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Rialto will spruce up part of Route 66 February 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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The City Council of Rialto, Calif., voted Tuesday to make $3.8 million in improvements in a stretch along Foothill Boulevard, aka Route 66, reported the Contra Costa Times.

The work will include repaving the road’s surface, but also other improvements:

The city is looking at enhancing the pavement at Riverside Avenue and Foothill Boulevard with pavers or scored and colored concrete in a grid pattern.

The aesthetic portion of the improvements include monument structures at the east and west entryways of the city, new street-name signs and new bus shelters near Riverside Avenue.

Route 66 plaques and the city seal could be mounted on the bus shelters.

The city hopes to begin the work this fall.

Hello from Germany February 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Here’s Floyd Blue performing “Route 66″ on ukelele … in two different speeds, no less.

Illinois Route 66 advocate Lenore Weiss dies February 22, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, People, Preservation.
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Lenore Weiss, a co-winner of the prestigious Steinbeck Award and other preservation honors for work that she and her husband John Weiss did for Route 66 in Illinois, died today after a battle with cancer. She was 63.

Lenore had told me some months ago that she had been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer, but faced it with her usual determination and optimism. Based on her e-mails, she continued to be heavily involved with Route 66 activities throughout her treatments.

A celebration of life will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9 to10:30 a.m. Friday at Patterson Funeral Home (map here) in Braidwood, Ill. A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Rose Church (map here) in Wilmington, Ill.

We first met John and Lenore Weiss about 10 years ago when we joined an army of volunteers from the Illinois Route 66 Association to repaint a huge  Meramec Caverns ad on a barn off Route 66 near Hamel, Ill. The Weisses were the guiding forces of that effort, along with the repainting of another Meramec Caverns ad on a barn off Route 66 near Cayuga, Ill.

Other projects the Weisses led were the renovating The Mill in Lincoln, Ill.; Odell Station in Odell, Ill.; moving a Paul Bunyan statue to Atlanta, Ill.; fixing up an old streetcar diner in Gardner, Ill; restoring an old Route 66 bridge in Pontiac, Ill.; and other endeavors I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

Their efforts culminated in winning the prestigious John Steinbeck Award in 2002 at the annual Route 66 Steinbeck Awards Banquet, and they were elected to the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame.

John and Lenore were pretty much joined at the hip, and we greatly appreciated their “can-do” attitude about preserving historic properties on Route 66 in Illinois. Their leadership in preservation efforts were considered a model for others, and helped guide otherpreservation programs in Route 66’s other seven states and beyond.

The Weisses also were enthusiastic road-trippers. They parlayed that firsthand knowledge into an impressively researched “New, Historic Route 66 of Illinois” guidebook and “Traveling the Historic Three,” which served as a guidebook for the Lincoln Highway, Dixie Highway and Route 66 in the Chicagoland area. They also became big supporters of Route 66 festivals in Illinois, including the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival.

Lenore Weiss is survived by her husband, two brothers, and one son, Mark Ramsey of Custer Park, Ill.

Memorial donations can be made to Hospice of Kankakee Valley, 482 Main St. NW, Bourbonnais , IL 60914, or The Flat-Coated Retriever Foundation – Cancer/Health Fund, c/o Cheryl Kistner/FCR Foundation Treasurer, 27941 W. Flynn Creek Drive, Barrington , IL 60010.

UPDATE: An obituary in the Joliet Herald-News can be seen here.

UPDATE2: A message from Kathy Miller from the Illinois Route 66 Association:

Friends,

It is with a sad heart that I am soliciting memories and comments about Lenore Weiss to use in the spring issue of “The 66 News” for a center spread as we did for Bob Waldmire.  Please be brief, limiting your thoughts to two to four sentences.

I must have your submission no later than Friday, February 25, 2010.

Miller’s e-mail is kathleen708(at)hotmail(dot)com.

UPDATE3: The Joliet Herald-News has posted a more expansive story on Lenore today. One excerpt:

“She was the first lady of Route 66,” said Rebecca Barker, spokeswoman for the Joliet Visitors Center. “Those entire Route 66 corridor signs downtown and roadside attraction signs are there because of Lenore and John Weiss.”

Notes from the road February 21, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Events, History, Music, Road trips, Towns.
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I’ve tried to glean a deeper look at the crisis in Needles, Calif., over the possible loss of its only grocery store, Bashas’. The grocer chain filed bankruptcy a few months ago, and it is set to close 10 stores in response, including Needles’.

This recent story in the Mohave Daily News provides additional information about the city’s effort to keep the grocer open.

Ideas include possibly returning some of Bashas’ city sales tax to them or lowering their electric rate to help them offset their lease payments, which Williams said were $17,500. Because Needles has a municipal electric company, they might be able to offer Bashas’ an incentive on their electric bill to the city, which currently runs around $25,000 per month, Williams said.

