Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hello! Thank you!

I've noticed the employees Assocoiates at my local Wal-Mart never say "HI" or Thank you". I've actually noticed this at a few other locations as well. So I sent them a message asking why. 
Their response: - We’re always looking for ways to make your shopping experience at Walmart even better. 
WTF? You don't say "Hello" or "Thank you" because you're trying to make my shopping experience better?  I don't get it? 
 

The End

Well, the end for 2011, at least. I didn't make the 6000  photo mark I was aiming for on Flickr. Looks like around 5005. I'm not even sure where I started last January.
So let's say I'm at 5000 photos right now (though I still have a few to add). By this time next year, maybe I can be at 7500 photos.  That's a LOT of photos! 
It will help if I don't get sick and find more opportunities to go exploring, especially in areas I haven't explored much.
I'm hoping to go out tomorrow for a few hours and check things out in my area, probably along the Pig Trail.
Sometime this next year, I want to explore the US 67 expressway north of Little Rock as well as parts of old US 63 between Jonesboro and West Memphis. I'm hoping AR 530 will be open at Pine Bluff so I can explore it as well. I just need to make some time and save up some gas money.
But I'm pretty much tapped out for now. I think I'll call it a night.

Happy New Year!
-US 71

Saturday, December 17, 2011

AHTD Rides Again

AHTD (Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept) recently replaced exit signs along I-540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville. Some of there were looking fairly old, having been erected when 540 was first opened in 1999.  It actually took them close to a year to complete this project having started in September 2010. The new signs are a little large than their predecessors and indicate a few routing changes.
AR 12, for example,  used to follow US 71B all the way from Raibow Curve in Bentonville to 8th Street in Bentonville. Now, it follows 71B to I-540 then follows 540 to US 62 East.


Why the change, I don't know...maybe to keep large trucks away from Downtown Rogers? 

Well, while they were putting up the new signs, they missed one at the end of the NB 540 off-ramp:
That should be AR 102 where the blank space is. It's been that way for over a year and AHTD has never fixed the problem. Even when the put up the new signs, they missed this (the green directional sign is brand new).



But wait, there's more!
This is coming off southbound 540 at US 62: looks like they forgot the arrows here... how did you guys do that??

And to add insult to injury: 
Hudson Road is in Rogers, which is to the left, not the right. Technically, SE 14th does go both ways, since Rogers is actually a half mile east of here. FWIW, the exact same sign is posted at the other ramp: arrows and all. So someone must have forgotten to flip the stencil when making the second sign.

Sadly, this isn't the first time they got it wrong: it was November of last year they posted the Johnson Exit as Great House Spring Road.

So what's going on, AHTD? Why all the errors?

UPDATE: I have a report that the Hudson Rd signage has been corrected. I hope to verify this sometime this next week.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

History of Highway Signs (Part I)

As you may heave heard, U.S. Highway System recently celebrated its 85th birthday.  It was November 11, 1926 that the United States Numbered Highways system was officially designated.
Previous to that most roads were a series of designated trails, such as the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway. What's now US 71 was, in part, part of the Jefferson Highway



Then, in 1926, it officially became U.S. 71
In 1948, the design was modified slightly to use more rounded letters and numbers


Then in 1948, another style was added to keep up with the demands of high speed traffic
There was also a Button Copy shield that was used on expressway signage


Then in 1961, the design was changed once more to the now familiar black and white

But there would be one more change: in 1971 the shield shape was changed slightly
And if that's not confusing enough, Texas had their own design
So did Missouri (most often used on expressways)

 
Now if you really want confusing, check out Florida's "Kodachrome" signs :

Yes, I know: 71 doesn't go to Florida. But can you imagine trying to keep up with all these colors?

Oh, and one more: 
City Route US Highway sign. Missouri used these as did several other states, but Arkansas did not.

No, that's not all. There are several other variants, but most are a combination of the above. Maybe I'll tell you about them, someday. ;)



Friday, November 25, 2011

Cagey


Thesaurus.com defines cagey as an adjective meaning tricky. Yup, that just about sums up it up. I have found what I consider cagey behavior at K&G aka Kum & Go.

