Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fort Wayne

To start with we are camped at Johnny Appleseed Park in downtown Fort Wayne, this is a little park, about 25-30 water and electric sites w/honey wagon, in the corner of the park. It's a little hard to find but if you plan on doing anything in Fort Wayne this is the place to camp, you are within minutes of any place in the city.

Fort Wayne has a ton of things to do, one of the nations largest genealogy centers, Botanical gardens, Zoo, over 20 miles of paved bike trails that follow the St. Joseph, Maumee and St Marys Rivers, and every type restaurant you could thing of. If you get bored here it's your own fault.

There is a beautiful new minor league baseball park downtown where the Tin Caps play, we didn't get a chance to go to a game as they were on the road this entire week. The name Tin Caps comes from the fact that Johnny Appleseed used to wear is tin pot as a hat while he was wandering the country side, hence the Tin Caps, we did see a sign that said “ It's the Tin Caps not the Pot Heads”.

I dropped Cathy off at the genealogy center for the day then I drove about 15 miles north to Auburn to do the museums, there are about eight museums in this area. I parked the car and the Auburn-Dusenberg Museum was to my right and the National Automotive and Truck Museum was to my left, time for a decision, I went left the the automotive and truck museum, this seemed more like the kind of place an old street racer would like.

But my favorite section was the muscle cars from the late 60's and early 70's, a 429 Ford Torino, 426 hemi Dodge Charger, 440 dual quads Plymouth GTX, 440 six pack Dodge Cuda, 396 Chevy Z-28.

I swear, I closed my eyes and it was a hot humid August night in 1969 and we were cruising Woodward Ave, looking for something that would give our midnight green 440 Charger (just like the one the bad guys drove in the movie Bullet) a challenge. We spot a 396 Chevelle at the light, pull up next to him, both drivers give a little nod, the light turns green and it's nothing but screaming engines roaring exhaust and smoking tires for the next ten seconds. Our ten inch slicks gave us a big jump off the line and he never stood a chance after that, a couple of quick turns through the side streets just in case any cops were around (which I ended up being one for 25 years in Detroit) and then to the nearest Drive-in so the loser could buy Cokes.

I'm sorry, was that out loud?

Mean while back at the museum, I enjoyed it a lot more then I thought that I would, I then got in my 4 cylinder PT Cruiser and all the way home I was looking for a Corvair to race.

Cathy decided to take a break from research today so we thought that we would take a look at the zoo, and a look is all we did, there were at least 20 school buses there so it was time for plan B. Plan B is drive back to Auburn and go through the World War II Victory Museum, Half of the building is the Victory Museum. This part of the museum is so large and covers so much information that you just have to come here yourself and wander around for a couple of hours so I'm just going to post some pictures and try to explain it that way.

Show us your WAR FACE!

This is a 25 foot long model of a ship that was used in the "Winds of War" series.

General Patton

The red Ball Express, they even made a move about them.

Click on this picture to read all the fine print, it's pretty interesting.

These are the war plans that would have been used in case the Atom bomb didn't work

When you exit this area you come into the Baseball section which has a few displays about the different ball players from this area and about the Womens Baseball League, from some reason they had a lot of Tiger stuff.

In the center there is a room about the history of the television, there were a bunch of old TV's and displays from the old time television shows, one of the displays was about the Lone Ranger and his faithful companion Tonto.

OK, I'm going to regress a little here back to about 1957 or so.

Growing up in Detroit, which is the home town of the Lone Ranger TV show, he was pretty much every kids hero. The kid two doors down from me was having a birthday party and we were all down the basement celebrating, they had just got us seated for the ice cream and cake, when we heard a familiar voice yell “Whoaaaa Silver, stay right there”. Our eyes were the size of silver dollars as we all watched the Lone Ranger and Tonto came down the stairs, they stayed for about a half hour, had ice cream and cake with us and then were on their way, the screen door slammed and all we heard was “HI-HO Silver Away”. Of course they made sure that we all stayed in the basement so we wouldn't see them get into the car and drive off down the street. The kid whose birthday it was, was the son of the producer of the Lone Ranger Show and that's how he happened to show up. Fifty plus years later and every time I see some thing about the Lone Ranger that's the first thought in my mind.

Now let's pop back outside of my mind, because Cathy sez that, that's a scary place to be and get back to the museum.

Across the lobby is the Kruse Automotive & Carriage Museum, from what I gathered Kruse makes a lot of the cars for Hollywood, he also does custom cars for auto shows and collects notable Carriages.

