Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tales from the Blog: Marlboro Country

Part of the delay between posts is matching up the photographs with the entries. Some of these are easier (“did get a picture of the West 80 sign”) than others (“took picture of more of those fields”). Google Map’s Street View has been a big help in matching up terrain. My favorite example thus far is the rest area from the beginning of this post. I was concerned about finding the location because we had a lot of rest areas close in Michigan in mid-late 1990s, as the metro area pushed north along I-94. Not only does the Pine Bluff’s rest area still exist, but so do the pictured pavilions and the bronc rider silhouettes (though now faded).

Unsure if the date changed in the last 50 years but if you are traveling to Dubois, the rodeos are on Friday nights.

Radio station updates:

  • Not much KRAE history before the 1980s when it was licensed for classic country. It subsequently changed formats to sports and is now oldies.
  • Could not locate anything on KEKD out of Casper or KSJT from Jackson Hole.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Marlboro Country

July 31, 1972

7:00 AM
Woke up. Changed my mind again and slept in the back (to hell with anybody that doesn’t like it) Rearranged practically the entire car; figured I’ve had enough time to know what goes where now. Got that all done. Decided to cook in back of car and for the first time forgot to wait till flame lowered and turned blue: found myself with fuel dripping all over sleeping bag and almost burning off mosquito netting! Wrecked one towel and singed my hair on my hands (not bad) trying to put out fire. Decided to cook on picnic table. Forgot to mention it’s chilly with overcast skies and some wind. Not yet cold, but I wished I’d brought a jacket. Eating Salisbury steak and mushroom gravy, bread (no butter) and water for breakfast. Stomach died. Took a picture.

8:10 AM
Leaving, next step Cheyenne, Wyoming. Sky clearing, sun out but still not hot. I’m riding parallel to what must be the world’s longest train (well, it seems like it). Mountains on my left are beautiful, but too far away for a picture. Passing what looks to be fields of wheat alternating with fresh plowed fields. Pretty. Land seems flat or rolling with mountains far away. Wish somebody could see this with me. Just cruising at 60 mph, trying to take this all in. Listening to KRAE out of Cheyenne. Just forecast scattered thundershowers with a temp of 61. Now instead of corn it’s cows, all over the place just wandering around. Took picture of more of those fields.

8:45 AM
Cheyenne – low buildings, all spread out. Saw the “DT’s Liquor Store” with a pink elephant on top. Cheyenne just celebrated “Frontier Days” and the big news on the radio is the rodeo results. Half the dudes are wearing cowboy hats (not kids but old men).

9:05 AM
Trucking on Hwy 25 – all hills with mountains far in background. No houses, some cows & windmills. But land is fenced so it must be all grazing land. Now a few houses. 37 miles to “Chugwater, Wyoming.” Sky is overcast. A lot of snow fences; must be bad in winter with no trees.

9:20 AM
Saw some trees. Don’t laugh, I guess they don’t grow much out here. Starting to worry about gas. Haven’t seen a station since Cheyenne, and not much more houses. Sprinkling.

9:27 AM
Stopped to take picture of cows and windmill, but I don’t think it will come out. Raining now.

9:45 AM
Still raining, still no gas station. Cows are all laying down. Two minutes later, passing Chugwater – small town. Next stop: Wheatland. Very odd hills, took picture. Ears keep popping. Some rock formations look like tables or old castles. Back to sprinkling; can see larger hills or mountains on left far away.

10:05 AM
Rain stopped six miles from Wheatland. I’ve got the yawns. Real mountains on left in the distance, too far for picture, but are deep blue with clouds half way up. Oh, spoke too soon, it’s sprinkling again.

10:15 AM
Stopped in Wheatland for gas. Bought an air cushion seat for $3.75; don’t know if it’s a rip-off, but when it’s hot I don’t care. More cowboy hats. Everyone polite (Sir, madam, etc.) Left gas station, stopped at A&W for coffee. Ended up with a Papa Burger, jumbo root beer and coffee with a lid. I think the mountains I was seeing were in the Medicine Bow National Forest. (Whatever they were, they were beautiful and majestic.) P.S. Hamburger was lousy! Root beer tastes the same.