I drink a lot of tea when I'm on the road. Usually, I have a refill cup with me so I save e few pennies on my drink. Kum & Go advertises 32 oz beverages for $1.19 plus tax, but in really fine print, they say refills are 89 cents. Yet, nearly every Kum & Go I stop at charges me full price for my refill. Do they not hear me when I tell them it's a refill. I had one manager try to tell me they don't have a refill price (so why is it posted?).

This is, IMO, quite dishonest. They advertise a special price for refills, then refuse to honor that price. I suppose shame on me for still going in and still expecting them to honor the refill price. Yet, not every c-store has fountain tea: that's why I stop in. I like to stop at Quik Trip, too, but I don't see them very often anymore since they left the Springfield, MO area.

I suppose I'll just have to find someone else who has tea and will give me a price break for having my own cup (even if it IS from K&G).

Turkeys

Thanksgiving Day, time for turkey...and turkeys on the road. 

I drove to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner and encountered all kinds of "turkeys" on the road.
Of course, there was the usual assortment of speed demons who, no matter how fast you were driving,  were driving faster than you were (and you're in their way).
I also got to part of a "sandwich": the guy ahead of me was driving too slow, the guy behind me was driving too fast and there was no way for me to change lanes due to the semi-truck in the other lane. 
And what is it with semis that drive slow, then when you pass them suddenly speed up and pass you? Is this some sort of game?
All the c-stores were more crowded than the roads when I stop for a caffeine boost. I've rarely seen so many people standing in line for the restroom.
The trip home was less eventful, though one person ahead of me slowed way down for no apparent reason then sped back up again.
About 2 miles from home, I noticed traffic backed up for nearly half a mile on the Interstate: they were all trying to get to Target for their Black Friday sales that started at Midnight. I'm glad I didn't have to go there. I simply slowed down, switched lanes and kept going. What is it about Black Friday that makes people act like idiots?





Wednesday, November 09, 2011

H


H is for Hell. H is also for Hospital.


Yes, I've been through Hell and I've been in the hospital. Long story short, I went to an SCA gathering in Springfield, MO and came down with pneumonia. I wound up spending 9 days in St John's Mercy Hospital. NOT my idea of a good time.


I got sick on Friday, went to the hospital on Saturday and finally got out the following Sunday. Of course, I was ready to go by Wednesday, but the doctor kept insisting on "one more test". When I finally got the OK to leave, the nurses wouldn't let me because nobody told them I was OK to leave.


*sigh*


So I've been home about 10 days now after spending a few days at my mom's apartment getting my strength back. I'm better now, though I seem to be tiring easily. Guess I just need to rest a bit.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hello Larry (and Good-bye)

We have a new pizza place in town: Larry's Pizza. It appears to be an Arkansas-based chain of about a dozen locations. With my "addiction" to pizza, I thought I would give them a try.

In a word: disappointing. When I arrived, there were maybe 2 slices of pizza on the hot table. Looked like chocolate cream pie pizza. But there were cheese sticks, so I grabbed a couple of them and waited for more pizza to come out... and eventually, it did.

Larry's doesn't put pizzas on the hot table, but sends a server around with whatever variety the cook decided to make: Pepperoni, Apple Pie Pizza, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Canadian Bacon, Bacon, and Cheddar, Baked Potato Pizza, etc. Once they make the rounds, whatever is left is put on the hot table. There was also a Pepperoni and a "Meat Madness" that made the rounds. Everything is thin crust and limp. I always thought thin crust was supposed to be crisp, Larry's Pizza, isn't.

I tried the BBQ Chicken Pizza, but all I could taste was cheap BBQ sauce, but the Canadian Bacon-Bacon-Cheddar wasn't bad. There was one that I think was supposed to be Buffalo Chicken, but all I could taste was hot sauce. I finished my slice, but I didn't care much for it. As far as old stand-by's like Pepperoni & Sausage or plain Sausage, there weren't any. Almost everything they brought out was a "Specialty Pizza": Margarita, Bavarian Cream, Chicken Fajita,etc.

Seems like I had to wait a long time for the next pizza to make the rounds. Either the cook was really slow or this is their way of controlling food costs by hoping it all disappears before putting any more food out. Couldn't they make four pizzas and have four servers circling the dining room?

