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.
For earlier trips from 1998 and 1999, see page 1, for 2000, see page 2, and for 2001, see page 3.
Omaha Trip, July 29-August 2, 2002
This trip originated in a brief moment last summer as Jill, looking at art posters at a museum we were visiting—I’m pretty sure it was Cincinnati—noticed a Bougereau that was marked as belonging to the museum in Omaha. That’s a city I’ve been wanting to visit, so a trip built around a visit to that museum emerged. As I mentioned in the Pittsburgh notes (below), our travels this summer had to wait until my course was over, and the result was that our two major trips fell quite close together, in weeks Jill could take as vacation time. We were home just over a week from the Pittsburgh trip when we left on this one.
We left Monday morning at 8:38. It was wet and humid, but the overnight rain had ended. It mostly a “get there” day, driving toward a Des Moines motel. Of course, I planned a route that yielded a bunch of new counties, so we did not take the faster I-80 route into the city. Rather, we stayed north until getting in line with Des Moines, and then headed south on I-35. We got our first gas in Iowa Falls, where I made a nice tape of the local simulcasters 1510 and 95.3. We were surprised to see “super unleaded” gas for 1.369, two cents less than regular, but that proved to be a common occurrence during this trip. (When we got home, it was ten cents more—the way we’re used to.) So the van feasted on some higher octane. In one of the several small cities we passed through, there was a sign giving the number of miles to Sturgis, the annual motorcycle event going on at this same time in southwestern South Dakota. Driving south on I-35, we saw and photographed the four Des Moines/Ames TV towers near Alleman. Near there I bought a much-needed Omaha map at Kum & Go, a common gas station/convenience store chain in Iowa. Our motel was the Motel 6 near the Des Moines airport; we stayed there in June 1996 and remembered that it is right on the flight path to the airport. We went back, thinking that the boys would enjoy seeing the jets fly over the motel. On arrival, we asked whether the same room we had last time was available, and it was. (We always write the room number into our travel log.) The motel had no record of our reservation, however, and having the confirmation number in hand did not seem to help. We only got a room because there were vacancies. So beware making reservations with Motel 6! Super 8, our usual chain, has been very dependable in this regard through the years. Dinner came from Burger King next door. As the evening went on, and I taped Des Moines stations that I did not tape in the ’96 visit, we noticed very little aircraft activity, and on asking at the office, we learned that the flight path had changed! We did hear and see some very loud military-type jets taking off the next morning.
With Tuesday it only got warmer, and more than half of this trip was spent in hot weather. Tuesday’s agenda was the art museum in Omaha first and foremost, so we hit the road to the west on I-80 in the morning. I-80 west of Des Moines runs just south of the county lines, so we were careful to exit at the right places to catch both tiers of needed counties as we went. Driving southwest on I-80 into Council Bluffs, we spotted four AM towers, which I later learned were the 1180. As we entered Nebraska, the boys got a new state, and it was the first NE visit for Jill and me since we have been married. Our destination was downtown Omaha and to the Joslyn Art Museum. The building is a very impressive structure of salmon-colored stone with a magnificent classical entrance. The very friendly cashier, on learning that we are from Wisconsin (she used to live in Hartford), let both boys in free, even though Chris is old enough to have to pay. The interior is beautifully presented, and there were a number of European paintings of particular interest. One is the Titian Giorgio Cornaro with a Falcon of 1537. Titian, a great and prolific Venetian master, seems surprisingly well represented among the galleries we have visited. Of course we were anxious to see the Bougereau—that’s Adolphe-William Bougereau (1825-1905), a French academic painter mostly of women and girls whose works are highly realistic. We saw his large Return of Spring (Le Printemps) of 1886, and learned in the gift shop of two more of his works that the museum owns (and bought postcard reproductions of them). The cashier there told me that these other two are in storage, and we’re pretty sure that one of them was the work that Jill saw in the poster. Jill bought a poster of a work by the American William Michael Harnett (1848-1892), a painter she loves for his also very realistic still lifes. Our motel was the Super 8 near M Street in Omaha, an appropriate place, I thought, for me to monitor the Omaha radio market. It was an outstanding motel, well above the Super 8 average in our experience. Dinner was a Papa John’s pizza. While Jill was out to pick it up, she bought a few groceries and learned that the store’s receipt will yield a 9-cent-per-gallon discount on gas, so she also filled the tank, a job we had to do in the morning anyway. From the room I had a great conversation with an old DX friend in Omaha.
