Friday, October 31, 2014

A Piece of Route 66 Comes Back to Life-- Part 1

From the October 19, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Jay Jones.

An interesting update on one of my favorite Route 55 towns, Williams, Arizona.

"Thirty years ago, people in Williams were mourning Route 66.  The world famous highway officially met its demise as Interstate Highway 40 bypassed this northern Arizona town-- the last town along the entire route to be bypassed.

"'Our street was just one big, giant truck stop,' Mayor John Moore recalled of the decades in which the big rigs motored into town.

"That changed in the blink of an eye October 13, 1984, with the opening of the final stretch of I-40.  Before long, businesses began to close.  The town was in a tailspin."

I hadn't realized that we slopped by the anniversary of the end of Route 66 earlier this month.  I always felt that Williams more or less served as the inspiration for the fictional Radiator Springs in the movie "Cars."


Thursday, October 30, 2014

IHSA Football Showdowns: How Winners Are Determined

Now, you have the teams playing each other in both the Route 66-Lincoln Highway and the US-14-US-12 Showdowns.

There are same schools playing in both Showdowns.

In the 66-Lincoln Showdown both roads go through Joliet and Plainfield.  The teams representing both roads: Joliet West (8A), Plainfield East and Plainfield North (7A) and Joliet Catholic (5A).

In the 12-14 Showdown both roads go through Arlington Heights and Palatine.  Those teams are Fremd (Palatine) and Palatine (8A), Hersey (Arlington Heights) (7A) and St. Viator (Arlington Heights) (5A).  US-12 enters Illinois at the Indiana border, but I am only counting the teams in the Northwest suburbs where I live.

Winning roads determined by last man standing.  The winner is the road that still has one or more teams in the playoffs after all the ones from the other have been eliminated.Last yearthe Lincoln Highway and US-12 won.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Other Showdown: US-12 vs. US-14

I also have the teams from these two famed U.S. highways competing against each other, but only through the length of the Northwest suburbs from Chicago to the Wisconsin border.  I lived in Palatine, Illinois, from 7th grade, through high school and into college so these roads were quite important to me.  We live just about a quarter mile from US-12 even now.

Palatine and Arlington Heights have both highways going through them.


Fremd (Palatine)

Hersey (Arlington Heights)

Crystal Lake Central

Marian Central (Woodstock)
St. Viator (Arlington Heights)


Fremd (Palatine)

Hersey (Arlington Heights)
Lake Zurich

St. Viator (Arlington Heights)


So, it is seven teams for US-14 versus six for US-12 with the two sharing four teams (Fremd, Palatine, hersey and St. Viator).

Let's get ready for Some Football!!!   --RoadDog .

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's the Route 66-Lincoln Highway IHSA Football Challenge Again--Part 2

Like I said, this is the first time ever that there are more Lincoln Highway schools in the playoffs.


Waubonsie Valley (Aurora)
Matea Valley (Aurora)
Joliet West

Plainfield East
Plainfield North
St. Charles North
Providence Catholic (New Lenox)
Lincoln-Way North (Frankfort)
Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort)
Lincoln-Way Central (New Lenox)

Marmion Academy (Aurora)
Lincoln-Way West (New Lenox)

Rich East (Park Forest)
Joliet Catholic

Aurora Central Catholic

Aurora Christian

Quite the Competition, and All Four Lincoln-Way Schools (Named After the Lincoln Highway).  RoadDog

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's the Route 66-Lincoln Highway IHSA Football Showdown Again!!!

The brackets are set and this Friday is the opening round to pare down the 256 teams with winning records in the state down to eight champions.

There are eight classes, 8A-1A.  Each one will have one champion by the end of the month.

This is the 5th Showdown between high schools along Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway.

This is also the first time that there have been more Lincoln Highway than Route 66 teams: Route 66-16, Lincoln Highway-21.

The Route 66 teams:

Joliet West

Plainfield East
Normal Community
Plainfield North

Normal- Community West
Springfield Southeastillinois ro
East St. Louis

Normal University
Sacred Heart-Griffin (Springfield)
Joliet Cathonlic

Central Catholic (Bloomington)


Those Are the Route 66 Teams.  Tomorrow, the Lincoln Highway Teams.  I Wonder How Many of the Four Lincoln-Way Teams Are In It?  --RoadDog

Saturday, October 25, 2014

256 Teams, 5 weeks, 8 Champions: IHSA Football Playoffs Set to Begin


Last night, i was at the Johnsburg-Harvard high school football game in Johnsburg, and after some games today, the groups of winning high school teams will be bracketed in eight different groups, 1A to 8A,and next weekend, the fun starts.

