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Highway 80 / 2009 Passport Road Trip
« on: October 20, 2009, 07:12:51 PM »
This year's Passport Road Trip will head west from the Desert View Tower (N 32 39.543, W 116 5.992) north of Jacumba, California to El Cajon, California.

Sorry I haven't written in so long. My priority is always to prepare for my drive, then sleep come in there next I guess.
After doing some genealogy work in Shelby County, Indiana, I drove to the Ohio border where US 40 enters the state of Indiana. This was the path of the NOTR. There is a National Road welcome center just inside Indiana. I bought a reflective NOTR sign similar to the ones placed on the road in Indiana. I noticed the Illinois signs have a covered wagon on the shield, but Indiana's does not. I also bought a National Road and US 40 pin.
I spotted a few of the old milestones from the early 1800s and snapped photos. I did drive a couple old sections not on US 40. The old road was pretty straight however, so much is still US 40. I only had the 1926 maps for the National Road. The 1915 maps didn't start until St. Louis (having old Illinois Hwy 4 to Chicago instead). Indianapolis was nice downtown. I like the city's soldier and sailor monument and traffic circle. It's very European. I went in the Indiana courthouse also.
In western Indiana I found some old sections of NOTR. Some were signed with National Road signs and some were not.
Illinois was a blast. I found a huge number of old road sections. Many were brick, or the concrete bed and curbs into which the bricks were once laid. There were also nice cement road sections. An increasing amount of time was off of US 40 and on smaller roads. Vandalia marked the initial end of the road, and I learned later that beyond Vandalia there was no substantial road construction anyway. It had the second Madonna of the Trail statue that I had visited. St Louis... big city. I took photos on the McArthur bridge for the 1926 road and the Eads bridge for the 1915 road. There is no real marker I could find for the end of the National Road (except for the plaque in Vandalia). I moved on to St Charles. I found the ramp up to the original bridge across the Missouri, now gone. There is a hiking-biking trailhead there now.
St. Charles was really nice. The old main street was lively and beautiful. From St. Charles I followed the Boone's Lick Trail (aka Boonslick trail) to Franklin, Missouri. I did it in one day of driving. I mostly followed the 1915 route, but backtracked some of the 1926 sections too. I really never needed to get on US 40 except once or twice, mostly due to construction. All the route was on smaller roads, some never paved. The Daughters of the American Revolution placed red granite markers along the route in 1913. The 1915 route mostly followed these except for one section. I think 30 were originally placed.
I stayed in an historic B&B between New Franklin and Boonville. It was right on the 1915 road... an obscure section that only the old map revealed. The builder was Capt Joseph Kinney who was a riverboat captain, shoe manufacturer (yes, Kinney Shoes), and riverboat company owner. The house is called Rivercene.
Today is was pouring rain, and lightning was striking so close my truck was jumping up from the ground vibrations. From New Franklin I began to follow the DAR Santa Fe Trail markers. The old 1915 route closely follows the Santa Fe Trail, but the 1926 route strikes a much straighter east-west path near or on the US highway. I visited another Madonna in Lexington, MO. In Missouri today I was driving many very old dirt sections, but once in a while I'd find a small road made from vintage pink Portland cement. THe Old Lexinton Road east of Independence was especially fun with numerous railroad grade crossings that were steep and at funny angles.
I'm in Independence now, and will head into Kansas tomorrow. My truck is now covered in dried thick "gumbo" mud from all my explorations.

48 Web Site / 2009 Road Trip, Reunion and research
« on: July 06, 2009, 07:08:38 PM »
Just a note to say my reunion was great. It was so much fun on the farm in Wisconsin. I help put up (and later take down) a big 30 x 40 tent, and generally tried to make myself useful. So many people have kids now, so it made things exciting. I went into Madison and Mount Horeb as well. Madison is a nice city.

Today I spent the day in the Shelby County, Indiana courthouse and the genealogical library. For a small county it has one of the best genealogical libraries I've seen. Tomorrow I'll head west toward Putnam and Clay counties.

49 Web Site / 2009 Road trip Day 7
« on: July 02, 2009, 09:06:06 PM »
I drove through northern Iowa and into Wisconsin today. The highlight were the Amana colony villages, old towns founded by German immigrants who lived communally. They did everything together such as sharing all meals with each other, and owned everything in common. After they stopped communal living in 1932 they started a business making walk in refrigerators. Of course now Amana is a major appliance manufacturer. The giant plant is still there incongruously behind one of the quaint villages.

