Trip Peek #29
Trip #94
Buzzards with Syrup

pv74This picture is from my 2011 Buzzards with Syrup trip. The name comes from combining a trip to see the buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio, with the Maple Madness Drive-It-Yourself Tour to visit several producers of syrup and other maple based products. The buzzards officially return on March 15, the Maple Madness Tour is a weekend thing which I tackled on Saturday the 19th, and the Buzzard Day Festival took place the next day on Sunday. That left the days in between to visit Center of the World, a couple museums, and the shore of Lake Erie  plus celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The picture is from the festival when experts from the Medina Raptor center were present to show and talk about the birds.

Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Dead Man String Band CD Release

dmsb1This week, I once again came close to using a canned post but I know you’d much rather see what I saw Saturday night than a Trip Peek or another old car. Saturday night was the release party for I, the first CD from Dead Man String Band, at Southgate House Revival. Rob McAllister IS the Dead Man String Band. I’ve seen Rob play on several occasions but, much to my chagrin, this was my first time seeing DMSB. Turns out it was also the first time for Rob’s mom. And it was the first time for the coffin, which Rob jumped out of to start the show, and the makeup. “Sorry, Mom”, said the Dead Man.

dmsb2I didn’t meet Mom but I did meet Dad who was very much enjoying what was obviously not his first DMSB show. The music is described as Appalachian punk folk and that seems about right to me. I don’t know how long it will remain but, at the moment, there is a free download of a single from the album here. There is a nicely done video of the same song, “Joe’s Not Here”, here and an interesting interview with Rob here. Rob has developed into a pretty impressive finger picker and DMSB is a pretty impressive one-man Appalachian punk folk band.

Pie Are Round

piday01Yesterday was Pi Day. It was, in fact, the Pi Day of the Century and, for most people, the Pi Day of a Lifetime. It is possible that some individuals will see Pi Days like the most recent twice in their lifetimes but the chances are good that they will be either too young or too old to wield their own fork on either occasion.

Pi is the name (actually the Greek letter π) given to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is an irrational number which means calculating it leads to an infinite number of decimal places. To keep discussions from being infinitely long (although they may still be irrational), the number 3.14 is often used as a reasonable approximation. Since folks in the USA usually write dates as mm/dd/yy, the fourteenth of March looks a lot like the short form pi and some clever person, taking advantage of the fact that the Greek letter and the English language name of a tasty edible are homophones, decided to call March 14 Pi Day and celebrate pie. In addition to being limited to people who speak English, the holiday is pretty much restricted to the United States of America. For most of the rest of the world, including other residents of North America, yesterday was 14/3/15 with no connection to either circles or baked goods. But, for English speakers living between Mexico and Canada, yesterday was 3/14/15. The short form pi, when extended by a couple of digits, is 3.1415 and those two digits are what make yesterday the Pi Day of the Century.

piday02I chose to celebrate my Pi Day of a Lifetime at the Bluebird Bakery in Glendale. Glendale is known for its black squirrels and has a number of squirrel statues — almost none of which are black  — displayed around town. This was my second Pi Day visit to the Bluebird and I’m sure it won’t be my last. There are some very good goodies here.

piday04piday03That’s a peanut butter pie at the top of this post and several other varieties were available as well. I settled on key lime since it sort of hints at warmth and sunshine and that’s something I’m definitely ready for. The approximation of pi can be extended as far as desired and it is a simple matter to get the clock involved along with the calendar. I took the picture of my slice of pie exactly twenty-six minutes after 9:00 AM then carefully timed the eating so that I chomped down on the first bite at exactly 3/14/15 9:26:53.

The basis for Pi Day may be silly but some of its effects are not. Silliness is just the thing for drawing attention and the day is being used more and more to make kids aware of the practical uses of pi and some of those other numbers, too. Some area libraries and museums offered pi/pie related activities and an evening program at the Cincinnati Observatory Center demonstrated practical applications of pi along with pieces of pie from local restaurants. Throw in a mention or two of it being Albert Einstein’s birthday and those kids may just learn a little history, math, and astronomy without it hurting a bit.

