The Legend-News

Monday, 2000 June 26 : Volume 3, Number 22


No, you didn't miss an issue of The Legend-News. Due to poor planning on my part, the 5 June issue wasn't posted on the web site until the 8th, and although I had expected to resume publication on the 13th -- only one day late -- I was too backed up and wiped out to get anything accomplished until this past weekend. Sorry about that. I promise never to neglect my readers again.

By the way, wanna buy a bridge? :)

This issue's longer than usual. I've included the first two parts of "Goin' West", my version of the trip from McHenry, Illinois to a point somewhere east of Los Angeles. The first installment was originally published as a message to the Other Wild Places list. The complete story will eventually be available in the Convoy 2000 section of the web site.

Winding Down Then Winding Up Again

Didja ever notice that the time required to recover from a vacation is just as long as the vacation itself?

So I spent fourteen days driving around the U S of A, and I've needed fourteen more days to get back into the groove that I had left behind. And if I hadn't unsubscribed from those twenty-seven mailing lists before I left, I'd still be answering my e-mail.

But life is back to normal here in McHenry. The 35mm rolls are at the drug store, waiting to be developed; Rand McNally's fine publications have been refolded and placed back in their boxes, awaiting the next journey; and I'm continuing to work on my version of the Convoy 2000 story. As for those people who have been waiting for me to finish some personal requests: yes, Chas and Mike, I'll get to yours this week.

The Convoy was a success, although not quite as we'd planned it. Three of us -- me, T A Chafin, and Randall Clague -- began the trip together at the Wildwood Rest Area, and we arrived together in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The time in-between those two events had been well-scheduled, thanks to T A, but our adherence to that schedule was a bit loose. That looseness was due to a very unscheduled 4-hour delay on the morning of 7 June, a tale Randall has already related to the Other Wild Places list and one that will be repeated here in a future issue.

The highlight of T A's and my trip west was our meeting with Bill and Rena Fries, and we've got the pictures to prove it. As soon as those pictures come back from the developer's, I'll be posting them on my site. In the meantime, you can view T A's pictures on the Convoy 2000 Information Page, which include a short greeting from Bill in the form of an MPEG movie.

The Big News

I was going to announce some Big News this week, but it's not yet ready for publication. Please be patient; if and when my plans are accepted, you'll be the second to know. Meanwhile, just keep thinking Big Thoughts.

One Head A' Rhode Island Red

This is almost related to C.W. McCall, because it concerns chickens and roosters. Specifically, "...Rocky the Rhode Island Red; 'Rhodes' for short" and one hundred head of soon-to-be-pot-pie chickens in the movie "Chicken Run". It's a lot like "The Great Escape" and "Stalag 17" but a lot funnier. Go see it. Now. I said so. Oh, yeah: despite the advertising, the rats are really the stars of the movie. Rating: two thumbs and two big toes up.

Goin' West, Part 1: Four Wheels and Rollin'

Note: this part was first published on 14 June 2000.

Greetings from the Space Cadet.

I think that I've almost recovered from my journey, but don't bet on it. I arrived home at 4:30 A.M. CDT on Monday, having been traveling since 11 A.M. EDT on Sunday. I got about 5 hours' sleep, then somehow managed to stay awake until 10 that night, when I fairly collapsed into bed and spent 8 hours having nightmares about driving. No, I'm not kidding about that. I don't recall the details, but when I went to work on Tuesday I spent most of the day trying to stay upright. But today is Wednesday, and I feel alive again.

Anyway, my part of the trip started at about a quarter after 7 A.M. on the morning of Monday, 29 May, when I pulled out of the driveway and headed south along Illinois 47 to Sugar Grove. There I was to head west on Old 30, and somewhere along that road between here and Audubon, Skywalker (a.k.a. "T A Chafin") would join up with me. By the way, I'm Silversmith, and yes, I will explain that name a bit later.

As Robert Burns said it, "The best laid plans o' mice an' men gang aft agley" which is almost a summary of the past two weeks. Skywalker got a late start that day, and I was already in eastern Iowa by the time that he started his trip out of Bloomington, Illinois. He was probably about two hours or so behind me at that time, a fact that I learned when I called back home to check on his whereabouts: we had arranged that my wife, Lisa, would rely messages between us via telephone until we met. Every couple of hours I called Lisa, and she told me the last location in which Skywalker had reported himself.

The trip across the middle of Illinois and most of Iowa was uneventful, although I did stop at a few historical markers along the way. I now know that one of the first three soldiers who were killed in World War I was an Iowan, and I found -- for the second time -- a little red brick schoolhouse just northwest of Lisbon, Iowa on the side of the old Lincoln Highway roadbed.

About 5 P.M. CDT I again checked with Lisa, and was told that Skywalker was still somewhere behind me and he said that I should just continue to Audubon where he'd meet me. So I tooled on west on U.S. 30, turned left on U.S. 71, and followed the detour signs down to the birthplace of William D. Fries, Jr.