10:35 AM
Back on the road. Wheatland is a little bigger than Richmond. Five minutes later, crossed the Laramie River. Clouds still obscuring tops of those mountains. Wish I could take picture. Listing to KLZ. Road sign says “Game crossing next 10 miles.”

11:05 AM
Now hills covered with pine trees which are not tall like ours but short and fat. Then passed thru Glendo (pop. 292) Back on road in mountains (or whatever). Raining hard, but view is spectacular! This is either God’s Country or Marlboro Country (both fit).

11:25 AM
Two girls in another car waved at me. Made me feel lonesome.

11:30 AM
Stopped to take picture of mountains (hope it comes out). Listening to KEKD from Casper, Wyo. Which is where I’m heading. 57 degrees and cool.

12:00 PM
Passing loads of (I guess) oil or gas pumps dotting the hills. (Like the one off I-94 by 21 mile back home.)

12:15 PM
Passed 1st Casper exit. Then in 5 min. on Hwy 20 to Yellowstone! Have to go to the john.

12:35 PM
Stopped for gas & restroom. So relieved I forgot to get gallon amount. Oh, well. Then, back on the road. Sky still is overcast, but lighter. More cattle.

12:55 PM
Almost ran over a goat! I’m sure it was tame, though.

1:15 PM
Stopped at “Hell’s Half Acre, Wyo.” In a word: weird. Took two pictures, but would have been better if it was sunny. Met a storyteller-guide named “Casey Jones” (he said) but didn’t talk to him, had to go.

1:25 PM
Had to slow down for two sheep crossing the road. Then passed Hiland, Wyo. (pop. 10) Sun is getting hotter, land is sandy.

1:47 PM
Moneta, Wyo. (pop. 10)

2:10 PM
Have passed Shoshone, Wyo. Now entering the Wind River Indian Reservation. Stopped and took picture of Boyser Resovour (I know that that’s spelled wrong). I could take a million pictures of weird hills and rock formations.

2:30 PM
Entered Prouton. Small farms, some stores, etc. It does have shopping center & hospital. Town is bigger than at 1st glance. Higher still into mountains. Sign says “Open range Loose stock.” The pick-ups all have rifle racks in back windows.

2:55 PM
Entered Kinnear (pop. 44). Sky getting cloudy again. I am 142 miles from Yellowstone. Now raining here, but the sun is shining on far away mountain tops. I can see the snow at the peak.

3:15 PM
Stopped at 1st marked rest area since Cheyenne: 2 tables and 2 outhouses. No real rest areas so far (and I’m pretty far).

3:25 PM
Passed Bull Lake River. Land is covered with boulders and rocks.

3:30 PM
Stopped and took picture of Crowheart Butte; named because after a victorious battle here the chief of the Shoshone Indians displayed a Crow Indian’s heart on his battle lance.

3:45 PM
Beautiful mountains all around. Like a picture themselves. If I had more film, I would go crazy. Sides of some of the mountains are pink. The whole thing is mind boggling, honest to God. Now I just passed big red cliffs. Have been passing the Wind River. It’s pretty with small white rapids. Still passing wind eroded pink and red cliffs and buttes.

4:15 PM
Took two pictures at a self service gas station. One of mountains, one of horses. Went thru Dubois: just what you would expect a small town out West: “Rodeo Saturday Nights” little shops and acres of ten gallon hats. Radio reception horrible; can’t find any stations.

4:30 PM
Went by a “pass.” Then went up a steep grade behind a stake struck: average speed 20 mph. Ears popping again.

4:40 PM
Rain again. Just entered Shoshone National Forest. Getting darker. Now it’s tall pines and Smokey the Bear signs warning “Fire danger today is: high.”

