Thanks for checking; we aren't able to travel these days.
Many people in the radio hobby, myself included, combine their interest in radio with a love of travel and geography. One listens to distant radio stations and is
curious to see and learn about the places from which they emanate. On this page, I will summarize my notes regarding motels, roads, restaurants, etc., whenever I am able to travel. I will also use this space to update my hobby of county collecting, a pursuit I began on 1 January 1995 that counts only those counties I have visited since that date. This page will consciously avoid discussion of radio
matters such as formats, but may contain discussion of station/tower site visits.
I conceived this page on
6 May 1998 and will include details of my travels beginning then, with the most recent on top.
The main ideas behind planning a trip to Memphis were the fact that it is a big city within reasonable distance that we haven’t visited, that it affords us the opportunity to go to southern Illinois, a territory largely unexplored for us, and that it brings us to two new states (since our 1988 marriage). We aren’t big Elvis fans, and Memphis makes it clear that that is the reason a lot of tourists go there. Meanwhile, the trip lands at a crucial juncture for our family: about ten days after we return, we leave Madison after fourteen years to move to south suburban Milwaukee. The trip provided a very welcome alternative to the daily work of moving. And, since Jill will have a new job in Milwaukee, the three annual weeks of vacation she had earned will take a while to regain; thus, we’re not sure how possible such trips will be in the next few years.
We left Monday morning at 8:24 in beautiful, sunny, and warm weather. Day One was mainly devoted to the long drive across almost all of Illinois from north to south. We monitored the TV show theme songs on the stunting WHIT 93.1 De Forest for a while, and when I switched to WERN 88.7 it was a treat to hear most of Boccherini’s String Quintet in E, G. 275, the one with the celebrated minuet. There was construction near Janesville and near Rockford, and one sign said to expect a one-hour delay, but we found nothing of the kind and moved through it well. Tolls through the Rockford area total just 55 cents, and we headed south on I-39 out of Rockford, seeing the nuclear power plant at Byron in the distance over the flat terrain. Lunch was McDonald’s in Oglesby, and the boys liked the toys that came with their Kid’s Meals. Gas in Stonington cost 1.409. We planned a route that caught needed counties, of course, and followed Hwy. 127 for a good while, with a couple detours for other counties. We stopped in Christopher (home of WXLT 103.5) to take Chris’s picture by the sign. By the late afternoon, it was quite hot in southern Illinois. Our motel was the Super 8 in Marion, which is a very nice one. Dinner was Taco Bell, and it was a treat to have an enchirito again, in spite of the fact that they ignored Jill’s request for no onion. We bought a copy of the Southern Illinoisan at the McDonald’s next door, the box at the motel already empty. I taped stations like mad, exploring stations I had only heard of previously. Network TV stations licensed to Paducah and Cape Girardeau serve this area. 485 miles on Monday.
On Tuesday morning it was 73 degrees and the humidity was 100%. Leaving the southern tip of Illinois, Chris collected his 400th county (Alexander). We entered Missouri, enjoying the 70 mph limit, and got gas at Charleston for 1.399 at a very windy and warm Sinclair station. Lunch was at the Pizza Hut buffet nearby, and it was good, though the variety was considerably more limited than the one we have often patronized in Madison. Salad bar items tended to be pizza toppings. Here and elsewhere we noted that smoking is permitted, but thankfully the offending parties left before we did. Then we headed south through southeastern Missouri and crossed into Arkansas for state no. 21 of the marriage. We stopped at the tourist information building and a nice lady with a fabulous accent gave us maps and a state tour guide. I tuned the analog radio to tape 910 in Blytheville and got 830 in Kennett instead, but I can use that, too. Leaving Arkansas after a brief stay and just two counties, we crossed into Tennessee and the Memphis metro. Since it was early enough, we thought we could do one thing before heading to the motel, so we drove to Graceland. We didn’t plan to do much there, but wanted to look around. We took a few pictures and got a few new license plates. (The trip total was 39 states with DC, and only ON in Canada. All the states we never found are rare, except MA and WV.) Tours of the mansion are 16.25 for adults. There is free parking next door, which the person collecting $2 per car kindly told us. Lisa Marie’s airplane is on the grounds, and tours are $3 and change. From there we headed east and north on the freeway to the motel, the Super 8 East Macon Cove Area. We were in room 102, and that was our number the previous night in Marion, and that is the apartment number where we are moving! We got an old-fashioned key with the room number on it; in Marion we also got traditional keys, but got cards the rest of the trip. Jill went out to get dinner and brought back Little Caesar’s pizza, the first we had had in some years, and it was very good. This time we had the foresight to bring along a pizza cutter to make boy-size pieces. At 10 p.m. the temperature was 83, and a midnight it was 80 with a dew point of 73. The NOAA weather stations that I monitored on this trip, Memphis included, did not ID, listening through at least one loop. We saw some of the American League win in the All-Star Game.
