Friday, July 31, 2009

Peru Indiana to Decatur Indiana

This is a pic of a store front in Peru that displays a lot of circus stuff.
Note the reflection of photographer inmiddle of shot.

Also in Peru next to an impressive court house.

Mt. Etna is a proud little town and it appears that they had to work pretty hard to become the "est" of something and finally settled on small"est" and then there is the martin thing. Not sure about that --how can you tell if you a martin capitol, but if you put it on a sign and no one argues with you about it very much I then I guess it becomes fact.
It sounds like that town in Montana that calls itself the mosquito capiol of the world--maybe these 2 towns should get together because one of the staples of a martin's diet is mosquitoes

This courthouse in Buffalo Indiana and it impressive if you are into buildings that look like medival castles.

Made it almost thru Indiana yesterday. Only rode 60 miles because of late start in Peru --could not get away from circus stuff til after 2 p.m.
Got to the Back 40 restaurant just at closing but really got my money's worth. Maybe best meal of entire trip.

today will be a ride thru Mercer county to Darke County .It will be interesting to see how much Celina-Coldwater-St.Henry-Burkettsville and Rossburg and North Star have changed since I have been gone. I hope I am able to recognize them as I pass thru.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peru Circus Museum 4

This guy was one of the tent crew and he reminded me so much of my son Jeff that I asked if I could take a pic.

This Jeff look alike and this monkey were obviously great pals, much like Jeff and his brother Russ. This scene made me a bit homesick for the family.

This the building housing the museum and you can see John Fugate sitting under that red/white striped awning.

This building housed and still houses many of the circus animals.
Posted by Picasa

Peru Circus Museum 3

The center of activity today was taking down the big top tent where several shows had been held recently during Peru Circus Days. It was quite the operation and I learned a lot in the 2 hours I was there.
This particular tent was made in Italy 28 years ago and is stored at museum and only used for special occasions.

This is a guy taking down the big flags above the tent.

I was watching the tent dismanteling with John Fugate the director of the place and also the head ring master for many circuses for many many years. He gave me the ,"Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages...." thing and I was stoked.
The guy taking down the flags hollared at John and then started to walk across one of the pipes from one side to the other, about half way across he acts like he is falling and grabs the pipe before he hits the tent.
John swears under his breath and tell me the guy is Dave Decker a local guy who is one of the best high wire walkers in the world. He regulary performs with the Wallendas and other acts. He is helping out with the tent today.

As it turns out John and I know some of the same people in the circus world. In another life time in Toledo I did a little photography work for a circus guy names Tom Hendricks who introduced me to Gunter -Gebels several times as well as Albert Rix, the only guy to train polar bears to be a circus act. These guys would come to Toledo about every other year with the Shrine Circus of some other outfit and Tom would get me in behind the scenes for pics and meetings. It was funny almost every performer from clowns to the big stars would remember your name and talk like we were good friends. Actually John knows Tom very well.
The circus world is a small enclosed world and I am so glad I got a glimpse of it and today just added to it all.
Posted by Picasa

Peru Circus Museum 2

This wagon is covered with gold plate--can not remember the number with it--24 karot--14-16-10 ???

There is a whole barn full of stuff like this and I touched it all.
This is me (on the left) and a stuffed Mighty Joe Young doll.

This was a really authentic looking ape suit(or at least my impression of what a really authentic ape suit would look like). I forget the name of the thing but somebody would dress up and draw attention by acting like people thought an ape should act like.
That is me on the right --the one w/o the hairy chest and 6 pack abs.

There were tons of excellent poster art on display. This is a good example.
Posted by Picasa

Peru Circus Museum

One of the big treats of this trip occured today on the way out 0f Peru when I visited the Circus Museum. This is a big deal and I could still be there talking to these folks. This is a must return place on growing list .
The place has many many circus items from all over United States on display and the history behind them.
I really enjoyed talkingb to the workers around there who all seemed to have story after story about the history of the place.
It was chosen as a wintering place for circuses by a giy named Wallace starting in the 11800's because there were about 10 railroad lines running through Peru so it was esy to put a show together and get it on the road to about any part of the USA. There are still the large barns built to house the animals as well as the blacksmith shed where all the wagons were built etc.
One of the stories that really got to me was about the big flood of 1913 that covered the area and how they had to turn the hooved animals loose in the country side and how all the other animals drowned including the elephants who would not do anything w/o their individual handlers who had to be boated out. It was so sad but so interesting. The place almost went out of business and several circuses ruined when that happened.
Again, I could have and should have stayed all day.

That is my bike helmet .

This is me (in the yellow shirt) in front of the wagon that hauled Moto around. I do not know who or what Moto was but he/she/it must have been something --486 pounds of pure jungle fury.

This is me and David one of the guys who keeps the museum working and interesting and does all the computer work. Although he wasn't I am saying(with his permission) that he was a combination lion tamer/ring master/trapeze artist/fire eater who has retired from all that and now lives a sedate life with all his memories, and that very cool hat.
(I am the one on the right)
Posted by Picasa

Peru Indiana 2

Downtown Peru.

