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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Lifemagician's 2009 Summer Road Trip

    Having of necesssity driven the MassPike twice, as well as the complete NY thruway, I was not too keen to get back on a turnpike when I finally left Newton, to head for Alaska. I chose to take route 9 west and eventually picked up twenty, some miles east of Springfield.

    Two hours into my journey it was time for a stop.... a drink, a stretch and a walk. Just then I chanced upon the annual Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield, central MA. It was 10am, and the action was about to start. All the stalls had been set up around the perimetre of the town common.

    Taking a stroll around I sampled many of the goodies for sale and admired all the beautiful craftworik. Ever conscious of the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines these days, I restrained myself from buying. That is, untill I got to the bookstall......

    America's Wonderlands, published by the National Geograhic Society in 1959, is a beautiful book of great historic pictures and stories featuring all the National Parks to that date. The photos are spectacular for the time, and show the parks as they were before all the development one sees today, took place. Not a paved path is evident, and most photos showing official parties, show them inspecting the parks on horseback. Many are in colour, some are in black and white or sepia. An absolute joy to behold, and probably a collectors item. And it weighs a ton!

    It is in excellent condition, and previous prices marked in the book - $20 and $6.50 - indicate it is possible 4th or 5th hand.

    But what really sold it to me is the map in the back, still in pristine condition, a road map of the USA, marking all the National Parks and published before the Eisenhower Interstate System.

    And all that for the princely sum of $1.00!

    To say I am elated is an understatement.

    In that happy frame of mind, I realised that I would now not reach my intended destination driving through small town America, and hopped onto the MassPike at Springfield.

    At Blandford Plaza I had to make a quick stop. There, as I entered, was a gentleman who was wearing a Relay for Life teashirt. Having taken part in my first Relay for Life only a few months ago, we got to chatting, and before you know it, his wife joins in. She is using a walking stick, and I complemented her on her courage, saying my doctor wanted me to use one, but no way will I be seen with a walking stick - at least, not now, not yet!

    Turns out she has the same health issue as myself and lives not far from son in Boston. And like myself, she is refusing to allow it to control her life, and has even been to the Antarctic and Africa since she was diagnosed. Have been invited to visit next time I am in Boston.

    You meet the nicest people on the road.

    Took I-88 down to Pennsylvania. This road through the Catskill Mtns is only parcially designated on maps, and in my atlas, as a scenic route. Maybe because it was a Saturday, or maybe because it was a grey/wet day, or just maybe because by now I was in such a great mood, but I found it to be a magnificent drive with wonderful vistas everytime you topped another mountain. Not once did I see an 18 wheeler on the south bound side, and traffic in general was very light.

    Two days later I came upon another rural gem. This time I was travelling west on 24 in OH. I passed by the barn, and it was not really till later that it dawned on me that it possibly had a story. After all, the advertisement painted on the front of the barn was of a product no longer in general use. I decided to do a quick U-turn. The property is right on the border of Medina county, near Sullivan OH.

    One hour later I had met Grant Grundy, the owner of the property, learned the history of the barn, of the property and of the general area, as well as of his family. He brought out a folder with copies and clippings of articles about the old barn, and about Harley Warrick who re-painted the barn in the 1970s for the current owner's father. He showed me his old tractors and his priced possession, a fully restored very old tractor - now only used to show in parades. I do not know exactly what it was, but, when I get to post the pictures, someone here will enlighten me.

    Further along 24 - between Tiffin and Findlay - I came across another barn with the same message on it. This time I did not have to enter the property to take a photo, so did not get the story behind that one.

    Lifey in Dubuque IA
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-20-2009 at 05:14 AM. Reason: typos!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default NY scenic drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Having of necesssity driven the MassPike twice, as well as the complete NY thruway, I was not too keen to get back on a turnpike when I finally left Newton, to head for Alaska. I chose to take route 9 west and eventually picked up twenty, some miles east of Springfield.

    Two hours into my journey it was time for a stop.... a drink, a stretch and a walk. Just then I chanced upon the annual Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield, central MA. It was 10am, and the action was about to start. All the stalls had been set up around the perimetre of the town common.
    So you were in my neck of the woods recently! This past week was full of activity, between the asparagus festival (near MA-9) and the Brimfield Flea Market (US-20).


    Taking a stroll around I sampled many of the goodies for sale and admired all the beautiful craftworik. Ever conscious of the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines these days, I restrained myself from buying. That is, untill I got to the bookstall......
    So most likely this book had been sitting in the local Book Bear store, a place I passed essentially every day for the better part of a decade, but never bothered to stop.

    Took I-88 down to Pennsylvania. This road through the Catskill Mtns is only parcially designated on maps, and in my atlas, as a scenic route.
    A very nice drive with scenes of the mountains, traveling in either direction. And the road generally is lightly traveled.

    After all, the advertisement painted on the front of the barn was of a product no longer in general use. I decided to do a quick U-turn.
    Mail Pouch tobacco? Or was it Kentucky Club?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass Tim View Post
    Mail Pouch tobacco?
    Ye got it in one!! Not had time to attend to pics yet.... having far too gooda time!!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-23-2009 at 10:00 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Dubuque

    My wonderful friends in Dubuque made sure I saw all that is precious to them. From the Mighty Mississippi to the 4th Street Elevator at Fenelon Place.

    Highlights were many... including sitting and watching this HUGE barge go up the river and then gently pass through the opening in the railway bridge. We had dinner at the river's edge in a restaurant which I would not recommend. Great venue!! (Terrible service and so-so food.)

    Earlier in the day we had gone up - and down - the world's shortest scenic railway, visited the magnificent Outside the Lines Gallery on the corner of 4th and Bluff - full of the work of local artists - made the most of the closing down sale at Pixie Stix - baby wear and toys - next door, and had a relaxing and satisfying lunch at All Things Sweet.