Some of the games are played on Friday nights, but best of all, the vast majority are played Saturday afternoons, which to me is the correct time that high school football games should be played.

Again, I will be running the Route 66-Lincoln Highway and US-12 (Rand Road)-US-14 (Northwest Highway)  Showdowns.

Looking Forward to It.  --RoadDog

It's NIU Homecoming-- Part 3: Lord Stanley's and the Footstompers

OCTOBER 11, 2014

We drove to Sully's on Lincoln Highway, but they didn't have the NIU game on TV, so went to Lord Stanley's, also on Lincoln Highway (the old Shamrock back in our student days) and were able to get seats at the bar even though there was already a big crowd there.  We were able to watch the rest of the sad homecoming game.  We played as badly as we could (think Chicago Bears on a bad Cutler day) and Central Michigan played well (think Packers on a regular Rodgers day) and it never was much of a game after the first quarter.

Talked with Rick, the tuba player with the Footstompers, who is a huge Huskie fan and he was more than a bit peeved by our effort.

Even so, the vibes in Lord Stanley's was high and everyone enjoying themselves, some way past when they should have stopped.  There were other college football games on and everyone was excited about the Black Hawks game which would begin soon.  Lord Stanley's is a huge hockey bar with all sorts of hockey stuff everywhere you look.  Obviously a whole lot of it is Black Hawk.

And, of course, the Footstompers were about to play.

A Great Time Looming, Even If Our 28-Game Home Winning Streak Was Snapped.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 24, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Trip: Great River Road at Mississippi Palisades State Park

By Robert Duffer.

This is one we've driven on many occasions and a great drive it is.

Starting at Galena, Illinois, Illinois' Great River Road hugs the Mississippi River south for 550 miles of bluffs and riverside stops that can rouse the ghost of Mark Twain.  Head south on Illinois Highway 84 through Savanna, in an area around the Mississippi Palisades  State Park, where eagles soar and a lazy road winds around the lazy river under the bluffs and along waysides..(Galena, however, is not actually on the Mississippi River, but the Apple River, a tributary.)

A drive up on the bluffs there affords great views of the river and Iowa. He recommends a drive south to the Quad-Cities.

Both sides of the river afford great views and vistas.  We like to cross the Mississippi at Dubuque, Iowa, and drive down the Iowa side to the Quad-Cities, always with a stop at beautiful Clinton, Iowa.

Mighty Pretty Driving.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 5: Parke County, Indiana, Covered Bridges

By Casey Williams.

This is one I plan on going to at some point, maybe even this year, but I hear it gets quite crowded, especially on the weekends.  Fortunately, being retired, we can do it during the week.

Maybe not quite the Bridges of Madison County, but Indiana's Parke County offers a beautiful fall drive to see 32 covered bridges of all shapes and sizes.  Begin at the visitor's center in Rockville, Indiana, about an hour's drive west of Indianapolis on U.S.-36 (Rockville Road).

From there, maps will guide you through curved, tree-covered roads and stretches between harvest fields.

Time it through October 19 to attend the Covered Bridge Festival (Oops, missed that one), with its seasonal food, arts and crafts.  The inn at Turkey Run State Park is a good place for dinner-- or for the night.

Go north on US-41 for continued scenery.

Gotta Go There.  --RoadDog

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 4: Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

By Robert Duffer.

This one goes all the way to the southern tip of Illinois.

In the Shawnee National Forest, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in the southern tip of the state, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail winds south of Carbondale (Home of Southern Illinois University and a wild Halloween party).

Take I-57 from Chicago and consider picking up off the Great River Road (Ill-3) along the Mississippi, then head east on Town Creek Road over the Big Muddy River to Route 127, where the trail begins.  Two-lane roads will take you to a dozen wineries.  Along the way, places like the Little Grand Canyon and Jackson Falls are treasures

Wine and Scenery.  Sounds Like a Winner, Just Don't Taste Test Too Much.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's NIU Homecoming-- Part 2: Alumni Tents and the Game

OCTOBER 11TH, 2014:  Checked into the Baymont Hotel on Lincoln Highway, parked and walked over to the Alumni tent area by the Barsema Center.  Most schools have tents and free food and goodies, so definitely on our list of places to visit.

There was a deejay and we saw NIU President Baker walking around on several occasions.  Unlike past presidents, Baker is of the people and we see him often at functions.