Wednesday morning it was still hot and sunny, and forecasts were for upper 90s to low 100s by late afternoon. We began by making some tower visits; I didn’t want to leave the area without seeing at least the 1110 and 1620 sites. We learned where to look from the DX friend, and did find both. 1620 shares a 3-tower site with 1290. Then we drove north through town, catching the four tall TV towers at the Omaha tower farm and the nearby single towers of 660 and 590. Then we left town to the north, staying on the Nebraska side to add to the county total. (The south-side tower visits also added one.) We had lunch at a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell combination in Blair, choosing the latter. Jill went into a nearby grocery store and bought some Pepsi Blue, a new product we hadn’t tried yet. We all tasted it in the motel that night and liked it. Our road took us to Sioux City and a brief return to Iowa, and from there we headed north toward Sioux Falls. South Dakota was another new state for the boys. Arriving in that city for the first time in a decade, we made a stop at the 1000 studio and a nearby McDonald’s. While Jill and the boys had ice cream cones inside, I remained in the van to monitor the market and tape 1520, which had changed calls since my 1992 taping. The radio gave the temperature as 97, and we saw a bank thermometer that said 107! Out of Sioux Falls, we headed east on I-90 into Minnesota, where we took a detour up to Pipestone to visit the Pipestone National Monument. It is an area rich in that mineral, which Native Americans have carved both long ago and today. Of course we added a postmark to our national parks passports, and then headed back south toward our Sioux City motel. On that route we encountered a detour, not the only one this trip, and that cost us some time. Arriving in Sioux City, a familiar phenomenon recurred: our map was out of date, and the road that leads to the motel had substantially grown since it was printed. On solving that problem, we arrived at the Super 8 south, which was another very nice place. Dinner was from Wendy’s next door. As we slept, the cold front finally passed, and the next day would see increasingly comfortable weather. In the morning the dew point was still 67, and by afternoon it was down to a dry 49.
Thursday began with some time spent in Sioux City, another of those cities I have long needed to visit. Coming into town the previous evening, we passed the 1360 site of four towers, so we knew where they were, and we saw the 620 and 1470 the previous day while driving past the city toward SD. The problem was still the map, so we went first thing to the Chamber of Commerce and got a nice free map. It did what I hoped it would do: give the city’s larger context, including the Nebraska portion where the 620 and 1470 towers are. It didn’t take very long to return to those sites and mark them on the map. All three AMs licensed to Sioux City have four towers. We then went to War Eagle Park, where that early nineteenth-century Native American, noted for being friendly to the white man, is buried. We walked to a statue of him that was erected in the 1970s, and Chris fell on the pavement and got some pretty bad bruises on his knees. Jill was equipped to clean them up, and we bought some bandages large enough to keep them covered. Then we went to the Floyd Monument, also in Sioux City. It honors a member of the Louis & Clark Expedition of the early nineteenth century who died at Sioux City during their journey. It is an obelisk, and looks like a smaller version of the Washington Monument in Washington DC. It was erected just over a century ago. Then we took some time at the Southern Hills Mall, where we had snacks at the food court and I picked up a directory for the files. It is a large and very nice mall. On leaving Sioux City, we followed a carefully planned route that maximized the number of new counties we collected. Gas in Cherokee was 1.429. Our motel was the Super 8 in Clear Lake, just west of Mason City, and it was another very nice one. Dinner was take-out from the next-door Happy Chef, and it was very good, a refreshingly good meal after so much fast food.
