Thursday, December 06, 2012

OOPS!

I keep meaning to post more updates, but have been so busy that I've forgotten. I'll have to try to rectify that situation.

Right now, I'm gearing up for the I-49 "Official" conversion on December 12. I even made myself a shirt on Cafe Press:
Now if I can remember what I did with it after it arrived. :(

I've received a report that the I-49 shields will be "Neutered": no state name

 
 Disappointment :(

I need to get out and to some more field work. The new exits have been completed on US 71/I-49 north of Carthage, so I need to check them out. Work also continues just south of Fort Smith which I need to keep an eye on.

In southern Arkansas, AR 549/ Future I-49 is coming along well. Rumor has it another section may open next year.

AHTD is already putting up the signs: I found a sign yard north of town a few weeks ago.





One final thought before I close: Never EVER stay at America Best Value Inn. I have stayed at two of them this year (Memphis, TN and Marshall, TX): both were dirty, rundown and generally nasty.

Thank you and goodnight.




 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Going, Going...Almost Gone


 
I still have a few copies of my 2013 Calendar Left. Once they're gone, they're gone and there will be no more unless there's a sudden upsurge in demand. $20 includes shipping in a padded envelope.
If you'd like to see more photos, I've created a Facebook page featuring all the bridges on the calendar.

If you'd like to order one,you can now pay me directly via PayPal:



I'm already planning my next calendar for 2014. I can't tell you what it is yet, but I think you'll like it :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

They're Here!

My calendar, Arkansas Bridges 2013, has arrived almost 2 weeks early. It looks really nice and I've already ordered anther batch.

If you'd like to buy one, send me a message They are $20 each, which includes shipping in a padded envelope. Discounts are available if you order more than one. I'm also working on a bulk price for bookstores and souvenir shops.

I'm excited, yet I'm also scared spitless. It's always been a love affair between me and the bridges and now I'm sharing that love with everyone else. 

Oh, and I've also created a Facebook page which will feature a few photos from my calendar as well as a little bit of background info from each bridge.

If this is successful, next year I may do a calendar of old gas stations. 
 
 


Monday, October 22, 2012

A Celebration


Coming Soon: 
Arkansas Bridges 2013: A Celebration of Bridges Spanning the Natural State.


Photo Wall Calendars by Vistaprint

After years of thinking about it, I have finally published my first photo calendar. This one features various bridges across the state of Arkansas.  A few of the bridges include:
  • Cannon Creek in Madison County
  • Old Lee Creek Bridge near Van Buren
  • Cedar Creek, a stone arch bridge at Petit Jean State Park
  • West Creek in Paris
  • Old Greenville-Lake Village Bridge over the Mississippi River
  • Plus 7 More 
I'll have a limited quantity available beginning November 15 for $20 each plus $6 shipping and handling. Drop me a line if you're interested. If these do well, I have a couple other projects I'm hoping to work on. :)

CORRECTION: Calendars are $15 each plus $5 shipping. I was able to get a better deal than expected.
 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Not Perfect, but Still Great!

As I've probably said before, there's not really such a thing as a "perfect" pizza: everyone has their own recipes and their own way of doing things. But ever so close to perfection is Ferraro’s Pizzeria & Pub in Memphis.

I stopped in recently on a rainy Sunday evening after spending the day at Mud Island. I had driven by it twice before that weekend so decided it was time to give them a try. The service was good (though I did have to ask for Sweet n Low for my tea), though the booth seats were a little hard.

My business associate, Judy, ordered a salad, but they were out of the Ginger and the Greek salad dressings, so she settled for Italian. I'm not a big salad person (I'd starve to death if I was a vegetarian), but I'm told the salad was very good, though she doesn't like cucumbers.
 
The pizza was wonderful! New York-style thin crust with plenty of toppings and lots of flavor. I ordered pepperoni & sausage while Judy splurged for pepperoni, sausage and beef. The pepperoni was tasty: not too strong, not too greasy,  and the sausage looked and tasted homemade...let's see Papa John do that. The sauce was mild: not too spicy, maybe slightly bland for my liking, but still good. It was really tough for me to only eat half and save the rest for breakfast. Judy was the same way: it took a lot of willpower to only eat half.

