Monday, August 31, 2009


The large sign reads, "Boxcar Computers" with the phone number listed. Would you bring your laptop to this establishment or have someone working from this trailer repair your computer? This Boxcar Computers business was located in the corner of a run-down strip mall along the road in Ft Leonard Wood. Hey, Qaptain Qwerty, I heard from a reliable source that this Boxcar Computers is selling Snow Leopard at half price off the retail value!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This post is dedicated to the Lone Gunman - attractions were created by towns along Route 66 to intrigue travelers, drawn by these one-of-a-kind oddities, willing to get off the road and spend their dollars at places such as this sort-of pink elephant (above photo) and the Giant Surfer Dude, aka the Beach Guy (photo below) standing in front of an antique mall. The Dude is one of the five Giants along the Route in Illinois. (Lone Gunman, did you find the photo of the Giant you saw on your trip many years ago?)
According to EZ 66 Guide by Jerry McClanahan, this antique mall was formerly the Coliseum Ballroom, a historic structure dating to 1924 and the Giant Surfer Dude was a prop from the movie "Flatliners".
Benjamin in front of a giant ice cream cone in Staunton, Illinois. At first look, I thought the building looked more like a Cup Cake (below). Benjamin thought it was really cool that the Ice Cream stand was built in the shape of a cone and vanilla twist as rooftop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The Cyclone, a cultural icon of Coney Island, always evokes a sense of nostalgia, of wonderful childhood memories and excitement in grown-ups. According to The Big Onion Guide to Brooklyn, the Cyclone dates from 1927, and is the last working roller coaster and one of the few wooden roller coasters in America. I never was fond of roller coasters. The one time I went on a ride at a park in Michigan in 1991, I bit my lower lip so hard that by the end of the ride it was bleeding and I had to be taken to the First Aid station. I could not talk for the rest of the day and even today my husband still remembers as the most peaceful and nicest day in our 20 years of marriage!
Coney Island = Amusement Park, Thrilled Rides and bumper car-ing at the Eldorado Auto Skooter. Riders must be 42 inches tall to get behind the wheel.
Not for the faint of heart, a ride on the Cyclone will keep the riders on the sidelines 180-degree turns 6 times, 12 drops from 85 feet at a 60-degree angle, 16 changes of direction and 27 evalation changes. It definitely would not be a pretty sight if I dared to go on a ride, especially after eating a Nathan's Famous dog.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Spotted this painted pig while driving along Lakeshore Drive from Grand Haven to Holland during our recent visit earlier this month. You could see Benjamin tried to say hello to the Pig. Lakeshore Drive is a pleasant road with cottages, nice homes, a few mansions with great lakeview and mature trees lining both sides the road, providing a romantic feeling for travelers seeking a slow pace instead of the highway US 31.
Benjamin commented that with the all fancy colorful painting, it is still a pig!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


In keeping with the Route 66 Saturday theme and following the post about Nathan's Famous Frankfurter, here are photos of "Tall Paul" aka the former Bunyon's Giant, in downtown Atlanta, Illinois, holding a Giant Hot Dog.
Benjamin was pretty hungry when we got into town, he almost took a bite out of the giant hot dog - haa haa.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Standing at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenue, Nathan's Famous looked exactly the way I remembered seeing it for the first time in 1982 when we visited Coney Island, two years after we came to America. I was never able to taste the famous franks because they did not agree with my digestion system. You don't want to know how my body reacted, it is not pleasant!
Together with fireworks, Fourth of July also brings in Nathan's hot dogs eating contest. It is an international event since 1996 and the winners were usually rail-thin Asian persons, or even women, who would down more than 50 hot dogs in less than 15 minutes. However, last year and again this year, the winner is Joey Chestnut, an American competitive eater (I did not know there is such title) who ate 68 dogs with buns in 10 minutes, breaking his own records of 66 dogs with buns in 12 minutes in 2008. My stomach hurts just from typing about this event.
Legend has it the contest began in 1916, when four immigrants had a dog-off at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island to settle an argument about who was the most patriotic. Neer Sehgal won that bout, eating 13 dogs in 10 minutes.Read more:
How appropriate to have a glass painting of a hot dog in a bun as part of the decoration of the subway station. Was that blue mustard or ketchup on the dog?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I took these photos of the Shore Hotel because I thought the abandoned building looked interesting being covered up with colorful painted boards and kind of pretty in a sad way, like an old woman who tried to dress up in a faded fancy evening grown and heavy make-up without any place to go or hopelessly waiting to be invited to a party. According to the blog Vanishing New York, the building will soon be replaced with a high rise. I am glad I took these photos.