Wednesday morning we did not need to pack the van, since we were staying another night. Our first stop was the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. It has a nice collection of European paintings, including one by Bouguereau, one of our favorite painters. At the entrance to the gallery there were plastic holders into which one can put a wet umbrella. The cashier ($6 for adults) would not let me take the clipboard in, but kindly supplied some thicker brochures as a writing surface (I make note of paintings of interest); this is the first time anyone has ever complained about the clipboard. Then we got gas for 1.449, and went to the Beale Street Historic District. Finding parking took time, but we got a meter a couple blocks away. We took an interesting walk through the area and took a few pictures, including one of the statue of W. C. Handy, “Father of the Blues.” The studios of WREC 600, KWAM 990, and WEGR 102.7 were along our walk, and we stopped in and got some “Rock 103” stickers. Beale Street was interesting and I’m glad we did it, but the blazing heat made the walk difficult. From there we headed south on 61 (with a detour to the WBBP 1480 tower) into Mississippi (state no. 22). We followed a planned route that took a few hours and covered six counties in the state’s northwest corner. At Tunica we stopped at a tourist information site and got maps (one state highway map per car, the same we found in Illinois Monday morning). This area of MS, just south of the Memphis metro area, is home to a number of casinos, and billboards advertising buffets and visiting performers line the highway. Along one stretch of Hwy 315 we noticed that there were vines growing all over the ground and up trees and signs. Driving back north we stopped in Senatobia, where I taped an ID from the 1140 and a bank said it was 97. We were in the mood for a snack. Jill and I had Taco Bell, ordering from the “Big Bell Value Menu.” I had a very good half-pound combo burrito. The boys had McDonald’s fries. The speed limit was 70 again going north on I-55 in MS. About 10 miles south of the city we passed through some rain, the first of the trip, and in the evening the same storms became severe, setting off the weather alarm. In the evening at the motel, we saw a gorgeous distant thunderstorm illuminated by the redness of the setting sun. This was our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and we had a nice dinner delivered from Steak-Out. Jill had a steak and I had a chef salad with chicken and a great light ranch dressing, and both were excellent.
Thursday morning the 8 o’clock dew point was 75. Morning taping yielded a nice joint ID of all four K-Love affiliates in the metro, including the 1170 Germantown which was surprisingly weak where we were. I never did succeed in taping a legal ID from WDIA 1070, despite a number of attempts. The first order of business in the morning was to visit a few radio towers. Having marked them on the map back at home using 100000watts.com, we knew about where to look, and found them with little trouble. At some of the great, older AM sites there is a transmitter building with calls on it, and I like to take pictures of those. When we got to the WMC 790 site (WMC-FM 99.7 and WMC-TV 5 are there, too), I took the camera and got out of the van. The humidity immediately fogged up the lens, and it took a few minutes for the camera’s temperature to normalize so I could take the picture. There are some nice old AM sites in the city’s northwest side: WHBQ 560, WJCE 680, and WDIA 1070. We got close enough to WDIA to see a couple towers between trees, but never found a road to get a good look. The map showed one that should have worked, but that road did not seem to exist. But we had a good tour of some nice towers, and marked them all on the map. Now we left the city to the north on 51, getting gas at Millington City for 1.459. Studying the map back home, I knew that the obvious route through western Tennessee toward Paducah would miss Lake county TN. Additionally, I found that Lake co. was the access to that little bit of extreme southwestern KY (in Fulton co.) that is separated from the rest of the state. So we took the time to drive into that little area and get the new county. Then we had to backtrack a bit, and then headed east on 94 in southern KY and then north on 304 in a route carefully planned to catch counties. Along this route I collected no. 600 in Ballard co. KY, and Jill took my picture at the sign (we were lucky there was a place to pull over). The camera fogged up again, and Jill had the excellent idea to point the camera toward the sun; that cleared it up quickly. Our motel was at Metropolis IL, just over the border from KY, at the Super 8 as usual. We did not get room 102. There was a nice indoor pool, which Jill and the boys enjoyed, and big round bales of hay out the window. We got a Big New York pizza from the next-door Pizza Hut for dinner.