First stop was the Alumni Association tent and Italian beef sandwiches and deep-fried Cajun potato salad.  We had the potato salad because Fatty's Pub and Grill on Lincoln Highway was providing the food.  Mighty good regional food even if we're not in Louisiana.  I know of no other place that has it.

Then, we went to the School of Education tent and saw the dean of it and also our contact with the NIU Foundation for our scholarship in education, Terri.

The Huskie Marching band came by to play a couple of songs and we had speeches by the president and others.

We caught a golf cart over to the stadium and went to the Dog yard area, but it was closing down because the game was beginning.  We had decided not to buy tickets to the game as we would have to leave by half time if we wanted to get into Lord Stanley's and find a seat to see the DeKalb Footstompers.

We watched the first quarter from a rise near the apartments south of the stadium and were right near the ROTC howitzer that they fire whenever the Huskies score a touchdown.  We scored six in just a little over a minute.  Things were looking good, but Central Michigan came right back to score and then scored two more times.  A pretty bad start as NIU was trying to stretch our winning home streak to 29 games, the longest in the country.

We then walked over to Fatty's to watch the second quarter, but the lione waiting to get in was clear out to the parking lot so got the car (Baymont is next door) and drove downtown to watch it there.

A Sad Day As It Turned Out for Huskie Nation.  --RoadDog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finally, Decent Weather: Boating and Driving for Color

If anything can be said about this year's fall, it is that the weather has been exceedingly crummy.  Almost all extreme cold, rain and bluster.

However, today looks to be a good one with nothing but blue skies and sun today and temps near 60 degrees.

A perfect day for a boat cruise around Fox Lake and then an auto trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin along US-12 for a while and then through Genoa City at the Illinois-Wisconsin border and Highway H, the original US-12 to Lake Geneva.

We then drive around Geneva Lake and have some great spots we know about for color, and, of course, the old Owl Bar.  The to Fontana, Wisconsin, and the historic old Abbey Resort and those beautiful vistas.  Then to Williams Bay and then a drive along the shores of Lake Como and then Snake Road, which is on the list of Wisconsin Rustic Roads and about the prettiest 3-mile drive you can imagine.

Last stop will be at Popeye's for dinner right on the shore of Geneva Lake across from the Riviera Docks.

Color Here We Come.  --RoadDog

Midwest Fall Foliage Trip-- Part 3: East to Gilmore Car Museum, Michigan

By Jerry King, Tribune Autos contributor.

Admittedly, much of this drive around the southern tip of Lake Michigan is about the destination, but it offers plenty of opportunity to check out the "other" side of the lake before winter.

Reaching Hickory Corners in Michigan is a pleasant journey once you've gotten Interstate 94 in favor of quieter roads beyond Kalamazoo.  The two-lane road then twists and turns through forested areas.  The area still has a rugged, old-fashioned, vacation feel to it.  You wonder what is around the next bend.

Then you get to the 90-acre Gilmore Car Museum.  It is home to 115-years of automotive history.

There is a Spooktacular auto event planned for October 29 at Gilmore.

Sounds Like an Interesting Drive and Museum.  --RoadDog

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heading Back to DeKalb in a Bit

We're going to another NIU football game in DeKalb in some really crummy weather this time.  Last Saturday we had perfect football weather and enjoyed viewing the foliage as the trees were just starting the Big Color Blast.  It's all overcast and drizzly today, so that will definitely take away from the enjoyment of seeing the trees.

As the holders of a scholarship to Northern for education students while student teaching, we are invited once a year to the President's Reception at the Barsema Alumni Center and that comes with parking there, food and drinks and a chance to meet and greet President Doug Baker.

Then, we have prime seats at the game right by midfield and with regular seats.  But, watching football outside in the cold and the rain is not one of my favorite things to do.  We'll have to see.

Rah, Rah, Ras.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 17, 2014

Twenty Years Ago Today Was the Beginning of the Round Lake Teacher Strike

It started October 17, 1994, and it went on for 38 school days.  It had quite a profound impact on me, including a change of political parties.  And who ever would have believed it would go on so long (not to mention going to school until after the 4th of July).

It was the intention of the school board and administration to "Break the Union."  They didn't.  Only about ten of the 400+ teachers crossed the line and in the end, after they couldn't get anymore of those people, they were forced to actually begin negotiations.

And, we ended up with most of what we had asked for at the beginning.

I will be writing about it in my Cooter's History Thing Blog today.