Something else I found odd: I paid when I walked in the door, but they prepared my beverage, as opposed to most "Pay in Advance" places where they give you a glass and you get your own drink. If I wanted a refill, I had to walk up to the front counter to get it: the servers only bring pizza or clear tables. Or maybe it was because I didn't tip when I paid for my meal, but I firmly believe in tipping AFTER (you want a tip? Earn it, don't "blackmail" me into tipping upfront).

So, overall, I was rather disappointed. Will I go back? Not anytime soon, and quite possibly never.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cold Chicken

I like fried chicken, but I've never liked cold fried chicken. Yet, it was one of my dad's favorite lunches while traveling. I remember one Summer traveling from Arkansas to Chicago in my dad's SAAB. I don't remember why it was just the two of us (or was it 3? Was my sister along for the trip too? I don't remember. No, I'm fairly sure it was just two of us).
We were traveling on a Sunday, I believe, basically along what was then US 66 in Missouri and Illinois. We stopped for lunch at what I remember being an A&W that was closed on Sunday. I still sort of see it in my mind's eye, yet it's vague.
Dad hated stopping overnight at a motel, so he often would drive non-stop for 12+ hours or however long it took, stopping for a picnic lunch and to fuel up. I loved to travel, loved to look at everything as we went whizzing by and always wondered "where does that road go?"
I guess it was all the family trips between Arkansas and Chicago that helped form my interest in roads. I was always fascinated by the backwards facing signs:
STOP
Divided Highway
Turn Back
You are Going
The Wrong Way
Of course, at the time, I never understood why they faced the wrong way. But I've always loved signs, always been fascinated by them.

But I never liked cold fried chicken: I always wanted a hot dog or a grilled cheese sandwich... and a chocolate milk shake.

When visiting my aunt in Chicago, we'd often eat at a little out of the way BBQ rib place. I swore that I didn't like BBQ ribs and always insisted on having fried shrimp. Well, my dad would hear nothing of it: he ordered me a plate of BBQ ribs and insisted I try them. OMG, I LOVED them!!

Well, Dad is gone now. He passed away August 27th. We never got along very well, yet I miss him. I keep expecting him to come back home or to call me to come fix his computer... it's just hard to accept he's gone.

Yet, he lives on in my memories and my love of food. But keep the cold chicken and give me some BBQ ribs instead... and a glass of tea. I'll save the shake for my grilled cheese sandwich ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm Still Here

I haven't gone anywhere, just been extremely busy (long story, I'll explain later). Hopefully, I'll have some time to post this weekend. I also have a mess of photos to sort.

In the meantime, check out NPR Fresh Air's interview with Ken Jennings (yes. Ken Jennings the Jepoardy champion) talking about his book Maphead: Charting The Wide, Weird World Of Geography Wonks.

He gives a quick mention about "road geeks" and also mentions Richard Ankrom, the artist who improved one of the I-5 overhead signs a few years back.

Personally, I prefer "Road Scholar" since a lot of what I do involves research.

Anyway, I'll have more to say later.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not So Special

It's Monday Mania at Papa John's Pizza: All Large Pizzas including Specialty Pizzas $8.99. So I decide to try the Double Layered Premium Pepperoni Pizza. SURPRISE! It's on "special" for $10. Their website won't allow me to order it for $8.99. Reason? The local store tells me it's because it is a special deal anyway, so it's not discounted any further. But the website specifically says All Large Pizzas including Specialty Pizzas $8.99. So not all large pizzas are on sale, just the ones they say are on sale.

In the end, I settled for pepperoni, spicy sausage and parmesan/roman cheese blend. It wasn't bad, and I have enough left for breakfast in the morning.

So, Mr "Papa John" Schnatter: next time you say "All Large Pizzas", don't forget to say "except Double Layered Premium Pepperoni Pizza" or whatever other exemptions you choose to make from your "special". Be a shame if someone actually reported you for deceptive advertising.


Friday, August 05, 2011

R.I.P. Pizza by Stout

The end of an era: Pizza by Stout is no more!

Pizza by Stout was probably one of my all time favorite places, as good as King Pizza or maybe slightly better. Hard to say since they were so similar: yeast-risen crust, spicy sauce (but not TOO spicy), generous toppings and provolone cheese. Stout also had over 100 kinds of beer.

You may remember me mentioning the restaurant was destroyed by the May 22 tornado which hit Joplin. At that time, the owners were unsure if they could start again, but some loyal customers started a Facebook page asking them to rebuild.