Our server kept our drinks filled and even offered to box up our leftovers.

I had my leftovers for breakfast the next morning. The crust wasn't crispy but that was because the pizza sauce had soaked through, but no big deal. The sausage seemed a little spicier, though. I was surprised, but pleasantly so.

Next time I'm in town, I intend to stop again. Maybe I'll try a Meatball Parmesan sub or a Calzone.

Oh yeah: they also have 28 inch party pizzas.  The table across from us had one and I was so hungry at the time, I almost begged for a piece.

It's a little hard to find, though: it's on Jackson Ave, 2 blocks east of Front St.  If you go too far, you may wind up on the I-40 on-ramp. 

I can't wait to go back.


 
 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

3+3 = Trouble

After recently installing Cable Barriers on I-540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville, AHTD moved on to another project: widening I-540 to 6 lanes between Exit 62 (US 62 West/ Martin Luther King Blvd) and Exit 64 (AR16 West/Wedington Dr). The project is nearly complete so I visited the area on Saturday to see how things looked.

First of all, the median has been replaced by a concrete "Jersey Barrier". OK, that's fine. but the third lane looks kind of narrow and doesn't look like a full traveling lane. My guess is AHTD is going to re-stripe the existing lanes of I-540 and make them narrower to accommodate the third lane of traffic. It wouldn't be the first time: AHTD is fond of adding extra lanes of traffic by taking away from existing lanes. US 71 in Mena suffers this problem: in order to create a continuous Left Turn Lane, the main travel lanes were re-stripped to make them narrower. So if you ever get stuck behind a wide load that's straddling both travel lanes, this is why.

The northbound 3rd lane ends a few feet past the exit ramp for Exit 64. In fact: it looks like the lane ends immediately before the center bridge column on the Wedington Drive bridge over I-540. This could be interesting: if a motorist isn't paying attention and misses the end of the third lane, he risks wrapping himself around a bridge column. Hopefully, AHTD will install some crash barrels "just in case".

Southbound, the third lane ends a few hundred feet before the I-540 bridge over MLK Blvd.  Hopefully, there will be some crash barrels or another barrier to keep motorists from careening down the embankment.

To me, it looks as if AHTD didn't plan very far ahead with the 6-Lane Project: it looks slapped together. Sure, you will have an extra lane in each direction, but it looks as if the lanes will be narrower than normal and the extra lanes will abruptly end, leaving an opportunity for accidents to occur.

Eventually, AHTD wants to widen I-540 (Future I-49) all the way from Fayetteville to Bentonville. To do that, some major changes will likely need to occur: 
  • The center bridge columns will need to be removed from all bridges crossing the 540.
  • Bridges over Porter Road, Martin Luther King Blvd, Greathouse Springs Road in Johnson and other locations will need to be widened or replaced.
  • Additional land may be needed on either side of the existing highway to ensure travel lanes are the proper width and not merely re-striped to accommodate the extra lane.
I don't see this happening any time soon. AHTD doesn't have enough money to complete new construction on I-49, let alone upgrade the existing roadway.

But please: when you DO have the money, do the upgrade right.  Even if it takes a little more time, please do it right. 

 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

It Begins Again

Another section of I-49 has started construction near Ft Smith.  This segment crosses County Rd 8 (Howard Hill Rd) and ends just before US 71 near Treece Rd (see yellow line)

I haven't seen a timetable for completion (it just started, after all), but my guess is it will take a least a couple years.  Howard Hill runs along the top of a ridge and there's about a 100 foot drop-off on the south side of the road. Heck of a view to the southwest, but it's going to be a pain in the butt to build a road through there. I drove through there yesterday and there's a lot of dirt work being done below the cliff. On top, it looked like they were drilling holes to eventually plant some explosive charges. I hate loud noises, but I think it would be interesting to watch .

