Archive for July, 2007

Rolling on to Rolla!

July 31, 2007

            Wednesday, 25 July.  I was going to relax and catch up on everything.  Wrong.  I joined my host on a trek out to here 2nd home.  It was a nice drive & the home is quite nice.    On the way back we stopped at the Adam Puchta winery in Hermann, MO.  I tried some very nice whites.  – A nice dinner with my hosts wrapped up a quiet day.    Oh yes, I should mention something about the madness I set loose last year.  Melissa, who is 13, is already a Journeyman Costumer.  After she won an award at last year’s Worldcon, I asked her what she was gong to do next.  She didn’t know.  I casually mentioned, more as a joke, a rather demented idea I had for a costume.  Once her eyes lit up, all was lost!  I sent her 2, single spaced pages of description and ideas for the costume.  She has gone even a little bit more gonzo than I had described.  Oh, the costume is a cross between a 50’s movie & 90’s physics.  She is going as the Universe’s Greatest Quantum Mechanic!  Between the two of us, she is going to “PUN”ish the audience terribly.  🙂  I can’t wait to see the finished product.  The parts are marvelous.
           Thursday, 26 July.  I’m off!  Well, y’all knew that.  After taking the morning to sort out things I headed down Rt. 100.  I stopped off at the Rt. 66 SP to actually drive the portion of 66 there.  Going across the bridge I noticed the tar, not bitumen, was soft & squishy in the heat.  Brought back memories of my childhood.  Anyone out there “eat” fresh hot tar as a kid?  Out alleys in Chicago were tarred.  Black teeth?  Mothers’ Despair!    I took a few photos from Gray Summit.  A nice view of the countryside.    Having started late I decided to stop off in St. Clair.  I had heard that “Budget Lodging” was a good deal.  I had heard correctly.   It was nice.    However, as I approached St. Clair I had the unfortunate experience of stopping at “INDIAN HARVEST” trading post.  The place is run by a rabid squaw.  I can not recommend stopping here.  At Devil’s Elbow I ran into a couple of Frenchman, accompanied by the 6-year old daughter of one of them.  [She is so cute.]  We chatted, & I asked if they had had a good experience in the States.  They said, yes, except for “Indian Harvest” trading post.  So it wasn’t just me.    For dinner I dropped by the Lewis Café.  Very nice.
            Friday, 27 July.  I headed out under cloudy skies.  My first stop was Meramec Caverns.  It was cool, literally & figuratively.  Good thing I had my pullover handy.  I had to sample the fudge & ice cream being sold.  Yummy.    The drive to & thru places like Sullivan, Bourbon & Cuba.  Rolling thru the countryside is totally neat.    I dropped by the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, took photos & chatted with the owner’s son.  I also took lots of photos of the murals in Cuba.    I decided to overnight in Rolla at Zeno’s.  The motel is very nice, tho the advertised wifi didn’t work. 😦  The steak there was quite good.