Actually, today we are planning on going to Waukegan to walk the line with those teachers, who begin day eleven of their strike today.  Wonder if I can fin my old "Don't tread on Me" flag.

Something That Needn't Have Happened.  --RoadDog

Fall Foliage Road Trip-- Part 2: North (from Chicago): Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers

By Rick Popely, Chicago Tribune autos contributor.

Wisconsin Route 60 west of Madison winds along the north bank of the Wisconsin River through gently rolling hills, wooded areas and interesting towns like Spring Green.  There are apple orchards and organic farms selling locally-grown food.

Wi-60 ends at Prairie du Chein (and the site of Wisconsin's only War of 1812 battle) on the Mississippi River, about 100 miles from Madison.

Side trip along the Mississippi River from Prairie du Chien to La Crosse on Wi-35 and then.  Popely says there are plenty of scenic views of the Mississippi as well as many independent restaurants on this drive.  On return, go south on the Minnesota side and to Iowa-26 to Prairie du Chien, cross back to Wisconsin and take US-18 to U.S. 61 to Dubuque and then US-20 to Galena, Illiinois to Rockford.

Anyone who thinks Illinois is all flat needs to drive from Dubuque to Freeport, Illinois.

From Chicago to Prairie du Chien will take about five hours and cover 267 miles.

Great Fall Color. --RoadDog

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Midwest Fall Foliage Road Trips-- Part 1: Five Favorites

From the October 12, 2014, Chicago Tribune.

"It's time to roll out the crockpots, wool socks and hoodies, but there's time enough to get out and enjoy the autumn splendor before construction season falls into winter.  Midwestern forests make for great scenic driving on uncrowded roads undulating through bluffs and dells, past single-light small towns and alongside rivers of all sizes.

"While destinations like Door County, Wis., Starved Rock State Park, Il., and shorelines elsewhere on Lake Michigan remain popular, we came up with a lost of drives worth the destination.  In most cases, until teleportation becomes possible, you'll have to flee the city via interstate construction zones to get to our favorites."

And, believe me, the "Color Wave" has arrived here along the Wisconsin-Illinois border.  The Tribune had four writers give their five fav drives.

In a few minutes, we'll drive on a very short one about ten miles to Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, taking Johnsburg Road, which becomes Wilmot Road into Wisconsin and then a few others to Twin lakes.  This is always a pretty drive, especially the hill going down to US-12 and past the Chain of Lakes State Park.

Looking Forward to Seeing the Color.  --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Well, we have now missed it.  Most Americans think, including me, that Oktoberfest takes place in October because of the name.  But actually, it doesn't.for most of its run.  It is actually from late September to the first weekend in October.

From the September 25, 2014, Lake County (Il.) Suburban Life.

What do folks look forward to during Oktoberfest?  "Great food, abundant drinks and festive music" are the biggies for most, including myself.

Generally it is considered an adults-only party.

"Oktoberfest is the world's longest fair, running for sixteen days from late September to the first weekend in October.  More than six million people from around the world attend the event in Munich, Germany, each year.  Smaller Oktoberfest parties are held elsewhere."

I have often thought that I sure would like to go to Munich for it, but have heard the prices are astronomical, crowds huge and a big head of foam is considered the only way to drink one of those huge steins.  I don't like overpriced or big crowds and definitely hate having a big head of foam as that is beer you pay for but can't drink.

We are starting to have a lot of them around here, including the annual one in Fox Lake, Illinois, which is why the weather was so cold and miserable around here on October 4th.  Every year we get that extra shot of crummy weather thanks to it, like the Round Lake spring carnival brings in May.

But, I am a huge fan of the German oom-pah music and polkas.

Maybe, One Day, Munich.  --RoadDog

Road Work Ahead, NC 2014 Trip-- Part 31: Beach Walking, "Lima Beans" and the Jolly Roger Pier

JULY 29TH:  Bob and I walked the mile from the cottage to the Jolly Roger Pier and sat out at the end (after paying our $1 entrance fee) and watched the fishermen and enjoyed their "stories."    They had a big tank of water at the end and fishermen would drop what they caught in it.  One guy caught a small Spanish mackerel on it.  There were a lot of much smaller spots in it who kept as far away from the mackerel as they could..  That mackerel was quite agitated and really swimming around the tank at a fast clip.

I collected quite a load of the "lima bean" rocks going there and back.  These are ancient stones that have been ground and polished during thousands of year in the ocean and so named because of their size and shape.  Actually, it was Dad who named them for us.

