“That guy” who lives in the past…

IMG_4349It’s mid-June already, and life here in northern Illinois keeps rolling right along. It seems as though those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer have definitely arrived, and the constant whirring of our air conditioner is the background “music” as we go about our daily living around the old homestead.

 I quietly “celebrated” another birthday a week ago and have been busy attending the grandsons’ baseball games a couple of times each week. As before, I’m doing way more reading than writing, but I keep intending to make amends in that department—soon! 

As these summer days settle in around us, I find myself harking back to last summer and those two magnificent trips we took: Alaska cruise in August; driving Route 66 in September. And although I am trying to avoid being that guy—the one who constantly lives in the past—I do have very fond memories of that Alaska trip.

IMG_5472For sure, I wouldn’t mind being on board that magnificent Holland-America ms Noordam once more, plying the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay. And the long day’s bus ride out of Seward up to Denali National Park on that dreary and rainy day, wouldn’t be so bad right now, either. The splendid views of the magnificence of the entire area rest prominently in my mind’s memory right now.

 I find myself flashing back to our wonderful Route 66 Journey of last September (not many weeks after we returned from the Alaska trip) and wishing we were just preparing to do it all over again. I often lose myself recalling all those twists and turns on the “old” stretches of highway, the weather-worn, rusty neon signs and forgotten roadside businesses we encountered all along the way. 

IMG_6049I have several Facebook friends and Route 66-themed pages I follow every day, and I love seeing many of the same photos of the same places we experienced. Each one, familiar now, evokes so many wonderful memories.

Perhaps another journey along the Mother Road in the not-too-distant future is possible. After all, there are things we missed or didn’t have enough time to enjoy as thoroughly as we would have preferred. I’m afraid, though, that my traveling “partner” is not hot on that idea, as she feels that once was enough for her! We shall see…

I can’t, however, rest solely on last summer’s delightful road adventures. At this writing, I’m only a month away from another adventure, this time with our two grandsons. On Sunday, July 15, as soon as the boys are finished with the baseball tournament they’ll be wrapping up that day, we’re setting off for the territories once more! This time to Casper, Wyoming, for a three-day trip in a covered wagon on the old Oregon Trail. 

I suppose that it’s only fitting that we spend some time this summer experiencing another of the famous roads so full of historic importance in the great land of ours. Lots of miles ahead, but I’d not have it any other way.

farm against sky
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com
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“There was”…and “What’s ahead”

It’s already the middle of May, and this is the first piece of writing I will have posted since way back in February. No excuses! No rationalizing! No nothing! I’ve just been totally and completely uninspired to sit myself down in front of my Macbook on a regular basis to crank out words and thoughts. It’s not as though I haven’t had plenty to write about. Quite the opposite.

Since that last post, there was…

…my serving as an election judge here in our county.

…the usual list of mundane duties to attend to right around the old estate.

…a large number of books to read for the two book clubs I’m in.

…a visit to our good friend, the travel agent/coordinator, to book a cruise on Holland America Lines to the Panama Canal next January.

…a White Sox opening week game to attend with my son, as we so often did when he was young and I was younger, too.

…a long weekend trip to Nashville with another couple who had never been there before, and one they thoroughly enjoyed!

…a regular schedule of trips to Ohio to see my mother as she deals with being 89 and the “joys” of health issues surrounding that realm. Now that it’s Mothers Day tomorrow, she is particularly in my thoughts—now, more than ever.

… a celebration of birthdays for family members, and memorials for some friends who have passed. 

What’s ahead for summer?

There are plans for upcoming auto trips to quaint and remote places for Carolyn’s genealogy research and an annual NASCAR “race weekend” over in Michigan in June, the weekend, a day after which I’ll celebrate being another year on this earth!

There is the week in July when Carolyn and I will take the grandsons out to Casper, Wyoming, for a three-day covered wagon adventure on the Oregon Trail. Stay tuned for reports afterwards. There will surely be much to share here on this blog!

So there’s still much ahead, and my desire to once more write and blog and offer up thoughts, perhaps, is slowly re-kindling. I’m hoping it will. In the meantime, to all Moms out there, I hope you have the very best day ever tomorrow—wherever you might be. None of us would be anywhere without you!

Until next time….

