Friday, June 30, 2006

The truck

I took this photo in Clear Lake, Iowa to send to my nephew Doug. I started to think about why and realized I needed to write this story.

My favorite brother Bob(everyone in the family felt the same way) and Doug's father had a 1955 Ford pickup.

Very nice old truck, custom cab with heater ( that used to be an option on trucks )and the even more rare electric windshield wipers and turn signals.

I ended up with the truck in the late 70's and added a 400ci Pontiac V-8 with the 400 tranny. I traded a car I had paid $45 for it and a friend that had a salvage yard said I could have all the parts off a Pontiac for $30. Built tranny crossmember and motor mounts, dropped in the engine-tranny combo with the Pontaic radiator, added twin glasspacks and I was on my way. When I had the truck running I had a total of $113 (no that is not a typo)in it. I used this truck as my daily driver for a couple years.

I later painted it black primer and ran 1963 Galaxie hubcaps on it. The hubcaps had a pretty blue center that matched the seat in the truck. It had the stance of the one in the picture due to the heavy engine-tranny combo and slightly larger tires on the back. I was very proud of it. Always wanted "white spoke wheels" (remember those), but never came up with any.

Used to drive it 50 miles to the dragstrip, take off the hubcaps, lower the tailgate, flog the crap out of it all day long, and then drive it home. At the drag strip it ran in the low 17's simply because it would not "hook-up" and would smoke the right rear tire over half the 1/4 mile. It would not stop spinning until the tranny shifted into high gear. On the street it was a very nice performer and would out run my buddy's 455 ci TransAm that he thought was so fast. The TransAm ran in the 15's at the track because it was not spinning the tires. Oh, to young and reckless again.

This truck was very dependable and never failed me. Even without power steering, it drove and handled great. I drove it to work everyday on a 45 mile roundtrip commute. I never received a ticket driving it and as I look back I can't imagine getting away with the tire smoking stunts I was pulling. I was working at a tire shop at the time and used tires were plentiful and I used up my share.

Doug finally talked me out of the truck and it went back home. He later rebuilt the engine while attending vo-tech school. He drove it for awhile and when I had a bright red Camero for sale he just had to let me have it back. He always regretted getting rid of it and had just recently acquired another to fix up.

This truck played a part in our family history for about 8 years and I still think they are one of the nicest body styles ever built. So Doug this is for you.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


When I stay at a motel I take several liberties that
some people may label me a thief.

I top my ice chest off (yes, I know what the sign says). Usually 2 and at the most 3 buckets of ice.

I take the shampoo with me even I did not open it, and sometimes the unopened bar of soap. I keep an unopened bar of soap in my briefcase that I carry in my big truck.

If the continental breakfast has fruit and muffins individually wrapped, I have been known the grab some for later. Can I count this as their cost of doing business or am I just a common thief trying to justify my actions?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An amazing story

While on my 1/2 day (7 hours) Saturday morning run, I was mulling over ( and you thought all truck drivers ever did was drive and check out the "seatcovers") what I wanted to post today.

I had a couple stories in mind but what I saw put those on the back-burner for I knew I had to tell this as it brought tears of sadness and joy to me.

I stopped for a Diet A&W rootbeer ( I have type 2 diabetes, well under control ) at my usual c-store with enough room to park my rig.

Several motorcycles were gassing up and I saw a young man with a prosthesis leg walking over to his motorcycle. I was amazed at his ability to ride with one leg missing at the knee.

I politely asked if he would be offended if I photographed him on his bike. He very pleasantly agreed and off to my truck I went to retrieve my camera.

As we chatted and and I took this photo, I asked if he would mind explaining how he lost his leg. Being that I estimated his age to be in his 30's, I figured he would tell of losing it in the war or perhaps since he was on a motorcycle, then maybe a m/c accident . The answer absolutely floored me.

He patted his left knee and said he had diabetes and had lost his leg to the disease 3 years ago.

Then he patted his right knee and said he had lost his right foot within the last year. He was waiting to be fitted with a prosthetic foot and was wearing what the called his "sock foot".

I was curious about how long he had been riding a m/c. Again the answer was not what I was expecting.

He had always wanted a m/c and after his kidney transplant 5 years ago ( he might have said "liver", but at this point my mind was on over-load), his wife wanted a m/c for herself and 1 year ago he took up riding for the first time and had recently purchased this bike for himself. He jokenly said, "I am high maintenance".

