Posts tagged US 31
March 1-3, 2013: Grease is the Word!4
The following map was created using the Trimble Outdoors Navigator app for my iPhone. For an interactive version of the map or to see a closeup of the route, click the “Bigger Map” link.
We wanted to get away for the weekend to relax from the strain of several circumstances as of late. Between work, family concerns, household projects, due to lack of time, we haven’t allowed ourselves a road trip for a while and we were long overdue! We just had a few days, so we couldn’t travel too far and we kicked around several possibilities. Looking at the map, I suggested that we continue following the Great River Road, south from St. Louis. We had previously followed it from Minnesota, along Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as some in Illinois north of St. Louis. So, we thought we’d take it south from St. Louis and see if we could reach Memphis and partake in hamburgers from Dyer’s Burgers. We saw Dyer’s featured on the Travel Channel’s show “Food Paradise,” on the “Deep Fried” episode. Dyer’s features hamburgers deep fried in oil, but what makes them unique is the fact that there oil is never completely discarded, only strained and added to. Therefore, Dyer’s claim to fame is that the grease/oil contains 100+- year old grease molecules. Grease is most certainly the word!
Friday, March 1, 2013: Indianapolis, Indiana to Olney, Illinois
We started our journey on Friday afternoon from the east side of Indianapolis, after having a late lunch/early dinner at Edward’s Drive-In. We cruised the Evil-I for a while, and took US 40 west from the west side of Indy. We turned south on US 231. We took a little stretch of the new I-69 until we reached US 50. We took US 50, until we reached Olney, Illinois. We stayed at a mom & pop called the Traveler’s Inn Motel, which had definitely seen better days. The thermostat didn’t work, and it felt like 1000 degrees in there. We opened the door and window for a while, but the relief was short-lived. Pat ended up turning the wall AC on. The room had an odd configuration, there was another door in the room, which I assumed had another door on the other side (adjoining rooms, but that have locked doors between them). But actually, the door only locked on our side! We were a little confused, and assumed that room had to be ours or else anyone could just enter the other room! It was cooler in there too, but we opted to stay in our part in case we were wrong. We went to the other side in the morning, and found that its outside door had no number, so we knew it had to have been our room as well. It had two double beds and a kitchenette. Still, not the best of places, but serviceable.
Saturday, March 2, 2013: Olney, Illinois to Holly Springs, Mississippi
Before heading out early, we luckily had the benefit of early light due to central time. As Olney was the “Home of the Albino Squirrels” we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a peek at one if possible! But first, I needed coffee, so we stopped at a cute little coffee shop in town, called Ophelia’s Cup. Great cup of coffee!! Pat got a hot chocolate, and we were off in search of albino squirrels.
A quick search revealed that the albino squirrels mainly resided in Olney City Park, so off we went. We slowly cruised through the park, and spotted many run of the mill squirrels, but none of the albino variety. We started to think we had a better shot at spotting Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or a unicorn when we neared the end of the park. Then suddenly I saw, frolicking with the “lesser” squirrels, was a pure white squirrel! My camera was set to a slow shutter speed and I didn’t have my zoom lens on, of course, so this was the best I could do:
We continued our southwesterly trek until we reached the Great River Road in Chester, Illinois. To our surprise and delight, Chester was home to Popeye the Sailor Man! How cool is that? Chester is the hometown of Popeye’s creator, cartoonist E. C. Segar. We came upon a park with some murals and statues, and found that there is a statue trail for the various characters. next to the park was a Popeye store and museum called Spinach Can Collectibles – very cool shop with TONS of Popeye collectibles and memorabilia. We debated about getting our grandson a Popeye doll, but at 2 and totally unfamiliar with the cartoon, I didn’t think he’d appreciate it. Instead, Pat picked up a Popeye magnet and I opted for a DVD of the 1980 movie, “Popeye” starring Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl. That was a favorite of mine and my dad’s, so I had to get it.