4:50 PM
Deep in the heart of Shoshone Forest. Trees towering overhead. Dropped pen and had to get another from the glove box. No mean feat considering the crap packed in front of it. Raining hard, visibility poor. Have to keep downshifting to make it up the grades. Ears popping again. More cliffs in distance.

4:58 PM
Entered Teton County. Ears popping again. Have to add that to Jim’s list of body pleasures. More mountains with snow near top.

5:10 PM
Stopped to take picture of Teton National Forest. Then saw herd of cattle on side of road. (Note: this is open range.) Went by another scenic overlook: would like to take another picture as the clouds are below you. Just beautiful!

5:30 PM
Entered Grand Teton National Park. KSJT (Jackson Hole) finally came in on the radio. Temp 66; still raining. Five minutes later: 26 miles from Yellowstone. Stopped in long line for something. Can’t tell what yet. I think it’s park rangers. Car in front of me from New Mexico. Still raining. Found out what is is: Camping and vehicle permits. (Cost $3.00 per day). On the way again – Teton Mountain range. Spectacular snow covered and sunlit. Stopped for pictures (wish to hell it wasn’t raining). Later, stopped for another picture for Donna as it’s sunny now.

6:10 PM
Left Grand Teton National Park, entered back into Grand Teton National Forest.

6:20 PM
Entered Yellowstone National Park. All but three campsites are full. Hope I can get one. Passed Crawfish Creek, thought about Bill and Jim. Crossed Lewis River – giant canyon; beautiful! (scared about going over the edge) passed Lewis Lake (large lake to look at, but small on map.)

6:45 PM
Crossed continental divide twice for you geography fans. I personally can’t remember what the hell it means. Took picture at Twin Geysers. There were steaming pits of water near West Thumb called the Paint Pots.

7:15 PM
First wild bear. Not able to take picture.

7:45 PM
Finally found vacant campsite. You would not believe all the people. Good tip for next trip: look for campsite early in the day. Seems cold here. Lots of freaks, both young and old. Took picture of campsite. Met a man from Saginaw; he told me of good places to go in Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies. Everything I marveled at, he had seen better: i.e. The Canadian Rockies made the Tetons look like molehills, the pines in Washington state made these look like matchsticks, etc.)

He told me how to get to his house and then he went to get ready for bed. Ranger says it got down to 33 degrees last night. Already you can see your breath. Third try at building a fire from wet wood. Could use cook-stove, but just stubborn, I guess. Smoke smells great (burning pine needs. They burn hot and dry the other wood, I found out.) Made it! Hurray! Hot hash, cooked over a wet wood fire. Dedicating this meal to Hash Head Hay in Richmond, Mich. Washed dishes, put out fire, secured campsite, and now preparing to read some and then go to bed. Hope to put the lantern in rear of car with hatch up so heat will go to front. I don’t know if it will work. Still worrying about bears. (Thanks, Mom!) Weather in a word: Freezing! It’s now 9:10 and so peaceful and serene wish I could live this forever. Goodnight.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Tales from the Blog: No overnight parking

The DX gas stations were primarily Midwest-based (Oklahoman definition of Midwest, not Michigander). They were bought out by Sun Oil in the late 1960s and stations/branding were updated to Sunoco by the late 1980s.

Suspect the Avoca reference is an in-joke with Connie.

Lost radio stations:

  • KRAM’s current incarnation is adult alternative licensed out of Minnesota in 2004.
  • KRNY is still in Kearney but the format has been hot country since 2002.
  • KOGA’s history is longer (1955) but had transitioned to adult standards at some point and is now classic country

Sunday, September 20, 2020

No overnight parking

July 30, 1972

7:40 AM
Finished with Polish shower; woke up around 3:00 AM and was going to get back on the road, then said to hell with it. Woke up a little bit ago. Sun shining, fog has almost all dissipated. I feel great except for back ache and craving for a cup of coffee. Breakfast was ham salad sandwiches (2) and water. Get a lot of stares about the car. One guy (freak) asked me if it wasn’t a hard way to go. Told him not too hard but it was cheap. At 8:10 I headed out.