Peru is big on the circus thing and apparently last weekend was circus weekend in town.This was big doins and many of the windows were decorated with circus theme stuff.

It was tough to get out of Peru today with out checking iit all out. Much interesting and unusual stuff to see.
Posted by Picasa

Whatever happened to Flaming Blue's Band Members

I have been asked several times on this trip "Why the hell are you doing something like ? Are you crazy?" and evenn though I gave the stock answers like "I am in the witness Protection Program" or " My wife thinks I am hunting big game in Africa" or even " I just do not have anything better to do with my life". I have always felt down deep that there was another purpose to all this--some deeper internal calling that led me on I did not quite understand but did it anyway--sort of like those people in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

Sometimes I am still kinda unclear myself what the hell I am doing out here on the road on a recumbent bicycle but maybe , just maybe I am starting to see a dim shining light of purpose glimmering through the thick fog in my mind, and that purpose is to find out what happened to the members of Flaming Blues's band so many years ago, and somehow reunite them.
There are so many questions surrounding their disappearance and I am beginning to have my doubts whether they all really did get killed "in that hurricane back east somewhere in the late 60's or some time like that" as Mr. Flaming Blues believes. Somehow, someway I have managed to come across what I believe to be members of FB's band who survived that hurricane and are still walking this earth looking for each other. And I am also beginning to suspect that my job is to locate all these folks and put them back together again for a Rolling Stones type tour.
The closest movie analogy I can come up with is "Field of Dreams" where "if I ride it , they will come"

It all started when I ran into Mr. Flaming Blues (above)on the streets of Walla Walla Washington so many weeks ago. I was drawn to him like a magnet and his compelling story really got to me. How he lost his band when they were "all killed in that hurricane back east somewhere in the late 60's or sometime around then" just as they were ready to make it big in the music world. This was a sad story and at first I did not recognize the significance of it all but as the days went by and I met more floating musicians I saw a pattern and realized that they quite possibly all had really survived that 60's hurricane they were all wandering the country looking for each other and it was taking an old fat guy on a bike to pull them together. My meeting with Mr. Great Tambini on the street in Peru Indiana was just another piece in this puzzle.
This is heavy stuff dude.
As brotha Elton says it best
Life really is all about the Blues, brotha.

This is the Honkey Tonk Man from Memphis who obviously used his music background to gain fame in the world of professional wrestling after he thought all his band mates had perished. Of course he is in denial and has repressed all his memories of the Flaming Blues band but if you look close you can see the connection.

I did not get this guys name but he obviously fits the profile of a former member of Flaming Blues's band. He ended up in South Dakota fishing and dreaming of what was and might have been. He still wears the Flaming Blues trademark blue shirt and red bandana.

Then there was this guy who walks the roads of Iowa wearing a knee brace singing love songs to the 10,000 Ragbrai bikers every year. Although he has changed music styles the blues still show though.

Yes this bike journey is all making some sense now and I have the feeling that I will come across more of Flaming Blues's band members and it is an exciting thing. What I have yet to ascertain is how Justin Hemminger fits into the big picture.
I am having my attorney (well known blues man T-bone Lammers) start the paperwork regarding a finders fee deal for putting the band back together as well as the souvenir rights and tour parking/concessions for the comeback of The Blazing .

Posted by Picasa

Peru Indiana

Reached destination of Peru last evening and was surprised at all the stuff this town had going on. I had kinda heard about the circus museum etc and wanted to check that out but no way did I know that Cole Porter and "Ole" Olson are from here. This has to be a culturally happening town .

The first stop was the famous Mr. Weenie's for some road grub and boy was it worth the stop. Mr. Weenie has it all from ice cream to about anything else that can be deep fried and they do it all so well. Of course I went heavy with their specialty which is hot dogs and/or the many variations there of. The Chicago Cubs dog was a treat and almost indescribable (mainlybecause the hot peppers/saurcraut/cheese and special sauce are still burning me up inside)--I had a quart of the famous Mr. Weenie root beer which went a long way towards extinguishing the pepper fires but there are still smoldering embers several hours later..
The ice cream is hand dipped and very flavorful.

I was so excited about this place I had the 3 Weenie girls pose in front of bike. This is Brittany, Ashley and Courtney Weenie, daughters of Mr. Weenie, who has to be so proud . Their perkyness, customer friendly service and all around great attitude was impressive--it reminded me so much of those ladies at The Worch Memorial Library in Versailles.
I also bought a Mr. Weenie Tshirt for a good friend of mine who I know will wear it proudly when he runs his next half marathon.

Yes, Peru Indiana is a cool stop !!! on this cross country journey and Mr. Weenie added the exclamation marks(!!!) to it.

This is another of my new best friends. He was playing the violin on a street corner when I stopped to talk. He has been performing in the area about 15 years since he was passing thru and just decided to stop. He is learning more instruments and plans on playing the cello on this corner in a few weeks--he already did guitar before he moved to violin, and has big plans for some other stringed instruments .