We saw the Olive Oyl statue, then proceeded to head down by the Mississippi River, where the 6 ft. tall bronze statue of Popeye was stationed. Here is Pat posing with Popeye:
We continued down the Great River Road, and could have kept the slower pace we enjoy, but ultimately we decided that we really wanted to have the burgers at Dyer’s in Memphis and we would not make it without unfortunately, taking the Evil-I!
We picked up I-55, and journeyed south toward Memphis, destination: Beale Street. The area was fairly easy to navigate, though we didn’t find any street parking, so we opted to park in a garage close to Beale Street. We made the short walk to Dyer’s Burgers and were entranced with the abundance of cool neon! But first thing was our grease fix. We each ordered single burgers, and I selected French fries with mine while Pat decided on onion rings.
The burgers were pretty good though we have had better, flavor-wise. Being deep fried certainly made them moist and I did enjoy the fries a lot! We decided we had just enough room to split a dessert, a deep fried peanut butter & jelly sandwich (a Smuckers Crustable).
After satisfying our stomachs, we went out to satisfy my need to use my new Sony NEX-6 for some neon photos. Not disappointed at all! I used the HDR feature, which really helped to make the exposure simulate what our eyes see. In HDR mode, the camera brackets 6 exposures and combines them within 10 or seconds, yielding a result that is just spectacular. The camera retains the original photo, as I exposed it and the combined exposure. I deleted all of the original exposures, but I will at some point retain a few and post them for viewing to show the before and after. I thought that the HDR feature would be helpful in cutting down my workflow, and allowing me to get my photos processed and uploaded faster by editing on my iPad Mini if needed. I’m happy that only minimal post processing is needed, the camera does a fabulous job processing. I do have an app called Photogene on my iPad Mini which does well handling any minor edits or cropping I need to do, but is fairly well featured enough to handle more if needed (no substitute for Photoshop of course but it’s still a good app!).
Here is a sample of photos from Beale Street. See the slide show below for all of the photos or click the slide show to go to my Flickr site.
We headed southeast out of Memphis, opting to move on for a place to stay the night. We crossed into Mississippi, and the town of Corinth seemed like a reasonably sized burg, but was an hour or so away, and we were getting pretty tired. The small town of Holly Springs was much closer, and had a few choices, and an EconoLodge that used to be a Hampton Inn had good reviews, so we opted to stay there for the night.
Sunday, March 3, 2013: Holly Springs, Mississippi to Indianapolis, Indiana
The hotel had a decent continental breakfast, so we decided to partake in a little complimentary food before moving on. We headed east on SR 4, and north on SR 5, before picking back up US 72. We continued on US 72 until we crossed into Alabama, then took the Natchez Trace Parkway north to its northern terminus just southeast of Nashville. We stopped at a few scenic locations, one being Fall Hollow Waterfall.
In Nashville, we decided we needed to again take the Evil-I so we could get home at a fairly reasonable hour, so we took I-65 north back to Indy. Our final stop was for dinner at Toot’s restaurant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where first timers receive a complimentary order of fried pickles. We had potato skins as well and I went with the Philly Cheesesteak and Pat ordered a rack of ribs. With yet more grease ingested, we waddled out of there feeling overfull and headed home.
Here is a slideshow of all of my photos from this trip. If you click on the slideshow, it will take you over to my Flickr page where you can also view the photos there.
[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157632920122139″ width=”600″]
September 1-3, 2012: Lake Michigan Loop Redux0
We haven’t been on a road trip or camped in a while and with our 10th wedding anniversary coming up, decided to take a trip over Labor Day weekend. Only two snafus: we needed to watch our 18-month old grandson until noon Saturday while my daughter was in college classes; and then the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were heading to the Midwest.