Friday morning we left in rain and fog, with a severe thunderstorm watch overhead. Gas in Harrisburg was 1.499, and we stopped at the WEBQ 1240/WEBQ-FM 102.3 studio, where Chris and I got some stickers and a map. We had lunch at the KFC Buffet nearby, and it was better than others we have visited. Before leaving the area, we backtracked a bit in order to mark the station studio on our new map. Then we continued along our carefully planned path, cleaning up needed counties in southeastern IL. We stopped at the top of the hour many times this trip, and I made lots of ID tapes. At one, south of Lawrenceville, we found a turtle at the side of the road, which the boys enjoyed and Jill photographed. As we moved north, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. Our route took us on some remote roads, some of them gravel, but we accomplished our mission, leaving me with just four needed counties in Illinois. Our motel was the Super 8 in Mattoon (first syllable accented, which I’m still not quite used to), and Jill got us some dinner from Wendy’s. From the radio standpoint, it was another area I’m not well acquainted with, so I took some notes and taped lots of IDs.
Saturday morning it was sunny and warm, and not nearly so humid. The drive north was fairly uneventful, except when we got gas in Bloomington (for 1.499). When I started the engine to leave the gas station, odd things were happening: the parking break light was still on, the radio and air conditioner were dead, and the turn signals didn’t work. Jill (God bless her) found the answer: the ignition key was turned a little too far, so that the engine ran but these things didn’t work. For the rest of the trip, the key went too far, but now we knew how to fix it. Tolls through Rockford were 55 cents again, and we had an early dinner around 4:30 at our traditional last trip stop, Shakey’s Pizza Buffet in Janesville. We got home at 6:16, very tired. 1791 total miles.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 26 new in IL: Bond Clinton Washington Randolph Perry Jackson Franklin Williamson Johnson Union Pulaski Alexander Massac Pope Hardin Saline Gallatin Hamilton Edward Wabash Lawrence Crawford Richland Jasper Clay Effingham; IL now 98/102 4 new in MO: Mississippi Scott New Madrid Pemiscot; MO now 29/114 2 new in AR: Mississippi Crittenden; AR now 2/75 6 new in TN: Shelby Tipton Lauderdale Dyer Obion Lake; TN now 18/95 6 new in MS: De Soto Tunica Coahoma Quitman Panola Tate; MS now 6/82 6 new in KY: Fulton Hickman Graves Carlisle Ballard McCracken; KY now 28/120 Tim’s new total: 615/3141 (19.58%) Chris’s new total: 440/3141 (14.01%) Paul’s new total: 389/3141 (12.38%)
Niagara Falls Trip, 16-21 June 2003
The idea for this trip originated last summer some time, I think, seen as a chance to see a major attraction and also visit the large city of Buffalo. I had been to the Falls twice as a kid, and Jill thinks she was, too, when quite young, but it would of course be new for the boys, and it would be our first visit to New York (state no. 20) since we were married (15 years ago next month). We left on Monday morning, but had some business to take care of in town first; thus, we got on the road officially at 9:01 in warm, sunny weather. We had some traffic delays around Janesville and again near Rockford, but otherwise the drive was pleasant and uneventful. Our route through Chicago, on the Tri-State Tollway, was mostly problem-free, with a few delays on the south side. We paid the usual seven 40-cent tolls. Lunch was near Portage IN at a McDonald’s; at an earlier stop for food, where we didn’t find any, I was able to tape IDs from 1370 in Gary and 103.9 in Crown Point. The Indiana Toll Road, of course, is the kind where you pick up a ticket and pay at your exit; our route all the way across cost $4.15. Gas at a Mobil at a rest area was 1.639. It was mainly a day to drive and drive, and we entered the Ohio Turnpike and picked up another ticket. The weather was becoming increasingly cloudy in the afternoon. The Turnpike cost $5.45 up to our exit at Elyria, just east of the point where I-80 and I-90 separate, where we stayed at the Super 8, located just south of I-80 on Hwy. 57. Our total miles on Monday were 500 even. The motel was OK, though we’ve certainly seen worse, and it proved to be the least nice of the trip. It provided me with a great chance to hear and tape the western members of the Cleveland market that are harder to hear in the city proper. Chris and Jill went for dinner at Wendy’s, and brought back a good meal, including a nachos-like product, which I didn’t know they had. On the "Channel 3 News" at 11 we were startled to see anchor Tim White, host of "Sightings" on the SciFi Channel.