Still a lot of corn. Mostly agricultural. Rolling land. (Who eats all this corn?) Took picture.

8:50 AM
Passing Amana Colonies. Sounds interesting, but I lost too much time last night to stop.

9:10 AM
Still corny. Listing to KLWW Cedar Rapids. 70 miles out of Des Moines.

9:50 AM
Stopped for gas at a DX (?) station. (They’re everywhere.) Got a cup of coffee! (Hurray!) and a Hostess cherry pie. Trying to figure out gas mileage (18.2 miles per gallon) Not bad, but not great. Left at almost 10:00.

10:25 AM
Made Des Moines, now headed for Council Bluffs. (Neat Name.)

11:20 AM
70 miles from Council Bluffs. Land is hilly now. Listening to KRAM, Des Moines. I just can’t believe the land out here. Everywhere you look, something is growing. Few cattle herds – few houses – just miles and miles of crops. Passing Wiota, Iowa.

11:40 AM
I am 18 miles from Avoca, Iowa. (It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!) Now listening to KJOA. Stopped and took picture for Connie.

12:30 PM
Pit stop for gas and rest room. Trying to hurry up and get to a rest area for lunch. Will figure out gas mileage there. Now in Council Bluffs. Large train yards. Big city again, but not high buildings though.

12:40 PM
Crossed into both Omaha and Nebraska at the same time. Omaha is big like Detroit; saw a Hilton Hotel. Passed city. Land is similar to Iowa, but is hilly. Still growing corn, but not as much.

1:10 PM
Stopped at rest area for lunch and a break. I’m tired and the car must be too. Saw a sign that says “No overnight parking in rest area.” Lunch is 2 ham spread sandwiches with Pepsi. Put salt on spread, hope it tastes better. Pull top on Pepsi can came off (Nice start!) Checked with information girl: Can’t stay more than 5 hours in rest area, but got a map of free places to sleep close to highway. Ate lunch and read a book.

2:20 PM
Leaving, well rested. Lincoln, Neb. Next big city. 90 degrees and hot!

2:40 PM
Just wearing jeans and still sweating like hell. Entering Lincoln, Neb. Now it’s KOIL. Some of the dirt roads are almost white and real dusty. Ad on the radio is for “Hinky Dinky” supermarket.

3:15 PM
Passing Utica, Nebraska.

3:35 PM
Now the land is flat and again corn is everywhere. Radio ad now for Skag’s Drugs.

4:00 PM
Stopped for gas and found Mormon Area State Wayside Area. (with a lake!) Fantastic! I wish Michigan had these. I swam, sunbathed, swam again, (finally felt clean) put on deodorant and aftershave and felt like a new person. Took a picture of the park. (Note – These are free and you can camp out or use trailers & motor-homes. These you have to pay to hook up, I guess).

5:10 PM
Left park. Now it’s KRNY out of Kearney, and the song is called “Shake that fat!

5:55 PM
Still trucking – 93 degrees and hot! Forgot to mention it before, but they have some very weird telephones here.

6:00 PM
95 degrees. Glare is terrible; everything in the car is warm or hot to the touch. Water is like drinking blood.

6:25 PM
Stopped for gas: bought ketchup, bag of “Party-Snax” (Urrrgh) and No-Doz. Was just in time to hear the station owner cuss out his attendant and smack him (I think)

7:00 PM
Just passed a large field with lots of hay stacks piled up high. Looks like elephants sleeping on their sides.

7:20 PM
Entered North Platte, Neb. Temp is 91.

6:45 PM
I just lost an hour crossing into Mountain Time Zone. Land getting not quite mountainous. Twenty minutes later – passed a huge stock yard in the middle of nowhere, with at least a thousand cattle. Listening to KOGA from Ogallala, Neb. Forgot to mention wind is strong here. Hope to spend the night in Lodgepole State Park, approx. 110 to 113 miles from here. Climbing higher into mountains. I found out I was in the Platte Valley. One part of the sky is deep blue.