Back home and the song of the open road…

I’m writing this and looking out into a foggy world, punctuated by a heavy drizzle that seems to be trying to do its best to get rid of the existing snow that is leftover from the last two weeks’ storms. And it’s a bit depressing at the moment since we spent the last three weeks in warm and sunny climes such as Florida, New Orleans, and Memphis.

I know it’s only late February, and this weather is typical for northern Illinois this time of the year, but I was beginning to get awfully comfy and content with those temperatures that hovered in the 80s down there in Dixie!

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Siesta Key Beach
(24 hours later…)

Up early today to take our Malibu in to have the right-rear tire checked to see why it has been losing air. Since the tires aren’t that old, there probably is some slow leak or nail causing the problem.

Driving through thick fog for the second straight day made for a slow trip to Firestone, about 20 miles away from home. As it turned out, the good Firestone folks couldn’t find anything significantly wrong with the tire, so they cleaned and sealed (whatever that entails!) and aired everything up and told me to “keep an eye on it.”

OK. Not a problem. So I’m hoping that this is the extent of any further issues regarding the Malibu’s right rear tire. We shall see.

Now, at this writing, it’s 55 degrees, and the fog has  finally cleared. I can actually see way out past the water tower and on across the sodden and barren fields which lie there rather ugly with all of the snow gone.

About an hour ago, I strolled out back and filled the bird feeders. Afterwards, I had even thought about grabbing a chair and sitting out on the driveway for a while. Just then, the wind kicked up and a steady blast of rain started to beat down, squelching any further thoughts of having a “sit” outside in the mild temperatures. Perhaps tomorrow.

Things are slowly returning to normal after three weeks away from the norm. We’ve spent the past couple of days sorting through mail and taking care of those domestic chores that we were free from thinking about over the past few weeks. Even with accomplishing much these past two days, there’s still plenty to do in the days ahead.

And soon I’ll be doing my civic duty once more, serving as an election judge for the upcoming election in March. I’ll also be working a few days at the early-voting polling place beginning next week. That part of the experience will be something new, so another adventure lies ahead.

Our travels are finished for the time being, but I will be making a trip out to Ohio sometime in March to visit my mother. By that time, I’ll be ready to once more listen to the song of the open road!

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Sunset at Punta Gorda Pier-Harpoon Harry’s

The Roads We Traveled…

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Sunset at Ft. Myers Beach

It’s a new year.  In the immortal words of the immortal Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

Hard to imagine it being this far along on the old time spectrum, but I guess I should count my many blessings that I’m upright and taking fluids to enjoy it all. And I could be like so many others and lament this past year, but I happen to believe that it wasn’t such a bad one at all—for so many reasons.

Perhaps our year could best be summed up by calling it Going Places. Looking back now, on this very frigid second day of 2018, it’s pleasing to remember those places.

In February we hooked up with a tour group for a week’s trip to New Orleans, another place I’d never been previously. It was the week heading into Mardi Gras, so we avoided all of the craziness we would have relished in our younger and foolisher days!

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Bourbon Street-before the madness!

But by week’s end, we were both ready to move along to Florida to visit friends in the incredible place known as The Villages and then on to Ft. Myers to spend a week with our daughter. As always, we enjoyed the lure of the road as we did our best to avoid interstate highway travel whenever possible.

August rolled around, and with it, our trip to Alaska. Flying to Vancouver, we began our adventure with fifteen other friends. Boarding the ms Noordam two days later, we set out for the Inside Passage with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Glacier Bay was next, followed by our leaving the ship in Seward for a ten-hour bus ride up to Denali National Park, where we had a brief “sample” of the total beauty of the place.

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The good ship ms Noordam

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the train trip to Anchorage on the McKinley Explorer, with the VistaDome cars and outstanding luxurious accommodations. We saw Mount Denali for mile after mile, clear and pristine off in

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Mount Denali

the distance.

A couple of days in Anchorage, and then it was time to get on the plane to return to Chicago, tired and filled with memories made with good friends and new traveling companions to treasure for a lifetime.

Not long afterwards, September was special as well, because we finally made the journey west on Historic Route 66—The Mother Road, a long-held dream of mine.

It was just the two of us as we pulled out of our little northern Illinois town on a foggy and chilly September morning and wound our way through so many small and often-

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Signs of yesteryear

forgotten towns. The old road remnants, the faded signage of roadside motels and eateries that once served travelers of the great road, and the ever-changing landscape were what made our auto trip a three-week adventure never to be forgotten.