I was sitting on Broadway, in beautiful downtown Audubon, listening to channel 13 and hoping to hear a hail from Skywalker, when about 7:30 I hear a cry: "Silversmith, this is Skywalker. You got your ears on?" Well, I tried calling back but the situation seemed to be that I could hear much better than Skywalker could receive. He was obviously within a couple of miles of town, but he didn't hear me. But after a few minutes of trying we finally connected, and I drove a bit south of downtown to find him parked outside the local volunteer fire department. At approximately 7:45 P.M. CDT on the 29th of June, we finally met. Fortunately, we didn't kill each other on sight. :)

Next: "The Big Sign, The Ten-Second Timer, and Officer Beane" or "Whatchu Boys Think You're Doin' Here?"

Goin' West, Part 2: Officer Friendly Versus The Tourists

When last we left our heroes, they had managed -- despite overwhelming odds -- to rendezvous in Audubon, Iowa. Phase 1 of the Master Plan had been completed. What adventures lay ahead?

I pulled into the driveway of the fire station and parked next to Skywalker's car, a 1993 Geo Metro, black and oily. The black was its natural color, but the oil was the unintended result of an oil filler cap that hadn't been replaced after adding a quart. Nevertheless, the vehicle had made the journey without incident. (Those of you who like foreshadowing, add the words " far" after the previous sentence.)

T A showed me his laptop computer with its mapping software and attached Global Positioning System (GPS) unit, which had allowed him to accurately track his route from Baltimore to Audubon and would perform the same function for the remainer of our trip. We discussed what to do next and decided that although the sun was setting, we still had time to take a few outdoor pictures. We drove south of town to the local highway department yard. On the west side of the road, facing south, was a large white sign in the shape of the state of Iowa with the word "AUDUBON" across the middle, and a black star near the lower left corner that indicated the relative position of the town. We decided to pose in front of the sign while holding the "Convoy 2000" banner.

T A brought out his digital camera, a Sony Mavica, and looked for a place to set it. He didn't have a tripod, and the sign was about sixty feet away from the best place on which to position the camera, a wooden post of the fence that surrounded the maintenance yard. He propped up the camera on the post, using a piece of cloth to elevate the lens. That's when we discovered the first problem with these fancy digital cameras. Although it recorded pictures onto a 1.44 MB disk, the damned thing had a timer that could be set for only ten seconds! So while I stood near the sign, holding the banner, T A had to set the timer and then run the sixty feet uphill to stand beside me, all in less than ten seconds.

He made several attempts to get the picture, but success wasn't obvious. If he made it into position in time, then the camera failed to take the picture. If the camera did take a picture, then he wasn't in position. Argh.

While we were attempting this usually quick and easy action of photography, an Audubon police car passed by going south on the highway. A few hundred feet south of the sign he U-turned and headed back north, pulling into the driveway beside our cars. T A was standing down by the camera when Officer Beane walked over and inquired "What are you doing here?".

We told him about C.W. McCall, that Audubon was the birthplace of Bill Fries, and that we we were the fan club and we were making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This explanation apparently convinced Officer Beane, and his arrival was fortuitous for us because we no longer needed to rely on the unreliable camera timer. We convinced Officer Beane to take the picture for us. In return, we gave him a copy of C.W. McCall's Greatest Hits and got him to sign The T-Shirt, which was one of the Convoy 2000 shirts that I brought along for the sole purpose of having it signed by the people that we met along the way.

Officer Beane then gave us a tidbit of information: he told us of a building to the north of us, near Beautiful Downtown Audubon and across from the Casey's General Store, that was the location of the original White House Café, the inspiration for the Old Home Filler-Up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café of the song. He then wished us well, we agreed to stay out of trouble, and Officer Beane went back to his patrol while we tooled north and got a few pictures of the old cafe building.

Clean rooms at reasonable rates By the time we finished the clock was striking 8:30, so we headed a bit further north to the local Pizza Hut, chowed down, and then crossed the street and stayed the night at the Holiday Motel. Day One was over.

Next: "The World's Largest Rocky Mountain Oysters" or "That's A Lot Of Bull!"

Song A’ Th’ Week

Nothing exciting this week, because I've already had my excitement for the summer.

The Little Things In Life
(Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album C.W. McCall & Co.

How long has it been
Since you got up on the early side a' mornin'?
And saw the sun a-risin'
Bright an' shiny on the eastern side a' day?
And long will it be
'Til you listen to the sound of evenin' thunder?
And go runnin' through the raindrops
And stop to smell the flowers on the way

How long has it been
Since you heard the leaves a-rustlin' in November?
And felt the autumn wind
Blowin' soft across a sky of sil'vry gray?
And how long will it be
'Til you walk along the riverside together?
And take the time to skip a stone
And stop to watch the ripples fade away

But we're so busy tryin' to make it
Workin' mornin', noon and night
That we never see the sunlight
And anytime we started lookin'
For the little things in life that make it livin'

How long has it been
Since you held your woman in your arms and kissed her?
And told her that you'd love her
'Til the day that heaven takes you both away?
And how long will it be
'Til you wake up late at night and turn to whisper,
"Hon, I promise you tomorrow ain't a-gonna be just another day."

But we're so busy tryin' to make it
Workin' mornin', noon and night
That we never feel the lovelight
And anytime we started hearin'
All them quiet words that come from up above

We're so busy tryin' to fight it
Drivin' hard to beat the stoplight
That we never see the starlight
And anytime we started lookin'
For the little things in life that make it love

Yeah, the little things in life that make it livin'
Are the little things in life that make it love