Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ahhhhhh! The Sweet Smell of . . . Chocolate!

One of the things that I really miss about Chicago or rather my early years in Chicago is being greeted, on my stop and go morning commute into downtown, by the sweet scent of chocolate. At that time Chicago was the mecca of candy making, especially chocolate candy.  In my last blog I ranted and raved about my favorite food, Italian Beef Sangwiches, but when I'm not eating (or yearning for) them my other food love takes over. The love of chocolate, and lots of it. Typically on our recent trip I would grab a chocolate snack whenever possible although I have had this thing lately for . . . CELERY? (But that's an entirely different story to be told at a later date.) An account of a few highlights of our recent trip can be found in my This Made Me Laugh blog so there's no need to go into that here. Except during our way home, after dashing through three or four states (at the speed limit of course) and the periodic pits stops necessitated by my daily dose of diuretics, my sixth, seventh or eighth sense started acting up. Something was in the air or at least in the area. Then, there lurking among the many signs strewn across the sea of strewn signs arose a sign from God himself . . .

Not since a similar situation in a remote part of Kansas (most of Kansas is remote) have I seen such a welcome sign. (Although a few Rest Stop signs were really welcome as well). A quick cut across traffic lanes and up the exit ramp, a sharp left turn and there it stood. Chocolate Paradise at discount prices!

 A fast check the amount of space available in the Sebring and then into the Willy Wonkaish Wonderland.

Rows and rows, piles upon piles of boxes and bags, Easter eggs and Bunnies now out of date, even Valentine heart-shaped boxes, all beckoning to me. There was even a convenient washroom in the rear of the store I wouldn't be distracted by other urges. After calculating available space in the car, which packages allowed easy entry while driving and least potential of melting anywhere other than in a appropriately eager mouth, carts were filled, credit card swiped and two (one really) happy travelers were once again on their way. I could tell you more about the rest of the trip but my Mom always said not to talk with your mouth full . . . of chocolate!

There real find of the day were these little boxes of four candies, sold individually, but easier to carry if purchased by the case. They would have made great gifts to friends and neighbors but on the way home we were accosted by a vicious pack of Keebler Elves who threatened lock us in a hollow tree trunk unless we handed over all the candy. My intention was honorable but how do you reason with fudge covered elves.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Life in Fennimore is good. Really comfortable, quiet and laid back. Although I must admit that time to time I miss the hustle and bustle of Chicago. In general, most of the "things" of Chicago are available in one form or another (without the hustle and bustle). Except . . . Italian Beef Sangwitches. As much as I have tried to find one of these juicy bundles of zesty beef I almost always come up disappointed. Of course being in Wisconsin, it is insisted that the sandwich is covered with mozzarella (I guess that is Wisconsin for Italian) Even places that come close beefwise usually completely miss on the bread which is an integral part of the unit. I could go on for paragraphs praising the "Joy of Beef" but I found this article that tells the story better than I can. If this whets your curiosity (and appetite) I'm always available for a road trip for a "sangwitch". Both my son (Derek) and I have tried various recipes and come fairly close but still not quite there. There is a Lukes restaurant on the outskirts of Elkhorn Wis. (near Lake Geneva) where, I think, they serve Scalas beef and import Gonnella bread. And I have recently found a place in Galena (with a branch in Dubuque) that has Italian Beef Sandwiches on their menu. I plan to give them a try . . . soon! Here's the whole story including a recipe that I'm going to try as soon as I can find acceptable bread.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bye, Bye Bike Place

Usually around this time of year we are reminded of the passings of memorable people, places and events. Many of the deaths were given mucho news space. We had the likes of Harry Morgan, Joe Frazier, good old Kim Jong-il, inquisitive Andy Rooney, visionary, Steve Jobs, even the creator of Doritos, Arch West, Spiderman's uncle, Cliff Robertson, giant sized Police Academy graduate, Bubba Smith, two sides of the alcohol scene, Betty Ford and Amy Winehouse, "Just one more thing" Peter "Columbo" Falk, "Mister Mirth" Jack Kevorkian, "Macho Man” Randy Savage. Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, "Our Gang" child star Jackie Cooper, diamonds best friend, Liz Taylor, beauties like "The Outlaw" Jane Russell and Anne Francis (Honey West), Fitness guru, Jack LaLanne and every body's favorite terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. Sport celebrities disappeared from the spotlight while others retired to rehab or jail time. All of these events received more than their fair share of notoriety and in some cases, rightly so. But, this past year a piece of Wisconsin hystory has quietly disappeared from our midst unnoticed. During my many backroad journeys I have tried to document unusual and significant landmarks and hystorical oddities. One such place is (or was) "The Goofy Bike Graveyard". Interestingly this little piece of Americana happens to be on the same road as a number of other "oddities". One of which recently "made me laugh" on my other blog, I've passed this spot many times and even stopped and photographed it planning on doing a "Wisconsin Hystorical Site" story about it. I never did get around to writing that story and now . . . alas! It's gone. I don't really know the whats, whys and hows of the place but my best guess is . . . once upon a time in a land far away. (sorry wrong story) to continue, my guess is that on a dark and deary night many years ago a lone rider cruised along highway 133 hoping to find shelter from the harsh Wisconsin winter. As the weather worsened the visibility became, well you just could see anything. (although along this stretch of road there's nothing to see anyway) In short, he missed a slight curve in the road and slammed into a scrawny barbed wire fence. The impact knocked his helmet clean off his head and deposited it right on top of one of the fence posts. He flew in another direction while his bike came to rest along the fence line. In short time the night creatures dragged off and devoured his remains but the remains of the bike and helmet remained. (I think that's my record use of "remain)" For some strange reason this incident reoccurred many more times through the years. Witnesses say that the headlights of the "fence" bikes still glow a reassuring lure to unsuspecting riders. (Kinda like the Lorelei's of Blue River) Each time the helmet nestles upon a post as if placed there by some leather clad spectre and the bike finds a final resting place on the fence line. It's said that on a quiet night you can still hear the lowly growl of a Harley grumbling through the the darkness. The yard which is guarded by the ghostly troop is filled with such an assortment of wierdities that I haven't even come close to making up (I mean finding) the meaning. I'm sure it had some sort of ritualistic significance but it beats me. Now, the sad ending to this tale of wonder. It's gone! Everything is gone! Not an eerie trace. If I hadn't taken photos you would never have believed that such a place ever existed. Honest it was really there and I have pictures to prove. (I also know at least two other people that saw the place in its glory days - right Hollister?)

Maybe the cows in the background can explain this. I can't.

May best guess . . . some sort of totem?

Black Flag! Quick pass the Black Flag!

The wonders just go on and on.
A snowmachine and some sort of half ATV, half John Boat???

My guess is that this guy was only going "Half Fast"!

The canon must be for warding off those big bugs.

It had to start somewhere. (Note the blocks on the pedals.
Must have been a little guy)

This could be the bike Arte Johnson rode on "Laugh In".

(for those of you old enough to remember "Laugh In".)

The only more ominous than the bikes and helmets
were all the black caldrons everywhere.

The "Bike Yard" today! (Actually yesterday)