All to soon his friend was ready to go and off they went. If his story does not bring a tear to your eye, then you are truly "jaded". This young man is an inspiration to all.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nice "pair" of bobbers.

As a boy fishing bobbers were called "corks". That was because they were made of real cork. As plastic started being used, they started being called "bobbers". We often used wooden twigs as bobbers as they were free and looked more natural in the water. Did I mention they were "free".

When I spotted these and had to take a picture. They are so cute. What could be caught with bobbers like these?

They may be antique, but they don't look "old". Hehe, Hehe.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The "Duke" and the Lady

Winterset, Iowa

We stopped to see the birthplace of my childhood hero. Yes, could beat the crap out of Steven Seagal.
Just a small 4 room house on a corner lot.

We were told it was a Sears & Roebuck house.

It could be built with the door on the side or in the corner for a corner lot.

Outside the gift shop was this van under a carport.

A diehard John Wayne fan had donated it to the museum. I failed to photograph the inside but it was decorated in cowboy motif. It had barroom style doors leading to a bed in back.

The murals were very impressive. While we were looking at the van, we missed a tour of the house. Because it is small, they limit the group to 20 people.
The next tour would be in about 30 minutes.

This gave us time to look around the gift shop and read the many articles.

About 10 minutes before the next tour was supposed to start, in walks Patricia Neal. She starred in "In Harm's Way" with John Wayne.

She was in town to do a photo-opt with the governor later that night and was making her first visit to the home.

She was still a striking lady and stood beside a near life size cutout of the Duke.
The museum had no clue that she was coming.
Being on a tight schedule and needing to be in the home without others, our tour was delayed. She was very much apologetic for holding us up. It was well worth it. They say, "timing is everything".

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Judy left me!

Dang, she called and said she would be back Saturday. She went to Branson ( do I really have to say Missouri ) on an annual trip with her sisters Linda, Jeanie, and brother Steve.

Steve has more courage than I. It would take a boat load of valium to put up with those three girls and Branson too.

Good luck brother-in-law, should I have a cold one waiting on your return?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I'm a reader

I have always enjoyed reading. I still can remember the excitement when I received my first "library card".

The thrill of knowing I could enter a small building and take home all the adventures a young boy could ever hope for was almost magical to me.

The school library offered little more than books I was expected to read. The city library offered a seemingly unlimited array of places to travel in my mind.

For those that have now already heard of the following site, please check it out.

I have received 8 books, mailed 23 ( 2 that I haven't received credits for ), have 16 credits ( until the last 2 are received ), and have 88 books on "my bookshelf. I have been a member since December of last year after hearing about it on NPR radio.

This is how it works:

1..List at least 9 or more books in the system to become an active member and receive 3 free credits to get you started trading. List as many books as possible to be more successful in trading.

2..Browse our online list of books posted by club members, and use your credits to order books.

3..Selected books are delivered right to your mailbox, for free!

4..When other members order books that you have listed, you mail them from your mailbox and you pay the postage (usually $1.59). Order a book and the owner of the book pays the postage to you.

5..You get one credit (good for one book) for every book you mail when it is received by the club member who requested it.

6..List as many books as you like. The more books you mail to other members, the more credits you'll receive.

Check it out. I may be something you want to use.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Windmill farm

Near Joice, Iowa I spotted this windmill farm. I think alternative energy sources should be utilized to the fullest.
35 landlowners and about 5,300 acres make up this farm.

It seemed to go on for miles. I know every resource has its own problems but this surely is better than coal fired plants.
There are 89 windmills on 15.5 miles of service road.

I took this photo to get it some proportion. I applaud the people that has made this happen.
The towers are 235 feet tall with a total extended height of 323 feet. The blades are 85 feet long making the rotor diameter 171 feet.
This farm will power 25,000 homes.

For more facts check out

Pictures do not do the enormous size justice.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers day

I hope that all you dads had a chance to hug your kids today. My son came down from Fayetteville to spend the day with me.
He took Judy and I out to lunch and we had a very nice visit. We discussed how to get my passport (no, I have never needed one before) and shop online for my ticket to France. I haven't been on a plane in nearly 40 years.

We finally had some much needed rain over the last two days. I have a few 'maters and will pick the first ripe one tomorrow. Might even post a picture. Heck, there is nothing as good as "homegrown 'maters".

So to all you dads, Happy Fathers Day.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bridges of Madison County

The Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge was built in 1871 by Eli Cox, it is 79 feet long.