Friday was the day to drive home, but not without getting a few more things in. We planned a route that got counties and also took us to Albert Lea and Austin MN, just to the north. In Albert Lea, by sheer luck, we encountered both the 1450/94.9 and 96.1 studios. At the latter, I asked where the Chamber of Commerce was, hoping for a map, and was told it’s just around the corner. I walked there and found it closed. I asked in a nearby business and learned that it moved some time ago to another location within walking distance. I went there and finally got a nice (though glossy) free map. (I certainly prefer a map you can write on in pencil!) We went back to 1450/94.9 to mark that studio on the map, and left town to the east on I-90 to go to Austin. At a rest stop on that stretch, I read the phone book to get station addresses and see where Austin’s chamber is, and the directions I wrote down helped a lot as we got to town. I got the map, and the stations were not in town, so we did not visit any. Our next destination was Waterloo, to get back onto US-20 for an efficient route home, and along US-218 we did some taping of IDs at tops of hours. Dinner was at Bishop’s Buffet in Waterloo at the Crossroads Mall, and it was a treat as always. On the way home we heard the exciting end of the Pirates/Giants game over KDKA. At a gas stop in Dyersville (the FS Mart) we were amazed that it was a full service station, and we’re pretty sure it’s the first time someone else pumped our gas since we’ve been married. They even washed our windows! To me that’s a childhood memory. Gas was 1.379. We got home, exhausted, at 11:30. 1606 miles total.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 46 new counties Iowa: 32 new: Franklin Hardin Hamilton Wright Story Dallas Adair Guthrie Cass Audubon Pottawattamie Shelby Harrison Woodbury Lyon Sioux Plymouth Ida Cherokee O’Brien Clay Buena Vista Pocahontas Humboldt Kossuth Palo Alto Hancock Cerro Gordo Worth Winnebago Mitchell Floyd (now 74/99, 74.7%) Nebraska: 6 new: Douglas Sarpy Washington Burt Thurston Dakota (now 6/93, 6.5%) South Dakota: 4 new: Union Clay Lincoln Minnehaha (now 4/66, 6.1 %) Minnesota: 4 new: Rock Pipestone Freeborn Mower (now 48/87, 55.2%) new total: 551/3141, 17.54% Chris: 50 new counties: Iowa now 51/99 Nebraska now 6/93; state #12 South Dakota now 4/66; state #13 Minnesota now 41/87 new total: 366/3141 Paul: 50 new counties: Iowa: now 46/99 Nebraska now 6/93; state #11 South Dakota now 4/66; state #12 Minnesota 35/87 new total: 295/3141
Pittsburgh Trip, 15-20 July 2002
This trip was conceived several months before, as Jill discovered that there is a Jimmy Stewart statue and museum in his hometown of Indiana PA. On looking up that city’s location, we found that it is not far outside Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh brought two ideas to mind at once: art museum and Pirates game. We scheduled our vacation week at Jill’s workplace, planning that it be after the conclusion of the 4-week course I taught at UW-Madison this summer.
We left Monday morning at 8:32 in sunny and warm weather. After a breakfast stop north of Janesville, we took the drive through Chicago, using our traditional I-90 to Tri-State Tollway (I-294) route. Passing eight 40-cent tolls, we crossed the Indiana line at 12:04, and picked up some McChicken sandwiches in Merrillville (where they were giving out B96 [WBBM-FM 96.3 Chicago] stickers). Monday was a day to keep moving, with a pretty distant motel goal, so we just made needed bathroom and leg-stretching stops. We monitored the Lafayette and Indianapolis markets, and got gas just east of the latter for 1.429. We had a considerable traffic delay north of Indianapolis on I-65, which we learned was caused by workmen installing road reflectors. Our route, taking I-70 east out of Indianapolis, was just about identical to the one we took last year when our first motel stay was in Richmond IN. This time we went beyond that point to stay in Dayton, at the Super 8 in suburban Moraine. It was converted from a non-Super 8, arranged such that you park right outside your room, rather than the usual interior hallways. It was average but acceptable, perhaps the worst of the four locations where we stayed, and at the same time, the most expensive. Many of Dayton’s radio and TV towers are located nearby, so broadcast TV was snow-free and several FMs had solid signals. We had dinner from the nearby Subway.
Why select Dayton? Well, we did it to get a good distance covered the first day, and to set up a route to Pittsburgh that offered counties and desirable stops. Once Jill found Chris’s missing shoe on Tuesday morning, we headed to the nearby Dayton Art Institute. Admission there is free, and we found a respectable collection. Highlights include the Study Heads of an Old Man (c. 1612) by Rubens and the large and impressive portrait of Henry, 8th Lord Arundell of Wardour (c. 1764-67) by Reynolds. We bought postcard reproductions of these and other favorites, and then headed to the (also) nearby Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop. There we enjoyed a nice presentation about the Wrights by the resident park ranger and added a new postmark to our National Parks passport books. For lunch we selected Rally’s at an I-70 exit near Fairborn because it is a chain we don’t have at home, and we really loved their burgers.
