Friday, August 31, 2012

OK, While On the Subject of "The Simpsons"

I have to admit that for many years I wouldn't watch the Simpsons at all.  Primarily because of Bart being a school boy and my being a teacher. And, of course, all my boys knew every little aggravating thing Bart would say.

But, I have to also admit that I have become a big fan these last eight years.  This is one TV show that continues to get better each year, something very hard to do after it has been around for as many years as it has.

Anyway, I went to that WikiSimpsons site I'd never heard of before (I recommend it) and looked up what they had to say about Santa's Village.  It is a Christmas-themed amusement park in Springfield, open year-round, but closed Christmas.  Its main attraction is its live reindeer.

The ESTONIAN DWARF works as an elf at it.  In other Simpsons episodes, he works various jobs, usually as an actor or stuntman.  He comes from Estonia.  On one episode, he played the Krusty Burglar at the grand opening of a Krusty's Burger restaurant.

The four episodes featuring Santa's Village:

Burns' Hair
Homer's Phobia
How I Spent My Strummer Vacation
Bonfire of the Manatees

DOH!!  --RoadHomer

Five Notable Things About Vintage Amusement Parks-- Part 2

4. 'THE SIMPSON'" SPRINGFIELD has a Santa's Village too.  It has appeared in four episodes, according to WikiSimpsons, including one in which Homer decides Bart must kill a reindeer to prove his manhood.  Maybe this is where the Simpson's dog, Santa's Little Helper, came from?

5.  WORKERS AT THE OLD SANTA'S VILLAGE in East Dundee used to have contests to see who could cause the most "protein spills."  That would be vomiting incidents, during a day according to former worker Christopher Dearman, author of "Santa's Village Gone Wild."

My buddy Rusty and I didn't have a protein spill on that cursed Bobs Rollercoaster at Riverview, but we sure did a lot of screaming and we had been trying to impress two cute girls sitting in the car in front of us.  We walked off with heads hung low and considerably after they had exited.

This Isn't So Bad...No Wait!!  AAAAUUUUggghhhhh!!  --RoadDog

Five Notable Things About Vintage Amusement Parks-- Part 1

From the August 15th Chicago Tribune.

1.  PAM TURLOW has written a book "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" about visits to 44 vintage amusement parks across America.  She says Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., as her favorite of them, citing its beautiful trees, high food quality and palpable sense of history.  They'll find an old ride, the blueprints or specs, and they will build it again."

2.  IN THE MIDWEST, besides Kiddieland and Santa's Village AZoosment Park, Turlow visited Nelis' Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan.  Three others she wants to see are Bay Beach Park in Green Bay, Wis., Little Americka in Marshall, Wis., and Indiana Beach Amusement Resort in Monticello, Ind.

3.  THE FIRST-RATE 2009 FILM "ADVENTURELAND" was not made at the Chicago-area park of that name, but based on one in Long Island where director Greg Mottolo worked in his youth.  Most of it was shot at Kennywood near Pittsburgh.

I wonder where the amusement park in "Zombieland" was?

More to Come.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Here's Some Good Listening Music for You Roadies

For this week, Fessan Hook is featuring the Beach Music Top 40 for the year 1954, before there was a rock and roll with people like Jimmy Liggins, Louis Jordan, Drifters, Robins, Clovers and others.  It's only for a week so you'd best get to it soon.

Great listening. Click on radio, scroll down to radio countdowns.

You can also hear the current Beach Music Top 40 and the Saturday Fish Fry Blues and Boogie Show.  Worth a listen.

Also, for those of you who remember the Summer of 1972, Bob Stroud is doing the fourth and final part of his annual trip back forty years ago this Sunday on Chicago's WDRV from 7 to 10 AM CST.

I just found out that Wendy Rice, on her Saturday Morning Flashback Show on Chicago's WXRT is going to feature 1967 for four full hours tomorrow from 8 to noon, CST.  It streams at Lots of music and things going on that year.

Enjoying It Right Now.  --RoadDog

Chicago Area Amusement Parks That Have Gone Bye-Bye

From the August 15th Chicago Tribune.

Gone, but not forgotten.  In connection with the return of Santa's Village, now Santa's Village AZoosment Park.

RIVERVIEW PARK--  The granddaddy of 'em all.  It's memory is guarded like a Chicago heirloom.  Now a shopping mall, police station and college campus south of Lane Tech High School.  This is where I went on my first, and for a long time, last, roller coaster, The Bobs.  Probably not a good coaster to start on.

ADVENTURELAND--  In present day Bloomingdale, now the Scottish Rite Cathedral, headquarters building for the Freemasons.  Went to this one several times.

KIDDIELAND--  Held on longer than the others, but couldn't stave off becoming a Costco.

Hate Seeing These Pay As You Places Go.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's Official, We Pay Through the Nose

Listening to Chicago's WXRT right now, and radio announcer Mary Dixon says that it is official, Chicago has the highest gas prices in the nation...again.

Earlier this month, gas jumped 65 cents a gallon when there was a pipeline break in Wisconsin and refineries went off line right after it (all the better to raise those gas prices, you know).  And, price had dropped to $3.96 in Fox Lake yesterday, but now will be going back up because of the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

So, if you're coming anywhere near Chicago, fill up before you get there.  You'll know as you approach Chicago.  The closer you get, the higher gas prices get.

A Real Gas Gouge!!  I tell You!!  --RoadDog

Welcome Back Santa's Village...Well, Santa's Village AZoosment Park

From the August 15th Chicago Tribune "Santa rides again" by Steve Johnson.

I know I was very disappointed when this venerable Chicagoland amusement park in East Dundee,(western suburbs of Chicago) closed in 2006 and most of the rides auctioned off.  I went there a couple of times, but always hate to see something that had been around for that long go.