Bashas’ pays between $2,000 and $3,000 per month to the city of Needles in sales tax, Williams said. California does not tax food, so all of the tax money collected is on aluminum cans and non-food items sold at the store. […]

“From what I understand, it’s a landlord issue,” he said. “It’s not Bashas’. Bashas’ wants to stay.”

KABC-TV also filed a report a few days ago on the crisis. One thing that was reported that I didn’t know is that Needles has no public transportation. So if the grocery store closes, there’s no public option for people to ride a bus to the nearest grocer 20 miles away.

And a letter to the editor by J. Maier in the San Bernardino County Sun had these interesting comments:

[C]an anybody tell me why we are helping everybody else in the world but fail to take care of those who work each and every day, and those past and present who have served our country with honor many who lost their lives for the freedom we all enjoy today?

With that said, I am asking folks like Jack Brown (CEO of Stater Bros. markets), actors and actresses, pro sports athletes, talk show hosts like Oprah and Dr. Phil, Bill Gates, etc., to step up to the plate and simply “help our own,” once and for all!

I’m still absolutely stunned that a town like Needles, Calif., which numbers more than 5,000 people, may lose its only grocery store. A grocery store may be a private enterprise, but they’re as much of a necessity as power, water and shelter. If Bashas’ leaves, maybe it’s time for a nonprofit, publicly owned store.

— Check out the Greetings from Coldwater blog, which is a fictional account of a young woman, Sierra, who buys a historic motel on Route 66 in eastern New Mexico.

— The Road Crew musical group will perform at the Route 66 & Classic Car Festival in Litchfield, Ill., starting at 7:30 p.m. on June 25. The group, based in Nashville, recorded an entire album based around Route 66.

Essential Travel reports that travelers from the United Kingdom are increasingly drawn to the United States as a destination. And a UK travel representative said that Route 66 is “still a firm favourite.”

— Here’s Claudia Heller’s latest entry in her series about Route 66 towns in the Mojave Desert. This one delves into the desolation and history of the town of Bagdad.

— Finally, Willem Bor of the Netherlands has completed another 1/25 scale model of a Route 66 landmark, this time the Twin Arrows complex in Twin Arrows, Ariz. Here’s a photo of the model he sent me:

An interview with Joe Sonderman February 21, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Books, People, Road trips.
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Longtime St. Louis-area roadie Joe Sonderman is interviewed by phone regarding his new book from Arcadia Publishing, “Route 66 in New Mexico,” and talks about the Mother Road in general.

Sonderman’s comments about New Mexico itself are especially knowledgeable … spoken like a person who’s been there many times.

Sonderman’s 66 Postcards site is here, where you can also order his books.

UPDATED: “Route 66″ TV show app has an identity problem February 20, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games, Television.
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About 10 episodes from the original “Route 66″ television series were recently released as iPhone and iTouch applications.

Each full episode in the app costs 99 cents, and includes a few screen shots. It gives you the option of watching the episode on a full screen on your iPhone or iTouch that crops a bit of the top and bottom of the image, or you can adjust it to see the entire image as you would have on television.

The apps were developed by I-Mobilize courtesy of Infinity Entertainment, owner of the rights to the show.

Ten episodes were available Saturday night at the AppShopper store. A spokesman said in an e-mail Saturday that additional episode apps would be released if sales were good.

I downloaded what was described as “Route 66 #7″ on my iTouch. The app included about a half-dozen screen shots from that app’s particular episode, “Across Walnuts & Wine” from Season 3.

The images of the show looked sharp on the my iTouch’s small screen, and I could clearly hear all of the dialogue on the iTouch’s tiny speaker. Here’s an image from the episode that I shot with my camera of co-stars George Maharis and Martin Milner in their Corvette:

Typical for the show’s high quality, I found “Across Walnuts & Wine” engrossing and thought-provoking.

However, there’s one big problem.

Neither the AppShopper site nor the Apple iTunes site tells you which episode you would get with the app. Other than the basic backstory of the show and technical information about the app, the description tells you nothing about the title of the “Route 66″ episode, what date it aired, who guest-starred in it, the plot … zilch.

The identity problem with those apps is something that Infinity or I-Mobilize will have to rectify to prevent customer complaints. Customers, after all, do want to know what they’re getting.

A more minor problem is the size of the app itself. Each one is just under 400 megabytes, which makes it a big resource hog for a typical iPhone and iTouch. If you downloaded all 10 “Route 66″ apps, you’d probably have no memory left. So having a sizable collection of “Route 66″ episodes on your Apple device probably isn’t practical.

Given its limitations, the “Route 66″ iPhone apps are little more than a publicity device to juice sales for the “Route 66″ DVD sets, which frequently come priced to $1 an episode and contain more special features.

UPDATE: I passed along my concerns to I-Mobilize, and a spokesman pledged to add more pertinent information to the apps.

UPDATE2: I recently checked the iTunes Apps store, and the “Route 66″ apps had been updated with the episode title, which season it aired, and guest stars. So give I-Mobilize credit for responding to the concerns.

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