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January 2007 Archives

Road to Super Bowl (Daytona Beach)

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8:35 p.m. Jan. 31
Daytona Beach, Fla.--I could do this all night.
I'm sitting at a yellow and red Stuckey's rest stop in Scottsmoor, Fla., about 30 miles south of Daytona Beach. The vintage Stuckey's is halfway between I-95 and US 1 on Stuckway Road, of course. The Stuckey's and BP gas station are adjacent to the Crystal Lake RV Park where we are spending the night. There's live alligators in that lake. I think my road partner Angelo went out to buy a machete.
For the alligators?
Or maybe I'm getting on his nerves.
I had forgotten about all that great Stuckey's stuff like log rolls and goo goo rolls. But this Stuckey's has free Wi-Fi, which is why I'm here. Faith Hill is singing "The Way You Love Me" on a loud country radio station. Night manager Tapan Patel and his family are my congenial hosts, steering me towards the Mountain Dew. A thin tanned man from the RV park walks in to buy a pack of cigs. I believe he is the ghost of Fred Neil. A group of two young men and two young women have stopped for gas. They piled out of their silver Jeep van to use the washrooms. I'm the only person in the Stuckey's dining area. One woman takes a $3.99 jade and sterling silver necklace and dangles it like the string of a far away kite. She does not buy it. She looks at me and I look bad. We left Marietta around 8 a.m. and got into Daytona Beach at what seems like 3:99 p.m.
When you're on the road that long, you search for perspective.......

Road to Super Bowl (Ga.)

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11:20 PM Jan. 30
Marietta, Ga.-----We are on day three of a long and winding RV trip from Chicago to Miami to join the rumble for Super Bowl XV1. Our dusty home has been named the Rabid Bear. Although our RV is decorated with Bears pennants and posters, not one Colts fan has given us the finger on our spin down I-65 and now I-75. We've had a few thumbs up from Bears fans.
The media has all kinds of tricks up its sleeve, but this one is unique.
Right now its about 25 degrees outside at the Brookwood RV Park just north of Atlanta. There's just me and my pal Angelo Varias on this trip. He brought along a VHS of "The Benny Goodman Story" starring Steve Allen and drummer Gene Krupa. We just finished watching snippets of that.
I don't think Dan Patrick spent Tuesday night on South Beach this way.
We are also solicting roadside tips on how to make the rest of our journey (and our trip back north) more compelling.......

New Orleans-Just A Game?

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7:24 p.m. Jan. 15---The snow was falling like Super Bowl confetti this afternoon as I drove from the West Side of Chicago to Evanston--I guess that counts as a road trip.
During an early afternoon segment on sports talk WSCR-AM in Chicago two hosts declared that this Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Bears and the New Orleans Saints means nothing to the cultural welfare of New Orleans. "Its just a game," said Dan, with his Howdy Doody partner typically mimicking his statement. "Nothing will change the fact that New Orleans will become the Atlantic City of the South." These guys are always bitter pills to swallow. Dan and Terry took sports talk to a real low a couple of years ago when they made fun of the fact that Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo had lost both his legs to diabetes. Real funny stuff. This tells you about their negative frame of mind.
The positive culture of sports can be found outside their studio door. The 1990s success of Michael Jordan and the Bulls shifted the stereotype of Chicago from 1930s gangsters to a contemporary air of showtime typically seen in Los Angeles and New York. The Bulls still lead the NBA in attendance, which is amazing for a 22-17 team. Chicago is ramping up its bid for the 2016 Olympics by pointing out that it has a NFL franchise -unlike its bidding rival Los Angeles. And the fact that Chicago has two full-time sports talk radio stations that employ hundreds of people says that Sunday's match-up might be a little more than "just a game," just in a business sense.
This is what I know about New Orleans and its beloved Saints.....


Southernmost Hotel in U.S.A.

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[Originally published Jan. 2, 2005, edited for blogosphere.
Updates and comments are encouraged, I will try to return before Opening Day 2007.]

KEY WEST, Fla. -- It wasn't so long ago that extreme travel was something for everyone. During the 1960s America's roadside attractions were promoted by being the biggest, tallest and always rolling under a bridge of sighs. Just pull over and size it up.
The Southernmost Hotel is that kind of place.
Located on the far south end of Key West, the hotel is the closest you can get to sleeping in Cuba......

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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