When we got up on Tuesday, it was still cloudy and warm. We filled the tank at a Speedway near the motel for 1.439, and then headed into the city for a return visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art. We had not been in Cleveland since 1996, and that was our first visit to the Museum. Admission there is free, but parking was $4. The collection is very fine, and we found several paintings not in our notes from ’96, demonstrating how such collections are rotated. We bought some postcard reproductions and a nice guidebook, and then headed to the nearby grave site of James Garfield, our 20th President, assassinated in 1881, which is located in Lakeview Cemetery. There were signs to point the way, and an impressive building houses his tomb and statue. From there, we made our way to I-90 for the drive to Niagara Falls. On that route, of course, we passed by Erie PA, monitoring its stations in anticipation of our planned stop there on the way back. We also passed Dunkirk NY, home of past DX conventions. Our route along the New York Thruway cost a toll of $2.10, and as we made it to Buffalo, it became clear that its freeways mostly require 50-cent tolls. I enjoyed noting I-990 on a sign. Our motel was the Super 8 in Niagara Falls, easy to find near the freeway (I-190) on Niagara Falls Blvd. It is a “pride of” location, and deserves the label. It is a very nice place to stay, and quite reasonable considering its location. There is a heated outdoor pool, which Jill and the boys enjoyed on Wednesday evening. In the lobby, you can buy Falls souvenirs, and most of the day it is operated by a person who answers questions, sells tours, etc. Here, for the first time, we got keys with advertising on them! We saw them once more on this trip. We had a good and affordable pizza from a place across the street, after having phoned the Pizza Hut next to it and deeming it not affordable.
On Wednesday morning it was time to go to the Falls. We did not buy a tour, and just hoped for the best. Remarkably, we found a two-hour free street parking place (on Niagara between Rainbow N and Rainbow S) that was in walking distance. So walk we did, seeing the American Falls from a few different angles. We also purchased the right to walk on a bridge over the river that affords great views, worth it for just $1 a person. We bought a spoon to represent the new state in our collection. Then it was time for the Canadian side, before we even used up our whole two hours in the parking space. The bridge calls for $2.50 toll, and customs had a short line and let us by quickly. Driving along the riverfront, we located a big parking lot that asked $9 US; it was obvious that we weren’t going to see the Falls if we don’t pay, so we did. It wasn’t a bad place to look for license plates, either; we saw our first MB, NS, and NF there. We did very well this trip, seeing 43 states (missing AR DE HI KS MT NH WY) and DC and 7 provinces (missing AB SA PE). Horseshoe Falls is considerably bigger than the American Falls, and we had some great views. It was cloudy, and we thought it must look great in sunlight. One can walk a considerable length, always seeing a new view, and allowing plenty of time here is our main recommendation. Niagara Falls is one the world’s most visited photographed wonders, and despite being frequently misspelled, is really a worthwhile place to go.