Originally is spanned the North River near Bevington but was movet to Winterset city part in 1970 and was renovated in 1997 for $35,538

Holiwell Covered Bridge, built in 1880 by Benton Jones and located over the Middle River southeast of Winterset, is the longest bridge, measuring 122 feet.

It was featured in "The Bridges of Madison County". Renovated in 1995 for $225,000.

Imes Covered Bridge is the oldest, built in 1870. First located over Middle River near Patterson, it was moved in 1887 to Clanton Creek near Hanley, then moved to its present site just east of St. Charles in 1977.

It was renovated in 1977 for $31,801.
Five of the original 19 covered bridges remain.

The day the music died

Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa. February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly gave his last performance.

Read more about it here, . Be sure to read "annotated American Pie".

The coroners report is probably more detailed than most will want to read. We did not go to the actual site of the plane crash as it was getting late and required a walk of about 1/2 mile at the end of a gravel road (or so we were told).
The small garden tribute was nice without being gaudy. Clear Lake is a very nice town and the beach on the lake had few people as it was about 60 degrees and overcast.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


We stopped at the Rest Area/Welcome Center on I-35 and had lunch on one of their covered picnic tables.
They had wi-fi as well as the usual info and maps.

Very nice building and the grounds were outstanding. Plenty of parking for autos and trucks with several covered picnic tables.

This marker was on the grounds and I enjoyed reading about the Mormons that had passed this way.

We move about the country so effortlessly today that we can't comprehend the hardships our earlier settlers encountered.

A quickie

Not much time this morning so here is a few shots I took in IOWA. I truly loved this state.

Is ELVIS the Dean or just teach here?

Followed these ladies about 5 miles before I could get a shot of the buggy without taking a picture of them. They would rather not have their faces photographed.

Does this mean you can't get any info here?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Keep my tax money!

Our only problem on the trip happened in Kansas City. We normally

stay in DAYS INN motels as they seem have nice enough rooms for a fair price and furnish some type of breakfast ( that saves a few bucks).

Exit 69 off I-35 has one so I check in. While I unload our things, I just feel uncomfortable with the people standing around and those checking in. Upon entering the room we find no towel or wash cloths, so I go to the deck and ask for them. They apologize and hand over some fresh from the drier ( this is at 7 pm).

I ask if the area is safer than it looks and was told "sure, just don't go outside after dark". We were planning to eat and go to a "boat". After returning to the room my wife informs me the a/c is not cooling and while sitting on the bed to check it out, I find the bed smells of "pee". Combine that with the fact the people in the next room are yelling at the top of their lungs I decide to get my money (I paid with cash) back and leave.

The lady at the desk said "no problem" and I return to the room to retrieve our stuff. Upon returning to the desk the manager was there and said we would have to pay the taxes on the room. I said fine you can keep the $12 ( I know he put it in his pocket). Little did he know but he could have had the full amount as we were not staying, period.

As we were driving out we noticed the sign on the side of the motel, WEEKLY RATES, I think they might also rent by the hour.

Things worked out. We went a few mile to Liberty, Mo. and things were much better at another DAYS INN. The new place plus the lost $12 was still cheaper by a couple bucks.

Visiting my brother

One of the things on my list was to visit my brothers gravesite. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he is buried at Fort Scott Military Cemetery.

I didn't know my brother was gone ( I guess every family has its own tales)until I tried to find him to let him know our oldest brother has died. So on this trip I just needed to go by and say "goodbye and tell him how much I loved him". It was wonderful to get the chance. I'm having a hard time with this so I will just move on.

On US54 in Kansas near the Missouri line I spotted this earth-sheltered home and stopped to take a picture. I knocked on the door hoping to talk but they were hiding out. I know they were home because a glass with ice was on the patio table. Just wanted to ask to take a few pictures from different spots.

Vacation by the numbers

Total miles= 2317
Gas= 79.087 gallons
Average MPG=28.285
Dollars on gas=$213.55
Average price=$2.709

Motels for 8 days=$575.68
Average on motel=$71.96, this included 2 nights in a "resort" (very nice).

That's the dollars and cents and I will report on the fun part in no particular order as time permits.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm back !

Just arrived home from our little vacation. About 2400 miles, thu Mo., Ks., Ia., Mn., and Ws. I took lots of photos and will have several tales to pass along as soon as I have the time.
Starting a new "run" tomorrow, so time will be at a premium for a while.
I have a weeks worth of your lives to catch up on first.

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