Phil Wenz essentially "willed Santa's Village back into being."  He wrote an Arcadia Publishing book "Santa's Village" on it.  Now, close to 200 days a year, he spends a couple hours putting on make up and getting into the $1,500 white beard and wig get ups, surrounding himself with foam padding, a red suit, belt and boots to go out and portray the jolly old elf.

he started as Santa at age 23, back in 1986.

The new name of the place is Santa's Village AZoosment Park to reflect the focus on younger kids and the live animals new owner Jason Sierpien has brought in.

The new place is now in its second season.

It's open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) until Aug. 26th, then on weekends and some Mondays in September and October.  Located at 600 Dundee Avenue in East Dundee with adult and children admission $17.75.

A Bit Pricey, However, for a Nostalgia Trip for Me.  --RoadDog

Songs for Summer Driving-- Part 3

Cruisin' down da road with summer tunes playing from the cassette deck.

SUMMERTIME--  BILLY TEWART--  The edited version, a summer hit for the late-great Billy Stewart.

DANCING IN THE STREET--  MICK JAGGER & DAVID BOWIE--  remake of the Martha & the Vandellas classic


DO IT AGAIN--  BEACH BOYS--  Summer of '68
SUMMER ROMANCE--  ROLLING STONES--  This one goes about as fast as a summer romance.  From the summer of '80's Emotional Rescue.

RACING IN THE STREET--  BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN--  From the great Darkness at the Edge of Town.
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER--  MOTELS--  Late summer of '83, featuring Martha Davis.

SPILL THE WINE--  ERIC BURDON & WAR--  Summer of '70
BUS STOP--  HOLLIES--  Summer of '66

SUMMER BREEZE--  ISLEY BROTHERS--  A favorite version of the song with the great Ernie Isley on guitar.
BEACH BABY--  FIRST CLASS--  One hit wonder by a group of British studio musicians in '71.
BLUE SKY--  Allman Brothers--  (Some great Southern Rock)

TWISTING BY THE POOL--  DIRE STRAITS--  (A real rockin' ode to summer)

Now Get Out and Drive If You Can Afford the Gas!!  --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Songs for Summer Driving- Part 2

Cpntinued from August 22nd.  From the June 24th WDRV Rock and Roll Roots show.

Now that summer is fast petering out, I'd best get around to finishing this.  Get me in a car and driving during the summer, I "Gotta" have my tunes.  And, if they have to do with summer, all the better.

HOT SUMMER DAY--  IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY--  Band out of San Francisco.  (Always thought that was sort of a strange name for a band.  Liz's college roommate's favorite group.)

GOOD DAY SUNSHINE--  BEATLES--  McCartney tune from Revolver.
HOT AS SUN--  PAUL McCARTNEY--  From his first album, 1970's McCartney, an instrumental.

UNDER THE BOARDWALK--  JOHN MELLANCAMP--  An old Drifters' classic.  (And, a place you don't want to be.  A nasty place.) 
REMEMBER (WALKING IN THE SAND)--  AEROSMITH--  Doing an old reworking of an old girl group soap opera.  The Shangri-Las laid it down in '64.  Aerosmith took a shot at it in the late 70s.

SUNNY AFTERNOON--  KINKS--  Sounds like that is all Ray Davies has going for him.  From '66. (Who's trying to break him?)
IT'S OK--  BEACH BOYS--  From the Summer of '76.

SUMMER SUN--  JAMESTOWN MASSACRE--  From our own backyard, out in the suburbs.  (As in Chicagoland)
CALIFORNIA SUN-- RIVIERAS--  Again, right in our own backyard, down Indiana way.  (A great California song as done by a Midwest band.)

Two Down, One to Go.  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our 39th Wedding Anniversary Today

In a few hours, Liz and I will be cruising down US-12, or Rand Road as they call it in Chicago's northwest suburbs.  We'll be heading back to Palatine, where we met back in 1967 and started going steady a short time later.

Plans are to stop at Half-Price Books where I can buy some more obsolete technology.  This place is like a super-sized Mom and Pop record and book store with really great prices; actually a place I should stay out of, but, oh well.

Then a drive to Memory Gardens in Arlington Heights to visit Liz's parents graves.  T

After that, a drive around favorite places in Palatine like the laundromat where I gave her my high school ring (or, at least where we think it was, now a jewelry store (coincidence?)), Photograph's (hot dogs, etc. on the site of the old Burger King on Northwest Highway where I worked in high school and part of college), Palatine High School (the original one where we went junior and senior year) and, our two houses in Winston Park.

Planning on eating at Lamplighters in downtown Palatine, across from the original Durty Nellie's Irish Bar.

Lastly to Docks in Wauconda, up on the bluff overlooking Bang's Lake, where Terry and Gregg Spizzirri will be playing out on the deck at the tiki bar from 2 to 6.

We'll be washing it all down with a cassette tape I made of 1973 music, 39 years ago, you know.

Happy 39th to Us.  --RoadDog

Still Buying That Obsolete Technology-- Part 2

THE BEST OF LEON RUSSELL--  A great, but little-known performer.  Had his own sound.  Listening to it right now "Shootout at the Plantation."  Of course, bigger hits with "Tightrope" and "Delta Lady."  I don't think I ever heard the album-cut "Delta Lady," just the Mad Dogs and Englishman one.

Unfortunately, no cuts from his great "Hack Wilson's Back" album, the country side of Leon.

Then, the Beach Music.  Who'd have figured Beach Music in Central Illinois?

SOUL WAV. VOL 1--  25 songs.  All good, but some of my favorites:  Listened to this one the rest of the way home from Springfield.

King of the Road--  Billy Scott (done up beach-style)
Drip Drop--  Bill Pinkney
Please Accept My Love--  Maurice Williams
I Found Somebody--  Neptune Blues
Shut Up & Kiss Me--  Cindy Floyd
Havin' a Party--  Sugarbees
Leave Your Panties Home--  Drink Small
Shake a Hand--  Toni Williams
I'd Be a Fool--  Groove Therapy
No Time--  Commands
Ain't No Big Thing--  Scotty Todd

CAROLINA BEACH MUSIC: DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY--  with such CBM nuggets as "Bowlegged Woman," "I Ain't Drunk,""Walkin' the Chalkline" and Safronia B."