I'm now on the farm in Wisconsin. I'm the first to arrive.

50 Web Site / 2009 Summer Trip Day 6 and some photos
« on: July 01, 2009, 08:13:59 PM »
I traveled a good distance today, about 400 miles, all on 2 lane US highways. I'm now on US 63 in the Cozy Country Inn in Montezuma, Iowa. I drove through northern Kansas, across Nebraska, cut through Missouri, and into Iowa.

In the morning I visited the Home on the Range cabin, and the center point of the 48 states. After visiting the cabin I returned to Kansas Hwy 8 and a deer ran across in front of me. I guess they're still playing in that area. I also saw a turkey walking around. The previous day I had seen pronhorn antelope.

51 Web Site / My 2009 summer road trip, Day 5
« on: June 30, 2009, 10:17:56 PM »
2009 Summer Trip

Day 5, 30 Jun

I drove completely on 2 lane highways today. I left Clayton, NM going northeast into the Oklahoma Panhandle. I'd never been in the Panhandle before.

In Boise City I visited the Cimmaron Heritage Center. The core of the museum is the home of Julius and Opal Cox which was designed by famous architect Bruce Goff. It was quite a contrast to the usual Oklahoma homes... and very unusual anywhere really, even by today's standards. The museum featured a very good Santa Fe Trail exhibit as well many other exhibits in the French Museum.

In Montezuma, Kansas I stopped in at the Stauth Memorial Museum containing items collected around the world by Claude and Donalda Stauth. Claude made a lot of money in the stock market, and they would use it to travel all over the world meeting people and collecting folk art. Their money, land and stocks were willed to maintain the museum. Now it also sees major national traveling exhibits such as the upcoming "Memories of World War II:
Photographs from the Archives of The Associated Press".

Dodge City is on the National Old Trails Road, so my plan is to return there on the way back. However, I decided to visit the Boot Hill Museum as it was midday and I felt I had the time. There are other things to see on my return such as Fort Dodge and the Santa Fe Trail Wagon Ruts (aerial photo). When I saw the museum and the recreation of old Front Street it looked hokey at first, but once I had visited the museum I was quite impressed. I went on a free tour with an in-character docent. Boot Hill itself was just some recreated headstone as most bodies were found and removed to cemeteries long ago. However, the two-cell jail is the real jail from Fort Dodge. The Front Street buildings copy the originals. The bar really serves drinks. You can get your own wanted poster produced on a vintage press in the newspaper office. The restaurant has food and deserts.

From US 56, I turned north on US 183 to the northern border of Kansas. I went east on US 36 to Smith Center where I am staying tonight. Smith Center is near the official center of the contiguous US. I will try to visit the monument tomorrow. I may also see if I can get to the cabin of Dr. Brewster M. Higley who wrote My Western Home, better know as Home on the Range.

52 Web Site / My 2009 summer road trip, Day 4
« on: June 29, 2009, 12:12:18 PM »
Stopping at the Roadrunner Truck stop since it advertised free wifi... so I'm sealing their bandwidth for a few minutes.  ;)

I went up New Mexico 14 through Madrid. For you San Diegans, it's an old mining town a lot like Julian, but with more artsy shops and galleries.
Google took me out of Santa Fe on the original path of US 84 and US 285. I stopped and ate a picnic lunch at an original old highway rest area with a big hanging rock that was probably the reason the stop was chosen.

53 Web Site / My 2009 summer road trip day 3
« on: June 29, 2009, 06:54:28 AM »
Summer 2009 road trip

Day 3, Sunday 28 Jun

Sunday is not the greatest day for visiting towns on a road trip. It's better spent going to some natural site or resting since many people close their shops. The hostel in Flagstaff was nice for a hostel, but the location was awful. It was right in the area where all the Saturday nightlife is for the college kids, and half a block from the railroad line and major crossing. There was no AC (the weather was fine), so I had to have the window open, and trains blowing their air horns woke me every half hour. For a budget person staying in a dorm room it's cheap and clean, but for a single room occupant I could have found much better in Flag.