Well, on July 31, the following message was posted:

"To our loyal and steadfast employees and customers,

After much consideration, it is with regret that we will not be rebuilding Pizza by Stout. It has been
our great privilege to have been blessed with the greatest restaurant staff anywhere and wonderful customers, all of whom will be missed greatly.

Thanks for the memories and God bless you all,

Betty, Joy, Mike, Casey, Nicole, and, of course, Willard"


Well, I guess I can't blame them: starting over from scratch would be hard. I feel a little sick knowing my favorite pizza place is no more. I understand, but I don't like it. I just feel like a part of my life is gone.

Good-bye! I'll miss you :`(


Progress Comes to Hiwasse

Looks like there is finally some progress on Future I-49 in Northwest Arkansas. Work has finally begun to build I-49 from Bella Vista, AR to the Missouri State Line. The first project will upgrade AR 72 to Interstate standards around Hiwasse (Pop 497)... a Hiwasse Bypass, if you will. ;)

According to AHTD, this segment will be built as a "Super 2" (2 Lanes with fully controlled access) with Right of Way to upgrade to a full 4-Lane highway as funding permits. But don't expect to drive this anytime soon: this construction only includes grading and structures... no paving.

One this project has been completed, work will begin on building I-49 from Hiwasse to the Missouri State Line, followed by construction from Hiwasse to Bella Vista.

Personally, I don't expect completion for at least another 10 years: AHTD doesn't have the funding and the federal government is hesitant to provide funding since Arkansas wants to build it as a toll road. But at least some progress is being made, such as it is.

That reminds me: I really need to go check on it's progress one of these days, if I can find the time and gas money.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Darn!

I received a message this evening from Rob Smith, the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette's Gridlock Guru: he's leaving the paper. I guess it now falls to me to keep up with what's going on road-wise?

Oh crap! Does this mean I have to get more serious?


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Unchivalrous Behavior

I spent the 4th of July weekend in northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas looking for old bridges. My primary destination was near Newton, Kansas looking for some abandoned arch bridges, but wound up with more photos than anticipated: over 1700. I darn near maxed out my photo card! Included were at least 25 bridges plus the usual assortment of sign oddities, old traffic signals, old gas stations, etc.

I spent way too much time running around Sunday so I was a couple hours behind schedule heading for home (I didn't really have a set schedule, I just wanted to be home before dark). As I was heading east on US 400 out of Wichita , I hit a pop-up thunderstorm with lots of heavy rain...heavy enough that I pulled over in a Burger King lot for about 10 minutes. I pulled over again near Beaumont as I hit another heavy pop-up storm.

By the time I made it to Neodesha, there was yet another storm brewing about 5-10 minutes behind me, so I opted to stop for the night in Independence. Of course, there were no hotels along US 400, so I had to drop south on US 75 then west on US 160 to find anything. There wasn't much selection: an old "Mom & Pop", a Super 8, and a Knight's Inn. Against my better judgment, I opted for Knight's Inn.

I've stayed at Knight's Inn before with very mixed results. Although they are owned by Wyndham (parent company of Super 8 and Ramada), they have a well-earned reputation for being low quailty. But a cursory glance of the outside looked decent, so I decided to stop.

I was a bit surprised when the front desk clerk quoted me $50 for a room. I showed my AAA card and was informed they no longer accept AAA discounts (despite two decals in the front window advertising AAA). AARP? No (despite brochures in the lobby advertising AARP discounts). Wyndham Rewards? No discount. The clerk wasn't even sure if they offered reward points for staying there. *sigh*. Well, I was tired, so I took a room anyway.

It seemed clean enough though TV reception was kind of crappy (several of the listed channels had nothing on them) Then I noticed 3 dead roaches in the bathroom. Since they were dead, I wasn't as concerned as I would have been if they were still alive (giving the benefit of a doubt, maybe the motel had just sprayed and hadn't had time to clean things up...maybe). The Vending room was littered with lots of dead roaches, but while the ice machine worked, the snack and drink machines were both empty.

After it got dark, I noticed the lights didn't come on in the parking lot, so I called the Front Desk. The young lady who had checked me in said she didn't know how to turn them on. They don't come on automatically? Luckily, it was a quiet night (the storms went around) and everything was still in my van when morning arrived. And despite having flat pillows, the bed was fairly comfortable.