I could not find much information on Google about this building with the sign Terminal Hotel. But I found another neat website,
Below are a few more photos of the Shore Theatre. I forgot to bring the book The Big Onion Guide to Brooklyn with me but when I saw the SHORE sign, I knew this large 1920s building on Stillwell Avenue was special.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


During my most recent visit to NYC in May, I went to Coney Island and with a 2GB memory stick in the camera, I kept taking photos of whatever I thought was interesting. I am glad I did and thanks to the recent posts about Coney Island in Jemeriah Moss's blog, Vanishing New York - - I learned more about Coney Island and its historical importance to New York and American culture. Let's make it clear that I am not promoting Mr. Moss' blog or that he needed me to help with his well-known blog and already long list of followers. I enjoy reading Vanishing New York and it is one of my daily reading after, of course, Qaptain Qwerty. VNY gives me a sense of being in NYC and as Mr. Moss wrote, "A New Yorker is someone who longs for New York", and I am always longing for New York, my American hometown.

I hope Mr. Moss would not object that I "borrow" writing from his blog to provide "descriptions" to the photos I took. I took the above photo of the Shore Theatre but did not know until I read in VNY that "The Shore Theater, formerly known as the Loews Coney Island, is being considered for landmark status as the City revs up the bulldozers for Coney. “The architectural quality is every bit as wonderful as Broadway theaters that have received landmarking,” said Dick Zigun to Brooklyn Paper this week. “The city let us know they’re sympathetic to our request.”
Read Mr. Moss' VNY for more interesting stories about the museum (photo above). A post about Coney Island would not be complete without a photo about Nathan's Famous! (below photo)

Mr. Moss wrote about the building, Herman Popper Building, photo above- - - "It was built by brewer Herman Popper and his brother sometime between 1890 and 1906, first as a distillery and then as a tavern, says Forgotten NY. According to historian John Manbeck, via the Brooklyn Eagle, Popper opened the tavern on Surf Avenue "to better serve the Irish bars that sprang up on Coney Island’s Bowery, joining the German restaurants. Victorians crowded the streets, lubricated by a 'growler' or 'bucket of suds.' Irish waiters, who doubled as tenors, served a brew with a 'Coney Island head' on the beer—more suds than liquid—to unsuspecting rubes.'"

I am glad I took the photo below showing the street sign "Surf Avenue". It sure came in handy for this post.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Saw this sign at Shea's Gas Station Museum in Springfield, Illinois. The old gas station is a must-stop, must-see attraction on Illinois Route 66. Seeing this sign, I also thought of the saying, "I married Mr. Right but I did not know his middle name was Always!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009


There is a Vietnamese expression "Di Mot Ngay Dang, Hoc Mot San Khon" - With each journey in life, you gain a valuable lesson. (I believe Qaptain Qwerty would appreciate that I manage to incorporate a Vietnamese popular saying into this post about my American experience riding along on the historic Route 66.) I wish to praise the people who are responsible for the placement of all the historic Route 66 signs in Illinois. The signs are excellent, providing exact turn-by-turn directions and placed in the most well-planned system along the route. In fact, the signs with the arrows of turning right, left or proceed straight ahead, were so good that we stopped using the book EZ 66 Guide for Route 66 Travelers (2nd Edition) by Jerry McClanahan. (Mr. McClanahan, we don't wish to offend you. Your book is very helpful and I would highly recommend it. However, with direction signs like these in Illinois, we did not depend on your book as much as we would in Missouri.)
The signs are wonderful, assisting travelers to navigate thru towns and junctions with ease, also not only how to follow the historic route but also having the option of following the old route (1940-1977) or the new route after the realignment.
I also appreciate the sign (below) of the state road (South Illinois 157) above the historic Route 66 sign because we find these signs when putting together very helpful and assurance, especially when we need to make a quick jump back to the highway. In Missouri, most of the time we only saw the brown historic Route 66 signs and they are placed so far in between that we would drive for miles not really sure if we were traveling in the right route and time wasted when we had to turn around because a wrong turn was made at the intersections.

