Three trips in 12 days, or, how does this happen...

Now don't get me wrong, I do love a road trip. In fact, I love multiple road trips. But when I've got tons of work waiting for me at home, and somehow three trips end up scheduled in less than a two-week period, even I get tired out.

The first trip (April 21-22) was a two-day retreat for all the Illinois Scenic Byways (we have seven!) directors, board members, and associated stakeholders, including, of course, the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. The event was held at the scenic Pere Marquette Lodge on the Great River Road up north of Grafton, Illinois. Not a far drive for me at all, but I wanted to try out the lodging there (it was excellent) plus we had a scheduled soiree at the Grafton Winery (never to be missed!), and so I just stayed there overnight. The retreat sessions provided us with updates on Illinois tourism funding - or lack thereof - partnerships, byway programs, and a great chance to network with other Illinois tourism folks.

Next up was a three-day trip (April 26-29) to Kansas with co-author Joe Sonderman to begin our research for the Route 66 in Kansas book. I believe that the ubiquitous Mr. Murphy was working overtime on his laws those three days. Joe was fighting allergies and I was trying to ward off asthma, I inadvertently performed a mercy killing on my Android phone, I lost a favorite piece of jewelry, we spent a considerable amount of time at a Best Buy for their staff to shake their heads over my deceased phone and for me to purchase a new one (new Samsung S6), more time spent retracing steps to find the missing necklace (no luck), and, I'm trying to be tactful here, almost no luck accomplishing anything at the Mining Museum in Galena.

However, we actually did get some research done. Let me say that the Baxter Springs Heritage Museum is excellent, with professional exhibits and staff. Also, we had fun connecting with an impromptu Route 66 (and Jefferson Highway) crowd for breakfast at the Pancake Hut in Carthage, including Ron Hart, Route 66 Chamber of Commerce; Debye Harvey and Debbie Dee, Boots Court; Dave Emerson, Keeping you on the Mother Road travel guide; and Mike Curtis and Sharon Stover, 66 AND Jefferson Highway aficionados headed for the Jefferson Highway conference. We also fit in a visit with Melba and the other ladies at Cars on the Route in Galena.

After getting home from Kansas on Wednesday night, I needed to be ready to go again on Friday. The first weekend in May was the Red Carpet Corridor festival weekend up in northern Illinois, and I had an invitation from Elaine Stonich, gift shop manager, to help kick off the RCC weekend with a four-hour book signing/meet 'n greet in the lobby of the Joliet Area Museum. 

I actually drove up on Friday and attended the reopening of the Walldogs Museum and the opening of the Bob Waldmire Experience in the Pontiac Museum Complex on Friday evening. It was the place to be! Waldmire family members, Walldogs people, Illinois Route 66 Association folks, Old City Hall Shoppes owner Joyce Harbin Cole, and Ilinois Route 66 Scenic Byway cohorts Bill Kelly and Geoff Ladd were all there. Pontiac Tourism Director Ellie Alexander and Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell were there, of course, making sure the evening was a success. (It was.)

I love to stay in those Route 66-era motels that are still extant, and on Friday night I stayed at the Manor Motel in Channahon. It doesn't look much like it did originally, but it bears the same name and has the same great mom 'n pop feel and some funky decor.

On Saturday morning, I was at the Joliet Area Historical Museum well before the opening time of 8:00 am and had lots of assistance carrying in boxes of books and brochures. There were at least a couple hundred visitors in and out between 8:00 am and noon. Museum staff was on hand to greet visitors and hand out wooden nickels. I signed a stack of books and talked up Blue Carpet Corridor and the Edwardsville Conference. It was great to see friends Denise Burd and Bart Kimberly, and Chris Blankenship and her mom Donna Specht, and Scenic Byway Director Bill Kelly all stop by, plus others I recognized and know I've met, but couldn't immediately put names to. Sorry for that, folks, I was glad to see you!

Our Blue Carpet Corridor group took a bus day trip up to Red Carpet Corridor, our sister event, on Saturday. Between the bus group and me, we said hello and distributed our BCC flyers in all 13 RCC communities on Saturday. I caught up with the bus group in Atlanta at the marvelous Palms Grill and Cafe for a nice supper.

Whew. One museum reception, one four-hour book signing and meet 'n greet, a half-dozen additional RCC stops, and 518 miles driven in about 30 hours! The Prius and I are resting up for a couple weeks. Next up, just a jaunt over to Fenton, Missouri, on May 27 for a group Arcadia Publishing authors book signing. I'm hearing there is wine-tasting and free food-tasting going on at this event. And I suppose another few days in Kansas is in order soon. I don't want to get too well-rested. I might lose my edge.


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