rest of the time they were open.

We were back Friday, April 1st for their fish fry. While searching for the free drink tickets (we had eleven), I also found a $30 gift certificate I had gotten when I used to deejay there.

So used it for appetizers (wings and cheese sticks) and fish fries, beer and tip. Sure going to miss the fish fry every Friday and those potato pancakes. Saturdays, they featured their prime rib dinners which were $11.98. Second Saturdays were $9.98.

Their Closing Party Was to Be April 2nd. --RoadDog

Friday, April 8, 2011

End of a Good Bar: Mar's Trading Post Inn-- Part 3

I should mention the historical aspect of the bar. It is built on the foundation of a former trading post dating back to the 1840s, hence the name Trading Post Inn.

When you think small town Wisconsin bar, this is exactly what you think about. It is never hard to get into a conversation with somebody. And, generally, there is a good crowd. Sometimes, too many. On several occasions, especially on $1 burger Thursdays and Booze Raffle Sundays, we walked in and left because there were no seats.

Every holiday, they put up a multitude of decorations. And those included St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day and Easter.

We always loved the mini Christmas tree that always hung upside down above the bar and was decorated for the season and had the sign, "If this looks rightside up, go home."

Of course, being on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, there was always the Packer-Bear thing. Probably the only drawback of the place was that it wasn't a good place to watch a game. They just had two TVs at the ends of the big back bar which dated back to the 1880s.

We'll Be Heading There for One Last Time Saturday As It Is the Last Day. The New Owners Take Over and Open Wednesday. --RoadDog

More Ink for 66's Tattoo Man

I like Route 66, but Ron Jones takes the Mother Road to another level. Yesterday, in the Route 66 e-mail group on Yahoo, Ron announced the birth of his 89th tattoo, 88 of which are of Route 66 places.

He got the neon sign of the El Rancho Grande, a Tulsa Mexican restaurant. On April 27th, he will be adding the Dixie Trucker's Home in McLean, Illinois, to his rapidly disappearing canvas.

Now, There's a Guy Who Loves His Road. --RoadDog

Civil War Highways "Up" in My Neck of the Woods

Withe the 150th (Sesquicentennial) anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War fast approaching, this coming Tuesday, April 12th, I thought it appropriate to list some of the roads near me with a connection to the war.

The closest is about a quarter mile away. US-12 is called the Iron Brigade Highway, named after that celebrated fighting unit in the Union Army.

Next closest is US-20, the U.S. Grant Memorial Highway down by Stark's Corner. This road goes by Galena, where the future general and president was living when the war began.

Then, there's the Father Road (if 66 is the Mother Road), the Lincoln Highway (which is US-30, Il-31, Il-38 and Il-2 in the state). The part nearest is Kesslinger Road just south of Elburn. There are a lot of roads because the Lincoln was significantlt rerouted when it became US-30.

When I get to Morris, Illinois, I can pick up US-6, which id the Grand Army of the Republic Road, named after the organization of Union Army veterans formed after the war.

So, That is Quite a Few Civil War Roads here in Illinois. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 7, 2011

$3.99!! A gallon!!! Thanks Guys!!!

On the way back from Wisconsin just a few minutes ago, we passed the Citgo gas station at Wilmot Road and Il-173 south of the Wisconsin-Illinois line and the gas was $3.98.9 (which is really $3.99 but most people call it $3.98).

Come on guys!! Let's hurry up and get over that $4 plateau. You've been planning this since last summer and really were fortunate the Japan and Middle East situations took place to give you a "reason" to do it.

It is too bad there is no way to know who the speculators are who are pushing up the price. I would have to think it is those who have the most to benefit from it. I can't wait until Big Oil has to post their profits, which are going to be huge and prove their complicity.

Then, there are the Middle East countries who are making money like never before. And, I wouldn't be surprised if terrorists weren't involved.

Sadly, some of the speculators may be American and are really being treasonous. They are hurting their country and fellow countrymen.

Several of my trips have already been cancelled because of this and probably more will be.

Kind of Hard to Figure Out How They Can Live With Themselves. --RoadDog

Attention Music Lovers

Nothing like cruising down a road and putting on the radio or stereo and listening to some good stuff. Here's a great opportunity.

Chicago's Drive, WDRV-FM, station is playing the 100 All-Time Greatest Classic Rock Albums as voted by listeners. They started at 7 am this morning and will continue to midnight, then pick it up again for the same hours on Friday and Saturday.