Sometimes they are all over the beach, sometimes you can't find any.  The best ones for me are the small ones that are almost opaque.  I have never seen these "lima beans" on any other beach, even the nearby Carolina Beach


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's NIU Homecoming 2014-- Part 1: The Ol' Pumpkin Trail

OCTOBER 11, 2014

We left home at about 11:15 and drove the usual, avoid Huntley if you can) way so out to Il-120 to Il-47 to Il-176 to Il-23.

This is big-time fall fest here in northern Illinois.  We passed two huge agri-business places, each with several hundred cars parked out in grass-covered parking lots.  The first one was Stade's, about two miles from us.  Then there was a small one just south of Woodstock on Il-47 and another big one on Il-176 heading for Marengo.

Along with these big places, quite a few farmers had pumpkins for sale by their places.

Trees are starting to turn colors and some of the maples are just brilliant.  I'm figuring next week should be prime time.

We stopped at Wal-Mart in DeKalb and bought some NIU souvenirs and a black sweatshirt as the alumni are pushing a black-out where everyone wears black and i don't have a black sweatshirt.

The weather is absolutely beautiful today, a perfect day for a football game.

Go You Huskies!!  --RoadDog

Monday, October 13, 2014

Road Work Ahead, N.C. Summer 2014 Trip-- Part 30: Find Your Beach

JULY 28TH:  We backtracked form Fort Caswell along Oak Island and then to Holden Beach.  Not much to see at either Oak Island or Holden Beach as it is mostly cottages and the road doesn't go close enough to the ocean to see it.

You get to Holden Beach over a huge bridge that really goes up quite a distance so Intercoastal craft do not cause it to be raised or swung, as in the case at Surf City. The famous old Swing bridge at Surf City/Topsail Island is to be replaced with a big bridge that we imagine will resemble the one at Holden Beach.

We only saw one commercial place during what seemed to be a really long drive.  Not much to see here.

At the south end of the beach, we crossed over to the mainland and started looking for a place that one of our maps showed as being Casey's Buffet, but the map turned out to be inaccurate.  The only one is by Wilmington  Too bad because i have read that this is one special buffet.

We stopped at a Hardee's to get something to eat and they had a band playing inside, something you don't expect to find at a fast food place.

We sure had a long ride back home to Topsail Beach and found that we had put almost 200 miles on the car with this trip.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Preparing to Leave for DeKalb

Last night, Johnsburg High School won their homecoming game over Marengo 42-17!!   I was at the game until after half time and left with the Skyhawks up 15-3.  It got very cold as we had a frost last night.

And, I now know the "K' is capitalized in DeKalb.  Only took me around 45 years to figure that one out.

We need to stop at Wal-Mart in DeKalb to see if they have black NIU sweatshirts as it is "Black Out" for the game.  All my sweatshirts are red.  I do have a black coat with NIU on it and it will be a bit chilly as the game begins at 4 p.m..

I also want to look around the DeKalb Barnes & Noble since we don't have any bookstores around here anymore now that Borders is gone in McHenry.

We also want to stop at the Village Commons Bookstore to look at NIU stuff.

Looking forward to all the alumni tents and the big tent with the bands playing.

Of course, after the game, it's the DeKalb Footstompers at Lord Stanley's on Lincoln Highway (yep, that Lincoln Highway which is DeKalb's Main Street and now Il-38.

Go Huskies.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Homecoming Weekend Around Here

Local Johnsburg High School is having their homecoming game tonight at their field, about two miles directly south of our house.  Personally, however, I think that homecomings should always be on Saturday afternoon at the high school level.

Last night, they had their annual fireworks show and I was able to watch it from the back deck.  I will be at the game tonight.

Then, tomorrow, NIU is having their homecoming game in DeKalb and we will be there.  Always enjoy the alumni tents, the game, and especially seeing the DeKalb Footstompers playing at Lord Stanley's on Lincoln Highway downtown.  This will be their 41st time playing Northern's Homecoming and we've seen them most of those times.  You haven't lived until you've heard Dese Guys playing "Purple Haze," "Boston Store," "Vasectomy"or "NIU Sorority Bitch."

The Footstompers are a four-piece band (3 of them are original members) with guitar, drums, tuba and accordion.  And, they are fun.  We'll have to leave the game early to get a seat at Lord Stanley's (Stanley Cup, this place is a big Black Hawks place (and they are playing Saturday night).

Sunday, we will be stopping in Marengo for their Settler's Days festival parade, one of the biggest parades in northern Illinois, then, Da Bears play at 3:30.

