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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Quiet. Quaint. Quincy. Turner Travels - Day 4

Today was spent in our temporary home for the week - Quincy, IL.  Big T had to register this afternoon for the competition at PASA Park in Barry, so we just piddled around Quincy.  Photo ops abound, so I have gone to riding with my camera in my lap so that I am ready to jump out or snap at a moment's notice.
Antique truck

Bayview Bridge

Anchor Down!

No idea what her significance is, but she made me laugh.

Any excuse to say Arrggh!

I wish I weren't in the land of Pepsi...look away, look away
Quincy is known for its varied architecture in two different historic districts.   I wish that I had more knowledge of the various styles and how to identify them, because I mostly ride in the passenger seat saying "Cool house!"   and "Oooh.....I like that one..."  and "Stop the truck! I gotta get a picture!"  I know it was highly entertaining and frustrating for my driver, especially when we got tangled up on the one way streets.   At one point this afternoon,  he just dropped me off at a stop sign with camera and cell phone and said he would call when he found a parking place.   It is that kind of place- just like any other small town in middle America- you feel safe walking around with just a camera and a phone.  These photos are from one particular area that has been noted by Nat Geo as "one of ten most architecturally significant corners (16th and Maine) in the U.S."

Earlier in the day, we visited the All Wars Museum which is located on the campus of the Illinois Veterans Home and met a gentleman named Tom Markovic.   His Yugoslavian accent added just the right amount of flavor to our conversation about war and politics as well as to the stories of his younger years.  He has even picked cotton in Mississippi at one time!   We probably spent around an hour looking at their displays, which were in chronological order, starting with the Revolutionary War and ending with current day military memorabilia.   They had quite the variety of items from each era -- uniforms, weapons, personal items, publications, and photos, just to name a few.
lace handkerchief

Model built by an unknown resident at the Home

Bomber jacket patch

I spy a logo in the camo

Huey and M60 tank

When we travel, we have a "rule" that one meal a day has to be at a place that we don't have in Huntsville.   Finding a unique place can prove to be quite the challenge at times, but today we found two.    Lunch was at Maid-Rite, home of the loose beef burger.  

We caught them during their busiest time, but we were able to seat ourselves when we walked in.  Their process is a bit different than other diners or fast food restaurants, because when our waitress brought our food, we paid the server right then and there at the table in cash only.  And they have signs that say "Please No Tipping."  

For dinner we walked across the street from our hotel to check out the Riverside Smoke House & Grill.  What a treat!

Even though I am not a huge bbq fan, I do like ribs from time to time.  I was pleased to see that they offered a quarter rack of ribs as an entree as well as several vegetables that were not some form of potato.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE potatoes, but I try to eat other veggies when they are available.  Big T went for the brisket open face sandwich and said that it was really good too.  We decided to treat ourselves and have dessert. Ya know, since we didn't eat potatoes.  
Our outstanding server recommended the bread pudding.  Generally I am not a fan, but after tonight, I am a convert.  Oh my.

Competition starts tomorrow at 8 am.  Looking forward to the challenge of shooting the shooters!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Show Me Hannibal - Turner Travels Day 3

Some days I wonder why I chose to be an engineer.  I really like history and literature, and I love to read for hours on end when I have the time.  When I travel, I enjoy learning all about the area I am in, and if I find a book by a local author, I consider it a score.   Today, I was able to indulge in the history of America's Hometown - Hannibal, Missouri - with a heavy dose of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and topped off with a bit of steamboat technology.

We started off our adventure at the Hannibal Visitor's Bureau where we chatted with a lovely lady who informed us of all of the great things to see and do.  And there was a treat today, because the American Queen steamboat cruise was stopping in Hannibal from 12:00-5:00 pm.  We pocketed a few brochures and trekked toward the lighthouse for our first stop.   At the bottom of the 244 steps, we found statues of the famous best friends, Tom and Huck.

And at the top of the 244 steps, was this lighthouse. Too bad we couldn't go in, but a great way to get our cardio!

We strolled Main Street taking photos, reading signs on historic places, chatting with folks, and generally getting the feel of the town.   One of the places we explored was the Hannibal History Museum.  There were exhibits about famous people from Hannibal - like "The Unsinkable" Molly Brown and Bill Lear  (Lear Jet) as well as a section dedicated to Mark Twain that included the Tom Sawyer Diorama exhibit.   After a quick walk to the riverfront, we decided to work in a riverboat ride after lunch at a local establishment - Becky Thatcher's Diner.

