milby1960.typepad.com > On the Road with John and Linn, June 2008

John and Linn Echoff recently returned from a 3492 mile road trip, taking time to “smell the roses” throughout the heartland of America. Click on this title or image to view some of the sights they saw and to read John’s narrative. Then click on the thumbnail of each photo to view the enlarged picture.

A - John and Linn, "Partners" on the Road

A - John and Linn, "Partners" on the Road

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May 29, 2008
John wrote the following: “The tag sale sounds like it will be a lot of fun; I hope a lot of classmates can make it. Linn and I would love to make the trip and visit with whomever shows up, but regretfully we will not be available that weekend as we will be in Michigan visiting her Mom.”

Then, May 30 John wrote, “At the end of watch (0530), I'll go home for a short nap, then upon arising will grab my gear (that's whatever Linn hasn't already packed), and we will be on our way. Normally, we would drive straight through to Linn’s mom’s place, 22 hours, 1700 miles. But this time we are going to slow down and smell the roses.”

On June 7 John reported… “We have had quite an adventure thus far. We spent 5 days in Michigan camping out and visiting with Linn's Mom. It rained three days straight. I really hate to fold a wet tent, but we had to be on our way.”

In his original itinerary, John had introduced the following possibility: “One unusual aspect of the trip is that after we leave Holly, Mich. we plan to travel due west to Lake Michigan and travel by ferry across the lake, some 87 miles. That promises to be a new adventure. Linn doesn't do well on boats - as we found out the second day of our Alaskan cruise last summer! But the ferry is her idea, claims it will save about 150 miles… let me see… 20 miles per gallon that's about 7.5 gallons times $4.50 per gallon for Diesel. I think that comes out to about $33.75 in fuel costs compared to the $80.00 for the ferry! Is this some type of female logic???? Sorry, couldn't resist...

BUT…we will land in Wisconsin, close to the Harley-Davidson Factory. Hmmmm, I wonder... surely Linn wouldn't mind a small detour. I promise I'll be good, just a T-Shirt, or two, or a jacket, or...”

In retrospect, John reported, “The ride across Lake Michigan turned out to be another surprise - the fair was $80.00 PER PERSON, plus the cost for the vehicle, which came to $279.00!…for a 2.5 hour ride across the lake… which had white tops everywhere and waves breaking high on the ship. Linn said ‘no more boats for quite a while’. She didn't get sick, but she did turn a light shade of green.”


B - John at the Harley Davidson Factory

B - John at the Harley Davidson Factory

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There was an UP side to the Ferry Ride in that John did get to visit the Harley Davidson Factory. However, it turned out to be a case of good news/bad news, as John wrote next… “We made Milwalkee around 2 PM, found the Harley-Davidson Factory only to learn that the last tour was at 1 PM. They allowed us to take a few photos in the lobby area and then we picked up a few items at the gift shop. We were just about to pay for them when sirens went off everywhere! The young lady in the gift shop announced as she was locking the front door... ‘that is the tornado alert siren. There is an imminent threat of a tornado, please come with me.’

Well, we did get a very good 'tour' of the factory as we quickly walked to the stairs and descended to the basement shelter. We got to see all the workers at the factory standing in a narrow hallway in the un-air-conditioned basement! It wasn't too bad, for on the way out after the all-clear sounded, our guide walked us out the long way around and allowed us to see most of the plant.”

The Good News? Toured the Harley Davidson Factory and bought some goods

The Bad News? Missed the scheduled tour, endured a tornado drill, and literally sweated it out in the basement of the Harley Davidson Factory. But as you can see in the photo, John did get his ‘souvenirs’.

Memories are Made of This!!!!!!!


C - Next Stop - Visiting Friends in Iowa

C - Next Stop - Visiting Friends in Iowa

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After the HD adventure, the couple headed toward a visit with friends in Iowa. John had mentioned before they started the trip that a former neighbor had moved back to Iowa in October and borrowed his show trailer for the move. Now that the snow had melted, John figured it was time to get it back, and that visit would provide an interesting stop on their itinerary.

John wrote, “As we drove across Wisconsin we saw farm after beautiful farm - some of the barns were truly magnificent! We stopped for the night in Dubuque, arriving around 10:30 PM. While sight seeing this afternoon, the black clouds began to gather again and sure-enough, tornados began to form. Fortunately, so far at least we have been safe. Hopefully we will remain that way.”