Doing St. Louie

July 26, 2007

            Friday, 20 July.  Today was an off day.  I slept in, which was good, and then did a little bit of touring with my host, Joan, & her daughter, the awesome costumer, Melissa.  We first stopped at Eat-Rite for a snack.  Then on to the Arch.  While the 2+ hour wait deterred us, the museum there deserves nearly a day in itself.  I also learned, I can get the ride free as I’m an Olde Pharte & have a Golden Age Pass to National Parks.  The Arch is a NP.    We headed out in search of dessert.  Ted Drews was the answer.  The “Concrete” was delicious.  We got there at the right time and I have a photo proving one can park in their parking lot.    Joan then took us for a short tour of St. Louis including driving by the spot where Coral Courts had been.
            Saturday, 21 July.  Today I drove a big circular route over a couple of 66 alignments.  First down Lindbergh Blvd/Rt. 66.  This is for the most part a 4 – lane road.  Then thru a small town & 2-lane segment in Kirkwood.  I hung a left onto 366 & headed back towards SL.  There was not too much of note along here.  Of course, what do I know.  It was a pleasant drive, & I enjoyed the drive thru the city.  The residential areas went from good to bad, very bad, and back to good again.  I was driving thru a variety of neighborhoods: Watson Rd, Chippawa [Drews was much busier], Gravois, then north on Tucker & Florissant [stopping is not recommended], Calvary, Broadway & finally Riverview.    When I got to the west end of the Chain of Rocks Bridge I stopped and got out to stretch and walk the bridge.  It is a little bit over 2 miles there and back again.  I took may time, many photos & chatted with lots of folk also walking the bridge.  It was a beautiful day.    Took my hosts out for Chinese.
            Sunday, 22 July.  Blew off the day.  I stayed in and worked on some email, posted a blog & generally goofed off.  It felt good.    That evening my hosts & I went to Blueberry Hill for dinner.  Yes, their burgers are good!  We met up with a good friend of mine and his family.  He teaches over at a local college.  Good food, good company & great conversation.  A very good evening.
            Monday, 23 July.  Up and out for some various alignments of 66.    I headed east on Rt. 66/100, Manchester Rd.  I hadn’t gone very far when I spied WOMBATS, a store for selling used clothing.  I had to go in & chat with the owner.  I also mentioned the e-group & Rt. 66 Pulse.    On the road again I got a call from Seattle about the Upfield novel I’m trying to republish.  Cool!    Onward down Manchester, McClausland, seeing the Amoco sign, getting confused trying to stay on Clayton, thru the Forest Park area towards downtown.    I loved the older style houses I saw along the way.  They reminded me of the homes in the area in which I grew up.    I took the interstate to where 66 heads into SL & got back on the road heading for Collinsville.  A little bit further on I stopped for a while at the Cahokia Mounds visitor’s center.  It was quite interesting.  The mounds are very impressive.    Then on to E. SL.  As my host noted, it does look like a war zone.  I tried to find the east side of the MacArthur Bridge, but couldn’t.  Well, I didn’t wish to get out & start hiking around there.    I called it a day & headed back.
            Tuesday, 24 July.  I headed back to IL and took 203 north all the way to Mitchell.  The area is mostly commercial with some older residential homes and the road is mostly 4-lane.    Heading back to take 3 south, I had a spot of very good luck.  I stopped in the parking lot of Mr. Twist.  This is a soft ice cream shop which has been run by 2 delightful ladies for 32 years.  The building dates back to 1942.  The shop is on he 1926-1929 alignment.  While I was taking photos of what the road looks like Felicia came over to ask what I was doing.  I told her, and said, as long as I was here, I had to try their ice cream.  She decided to treat me to a milkshake.  How good is that.  It was delicious & a lung collapser!  So very thick.  She asked me to wait a few minutes so I could try her orange sherbet.  It was worth the wait!    Driving thru Granite City on the old route, then do stop here:  Mr. Twist, 2649 Madison Ave.  Say hello to Felicia & her mother, Rose, for me.  It is worth the trip.    Onward to Venice, another rough city.  I found the approaches to the McKinley Bridge & was able to get some photos.    Now off on I – 64 to & 270 to Rt. 100.  I’m now heading west on Rt. 66.    Once past SR 340 and on Manchester Rd.  I drove along lovely 2-lane roads thru small villages, many more or less unchanged from when 66 was there.    I tried, the Donavan Steakhouse/ig Chief Steakhouse for lunch.  The food was good, but service was quite slow & casual.  I found the next item on the Scavenger Hunt, the 1923 bridge on a quiet Rt. 66.    I carried on to where 100 joins Old 66 at Gray Summit.    Heading back I couldn’t resist dropping by the Visitors Center at Rt. 66 State Park where Times Beach once stood.    Basta per oggi!

Meet me in St. Louie, Louie!