Breakfast was like a bad joke: 2 kinds of cereal (luckily one wasn't pre-sweetened) and mini muffins. No toast, no bagels, no fruit or juice: just cereal, milk, and mini muffins (no coffee either). This was beyond a bad joke: it was a waste of time and money.

I have since contacted AAA regarding the lack of a discount despite being "approved". I received a form e-mail back: we will respond within one business day. That was Tuesday, today is Saturday, so maybe they're investigating my claim?


Either way, between what I consider to be false advertising, a poorly lit location and skimpy breakfast, it will be a long time before I stay here again. Perhaps even a long time before I stay at another Knight's Inn.

UPDATE

AAA says official endorsement of the motel has been withdrawn and it no longer listed in the AAA TourBooks. They go on to say that use of the AAA insignia is unauthorized and the Official Appointment Department will review my complaint.

I also received my Wyndham Reward points, but only after filing a complaint.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sometimes...

...you find more than just bridges ;)



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trick Signals

Every June, I spend a week up at Smithville Lake near Kansas City doing the SCA thing. I usually go up at least one day early and come back home at least one day late so I can go exploring. I could spend a week up there and still not see everything.

Every year, I explore a different area. This year was Excelsior Springs and Liberty. Leaving the lake, I drove east on MO 92 to Excelsior Springs then through town on old US 69, eventually winding up in Liberty.

I noticed in Liberty that part of MO 33 had been decommissioned. I guess the town didn't like the large trucks rumbling down the road (I saw several NO TRUCKS signs).

When I got to old 33 and Main St (aka Route H), I saw the strangest thing: a three lens traffic signal with NO Yellow signal: it appeared to be Red with two Green Arrows.

So I had to stop and take a couple photos just so I could post it on my Flickr page, but while I was doing that, the signal changed to Yellow (!)

My initial reaction was WTF? The it dawned on me: dual LED's in the lenses. That seemed strange to me. Maybe it was cheaper than a 4 Lens set-up with Red, Yellow and 2 Green Arrows?

I saw a similar set-up along MO 152 for a Flashing Yellow Arrow set-up, but it was Red Arrow, Steady Yellow Arrow, Green Arrow/Flashing Yellow Arrow (alternating)


OK, that was different. I assumed all FYA's were a 4 lens set-up (Red Arrow, Steady Yellow Arrow, Flashing Yellow Arrow, Steady Green Arrow).

I have yet to spot this anywhere else besides Liberty, so maybe this is just a local phenomenon.



Told You So!

Today, the local Shell stations all went back up from $3.219 to $3.329 for Regular Unleaded. Did I predict this or what? To be honest, I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but it did.

In the meantime Wal-Mart and Joey's seem to have stopped playing Gas War. Wal-Mart is sitting at $3.199 and Joeys at $3.219. Of course, if you have a Wal-Mart credit card, gas is only $3.099 (you heard about Wal-Mart's gas promotion, right?).

I'm surprised Shell went back up so quickly, but the price increase itself is no real surprise. Of course, that has nothing to do with their $5 Billion in profits in the first 3 months of 2011, does it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gas Pains

If you've been following the news, you've probably heard that gas prices have fallen quite a bit in the last week or so. President Obama let out some of the national oil reserves in an attempt to bring prices down. But I'm not here to discuss the should he/shouldn't he. This is about gas prices themselves.

The local Wal-Mart/Murphy USA near my apartment has come down to $3.219 for Regular Unleaded, after having been sitting at $3.329 for several days. It didn't happen ovenight, though: the independent station across the street (Joey's) went down first, then Murphy followed by going one cent lower that the competition. Then Joey's went down 2 cents, then Murphy went down 2 cents. So we had a little gas war going for a couple days. However the local Shell stations are sitting at $3.329. No one can tell me why except that's the price they were told to charge. So is Murphy cutting their throat at $3.21 or is Shell gouging their customers at $3.32? For the sake of comparison, Mr Jiff is $3.199 Cash Only.


