Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We Came, We Rode, We Conquered

First day to wander around St Louis. Our stay in the Crowne Plaza does not include breakfast so we head downstairs and ask the concierge where we should go. Just head down Pine Street about 4 or 5 blocks and handed us this pamphlet of a bunch of places. Well we made it about a block and a half, coming across a sign that said Diner. That was good enough for me.

Big Ed's Chili Mac Diner has been open since 1960 serving up great food and putting their homemade chili on anything you can think of. I had scrambled eggs with chili, cheese and onions. Add 2 hamburgers with cheese and it is called "sling". MeAsWe had the French toast. Two ladies who were sisters were working the place with efficiency. Great place.

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

Chili Mac's Diner St Louis

After breakfast, we headed over to the Old Courthouse to purchase our tickets for the Arch. They are doing some construction between the courthouse and the Arch, so tickets aren't available at the Arch. The Arch looks so close but you can't get there in a straight line but have to come in from one of the sides. On the way we pass the Old Cathedral, which might be worthwhile stopping at when we get back.

Jefferson Expansion - Old Court House St Louis

You enter the Arch by going underground, ride an elevator further down, down a ramp and some steps, finally making it to the Pods that take you to the top. Let's just say I am glad I am not tall as I climbed into the Pod. Not a long ride and you can see out the window in the Pod to the inside of the Arch. If you picture how the Arch is shaped, the Pod shifts itself keeping you level in your seat, kind of like a ferris wheel.

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The windows at the top are not really that big, but enough to give you some great views of the Mississippi River, the Old Courthouse and Cardinal Stadium. Back at the bottom, we watched a movie on the building of the Arch.

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch

After the ride we watched the movie on the building of the Arch. It really is worthwhile and you get watch it online as well.

St Louis Arch

So with the walk to the Arch, we had to head back to the Old Courthouse. We stopped at the Basilica of Saint Louis built in 1834. This was the first permanent church in St Louis and the first cathedral west of the Mississippi.

Old Cathedral Museum

Old Cathedral Museum

Like the last three times we were here on the bike for the IBA National Park Tour, we always seemed to skip the exhibitis in the Old Courthouse. Pictured below is the ceiling of the dome.

Jefferson Expandsion Dome

That filled up the morning so we headed back to the hotel to grab the car and head for the St Louis Zoo. It is advertised as free, but you still have to pay for parking, so that kind of eliminates the free part. Still worth the price. Couple of pics from the zoo.

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

St Louis Zoo

We spend the entire afternoon at the zoo and had a great time. Thank god they have a train to get around from spot to spot. The place is quite large and it did take a toll on my ankle. Headed back to the hotel the long way. Picked up a couple National Historic Landmarks on the way back.

Scott Joplin's residence. You remember him, Ragtime King, think the movie "The Sting"

Scott Joplin Residence

Union Station, once the world's largest and busiest train station. Built in 1894, and had 42 tracks heading into the terminal. At its peak in combined passenger service for 22 railroads, hence the name Union Station.

Union Station (St. Louis)

Christ Church Cathedral between 1859 and 1867.

Christ Church Cathedral (St. Louis)

The Wainwright Building was of the first skyscrapers in the country and designed by the firm Adler and Sullivan. Louis Sullivan become the father of the modern skyscraper. It influenced the design and building of future skyscrapers in the US.

Wainwright Building

That completed our day and we headed back to the hotel for a rest. Slideshow CLICK HERE

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You can Drive My Car

Our reservations have been set for St Louis for about 3 weeks and we are staying for 3 days. I looked at todays iternary and we were not suppose to get in until 10pm, so adjustment was in order. I had a bunch of places to grab in Indianapolis, but MacKenzie has left town so I cut most of them out, straightened out the route a bit and grabbed a few new ones as fillins.

Headed north a bit first off to see the Auburn Cord Duesenberg factory and offices. A great Art Deco building and another car museum right in back. After I got my set of photos, I had to redo them all since I had the wrong settings in the camera. I do this a lot. We will come back here to take the tour.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Facility - Auburn IN

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Facility - Auburn IN

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Facility - Auburn IN

Heading south, stopped in Marion, IN for Marie Webster House. Marie made quilts. She wrote Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them which was the first definitive guide on the subject and is still in print today. She formed the Practical
Patchwork Company, which sold patterns, quilt kits, and finished quilts.