Good food, great service, and even better soundtrack for the 60's diner experience - "What's New Pussycat?"  "Daydream Believer" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"  were a few of the tunes we heard.  Once we were refueled, we journeyed down to Mark Twain's boyhood home area.  The ticket allows entrance to his childhood home, Becky Thatcher's home across the street, Huck Finn's house, his father's Justice of the Peace office, Grant Drug Store, and the Mark Twain Museum down Main Street a block.  Photography was allowed inside but proved difficult due to the glass walls and tiny spaces.  However, we did manage to participate in one of my favorite parts of Tom Sawyer - whitewashing the fence.

Next, we drove to the riverfront and hopped aboard the Mark Twain for a one-hour Mississippi River cruise, complete with corny jokes and tall tales.  I learned that Samuel Clemens chose Mark Twain as his alias from a steamboat term "mark twain" that meant that the water was 12 feet deep and safe for steamboat travel.   

The American Queen was an impressive vessel to view from the Mark Twain, and even though we couldn't go aboard, it was interesting to watch her pull away from the shore and lower the stacks.


The one thing that I really enjoyed was the music that the boat played when it was arriving as well as when it was leaving.  I especially enjoyed the way in which it was played -- via steam whistles.  Of course, I had to wonder if they had modernized it with some sort of programmable control system.  Always the engineer. *sigh*

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
One last stop was on our list for today - Mark Twain Cave, which was a significant location in the Tom Sawyer tale.  

This also gave us a reprieve from the heat, even though it was quite tolerable for us Southerners.   The cave is a comfortable 52 degrees year round.   Our tour guide did a fantastic job with showing us the cave and answering a good amount of questions from one lad.  He also had his share of punny jokes as well.   I was fascinated by the signatures on the upper walls and highly entertained by the creative names for some of the formations.  

Hannibal has shown me a lot today, and I didn't even get finished.  There are still two other historic districts with what I assume can only be really cool houses to see.  I guess we'll save that for the next Nationals trip. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Destination Achieved - Turner Travels - Day 2

Sundays are just meant for taking it easy, even when you are travelling.

We finally settled on the hashtag that we wanted to use for the trip -- #cantdrive65roadtour.   We chose this because we truly can't drive 65 mph on this trip.   On the back roads, we have to drive way less than 65 mph or we will miss something as well as exceed the speed limit.  I am also beginning to think that we can't drive 65 miles without stopping to see something unique, buy something we forgot,  or eat something.  How I wish that the camera had not been packed on Saturday;  we saw so so many cool things on Day 1.

Today, we began with breakfast at the lodge.  This view reminded us of our breakfasts in Jerusalem on the Sea of Galilee in 2011.   So peaceful.

We also had quite the show just outside the window while we enjoyed our eggs, bacon, and biscuits.  I counted up to four hummingbirds at once fighting over this feeder and nearby nectar-filled flowers.

I walked around to the back of the building and got these shots right before we left.  

Our next stop was just a few minutes north in Benton, KY, where we worshiped with some friends at the Benton church of Christ.   After we said our "see ya later"s,  we loaded up and headed to Paducah for a fill up for the truck and for the tummy.   Speaking of the truck, this is the Toyota's first official road trip.   After 11 years, we decided to add a tonneau cover and therefore, expanded its functionality.  So nice to go somewhere and actually be able to get into a snack bag in the back seat! 

After lunch we were looking toward St. Louis when I noticed a little town that we needed to check out - Metropolis.   You got it -- the home of Superman.  
 I loved the fact that the streets around the square were named Truth, Justice, and American Way.   There are a couple of gift stores right across the street, and one of  them had Dippin' Dots.

Dippin' Dots is headquartered in Paducah.  How convenient!
I think this was my first try of Dippin' Dots, and I must say, they were not too bad.

 I will say that Metropolis reminded us of Smallville.    The downtown square area was not terribly crowded for a hot summer afternoon, and the lady at the Dippin' Dots store was very friendly.  If you know a child that is a big fan of Superman, this should be on his or her bucket list.

After Metropolis, we were focused on getting to Quincy, IL as quickly as possible and set up camp in our hotel for the week.  So we breezed through St. Louis and then on to Hannibal and then Quincy, IL.    This is the Midwest, the heartland of America, and farmland is as far as the eye can see.   Having seen this area on multiple journeys to Minnesota to see family over the years, it was fun to see Big T's reaction to the scenery.   And as happens on most trips, silly and corny (pun-intended) jokes abound.   He kept remarking on seeing cornfields on the entire route from Alabama to Tennessee to Kentucky to Illinois.   I finally snapped a picture of one of the fields while we sat in traffic for road construction.

 "I will call this one 'Maize for Days'".