July 24, 2007

            Tuesday, 17 July.  Today was a drive back in time.  The day began with rain.  I got some photos of a cut off section of Old Chatam Road.  A short while down the road I drove over a stretch of red brick road.  I slowly drove thru Auburn taking the old twists & turns.  Down the road was Thayer & a dogleg, not the last, thru cornfields.  Virden followed with its alternate alignments.    The stretch between Girard and Nilwood is as neat as Jerry says.  Almost no one on the road as it wends its way thru farmland.    The Harvest Road dogleg was cut for bridge repair.    Carlinville was a pretty some country town with a nice court house.    Just before one get to Gillespie there is “In memory of Buffalo Bob Ranger’s Buffalo Ranch.  A construction company has a number of bison penned in along the road.  I had to stop & take photos.    At Gillespie I decided I had done enough driving for the day & returned to Springfield.  I would go the motel route tomorrow night.
            Wednesday, 18 July.  I headed down 66 under fair skies.    I checked out the 4-lane section at Bridgeview Park.    Then a slight detour to hike across a covered bridge.    The drive was not too eventful, but very pleasant.  Life in the slow lane.  It was another era driving thru small towns along quiet streets, not to mention seemingly endless corn fields.    I finally found some lunch in Litchfield at the Ariston Café.  Outstanding, especially the dessert. 🙂    Restored I drove down to Mt. Olive to view the Soulsby Shell Station & the grave & monument of Mother Jones.    Then back to Litchfield and a 2nd dessert at Ariston.  Yummy!  At the café I met some Roadies from Nederland, France and Switzerland.  Cool.  
            Thursday, 19 July.  Down the road to Henry’s Rabbit Ranch & Emporium.  I had an old “WOMBAT” license plate to deliver & meet Rich & Montana.  I had a marvelous time there and bought a Route 66 Tourist Badge, a needed accessory.    A photo of the Coliseum, closed and without the “giants.”    I collected photos of Meramec Caverns signs, the neon church sign & the Bel Air Drive In sign which will not be there shortly.  The area is being developed  into a commercial park.    I got to the east end of the Chain of Rocks Bridge just as the heavens opens.  I called it a day and went to my friend’s home.  Costuming Central!





Springfield Days!

July 21, 2007

           Saturday, 14 July.  Up and at ‘em in sunny & hot Springfield.  I did some homework & then headed out.  1st to Cozy Dog for food & photos.  Very good.  Chatted with folk traveling thru & bought some of Bob’s postcards.    I drove up the Dirksen Pkwy, 66, back to Sherman.  There I was able to check out the abandoned stretch of southbound lanes.    Next was following little bits of old 66 as it entered and left improved ground finally disappearing into the woods.    In Springfield I drove up & down, back & forth over the several alignments, including the section posted, but not actually a 26-30 section of 66.  I took some photso, as it wasn’t open, of Shea’s.  It is just packed with memorabilia. —  I was able to get a photo of two “Giants:”  Abe on the Fair Grounds & the Lauderback Giant.    I found the abandoned section of Old Chatham Road which ended in a bridge now used to carry a large pipe & be a seat for a young boy fishing.
            Sunday, 15 July.  Another sunny, hot & humid day.  Summer in the Midwest.    Today was sightseeing day.  RT & I headed over to the Lincoln Museum.  It is a marvelous museum.  We spent several hours watching the films & looking at exhibits.  One of the sadder ones was “The Civil War” in 4 minutes.    The old Capitol Building was next.  Lincoln’s home and the old depot was photographed.   A short by good day.
            Monday, 16 July.  Today I got the royal treatment from Carl Johnson.  He is a noted Roadie & easily proved it to me.  We spent the day driving over much of the same area I had over Friday & Saturday.  However, now I had all the little obscure bits & pieces of The Road pointed out, including a stretch of 1-lane & brick pavement, ghost bridges & alignments not to be found otherwise.  While photographing 66 disappearing into Lake Springfield we had a home owner come out.  She had had some interaction with local government over a downed tree & was concerned.  We assured her we were only after The Road.

Closing in on Springfield!

July 18, 2007

            Thursday, July 12.  Under sunny skies I headed off.  I was happy to escape the Super 8 in Normal.  No wireless, the room reeked of smoke & no ½ & ½.  I shan’t go back there.   I drove back to Towanda to check out the alignments & do the walk along the no longer used 2-lanes of old 66 at Wesley Boyd Park.  I could drive the very last segment of the walk.  Well worth the effort.    I wended my way thru Normal & Bloomington stopping at the McLean County Museum of History.  I could have spent more time there.    The Maple Sirup of Funk’s Grove is better than advertised.  I bought a bunch of ½ pint containers to be used as bribes when I stay with friends. 🙂  I also checked out the old, cutoff segment of 66 across the stream just before Funk’s Grove.  Interesting.    I had a good lunch at the Dixie Truck Stop.  In Atlanta I checked out the “Giant.”  It is a very nice small town.  I had a delightful chat with a 91 year old youngster who told me about the coming of 66 thru Atlanta.  This was in the small, but neat, Rt. 66 Park in the center of town.    I then pressed on to Springfield where I met up with a friend & his wife.  I have known Terry since 1968.  That much of the 60’s I DO remember. 🙂  He took me out for a Horseshoe!  Yummy!
            Friday, 13 July.  I went back to the outskirts of Atlanta before heading down 66.    At Lincoln I checked out the buildings which often date back many a year.  Then there was the spot where Abe Lincoln christened the newly established town of Lincoln with a cup of Watermelon juice in 1853.  I checked out some 66 that disappeared into the woods.  I can see a car driving down the road and fading away.  Theme from the Twilight Zone is now heard!  I also found some 66 which might double as a tank trap.    In Broadwell I visited the site of the Pig Hip Restaurant & Museum which sadly burned down a short while ago.  Ernie Edwards is a delight.  He told me stories for about 30 minutes.  I had to buy his book about his life on 66.    After taking pictures of the giant silos in Elkhart, I was hungry so I drove into the village & had a nice snack in the Bluestem Bake Shop.  I recommend the place: Good food & service.    I drove thru Williamsville & found the answer to the Scavenger Hunt Question.  There are a couple of alignments here.