While tossing out ideas, I wanted to originally camp in northern Indiana and visit the Marshmallow Festival in Ligonier, Indiana and the Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana. I’d just enjoyed 7 wonderful visits to the Indiana State Fair a couple of weeks ago and was having major State Fair withdrawal symptoms. But being a holiday weekend meant a 3 day minimum stay at state park campgrounds, and since we weren’t leaving until noon Saturday, we decided to just stay in a motel. Adding in the uncertainty of Isaac’s path threatening to put a damper on Indiana and our plans, I was looking for someplace with a drier forecast to go. After checking the forecast for several areas and discussing several trips of various lengths, we decided that Michigan would be a good destination. The first of our two road trip options was to loop the lower peninsula, or the “mitten.” Based on the weather forecast, we would do the loop counterclockwise. The second option was to loop Lake Michigan (the Lake Michigan Circle Tour) – also counterclockwise, due to the weather forecast. We would decide on our route Saturday morning once we saw the weather forecast.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Saturday morning, we decided to do the Lake Michigan loop. We couldn’t leave Indiana until around noon, and the rain in central Indiana held off until then. We immediately drove into Isaac’s rainfall north of Indy on US 31 and the radar showed rain all the way to northern Indiana, but clear toward the Michigan border.
Back to the idea about attending a festival, there was a food vendor that I’d tried at the Indiana State Fair and I totally fell in LOVE with their food!! They’re called Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips, and they’re sooooo good! Juicy seasoned sirloin tips, red skinned potatoes, sauteed onions and peppers…YUM!! I saw on their Facebook page that they would be at the Blueberry Festival, so despite the rain, we stopped by the festival and walked around in search of sirloin! The festival was very large, but we eventually found Pickle Barrel. It was a bit of a challenge to eat my sirloin tips and hold my umbrella but I managed. Our shoes didn’t fare too well in the rain, and eventually became saturated! Despite the extensive and varied food vendors, Pat didn’t find anything that looked appealing to his mildly queasy stomach, so we left the Blueberry Festival…very well impressed and certainly placing the it on our to do list again!
We continued our northwesterly trek toward Lake Michigan on state roads and starting our coastal loop in New Buffalo, Michigan on US 12. In this area, the LMCT follows various roads, often called the Red Arrow Highway, Blue Star Highway or Lake Shore / Lakeshore Drive. We continued until Saugatuck, and realized we were not going to obtain lodging within our budget along the coast. One mom & pop motel at which we inquired rates was a whopping $159! That was far in excess of our budget, especially for a pretty basic mom & pop. I remembered that I had a $25 Hotwire credit, and we had to search in Grand Rapids to get a very nice deal at Crown Plaza.
The hotel was nice, definitely a good deal for the price, albeit off of our route. Oh well, our finance budget prevailed over our time budget!
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Another very early morning greeted me. I didn’t take advantage of the fitness center though; instead, I got up and got ready so we could get an early start to make up for heading off route. But sleepless nights mean groggy days and coffee is always a necessity. Must…have…coffee! A quick Google maps search on my iPhone revealed the complete absence of my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts in Grand Rapids! The horror! A search for the generic term “coffee,” however, yielded a different chain called Biggby Coffee. A quick perusal of their website sold me, and I could tell Biggby would be just fine! I love trying new places! There was one not too far from the hotel, so I refueled myself there with a large brewed coffee, with extra half and half. Very good…thumbs up for Biggby Coffee!
Piping hot java in hand, we pressed on, heading northwest on the evil-I to rejoin the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route, which we’d pick up on US 31 near Muskegon Heights. North of Muskegon, we made our way over to the coastal route.
We followed along the lakefront as closely as possible, but sometimes the routing took us back inland. When we arrived in Mears, we were impressed by both the sight of the massive Silver Lake Sand Dunes, as well as the town of Mears.
It was definitely a touristy area – with campgrounds and motels, shops, and restaurants. We decided that we would put this area on our camping to do list! The next town to the north, Pentwater, was also a tourist spot and well worth visiting too.
We kept on north until we arrived in Ludington, where we stopped for lunch at House of Flavors on the advice of our friend Becky, of AMERICAN ROAD magazine. They served breakfast all day and the mood struck me, so I opted for two eggs over hard, with bacon and hash browns (just $4.99!). Pat went with House of Flavors’ take on a Monte Cristo, with grilled ham, fresh roasted turkey with cheddar & monterey jack on grilled egg-battered bakery bread. To give it the requisite sweetness of a Monte Cristo, they served the sandwich with some of their . We were planning on having ice cream in Mackinaw City at a favorite place of ours, but with a name like House of Flavors and a great selection, we decided to share a single scoop of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream, which was vanilla ice cream swirled with fudge and soft fudge pieces. Very good and just enough to satisfy but not too much.