Good Listnin' the Whole Way.  --RoadDog

Still Buying That Obsolete Technology-- Part 1

This most recent trip to Springfield, Illinois, between the Wal-Mart on Route 66 across from the TraveLodge where we were staying and the Best Buy out to the west of town, off Veterans Parkway, Il. Route 4, I ended up buying six CDs, although I definitely could have bought a lot more at BB (I'm spmewhat trying to "cut back" these days).

I bought two at Wal-Mart:

Hank Williams, Jr. Greatest Hits (one CD, 22 hits)--  I've been trying to find a CD with more hits on it than 10-12 to replace my one on the Ultimate CD jukebox.

Dance With Me--  Best of Orleans--  I went fishing through that $5 box out in the aisles.  It's like a treasure hunt.


The Best of the Shangri-Las--  As the blurb says: "The course of true love has never run smoothly, but few girls ever suffered so much tragedy as the Shangri-Las.  Pver the course of a mere three years, Mary, Betty, Marge and Mary-Ann endured enough heartache, heartbreak, sadness, sorrow, disaster and death to turn them off to romance forever.

They watched one boyfriend die in a head-on motorcycle accident, saw another drafted to Vietnam, dumped a third because his kisses weren't sweet enough, lost their mother and their innocence..."

As I mentioned before, we listened to this one all Tuesday and for a bunch of the next day driving along Route 66.

On a Happier Note, "Give Him a Great Big Kiss."  --RoadDog

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scenes At the Outdoor Concert Last Night

Last night, Liz and I drove to Antioch, Illinois, after doing some boating and ate outside at the Sequoit Lodge (named after Indians in the area).  Hey, 35 cent wings on Thursdays. 

This, unfortunately, was the last of Antioch's It's Thursday summer concert series at the bandshell.  Actually, the last one was to be last Thursday, but the one before that had been cancelled by a storm and this was the make up show.

A band called Evolution was on stage.  We'd never heard them before, but if they are invited to play at the Antioch shows, that's good enough for me.  And, they were really good, playing a highly energized group of 70s and 80s rock songs.

I had to notice some of the crowd scenes going on around us.

TODDLIN' TIKES--  There were a lot of toddlers at the show.  Hey, parents didn't need a baby-sitter.  I can say that these youngsters may totter a lot, but they are real fast.  I saw more tottering tots swishing by with parents in hot pursuit than I could count.  Those parents sure got their exercise last night.  And, put one down and swoosh, they're off again.  Got to exercise those legs.

JUMPIN' FOUR AND FIVES--  The band played "Jump" by Van Halen and four little 4-5-year-old girls off to my left were really jumping up and down, but not necessarily to the "Jump" command.  I doubt they'd ever heard the song before, so wonder where they came up with the idea.

CANINE BALLET--  Not only were there a lot of toddlers, but a lot of dogs as well.  Two of them got into an intricate and fast ballet of who-can-smell-the-other-ones butt without the other one getting a whiff of yours.  Since they were both on leashes, that entailed lots of leather twisting around.  One of the owners got all tied up in leather in the process.  It took awhile to get everyone untangled.

Just Some Stuff at a Concert.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sad Shape of CDs...Wait, Even Better

Yesterday, I wrote about finding that cornucopia of CDs at the Springfield, Illinois, Best Buy and how happy I was.  I just have to feel that they are always taking what I like away from me in the name of technology.

Of course, I was the one who held on to my vinyl until I could no longer get it.  I'm still recording on cassette tapes.

I'm just not one to jump on the latest craze like so many do, plus, I hate learning new stuff when I'm happy with my old stuff.

Anyway, back to that Best Buy.  Not only did they have all those CDs, but I even came across a small section labeled, can you believe it?  BEACH MUSIC!!  Now, that really made my day.  There were just about ten CDs, but even so, it was BEACH MUSIC, right  here in Central Illinois, pretty far from the Carolinas.

Even in the Carolinas, few such stores have Beach Music.  I hadn't bought any Beach Music since the Record Rack closed in Goldsboro, NC, several years ago.

Wow!!  I ended up buying two more CDs.

So Obviously, If You're a CD Guy (or Gal), Best Buy in Springfield Is a Must-Stop for You.  --RoadDog

Route 66's Atlanta Does It Again

From the August 14th Bloomington (Il) Pantograph "Route 66's Atlanta hopes to lure electric cars" by Kevin Barber.

It may be a small town, just 1600 population, but there are few communities along the Mother Road that go out more to embrace their Route 66 heritage than this Central Illinois town between Bloomington-Normal and Springfield.

Just as Route 66's arrival was the original impetus for the establishment of gas stations in this town, now they jump into the forefront of the next wave for transportation, the electric cars.

Atlanta now has two EV (Electric Vehicle) charging stations at the city parking lot a half block from old Route 66.  And, customers can use them free of charge!!

The machines were dedicated at 10 AM Wednesday, August 15th, about three hours before we drove through there.

Now, If They Will Just Do Something About That Blooming Water Tower With That Smiley Face!!  --RoadDog

By the way, that water tower needs to be shaved.  Big-time five o'clock shadow.

That Gnarls Barkley

I am listening to The Surf, 94.9 FM out of North Myrtle Beach, SC, via the internet and Jason just played one of my favorite songs that was popular both pop and beach in the charts.  It was "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.   Actually, as he played it, I'm thinking, "Man, that guy sounds a lot like that Cee Lo Green guy who was all over the air waves with that much-censored song.

Then Jason says, "That's Gnarls Barkley, AKA Cee Lo Green."  Looked it up, and he was one in the same.

Learn Something Everyday.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Sad State of CDs...But Wait, There's a Little Hope

It always saddens me that the era of actually looking through and holding music in the form of CDs (and before that, cassettes, 8-tracks, vinyl albums and 45s and 78s) is fast approaching its end thanks to downloading.  It just "ain't" going to be the same.