In Ohio, gas has been as low as $3.299 this week, but is on its way up to around $3.459. Reason? According to Gas Buddy, there has been a refinery shutdown... just as prices were coming down. Coincidence? Maybe, but I doubt it. Chicago has the same problem: every time gas prices start to decline, there's a problem at one of the refineries and prices spike back up. Meanwhile, the oil companies are reporting record profits (again).

Prices may be low now, but I predict they won't last long. There will be a refinery shutdown or a pipeline break or OPEC will suddenly cut production... or some other excuse. The oil companies own us. No matter what happens, we're owned by the oil companies. No matter how low prices may go, they will always find a way to screw the public to fatten their bottom line.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nobody's Perfect

Nobody's perfect. Same goes for pizza. There is no such thing as the "perfect pizza", or I've yet to find it. Everyone is different and everyone has good days and bad days.
I've tried lots of pizza (probably too many). I've tried chains and independents. Both have been good, both have been bad.


I regularly patronize the local Lunch Buffet at Pizza Parlor and it's OK... not great, not bad, but OK. It's thin crust, but it's a limp crust. The toppings are of decent quality, but not "knock your socks off" great. But it's OK when I have a craving for pizza (which is way to often, I fear).
Last year I tried 417 Pizza in Springfield, MO as well as Bud and Walt's Pizza in Nixa. Both were a thin & crispy crust and both were very good. 417 Pizza was subtly better, in my opinion: the sauce had a little more flavor to it.


A couple weeks ago, I tried Pizza Shoppe in Kansas City. Another thin crust offering, also very good. I liked them just a little better than 417 or Bud & Walt's, but it was close: I liked the sauce a little better and the toppings were a little more flavorful. Hard for me to say, though: I probably would need to sit down with all 3 at once to figure out which I really liked the best.
Once upon a time, I thought no one could be lower than the local Buy 1 Get 2 pizza place (you know: Buy 1 at three times the price, get 2 free), but I found someone: Casey's General Store. The pizza had no flavor. The sauce was bland like cheap tomato sauce and the toppings were cheap tasting and greasy (OK, all pizza is greasy to some degree, but this was just bad, IMO).
Everyone has their own opinions on the chains, but I prefer Papa John's or Pizza Hut. Papa John's has good toppings and good cheese. Pizza Hut used to be good, but their quality has been wavering as of late. One store is good, the next is crummy. I used to like Godfather's as well, but they have slipped over the years. If they could get their act together, they'd be better than Papa John's.


My all time favorite: it's a toss up between King Pizza in Fayetteville, AR and Pizza by Stout in Joplin, MO. King Pizza started in the mid-late 70's, but disappeared for a while to be replaced by the Buy 1 Get 2 Free pizza place... long story. In brief: the old owner sold out (don't remember why) and the new owner ran the company into the ground. Pizza by Stout, as has been relayed to me, was a KP franchise that went independent when the company was sold. However, King Pizza came back a couple years ago as Ye Olde King Pizza and is now owned by the original owner's son.


The differences are subtle between King Pizza and Pizza by Stout. It's really hard for me to describe. Pizza by Stout has a slightly spicier sauce, I think. Again, I'd have to sit them side by side to truly judge which I like better. Sadly, that likely won't happen anytime soon as Pizza by Stout's building was destroyed in the tornado of May 22nd. Everyone is hoping they'll rebuild, but they still haven't decided.


Either way, I'll keep eating pizza and looking for that elusive "perfect pizza".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's a Trap!

I got pulled over for speeding a few months ago (New Year's Eve...actually about 1am New Years Day to be exact). I was pulled over in Central City, AR for doing 63 in a 50 mph zone.

Central City is, almost literally, a wide spot in the road along AR 22 east of Barling, though part of it spills onto AR 255 near Lavaca. It has one gas station (out of business) and one restaurant (also out of business). The town is otherwise unremarkable, though 22 is in the process of being widened to 4-Lanes in the area.

I was headed home from a party and encountered a police car sitting at the west end of the Vache Grasse Creek bridge. No sooner did I cross the bridge when the car started following me. It took a while before they lit up and forced me to stop. But here is where it gets a little odd.

I had 3 (count 'em THREE) officers come up to me and ask if I had been drinking. I had been to a party at a friend's house near Paris, but I stuck to soft drinks (I DON'T drink and drive: I've seen too many friends and friends of friends hurt or killed by drunk drivers). Then they made me get out of the van and do the "walk the straight line" sobriety test and the "balance on one leg" test (I walk with a cane part-time: it's near impossible for me to balance on one leg). Then they gave me the breathalyzer test, which came up zero. Were they that dead set on trying to nail me for DWI?