We arrived in Mackinaw City hungry for Cornish pasties, fudge and ice cream at Kilwin’s. We’d been there before and it was awesome! I was feeling pretty hungry, so our first stop was our favorite place for pasties, the Mackinaw Pastie and Cookie Co. at their location on West Jamet. I opted for my favorite, the beef pastie, and Pat went a little different and selected the Pastie Italiano, which was a beef pastie like mine, but topped with marinara and mozzarella. Pat also had a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, since their other specialty is, as their name indicates, cookies.
After dinner, we took a walk around downtown Mackinaw City. We couldn’t go through Mackinaw City without getting some fudge! Of course, we also wanted ice cream, so we went straight for Kilwin’s. As soon as I walked in, I spotted some fudge that looked really good – it was chocolate with caramels and sea salt. I don’t know who came up with this combination, but generally anything I have had with that combination has been VERY good (candy, brownies, cupcakes, etc.). I knew I was going to get some fudge, then ice cream. As I waited, I wanted to snap a quick photo of the fudge to post to friends while the clerk was helping the woman in front of me. Well before I knew what happened, clerk reached over the counter, swatted my phone and loudly and sternly admonished me – “Sorry NO taking photos!! Company policy!” It was really awkward. I was stunned and embarrassed for a moment and looked around to see anyone else’s reaction. One lady looked bewildered and in just a few moments I realized I really didn’t like that action on his part. Even if there is such a policy against taking photos, which wouldn’t make sense to me – the clerk’s enforcement of said policy was unacceptable. Simply post a sign – and certainly don’t allow an employee to swat at a customer or speak so rudely and loudly. It was bad enough he swatted at my old iPhone 3GS – I would have really pitied him had he touched my Nikon D700. I would have raised a fuss indeed! We just walked out without buying anything. I was not going to patronize any place that treated customers that way for just taking a photo. With social media, that’s free advertising! I was going to extol the delights of their fudge (and ice cream) with my friends but instead this is the review they get from me. I posted on their Facebook page, but their response was fairly generic. They said they spoke to the employee, clarifying the photo policy, but I never said specifically when I was there or who the person was. Well, live and learn. I will not be spending any of my hard earned money at Kilwin’s again – fudge shops are abundant there – and I have not had a bad slice so far!
Moving on, we stopped at a few other shops, then we got to one called the Sweet Spot. They had lots of candy and sweets as well as an extensive variety of popcorn, in both sweet and savory flavors. The staff was friendly but definitely were a hard sell on the popcorn. Definitely had a similar feel to those NYC electronics shops, which were humorously spoofed on the Saturday Night Live skit, “Sabra Price is Right” with Tom Hanks.
After trying at least 10 different varieties, I was popcorned out and managed to extricate myself and get over to the fudge counter, which is what I really wanted, leaving Pat to fend for himself. They didn’t have chocolate caramel sea salt (!), but we settled on chocolate peanut butter, Snickers, and Butterfinger. Pat meanwhile, picked up two large bags of popcorn – cookies and cream and English Toffee and I got a small bag of caramel pecan.
Moving on, we stopped at one more fudge shop called Joann’s Fudge, which we remembered from a previous visit, was very good as well (again, never had a bad slice of fudge!). A quick perusal of their fudge revealed that they had chocolate caramel sea salt fudge! Despite just procuring three slices (1.5 lbs) at the Sweet Spot, I just HAD to get it, since passing up that type at Kilwin’s. I was not disappointed – it was so good!
We didn’t have ice cream, but had plenty of fudge and popcorn, so as sadly brief as our visit was to Mackinaw City, we needed to keep on going. We knew we were pushing the limits of time and distance on this trip! I had done some searching and found several good possibilities for lodging in the UP, in Manistique. The Star Motel had many excellent ratings on Trip Advisor, but I got a voice mail when I called. I tried the next place that was a mom & pop, and had good ratings too – the Northshore Motor Inn. They quoted me a rate of $72 for a king – I thought that sounded good and booked it.
