Cathryn and I just completed Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. and a return trip across the United States on a more northerly route, racking up over 6,000 miles on mostly forgotten roads that were once the main arteries in America. As much as possible, we traveled the old U.S. Highway system that is still in use but often replaced by Interstate super highways.
Following Route 66 was like a cross-country scavenger hunt. We used a guidebook to seek out the old road or what’s left of it and eroding memorabilia from a time past and almost forgotten. Millennial’s have no concept of the road, and as folks our age travel to never-never land the sites and stories will disappear forever.
Continue reading “Road Less Traveled – Crossing America”
We started the second half of our westward journey on Route 66 on Sunday, June 16th, in Amarillo, Texas. Not too far out of town I had to throw out the anchor and do a u-turn to stop at the infamous Cadillac Ranch. For those unaware of the legend and song that refer to the unusual site, this one boasts ten old Cadillac’s that are standing on end, partially buried, looking like the American version of Stonehenge.
For years, tourists have been stopping at the eyesore or work of art, depending how you look at it, to spray-paint or write their names or whatever on the empty shells of the once-classic cars. We entered the field through a gate in the fence, careful not to touch it, since eager tourists start tagging right there. Every color of paint you can imagine decorated the gate, fence, and packed dirt path leading to the monument.
Continue reading “The Mother Road – Part 2 – Amarillo Texas to Santa Monica California”
I’d seen the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called Love many years ago and knew that Cathryn would love to see it while we were in Vegas on our detour from Route 66. We’re both Cirque fans and everyone knows the Beatles music, so you can easily sing along. We got married in Vegas six years ago and were too busy to catch a show. This time we had no excuse.
The show is still at the Mirage and it promised to be bigger, better, and bolder, having been redone since my last viewing. I wasn’t convinced when we first sat down, the seats were smaller than I remembered and there had been speakers built into the headrest for surround sound. None of that mattered once the show started.
Typical Cirque characters got the production started, then came the music, color, acrobatics and the awesome music of the Beatles. There was confetti that fell from the rafters, bubbles from that lingered in the air, and a giant sheet of silk that covered the whole stage and stretched out into the audience.
Of course there were a couple VW Beetle Bugs and a van. The acts performed were top notch and blended with the theme of the music. The costume and set colors jumped right into your lap. The stage itself was a giant machine, with sections that opened up and parts that moved actors up and down and in and out of sight.
Love wasn’t as heavily weighted with acrobatics or circus-style acts as other shows, it had just the right amount of song and dance and action to keep your eyes wandering around the stage to see what was going on in all corners. It definitely lived up to its promise of being bigger, bolder and better. We both loved the show and easily rated it a 10 out of 10.
Once again, while travelling Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., Cathryn and I have had our faith in humanity renewed. There really are friendly people left in the world, all you have to do is say hello and talk to them.
Who’d have thunk there’d be anyone willing to talk to you in a metropolis like Chicago – it’s one of those places you’re programmed to think that you can’t make eye contact with anyone for fear of them saying, “What are you looking at?” So much for preconceived ideas. Our first glaring example was at the Congress Plaza Hotel in the windy city.
Continue reading “Everyday People – Everywhere”
In 1926 new horseless carriages created a need for a network of roads for people to drive them on. Thus the federal highway system was launched with Route 66, dubbed The Mother Road or Will Rogers Highway, being the path west from Chicago to L.A. Folks were already heading west for land, jobs, and to find their fortune in one way or another.
Cathryn and I packed up the Impala and headed to Chicago on June 10th. We headed to Chicago, where Route 66 originates, and walked around downtown. A beer and a cheeseborger at the Billy Goat gave us the fuel to carry on and check out the Riverwalk. We had dinner and finished the night at Andy’s Jazz bar, a great send off from the windy city.
We stayed at the Congress Plaza, a beautiful turn-of-the-century hotel near the waterfront. Pete, the hotel security guard took us on a private tour showing us the first air-conditioned ballroom in the U..S. and a backroom where Al Capone hung out and played cards. Apparently him and Elliott Ness stayed in the same hotel at the same time, unknown to the Treasury Agent.
Continue reading “The Mother Road Part 1 – Chicago to Amarillo Texas”
I had to think about this movie for a couple days to let it sink in. Given that time to mull it over I have to say I was not impressed by Rocketman – the story of Elton John. Cathryn loved the movie so this review will give you both perspectives. She liked the music selection and thought the actors playing John as a child and adult (Taron Egerton) did a fabulous job.
The film accurately mimicked many of the rock star’s wild and crazy outfits, but made no attempt to play his music in the order the songs were released. Theatrical creativity must have been the point since the song lyrics were used to describe the events of the artist’s stage in life. Oddly enough, it was Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics and Elton added the music.
For me the story dwells too long on Reg Dwight’s (Elton John) woe is me childhood. They show us how he came up with his stage name – the second half taken from John Lennon, but that fact in not true. Granted, John was executive producer of the movie, but he obviously decided to portray his life as he perceived it and not as how it actually happened. Thus there are other historical inaccuracies.
I was also unimpressed with the movie being a fantasy musical. I thought it took away from many of the great songs that I love. Nothing in the reviews I read said anything about the format. Overall the movie was still entertaining with a couple of zen moments to put you in the zone.
I rated it a 5 and Cathryn a 10 out of 10.
I use the number 300 instead of 3 – for the third installment of the John Wick, the master assassin. Seeing the film with an action-appreciating buddy, we couldn’t keep track of the bad guys killed by Wick. He commented later that it was the highest body count he’d ever seen in a movie, a bold statement considering other slaughter movies we’d seen, like Rambo 3 or Hacksaw Ridge.
I’ve always liked Keanu Reeves and that includes his John Wick character, but I started to chuckle after his first 30 or 40 kills. The man deserves credit for the way he handles himself in the action sequences – basically a two hour long chase and fight scene. He masterfully handles an assortment of weapons that must have taken hours of practice to successfully operate.
If you don’t mind a few dozen blood-spattering head shots and an overly violent plot, this movie could be for you. I do find it odd though, in this day and age, how movie makers can present us with such mindless slaughter, and add a dry touch of humor to make the film more entertaining. In a way this movie reminded me of the Walking Dead – the bad guys weren’t dead until you shot them in the head, in many cases more than once.
Enough about the violence. The movie has a highly paid all-star cast, perhaps to give the flick some credibility with movie buffs. I have to say I was shocked at the other online reviews I read from sites like Roger Ebert and company. So maybe it was just me…and my buddy, who thought there was enough carnage to call the John Wick movies a trilogy and leave it at that.
Cathryn could never have sat through this movie with her eyes open. I don’t think my buddy was too impressed. For the sake of mindless entertainment I give it 5 out of 10.