Oh, and I'll have a few photos sometime today or tomorrow on Flickr and perhaps Facebook.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Rule of 12's ?

According to an article in the Kansas City Star, I-49 in Missouri is expected to become official at 12 Noon on December 12, 2012.  That would be 12-12-12-12 . I think one should wait and do it at 12:12, so you could have 12-12-12-12-12

Of course, the perfect spot would be Exit 12, but there is no Exit 12. Exit 10 is MO 76 to Anderson, followed by Exit 17: Route B and Route C to Goodman. 

That reminds me: I still don't have any I-49 shirts on Cafe Press. I need to work on that (and a hundred other projects). Oh wait: I already DO



On second thought, the news story only mentions a 180 mile section of 71 becoming I-49, I wonder if the Joplin-Pineville segment will be ignored?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I Guess I'll Never Learn

I got a coupon from the local B1G2* pizza place for a large pizza for $3.99 (regular $5.99) and against my better judgement, I decided to give them one more try. GADS! It's almost as bad as I remember: lukewarm, greasy, strong smell of cheap pepperoni. I'm already getting stomach cramps after just 3 slices. 

One would think I would have learned by now, but I guess I haven't. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm due for a chat with Montezuma. :(




*B1G2: Buy ONE pizza at three times the price, get Two FREE!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waste of Money

Fort Smith seems totally enamored by Flashing Yellow Arrow signals. This past Summer, they converted more of the traditional left signals (Red-Yellow-Green-Yellow Arrow-Green Arrow) to flashing yellow arrow. How much money is this costing? 

At several intersections, the city didn't simply erect new signal heads, but replaced existing signals and signal posts. Now that is definitely a waste of money. They can't simply replace the signal heads, but have to put in fancy decorative signal poles?

One intersection, US 271 at Business 71, received new signal poles and new signals, but NO flashing yellow arrow.  So what's up with this? 

The economy is in the crapper, but the city still spends lots of money on new signals. I'd like to know where this money came from and why it's not spent on fixing streets?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bloody 64



Last Fall, AHTD opened the long-awaited US 64 bypass at Vilonia. The bypass is a 4 Lane expressway-style (4-Lanes, divided, partially-controlled access) roadway running just over 9 1/2 miles around the south side of town. 


It's a good, smooth road, I'll give it that much, but driving it, I found several potential problems.


For one, all the roadway intersections are at-grade (NO highway interchanges).  All the county roads cross 64 at ground level. Add to this a 65 mph speed limit on the bypass itself an one could be asking for serious problems.

Another problem is about halfway around at AR 107, there's a traffic signal. 65 mph non-stop traffic and suddenly there's a traffic signal? Oh, but the speed limit drops to 60 mph about 1/2 a mile before the intersection and there are some spiffy light-up signs that say "STOP AHEAD" when the light is red. That's another disaster waiting to happen.

At the east end of the bypass, traffic is slowed down to around 55mph as the road merges with it's old alignment near Business 64 becoming a 2-lane roadway and continuing towards Beebe. 

The west end is slightly more complicated: instead of merely merging with its old alignment and becoming a 4-lane highway towards Conway, it stops at a traffic signal at Business 64. Then half a mile west, there's another signal at AR 36.

To me, this bypass wasn't well thought out. 65mph? OK.  At-grade intersections? Not a real good idea. A traffic signal in the middle of nowhere? BAD idea. 

AHTD: what were you thinking? 


 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still Searching

My search continues for the "perfect pizza"  Today I stopped at The Pizza Place in Alma, AR. They've been open for a couple months, but I never had a chance to check them out before today. In a word: disappointing.

The place is tiny compared to a lot of pizza places: it's almost like a hole in the wall. The buffet is U shaped, hidden in a back corner with about a dozen tables in the dining area.

There was a small salad bar with shredded lettuce a few veggies and a small selection of salad dressings. I really didn't get a good look at it, but it reminded me of a "token" salad bar you see at a lot of pizza places.