Alternate Dixie

pic05cI took advantage of a not-snowing above-freezing day (It’s all relative.) to take a day trip on part of the Dixie Highway to Berea, Kentucky. Rain washed away any thoughts of making it a multi-day outing but the drive down was very pleasant and the stay in Berea both pleasant and worthwhile.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to hold any and all comments

Bock to Rock

b2r01I stole the title. There’s a music store in Greenville, Ohio, called Bach to Rock which I think is the coolest name for a music store ever. On Friday, I followed up the 23rd annual Bockfest parade with a Dave & Phil Alvin concert. Voila! Fits like a glove.

While looking up the music store’s web address, I discovered that there is now a bunch of franchised music schools called Bach to Rock. They started in 2007 and the store has been around a lot longer than that. The store could probably sue the school but I doubt they will. We Darke Countians are a mellow lot.

b2r02b2r03The sun was shining — at a very low angle — as the parade “formed” on 8th Street near Arnold’s . Perhaps words like “formed” and “organized” are a little out of place when applied to the Bockfest Parade but it somehow happens. This year both marchers and watchers were plentiful despite the temperature being right at the freezing mark. Or maybe it was because of the temperature. WE ARE READY FOR SPRING.

b2r04Another word, “irreverent”, has always applied to the Bockfest parade. That definitely won’t be changing for the event in general but it does no longer apply to one major piece of the parade. Previous grand marshals have included the likes of the four-legged mayor (It’s a dog, don’t you know?) of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, but henceforth, in recognition of the serious celebration of Cincinnati’s past underlying this event, the organizers will select grand marshals for their “contribution to local culture”. This year’s choice is Elmer Hensler, founder and President of Queen City Sausage. The company is turning fifty this year. With honesty and quality, Elmer built it from nothing to being the official brat and mett of both the Reds and the Bengals and the last surviving meat packer in what was once Porkopolis. This year, the company’s bockwurst can be had wrapped in a Servatii (another Cincinnati favorite) pretzel as the Bockfest Pretzelator.

b2r05I really liked this Wizard of Oz themed group and walked a few steps with them so I could ask who they were. The first person I asked answered “Mustard Club” then, when I said something like “What’s that?”, turned me over to another marcher who explained they were from Mecklenburg Gardens, a popular local German restaurant. I later learned that this isn’t your run of the mill mustard club that likes just any old mustard. It’s the Händlmaier’s Mustard Club Cincinnati who go to great lengths to acquire their favorite condiment. If I had an award to give, they would get it because: 1) The Wicked Witch of the West was most convincing when she warned, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little goat too.” 2) There’s a bunch of them, from the group leading the yellow Hummer, through Dorthy and friends on the trailer it’s towing, to the pack at the back. 3) They covered both mustard and beer in their theme title “Follow the Yellow Bock Road”. 4) One of them handed off that giant lollipop to the traffic cop in the picture at the top of the page.

b2r08b2r07b2r06There were familiar entries like the Trojan Goat, Arnold’s self propelled bathtub, and the dancing pigs. Arnold’s previous tub, which appeared with some snow on it a couple paragraphs back, had some issues at last year’s Bockfest and, although it was repaired, I guess it’s never been the same. I suppose the new high class ride is more reliable but I still prefer the basic tub and motor style myself.

b2r09b2r10And there were some new themes like Bock to the Future (This is THE year, after all.) and the Bock Street Boys.


b2r12b2r11Here are a couple of entries which don’t have any really clever bock related names and really don’t have any particular bock connection at all but I like ’em. On reason I could not leave out the League of Cincinnati Steampunks is that I’m pretty sure this is the way to melt snow. Lastly is the very talented Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle that we last saw here.

b2r13Yeah, I guess there does seem to be a lot more bock than rock but it was really good rock. Dave Alvin and his brother Phil, both formerly with the Blasters, are currently touring together and they deliver one tremendous load of music. I wish I’d seen them years ago but I’m sure happy that I’ve seen them now.

Book Review
Dixie Highway
Tammy Ingram

dhti_cvrWhen I first heard about a forthcoming book titled Dixie Highway. I got kind of excited. I looked forward to having all my questions about the historic highway answered and all the blank spots filled in. Then, as details about the book started to emerge, I began to think it would not tell me anything about the Dixie Highway outside of Dixie; maybe nothing outside of Georgia. Reality, of course, is somewhere in between.