Everytime I go into a store selling CDs, there are fewer each time.  Stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Best Buy just don't much carry them anymore.

However, last Tuesday, I had to smile.  After going to the Springfield, Illinois, Barnes and Noble and seeing they only had about 50 CDs for sale, I remembered there was a Best Buy nearby and the last time I was there for a hour an in my glory.  Lots and lots of aisles of CDs. 

I ended up buying four CDs, including greatest hits by Leon Russell and the Shangri-Las.  Ended up playing the Shangri-Las most of the way home.  If ever there has been a group of girls who have suffered so much emotional boy problems than this group, I'd sure like to know who they were.  I figured Liz would really like the album; she did.

Poor Girls Have to make Better Boyfriend Picks.  --RoadDog

New "Get Your Kicks on Route 66"

From the June 28th Music

Charlie Watts, drummer with the Rolling Stones for all these years, has a new side group called The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, referring to the first names of the group:  Axel Zwingenberger, Ben Waters, Charlie Watts and Dave Green.  The Rolling Stones recorded it in 1964 and you hear the song a lot on classic rock stations.

Glenn Frey has also recently done the song on his After Hours album.

We're Still Getting Our Kicks.  How About You?--RoadDog

Songs for Summer Driving-- Part 1

Back on June 24th, Bob Stroud did a show on Summer Songs on Rock and Roll Roots.  Makes you want to pop a cassette onto the old car radio and go cruising if you can afford the gas.  Two of our gas stations in Fox Lake actually dropped gas a PENNY yesterday, down to $4.07.  It sure didn't take them that long to go up.

IN THE SUMMERTIME--  MUNGO JERRY--  From the Summer of '70.  (And my all-time favorite summer song.  Come on, let's make that psssshhhh sound.)
SURFIN' USA--  BEACH BOYS--  The band that keeps summer alive 365 days a year for the last fifty years.  From 1963.  (Love their new album God Made the Radio.)

SUMMERTIME BLUES--  WHO--  From their 1970 live album, Live at Leeds.  (Doing a real rave-up.)
MISERLOU--  DICK DALE AND THE DELLTONES--  a classic surf instrumental

WAKE UP SUNSHINE--  CHICAGO--  You can't underestimate the power of sunshine to fuel the season.  From album number two.
WALKING ON SUNSHINE--  KATRINA & THE WAVES--  (How can you not feel good while this song is playing?)

SUMMER--  WAR--  the long version 

STREET FIGHTING MAN--  ROLLING STONES--  1968.  (In certain neighborhoods in our cities, this happens during the summer.)
SCHOOL'S OUT--  ALICE COOPER--  The Coop with the beginning of summer.  (And, again, thanks to the strange-looking fellah with the even stranger name for naming our boat.)

Let's see, if I take out a second mortgage on the house, perhaps I can afford to fill the tank and take off on a cruise.

Summer and Driving.  Just Sort Of Goes Together.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Times Right Here

One way to put it to the GRBs messing with the gas prices is to stay put, which we did after a quickie-three-day trip down to Springfield, Illinois that put 512 miles on the '11 Malibu (averaged about 34 mpg).


We finally got the boat back in the water after being out for five weeks because of low water from the drought.  Did some boating.  Put it up and met the Usual Suspects over at Stormy Monday and sat out on the deck overlooking Fox Lake.

Then, went to the Dog Haus and had a great rib sandwich which will now be my place when I have a McRib attack between offerings.  That was a great sandwich!!

Last stop was at the Legion.


Did some boating before driving to Wauconda and had some real good Mexican food at La Malinche on Il-176 and then saw Terry and Gregg Spizzirri play out on the deck of Docks Tiki Bar overlooking Bang's Lake.

Last stop at Tommy's.


Drove over to Grayslake and had a great bleu cheese saloon burger at the Last Chance and really enjoyed the 1850s baseball game where there would be two hands, a duck in the pond and a striker take the line.  The Grayslake Athletics rallied to defeat the Grayslake Merchants.  One poor player was forced to apologize for using bad language in front of the ladies.  Catch a ball on the first bounce and it is a hand.

Then went to Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake for the Funk Libido Circus.  Listened to part of a set but it was way too crowded and they really jumped drink prices up, so went over to Route 12 Bar and Grill and listened to Bob play.

Came home and had a Fire on the Strand (bonfire on one of my patios).

Why Go Anywhere Else?  --RoadDog

The July North Carolina Music List-- Part 1: The Who

I like to take CDs along with me on my drives.  Actually, people calling me never have me pick up on the cell phone as the music is too loud to hear it ring (and, besides, it rings with part of "Bad Moon Rising").

I took five CDs along with me, and a sixth one that hitched a ride.  I enjoyed all of them.  And, it was somewhat of an eclectic mix with two country stars, one new rock band and three bands that have been around a long time.

In between listening to the CDs, I search local radio stations.  You never know what you're gonna get, right Forrest?

The CD "Who's Missing" by the Who was the one that stowed away for the trip, in the player.  This album was of songs they had that were not necessarily hits, but I liked them all.  Four songs were from 1965: Shout and Shimmy, Leaving Here, Anytime You Want Me and Lubie.  From '66 they did a real rave up on "Barbara Ann" and the original version of "I'm a Boy."

There were plenty of great songs on the twelve offered.

I'm Just a Pinball Wizard.  --RoadDog

Monday, August 20, 2012

You Don't Have to Go to the Coast of NC for Beach Music

From the Mayberry Confidential, Official News of the Surry Arts Council.

As a big fan of Beach Music, I've always believed you had to get pretty close to the coast of the eastern United States (Southern part) to get this type of music (not to be confused with Beach Boys and Jan and Dean Beach Music).