Before there was an England!

July 16, 2007

RT Harders commented on the birth of The Tolkien Society in England in 1969.  —  This may have been the longest continuously running group.  However, I remember being in touch and a member a Tolkien Society in the US.  Richard Plotz began the Tolkien Society of America in 1965.  —  It was with their aid I was able to organize my Tolkien Conference [Conference on Middle-earth {Come to Middle-earth}] in 1969 and again in 1971.  —  The excellent IMHO collection of papers from the two conferences were published as “A Tolkien Compass” in 1975.  —  I proudly say I read the books BP = Before Paperback.  🙂  —  Oh yes, the ACE edition of TLOTR was NOT!!! a pirated edition.

Lulu Guides & then further down The Road!

July 16, 2007

            Monday, 9 July.  With Lulu as my fearless guide we set off to explore Rt.  66.  After first picking up some maps at AAA we headed down 66 [IL 53] thru Romeoville stopping for some photos at Montana Charlie’s.    The next stop was the State Police Office.  I needed to know which district it covered.  I am doing the Scavenger Hunt in the E-Z Guide. 🙂    Lulu suggested a short detour to the Lockport Prison.  An imposing structure now empty.    Then on to Joliet where we used some pixels on murals, the Rialto Theater and old buildings, taking all 3 alignments thru the city.    At Elwood we found some old 66 with 9-foot wide lanes.    We had a late lunch at the Launching Pad.  The “Giant” was most imposing.  We ran into a couple from Switzerland doing 66 on their bike.    In thunder & lightning & pouring rain I returned Lulu home and then drove to Dwight for the night.
            Tuesday, 10 July.  I met some Dutch Roadies at the Super 8 in Dwight.  The 3 kids were taking their dad on a drive down 66 – a life long dream.  I told them, they would return!    Then on to Wilmington where I picked up the trek.  I stopped in Braidwool at the Polk-A-Dot Drive-in.  Elevensies was an ice cream swirl.   I headed down 66/53 towards Gardner stopping to check out the Riviera Roadhouse & the trolley in their backyard.  In Gardner I used my “Get Out Of Jail Free Card” to just visit the 2-cell jail.  The whole building was about 10 or 12 on a side.    In front of the jail was a placard about a chap there who helped the US/Allies in WW2 attack the Heavy Water Plant in Norway.    I then headed up 129 checking out the old Lucenta gas station to Plainville on the old alignment.
            Wednesday, 11 July.  Dwight has a bunch of neat places to photograph: Ambler Texaco, Federsons Pizza Garage & Route 66 Tire & Auto.  The old 66 Restaurant is pretty good, but no half & half for coffee.  I stopped at “Not Your Mother’s Coffee” for an iced coffee.  I highly recommend the place.    Down the road to Odell.  The 1932 Standard Station is really nice & you can get “Miller” tires there..  I took a distant shot of the restored Meramec Caverns sign just up the road from an old grain elevator.    I drove down the road at a leisurely pace.  I have found that driving on 66, where traffic is very light, at about 40 to 45 mph is an amazingly relaxing way to drive, assuming one has the time to do so. —  I spotted the “Hwy 4” marker on the Division St. bridge en route to the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum.  This is a very nice museum.  I spent a couple hours there.  I ran into some Roadies from Belgium.  They had heard about me from the chap at the Standard Station.  I had mentioned, I was taking 3 months to drive The Road.  Gee, I’m a Legend In My Own Mind!” 🙂    In Chenoa I tracked down the abandoned section of 66 for photos.  – Today’s drive ended at Lexington.  I did get some photos of “Memory Lane.”  It is nicely done.