I got on the road heading east and took the NOTR/older US 66 path out of town since it's such a nice drive through the trees. I snapped some shots of the old truss bridge and got on the freeway for Winslow and Holbrook. I stopped at "The Corner" in Winslow to take some shots and walk a bit. The Old Trails Museum was closed. There's now a big Route 66 memorabilia shop diagonally across from the original one. It must really have cut into that shop's business since it's much bigger. I bought my older daughter a marbled tie die T-shirt with a big peace sign, and the words Take It Easy, from that smaller original shop. The building with the trompe l'oeil scenes of that certain Eagles' song is now just a wall. Weird. I didn't know this, but they tore down the building, left the wall, reinforced it, and build a park where the building used to be. They parked a red flatbed Ford next to the original little xeriscape park right at the Corner.

In Holbrook everything was closed. I bought some stuff at Safeway and had a picnic for lunch, then headed southeast. I was not intending to do any road hunting today, but I just couldn't help noticing the original National Old Trails Road as it paralleled US 180 (originally a tributary highway of US 80 by the way). I could see the road berm, culverts, and the bridge over the Little Colorado River. Look at this aerial. According to my 1915 map, the road was much more winding, and you can see that dirt road to the west of the bridge as well. There's a culvert on the paved section west of the bridge with an Arizona state highway department monument disk. The paved 1920s road heads east to the north of 180 and enters the Petrified Forest NP. This was shown on the 1926 map. It comes out right at the southeast corner of the park, and I could see it come back in and merge with the highway.

I followed 180 to AZ 180 ALT and the NOTR path to Concho. Concho is a nice little town. Both the 1915 and 1926 maps show the road going farther south, then swinging around northeast. As I left Concho I noticed an old road heading south, and soon saw an old one lane bridge. Uh oh... well you know what I did. The road became dirt, but I think it was once paved. It climbed up the steep hillside eastward (aerial photo). Snake Ranch Road may also have been the earlier 1915 road. I'll have to compare maps later. The road eventually came to a bridge that was out, and a fence was beyond it. I later found the place where this road crossed AZ 61/US 180 as I went east.

I drove through St Johns, and on to Zuni Pueblo. Man talk about a town not meeting my expectations. I was very disappointed with Zuni. There were some trading posts open, but the ones I went into were all owned by arab guys. No kidding. The scenery was truly spectacular though, with gigantic red and yellow sandstone mesas and conifer trees.

I had a very mediocre dinner at "El Sombrero" on Route 66 in Gallup since almost all the restaurants were closed. The place was one of the only non-fast food restaurants open on Sunday. It was about 8 pm New Mexico time, but I looked in my Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide for a place to stay in Albuquerque. The top recommendation was the Monterey Non-Smokers Motel. The owners are a Polish couple and all previous owners have continued to upgrade and improve the motel. It really is amazing for a budget motel ($55+tax for me). I've seen luxury hotels that are not as clean and nice as this. It had nice drapes, furniture, wooden baseboards, wallpaper in the bathroom, and not one chip or sign of age. Oh, and of course no sign of gross smoke smells. I talked for a long while with the lady, and she was very friendly. This is quite a contrast to my stay in Flagstaff.

I let Google maps show me a route that avoids freeways to my destination. It goes through Taos, Cimmaron, and Dodge City. Looks good, so I'll try that route since I still have three and a half days to get to Mt Horeb, Wisconsin.

54 Web Site / My 2009 summer road trip, Day 1 and 2
« on: June 28, 2009, 12:12:41 AM »
My summer road trip for 2009 has me heading to Wisconsin for my 20 year Peace Corps reunion. On the way there and back, I'll do some road exploration and other research and fun stuff. below is the entry for my first two days.

Summer 2009 road trip

Day 1, Friday 26 Jun

I started out from Escondido in the afternoon, and headed first for the Cajon Pass north of San Bernardino. I've traveled down 66 in California many times, but my goad on this trip was to follow the National Old Trails Road as much as possible. I'm primarily using 1915 and 1926 maps. I'd noted most of the things in this area before, such as the old alignment north of Swarthout Canyon Road, but noticed some new things as well. I saw what looked like a road and bridge culvert closer to the RR that I had not seen before.

I also tried driving the dirt road north of Cajon Junction again, but did not really see anything but the road I was on. I'll have to examine aerial photos and record the GPS locations for a future visit. The aerials just seem to show faint, wide traces, but nothing like a real road.