You can hear it streaming at You can also be your own music critic and see what has been played.

Oh, yes, I should mention, all are being played in their LP version, so there will be a few few pops and snaps. The dj picks the side they want to play.

So far:

#100 SCARECROW-- John Mellancamp
#99 THE CAPTAIN AND ME-- Doobie Brothers
#98 TATTOO YOU-- Rolling Stones
#97 THE STRANGER-- Billy Joel

#95 LET IT BE-- Beatles

#93 MOONDANCE-- Van Morrison
#92 ESCAPE-- Journey
#91 SLOWHAND-- Eric Clapton
#90 LED ZEPPELIN 3-- You-Know-Who

Hearing Some REAL Deep Cuts. --RoadDog

Doughnuts, Pickles & Pepsi-- Part 2

** CHARLES KURALT was born and raised in Wilmington.

** North Carolina is the LARGEST PRODUCER OF SWEET POTATOES in the nation.

** North Carolina is the home of the FIRST ENGLISH COLONY in America.

** The VENUS FLYTRAP (not the guy from WKRP) is native to Hamstead (which got its name when George Washington was making his grand tour and a shad bake was planned. No shad were caught so they had ham instead).

** PEPSI was invented in New Bern in 1898.

** MT. OLIVE PICKLE COMPANY was founded in Mt. Olive in 1926.

** The Wright Brothers made their first POWERED FLIGHT at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

Just Some Interesting Stuff. Let 'Em Eat Ham!! --RoadDog

Doughnuts, Pickles & Pepsi-- Part 1

From the Winter 2009 Mt. Olive (NC) Pickles Food for Thought publication.

Just a little bit of "North Carolina's deliciously intriguing history. From the invention of Pepsi to babe Ruth's first home run, the state known for its natural wonders also boasts an impressive list of facts and firsts."

Here are some:

** KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS was founded in Winston-Salem in 1936.

** THE BILTMORE IN ASHEVILLE is America's largest house.

** North Carolina was the FIRST STATE in the nation to establish a STATE MUSEUM OF ART.

** BABE RUTH hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville in 1914.

** North Carolina is the home of the OLDEST PUBLIC STATE UNIVERSITY in the U.S..

And, That's Not All. --RoadDog

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

End of a Good Bar: Mar's Trading Post Inn-- Part 2

Friday morning, I started going through my stuff as I knew I had several free drink tickets. While doing so, I also found a $30 gift certificate I had gotten many years ago when I used to deejay there.

I wasn't even sure that it would still be good, but worth a shot.


I should mention that we used to also go to the place before it was Mar's, Riverside Inn. The bartender/owner, Jim, could have been Joe Gates' long lost twin brother. Joe Gates used to own the Puppet Bar in Fox Lake, Illinois, back in the 80s when I worked there as a deejay.

He looked like him, talked like him and had the same sense of humor. Everyone got Indian names. I was Chief Walking Eagle; so full of s***, I couldn't fly. Anyone playing the jukebox had to be aware of the giant spider he would drop down on you. Joe had died by then, so this was like being with him again.


Then, Mar and her husband Dave took over. It continued as a locals place and added great food at great prices along with reasonable drinks. Pints usually were a buck, rail drinks $2, and Sundays, a great pint Bloody Mary for $1.75.

Then, there was also the Booze raffles on Sunday afternoons that drew a big crowd. New Year Eves were always early start and end by 8 pm.

Sure Gonna Miss This Bar. --RoadDog

Eatin' Along I-55: St. Louis and South-- Part 2: Dexter's


We knew about Lambert's in Sikeston but not about Dexter's. Then,they have that word that always gets me to salivating, "BARBECUE!!!'

It's about a ten minute drive west from Lambert's on Malone Street and a short jog north on Main Street. It always seems like a real long drive from Lambert's to get downtown.

Dexter's is a local favorite specializing in dry-rub pork ribs. "Aye, there's the rub."

The Chicago Tribune's Cheap Eater stopped by there a short time ago and declared their pulled pork among the best he's ever had. Joyce also recommends the Dexter Bar-B-Que sandwich on Texas toast with slaw and baked beans.

There's not much atmosphere in the place (not like Lambert's which oozes it), but it's modern, clean and welcoming.