Good Times at Homecoming.  --RoadDog

Road Work Ahead, N.C. Summer 2014 Trip-- Part 29: Oak Island, Lighthouse and Fort Caswell

I should mention that Fort Johnston in Southport, was "captured" by N.C. militia before the state seceded in the Civil War and the governor made them return it to federal authorities.

We next drove out to Oak Island to see the Oak Island Lighthouse, which can easily be seen from Southport.  It is an impressive light.  We then drove out to the remains of Fort Caswell at the tip of the island.  Unlike Fort Fisher, this was a masonry fort constructed prior to the Civil War and now is owned by the state Baptist Assembly.

Of interest, before the war it had just an ordnance sergeant in the fort, a Sgt. James O'Reily of the U.S. Army.  He later surrendered Fort Fisher as the highest-ranking unwounded officer on Jan. 15, 1864.  Much of the fort was destroyed by Confederates at the end of the war and other parts were heavily renovated for coastal artillery in the late 1800s.

Unfortunately, there was a conference going on at the fort and no visitors to the site were allowed in.

Two Forts, Two No-See's Today for Us (Fort Fisher Was Closed As Well).  -RoadDog

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Road Work Ahead, N.C. Summer 2014 Trip-- Part 28: Fort Johnston and Southport

Arriving at the east side of the Cape Fear River, we drove into Southport, a quaint, old sea village, which used to be home to the pilots who would guide ships up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington.  Lots of B&Bs, so it is that type of sea village.

It used to be named Smithville, but there was another Smithville in North Carolina  so its name was changed to Southport.

We drove around a little, then stopped at the visitors center in the only building still left of what was Fort Johnston, an early defensive work for the Cape Fear River and Wilmington.  It is small, but has a lot of pertinent stuff and very friendly and informative volunteers manning the desk.

there is also a branch of the North Carolina Maritime Museums located next to it.

Drove around the town for awhile before driving out to nearby Fort Caswell.


Road Work Ahead, 2014 N.C. Summer Trip-- Part 27: The Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry


Also referred to as just the Fort Fisher Ferry.  I imagine from the Southport side it is just the Southport Ferry.

Service began in 1965 and it is especially used by tourists visiting attractions north and south of the Cape Fear River mouth.  As I said in the last post, otherwise it would take a 40-50 mile drive to visit both sides.

Crossing takes 30 minutes and covers four miles.

The N.C. Ferry Service reports that some 185,000 vehicles cross here every year.  Some 500,000 passengers also cross, the majority in the vehicles, but also quite a few bicyclists and motorcycles.

Cost per car is $5.

Two ferries operate simultaneously and you get to "meet" the other one about half way across the river.

Going Over On the Boat  --RoadDog

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Road Work Ahead, N.C. Summer Trip 2014-- Part 26: The Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry

After our walk on "The Rocks," my brother and I returned to the car and drove the eighth of a mile to the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry and bought our ticket, $5 for the car and occupants, for the 30-minute trip across the Cape Fear River near its mouth.

The crossing is quite an experience and well worth the money.  Otherwise, if you want to cross to the west side of the river, you have to drive about twenty miles to Wilmington, cross the river on a bridge and drive twenty miles south to Southport.

We kind of kept our fingers crossed to be one of the fortunate cars to get on the ferry as often during the summer, you can end up waiting another 30 minutes or more.  We made it by seven cars.

The ferry leaves every 30 minutes and passes the one coming from Southport in mid channel.  You can get out of the vehicle once underway and walk around or go to the observation deck on the superstructure.  We had a rough crossing today because of winds and the folks who chose to stand up at the front of the boat were fairly-well doused with one wave after another.  A real water ride if you will.

As we closed on the Southport dock, i saw the remains of the forward light station of what used to be the Price's Creek Range Lights which were built in the late 1850s and served as a Confederate signal station during the Civil War.  I have written a lot about this in my Running the Blockade blog.

A Nautical Voyage.  --RoadDog

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Is a Swash a Swash: The Swash Defense Dam

From Wikipedia.

The definition of swash is a geographic term for the turbulent wave of water that washes up onto the beach after an incoming wave has broken.  I have often seen these but referred to them as foam.  Now I know the technical term is Swash.

The action of the swash moves materials up and down the beach which results in cross-shore sediment exchange.

There are two stages of the swash.  The first is referred to as uprush (or shore flow).  The other is backwash (off shore flow).

Construction of manmade seawalls is a common tool used to protect beach property.