But, it "ain't necessarily so" as you can get plenty of it in the western part of North Carolina at Mt. Airy, which inspired TV's Andy Griffith, who was born and grew up there to base his Mayberry after it.  Along with plenty of Mayberry stuff, evidently there is plenty of Beach Music.

All of these shows were at the Blackmon Amphitheatre and cost $10.  These are the Beach bands I am familiar with.

APRIL 26--  Band of Oz
APRIL 27--  Embers
MAY 3--  Craig Woolard Band
MAY 4--  Jim Quick and Coastline
MAY 5--  Billy Scott & the Party Prophets
MAY 11--  Fantastic Shakers
MAY 24--   The Tams
MAY 25--  Mark Roberts Band
JUNE 1--  Legends of the Beach
JUNE 15--  Craig Woolard Band
JUNE 22--  Holiday Band
JUNE 28--  Jim Quick and Coastline
JUNE 29--  Embers
JULY 6--  Sea Cruz

Now, This Is Some Really Good Beach Music!!  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Dixie Bathroom Break

Mileage on the '11 Malibu was 10,066 (how's that for Route 66?) on leaving and set the trip odometer to "0".  Drove to Dwight on Il-47 and picked up I-55 and took it to Springfield.  Usually, we do this on Route 66, but we were in a hurry to get to Springfield and out to the fair.

We were planning to use the facilities at that nice Funk's Grove Rest Area (which also has some good Route 66 stuff), but there is road construction on I-55 by it and it is closed. 

OK, McLean is the next stop and there you find the Dixie Truckers Home, a definite place with a Route 66 heritage.  It appears that the place has been bought by Pilot, one of my favorite places to stop on my travels for gas price, usually the lowest in an area.  Where you find a Pilot station, all other gas around it will also be low.

Pilot is doing a major renovation of the truck stop part, so the area where you buy souvenirs and other items is closed, as are the bathrooms (which can use some serious upgrading anyway).  The restaurant is still open and you can walk through it to get to temporary bathrooms set up in a trailer behind the place.

Here's hoping they will keep that Route 66 hallway that used to be the Illinois Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame.  I'd also like to see the clocks with world times returned as they were in the past.

Much Relieved.  --RoadDog

Friday, August 17, 2012

Beginning Seventh Year of Retirement

As of yesterday, it was official, I am now in my seventh year of being retired, having successfully wrapped up the previous six.  Round Lake, Illinois, teachers are back for institutes, continuing today and Monday.  First day for students is Tuesday, always what I consider to be the start of the real school year.

In teaching, your retirement does not begin until the teachers go back to school.  You're off during the summers anyway.

Where the past six years went is anybody's guess.  I just have to say they went by VERY FAST.  And, I've sure really enjoyed them.

I would have liked to have done more traveling, but the GRBs are keeping the price of gas way too high.  Right now, it is $4.20 at most places here, just about the highest its ever been...and, this is supposed to be the down time.  Der Mit's buds are sure doing what they can to embarrass the president's reelection campaign with this move.

Anyway, Happy 7th to Me.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Small World: She Knows J.J. and He Did Too

Tuesday, while we were bumming around Springfield, Illinois, we stopped at a favorite watering hole right up the street from the state capitol called Norb Andy's with intentions of splitting a ponyshoe and perhaps slaking a thirst as it was a bit warm outside.

We got to talking with the bartender and mentioned that we were thinking of going to Capitol City later to play NTN.  She said her dad plays NTN there pretty much every day after work at the Lincoln Museum and Library.

Both Liz and I automatically thought of buddy J.J. and asked her if he might be the same.  He was.  Small world.

Then, we went to George Rank's (both Norb Andy's and this place had been closed for quite awhile over the last several years so we were glad they were open again).  Got to talking with customers and mentioned J.J.'s daughter.  One said his wife also plays NTN at Capitol City and they know J.J. very well also.

Making Friends and Playing NTN.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just Hand Over the Cookies and Rolls...

And, no one gets hurt.

On the way back home from Springfield, Illinois, today, we stopped at a favorite place to eat in Lincoln, Illinois.  It is the Bonanza restaurant, located on the old Route 66 bypass around town, right by the old Tropics restaurant.  You can't miss it with the big old cow statue standing out by the road.

This place is no longer a part of the Bonanza Sirloin Pit company, but started out as one.  It is now privately owned. 

For around $10 to $13 you can get an entree with choice of potato and the buffet, which gets better everytime we go.  Fantastic salad bar and main food items to eat like chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Bonanzas mean a lot to me because I had my first real job out of college working at one as an assistant manager at one in Buffalo Grove.  I worked all the time and was getting so good, they were considering me a manager of my own store.  That's when the offer to teach in Round Lake came through and I accepted that.  I'd always wanted to be a teacher.

To Teach or Grill, That Is the Question.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Chocolate Ugly Abuse, I Tell You

Sunday, I couldn't get the driver's side back window to go up in the '03 Malibu and had to drive it back home from Parishfest in Johnsburg, Illinois, as it was threatening to rain.  Got the '11 Malibu from the garage, the one that I recently drove 2,700 miles on my trip to North Carolina, Nashville and Cincinnati.

Much to my chagrin, I found the bag of Chocolate Uglys I had stockpiled in Tennessee sitting in the backseat.  Now, that is nothing short of Chocolate Ugly Abuse of the highest order.  That will teach me to completely clean out the car when I return from a trip and to do it right away.

That is something Liz always does first thing and now I know why she does it.

However, I did eat one and it seems to be ok.  I mean, I haven't gotten sick from it.

Two more to go.

Next Time, I Clean Out the Whole Car.  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Illinois State Fair Facts

We have never been to this one in Springfield and would like to go.  Maybe even this year when it runs from August 9th to 19th.  We could combine a Route 66 thing to it.

DISTANCE FROM CHICAGO: 200 miles, around the same from Spring Grove.

2011 ATTENDANCE:  817,000

FIRST HELD: 1853 in Springfield.  Did Lincoln go?