124 N. Main Street, Sikeston, Mo.

Looks Like We Have Another Place to Check Out Next Time. But How Can You Give Up Lambert's? We May Have to Stay Two Days. One for Lambert's and One for Dexter's.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cozy Dog, If You Please

From the April 4th Columbia (Mo) Daily Tribune.

Besides being about one of our absolute favorite places to chow down on Route 66, the Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois, this article featured a large full-size picture of the Cozy Dog special, what we always order when there. That would be 4 Cozy Dogs and a large order of fries. As much as I really like the hot dogs, I also really like their fries. Cost is $9, or you can get just one Cozy Dog for $1.85.

Whether you dip it in mustard or pattern a mustard zig-zag across the top, the Cozy Dog is a must in Route 66 eating. I personally zig-zag and then place raw onions on top of it. And don't forget the Cozy Salt.

Don't go in and order a corn dog. They will correct you. You order a Cozy Dog. They claim to have invented the corn dog in the 1940s. It was there, but Ed Waldmire took it to a new level.

Cozy Dogs come crisp and crunchy and are not cooked in the fryer until you order them. None of that sitting under a heat lamp for hours. Fies are hand-cut and fairly greasy.


Sitting in the restaurant, you are surrounded by Route 66 memorabilia and there is a small store where you can buy stuff. In the middle of the place is the Edwin Waldmire Memorial Library in an oversized bookcase.

We always enjoy reading the various state organization and national Route 66 publications which are in a stand by the bathrooms.

Another photo in the article showed the Mr. and Mrs. Cozy Dog driving down "Old 66" with the words "Owned and operated by the Ed Waldmire family since 1949."

OK, I'm Hungry Now. --RoadDog

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eatin' Along I-55, St. Louis and South-- Part 1

From the March 13th Chicago Tribune Travel section "Throwing fun food ideas to I-55 travelers" by Denise Joyce.

We've driven I-55 from St. Louis to Mississippi several times in the last four years and knew well about one of the places she talked about, Lambert's, but not the others.

IRON BARLEY, ST. LOUIS-- Featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" and "Man v. Food." 5510 Virginia Avenue. Minutes west of I-55 in a south St. Louis neighborhood. Suggests the Monte Christo double hot dog or the Philly Beef & Chez or the pricier "yes-they're worth it entrees." Now that double dog sounds real good!

LAMBERT'S CAFE, SIKESTON, MISSOURI-- As Yogi Berra messed up the duck, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." Still the place to go as all those "Throwed Rolls" billboards proclaim. Long, long list of recommendations.

I had seen something about it on a food network and talked with buddy Cajun as well. I couldn't remember the name, but then saw that billboard coming out of St. Louis heading south. We reached Sikeston in the dark and stopped, got a room at the Super 8 and had quite an experience.

It can be crowded (we've never had to wait but have never been in the house during the prime rush hours). "But diners stop by for a reason: a lively party atmosphere and a bounty of decent food supplemented by free 'pass arounds,' including fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, black-eyed peas and sorghum and honey."

And then, there are those huge, hot, floppy rolls that get thrown to you when you raise your hand or make eye contact with the "pitcher." You can have it thrown from across the room or for more the more timid, next to your table. Either way, you 'gotta catch one of you want one.

We Never Drive By One. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral 2010-- Part 4

It was sure great to see the white turn to blue seas and islands; we have arrived in another world. Had a bit of a wait for the luggage, then there was that first encounter with warm when we walked out!! Words can not describe the feeling, and to think a short 24-hours ago, I was still in the house in Illinois waiting for the blizzard to subside and looking at those four and five foot drifts.

The rental cars are right outside the luggage claim area so walked over to it. Al and Mark got a seriously upgraded car. Frank and I cheaped it out with an economy Aveo.

And we were off for Cape Coral. Stopped at at Publix for some essential snacks, nuts, beer and liquor and then went to the Holiday Inn Express right on a main street just over the bridge from Fr. Myers. There is a Perkins Restaurant right next door with a huge US flag. We had rooms facing the road and the flag.

None of them had ever stayed in a HI Express and I told them about how good the breakfasts were there. I usually don't stay for them because of expense, but my mom had gotten the family places to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Bluffton, SC, for my nephew's wedding.

I just had to get out on the balcony and soak some sun and warm and was there when I heard a voice outside call my name. Startled me, jumped up, and found Mark's ugly head grinning at me from around the partition.