Eventually, they let me go though I got a speeding ticket for the afore mentioned 63 mph in a 50 zone. Then they took off in pursuit of the next vehicle coming down the highway. I was a bit rattled from my experience so I didn't notice until I got home they kept my proof of insurance. Why? They couldn't arrest me for DWI so they kept my proof of insurance. WTF? It's also interesting to note that the location where I was supposedly caught speeding was west of where I was pulled over (and I was heading west). So was the ticket filled out ahead of time?

A couple days later, I retraced my route (making doubly sure to stay below the speed limit). The normal speed limit is 55 mph in that area, but due to the roadway being widened, it's a 50 mph zone, but it's poorly posted. I saw no Speed Limit 50 signs from AR 96 east of town to where I was stopped. Beyond that point, I think I saw one or two.

So my court date came and I was going to see if I could take a driver safety test in lieu of paying the fine (I've not had a ticket in at least 5 years). "City Hall" was a nondescript white block building with a small sign out front and a flag pole. The courtroom was locked so I went into the City Clerk's office to find out when court started. The clerk told me the wrong court date was put on my traffic citation. So when IS my court date? She didn't know...but she was more than happy to have me pay my fine. I suppose I should have put up more of a fuss or called a lawyer at that point, but I just wanted to get it over with, so I paid my fine and left.

I'm not a lawyer (and I don't play one on TV, though I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express), but this whole thing sounds kind of odd to me: the ticket appears to be pre-filled out, there are few Speed Limit signs and court appears to never be in session. But what do I know? I'm just a guy who likes to photograph old bridges and odd road signs.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WOW!

Has it really been since April since I last posted? I really need to take more time to keep this blog updated. I just got back from a week in and around Kansas City and am working on getting photos edited & posted to Flickr.

Here's a sneak preview: I found this near Excelsior Springs: it's along Williams Creek at Tryst Falls Park. It was built around 1920 and was originally part of MO 92. There is also a nice waterfall below it.

I'll try to have more updates soon!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

9 Ton Truck Meets 3 Ton Bridge

Courtesy of KTHV:

Truck collapses historic Conway Co. bridge

MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- A historic bridge in Conway County collapsed under the weight of a truck Monday.

A truck with Sweet H20 Transfer Services crossed over the Fryer Bridge in Conway County. It's located about eight and a half miles north of Morrilton off Highway 95.

There is a 3-ton weight limit on the bridge, but the truck actually weighted more than 18,000 pounds, closer to 9 tons.

According to Larry Miller with Morrilton Community Channel 6, the driver says he was driving across the bridge and it started "waving on him." He says he made it across and it collapsed behind him. The top of the bridge struck the top of his hose track, but he was able to get off the bridge.

A 9 Ton truck on a 3 Ton bridge? STUPID! IGNORANT! IDIOT!

I am so angry I'm at a loss for words. Doesn't anybody pay attention anymore or do they simply not give a damn? He says he has crossed it before? If so, then he has been slowly destroying it each time he crossed it.

I hope they can rebuild it. I also hope this idiot and his company pay for the repairs.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Myth about AYCE

I took myself out to dinner yesterday at one of those steak restaurants that also offers the All You Can Eat food bar. I've been feeling a little run down lately (allergies, plus the constantly changing weather), so I decided to go get myself a salad and other stuff to try to jump start my metabolism.

I went through the order line and received one plate for the food bar plus a small soup bowl. While I was piling up my plate with salad, my server brought me an extra plate. Then, when I finished my salad, I went to explore what other offerings they had. I got a piece of chicken, some corn, and a couple small pieces of battered fish. When I finished, I went back to the food bar but was stopped because I didn't bring a clean plate. So I returned to my table and waited for my server to bring me a clean plate. And I waited some more. Then I waited some more. Finally, I asked another server if I could have a clean plate. And then I waited.

Did this mean I'm allowed only 2 trips to the food bar or simply that the servers are too lazy to be bothered?