Marie Webster House

Next door I is Myers Drive-In which features curb service old school.

Myers Drive In

And this old Pennsylvania RR train depot which is serving up totally different stuff.

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I figure the convenience store will look like this pretty soon.

Vintage Gas Station Marion IN

Just outside of Indianapolis as Harold and Kumar. I just couldn't resist a couple of sliders. Yes they say it is an acquired taste, which I acquired in my youth. A bag of 12 cost 1.44 back then.

White Castle Noblesville IN

We skimmed the north side of Indianapolis grabbing some sites along the way.

The Pyramids

Some pick ups in Effingham, IL.

Restored 1910 Gas Station

A great Art Deco theater.

Heart Movie Theater

And the World's Largest Cross. It is 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide just 2 feet shy of it requiring a beacon to alert planes.

World's Largest Cross

To maintain our connection with motorcycling we stopped in Moonshine, IL. This remote store is the of hundreds of motorcyclists in April to ride for a Moonburger.

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Moonshine Store Martinsdale IL

Passed thru Pocahontas, IL. First known as Hickory Grove and then Amity, it changed its name to Pocohontas. Someboday realized they had misspelled Pocahontas and changed the name again. How the middle of Illinois has any connection to Jamestown Virginia I don't have a clue.

Martinsville IL Post Office

Our last stop of the day is Cahokia Mounds. This civilization in the 1200's peaked at 200,000 people and was the largest urban settlement of the Mississippian culture. We have been to a bunch of these type settlements thru out the Midwest. This is the most impressive one.

Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds

Deer feeding while the Indians are out hunting them in other places.

Cahokia Mounds

Hit the Crown Plaza right around 8pm and settled in for the next 3 days. Very nice accomodations, pricey, but no more pricey than anything else in downtown St Louis. We were right next to the Arch, as well, an easy walk for most. A couple of shots from our balcony.

The Eads Bridge completed in 1874. It was the longest arch bridge in the world, with an overall length of 6,442 feet. The Eads Bridge was also the first bridge to be built using cantilever support methods exclusively, and one of the first to make use of pneumatic caissons. When it was built a whole bunch of restrictions and requirements were placed on the construction by the river boat folks, in the hopes it would never be built.

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A shot of St Louis

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Our route for the day.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Plane The Plane

If you are in southwestern Ohio, Jailhouse Suites in Yellow Springs is a great choice for a place to stay. We booked this place on a whim, paid via the internet, gave them a 4 digit code to get into the place, received a text confirmation and email indicating that the passlock had been set to that code and provided us the WIFI access code. Somebody has to be involved because when we arrived the place was spotless and comfy.

Jailhouse Suites Room

Jailhouse Suites Yellow Springs OH

Sun rises, realized I left the electronic bag out in the car, no problem it is only a few feet from our door. Threw the door open, took in the spring air and warmth of the sun, remotely unlocked the car and headed out that door for the car. Bliss turned to agony. Thinking I was 18, back to life guarding and going everywhere bear footed, I hit the blue stone driveway and the numbing feet you get when you are older has its limitations. I was going too fast to stop on the first step and was at least 3 steps into this and committed. Only 1 more step to the car, but each of those 4 returning steps was like stepping on hot glass shrapnel. It hurt so much all I could do was laugh.

Grabbed a couple of pics in Yellow Springs. The town apparently has quite a few folks in the arts and also home to Antioch College. The town also has quite an extensive political history. It was one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, came under scrutiny as a Communist sympathizers during the Red Scare, in 60's and early 70's a center for civil rights and anti-war movements in southwestern Ohio and one of the first communities to pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Train Depot Yellow Springs OH

Morning breakfast with a coupon from Jailhouse Suites.

William Eatery Yellow Springs OH

Some place along the way. Seems the Midwest has a lot of these vintage gas stations.

Vintage Gulf Gas Station

Our major destination for the day is the US Air Force Museum in Dayton. On the way we stopped at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. Charles Young was born into slavery, graduated from West Point, became the highest ranking black officer in the military and taught at Wilberforce University.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers

I have attempted to visit the US Air Force 3 times, once actually inside the building to find out it was closing in 15 minutes and 2 other times simply running out of time. One time we got blown off the bike by high winds and lost a day because of the inclement weather. That is not the case today.