Along the way they visited another memorable landmark. “We stopped at the museum at Mason City, Iowa. I'm sure John Hammerle and other musicians in our midst will snap on the significance of that location. Birthplace of Meredith Wilson ("The Music Man"). The movie was filmed there and they have several photos from the filming and a display with one of the band uniforms, in addition to regular rural small town historical items. It was a very large and nice museum, the folks were very friendly, and when they found out where we were from, they really went out of their way to insure we enjoyed their history. All the while, rainstorms were raging outside and the antique auto show was cancelled due to the weather.”

John and Linn also enjoyed a tour of the Winnebago Factory along the way. But one of the highlights was the crash site of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper near Clear Lake. He commented, “I think some of our classmates were fans of those guys, back in the day.”

When John sent this photo, he made this observation, “When you open the photo of the monument in front of the Surf Ballroom, note the ‘orb of light’ over J.P. Richardson’s (The Big Bopper) side of the stone. It took about 8-9 attempts to transfer the picture. Guess the Big Bopper didn't want to go along for the ride. The Surf Ballroom is the last place Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper performed. As you may recall they all died in a plane crash shortly after the performance. The actual crash site is 5.2 miles from the Surf Ballroom, located in the middle of a farmer's cornfield. What with all the rain, the field was a muddy mess, too much so for a walk to the actual crash site.”


D - Coffeyville, Kansas and Desperadoes

D - Coffeyville, Kansas and Desperadoes

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“Our stop in Kansas was to visit some friends of mine that moved several years ago and we recently reconnected. They live near one of the more infamous areas of Western History, including the farm where Jesse James grew up and the town where another outlaw band met their just end. Coffeeville, Kansas is where the Dalton gang met their demise while trying to rob two banks at the same time. The townsfolk turned out and stopped the attempted robberies. Four citizens as well as four outlaws died in the gun battle."

If you are REALLY curious about this piece of history, hi-lite then right click to copy this link, then right click again to paste this link in your browser to read an 1892 NY Times account of the robberies and resultant deaths of the Dalton brothers. KD

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9805E2D81E39E033A25754C0A9669D94639ED7CF&oref=slogin


E - Big Brutus, Coal Shovel

E - Big Brutus, Coal Shovel

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"Big Brutus was a coal shovel and when in operation generated 15,000 horsepower, weighed 11.7 million pounds and could scoop up 135 tons of coal at a time – in ONE SCOOP! Just think how much "BLUE BELL" that would be!!"

Notice the regular size seam shovel on the back right of the pad where Brutus sits. Whoo-ee, that gives a good comparison for the size of BIG Brutus.


F - John and Linn in Big Brutus' Tracks

F - John and Linn in Big Brutus' Tracks

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"This shot shows Linn and me standing next to the tracks for Brutus. It had 8 sets of tracks, like a bulldozer. Notice the drive gear in the tracks is taller than we are, but in the previous wide shot the tracks are barely noticeable."


G - Baby Belted Galloway

G - Baby Belted Galloway

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John wrote of this photo, “Our host in Kansas was raising 'Belted Galloways'. They look like they are walking ‘Oreos’.”

That’s all John wrote, but I was fascinated and did a Google search and learned the following: "Galloway cattle are naturally polled (do not grow horns). The most visible characteristics of the Belted Galloway are its long hair coat and the broad white belt that completely encircles the body. Its coarse outer coat helps shed the rain, and its soft undercoat provides insulation and waterproofing, enabling the breed to happily overwinter outside.” Guess it’s the school teacher in me that wants to learn more and dissiminate my new found knowledge! KD


H - Linn Holding Garfield the Cat

H - Linn Holding Garfield the Cat

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"In this photo Linn is holding their barn cat named 'Garfield'."

And with that photo entered in this album, John’s travelogue concludes with this summary…

June 14, 2008
“Karla, we got back home Thursday night around 12:30 AM. Dodged tornados, floods, washed out roads and bridges, took back roads most of the way and stayed off freeways as much as possible. We toured the Harley-Davidson Factory in Milwaukee and the Winnebago Factory in Iowa. We saw a lot of beautiful country and Linn affirmed that she is not a boat person! The pitching, rocking and rolling of the ferry as it crossed Lake Michigan was not any fun for her! 3492 miles later, we are glad to be HOME."

Thanks, John for the great travelogue. How about the rest of you buffaloes? Send me your photos and narrative so we can all enjoy your vacation with you!!! KD

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