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Motel reopens in Atlanta, Ill. January 31, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels.
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The Bloomington Pantagraph reports that a motel that had been closed for eight months near Interstate 55 in the Route 66 town of Atlanta, Ill., has reopened as an America’s Best Value Inn.

I believe the motel had been called the I-55 Motel, where I had stayed once several years ago.

New owner Narish Desai has already completed renovations on the interior of the building, including updated rooms with high-speed Internet access. He has future plans for a pool, business center and meeting rooms, as well as a restaurant, pizza parlor and ice cream shop.

Lincoln Museum is a must-see January 31, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History.
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While visiting my parents in Illinois, my father strongly urged that I visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which is on Route 66 in Springfield. Because Dad isn’t easily impressed, I thought I’d better get there.

Dad was right. It is the best Lincoln tourist attraction out of many in that city. It has been open less than a year, and it’s already drawn 500,000 visitors. It’s a visual and aural feast, and it’s educational to boot. Having grown up about an hour from Springfield, I considered myself to be an Honest Abe buff. But even I learned a few things about our greatest president.

The attractions the museum contains are numerous, but I thought I’d mention a few:

— You think George W. Bush has it bad from the critics and the press? It’s nothing compared to what Lincoln faced. The Whispering Gallery displays editorial cartoons and writings that are breathtakingly vile and vicious against Honest Abe. Not only do you read them, you hear them — from actors reading the actual text. Dank lighting adds to the unsettling effect.

The War Gallery has an interactive scrapbook of photographs from the Civil War. But the most impressive feature is “The Civil War in Four Minutes,” also known as the Electronic Map. Condensing one week of the war into one second, you see the Confederacy’s territory undulate like a giant amoeba from attacks, counterattacks and retreats. In a corner of the map, you see the number of casualties skyrocket until it reaches a total of more than 1.3 million by Appomattox. It’s a sobering experience.

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— The most amazing segment is the “Ghosts of the Library,” shown above. It explains how researchers use historical items to gain a more complete picture of Lincoln’s era. Ghostly holograms that look like something from the climax from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” add to the effect. The best effect is saved for last, but I won’t reveal it — I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

The Lincoln Library and Museum is well worth the $7.50 to enter. It also is a triumph for BRC Imagination Arts, which designed the museum (and has quite a few details about it on its Web site here).

I’ve heard Michael Wallis talk about having many interactive displays in a proposed Route 66 Interpretive Center in Tulsa. After seeing the Lincoln Museum and how well it’s gone over, I understand more what he might have in mind.

I’m back January 31, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Web sites.
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I returned tonight from seeing family in Illinois and checking out a few road attractions — some on Route 66 and some not. I’ll get some rest tonight after logging about 1,100 miles in the past three days or so.

In the meantime, I thank Emily profusely for filling in on the news-reporting duties while I was gone. Give her a hand and check out her three Web sites while you’re at it.

Another Foyil athlete January 30, 2006

Posted by redforkhippie in People.
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The little Oklahoma Route 66 town of Foyil has turned out some spectacular athletes over the years. First there was Andy Payne, the distance runner who crossed the finish line first in the 1928 “Bunion Derby,” and now there’s NFL player Josh Brown, who will play for the Seattle Seahawks in next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

According to a Scripps Howard story, Brown grew up in Foyil and played eight-man football. He’s still pretty close to his hometown:

It’s a long way from Foyil, located in Rogers County just northeast of Claremore on historic Route 66, to the Super Bowl. …

Brown says sometime he’ll regale his teammates of his high school days, of scoring 50 touchdowns and kicking a 61-yard field goal. Then someone will spill the beans that it came in 8-man football.

“Just goes down the drain,” Brown said. “There’s no validity to your argument. I’ve dealt with that since I left Foyil.”

But in some ways, Brown never really left Foyil. He still returns often; his parents still live there and attend the House of Prayer. Brown comes back every summer for Bible School, where he’ll sing and work with the kids.

“You still want to help out the community,” Brown said. “They’ve always supported me. When I found troubled times, they stood beside me.”

You can read the full story here.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has its own story about Brown, including his memories about growing up near the town’s big totem pole.

“Just down the end of our driveway, probably 300 or 400 yards, a 90-foot totem pole,” said Brown, who could see it from the window of his bedroom, still a shrine to the athletic accomplishments of an eight-man football phenom who will represent his little town — population 234 at last official count — in Super Bowl XL.

“It’s pretty fun. I tell people, ‘Why wouldn’t you go to Foyil? The world’s largest totem pole is there.’ “

Rick and Jane update January 29, 2006

Posted by redforkhippie in People.
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Rick and Jane McKinney, the evangelists walking Route 66 as part of their Walk to Reclaim America campaign, posted an update yesterday about their recent adventures, including a memorable experience on the Hualapai reservation in western Arizona.

Route 66 is kind of a microcosm of American culture, in all its fascinating diversity, as the McKinneys are discovering with their cross-country stroll:

It’s really hard to believe, I mean really hard to believe, but we have just finished the first four weeks of the Walk To Reclaim America! We have walked through California, Nevada, and part of Arizona. We have walked 449 miles. We have crossed the Mojave Desert, climbed mountains (several), crossed Native American Reservations, and walked through a Marine Base. We have walked in rain, wind, heat, cold, and yesterday even a few flakes of snow. We have met every conceivable kind of person; all races, all economic levels, different sexual orientations, different religions, and different opinions about what we are doing. We have already seen America in a way few people since the days of the pioneers have had the unbelievable privilege to see it…up close and personal by walking across it. This has already been an experience of a lifetime.

In all that we have seen, experienced, and accomplished so far, the greatest single thing is by far, what we have learned. Every single day we learn. Every single day God shows us in our surroundings, in our communications with others, and yes even in our pain, the “life lessons

Pain Walker reaches Vega January 29, 2006

Posted by redforkhippie in People.
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Dennis Kinch, the spokesman for the National Pain Foundation who is walking the length of Route 66 as part of an awareness-raising campaign, has reached Vega, Texas, home of the Vega Motel and Dot’s Mini-Museum.

According to his Web site, Kinch has walked 1,124 miles. He should hit the halfway point of Route 66 in a day or so. Hope he stops for a slice of pie at the Midpoint Cafe while he’s out there.

Pixar in the news January 29, 2006

Posted by redforkhippie in Movies, People.
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The San Francisco Chronicle has an article about John Lasseter and Ed Catmull of Pixar, the animation studio behind the upcoming film Cars.

The article talks about Disney’s recent $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar and the synergy between Lasseter — the “creative spirit,” as the article calls him — and Catmull, whose technological wizardry helps bring Lasseter’s ideas to life.

According to the article:

“Ed and John are the Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth of animation,” said Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, in an interview. “They both possess the balance that is needed, John being the creative fountain and Ed being not only the technological genius but a managerial one as well.”

Securing the duo was important enough that both their roles were written into the merger contract, along with a note that their loss could break up the deal, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The article compares the pair to the Disney brothers, with Lasseter as Walt and Catmull as Roy.

It mentions Cars briefly:

To research this summer’s Pixar flick, “Cars,” Lasseter, Disney’s Cook, and a few Pixar folks flew to Miami to attend a NASCAR race. They hung out in the pit to study the cars, and afterward, enjoyed dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab. “Cars,” due in June, would have been Pixar’s last movie under its contract with Disney. But throughout the weekend, the Disney-Pixar agreement never came up, Cook said.

“We talked about everything,” Cook said. “We talked about cars, we talked about the trip that John took down Route 66.”

You can read the article here.

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