I counted 7 pizzas on the buffet, not counting the repeats. There was a "Supreme", sausage, pepperoni, cheese, triple meat (sausage, pepperoni, ham) and a couple others, including a Buffalo Chicken. There was, of course, the requisite "DANGER TABLE IS HOT" sign, but the hot table was cool to the touch (someone forget to turn it on?). The pizzas themselves didn't look that appetizing: they had an odd sheen about them. Also, the heat lamps above the pizzas weren't on (were there heat lamps?).

The crust was nice and crisp, but not very flavorful. Didn't really have a cracker-like flavor, but more like "baked dough". The "sheen" on the pizza was from the cheese: not a lot of flavor and kind of greasy. The toppings weren't very flavorful, either. I could sort of taste some of the seasoning in the sausage or I would have thought it was beef. The ham/Canadian Bacon had a bit of a pork flavor, but the pepperoni was more like dried red grease patches.

Honestly? I'd rather have a pizza from Kum & Go. The Pizza Place was simply not very good, IMO: I found it cold, bland, and greasy. 

I guess I should say something about the service: It was "OK". I came in the door and there was no one to greet me or any signs saying "Please Wait to be Seated"  or "Please Seat Yourself", so I went ahead and grabbed a booth. I waited a few minutes, but no one came by so I wandered over to try the pizza. The server finally came out and asked if I was having the buffet and what I wanted to drink.  Then she asked where I was sitting and had my drink waiting when I sat down.

She was good on asking if I needed a refill and was also good on removing the dirty plates from my table. She asked if I found everything OK, but never asked what I thought of the food itself. Just as well.

I guess tomorrow I hit Golden Corral and have a big salad as penance for having pizza for lunch today.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 Minutes of Fame

*sigh*

You know me: I don't like bragging about myself. That's not my way. Well, looks like I'm about to break that rule. 

I've been cleaning my apartment the last few months, sorting stuff and getting rid of stuff I don't need in hopes of moving to a better apartment this Fall (more likely next Spring).

Well, in the process of cleaning, I found an old newspaper interview I had forgotten about. 


Took up almost 1/4 page not counting the advertising. The date on this was 10-31-2005. You may have to click on this to blow it up to a more readable size. If that doesn't work, I'll re-upload it.



Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Detour Ahead

Last year, my dad planted a small tomato garden at the residential center he and my mom had moved to back that previous December. After he died, my mom all but ignored the plants since she didn't like tomatoes as much as my dad did. In October, I pulled out what was left of the tomato plants after the weather turned cold.
This Spring, the tomatoes came back again from the seeds of last year's leftovers. My mom still won't mess with them, but the residential center has been kind enough to mulch the plants and water them twice a week.
So what happens to all the tomatoes? My mom gives them to the maintenance man who keeps them watered.

Leave it to my dad to not push up daisies, but to push up tomatoes.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

STOP !!

So is Oklahoma the only state to use extra bold lettering on their STOP signs?
I've never understood the reasoning, unless it's simply to get your attention after you've been driving a long stretch of rural roadway with no traffic signals or stop signs. 
To me this all but screams "STOP DAMMIT" .  Something I'll have to ask ODOT about someday.

Oh, for the record, this at the US 59/ US 271/OK 9 junction near Spiro.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Making Progress

Let's see if I can start getting caught up here.

Back in June, I made my annual trek to Smithville Lake for an SCA gathering. To do this required taking US 71 up to Kansas City...not that it's a bad thing ;)

The trip gave me an opportunity to check the progress of the US 71/I-49 upgrade. For those who haven't been following: US 71 from near Pineville, MO to the Three Trails Crossing (Grandview Triangle) is being upgraded to I-49. MoDOT has been working hard on upgrading &/or eliminating at grade crossings to prepare for this. Latest word it 49 may become official as soon as mid-December.

But to make all that happen, you also need ...signs (!). As I've mentioned before, MoDOT in the process of erecting signs for I-49. I posted back in March that milesposts were beginning to appear north of I-44 and a few exit signs.