I tried driving to Hesperia along the path of the 1915 highway, but it did not show in maps, so I'll have to look at those aerials too. It may be Tower Road into Hesperia... not sure. I did manage to take Hesperia Blvd north from Hesperia to Victorville, which was the 1915 route.

In Victorville I ate a tin can tourist dinner at a park and watched a slow pitch softball game. In Victorville I had a choice between the main NOTR along the path of Route 66 through Oro Grande and Helendale, or the older alternate route shown on the 1915 map. This was the Stoddard Well Road alignment, and I decided to take it since the weather was good for this road. As I followed the highway to the start of Stoddard Well Road, I notice a very old steel arch truss bridge crossing the Mojave River. This was obviously used as the main bridge and road north of Barstow at one time. Stoddard Well Road starts out paved, but after a while becomes bad asphalt then quickly a graded dirt road. It's dirt almost the entire way to Hwy 247. I camped the night in the creosote desert right at Stoddard Well.

Day 2, Sat 27 Jun

I can't see the section of Stoddard Well Road that went from Hwy 247 to Daggett in aerial photos. It does show a road this way on the 1915 map. So I just went north to Barstow. The NOTR in Barstow seems to have gone north on 6th street (from Main) to Hutchinson St, then west to 1st Ave. It crossed over the RR to the Harvey House and depot, then followed Riverside Drive east.

I followed the NOTR from Daggett along the north side of the RR to Minneola as shown on both 1915 and 1926 maps. Part of this was dirt track. It was likely US 66 for a little while also I suspect.

I had a lot of fun discovering stuff in Newberry Springs. I couldn't figure it all out at first, but both the maps showed the old highway veering southeast along the mountain, then northwest, bypassing the springs and dry lake. Using my GPS I drove the whole route with only a few minor detours. I found remnants of what was once an asphalted one lane highway. Much of it is now quite rough, probably more like the 1915 experience. I backtracked to have a shake at the Bagdad Cafe and to let my hot truck cool a bit. There was a French speaking family there. It's very popular with Europeans because of the movie.

The east track of the NOTR route is called Central Rd, and I suspect is crossed 66 and I-40 to approach Hector siding. I do  see a track the whole way to the Lavic area. I definitely saw that the 1915 road curved down closer to Lavic siding. I followed that road and though it was very rough and narrow, I could tell it was paved in some way. I found more obvious traces of paving farther east.

In Amboy, both maps showed the NOTR bending east immediately north of the rail line. The old highway continued east until finally a track even older than the 1915 NOTR bent southeast to Cadiz (shown as "Old Road" on 1915 map). I found a one lane paved track lining up with Dever Rd in Amboy. I think this track which is hard to see from Route 66 was the NOTR and perhaps even early 66. The 1926 map shows a cemetery north of the highway, and there is an old cemetery on the north side of Dever Road in Amboy. The "old Road" clearly comes off the NOTR in both maps. I did find it, but it comes of this Dever Alignment, not Route 66. The road is also paved for much of the way, and eventually merges with 66 at a very acute angle.

I like the new Route 66 kiosk in the old rest area east of Cadiz Summit.

From Essex, I decided I needed to get closer to Wisconsin for my Peace Corps reunion (20 years). I was also a bit tired of the 100+ degree weather frankly. I drove east on I-40 to Flagstaff, and am staying in a room in an international hostel. It's always fun to see all the foreign travelers. The internet connection is very slow, and I'm tired, so I'll post some photos later.


General U.S. Highway Topics / U.S. highway articles
« on: June 10, 2009, 08:12:17 PM »
I've posted a couple articles on U.S. and state highway signs in California in the U.S. highway articles section. They're vintage articles from the California highway department's journal California Highways.

General Auto Trail Topics / Auto trail articles
« on: June 10, 2009, 08:05:35 PM »
I've posted some articles on auto trails from the San Diego Union newspaper in the auto trail articles section.

Have you seen the documentary on PBS called Paving the Way: The National Park to Park Highway? Check out Brandon Wade's film page. You can also watch the trailer.

60 Web Site / Images to link to this site
« on: January 27, 2009, 11:29:29 PM »
Below are some images that can be used as buttons to link to this site. Feel free to use them on your sites. Below the images are link codes if you do not want to download the images into your site.

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