Upfield, The Beach & Chicken, Oh My!

July 9, 2007

    I met Kevin Doyle for dinner at the Chicken Basket on Sunday, 8 July 07.  Kevin is a fan of Arthur Upfield.  We’ve been in touch over “The Beach of Atonement.”  He has read most of the Upfield novels is looking forward to my publishing “The Beach of Atonement.”  He wants to read a NEW Upfield.  Beach has been out of print for 77 years & is almost impossible to find.  It was grand to meet up with him.  In addition to Upfield we chatted about SF.  —  I get to see what the books look like in about 2 weeks!  I’m excited!

Starting down the Yellow Brick Road!

July 9, 2007

            Saturday, 7 July.  Lazy day at first.  I caught up with some of my bookkeeping.  My diary is way behind.  I did get the blog up.    Dropped by Denny’s for a hamburger.  I needed some sustenance for the coming walk.    The El downtown had mechanical problems so it was late getting to the Loop.  I took a slow walk over to the Art Institute where I was to meet up with Windy City Dave and the tour.    While waiting for Dave et al. I enjoyed the coolness of the AI.  I also managed to find a few folk to chat with.  I urged to young lasses from Ireland, who were selling memberships – nice summer job, to read Anne McCaffrey.    Then at 3:30 I met up with the rest of the troupe: The Sloan’s, Lulu & Pam from Ohio!  Dave arrived shortly and we were off on the tour.  We basically covered Jackson from Michigan to Wabash and then back on Adams.  Dave has an amazing fund of information & trivia.  Much, of course, relating to Rt. 66 and Chicago.  It was a marvelous tour.  I highly recommend it to anyone coming to Chicago with any sort of interest in Rt. 66 & Chicago history.    I, of course, bought his book on Rt. 66 in the Chicago area.    Stayed around to have dinner with Lulu in Berghoff’s.  Not bad at all.
            Sunday, 8 July.  Up way too early: 0600!  ARGH!  Checked out and headed for Paulina & Jackson.  This is where I started on the 4th heading west.  Now I would go east.  I took a nice slow drive down Jackson.  I was able to use Dave’s book right off.  I took a few photos.  I eventually arrived in front of Lou Mitchell’s.  I can only second comments about how good their brekkie is and service.  It was a great way/place to get some food & caffeine.  I also took some photos of the inside.  Not sure just how well they will turn out.    Then onward to Jackson & Michigan  – can’t go any further due to “A Taste of Chicago.  Made the turns and headed back on Adams.  A number of photo ops along the way.  I finally made it back to Paulina and continued on down Ogden.  I was looking for one or two places I had missed on the first go.    A couple places have already disappeared since both Dave’s & Jerry’s E-Z Guide were published.  Sigh!    I gazed in awe [?] at the quarry which has caused the detour of Joliet Road.  The roadway is collapsing.    I gazed with sadness at the closed Wishing Well Motel.  Two long standing businesses are still in business at the intersection.    Swung by the Del Rhea Chicken Basket.  I would return for dinner.  Took some photos of White Fence Farm.  No chicken this time.    Found my motel.  Again I can get email, but not send it.    Later I met Kevin Doyle for dinner at the Chicken Basket.  Kevin is a fan of Arthur Upfield.  He is looking forward to my publishing “The Beach of Atonement.”  It has been out of print for 77 years & is almost impossible to find.  It was grand to meet up with him.

Wood & Brick

July 7, 2007

            Driving along Rt. 66 in Chicago and thru various neighborhoods I was reminded that Chicago is a “Brick City.”    What I mean here is that most of the homes and 2 & 3 story buildings are made of brick.  There are very few “wood” buildings.  This gives a very “certain” feeling as I drove thru the various parts of the city.    I wonder if this is a result of the Chicago Fire.  Building codes may have required brick as opposed to wood.
            Oh yes, in Chicago one finds few “4” or more story buildings.  Ther is a jump from 3 to about 10 or more stories.  Unlike NYC with 6 story walkup [also found in such places a Paris] you will find only 3 story buildings.  I’m given to understand, there was an ordinance passed back in the very early years of the 20th century which required elevators in all buildings of 4 or more stories.  Hence, you won’t find any or very, very few.  Again, this imparts a very different feel to the city compared to other cities.