We are finished with interstate roads for a few days.  Can't wait to see the treasures we find next!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Shunpiking - Turner Travels Day 1

So today began the journey to the USPSA Production Nationals shooting competition in Barry, IL.  Note this is Barry, not Berry, IL.   Both are still small towns, but are some distance apart.   Big T qualified to compete at the Nationals this year by winning the state competition in his class.  Since it was within reasonable driving distance, we decided to make a trip of it --back roads, rural South, old-school car trip.   I learned today that choosing to use the backroads is called "shunpiking".

We started out with a stop in Oakland, AL for one of our favorite girls, Lulu, who was having a birthday party to celebrate turning 5.  She is a petite 5 year old, but has plenty of spunk and personality.  Kindergarten, here she comes!   After the homemade yummy cake and ice cream, we hit the backroads of Alabama into Tennessee heading north for our evening's destination, Kenlake State Park at Land Between the Lakes.    We drove through several communities and small towns.  It was refreshing at times to see the quaint downtown / main street areas.  I think my favorite was Hazel, KY.   We saw all sorts of things in front of businesses or homes that made us laugh.   I remember one home had a pay phone in the front yard.   With the recent news, we even counted how many Confederate flags we saw, until we got to Crump, TN and there were too many to count.   Lovely old homes, cool classic cars,  corn fields, and antique trucks were frequent sightings.   Others of note were three trucks pulling trailers hauling square bales of hay and a tractor with hay roll spikes lifted on the front with a wooden sign that said "Wedding  ->"  directing guests to the parking area.  We were almost to our destination when we saw something that I had not seen in a very long time, or even set foot in -- a tobacco field.  

Once we arrived at the Kenlake lodge, we unloaded a few items and selected a local place for dinner called the Willow Pond.   With a name like that, we suspected that they would have a good fish selection on the menu.   We both opted for the blackened catfish -- great choice!   Big T went with the mayo slaw, and I chose the vinegar version.   We were both pleased with our choices as well as with the unlimited white beans and hushpuppies.   Our waitress was outstanding.  Big T ordered half & half tea to drink, and when she refilled it, she actually did it at the table with both pitchers.  And no mess.

We came back to the park and drove to the bay area for a sunset photo.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Retiring a Legend

When you think of retirement parties, what comes to mind?
I bet it isn’t  “BASEBALL!”  
Well, that is exactly what we did, we thought “baseball”.

A co-worker recently retired who had 40 years – yes, 4-0 years – with the company.   He is a hard-working man, who still plays recreational baseball in a senior league.   It only made sense that his party had a baseball theme.   Besides, I like a challenge and when it came to googling “retirement party baseball theme”, not much popped up. (pun intended)

Since we were having the dinner party at Old Greenbrier Restaurant, we wouldn’t be able to go all out on decorations, so we kept it simple with table “centerpieces” made up of a box of Cracker Jacks and a fake bag of peanuts.    On each table we had paper and pen for the guests to write a note to the honoree.

Our guest list was quite varied with a handful of current employees and several retirees who had not seen each other in a very long time.   Name tags were in order and easy to make using  I used the 2x4 shipping label and put a simple graphic of a ticket stub on one side and added the event details.  I printed them and put them on a clipboard.   As people arrived, I wrote their names on the tag. 
For our main table, we had a bucket of baseballs for all of his “teammates” to sign.  (If you choose to use this idea, use ballpoint pens instead of the fine tip Sharpies.  They worked okay, but didn’t dry as quickly as I would have liked.)    I used a photo holder and added a couple of quick signs for "Autographs please!"

This was sitting next to a “baseball card” poster that one of our co-workers made with a photo of him batting with a standing ovation crowd in the background.   He even added statistics on the back.

On the dessert table, we had two buckets, one for collecting money for the honoree  and one for collecting notes and cards.  I re-worded "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the sign on this one.

For dessert, we opted for cupcakes from Peggy Ann Bakery, and I made cupcake toppers using Powerpoint and my Silhouette Cameo.   I found some photo clipart that I liked of baseball stuff and using the Picture Tools in Powerpoint, I cropped them to circles and then added the text.   Using the Print and Cut feature of the Cameo I was able to knock out 60 in no time flat.   

We didn’t have anything planned as far as speakers or anything like that, but there is the tradition of giving advice, well wishes, and storytelling at retirement parties.   Off the cuff, we played “pass the bat” and whoever had the bat could speak.     

We even had one person, who couldn’t make it, email me a couple of stories to read to the group.  It was a hit!  (pun intended)

After all of the speeches, we got everyone outside for a group photo and few last goodbyes.   

Simple yet fun. With never-ending hushpuppies. The way retirement ought to be.