Now we had two more things to do in Buffalo. First was the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site. It was here that Roosevelt took the oath of office upon the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. We looked around, got our Passport stamps, and headed back north to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This didn’t work out too well, though, because most of the art we were really interested in had been removed for the current special exhibition (which, at $16/person, was not affordable). Thus, we didn’t stay very long, and hope to get back some day and see the permanent collection of older European paintings. On the way back to the motel (we stayed two nights) we got gas for 1.499. For dinner Jill and I split a meatball hoagy from the place next door, learning that a hoagy is basically a hot sub sandwich. We also had excellent salads, and boys had burgers. While at this motel I listened to WNED-FM 94.5 quite a bit, catching a performance of Beethoven’s monumental Quartet Op. 127. I continued to pursue legal IDs from the area AM stations, trying again and again with certain ones that didn’t ID.
Thursday morning it was cloudy and wet. We had sun, clouds, and some light rain on this trip, but it never got particularly cold, except in the Falls mist. I tried one last time for a legal ID from WUFO 1080, and did not get it. It was time to leave town, and we drove past downtown for the first time on the way south. We took Hwy. 62 to the south, a route to Jamestown that got us a new county. Lunch was at Burger King in Gowanda, where the urinal overflowed. Jamestown relays WNED-FM on 89.7, so I could follow the music as we drove. The destination was the Lucy-Desi Museum, establishing a two-year tradition of Hollywood/TV attractions (last year it was the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana PA). If you like I Love Lucy, you’d like this; it’s well done, and there is plenty to see, including a constantly-running video. You can even buy a bottle of Vitameatavegemin! I taped the locals, of course, and we drove by Lucy’s childhood home before leaving town and heading for Erie. By now the sun was finally coming back out. I have a dear old friend in Erie: Ken Komives and I went to the same Milwaukee schools in sixth and seventh grades before his family moved to Erie, and we have stayed in touch through the years. We have some interests in common, including radio (Ken worked WJET 1400 in the top 40 days), and he had a lot to do with my renewed interest in radio in 1973. Our visit, at a Wendy’s near the freeway, was of necessity brief, but it was great catching up again; it was only the second time we’ve seen each other face to face since he moved away from Milwaukee. Then it was on to our motel, the Super 8 at Mentor OH. During the evening we had a pleasant visit from DXer and traveler-extraordinaire George Greene, who kindly drove up after work for a visit. Dinner was three small pizzas (buy one get two free) from Longo’s Pizza, which Jill and the boys picked up. Here, on the far eastern end of the Cleveland metro, I was again able to tape some stations that are harder to hear in the city. The motel at Mentor was quite nice, though it lacked an obvious sign out by the road.
Friday’s agenda was threefold. Step One: national parks. The motel was quite close to the James Garfield National Historical Site, which was closed for renovation when we tried to visit in ‘96. Its Visitor Center offers nice exhibits about the President’s life, presidency, assassination, and assassin, and of course provides another Passport stamp. From there we drove, with a Taco Bell lunch on the way, to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a facility that only gained national park status (formerly national recreation area) in recent years. There is bridge construction near the entrance to the Visitor Center, but it is accessible, and I taped IDs from 1260 and 1000 the same hour while there. Then it was time for Step Two: transmitter sites. Having mapped the stations on the map back at home, I came to see where the bulk of the Cleveland stations are, and planned a route that would allow us to see most of them. Most important, and first, was the great WTAM 1100 tower, a quite impressive one that I hope looks good on the photo. WCLV 104.9 was playing the last two movements of Mendelssohn’s great Octet while we were at the tower. Our route took us to multi-tower arrays of 1220, 1260, 1300, 1000, and 850, as well as the cluster of tall TV/FM towers. The boys started asking for a bathroom stop along the way, and wouldn’t you know it, the area was residential and we couldn’t find a place. Finally we stopped at the 4-Play Nite Club and Bar, right across the street from the massive channel 8 tower, and tolerated the smoke long enough to use the facilities. After a couple more tower sites, we hopped onto the Turnpike to begin Step Three: drive to the motel. The Ohio toll was $6.10, and we took the Indiana Toll Road as far as Elkhart, costing $2. The drive, at least to the driver, seemed really long, but of course it afforded us a second chance to monitor the Toledo market. Our motel was the Super 8 in Elkhart, and this location is easy to recommend as being very nice and inexpensive. I had a moderate list of needed radio tapes from the South Bend area, and worked on them in the motel. Dinner was from Steak and Shake, located just north of the motel; we brought coupons from home, which they accepted. I had a great taco salad, with really spicy meat. The motel didn’t have a newspaper box, but Jill brought a South Bend Tribune back with the dinner.