With the carriages they have pictures of what they looked like when he found them along with the display, and it is unbelievable the work they did to make them look probably better then they did new. They had President Grant's carriage , one from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, but our favorite was the Coronation coach for King Ernest Augustus of Hanover, son of King George III of England.

The next set of displays were of the custom cars that he has made, then the Hollywood stuff which everyone will recognize and then a lot of race cars that he built or sponsored. What we thought was going to be about an hour turned into four hours.

Some of his custom work.

Indy cars


Driving around on a few of the back roads and side streets of Fort Wayne we came across this neighbor park , which was huge, it had a nice size lake with a fountain, a big rose garden (we're about a week early for the blooms) and a reflecting pool, this is really a great area to visit.

Drive down a little side street that's blocked by a school bus and see all the kids coming out of a little park between two house's and you just have to park the car and see for yourself, see what, well I guess we'll find out.

The burial site of Meshekinnoquah, or as his friends called him Chief Little Turtle, he rose to be the Chief of the Miami Nation. He led the Indians in the defeat of Colonel LaBalme in 1780, then defeated General Harmar at the Battle of Kekionga in 1790. In 1791 at Fort Recovery, Ohio he defeated General St. Clair in America's worst defeat by Indians with over 1000 killed. He was stopped with the entire Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, he was a signer of the Treaty of Greenville, met with three US Presidents; Washington, Adams and Jefferson and when he died in 1821 he was laid to rest in the Miami burial grounds with full U.S. Military honors.

Since we're doing genealogy and graves when we got back to camp we took a short walk through the woods to visit another grave, Johnny Appleseed, he's buried on a knoll in the middle of the park.

It's Memorial Day weekend so all the weekend campers are out and have the park filled with smoke from their campfires (we call them smokes because they never seem to get any flames going, just smoke) so we're on lock down in the motor home with the windows close and the air on so we can breath while we watch our FIRST PLACE TIGERS play ball. I know that I'm forgetting a lot of things since there is so much here, but this is getting a little long and I have to make a pizza for lunch and then maybe another for dinner, after all it is a holiday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Battle of Tippecanoe

We just finished up a week in Cerro Cordo, Illinois, this is a little town, very little town that's east of Decatur . The first day here we went o the County Historical Museum which was very interesting, they had a lot of Lincoln stuff an some other very interesting artifacts but they don't allow any type of photography so it's hard to show you how nice it is.

The little campground we found right in town, we're the little guy on the right.

The second day here I twisted my back a little an then Cathy wrenched her knee so it was a few days of trading the heating pad and ice packs back and forth. Cabin fever started to set in so we took a little drive yesterday to the nearby Amish town of Arthur, not very much there but on the way home Cathy spotted an Outlet Mall so we both did some walking to ease our pains.
I think that we have already had 12 days of rain this week so that gave us plenty of time to rest up, but now it's time to pack up and take that long drive across the flat empty corn fields of Illinois and Indiana.

We're at a really nice campground that's on a lake that was formed by damming up the Tippecanoe River, they're calling for a lot more rain this week so we're going to try and take advantage of any sunshine we can get.

Sunshine, so we're on the road, first stop The Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum, we were her about 20 years ago but there was no museum at that time.
Time for a little history about this area and battle.

Prophetstown was founded in early 1808 by Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (the Prophet), they planned to unite all the tribes in the Midwest and organize a defense against the settlers moving into this area. It also became a training center for the almost 1000 warriors that were based here.

The settlers in the area became scared of the large number of Indians and the power that Tecumseh was gaining. Gen. William Henry Harrison, Governor of the territory, put together a small army of 1000 men in the late summer of 1811, to destroy the town. The plan was to attack while Tecumseh was down south attempting to recruit more tribes, he met with the Prophet and it was agreed that they would hold a meeting the following day, Harrison and his troops then move about a mile west to a clearing to set camp, not trusting the Indians he placed a large detail on sentinel Duty.

Prophet had been warned by Tecumseh not to attack the white man until he returned and they were able to make the confederation strong, ignoring this warning the Prophet gather his warriors that night and got them worked up for a battle , he cast a spell that would turn the white mans bullets into dust so they could not hurt the warriors then just before dawn he gave the order to attack.