These signs are placed along the route in additional to the historic Route 66 signs, guiding travelers to major attractions in town, making it so easy to know how to get to downtown and to Route 66 Museum (photo above) or to historic gas station (photo below). It was almost as if we were provided a personal tour guide. In my humble opinion, compared to Missouri, Illinois got my vote for doing a much better job at promoting historic Route 66 with brochures that provide good details and well-written descriptions of the towns and major attractions, providing much friendlier and well-planned directions and definitely more inviting for future returning visits.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We had a great time at Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival Parade. We "ran" into Rose and she invited us to sit with her family. The evening before the parade, Rose and many others were allowed to set up their reserved space with chairs and blankets. Initially, my husband and I planned to stand along the parade route waiting for Dan Bylsma. Rose was nice enough to offer us the chairs so it was very enjoyable watching the entire parade. My husband used to work with Rose's husband, Sid, in Muskegon, Michigan. We kept in touch once a year at Christmas time. We did not plan to visit anyone, but it was nice seeing Rose, Sid and their children again. Actually, their middle son got married last year and now has a 5 months old son.
The Parade was scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. and last until about 2:30 p.m. featuring local marching bands, community floats, Coast Guard bagpipers, local and state government dignitaries. We were among thousands of children and adults lining Washington Street in downtown Grand Haven waving and cheering as the floats went by. We all stood up when the veterans groups and United States Coast Guard Color Guard went by.
Just like any parade, there were legislators riding in classic cars, waving and smiling. Then it occured to me that after awhile, we could not tell the clowns from the politicians! We even attempted to make our points across to a senator who has not done much since he first got elected in 1990. "Senator Pork Barrell, please read the entire bill carefully before you vote on this so-called health plan", we called out and the senator responded, "I heard you, I will". When another went by, we again made our opinions known, "Congressman Say-Anything-to-Get-Elected, make sure you find out how to pay for it before you vote on any plans." (It did not matter that we were no longer Michigan voters). I was glad that we spoke up and reminded these politicians that they must listen to the people and that they work for the people. (Just for the records, we were not at the town hall meetings in St. Louis that made national news. We would not want to be labelled "angry mob" or "un-American". I believe it is juvenille and coward to play the name-calling game just because the people would not allow politicians to pass legislative that carry hidden agenda.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


As expected, the temperature soared over 100 last weekend. No surprise here, it is August in St. Louis except we just came back from Grand Haven. It was 70 degrees there with the low in the 60s when we walked along the boardwalk in the evening. The beach and the lake looked so inviting but we could tell that the kids were shivering from the cold water. We watched these boys having fun waiting for the waves rushing onto the end of the catwalk, then laughing while running away from the splash.
The catwalk looked so inviting, yet it could turn deadly. Almost every year, someone (sadly teenagers) got swept away when the large waves together with high wind crashing across and dragged the person down into the lake. There is a memorial plaque at the beginning of the pier for two young men, both 17, lost their lives in 1995 when the first young man got washed off the pier and his friend tried to help him but both were shocked from the cold water and then got pushed off further and further out away from the shore.
After a busy schedule in Grand Haven and all the driving and making so many stops along Route 66, we were so happy not having any plans this weekend. I stayed in all day Saturday. After the 10:15 Mass on Sunday, I went to the grocery store and again stayed inside the rest of the day. Too hot to be outdoor and it was one of those days when I did not feel like doing anything.
Here is Benjamin having a relaxing day on the beach, watching the mallards lining on a tree log while a lonely seagull chilling out on one of the wooden pylons along the marina. (I had to remind Benjamin that getting a suntan might not be good for his "fair" complexion - haa haa).


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