Saturday morning in Elkhart it was warm and sunny. We got gas for 1.349, the lowest of the trip, and the Clark gas station had the Elkhart-Goshen map I needed. Then we drove over to South Bend. We tried Arby’s for lunch, having heard ads for 5 for 5.99, but they didn’t offer that, so we went to the nearby Rally’s, a chain we don’t have at home. They have hot dogs, a rather rare food in fast food these days, and we had those and burgers. While there I made my first try to tape the 1620, and they left dead air where the ID should have been. After lunch, we went to Paul F. Boehm Park where the boys played as I monitored and taped. I managed to get a legal ID from the love songs station on 102.3, but 1620 skipped the ID again in my second and last try. Then we got on the Toll Road—1.75 to the western end—and made the drive through Chicago. Traffic wasn’t bad once again, and we were in Wisconsin before we realized that we had gone non-stop from South Bend to Janesville. Dinner was the traditional last stop of the trip, Shakey’s Buffet, which was as good as usual. We got home at 7:47, still in daylight, completely exhausted. 1647 total miles.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 1 new in OH: Ashtabula OH now 55/88 1 new in PA: Erie PA now 19/67 4 new in NY: Chautauqua Erie Niagara Cattaraugus NY now 6/62; new total 565/3141 Chris's new total: 387 Paul's new total: 326
Minnesota Trip, March 17-19, 2003
A year ago we first tried the method that made this trip possible, and it worked well: Jill is obliged to take one vacation week outside the summer months, so she selects a week that coincides with my Spring Break week at the university, and we take a three-day trip during that week. Our son Chris, who is in kindergarten, has to miss some school, and we were able to work that out fine. The question was where to go this year, and the initial plan was Lower Michigan, to catch a couple radio markets we’ve not yet been to (Flint and Saginaw). We concluded, though, that such a trip would be almost all getting there and getting back, facing Chicago traffic twice. So the Minnesota idea arose. There were two needed radio markets there too, and we decided that they will be our destinations.
The warm weather had arrived in just the past few days, and as we left Monday morning the temperature was a comfortable 51. As we noted the mileage in the travel log, I noted that it—55438—is a Twin Cities area Zip code. Indeed, we were just outside of Mankato when the Mankato Zip code of 56001 came up. On this trip I continued my recent trend toward more taping of IDs while on the road, i.e., not just at the motel. So whenever we were at a bathroom or food stop and it was near the hour, there I was taping some nearby signal. I brought home a lot of legal IDs that I would otherwise have missed and, let’s face it, with kids aged 6 and 4 there are plenty of bathroom stops, so some are sure to be near the top of the hour. We followed I-94 through Wisconsin, and monitored 1050 in Eau Claire. The call is still WDVM, and the reports of a change to WMMA were apparently incorrect. Of course, we also checked all the other Eau Claire area stations to update our market list in this very web site. After a lunch stop in Hudson (where I taped the KCCO call change on 950) we took the 694 bypass in the Twin Cities, taking us right past the three tall, impressive Shoreview towers. They are just loaded with FM and TV transmitters, and are some of the fullest towers we’ve seen. Then, it wasn’t very far northwest on I-94 to St. Cloud, our first destination and first motel stop. After a stop for gas (1.659) and a copy of the St. Cloud Times, we stopped for the night at the Super 8 near the Crossroads Center Mall. It was a nice one, and we had a great take-out dinner from the nearby Fazoli’s.
On Tuesday morning, it was cooler and wet but not raining. It was time to look around St. Cloud and make some radio stops. We found the 1390 towers southwest of town on 23, and visited an interesting tower just northwest of where I-94 meets highway 15 that holds three FMs, with three sets of 6, 5, and 5 bays (101.7, 103.7, and 91.5, respectively). We also found the tower that holds 1450 and 99.9, a fine old self-supporting structure in a residential neighborhood. Stops at the clusters that include 1450 (Chris and I peeled into a nice used bookstore in the same block) and 1240 followed and yielded a few promo items, but a courthouse visit yielded no county map, as they were out of them. Then we went to the northeast part of town, in Sauk Rapids—that’s across the Mississippi River and into a county that was new for the boys—to find the towers of 660 and 800. They proved to be outside the studio, with two towers and plenty of stickers inside, and the 92.9 studio was almost next door. Lunch at Burger King back near the mall was the last stop in town before heading to our next destination.