From Dayton it was on to Columbus. The news in the city that day was the announcement that Paul McCartney would appear in concert in fall. We visited the Capitol when we were there last, so we settled for just a drive-by this time. Not far east of it on Broad is the Columbus Museum of Art. Here, perhaps for purely practical reasons, but also to make an historical point, the Old Master paintings are all in a single gallery but closely spaced and placed above one another, in the manner of the academic exhibitions of the past. One could identify each work by using booklets that diagram the works’ positions and number them. A highlight for me was a portrait of Varvara Ivanovna Narishkine (c. 1800) by the great Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, painted in the period when she worked in Russia. Here, too, we bought postcards of our favorites (at least those that were available), and headed further east toward Pittsburgh.
I-70 passes through that narrow portion of West Virginia at Wheeling. WV was a new state for the boys, and it was the first time Jill and I have been there since we got married (the 14th anniversary of which event was this very day!). We stopped in Wheeling and got gas for 1.399. The Exxon station in question had one full service pump, and the attendant told me that there are some all-full-service stations in Wheeling. Further, she told me that someone told her that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey! That can’t be true, can it? At this gas station and elsewhere, we never found anyone who was open and would sell us a map. Leaving town we passed through a nice tunnel, which we all enjoyed.
Our motel was the Super 8 at Harmarville PA, a northeast suburb of Pittsburgh. We stayed there two nights—a nice break from all the loading and unloading—and it was a very nice location, so staying longer was a pleasure. The motel was near a Pennsylvania Turkpike (I-76) exit, so there were lots of motels and restaurants nearby. We had KFC for dinner, and the boys tried “popcorn chicken.” There are nice, tasty pieces of chicken, but much of what they gave us was dust, and we found the product unimpressive. They still have some of the best coleslaw either of us has ever eaten.
We planned ahead that Wednesday was going to be a day quite different from most trip days: in the morning we go to the art museum, then back to the motel in the afternoon, and then to the Pirates game at night, arriving back at the motel late. Arriving at the Carnegie Museum of Art we found an impressive structure with a wonderful outdoor area of steps, plants, sculpture, and a fountain. After having paid the unusually high admission—they wanted $5 for Paul, who is 3!—we learned that the area that contains the Old Master paintings was closed until September for renovation! They were glad to give us a refund. I looked over an open copy of the highlights of the collection book, and really found just a few paintings that I’d be interested in. One, of which I bought a postcard, was a beautiful work by Vouet: The Toilet of Venus (c. 1640). A bit disappointed, the boys played for a time in the outdoor area, and then we left. The parking attendant let us go for nothing when he noticed that we had been there for only a short time. Now we drove toward downtown to get a photo of the ornate Cathedral of Learning, and we tried to get down to the triangle where the three rivers (the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela) meet. When we got there, crawling through dense downtown traffic, I was amazed to find two open parking meters right across the street from the Pittsburgh Hilton and right next to Point State Park. Seven minutes for a quarter is expensive, but we didn’t care. We had the chance to walk into the hotel, which was nostalgic: I attended the American Musicological Society conference there in Fall, 1992. Then we took the very hot walk out to the point, where there is a fountain, and took some pictures. PNC Park and the site of the old Three Rivers Stadium are right across the water from there. Leaving downtown, we got gas at an Exxon for 1.299, and took the time to visit the tower of the venerable KDKA 1020. We stopped for a late lunch at the same KFC by the motel and had the buffet, which is always a treat, and returned to the room to relax for a while.
We left for the stadium at about 5, trying to allow for traffic and parking delays and hoping to have time to walk around the stadium before the first pitch. We saw parking that ranged from $3 to $10, and you can guess which we chose; we then had about a 15-minute walk along a clear path to the stadium. It was a hot walk, but we all managed. The stadium is beautiful; it opened last season, the same time as Miller Park in Milwaukee. We walked around and got various views before going to our seats, which we purchased in advance over the Internet. There was a considerable crowd of over 32,000, and we cooled off somewhat as the sun went down. A fine tenor sang the national anthem in C and hit the high G just fine, and there were lots of fun entertainments between innings. Late in the game a crazed lunatic ran onto the field and was tackled and removed by the authorities, but not before high-fiving the center fielder. The Pirates beat the Reds 6-3. We walked back on the same path, and got out of the parking lot and back on the route to the motel surprisingly easy. Afterward, we were amazed how problem free it was getting to the game and getting back out again. We picked up a Taco Bell snack near the motel before heading back to the room, where we watched the news coverage of the game. It was the boys’ first baseball game, and it went really well, though the boys would have preferred it shorter.