In the early pages of Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930, Ingram tells of the Good Roads Movement that preceded organizations such as the Dixie Highway Association then talks about the formation of the DHA. Here, even though supportive examples might come from Georgia, Ingram is talking about the entire US or at least the strip of states north of Florida that the Dixie Highway would serve. She paints an appropriately muddy picture of the problems facing farmers and small businesses who needed to transport goods or deliver services. The picture she paints of the various factions involved in solving — or not — those problems is muddy in a different sort of way.

Ingram reminds us that roads, particularly long roads, were not always seen as a good thing. Railroads didn’t want the competition and neither farmers nor working class city folk wanted to pay for roads to be used by the rich and their expensive motorized playthings. , And no one wanted to give up control which, at the start of the twentieth century, was almost all county based and very local. A lot of the story of the Dixie Highway, and every other road of the time, has to do with getting control to units large enough to see that what roads there were did not end at the county or state line.

One way the Dixie Highway Association addressed this was to get state governors involved from the beginning. Ingram identifies and describes the players and chronicles the steps taken as the DHA went from nothing to something in fairly short order.

When the book moves from getting things organized to getting things built, the focus tightens on Georgia. This makes sense from a number of angles. It had more miles of Dixie Highway than any other state and many of the problems encountered in Georgia were the very same problems encountered in every other state. But Georgia had other issues, too, including racial attitudes and political traditions. Ingram discusses these to show the affect they had on building the Dixie Highway and the affect the Dixie Highway had on the south.

Tammy Ingram is a college professor. Her writing is factual and precise in a way that makes the reader feel that it is the well researched truth. It is not without style. While it is somewhat dry, it is not the mechanized recital of facts and statistics that academics sometimes produce and which can induce drowsiness better than any drug. I enjoyed reading Dixie Highway and I learned quite a lot from it.

I couldn’t help noticing that Ingram calls the Dixie Highway and similar roads “marked trails”. It certainly doesn’t affect the value of the book in the slightest and it probably won’t even register with most readers. I’m used to seeing the pre-1926 routes referred to as “named trails” or “named auto trails” to distinguish them from the numbered highways that followed. As I said, most readers probably won’t notice and it really isn’t a problem for those of us who do although I did initially find myself pausing for a second or two whenever I encountered it. I got better.

Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930, Tammy Ingram, The University of North Carolina Press, March 3, 2014, hardcover, 9.2 x 6.2 inches, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1469612980

My Wheels – Chapter 15
1969 Opel Kadett

opel1969When it came time to replace the Dodge, we opted not for another American sedan but for a small import. However, since this was to be the family car, we made it a small import wagon, a 1969 Opel Kadett B Caravan. The family had, in fact, grown and there were now two young boys to fill the back seat. I don’t recall the purchase price but do remember that we bought the car from a couple professing to be witch and warlock and that the sickly Suzuki motorcycle was part of the deal.

The engine was an inline four which online sources indicate would have displaced something between 1.0 and 1.9 liters. Since I believe the car had something like 60 horsepower, the most likely power plant seems to be the 1492 CC unit rated at 64 HP. The transmission was a four-speed manual. What set this car apart from other Kadetts was the after market air conditioner hanging under the dash.

As you’ve probably guessed, sixty-four (or possibly less) horsepower wasn’t really enough to run the AC compressor and move the car too. The AC was pretty much useless in city traffic, where it would have been appreciated, and even on the highway it demanded a certain amount of awareness. It was fitted with a thermostat controlled clutch so that the compressor was only driven as needed. If it happened to be “needed” when climbing a hill or passing another car (Oh yes I did.) the climbing or passing was severely attenuated. One soon learned to switch off the AC when starting a pass and keep a hand near the controls in any situation that taxed the engine. Even at a steady pace on level ground, the compressor kicking in was an event that couldn’t be ignored. We joked that we should probably be wearing helmets when running the AC because the abrupt jerk might slam our heads into the windshield.

Unlike most of the vehicles that preceded it, the Opel was undamaged and running when we parted. This time it wasn’t a wreck or blown engine that ended our time together. The motor didn’t fail. The marriage did. The Opel went with the wife.