OTHER CITIES HOSTING IT:  Alton, Centralia, Chicago, Decatur, DuQuoin, Freeport, Jacksonville, Olney, Ottawa, Peoria and Quincy.

US-66 CONNECTION:  The fairgrounds are right on an alignment of Route 66 and close to Bill Shea's.

ON THE MENU:  Deep-fried chocolate mint cookies (Girl Scout?)  Also those great State Fair Fries.

ENTERTAINMENT:  Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Train, Creed, Cheap Trick and Steve Miller Band.

YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW:  The fair's famous "Butter Cow" sculpture is not made bu Illinoisans.  For the past decade, it has been sculpted by Sharon BuMann of Central Square, NY.  For more than 25 years before that, it was designed by Norma Lyon, of Toledo, Iowa, who died last year at age 81.

LINCOLN HIGHWAY CONNECTION:  I think Toledo is along the Lincoln.

We Really Should Go.  --RoadDog

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wisconsin State Fair Facts

Runs August 2-12.  Buddy Rick got some free tickets for this weekend, but it is too crowded and we already have things to do.

FIRST HELD:  October 1851, in Janesville.

OTHER HOST CITIES:  Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Madison and Watertown.

2011 ATTENDANCE:  911,000

ON THE MENU:  Fat Elvis On a Stick--  deep-fried chocolate peanut butter cup dipped in banana batter and wrapped in bacon.  I gained two pounds just typing that.

ENTERTAINMENT:  (Ones I know, anyway)  Barenaked Ladies  The Band Perry, Styx and Billy Currington.

YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW:  The Wisconsin Bakers Association still uses the same recipe for the fair's signature cream puff as when the item was first introduced in 1924.  More than 355,000 original cream puffs were sold at the 2011 fair.

Maybe We Ought to Go.  --RoadDog

Still Hanging Around the Area-- Part 2

Lots to do right here.


Granny's Diner for what I thought was the last passport stamp on the Chain Crawl.  Turns out, we still have one more to go, Blarney Island.  One fantastic AUCE fish fry, your choice fried perch or cod, potato pancakes or fries and cole slaw for $8.99.  Then Usual Suspects at Stormy Monday with view of sunset on Fox Lake and karaoke at the Legion.  I sank Ray Steven's "The Streak" and, we had a person streak the bar (well, part way streak).


Tried out the new breakfast tacos at Steak and Shake.  All there different ones were delicious.  Had the new Carolina Barbecue Whopper at Burger King for dinner.  I was expecting pulled pork, but got bacon instead and it was quite good.

Then to the street party for Fox Lake's Venetian Night with several Mardi Gras-decorated boats.  Real fine fireworks display.


Bob Stroud did part 3 of his annual salute to that summer 40 years ago.  For songs and his comments, see my Down Da Road Blog.  Had some excellent 99 cent Chicago dogs at the Roost on 59, Il-59.  They claim to have the best sweet potato fries in the area, and I believe them.

Then, went to Captain's and took a trip back to the 60s with the band 1969, then to Route 12 Bar to see Terry Spizzirri play.

Always a Good Time.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oops, One More to Go

I reported that we had finished all 39 stops on the Chain Crawl, but just learned that one remains.  While I was on vacation, Liz went with Kevin and Kelly to some of the stops and I was of the belief that they had gone to Blarney Island, out in Grasslake.  Turns out, the place was closed that Wednesday they went.

It used to be open seven days a week during the summer as it closes every winter.  It dates back to about 1900 and really is an island.  It is a fun place, but do they ever charge for drinks.  Any time you go, you pay $5 for a 16-ounce can, even when the bands aren't playing.  Way too much for cheap folk like us.  As Kelly says, "It's one and done."

Neat place though, and one that anyone visiting the Chain of Lakes area needs to go to.  Very rustic and with lots of female underwear hanging from the ceiling.  Good bands on the weekends, deejays and, of course, the famous Thursday boat races.  But, like I said, VERY EXPENSIVE DRINKS!!

Until this year,they were exclusive Budweiser products (Yuck), but have come over to the Side of the Good, the Miller.

They now close Monday to Wednesday.  If they had regular prices during those days, I would go there.

By the way, if you are in the Chain without a boat, Thursday to Sunday you can take the Blarney Bus (pontoon boat) out to the place.

Right now, we have plans to be "One and Done" to Blarney Island tomorrow, Friday.

One More and Done.  --RoadDog

Wisconsin State Fair Winding Up

From the August 9th Chicago Tribune which did  a comparison of the Illinois and Wisconsin State Fairs.

This year, the Wisconsin State Fair ran from August 2-12, but, we're not going.

Liz and I used to go to the Wisconsin State Fair every year until its proximity to Chicago caused drastic price rises.  Funny how the closer to Chicago you get, the more expensive everything gets.  I call it the Chicago Syndrome.

We always really liked the commercial pavilion with all the neat stuff and the state pavilion featuring food from Wisconsin.  We even used to get a motel room for one night and enjoy the fair two days.  I also liked the 25 cent milk, in various varieties like chocolate, regular white, strawberry and others.  Always a big line at this booth.

Then, of course, there was the fair's signature CREAM PUFFS!!!  Oh Boy.  Were those good, but we finally wised up and began splitting one.

We also saw a lot of great bands there, including Da Yoopers who used to almost always be there.  Now, that was one real fun show.

Plus, the Wisconsin Fair takes place in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, which is about 45 miles from here, nice and close.

Anyway, It Just Got Too Crowded and, Like I Said, Too Chicago.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Still Hanging Around the Area

A big reason for us to stay around home turf these days is the cost of gas.  From last Tuesday to Saturday, the cost of gas here jumped 61 cents, to $4.17 (even $4.20  at one place).

JULY 30TH, MONDAY--  Great BLT pizza at J's and NTN, checked the channel depth where we usually have our boat and it was at 13 inches.  We'll have to wait longer to put it back in.  Drought, you know.  NTN at Hello Folks and went to the American Legion.