By June, that had expanded to almost the entire length of Future I-49. The first sign heading north is for Pineville , followed by the first 49/71 overhead sign (though 49 is blanked out until it becomes official):

The first independent signage is just north of Route H, though again, 49 is missing until it becomes official.
I won't clutter the blog with tons of signs since you can to to Flickr for that. As I've noted previously, Exit 39 A-B-C is  MO FF, I-44 and MO 249.

Exits 46 A-B  will be MO 59 South and I-44

Exit 56 will be Routes V D north of Carthage

Exit 66 will be Routes H K near Jasper.

There is no exit sign yet, but judging by mileposts, Bus 71 at Nevada will be Exit 100.
(correction: it will be Exit 101)

Based on the milepostsI-435/I-470 at Three Trails Crossing will likely be Exit 183, though it's not posted as of yet.

There seems to be a little bit of confusion as to where I-49 will actually end. The END sign is just past Three Trails Crossing, but mileposts continue to Bannister Road
I guess we'll find out.


 






Sunday, July 29, 2012

RIP Scenic 412

After Oklahoma built the Cherokee Turnpike in the 1990's it was quickly co-signed as US 412. Old 412 (formerly OK 33) from near Kansas, OK to just east of Chouteau was renamed Scenic US 412 and sported brown and white signs. Most maps, though, labeled it as Alternate 412
Acting on a tip on the AARoads Forum I drove to Oklahoma yesterday to investigate the possibility that Scenic 412 had been decommissioned in favor of Alternate 412.

In a word, yes. All the Scenic 412 signs have been removed and replaced with Alternate 412. Or, more precisely, 412 ALT.
  
Exit signs, however. refer to it as Alternate 412
OK, so I'm being a little nit-picky over its official designation. Call it 412 Alt or Alternate 412, it's still the same road. ;)


In related news, 412 is receiving new gantry signs at the west end of the Cherokee Turnpike and at US 69. 

I wonder: since ODOT is upgrading exit signs (the Cherokee Turnpike has all new signs, as well) did they finally decide to remove the confusion between Scenic 412 and Alternate 412?





Monday, May 14, 2012

Sad & Ironic

It's somewhat sad and a bit ironic that a Road Scholar would know more about highways than the state department of transportation. 
It's been over a year now since LADOTD (Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development) closed the Melville Ferry along LA 10 at Melville. The reason given was that it cost too much and carried too little traffic.
Now, after looking at lots of old maps, I figured out this section of LA 10 was originally part of US 71 until circa 1935. When I contacted LADOTD about the closing of the Melville Ferry, I asked them how it was, citing that LA 10 was an old alignment of US 71 as well as possibly the Jefferson Trail before that.
Well, they knew nothing about it: nothing about how old the ferry was, nor any knowledge of LA 10 being part of original US 71 / Jefferson Trail.
I guess if I really want to know more, I'll have to go down there in person and do some research on my own.

Dear Western Sizzlin

So nice of you to totally ignore me again.  I know you weren't that busy because my server (and 2 others) were standing by the food window having "social hour". Oh, but they were SO busy using the colored pens to decorate the comment cards.  Of course, now that they have decorated the comment cards with polka dots, stars and smiley faces, it's almost impossible to leave any comments because the illustrations will cover things up, or at least make it so the comments can't be easily read.
BUT, I have a solution: a 2x4 mailing label printed with my comments. I actually got twelve sentences in 8 point type on the label, which I then stuck to the comment card. Nice of you to have pre-addressed the card, though it did cost me a stamp.

Of course, you won't know me since I didn't sign the card, but I don't care about that.  What I care about is that I'm tired of the crappy service, which you don't seem to care about. If you Do care, you'll read my note and do something about it. If you don't care, you'll ignore me and nothing will change...except I'll never eat at a Western Sizzlin again.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Playing Bridge ;)

I went to the Memphis Road Meet a couple weekends ago. A total of seven of us spent the day running around Memphis observing construction along I-69 and Future I-269. 