7:40 PM
Pulled off to get gas. Station was a pump and old house trailer. Skipped it and got back on the road. Still going up. No houses or cars in sight. Really freaky! Took picture of land with telephone poles and wind-mill-water thing. Dusk now with heat lightning and more heat lightning.

8:03 PM
Stopped for gas. Talked to a guy and girl attendant in the station which is like 100 miles from anything. Large boat skeleton at station., made crack about their Ark; girl said it’s rained every day for forty days and nights and they weren’t taking any chances. Took picture, but don’t think it came out. Thundering now. If there’s no such thing as heat lightning, I’m in trouble.

8:25 PM
On Hwy #30 (goes around to get back to 80 West.) Cops just stopped a guy behind me. Scared the hell of out of me to see those light in my mirror.

8:45 PM
Sidney, Neb. Moving on Hwy. 30 (real long two-lane hwy.) seems like forever. All of me aches. Darker than hell. The lights glare bothers my eyes.

9:50 PM
Back on 80 West. Couldn’t make the exact time but it’s been a while. Just entered Wyoming.

10:00 PM
Stopped at rest area – guess what – “no overnight parking” Town nearest is Pine Bluffs. Can’t get any music worth anything on the radio (too much static) Just gonna try to catch up to 40 winks. Can’t get in the back so I’ll have to sleep sitting up. My poor body! Too sore and tried to eat supper. Then changed my mind, opened a can of tuna fish and will light lamp (too poor lighting to read by…)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Tales from the Blog: Little homesick, like always

I decided to link items that I was looking up anyway. The map at the bottom of each post is an estimate based on the entries. For the starting point, I chose Mount Clemens because I could not find a definitive source on the Farmer Jack location. My hunch is that it is 50 North Groesbeck. It is a Planet Fitness now but was a Farmer Jack at one point and the building was constructed in 1966, the same year of Farmer Jack’s expansion in the metro area.

It would have also been a near straight shot down North Ave from 24 Mile Road.

The other mystery from this entry is the chili and water dinner with a toast to Burgess. I started at that point and could not find a Burgess/chili connection. My guess was it was literary but search did not return anything of value. Then I started thinking maybe Burgess was a childhood hermit neighbor. I have settled on the theory Burgess may be the author of the book he is reading at dinner and the chili is unrelated. I am open to alternatives.

Lastly, there will be an ongoing puzzle related to radio station call signs. There were a lot of opportunities for data corruption here - did he mishear, miswrite, misread, mistype? Additionally, call signs are retired and unless someone posts their history somewhere, it does not appear that the FCC readily provides this information. Or, at least, I did not find it in my hurried searches. With this post, it is Chicago's WCFC. All of the information for WCFC leads to television stations, with most pointing to it being primarily Christian-oriented content.

The closest link I could find that would make it comparable to CKLW would be the predecessor to WCFC, WCFL-TV. WCFL-TV was intended to be the television sister station to the Chicago Federation of Labor's radio station. WCFL radio had adopted a top 40 format similar to CKLW in the late 1950s.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Little homesick, like always

July 29, 1972

11:20 AM
Writing this in the parking lot at Farmer Jack’s in Mt. Clemens. Just dumped over the ash tray; sweating like a dog, but now heading out (little homesick, like always).

1:30 PM
In a gas station on Capital Ave in Kalamazoo. Went thru Ann Arbor, Battle Creek & here (not that exciting but first time for me). Munching on “Vienna Fingers” (note: liquid in can tastes terrible). They have mile roads out here just like home. (Not exciting either, but it’s freaky to drive by 23 mi road, etc.) Leaving now, forgot to check mileage before, but it’s now 5943.2.

1:45 PM
Stopped in rest area to let car rest and me rest-room. Passed by “Climax, Mich.” (I thought Hickey Road was bad.)

3:10 PM
Crossed into Indiana (writing this while car is moving).

