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Notes from the road August 31, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, People, Preservation, Road trips, Signs, Web sites.
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Ultramarathoner Phil Rosenstein is running the entire length of Route 66 — and beyond — for charity.

He started a little more than two weeks ago in Santa Monica, Calif., and has already made it near the Arizona-New Mexico border. After completing his Mother Road trek to Chicago, he plans to keep going all the way to Atlantic City, N.J.

The money he’s raising during his trip will be given to the Mario Lemieux Foundation for cancer research and assistance. If anyone wishes to help, he’s asking for anyone along Route 66 to put him up for a night as he passes through to help keep his travel costs low.

He’s giving updates on his trip to the Route 66 yahoogroup when he’s able.

  • A southwest Missouri television station is reporting that new Route 66 signs will soon be put up in Webb City. Good. It’s needed.
  • The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has a story about Elmer Long and his Bottletree Farm on Route 66 near Oro Grande, Calif.
  • It’s not on Route 66, but it’s still a significant loss for Springfield, Ill. — the state plans to close the century-old Dana-Thomas House. The home, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is the victim of budget cuts. The home will be shuttered to visitors in October.
  • In storage at Maxey’s Cycles in Oklahoma City is a new 1965 Honda Dream motorcycle, still in its packing crate. The Daily Oklahoman reports that Jim Maxey, founder of the Route 66 business, had planned to give it away in a promotion but never did. He died in 2005, and his son doesn’t have the heart to unpack it.
  • Roadie Richard C. Moeur took a big road trip this year across a sizable chunk of the United States, including Route 66. Much of his musings and photos are on a Web site here. The Route 66 section is here.

Old license plates turned into art August 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, People.
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While surfing the Net for Mother Road-related stuff, I stumbled upon this Talk Market video of California artist Aaron Foster hawking a Route 66 shield made of old license plates.

It turns out that Foster doesn’t make just road shields. He’s made peace signs, maps of the continental U.S. and states, and even portraits of Bob Dylan entirely out of old license plates. He counts Stephen Colbert, Luke Wilson and Dennis Quaid as customers.

According to Foster’s bio, I draws inspiration from fold memories of road trips during his childhood:

“I always wonder about the history of the license plates I use, what roads they may have traveled down and where they may be headed next,” Aaron says. “Like the cars they once belonged to, I hope my artwork will take fantastic journeys in the lives of their owners and always remind them of life’s eternal sense of whimsy and adventure.”

The artwork in a screen shot shown above costs $1,200, so Foster’s stuff doesn’t come cheap. But the craftsmanship is there, and I’m a bit surprised no one has thought of creating art from license plates before.

Still roping ‘em in August 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, People.
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Bushyhead is not much more than a wide spot on Route 66 in Oklahoma, but one weekend every year its population swells because of its Bushyhead Labor Day Pasture Roping and Barrel Race.

Bushyhead is hosting the event again this year, but it will be bittersweet. Its founder, Clem McSpadden, died at age 82 earlier this year.

McSpadden was known far and wide as an announcer at many big rodeos in the United States and Canada. He also was a state senator and a U.S. congressman. And according to this Wikipedia entry, he was the great-nephew of Oklahoma’s favorite son, Will Rogers.

McSpadden’s widow, Donna, vowed to keep the Bushyhead roping event going. She told the Tulsa World that one reason for that is tourism:

“People will be driving down (Oklahoma) Highway 66, which parallels this pasture, and they will see this amazing amount of horse trailers and horses at a fast run through the pasture,” said Donna McSpadden, whose late husband, Clem McSpadden, founded the event in 1983. “Many of them are from abroad, who are on a Route 66 tour.

“We’ve had them come in from Scotland, Finland, Norway, Germany. We prop them up on a bale of hay with a Bushyhead T-shirt and cap, and they go on their merry way after taking rolls of pictures. That’s pretty good Oklahoma advertising.”

Go retro August 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, Road trips.
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For you folks across the pond in Europe, the Independent in London has a rather comprehensive guide for those who want to travel to another era.

Gee … guess which one of the destinations it advocated?

How about “doing” Route 66, the road of legends that crosses the continent, from Chicago to Los Angeles? Fifties-style diners, motels and museums dot the historic journey, and you can even stop for frozen custard and a drive-in movie. Do the whole route or just a part – packages through Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194; www.bon-voyage.co.uk) start from £899 per person for 14 nights including return flights to Chicago and home from Los Angeles (or vice versa), all-inclusive compact car hire and 14 nights’ three-star accommodation.

I think the three-star accommodations sort of goes against the grain of the Route 66 experience. But different strokes, I guess.

The Independent offers a good way to get around on the Mother Road, to boot:

Perhaps the best Harley adventure is in California, the heartland of the American Dream. California Motorcycle Adventures (001 650 969 6198; www.californiamotorcycleadventures.com) has Harleys of all description, including Road Kings, from as little as $99 (£52) per day. It will put together a customised self-guided tour for you, including trip routing with maps and recommended hotels en route, as well as offer fully guided tour packages.

“The Long Cut” August 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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“If you wanna take the long cut / We’ll get there eventually …”

This is a performance of “The Long Cut” by singer Jeff Tweedy’s band, Wilco, in 1995. However, the song comes from Tweedy’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo. Both bands have lots of music worth checking.

That’s Jay Bennett shredding on lead guitar.

Tribe offering aid to flood victims August 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Events, Weather.
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Hualapai Tourism, the owners of Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk, is raising funds for the neighboring Havasupai tribe that was devastated by recent flooding in the Grand Canyon, reports Elizabeth Mitchell for About.com.

Starting Labor Day weekend on Saturday, August 30, The Hualapai Tribe will donate 10% of proceeds gathered by Hualapai Tourism for the next four weekends (Saturdays and Sundays between August 30 and September 20). [...] The Hualapai Tribe is encouraging visitors to support the cause by offering an incentive of 10% off of any of the Hualapai Tourism products including all Grand Canyon West packages and the Hualapai River Runners whitewater rafting adventures.

The Hualapai already have been pretty generous during this ordeal. The tribe used its headquarters of Peach Springs, Ariz., as an aid center during the floods, and it donated food and towels to the Red Cross to help victims.

Old Joliet prison may be turned into tourism center August 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Uncategorized.

The long-closed Joliet Correctional Center just off Route 66 in Joliet, Ill., may be turned into a commercial project that caters mostly to tourists, reports the Herald-News.

Discussions are in an early stage, but ideas include the creation of a museum or other venue that would invite tourists into the old prison on Collins Street.

The developers “feel that the prison has some potential as a mixed-use development,” Councilman Joseph Shetina, chairman of the Land Use Committee, said Tuesday.

The mixed uses could include stores, offices and even residences. [...]

The plan is to keep the prison structure intact and try to take advantage of its appeal.

“People are intrigued by old prisons,” said state Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, who co-chairs a task force trying to find new uses for the property.

The prison was closed in 2002. But thanks to its distinctive 19th-century limestone architecture, it continues to be used for film settings, including the television series “Prison Break” and an upcoming Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemies.” Perhaps its best-known moment on celluloid is the opening scene of “The Blues Brothers.”

The potential developers transformed the Glenview Naval Base into The Glen Club.

The city manager cautioned that talks are just talks at this point. But I’m sure the developers took a look at Joliet’s rapid growth and think this is doable.

(Hat tip: Lynn “Lulu” Bagdon”)

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