We wrapped up around 6pm and I spend the next couple hours retracing parts of our tour to investigate a few bridges we passed along the way. One of the was the Fox River bridge along TN 205, a steel stringer built around 1949.

On the trip home, I hit the "mother load" of bridges: I found at least 20 of the 1930's era bridges along US 70 from just east of Brinkley to just before DeValls Bluff, including this gem over the Cache River. Bridgehunter officially lists this as a "steel stringer", but I call this a "radiator" bridge since the design reminds me an old fashioned radiator.
I'm slowly getting things posted on Flickr as well as posting a few of my bridge finds on Bridgehunter. I've been gone quite a bit lately, so I have close to 2000 photos to sort, edit and pick the best ones to post. 

Oh, and I also found this abandoned railroad bridge at DeValls Bulff:
This was a tough shot: I had to lean over the side of the highway bridge and pray I didn't fall in the river.

I found a few this past weekend near Pine Bluff, but those are still in my camera, so I'll have to talk about those another time.


 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't Say "Tunnel", Say "Bobby Hopper Tunnel"


Have you ever noticed something for the first time even though you've passed by it possibly a hundred times?
Well, that's not quite the case here, but it's something I've been reminding myself to do yet never remember:

After all these years, I finally got some photos of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel along I-540. HOW many times have I passed it, but never stopped? Too many. So recently, I finally stopped.
A Brief History
Courtesy of ATHD: "Lying over 220 feet below the top of the Boston Mountain, construction was begun at both ends of the tunnel in August 1996 and the two ends connected in March of 1997. The tunnel was built as part of the US 71 Relocation Project" (later to be designated I-540). It was decided by AHTD to build a tunnel though the mountain as opposed to shearing off the mountain in an effort to maintain the natural beauty of the surrounding area. a Construction was completed in December of 1999.  The finished size of the tunnels is 25 feet tall (as measured from the roadway to the top of the tunnel arch), 1600 feet long and 38 feet wide. 

The tunnel was named for then Arkansas Highway Commissioner Bobby Hopper, a longtime resident of Springdale. 

I remember as I was growing up hearing radio ads for Bobby Hopper Ford. The tagline was always "Don't Say "Ford", Say "Bobby Hopper Ford". Funny how something like that sticks in your mind.

I'm Not Finished

I seem to have a lot of problems with the local AYCE food bar restaurants: when I'm getting another plate and standing in line waiting, the servers assume I've left and clear my table. I've complained about it a couple times, but usually they just laugh at me.
So this evening I took matters into my own hands and printed a card to put on my table
One of the competitors actually has signs saying "Table Occupied" and "Table Vacant". so I thought I would give this a try.

It worked! I wasn't sure if it would, but it worked! I was coming back to my table to find my server had started to clear it, but found my card. She told me that without the card, she probably would have cleaned my table. 

I sort of threw this together in about a half an hour. I think before I print another batch, I'm going to clean up the graphic a bit (it was a black&white graphic I colorized) and maybe change the I'm NOT Finished to a FHWA font (just because I can). 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Progress!

Finally,  some visible progress on US 71/ Future I-49 in Missouri! MoDOT has been busy over the last couple of years upgrading US 71 between I-44 at Fidelity and The 3 Trails Crossing (does anyone actually call it 3 Trails and not Grandview Triangle?). At-grade intersections are slowly being converted to full interchanges (such as MO 126,  Route M at Compton Junction, and Routes V and C near Irwin)

Now, even more progress is visible: MoDOT is adding mileposts along 71. Beginning at I-44, mileposts are going up every 1/10 mile 
I-44 will be exit 46, Cedar Road (Pictured) will be Exit 47, and Central Ave in Carthage will be Exit 53. For now, the mileposts are turned 90 degrees away from the roadway until the I-49 upgrade is complete.

I've also received word that I-49 won't end at Grandview Triangle 3 Trails Crossing, but more likely Bannister Road/ Route W.