Thursday morning it was time to leave Pittsburgh and head to Indiana. It was a drive of about an hour and a half. The weather was still warm and dry, and the grass in western PA was quite yellow—even more so than it was back home. We took some time walking around downtown in search of a map and got a few station pens from a sidewalk remote. The downtown intersections in Indiana are noteworthy: there is a chirping sound as long as the “walk” sign is on, and traffic in both directions stops to allow for diagonal pedestrian crossing, for which lines are painted. The statue of Jimmy Stewart is in front of the courthouse (where they wanted over $6 for a county map—that’ll be the day), and the museum is the third floor of the library building nearby. It’s a nice museum, with lots of photos and objects the actor owned. The woman who operates it radiates her passionate love of his work. We bought a souvenir spoon to represent PA in our collection. Soon after we finished there, and we sent postcards to family members mentioning how hot and dry it is, a thunderstorm hit town, and we were glad to be done and in the van instead of getting soaked. We headed back to US-22 and followed it west, back through Pittsburgh, through a different portion of WV (one that neatly yielded two new counties) and into Ohio. Our motel was the Super 8 in Newcomerstown, and getting there required an indirect route of small roads. The county just west of this motel was #300 for Chris! The motel was fine, but not great, and we had an enjoyable take-out dinner from the Duke Family Restaurant next door. Something really loud woke us at about 3:50, and we never found out what it was.
We tanked up Friday morning at the Marathon by the motel for 1.449, went back to the county sign to take Chris’s picture, and headed up I-77 to Canton. We followed signs that pointed to the tourist information center, but never found it; I bought a map at a gas station. We visited the William McKinley monument in Canton, and found it interesting and impressive. It was still very hot, and a woman was jogging up and down its long flight of steps. We learned that it is not a National Parks Service site, so we did not get new passport postmarks. Out of Canton we followed US-30 west across much of Ohio. On this drive I got county #500 in Hardin co. by shifting south onto Ohio 53, catching the county at Forest. Our motel was in the Fort Wayne area: Markel IN, southwest of town, and it was a very nice one. It was a good location for a number of reasons; aside from the nice motel, it was right on US-24, the route we planned for the next day (to pick up counties), it was close enough to Fort Wayne to monitor its stations, and it was near to the (also) venerable WOWO 1190 towers. At the motel we noticed a flyer for The Dan Quayle Center & Museum, America's only vice-presidential museum, in nearby Huntington. We had dinner at the East of Chicago Pizza Co. next door, and had a great pizza and salad buffet.
Saturday was the day to head home. We filled the tank at a Sunoco near the motel for 1.309, and were glad it was a bit less humid now. We went north on I-69 and then west on US-24 to set up a 1190 tower visit, and of course took pictures there. Then we just followed US-24, with the exception of a detour at Monticello onto US-421 to pick up needed Carroll county. Lunch was Hardee’s roast beef sandwiches at Wabash. Miami county marked Chris’s #314, which is 10% of the country’s counties. On I-65, we stopped for cones at Dairy Queen (except that I had a hot dog) near Rensselaer. Chicago traffic wasn’t bad, and we stopped for our traditional last dinner of the trip at Shakey’s Buffet in Janesville. We got home at 8:25; 1311 miles total.
