Day 2: October 19, 2017
Beans east, corn west.

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This would have made sense to include in yesterday's post but I didn't realize you could actually visit the place until I did some reading last night. This is the Big Things in a Small Town workshop. Looks like a gavel and baseball bat will be involved in future displays. I heard a rumor that a giant seesaw was in the works but saw no evidence of that in the shop.

I continued west on the National Road and snapped some pictures of the balconies in Greenup, Illinois, one of my favorite National Road towns.

In Effingham, I opted for something different and turned north on US-45 for the first time ever. The U.S. Grant Motel, in Mattoon, was closed last year for fire code violations and the sign is deteriorating. Judging from online reviews, we didn't lose much as far as a motel but I'd hate to lose that sign.

RoadsideAmerica alerted me to The Original Burger King a few blocks off of US-45. Gene and Betty Hoots founded the place in 1952 and sold it just last year to a long time employee. It isn't affiliated in any way with the Burger King chain. In fact, due to a 1968 court ruling, the big guys can't use the name within twenty miles of Mattoon. Good eating.

Just south of the village of Humboldt, I noticed what had to be an old roadway off to my right. I turned into Humbolt and found an asphalt paved connection to the old Portland cement road. The concrete ended about 3/4 mile later but my GPS indicated I could continue. I could see a pair of ruts extending further on but I didn't even think about trying it in the Miata. Instead I turned around and returned to the town and that rather new asphalt. The asphalt continued through the town, and so did I snapping a picture of the TELEPHONE BUILDING and its sculpture along the way. There was another concrete spur at the north edge of Humboldt that ended in a township gravel storage area. My curiosity wouldn't let me drive on until I drove back on the current US-45 to get a look at the other end of those ruts. They are certainly drivable in the right car.

I've passed numerous grain elevators over the last couple of days. In Arcola, the road runs right through a large cluster. A sign at roadside provides the sort of instructions needed when two crops are being harvested simultaneously. I confess to turning around to get a shot of the sign, and I got a glimpse of the town as I did. It was enough to pull me a few blocks off US-45 for a better look. Downtown has several brick streets and a few balconies. It also has quite a few murals such as the one of The City of New Orleans. The biggest surprise, however, was the bright red bench holding an oversized Raggedy Andy and Raggedy Ann. It turns out Arcola is the birthplace of the dolls' creator, Johnny Gruelle.

I was starting to get a little concerned about time, so when I accidentally lost US-45 in Champaign I didn't even try to sort it out, but just climbed onto I-57. I reached Joliet with enough time to check into my motel and even relax for a few minutes before heading to my first conference related event. I had passed up an optional bus tour over part of Historic Route 66 which returned to Joliet about the same time that I got there.

I met up with the tour group and others at The Forge for dinner and music. We were there for the wrap up of a sound check and the music started about 6:00. A little after 7:00, I headed back to the hotel thinking I had seen the Blooze Brothers. I had not been paying enough attention. This was a two band event and the Blooze Brothers came on after I left. The picture are of Strung Out.

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