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Friday, March 16, 2012

From Lima to Kenosha - Jell-O With Whipped Cream

Today was "heartland" day on the trip home.

We stopped yesterday to spend the night in Lima, Ohio.  We had been coming west from Mount Gilead along U.S. 30 and "Miss Garmin's" instructions took us along Bluelick Road, Sugar Street and Bible Road to our hotel.

It was only when I sat down to blog tonight that I realized I should have taken a few pictures in Lima.  Lima has a current population of around 39,000.  The population had peaked at about 54,000 in 1970.  The drive along those back roads took us past a huge Ford Motor Company engine plant, the U.S. Plastic manufacturing facility (with a retail store) and, appropriately in the middle of those, the Lima Pallet Company.

But those manufacturing operations are just a shadow of Lima's past.  Lima was a railroading center.  The Wikipedia article on Lima notes the statistics for railroad operations:
In 1906, an average of 143 trains and 7,436 cars, carrying 223,080 tons of freight, passed through Lima every 24 hours. In addition, 49 steam and 28 electric trains landed passengers in Lima daily.
But trains didn't just pass through Lima.  Many of their locomotives were built there.  Continuing in the Wikipedia article:
A new "super power" design, introduced in 1925, enabled Lima to capture 20% of the national market for locomotives. The "super power" locomotive was created by mechanical engineer William E. Woodard. Designed to make more efficient use of steam at high speed, it became, in the words of railroad historian Eric Hirsimaki, "one of the most influential locomotives in the history of steam power." Later years saw the introduction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway 2-6-6-6, one of the largest locomotives ever built, and the glamorous Southern Pacific "Daylights," designed to complement the Pacific Coast scenery.
Had I bothered to read this last night, you would be looking at a photo of the last steam locomotive built in Lima.  Instead, all I have to offer is this link to someone else's blog.

By early afternoon we had paid several tolls, passed through gritty Gary, Indiana, and passed under the sign that said,  “WELCOME TO CHICAGO -- RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR”  The next hour was spent looking at traffic with the city as a backdrop. 

One of my sisters-in-law called us today and wondered if we were taking restaurant suggestions from Guy Fieri's, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."  Well, no.  But what an excellent suggestion!  We immediately inserted the location of Franks Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin, into Miss Garmin's memory bank.

While the temperature had been in the low 80's in Indiana and 70's in Chicago, it was only 46 degrees as we pulled up to the waterfront in Kenosha.  I was a bit frosted, too, by the $4.259 price of gasoline in Illinois so I waited until we hit the State Line Citgo station where I filled up the tank with $3.999 stuff.  Never thought I'd be happy to see $4 a gallon gas.

The view in Kenosha offered water, fog and ducks.  Quite a contrast to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

We drove up the beautiful Lakeshore Drive (or Lack-a-shore drive as Ms. Garmin pronounces it) to reach Frank's Diner but found it closed.  We would have to find another Diner or Dive.  
Chicago-3 Chicago-4

We soon located the nearby Marina Garden Restaurant.  The "COCKTAILS OPEN 24hr" sign suggested that it might qualify for Fieri's program. 

We had good food at reasonable prices.  Like many other seafood restaurants, especially on the Gulf Coast, they had several Greek meals on the menu.  Gyros and Spanakopita were both very tasty.  Service was very good.  And we knew that we were almost home.  This was Friday, and the special was AYCE fish fry.  And to top it off, check out the dessert options!

You know you must be in Wisconsin when ...

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