Now You and I Know.  --RoadDog

N.C.'s "The Rocks": New Inlet and Swash Defense Dams

"The Rocks" are a popular fishing spot (not to mention crabbing).  There is a boat launch there as well for the fishermen.

I did find some confusion as to the two dams, with the New Inlet Dam referred to in several places as also being the Swash Defense Dam.  But I believe that there are two different dams with the New Inlet Dam connection Federal Point with Zeke's Island and the Swash Defense Dam connecting Zeke's Island with Smith Island by the old entrance (and now the only one) to the Cape Fear River.

The Army Corps of Engineers which maintains the two dams also refers to them as separate ones.

A Dam By Any Other name Would Still Be a Dam.  --RoadDog

Monday, October 6, 2014

North Carolina's "The Rocks"-- Part 5: Construction of It

Henry Bacon, Sr. designed and supervised the construction of the coquina and granite seawall.  The foundation of which was made by sinking a line of mattresses filled with logs, brush, shells and stones.  Three floating derricks were used (one steam powered) were then used to place the heavy rocks on the mattresses.  The rocks were then covered with coquina.

The New Inlet Dam was finished in 1881 and effectively closed off New Inlet from land out to Zeke's Island.
Eight years later Bacon completed the Swash Defense Dam from Zeke's Island to Smith's Island, a dam that was twice as long as "The Rocks."  In the years since, shifting sand has formed a barrier line stretching the whole length from Fort Fisher all the way to Smith Island.


North Carolina's "The Rocks"-- Part 4: Building Them

It was surprisingly difficult to find information about Wilmington's "Rocks" which closed off the New Inlet of the Cape Fear River.  This inlet was formed in a huge storm in the 1700s and provided a second inlet to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

During the Civil War, this inlet was the one favored by the fleet blockade-runners bringing supplies into the Confederacy and bringing the valuable cotton out.  New Inlet was protected by massive Fort Fisher.

After the war, it was decided that New Inlet would have to be closed in order to prevent sanding over of the Cape Fear River Channel.  This job was assigned to Henry Bacon, Sr., a civil engineer living in Illinois.  In the 1870s, he moved his family to Wilmington, North Carolina where he was assigned to the Wilmington office of the U.S. Engineer Department to take charge of the New Inlet Dam and Swash Defense Dam, two projects that proved to be a major engineering feat.


North Carolina's "The Rocks"-- Part 3: Two Notables Buried at Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery

The man who engineered and oversaw the construction of "The Rocks" which closed off New Inlet, the favored blockade-runner point is buried at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, Henry Bacon, Sr..  So is his son, who is notable for another architectural gem in Washington, D.C..

That son is Henry Bacon, Jr., who designed many important buildings, but his best known one is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C..

Most of the family is buried at Oakdale Cemetery as well.  All buried in Section D, Lot 20, but the last one.

HENRY BACON, SR.:Born August 17, 1822 in Natick, Massachusetts.  Died April 12, 1891

HENRY BACON, JR.:Born Nov. 28, 1866 in Watseka, Illinois.  Died Feb. 16, 1924 in New York, NY.

ELIZABETH KELTON BACON: Mother of Henry, Jr., James, Katherine and George:   Born Oct. 26, 1831, in Massachusetts.  Died May 12, 1912, in Winchester, Massachusetts.

JAMES HAYWOOD BACON: Born 1859 in Chicago.  Died Jan. 4, 1924 in New York.

KATHERINE BACON McKAY:  Born 1858 in Chicago.  Died Oct. 17, 1949, in Wilmington.

WILLIAM BERRY McKAY, Katherine's husband.  Born 1852 in Wilmington.  Died Nov. 16, 1928.

GEORGE FISHER BACON:  1862-1884.  I did not find out where he was buried.

A Family That Did Some Moving.  --RoadDog

Saturday, October 4, 2014

More Stuff to See Along Illinois' Route 66

From the August 22, 2014, Route 66 News.

Being a firm fan of Illinois' stretch of Route 66 (and my second favorite stretch after Missouri) I was interested in seeing this article.  The Illinois Route 66 Byway project is planning new wayside kiosks and shadow statues along the route from Godley to Staunton.

GODLEY--  Miner and mule for its mining operations.

ELWOOD--  Rosie the Riveter for the Elwood Arsenal factory

PONTIAC--  Motorcycle police at the State Police HQ.

McLEAN--  Dixie gas attendant.

ELKHART--  Shirley Temple to commemorate her visit to the House By the Side of the Road Cafe in 1930.