3:45 PM
Gary, Indiana. Some very strange places – “Frank & Steins” and familiar – “McDonalds.” P.S. I think I’m lost! Red clouds all over Gary from iron mills. P.P.S. Know I’m lost! Stopped in one gas station – showed him my map – said he didn’t know how to get anywhere near where I need to be!

4:25 PM
Stopped in Hammond, Ind. at gas station. Got directions. Hope there right. (Note – Both Gary and Hammond have large Black population, it seems. They look like Detroit without the tall buildings.)

4:40 PM
Found my road!

4:50 PM
Toll bridge. I paid 20¢ for the first time in my life.

5:00 PM
Bridge over Des Plaines River. Filled with huge barges – (of course I was scared the bridge would fall!)

5:30 PM
Stopped at rest area. (These are great) Sitting on my butt in the grass writing this. Forgot to mention I tried to get a picture of those factories in Gary that belched out the red smoked but all the streets I saw were one way with no stopping so I couldn’t even get close. Did get a picture of the “West 80” sign out of sheer joy of finding it. I am near Minnoka, Ill. (about 20 miles west of Joilet). I think I’ll have supper now – water & chili (with a toast to Burgess) ate – washed up – read a few chapters in a book – now leaving – I hope just to catch a few hours sleep in another rest area tonite and not camp out.

6:55 PM
Departed rest area. Back on Hwy 80 – miles and miles of corn. Just unbelievable. Never seen anything like it in Michigan. Ground is flat and it seems like you can see for miles. Reminds me of the Kansas setting in The Wizard of Oz.

7:30 PM
Passing Utica, Ill. Now the land is more rolling with more trees. Getting on towards dusk and cars have lights on. I’m getting used to seeing the “Motorist Aid” phones every mile or so (Good idea.) All the ice has melted in my drinking water. Still corn everywhere.

8:00 PM
Passing Peoria, Ill. The sun is a red ball in a grey-blue pond. Really weird. My mind is wandering around. Have to talk to myself to hear a voice – tried it – (lousy voice). Wanted to make it Des Moines but its still approx. 220 miles. May have to sleep some first. (Only had 3 ½ hours last night.) Sun almost gone. Moving at 60 to 70 mph. Listening to WCFC Chicago. Sounds like CKLW (even the disc jockies) Maybe there’s only one DJ in the world and they just tape him over and over? I really like Rick Nelson’s new song. “Please yourself” is the title, I think.

8:15 PM
About 25 miles from Moline. Road signs warn against “Stray Deer.” Sounds silly, I know, but it smells nice out here.

8:35 PM
Stopped for gas.

8:40 PM
Passing Moline. More and more hitchhikers with back-packs. No single girls yet though. Took two No-Doz & feel much more awake. Legs and feet are sore and cramped and tongue hurts from smoking too much.

8:45 PM
Crossed over Rock River which is so wide it’s like a lake. More and more deer signs but haven’t seen any yet.

8:49 PM
Crossed into Iowa and over the Mississippi at the same time. Too dark for pictures, damn it. Bridge was long but not so bad because I was looking at the Mighty Miss. for the first time in my life. Still on Hwy 80. Iowa is hilly with lots of fire flys – its foggy – sign says Des Moines 120 miles. Smelled some “organic fertilizer” (Cow crap).

9:30 PM
Pulled into rest area for some sleep. I’m approx. 139 miles from Des Moines which was my goal today so that ain’t bad guessing.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Beginning with the End in Mind

captaink published his first post on December 13, 2005. Therein, he wondered how often he might use his blog. He would eventually publish 9,390 posts and receive nearly as many comments. Many of those were not unlike his very first; a recount of the day, what he ate for dinner and sometimes a recipe. Nine years later he told the abridged version of his original blog – a journal he kept during his 1972 road trip out West. As a lead up to Piece Offerings’ 15th anniversary, we will be publishing those pages and pictures. Look for the first one August 30 and then every three weeks thereafter.