As I've mentioned before, there seems to be an unwritten company policy that tables with a single guest get a lower quality of service than tables with 2 or more people. A former Ryan's server actually confirmed this a few years back: management would rather servers pay more attention to tables of 2 or more because they will tip better. So this is all about tips? I have to pay for good service rather than reward good service? If that's the way you're going to be, then good-bye Western Sizzlin'.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mississippi Oopsie!

Just got back from 2 weeks in Mississippi (and Louisiana, plus a little bit of Alabama and Florida). Lots of new bridges (new to me, at least) and the usual assortment of roadside attractions and oddities.

Here's one I found along US 49 near Seminary, MS

See anything odd?

Here's a close-up of across the road

Looks like someone got in too much of a hurry and got the One Way signs reversed! If you're not paying attention, you could be in a world of hurt. For the record, the second photo is correct.

I've dashed off a quick note to MDOT to see if they're aware of this. I wonder if they'll respond?


Follow up: they never responded. Not even a "thank you for your message"

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dear MoDOT

Last year you built the new highway interchange at US 71 and MO 126 which closed the intersection for several months. Now I hear you are planning to replace the bridge over the North Fork Spring River located just west of there, which will require closing Highway 126 for 2-3 months.
Why didn't you replace the bridge when you were building the new interchange? Why do you have to inconvenience people a second time?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Were You Thinking?

I'm sure you've all heard the news by now: Arkansas a couple major snowstorms over the last couple weeks. The worst of it was in NW Arkansas which received up to 20 inches of snow.

Along I-540 between Alma and Fayetteville, stranded semis prompted the closure of the highway, after which AHTD comes to the "rescue" by sanding the highway (the uses actually 90 percent sand and 10 percent salt in their sand trucks). Mind you, this is AFTER the trucks get stranded.

Why didn't AHTD take precautions before all the trucks got stranded before sanding the roadways? What were you thinking?

But also: a major snowstorm is forecast for the area and all the truckers drive right into it and get stuck? Are they not aware of the tall bridges and steep grades along I-540 (not to mention some isolated areas near the Bunyard (Bobby Hopper) Tunnel have their own unique weather)? What were you thinking?

For those who may not be aware, I-540 covers some steep, rugged terrain and has the tallest bridges in the state (between 90 and 210 feet tall). There are no deicing systems on any of the bridges, so when the weather turns icy, the roads and bridges get bad. Just stay off of them!

=end rant=



Saturday, January 15, 2011

UP's Great Excursion

Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure
Union Pacific Railroad presents the Great Excursion Adventure. Visitors to the website can vote for one of four Routes: the Tuscola Turn (Boone, IA to West Chicago, then south to Tuscola, IL), the Little Rock Express (Kansas City to St Louis, then south to Little Rock), the Baton Rouge Rambler (Dallas to Shreveport, then south to Baton Rouge), or the Boise Limited (Salt Lake City to Pocatello, ID, the NW to Boise).
Looks like it's going to be Tuscola or Little Rock. As of right now, Tuscola is ahead by around 100 votes. Voting ends Monday, so please vote for Little Rock ;)

UPDATE 1-18-2011: Little Rock Express wins!

Final tallies:
76,217 for Little Rock
73,175 for Tuscola
18,070 for Baton Rouge
11,213 for Boise

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gas Pains

I'm not going to discuss the high price of gasoline. There are enough other blogs and websites discussing this, that I'd only add to the "noise".

However, I'd like to relay my own personal experience with filling up.

My van's gas gauge was down to 1/4 tank, so I pulled in at the local Murphy USA. I've had my van 7 years now and know from experience that it holds just over 16 gallons. When the gauge is down to 1/4 it will take 12-14 gallons. Well, the pump kept going and going and finally stopped... at 16.6 gallons.

WTF? That's about as much as my van will hold. If I'm down to 1/4 tank, why did it take 16+ gallons? I've already looked: I have no leaks. Something isn't right.

Monday, January 03, 2011

2011

Well, here we are: 2011. Doesn't feel any different than 2010 so far.

I've been doing some random research: so far, it looks like only one state has a Route 2011

Yes, Texas. Pennsylvania supposedly does, but I haven't been able to find any info. I thought Kentucky would, but I guess not. Ditto Louisiana: no 2011.

Arkansas has no Highway 20, so I can't really do a 20-11, though Missouri and Oklahoma do.