Welcome to Florida. --RoadDog

Saturday, April 2, 2011

End of a Good Bar: Mar's Trading Post Inn-- Part 1

Thursday, we stopped by Mar's Trading Post Inn in Wilmot, Wisconsin, on our way home from Donovan's. Hey, half price drinks ($1 pints) from 3 to 6 is a hard deal to beat. It used to be buy one, get one free all day, but the place was losing money.

Thursdays, Mar's has $1 quarter pound burgers and chips. Another good deal. Plus $1 pints.

Before I left for North Carolina on the 21st, we had been there and ran into Dale and Sue that they had heard that the place had been sold. Mar's husband Dave has terminal cancer and running the place has become a major problem. Running a bar these days is a major hardship.

We saw signs saying they were closing on April 9th and that the new owners were opening on the 13th.

We've been going here for 14 years and it is a favorite place, but soon to be no more.

We had two burgers and figured we'd definitely get back before the 9th.

Sad to See an Old Fav Go. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral 2011-- Part 3

We got to the park and ride, $8.25 a day, parked and rode the van to O'Hare. Received the full body scan, thanks a lot you lousy terrorist and had to essentially remove EVERYTHING, including shoes, to make sure we weren't smuggling anything on board. Again, thanks a lot. Remind me to show my appreciation if I ever go one on one with one of those little cowards.

We took off from the American concourse and saw that every American flight had been canceled for the morning, but Spirit was still on. Stopped and had breakfast at McDonald's.

Plane took off on time and I didn't think you could possibly find smaller seats. Decided to not have a drink as Coke cost $3. Beer was $6. What do they think they are, Wrigley Rip-off Field?

Nothing but white on the ground at take-off. Couldn't see the ground for most of the way because of clouds. as we neared Fort Myers, we saw islands and lots of blue...water that is.

Long wait for luggage. Frank and I had combined our stuff to save $25. Spirit is now own to 40 pounds and we were over at O'Hare because of Frank's two extra pairs of jeans. We put them in our carry ons and met the weight.

More to Come. --RoadDog

Friday, April 1, 2011

Escaping the Blizzard: Cape Coral, Fl.-- Part 2

I can tell you, 4 am is way to early for a retired guy to get up in the morning and I suffered from a significant lack of sleep the whole flight down and the rest of the day.

I mean, it was still dark out. Seriously dark. And then there was all that piled-high snow from the Blizz. Mark came over in his truck and picked Frank and me up at Frank's house where I had spent the night for the early start. Then we went over to Al's apartment and that parking lot was just barely cleared out and we almost couldn't get through in Mark's really big truck.

We had decided to go on out to O'Hare Airport even though we weren't sure if any planes would be leaving because of yesterday's blizzard which had shut the whole place down. Spirit Airlines, which we were taking, still had the flight as leaving in the morning so we decided not to take a chance.

Believe me, the thought of sunshine and 70 degrees was a mighty powerful motivator. Especially after what we'd been through.

Listening to the radio on the way to the park and fly place, I heard that the Woodstock Willie Winter Prognostication in Woodstock, Illinois, had been called off because of the snow, but Punxsutawney Phil had seen his shadow meaning six more weeks of winter. Woodstock Willie definitely would NOT have seen his shadow at 7 am Feb, 2nd as the blizzard was still on.

Not at the Airport Yet. --RoadDog

Escaping the Blizzard-- Cape Coral, Fl-- Part 1

This is a more detailed account of the guys' trip to Cape Coral, Florida, in the first week of February. We left February 3rd and returned Feb. 8th.

I was sore the whole way down on the plane because of all the shoveling the day before we left thanks to that little thing called the Blizzard of 2011, '11 Blizz, or Groundhog Day Blizzard where the Chicago area got the third-heaviest snowfall in recorded history, just shy of 20 inches.

I'm sure that here in Spring Grove, we had even more than that.

The guys on the trip were all railroad guys taking time away from what buddy Frank calls "pounding spikes" although in their case it's more like "pounding the keyboard" on their computers. Frank has his grand kids believing he really pounds spikes as in days of yore.

The other three were "Pike-Poundin'" Frank, "Canadian" Al, and "Cougar-Hunting" Mark. Al is from Canada and Mark spent every night trying to find or be-found by those female "cougars" in Cape Coral bars.

Then there was me, "Old RoadDog" Don. But, that's another story.

Anxious to get Away from All That Lousy Snow. --RoadDog