Tim: 27 new counties IN: Wells Huntington Wabash Cass Carroll, now 73/92 (79.3%)
OH: Montgomery Clark Fairfield Licking Muskingum Guernsey Belmont Jefferson Harrison Tuscarawas Coshocton Stark Crawford Wyandot Hardin, now 54/88 (61.4%)
WV: Ohio Hancock Brooke, now 3/55 (5.5%)
PA: Washington Allegheny Westmoreland Indiana, now 18/67 (26.9%)
New Total: 505/3141 (16.08%)
Chris and Paul: 37 new counties for each
OH: Pregle Montgomery Clark Madison Franklin Fairfield Licking Muskingum Guernsey Belmont Jefferson Harrison Tuscarawas Coshocton Stark Wayne Ashland Richland Crawford Wyandot Hardin, now 35/88
WV: Ohio Hancock Brooke, now 3/55
PA: Washington Allegheny Westmoreland Indiana, now 4/67
IN: Wells Huntington Allen Whitley Huntington Wabash Miami Cass Carroll, Chris now 52/92, Paul now 43/92
Chris’s new total: 316/3141 (10.06%)
Paul’s new total: 245/3141 (7.80%)
Central Illinois Trip, 18-20 March 2002
We planned this trip for my spring break week, especially since Jill was obliged to take one of her vacation weeks outside the summer months, choosing a week that matched mine. Thinking about places that aren’t too far away that we hadn’t visited for several years, the cluster of population centers in central Illinois was the obvious choice. There are six cities that form sort of a sideways “Y,” and five of these are Arbitron radio markets. So there was lots to see and lots to hear, in addition to getting away in a time of year when we’re glad to break from the usual routines.
We left Monday morning with sun and 34 degrees, heading south through Janesville and past Rockford on the tollway. You pay two tolls taking the route from Wisconsin to I-39 south of Rockford, totaling 55 cents. Much of the territory we traveled in was very flat; characteristically, you could see a long distance over large farm fields, with the nearest trees the better part of a mile away. It’s great for spotting radio towers! An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile passed us, and the boys liked seeing that; I was intrigued by the writing on its back that said “Tune to 88.3 FM.” I did, and there was apparently no transmission coming from the vehicle. It was a treat hearing “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family over 98.1 in Princeton…such a good song.
Our first destination was the Peoria area, and our route was I-39 as far as US-24, and then into the metro area from the east. We stopped at the courthouse in Eureka to pick up a county map, and I made a few more such stops this trip, filling in gaps in the map files. Court houses sure aren’t the same since 9/11; in all but one case, I found a guard and security checkpoint at the entrance. But I came away with a map in each case, usually either free or for a dollar. County maps, of course, are important for covering rural roads where radio towers are often to be found. Tazewell co. was number 200 for Paul. A number of the Peoria area stations have their towers east of the river in the southeast part of the metro, and we caught several of these are we drove in toward the motel (in Pekin), including the 95.5/99.9 tower just north of 98, the 25 studio and tower north of that, and a few others nearby. West of there is the four-tower array of 1290, and nearby are four more towers for 1350. 1140’s single stick is south of 98 just east of 29, right on our way into Pekin for lunch and a court house visit for a map. Lunch was at Hardee’s for their burger and chicken sandwich specials. A stop at the 1140 + 5 others studio in Pekin yielded nary a sticker. Leaving Pekin to the east, we then caught the four 1470 towers; our friend John, who is from this area, told us that this is one not to miss, and he was right. It’s an impressive, probably pretty old, site with one tall self-supporting tower and three shorter ones, also self-supporting. From there, we didn’t have far to go to get to the 91.5 site, and found that tower located very close to a second, TV-looking tower. This pair turned out to be easily visible from the motel across the flat, open terrain.
We stayed at the Pekin Super 8, and were very pleased with it. It is a “Pride of Super 8” location, and has an indoor pool which Jill and the boys enjoyed. We had carryout Pizza Hut for dinner, and I worked through the considerable Peoria station list. All the Peoria TV stations are UHF, and here in the western part of the region we were visiting, the VHF dial was quite barren.
Tuesday morning brought some light rain (nothing like the deluges in KY and TN), and it was finally time to go into Peoria. After a stop for milk for the boys at County Market (a name, I noted, that essentially summarizes the reasons I like to travel), we went north on 29, passing the 19 tower, and crossed the bridge over the Illinois River into the city, for stops at the court house and the 1290 etc. studios. Again, a multiple-station visit yielded very little, and a stop at the 59 studio in the same building did the same, via an intercom conversation. Despite the limited success with promo collecting early in the trip, we found the people we talked to consistently friendly. From downtown we went to another area with two places to visit: the 31 studio and the 1350/104.9 building. While 31 had nothing (“This is a TV station; the radio’s downtown,” I was informed), 104.9 had lots of nice stuff, and even gave me a t-shirt. From there, we took John’s advice again and went to Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights. As we drove along it, we saw some spectacular elevated views of the land and water below, and Jill enjoyed looking at all the impressive homes. This is a really beautiful drive, and we certainly recommend it, especially if the sun is out; it was cloudy for us. Classical radio on 89.9 in Peoria and 90.9 in Urbana was consistently good.