    The previous day I had accompanied friend on her round of messages and shopping. This is a great way to meet the locals and get a feeling of the lifestyle.

    Yeah!! Had a great time in Dubuque!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,992

    Default tis a nice stop

    I too find Dubuque to be a nice place to spend a little time. I usually make it over there about once a year.

    Did you make it to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium during your visit? It really is a wonderful little museum, complete with a Riverboat you can tour, and a computer simulation where you can try to navigate one of those big barges around a little bridge for yourself! (yes, it is very hard!). I'm also looking to make it to nearby Petosi, WI where a new National Brewery museum just opened up last year that looks like it should be pretty interesting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    Did you make it to the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium during your visit? It really is a wonderful little museum, complete with a Riverboat you can tour, and a computer simulation where you can try to navigate one of those big barges around a little bridge for yourself! (yes, it is very hard!).
    In 2007 friend took me there, and I managed to destroy the bridge with that barge. lol Everytime I use the souvenir mug I bought then, it brings back memories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    I'm also looking to make it to nearby Petosi, WI where a new National Brewery museum just opened up last year that looks like it should be pretty interesting.
    Now ye tell me!!!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-23-2009 at 01:38 PM. Reason: Fixed quote

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Iowa and Nebraska

    Iowa

    Three enjoyhable days spent driving through the plains of Iowa and Nebraska, despite the fact that most of it was on the Interstates. Having made my way to Cedar Rapids, I headed south through Iowa City to Kalona and the Amish communities. True to my luck, I arrived at the visitor centre some ten minutes after their tour had left... and there would not be another for two hours.

    Since that would leave me very late for anything else, I headed off to the Fair Ground in Des Moines to see the magnificent round barn there. Photo opportunities were limited as once again it was raining.

    The rain continued overnight, and next morning it was still grey and wet. In this miserable weather I decided to give Winterset, Madison County and it’s covered bridges a miss, satisfied in the knowledge that ahead of me lay yet another covered bridge, the bridge over I-80, though I did not know exactly where on I-80.... suffice to say that it was sorta in central Nebraska.

    Nebraska

    In Dubuque, my friend had told me about Cabela Sport Stores, and how some of them have facilities and allow campers to park on their turf overnight. I had planned to check out some of these. There are three stores along I-80 in NE.

    Traffic was fairly heavy when I passed through Omaha, but further along I-80 there was a large sign, Cabela’s Exit 279. Here was my opportumity to check out one of their establishments - which I did - before continuing back on I-80 at Exit 272 west.

    Some hundred miles further on I called in at the visitor centre at North Platte, where the lovely lady told me that the magnificent covered bridge I was seeking, is between exits 272 and 279. Yup, I had missed that one too! Guess it was just not meant to be. (I have on two previous trips driven under that bridge, but this time I had planned to stop and check it out.)

    The remainder of my journey on this Sunday afternoon took me through the rolling hills of central NE along route 97 and 2 to Alliance. There was little traffic on this Sunday afternoon and houses were few and far between. To really make the most of the serenity of this area I slowed my speed, turned off the radio and allowed the peace all around me to penetrate my environment... my whole being. It was a journey I did not want to end.

    Lifey from the library in Stanley ID

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Wonderful trip report

    Keep 'em coming. :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default Photos

    At last, I think I have it figured out... with a little help from my friends. LOL

    Some photos to go with the above threads. You will have to view them from the last to the first. Blowed if I could work it out to get them in the right order. But hey guys! here they are.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default

    25th May

    It had rained overnight when Memorial Day dawned bright and fresh. A great day to make an early start. It was just after 8am when I arrived at nearby Carhenge - my only reason for going to Nebraska - and was surprised to see that I was not the first. Soon there were half a dozen cars in the small parking lot.

    Carhenge

    This creation made up of old American cars, all painted grey is arranged in the exact same format as Stonehenge in Britain. It is quite a remarkable and humorous sight. There are other exhibits as well, but it is the Carhenge part which attracts the most attention. Situated just a couple of miles north of Alliance on highway 87, it is free and open to the public at all times - there is not a fence to be seen. A small souvenir store / information centre / office is open every day of the year from 9am to about 6pm. It is one of those quirky
    attractions which is a must see when in that area.

    Wall Drug

    On my previous visits I have made several trips across I-90, seen all the billboards, but never stopped to check it out. Comments I read and heard over the years varied from amazing to over-rated. Friend in Dubuque encouraged me to check it out, saying it is a store which has something for everyone and to make sure to walk through the store to the very back. This area is like a museum. The history, not only of the store, but also of the area, is documented here in numerous photos, articles and exhibits. I did not have anywhere near long enough to read all of it. I did however, leave with a much greater appreciation of the area and the store.

    My visit to Wall Drug had a twofold purpose. I had neglected to put my camera on charge the previous night. After leaving Carhenge travelling north along 87 through Pine Ridge I was headed for Badlands NP. Long before reaching the NP my camera had been fully deployed recording the spectacular countryside. Now I found myself with a flat battery. At Wall
    Drug I took the opportunity to have lunch and chose a table near a power outlet. After lunch I left my camera on charge without worry, while I checked out the rest of the store, and was able to head back to the NP with a fully charged battery.

    Badlands NP

    It was around 4.30pm when I got back to the Badlands National Park, and soon came to realise what a magnificent place it is. In many ways it reminded me of the Bungle Bungle ranges in northern Western Australia (evem though I only know that from photos). While driving the loop through the park and stopping at every turnout and view point, my camera was put to good use. I ended up with hundreds of photos as a memory of this great NP.

    It was now time to head to Rapid City with the aim of getting there before dark.

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