MoDOT has also erected new overhead signs along US 71/I-49 at I-44 near Joplin
Note that I-44 West is posted as Exit 39C, while Mo 249 is posted as Exit 39B. So where's 39A? Half a mile south at Route FF/ 32nd St.

But where's 49? It will go in the blank space between I-44 and US 71. But first: MoDOT has to finish the road upgrades before they can officially call it I-49. That should happen about mid-December.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Feel SO Safe Here... NOT!!

On my way home from Mississippi (by way of Pensacola), I took my time coming home, opting to follow US 98 to Natchez, Mississippi then up US 65.
Well the weather changed my plans: the threat of severe storms made me head north on I-55 at McComb, Mississippi and head straight towards Memphis. Good thing, too: Natchez, Vicksburg, and Port Gibson all had tornado warnings during the afternoon, so my detour was probably for the best.

I stopped for gas at West Memphis (using the Gas Buddy app on my smartphone to save 14 cents a gallon), then headed west on I-40. I hit a few small patches of rain, but nothing heavy until I got close to Brinkley. It was coming down fairly heavy there and then I hit another problem: a traffic back-up. There must have been an accident west of town because traffic on I-40 was backed up for several miles, at times to the point of not moving at all.  By then, it was close to 6pm and I knew I probably wouldn't make it home before 11 between the rain and the slow traffic. So I opted to pull off at US 49 and find me a motel. Using the TripAdvisor app, I found a Motel 6... I really should have known better.

The only rooms they had available (so they said) were upstairs. I HATE upstairs: if I'm downstairs, I can park in front of my door and keep an eye on my van. But the room was relatively clean and it was spacious for a Motel 6 (it had recently been re-branded from Days Inn as was apparent from all the sunshine logos built into the building design.).  The furnishings were somewhat worn looking and the bed was kind of hard. What disturbed me the most was the broken door chain
Well, it was late, I was tired and I didn't feel like driving on in the dark and the rain, so I opted to stay the night, but not without sticking a chair under the door handle for security.

In the morning, I noticed many of the downstairs rooms were still vacant... so why was I told "upstairs only"?  I also decided to document the slowly crumbling condition of the motel...until the owner chased me off. 

I will probably never stop here again. I'm debating totally giving up on Motel 6, yet Super 8 isn't much better, though higher priced. BUT WAIT: I can earn free nights! Spend twice as much for a room and after 10 stays, receive a free night. 

Maybe I should just buy an RV... but then I couldn't travel the backroads as easily looking for bridges :(

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So Sorry

I returned home last Thursday from 2 weeks in Mississippi and Florida. I went to an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) gathering in Mississippi for a week, then spent a day in Pensacola, Florida (it was only 3 more hours away).

I spent part of that day driving around town seeing sights and looking for bridges and signs to photograph and spent a couple hours playing on the beach. I also found a very good, if pricey, seafood restaurant: Bonefish Grill. More on that another time.

In Pensacola, I stayed at a Motel 6: I shopped around on my (new) smartphone looking for a good deal on a motel room and decided Motel 6 looked acceptable. WRONG!

The motel itself looked like it was starting to fall apart. The carpet in the room was filthy and the bathroom looked like it had been only half done. The bed was comfortable enough, though the pillows were flat (must be a Motel 6 standard). The TV was set so it came on blaring at full volume and on a channel that wasn't working.
The worst part was some old guy who was always standing outside and frequently walked by my room. Was he the owner? He never spoke, but always seemed to be watching me.  He was casually dressed, but still dressed too well to be a vagrant.
Actually, the worst part was someone came into my room while I was gone to dinner and went through my stuff. Thankfully, nothing appeared to be missing. This was around 6 in the evening, so it wasn't housekeeping.

The morning I checked out (I stayed for 2 nights, though I should have left after one), the old man was watching me again. He must have been the owner. He obviously must have no life if all he does is wander the grounds and spy on people.