US Air Force Museum Dayton OH

Three hangars, soon to be four, covering all periods of aircraft and the military. These hangars are big enough to have a B52 bomber suspended off the ground and make it look small. We spent the better of 4 hours here walking around. For those folks that study aircraft this place has to be the crown jewel of museums. I have a couple examples shown here. For an expanded view of the inside CLICK HERE.

US Air Force Museum Dayton OH

US Air Force Museum Dayton OH

Before we got out of Dayton, we visited Endora from Bewitched.

Agnes Moorhead Crypt

Stopped in Sidney to grab a picture of Louis Sullivan's Bank built in 1917. It still operates as a bank today. Most of the time it is not possible to go inside the buildings. The stain glass ceiling and windows are really kewl. Much more artful interior than the exterior. Louis in his heyday was the Father of the Skyscrapers and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright.

People's Federal Savings and Loan Association

People's Federal Savings and Loan Association

People's Federal Savings and Loan Association

The Shelby County Court House right across the street. So is The Spot to Eat.

Shelby County Courthouse - Sidney, Ohio

Cooks Spot Restaurant Sidney OH

A little further north, just east of the Indiana border in Spencerville is Deep Cut Historical Park. This was part of the Miami and Erie Canal. Rather than using locks to get up and over the ridge, the workers dug a trench instead. In some places this was as deep as 52 feet. Nothing really to see here other than to read its history and it is a National Historic Landmark.

Deep Cut Park Miami and Erie Canal

Our destination town for the night is Fort Wayne to visit my niece and nephew. Since we are on a time table we have only time to stop at the Chief Richardville House. The Chief the main guy for the Miami tribe and the one that signed treaties with the US Government on behalf of the various tribes. Through various negotiations and treaties removed the Miami as a recognized nation. Hmmmm.

Richardville House

I found this sign quite interesting.

Richardville House

And what not to trim.

Richardville House

We hit Christie's and Tim's house right around 6. They were taking us back down to Fort Wayne proper to a Fort Wayne iconic food joint. Fort Wayne Famous Coney Island Weiner Stand opened in 1914. It has been in the same family since 1916. While they do serve hamburgers, the hot dog is king along with a 8oz. glass bottle of Coke. They serve 1500 to 2000 dogs a day, when it is slow. CIWS is a tradition during the Christmas season, much the same as the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade or Lighting the Tree at Rockefeller Center.

Going to a place like this is not just about the food, it about the experience, people, atmosphere and what you see beyond the grills, counters and glasses. FWFCIW (because I don't feel like spelling it out) has it all. It is a place you know when you are in the area you will go back to or tell people about this place instead of the history of Ft Wayne. If you live here, like Tim and Christie you immediately have to bring your guests here.

I asked about their mugs, which they presented two to chose from , and Tim said wrap em up. I have 2 cups to add to our collection.

Ft Wayne Famous Coney Island

Ft Wayne Famous Coney Island

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Ft Wayne Famous Coney Island

After dinner Tim was kind enough to drive me around to the sites we skipped on the way in.

Allen County Court House, a National Landmark. It is a Beaux-Arts architecture-style built between 1897 and 1902.

Allen County Courthouse

More interesting was the Art Deco Lincoln building. Built between 1929 and 1930, it was the tallest building of any kind in the state until 1962. Entrances to these Art Deco buildings are outstanding.

Lincoln National Bank and Trust

Lincoln National Bank and Trust

Cindy's a local diner that seats 12 folks at a time.

Cindy's Diner Fort Wayne

The never ending slices of bread coming out of the Sunbeam loaf. One of those dumb places I had to stop at.

Sunbeam Bread Sign Fort Wayne

Topping the night with the GE Electric Sign. Tim said I had to see this. It was worth the stop. Before we got here we were stopped by a Ford Escort that managed to get itself jammed on an upright pole, the kind that partitions a spot. Standing about 3 feet tall it was lodged under the front of the car. I am still trying to figure out how this person got the car on the pole in the first place. It was quite entertaining to watch him try to get the vehicle off and pieces of the front of the car fell of with each attempt. Finally one final try, he revved the engine,dropped into reverse and gave it the gas. At the same time some other car decides it is time to pass him. He got the car off the pole and miraculously did not hit the car.

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The route for the day.

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