A sentry heard a sound in the brush and fire a blind shot in that area, with luck it struck an Indian, who let out a scream and the battle was on, after two hours the Indians retreated leaving thirty-seven soldiers dead ans another twenty-five who would die of injuries, and over 128 were wounded. The Indian casualties were unknown, feeling that they had been deceived by the Prophet the warriors stripped him of his powers and left Phophetstown, abandoning their belongings. Harrison waited for a second attack but when it never came he entered Prophetstown and finding it abandon burnt it to the ground before returning to Vincennes.

Prior to the battle Prophet had told his warriors that Harrison would be the only one riding a light colored horse and that they were to kill him, in all the confusion at the start of the attack Harrison grabbed the closest horse, which was black, and started directing the battle, one of his officers grabbed Harrison's horse and was killed immediately, a small incident like this allowed Harrison to escape death making it possibly for him to go on and become the 9th President of the United States.

Following this defeat Tecumseh joined up with the British for the war of 1812, Harrison continue in the army and was Commander of the troops at the battle of the Thames where Tecumseh was killed in 1813. Prophet with a small band of followers, wandered the Northwest and Canada until his death in 1834.

The museum here really does a great job of explaining the battle in detail and has a lot of unique artifacts found during archaeological digs.

Just an interesting story and it mentions Detroit.

From here we drove around to the Prophetstown State Park and toured the 1920's living history farm. This was an interesting hour and a half, starting with our new friend Jake the tour dog who followed us the entire time, he goes to the corn bin and brings back a corn cob to play fetch with. There is a Sear catalog house (nine rooms an a bath), a barn with the cows and a young bull which we got to watch as they tried to corral him into a trailer to be moved to another part of the park, this only took them about 20 minutes.

They also have a team of eight Belgium work horse here, these are the same type of horse that are the trademark for Palm beer which is produced in Belgium. Budweisers horses are a copy of the Palms horses.
Now it's time to batten down the hatches for the thunderstorms that are coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Just a few more pictures of the farm.

She followed her babies where ever they went.

Just an old tractor

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Springfield in the Spring

On your way to Texas in the fall we traveled through the southern Illinois area and enjoyed it so much that we detoured to go back through that area on our way north.
Our first stop in the area of course was Charlie Parker's Diner for a Pony breakfast, Charlie Parker's was featured on Diners Drive-ins & Dives a few years ago, if you have a few minutes here's the clip from the show.

Charlie Parker's Video

After a day or two of Cathy locked in the State Archives, we drove over to the little zoo they have here. Only about a 45 minutes stop, they need to do a lot of cleaning to get it ready for the summer but they exhibits that were open had were very nice.

We had planned on a St Louis trip from here but the weather is really sucking this week, cool super over cast and rain everyday, so that will have to be put on the back burner for awhile. The one thing we do want to get in before we move on is the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Museum, we'll try that Monday, right after we have a Pony at Charlie Parker's Diner.

Another cloudy cool day, so we did a road trip down to Vandilia, this is the site of the second capitol of Illinois and they have converted the old Capitol Building into a museum. This is the Capitol where Lincoln started his political career as a staet representative. It's a small museum with about 6 rooms of displays, the tour takes about 20 minutes and is worth the stop if you're in the area.

The Madonna on the Trail.
Twelve of these large monuments mark the National Road and were erected by the DAR in the late 20's , the statue is of a mother holding her baby and here young son gripping her dress as they move to the western territories of the United States.

Map of Madonna's
This is the fourth Madonna that Cathy and I have come across in our travels.

Time for a Rant.
After dealing with the traffic in this area of Illinois for a couple of weeks (fall and spring) I'm starting to understand how Rod Blagojevich got elected governor of the state. If the people vote the same way they drive then they voted with their heads up their arse and got what they deserved.
Let me explain first of all I've never seen so many cars with personalized license plates,(over 50%) and it appears that since they paid extra for them they really want you to see them. Well if they're behind you in traffic then you can't see it so what they do is race up on your bumper (about as close as they can) then at the first opportunity, whether it's safe or not they pass you cutting back in front of you with maybe two feet to spare so that you are able to read their plate and discover how clever they were to come up with ,UR BHD ME or IM W STPD (and there is only the driver in the car). I understand the Blago's plate reads NT GILT.
This morning I was slowing down on a two lane back road to make a left on the only road for two miles, with my turn signal on, and a lady in a pickup passed me on the left in the intersection, another vote for Blago.
If I've offended anyone with this little rant, I won't apologize, but I will shove my head up my arse and be on my way. Happy motoring.