SHERMAN--  Wayside Park


BENLD--   Coliseum Ballroom dancers

STAUNTON--  Illinois Traction System--  electric railroad before Route 66 was there.

Just a Bunch More to See.  --RoadDog

Friday, October 3, 2014

North Carolina's "The Rocks"-- Part 2: A Mighty Big Crab

"The Rocks" are a pile of rocks (hence the name) covered with some sort of outer surface, perhaps asphalt, but in places the outer covering has broken down and fallen in, making for some dangerous passing to avoid the jumbled rocks.  There are usually some people fishing or crabbing off them and some just walking.

It is probably almost a mile out to Zeke's Island, maybe more.  We have never walked it ourselves, but my parents did way back in the late 1940s and said it is a long way.

I remember one time when our grandfather was fishing and got his line snagged on a rock out in the water.  He wanted Bob or me to go out and unsnag it, but we had just caught a huge blue crab out near it so neither of us would go out there to unsnag it.  Those big pincers and toes would not be a good combination we reasoned.  Grandfather was not happy when he had to cut his line.

And, besides, perhaps that big ol' blue crab had family out there who now had a vendetta against our family.

We'll Take a Pass on the Big Pincers.  --RoadDog

North Carolina's "The Rocks"-- Part 1: Crabbing and Fiddlin'

After parking the car by the Begin US-421 sign, my brother Bob and I walked past the remains of Battery Buchanan, built during the Civil War south of Fort Fisher to guard the New Inlet entrance and exit from the Cape Fear River and regarded as a marvel of military engineering at the time) and out onto "The Rocks."


Before reaching the water, you walk past marshy area on both sides which are filled with fiddler crabs.  Fiddler crabs are really small, maybe 1-2 inch crabs with one huge pincer and a little bitty one, that bask in the sun and wait for prey just outside their burrows into the sand.  It is neat to see them move in almost unison when danger (in the form of a human) appears.  They duck into their holes and emerge a few seconds later.


We used to come to "The Rocks" often as young boys, especially with our grandfather who liked to fish there.  We also spent many hours crabbing there (not for fiddler crabs, but for blue crabs).  To do this, you take a piece of string, attach a fish head and toss it out into the water

When you feel the crab tug on the head, you slowly start pulling the head into shore, where someone is waiting out about knee deep in the water with a net to scoop the crab up as soon as they can see it.  This was very good crabbing area.  We'd come back with a big bucket of them and devour them at a crab and fish feast.

Mighty Good Eating.  --RoadDog

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Last Chances for Dog 'N Suds' CharcoBurgers

After the movie today, I drove over to our local Dog 'N Suds in Ingleside, Illinois, off Rollins Road and had possibly my last CharcoBirgers until next spring.  Miller's Dog 'N Suds closes October 12th.

On Thursdays they have a really good deal on their CharcoBurgers for 99 cents (instead of the usual $2.19).

And, I washed 'em down with a frosted glass mug of that great root beer.

I'll Miss That As Well.  --RoadDog

Road Work Ahead, N.C. Summer 2014 Trip-- Part 25: US-421 and "The Rocks"

We drove all the way to the very southern terminus of US-421 at a place referred to as "The Rocks."  There is a neat "Begin US-421" sign there. US-421 is a spur of US-21 and runs 941 miles from Michigan City, Indiana, (where the fated SS Eastland was heading for a company picnic when it capsized in  the worst tragedies in Chicago history). It goes through such cities as Indianapolis, Lexington (Ky), and Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Wilmington in North Carolina.

"The Rocks" was built in the 1880s in a line from the end of what is called Federal Point (during the Civil War, it was renamed Confederate Point) to Zeke's a way to close off New Inlet for navigation.  It was, and still is, quite an engineering feat.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Road Work Ahead: N.C. Summer Trip 2014-- Part 24: Fort Fisher Closed

After leaving Kure Beach, N.C., we drove southward on US-421, past the "gates" of Fort Fisher which were built sometime in the 1930s, past the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area (a definite perk for the military and home of a military museum) to the big reason why I am so hooked on the Civil war and history, Fort Fisher.

You might say this place has had an absolutely huge impact on my life.

Since I hadn't been there in a couple years, I was really anticipating a visit and spending some time looking at it, especially the new 150-pdr. Armstrong Gun that has been recently installed.

I prepared to pull into the parking lot, only to see a chain across it and notification that the museum and fort were closed on Mondays because of state budget problems.  Definitely not something I was looking forward to seeing.

Sadly, I drove past it.

Maybe Next Year.  --RoadDog