Now it was time to leave town, and my trip planning said that it was county time. I needed two counties west and south of Peoria, so we planned an indirect route from Peoria to Springfield to catch them: US-24 out of town and into Fulton co., and then 97 into Havana (whose FM has a very small-town sound) for Mason co. That accomplished, we entered Springfield, getting a nice view of the capitol. We planned not to visit the Lincoln sites (Jill and I have been there) until the boys are older. The real reason to go to Springfield was to visit Noonan True Value Hardware, a place we had known of for years and still had not seen. We got there and took pictures, and the staff was very friendly, talking about the families with us and giving us some Noonan souvenirs and some popcorn. Leaving Springfield (having monitored the stations, checked the phone book for station addresses, and bought a new map and a newspaper), we got onto I-72 and went to Decatur. We didn’t plan to spend much time there, so we made a quick stop at a Wal-Mart for bathrooms, a newspaper, phone book, etc. Then it was on to Champaign-Urbana and the motel.
The Super 8 in Urbana is right next to I-74, but we passed it up initially in order to fill the tank for morning. We were all set to get gas when the woman running the station said her computer is down. So we bought dinner instead at Taco Bell (including an uncommonly generous bean burrito) on University near Lincoln, and took the food back to the room. The motel was another “Pride of” location, and was even nicer than the one in Pekin. It was one of the best Super 8s we’ve seen. Again, the boys and Jill got in the pool.
Wednesday morning we left town right away and went to Danville. This is a city that was listed as an Arbitron market some years back, but is no longer (like La Crosse). (Yet, when I asked at WDAN if their stations belong to the Urbana market, I was told no, that Danville is its own market; that is the reason I am not adding Danville stations to the Champaign market list.) It also represented a new county, my third and last of the trip. On arriving in town, we stopped at the Tourist Information center and at the court house, to pick up maps. While at the latter, I noticed the WIAI 99.1 studio nearby, so I made a stop there too. They did not have any promo items, but on learning that I was from out of town, gave me a t-shirt (with the old country logo, similar to the new classic hits one) so I wouldn’t go away empty-handed. The remaining job in Danville was a visit to 1490, and we found it, with the tower by the studio. We got a few stickers, and then headed back out of town. That studio was the easternmost point in our trip; we were now officially heading home.
Back in Urbana, we got gas at the place with the computer problems the evening before, and stopped to take a picture of the WCIA 3 studio. Lunch was at Subway. Then it was time to look for the 580 and 1400 towers, apparently (from looking at the maps in radiostation.com) quite close to one another. They were indeed, and WDWS 1400’s tower was outside its studio. A visit there was fruitful, with some really nice promo items (including a bottle of purified drinking water with the logos on it), and the interior of the building was uncommonly attractive and well-decorated. The two 580 towers were nearby, and I took a picture of them, since their daytime signal is so large. They weren’t very tall, in spite of the low frequency. Then we made two more studio visits in the northwest part of Champaign, and got several stickers. Now it was really time to go home.
We took I-74 out of Champaign into Bloomington, the last of the six cities to visit. We stopped at 1230 etc. and got a few stickers, and got a map and newspaper at the nearby Clark station. (I had maps of all these cities before this trip, but all were quite old, so I planned in advance to try to get recent ones.) That was all we needed to do in Bloomington, so we got back on I-74 and took it to I-39 for the final drive home. The sky gradually cleared. Dinner was at an old favorite: Shakey’s Buffet in Janesville. Having found the one in Fond du Lac gone in January, we were glad to find this one still operating and as good as ever. We got home at 8:30, with 840 total miles.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 3 new in IL: Fulton Mason Vermilion IL now 72/102 (70.6%), new total 478 Chris: 7 new in IL: Tazewell Peoria Fulton Mason Piatt Champaign, new total 279 Paul: 9 new in IL: same + Menard Sangamon, new total 208