JULY 31ST, TUESDAY--  The boating trip downriver that I have already written about.

AUGUST 1ST, WEDNESDAY--  A second day of boating in Kevin and Kelly's boat.  This time to Fox Lake places:  El Puerto on Nippersink Lake, Dockers on Pistakee and Freddie's, also on Pistakee Lake.  Then to the Legion on Nippersink.  Drove to Tommy's in Spring Grove.  Got two more passbook stamps on the Chain Crawl.

AUGUST 2ND, THURSDAY--  Gas prices skyrocketing but saved 20 cents getting it in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.   Played NTN at Donovan's Reef.  Then went to Harbour Club on Petite Lake (Chain of Lakes) and saw New Odyssey playing outside.  Last stop at Steitz's Resort, also on Bluff Lake, where we sat put on the deck.  Got two more passbook stamps.  Just one more to go.

Why Go Elsewhere?  At Least the GRBs at Big Oil Don't Get As Much of Our Money.  --RoadDog

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nothing Like a Good Day of Boating-- Part 4

I'm finishing up the boat trip we took down the Fox River to McHenry, Illinois, July 31st, last Tuesday.

We'll definitely go back to the Epic Deli and the Fox Hole, but definitely not Vickie's.  Just can't afford to eat or drink there.

Headed back upriver and took a swing by Castaways to see if it had opened yet.  It didn't appear so, sadly.  Last year, this was a favorite Wednesday stop for us with 40 cent wings, dollar drafts and Jim Seig entertaining.  Great fun out n that deck.  We've heard that someone was reopening it.

Cruised on around the point, past Harmony Marina, where the rich folks keep their boats and to Oak Park.  Now this place is a real holdover from days gone past on the Chain of Lakes.  It was built in the 1880s and still has the old hotel next to it, although it is now rented out by the week or month as are so many of the old hotels that remain.

There is nothing Freddie's or Snuggery about the place.  Some even consider it a dive bar, but we all like it, especially their prices.  Unfortunately, no food.

Last stop was for drinks at the Legion.

You Know What They Say About a Good Day of Boating...Or Is It a Bad Day?  --RoadDog

This Year Marks Some Significant Anniversaries for Canadian Highways

From the August 1st Blog.

This year is significant for two Canadian highways.

The first section of the Queen Elizabeth Way between Hamilton and Toronto was completed 75 years ago.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Newfoundland and Vancouver Island is 50.

The author also reviewed a new Route 66 book and, what was that that Queen Victoria said?

So, not only is Canada in the midst of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, but this year is also important for its highways and roads.

Congrats to Canada.  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why Live Here in Northeast Illinois

Friends are always saying that we're retired, why don't we move to Florida or Arizona or some place else.  Well, despite horrendous property taxes and gas prices (still $4.16 in Fox Lake because of the recent spike, see the last two days entries in my Down Da Road I Go Blog), this is still a fun place to live.

Taking a look at what we've done since I got back:


Movie double feature:  "Ted" and "The Dark Night Rises."  Tommy's for $10 pizza and $1 bottles.


Train to Chicago and breakfast at Lou Mitchell's and Route 66 walk with Dave Clark and Denny Gibson.  NTN at Snuggery in Union Station.  Buck Charcoburgers and mug of root beer at Dog 'N Suds and NTN at J's.


Movie "The Amazing Spiderman", shopping, Sunset over Fox Lake at Stormy Monday's deck.  American Legion.


Watched Terry and Greg Spizzirri play on deck and tiki bar of Docks in Wauconda, overlooking Bang's Lake during the afternoon.   C Factor Band at Captain's Quarters, Tommy's.


Soda playing at Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake during the afternoon.  Tommy's.

This Is a Reason Why.  --RoadDog

Military Caravan to Honor the Alaska Highway's 70th Anniversary

From the August 2nd Alaska Public Radio "Historic Military Convoy Celebrates the Alaska Highway's 70th Anniversary" by Lori Townsend.

About 200 participants associated with  the Military Vehicle Preservation Society will kickoff a drive on the Alaska Highway Saturday (the 4th) to commemorate its 70th birthday.  This group had preciously driven the Lincoln Highway a few years back to commemorate the 90th anniversary of that first transcontinental military convoy.

There was a big kickoff on August 2nd at MM Zero at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and plan to travel 4100 miles in 27 days.  (Wonder if they had passports or fought their way across the border?)

Seventy-seven vehicles are making the trip: 33 World War II era, 11 Korean War, 17 Vietnam and 14 Desert Storm.  Sixty veterans and 46 women are along for the ride.

They plan on ending up at Delta Junction.

Looking at the 1942 date, I'd say the Alaska Highway had something to do with World War II.

Congratulations to the Alaska Highway,   --RoadDog

Happy B-Day, Ernie Edwards

Wish we could've been there, but it is just too far for a one day trip, but today would have been Ernie Edwards' birthday, I believe 94th or 95th, but, he died earlier this year.

Ernie easily represented everything that was and still is good about Route 66.  He operated the famous PigHip Restaurant in Broadwell, Illinois, from the 30s to early 90s and then "held court" at the building and his home next door until about a year or two ago.  Even though we had heard most of the stories many times, we never grew tired of them.  Often, if we did not have an hour or two to be with him, we'd just drive on by.

Anyway, today, the Route 66 Association of Illinois and the Lincoln, Illinois, tourism group will be sponsoring a party at the site of the former PigHip and the newly redone sign will be dedicated.  Lots of old cars will be there as well as food served.

Now, If I Knew for a Fact They'd Have PigHip Sandwiches, I'd Sure Be There.  I've Always Wanted One, But Never Had the Chance.

A FUNNY HEADLINE:  Eye Drops Off Shelf.

Just No More to Go

Last night we went to our last stop on the Chain Crawl, a place that's been in business for several years now and located on a short channel off Spring Lake, really, more of a wide spot in a channel going from Petite Lake to Bluff Lake.  The place is called Granny's Diner and serves up food just like good old Granny used to make.