Pat was gearing up to cross the Mackinac Bridge, always a white knuckle ride for him anyway; but it was made worse for him by the ominous loop of the wind advisory conditions on the bridge and relentless thoughts of the woman whose 1987 Yugo was blown off of the bridge, free-falling 170 feet into the Straits of Mackinac. I wasn’t worried, as the woman had actually stopped her car on the steel decking side of the bridge. We wouldn’t stop of course, and we could drive on the non-steel deck. Besides, my Corolla had an additional 800 lbs over the Yugo, that had to help. The warnings also were for RVs, or vehicles that were towing boats or trailers. While that advisory didn’t apply to us this trip, we do have a Serro Scotty travel trailer and it would be nice to camp in the UP sometime, and it was pretty obvious the advisories pretty well determined we won’t be crossing the Mackinaw Bridge with the Scotty in tow! I guess if we want to visit the Mackinaw / St. Ignace area, we’ll have to stay south of the Bridge. If we want to camp in the UP, we could visit the western part and go through Illinois and Wisconsin. Chicago traffic vs. the Mighty Mac – what a choice!
We crossed the Mackinac Bridge just fine and pulled off at a scenic rest area on the other side.
Moving west through the UP on US 2, we spent the night at the Northshore Motel in Manistique, Michigan. We left the windows open so we could listen to the waters of Lake Michigan lap against the shore. We woke up the next morning and took a few photos.
We continued looping Lake Michigan on US 2 and other two lanes, making an obligatory stop at Mars Cheese Castle (which was housed in a completely new building, but still retained the classic sign).
Once we reached the northern Chicago suburbs, we decided to hop on the Evil-I and get home.
Here is a slideshow of all of my photos from this trip. If you click on the slideshow, it will take you over to my Flickr page where you can also view the photos there.
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September 2011: Impromptu Lake Michigan coast road trip0
Pat and I decided on a last minute overnight road trip. Not being able to decide where to go, I fired up Google maps on the iPhone and sized the map to fit an area within 5 or so hours’ drive. We then closed our eyes, turned the phone and pressed down an area along the map’s edge. That would be where we’d go. No offense to Pickneyville, Illinois, but we weren’t thinking that would be our prime destination. Plus, it was still too close.
So we scrapped this plan and simply opted to head north into Michigan. We thought it would be nice to stay as close to the coast of Lake Michigan as we could. We did a Lake Michigan loop back in September 2005, going north along the coast in Illinois and Wisconsin, then east through the UP and across the Straits of Mackinac and down into the Lower Peninsula.
This time we headed northwest out of Indianapolis on US 421 (the Michigan Road). In Michigan City, we headed into Michigan on US 12 until it branched off and headed east. At that point, we continued north as closely along the coast as we could, following the Red Arrow Highway or Lakeshore Drive as applicable.
We decided to call it a night in Benton Harbor. After a few failed Priceline bid attempts, we just booked a specific hotel HOJO) and price through them. We were in the HOJO parking eivrflot at this point so we just walked in. It took a while for the reservation to get sent by Priceline to the hotel. In the meantime we occupied ourselves with meaningless small talk and listening to the lone desk clerk handle several complaint calls one after the next. “hello, front desk! I’ll be up shortly and will spray with air freshener. Yes, that’s all I can do, sorry!” Sure enough a few minutes later, but felt like an eternity, they received it and we were on our way upstairs. Our room was standard; not great not bad. A bit worn but not dirty. Certainly ok for a night’s stay.
The next day (Labor Day), we headed over to Grand Rapids to visit The Ford Museum – Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.
Lastly, to satisfy our hunger, we decided to pay a visit to the iconic Rosie’s Diner in Rockford. It’s most recent TV fame was likely as a result of being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, but many will remember it from the 70’s Bounty paper towels commercials featuring actress Nancy Walker as waitress/owner Rosie.
Then, time to get home to Indiana…till next time!