In planning the trip I noted that highway 15 leads from St. Cloud to New Ulm on a route replete with new counties, and our destination, Mankato, wasn’t far east of New Ulm. So we headed south on 15, a pleasant drive in an area without many larger population centers. We caught the KDUZ 1260 (shared with KAPR 106.9 Dassel) studio just outside Hutchinson and got stickers and maps. The AM tower is at the studio. New Ulm is a nice town, and we wished we had a map while there; we found and stopped at the KNUJ 860 tower, and I noted its location. Then, when we bought a map in Mankato, it contained a New Ulm map, so I could mark where the tower is. I kept my eyes open for the KNUJ studio, but we did not find it. Out of New Ulm we went east on 68, and that turns into 169, which goes right into Mankato. We went to KYSM 1230 right away, and Jill took pictures of the studio and station vehicles. I didn’t realize at this point that the channel 12 studio is just blocks from there. We filled the tank (1.689) and bought a copy of the Free Press. Then we picked up a few things at Cub Foods near the River Hills Mall and brought our dinner of Burger King fish sandwiches back to the motel. We stayed at the Super 8 on 169 just north of US-14. It was a “Pride of Super 8” location and was again very nice. There were big hills nearby, and there were a few FMs I could not hear, but the terrain didn’t affect my radio listening too much. Channel 12, however, was quite weak at the motel. The clerk at the desk said that I look like a teacher; I think that’s the first time I’ve ever been told that.
Each paying guest at the motel gets a coupon for a free breakfast at the Happy Chef next door, and we enjoyed them in the morning. It was still cloudy, cool, but now more dry. We made our visit to the TV station and drove around town for a while. Leaving town east on US-14 we expected to find the KTOE 1420 studios, and did, learning that 96.7, 100.5, and 101.5 are also in the building. We got emory boards for the 96.7 and photographed KTOE’s three-tower array. Now it was time to go home; we went east to highway 60, detouring to the north, then back south on 13 to Waseca, to catch needed Le Sueur county. In Waseca we easily found the 1170 studio, and I taped its recent call change. But when Chris and I went to go in, we found it locked, and guessed that the staff was at lunch. By now we were seeing increasing amounts of rain. East from there we went to Owatonna and got lunch at McDonald’s. The 1390 in Owatonna, running the Twins, kindly IDed at :59, allowing me to tape it and the 104.9 over the same hour. Then we followed US-14 to Rochester, noted the 1340 tower when 14 meets 52, and stopped at Apache Mall. I picked up a new city map at the information desk and we got mall directories. A current phone book allowed a station address update. The stop allowed two tops of the hour for taping, and I added 1520 and 92.9 to the collection, just having noted the new talk format on 1520. Leaving town, we followed 52 to I-90, and took it to La Crosse. Most of the La Crosse stations were in a good 40-50 miles west of town, so I was able to monitor them while the rest of the family slept. In La Crosse we stopped for dinner at the North Country Steak Buffet. The building was obviously a former Ponderosa Steak House, but we thought the food was better. The boys, predictably, especially liked the desserts. I left the table and went out in the rain to tape the ID from the all-sports FM in 105.5. On the way home from La Crosse, we made some bathroom stops only, and a I caught a couple more IDs, but most memorably, we listened to the coverage of the beginning of the war on WBBM 780. We got home at 9:02, in time to hear the President on the Fox News Channel. 876 total miles.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 8 new in MN: Meeker McLeod Sibley Nicollet Brown Blue Earth Le Sueur Waseca MN now 56/87 Chris: 12 new in MN: Wright Stearns Benton Sherburne Meeker McLeod Sibley Nicollet Brown Blue Earth Le Sueur Waseca MN now 53/87 Paul: 2 new in WI: Dunn St. Croix 15 new in MN, same as Chris + Steele Dodge Olmsted WI now 50/72, MN now 50/87 New Totals: Tim 559, Chris 376, Paul 314