Last night's trip was to get their famous fish fry which we have heard so much about.  And, it was every bit as good as we'd heard, just wish I could've eaten more.  For $8.95, you get AUCE cod or perch potato pancakes and cole slaw.

As Arnold S. Would Say....   --RoadDog

Friday, August 3, 2012

And, Just One More to Go-- Part 3

Port Barrington Bar & Grill--  Lower Fox River
Port Edwards--  Lower Fox River
Port of Blarney--  Grass Lake
River's Edge--  Lower Fox River
Sandbar Bar & Grille--  Lake Mary

Snuggery--  Upper Fox River
Squaw Bar--  Fox Lake
Steitz's Resort--  Bluff Lake
Stormy Monday--  Fox Lake
Thirsty Turtle--  Lake Elizabeth

Vickie's Place--  Upper River

This is our second year participating in it.  We've had a great time both years and will do it again next season.  This is great for local businesses.

I'll soon have my list of favorites from these.

Out on the Chain and Feeling No Pain.  --RoadDog

And, Just One More to Go-- Part 2

Electric Harbor--  Fox Lake
Epic Deli--  Upper Fox River (above the McHenry Dam)
Fairmont Shores--  Fox Lake
Famous Freddie's--  Pistakee Lake
Fox Hole Tap & Pizzeria--  Upper Fox River
Grass Lake Landing--  Grass Lake

Harbour Club--  Bluff Lake
Hermann's Low Life Bar & Grill--  Lower Fox River
Hidden Point--  Fox Lake
Joey B's--  Lower Fox River
Lagoon Lounge--  Pistakee Lake
Mineola--  Fox Lake (sadly, for the last time ever)

Moretti's Ristorante--  Pistakee Lake
National Athletic Club--  Fox Lake
Oak Park Lounge--  Pistakee Lake

Last Ones Next.  --RoadDog

And, Just One More to Go-- Part 1

We've been on a tear this past week getting passport stamps for the Chain Crawl here on the Chain of Lakes in northeast Illinois. Tuesday, we picked up four, Wednesday another three and yesterday two.

There were 39 places on this year's Crawl.

Just one remaining, Granny's Diner off Spring Lake.

The Others and Where Located:

92 East-- Fox Lake
American Legion Post 703-- Nippersink Lake
Aquarium Tavern-- Nippersink
Blarney Island-- Grass Lake
Blueberry Hill-- Nippersink
Broken Oar-- Lower Fox River (below the McHenry Dam)

Captain's Quarters-- Fox Lake
Chopper's Bar & Grill-- Lake Elizabeth
Dead End Bar & Grill-- Lower Fox River
Dino's Den-- Fox Lake
Dockers-- Pistakee Lake
El Puerto-- Nippersink

More to Come. --RoadDog

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nothing Like a Good Day of Boating-- Part 3

McHenry, Illinois, has two bridges downtown that cross the Fox River.  One is the Illinois Highway 120 bridge and the other one, a block north by Vickie's, I believe is called the Pearl Street Bridge.  Once on the east side of the river, Frank and I walked the short distance to the Vinyl Frontier Record Store, one of those "real" mom and pop record stores.  They have a lot of vinyl 45s and albums as well as CDs.  All are used, so cheaper.

Few things in life are better than flipping through old albums, and CDs are almost as good.  We had 30 minutes to kill before the Fox Hole opened at 4 PM, so were not in any hurry.  I finally settled on two CDs: Red Hot & Blue ($5) with a group of well-known soul singers and a Cajun/zydeco one called Snake Bite Love by Zachary Richard ($7).

Then walked the short distance on Water Street (because it backs up to the river) to Fox Hole Pizza located in the basement of the old Riverside Hotel, built in 1864.  As expensive as Vickie's was, this place was not with $1 Blondies (Miller High Life), so had a bunch there once the rest of the crew and captain arrived from Vickie's.  Of course, they boated across the river.

Fox Hole has specials every day, both food and drink,  One of interest was the full slab of ribs dinner on Wednesdays for $10.

Heading Back.  --RoadDog

Music for Roadies

Just a heads up for most roadies, who grew up in the 60s and 70s, even some in the 50s.

Chicago's Drive, WDRV, 97.1 FM (96.9 FM up here by the Wisconsin border), is playing some great music from the 60s and 70s over the next week.

Tonight, at 10 PM, Bob Stroud's Ten at Ten is doing an encore of this morning's 1977.  Besides ten great songs, there is plenty of information, old commercials and news from that year.

Tomorrow, Ten at Ten is 1967, a prime year for me.  Tuesday is 1974 and Wednesday will be 1966.

This Sunday, Bob Stroud should take us to the Summer of 1972, 40 years ago on his Rock and Roll Roots Show in part 3 of his four part series on that summer.  That will be from 7 to 10 AM.

All times are Central Daylight Time and it streams live at

I'll Sure Be Tuned In.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nothing Like a Good Day of Boating-- Part 2

I should mention that the Chain Crawl consists of almost 40 places accessible by boat on the Chain of Lakes here in Illinois and it also the Fox River.  The objective is to get a passport stamp from each one to be eligible for prizes at the season end party in the fall. 

All places today were on the river.  Previously, we had been to six places on the river below the McHenry Locks as well as the Snuggery, just north of the locks.

I should mention that the Epic Deli that I wrote about yesterday also has a challenge, something about a Viking sandwich.  They have a Wall of Fame/Shame and so far, everyone who has attempted is listed on the Shame side.

Next stop was Vickie's, right downtown in McHenry.  If there is a place in Florida that looks more Floridish, I'd like to know.  But, with their prices, they don't get a lot of people.  It cost $3.25 for a pint and then they added tax!!  So, it came to $3.50.  Definitely the last time we'll be there.  We like our cheap beer.

After one drink, Frank and I crossed the bridge to a great old record/cd store.

More to Come.  --RoadDog