After I returned home, I received a survey from Motel 6 asking me how my stay was, and I told them:: about the dirty carpet, the dirty shower and people coming into my room when I wasn't there. I received a response from the manager within a few hours of filling out the survey: I am sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations. 

Really? Your motel is a filthy dump where guests are spied on and all you can say is "I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations" ? Tell you what, Mr Manager: you may as well tell Tom Bodett to turn out the light, because I won't be back... oh wait: you never turned ON the light. That's why your sign wasn't lit at night. 




Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Passing Thought

It was 6 months last week that my father passed away. Part of me still wonders when he's coming home.
This evening, I remembered this cartoon he had posted in his drawing room for a long time:
Life is like a swizzle stick: you're born, you die, but sometimes you have to stir things up.

That's all.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Free Upgrade $36

After months of debating the pros and cons, I finally took the plunge and upgraded my cell phone to a Smartphone. Since I'm on the road a lot, I figured I could use better weather info as well as e-mail access and GPS navigation (though that takes the fun out of making a wrong turn and finding a forgotten bridge ;))
I've had wireless service with AT&T (formerly Cingular) for nearly six years and while my phone still works, it was a basic model when I bought it and is practically a "dinosaur" by today's cell phone standards. I went to AT&T's website and they offered me a free upgrade to a better phone. I looked around at several phones and also looked at a few in their retail store. I almost bought one in the store, but wanted to explore more options.
So I finally settle on a phone and place my order for my free upgrade. I ordered my phone ("free" with a 2 year contract vs $30 with a contract at the retail shop), selected a data plan ($20 a month vs $30 bought through the retailer) and proceeded to check out. Lo, and behold I was charged $36 for upgrading my phone. The "free" upgrade? That was the "free" phone I got when I signed a new 2 year contract. 
That's not exactly a "free" upgrade. That almost sounds like "Bait and Switch". It's no wonder AT&T is rated lowest of all wireless companies in terms of customer satisfaction (per Consumer Reports).

Now, I've (thankfully) had very few problems with them over the years, so I'm hoping that continues... but I'm watching you, AT&T! You screw me over, you'll hear from me!


Update: my phone ringer quit after 5 days and one of the control buttons has quit working. Thankfully, it's still under warranty.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

20 Percent More (grease)

I should have known better...I DO know better.

My local Buy 1 Get 2 Free pizza place* sent me an e-mail advertising "20 Percent more pepperoni" and a coupon to try one (big deal! $1 off regular price)., so against my better judgement, I decided to try one.

Mind you, I haven't bought from there in over 6 months: the quality isn't very good, IMO. They advertise they've been voted "best pizza", but I'd like to know who's voting for them. These people must not have any taste buds because this is darn near close to the "worst" pizza (except maybe Casey's General store).

So I get my "new and improved pepperoni pizza" only to find it's the same old thing: it looks the same, smells the same (like old sweat socks) and tastes the same. I didn't even notice any extra pepperoni on the pizza. But WAIT! There is something different: the grease stain in the box is larger. Hmmmm...maybe there is more pepperoni...or maybe it's just cheaper quality?

Well, hopefully I've learned my lesson this time.  Now if you'll excuse me, my TUMS are calling me.

Addendum: you know it's really bad when you're up half the night feeling like you're going to retch.



(*you know the guys: "Buy 1 Pizza at 3 Times the Price and get 2 Free")

Friday, January 13, 2012

Is It Wrong?

Is it wrong for me to brag a bit? Remember those signage errors in Bentonville I posted a few weeks ago? Well, they've been fixed: thanks, in part to an e-mail I sent to AHTD about it.

I received a note from "M86" on the AARoads forum that AHTD had finally corrected the errors. So I took advantage of the nice weather this past Wednesday to investigate:

Yes, both errors had been corrected:
  































But, sadly, one error remains:
This is supposed to be US 62 AND AR 12, so where is 12? I guess I need to ask AHTD about this one, too.

So is it wrong for me to brag about getting the signs fixed? Am I inviting inexplicably bad juju by taking at least partial credit for this?