Slideshow of All Photos
For more details about a particular photo, click on it in the slideshow and it will open in my Flickr site.
[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157627598573202″ width=”500″]
September 2005: Lake Michigan Loop1
We started out of Indy Saturday morning, following the old alignment of US 52 (Lafayette Road) out of town, hooking up with current 52 north of Lebanon, then merging onto US 41 west of Fowler, IN. We took 41 through NW IN, and then followed it along Lakeshore Drive through Chicago. We found our way onto Sheridan Road which stretches from Chicago well into Wisconsin. Through Kenosha, we found the list of motels (most of them) in question. Some were nice…others were…well, you know. After going through Milwaukee, we jumped on the Evil I for a while. We roamed around Port Washington for a while, then stopped at a Piggly Wiggly in Sheboygan for some Kringles.
We planned on staying in Green Bay our first night, but upon talking about a trip my parents & I took in 1985 in the same direction, we decided to retrace part of that trip to see if I could find some spots we ate and slept. Alas, the Holiday Inn in Green Bay at the Marina was still there! In ’85, the folks & I were in its parking lot at midnight trying to find a room. We were outta luck that weekend because the big airshow in Oshkosh was that same weekend and there was nary a room to be had for a couple hundred miles in either direction of Oshkosh. I vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my dad’s ’77 Impala, 17 years old and listening to he & my mom have a “disagreement” on the future of our trip to the UP of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It was midnight and we had nowhere to stay. Mom wanted to turn around and go home (some 400 miles away, mind you) and dad (aka, the driver) would have no part of it. Sooo, in an effort to make lemonade out of our lemon, we decided to keep driving north. I remember pulling into a neon lit cafe somewhere on US 141 north of Green Bay and having a 1am “dinner”. We finally found a place to stay at 2am at the Holiday Motel in Iron Mountain, MI, just across the WI/MI border. So this trip last week, I didn’t quite find the cafe, but since it was dark (not 1am dark this time!) there were a few possibilities (one of which we ate at), but I’ll have to make another trip to confirm the locale of the cafe, if it’s even there. So forging ahead, we made it to Iron Mountain. I knew there was no longer a listing for a Holiday Motel there, but I was hoping they had just changed hands, and they did. It was now an “America’s Best Inn” or something along those lines, located on US 2. I had a picture from ’85 of the exterior of the room we stayed in, so I knew where it was, but I was too tired to think of asking for that particular room upon checking in. So for memory’s sake, I took the same picture, some 20 years later. That’s where Jennifer & I ended the retracing of that ’85 trip. We were heading back east on US 2…in ’85, we continued north on 141. That was fun to relive that little memory for me. That was the last trip I took with my mom, as we lost her a year later. So it was neat bridging back to the past. Speaking of bridges, Sunday we made our way east on 2 towards Mackinaw City. 2 is one of my favorite 2-lanes to travel…even back west into Minnesota & Wisconsin. I’ve always had an affection for the Great Lakes, and 2 skirts it in several areas. We got to Mackinaw Citymid afternoon after crossing the Mackinac Bridge (Note: Traveling 300 feet above water on a 4 mile suspension bridge when there are wind warnings is a bad thing.). We had pasties for lunch and roamed the shops in Mackinaw City before getting a room at the Northwinds Motel on US 23, on the shores of Lake Huron with a great view of the bridge. We went out after playing cards and watching the Colts game on ESPN to take some night shots of the bridge.
Monday it was time to head home. We had breakfast at The Embers and stumbled upon a full service gas station on old US 31 south of town. I was surprised when the attendant came up to the car & asked if I wanted a fill-up. I was even more surprised when he and another attendant cleaned my windshield! We followed 31 south along the east side of Lake Michigan and encountered many produce markets along the way, specializing in cherries and apples. We found a place near Charlevoix,
MI that had Cherry cider, but it wasn’t anything close to that at the Jack Rabbit in Arizona. We found a fudge place and then said aloha to Lake Michigan in southern Michigan and crossed back into Indiana in South Bend and took 31 back home to Indy.
Slideshow of All Photos
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