December found us once again “on the road” with a bus trip to Branson, Missouri, for a week. It was wonderful to be a passenger and not have to do any driving on this journey, and we shared many laughs and good times with our fellow travelers.

And so the year just past was pretty darned good for us. As we look ahead, our annual drive to Florida is fast approaching the first week of February. Later, in July, we are going to set out on the Oregon Trail for a three-day, wagon trip along the original road. I guess you just can’t keep us from experiencing all the historic American highways!

Here’s to many happy moments—and travels—to all of you in the year ahead, wherever your roads may take you!

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Santa Monica Pier-End of the Line on the Route 66 Journey

 

The frozen, waning days of 2017…

 

When last I posted, I had every intention of continuing on a regular course of discipline to bring my Route 66 adventures to a suitable conclusion. Well, that didn’t happen, and there are but a few remaining days of 2017 in which to do so. For better or worse, here goes!

On September 15, the third day on the road, our plan was to make Oklahoma City to spend a couple of days. Thus, we enjoyed a continuous array of roadside remnants and classic old neon signage from days gone by.

Here is a sampling of the day’s sights:

 

The Road Goes On…Day 3

These times are busy times…and getting busier by the minute! I have found it very challenging to find the time I need to keep up with those “promised” frequent posts about or wonderful trip driving Route 66—The Mother Road—this past September.

As such, I’m going to focus on posting more photos, with less description and narrative, as the photos speak for themselves in conveying what a truly terrific adventure Carolyn and I had wending our way all the way to Santa Monica Pier!

What follows are photos of the segment from Joplin, Missouri, to Catoosa, Oklahoma (Day 3-September 15)

Day 2 on the Mother Road…

IMG_5887Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lunch and gas in Springfield, Missouri. (Not a very pleasant sounding combination, if taken in the wrong context!) Nevertheless, we took care of both “necessaries” and worked our way through the city that held quite a bit of early Route 66 history.

And soon we were once again out on the old highway and traveling through lovely bucolic surroundings.

This delightful stretch of road offered old barns and remnants of various businesses of yesteryear. The “Modern Cabins” neon sign caught our attention at Greystone Heights, where we pulled into the lot and said hello to the nice lady who told us to take as many photos as we’d care to.

A few miles from here, we came upon Gay Parita Sinclair Station at Paris Springs. This stop was another of the many like it where we met the folks in charge and were appreciative of their generosity and overall kindness. Carolyn enjoyed cold watermelon, while I refreshed with cold ice water. The photos here show what a wonderful piece of Route 66 it is. A must visit for travelers!

Our first detour came a little later as a bridge was completely out, routing us several miles south. Nothing to do but follow the orange detour signs and enjoy the ride.

We worked our way back north and rejoined Route 66 just outside of Carthage at a Flying W Store and gas station. We stopped here to snap photos of the unique piece of art on the corner of the lot: the “Crap Duster,” a flying manure spreader! We learned that this unique artwork had been done by artist Lowell Davis, a local guy known for creating wonderful things!

The entire area seemed to be full of terrific Route 66 “stuff.” Old motel signs, remains of motels themselves, gas stations, etc. And we couldn’t wait to see what was ahead in the town of Carthage.

And sure enough, we were soon face to face with a classic Route 66 motel, Boots Court, famous for its neon and architecture. We could see that it was open for business and even gave a thought to get a room there for the night, but we still had plans to make it to Joplin before stopping.

We rolled on, and were in Joplin by the time we’d designated our daily stopping time: 4:30. By this time, we were both a bit road “weary” and ready to stop and unwind and update our writing. Carolyn was sending daily “update” e-mails to a large group of friends from home, and I was scribbling in my little orange notebook. (Which rests beside me as I put these blog posts together.)

After some reconnoitering to get our bearings in another new city, we found a nice place to spend the night. The Econolodge offered just what we needed. Clean room, swimming pool, complimentary breakfast, and good location to where we’d pick up Route 66 in the morning. After a wonderful steak dinner at the nearby Longhorn Steakhouse, we returned to our motel. Carolyn wrote her update; I swam.

Realizing that we were really and finally doing this trip, I felt a sense of adventure as to what lay ahead, while at the same time thinking back to the wonderful places, people, and things we’d come across these first two days. What a wonderful trip it is—and will be!