Mr. Tambini (his first name really is GREAT) has been entertaining since he was 5 years old. I was on my way to check into a nearby motel about 7:45 and asked how long he would be on that corner because i wanted to come back and talk some more. He pulled out a pocket watch and said he had an meeting that started at 8:05 and that he would be moving shortly. I was very disappointed because here was another candidate for "the most interesting musician in the world" and I really wanted to spend some time with him. Actually I suspect that he may be part of that guy's (Mr. Flaming Blues)missing band I met in Walla Walla, who he thought all the members had been killed in "that hurricane back east in the late 60's or sometime like that". I think at least 1 member survived and is playing in Peru Indiana.
Yes I believe I have discovered a link to Mr. Flaming Blues's(the guy in Walla Walla) past. Now this would be a story and a half.
What a treat it would be if somehow -someway I can get Flaming Blues, The Great Tandini and Justin Hemminger in one place at the same time for a jam session. OMG I am getting excited all over just thinking about it. This renews my faith in a supreme being and that I my purpose on this earth to bring folks like this together for the betterment of mankind. I feel sort of like a combination Albert Swietzer/Johnny Appleseed in an odd way. It is at least 27% of the reason I get up out of bed each morning.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rensselear to Peru 2

Saw this in front yard of a resident of the town of Royal Center which was on today's route. Have not had time to analyze what this is about but it looked good and interesting but I could not find any live people nearby to provide info details .

There was something about this sign that just hollared "Take my picture--I am interesting".
although I took no pictures in the town itself Twelve Mile is pretty neat. It has a great relaxing park with huge swings which I tested for about a half an hour. Dang it feels good to swing free and easy without a thought of any substance in your head. I stayed about an hour and it felt like 5 minutes.

Twelve Mile is world famous for its Lawn Mower 500 race which has been happening since the 1960's--check it out

This is a pic of the Eel River right outside the town of Mexico Indiana. There were several nice towns on tody's ride and each one was neater than the last.

Rode about 90 miles today and it was all good. Had a decent side wind from the North which did not affect riding until end of day when I turned south to get to Peru , then it was a very positive thing.
Posted by Picasa

More Monon

Again--if you get the chance please check this place out.

Everything you see in the place is original. These wall decorations were the ones used on trains used by US presidents. The stories that Dale told in our brief time together regarding how he got all this stuff is a story in itself.
Posted by Picasa

Monon Indiana

Once again my thought that you can see the neatest stuff while traveling back roads at 12 mph on a bike was reinforced today. While peddeling though aisles of tall corn in the middle of no where I came across this gem near Monon Indiana. It is a museum restaurant dedicated to authentic railroad stuff, featuringthe Monon line. There is a railroad track running thru the nearby town of Monon --I am not sure how far north it goes but it runs all the way to Louisville ky to the south and it is called the Monon Line.

Check out this place

This place just appears out of no where and is fascinating. There are many original signals and flashing lights all of which are in working order (controlled by garage door openers) and demos happen all the time for visitors.
I immediately thought of that scene in the movie Hoosiers when big mouthed George tries to help Norman Dale the new coach run the team, and this very memorable exchange takes place:

Coach Norman Dale: First of all, let's be real friendly here, okay? My name is Norm. Secondly, your coaching days are over.

George: Look, mister, there's... two kinds of dumb, uh... guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter, the second one you're kinda forced to deal with.

Coach Norman Dale: Translate. That some sort of threat?

George: I don't know why Cletus drug your tired old bones in here, he musta owed you somethin' fierce. Fact is, mister, you start screwin' up this team, I'll personally hide-strap your ass to a pine rail and send you up the Monon Line! [George angrily turns and storms out of the gym]

Coach Norman Dale: Leave the ball, will you, George?

Holy mother of pearl !! And here I was at the Monon Line museum--where the train would have gone if Big mouther George had actually hide strapped Norman Dale to a pine cool is that. It was goose bump time for this cowboy.

btw--also in this pic is a maintenance man fixing a light in one of the working signals that are all over the place.He is in the background on the ladder.

There is so much stuff here it is tough to photograph it all and give a clear picture of what it looks like in person. I would suggest to anyone that it is worth the trip here to check out the stuff and also the food looked good in the restaurant.

There was big stuff as well as regular sized stuff.

I had to look up the guy responsible and fortunatly he was there working on a display. What a nice man and after 10 seconds after we started talking I ncould tell this man has a passion for this deal--he is a more cowbell kind of guy.

His name is Dale ward and we hit it off right away when the first thing I said to him was "let me guess, you were never allowed to play with trains when you were a kid" and he said "Now how in the hell would you know that?" and the conversation went from there. We jabbered like a couple of jay birds--me asking questions and Dale providing details. He told me the history of many of the display pieces and it was all very interesting.
I could still be there jabbering except Dale's cool wife Anne drug him away for a meeting or something. I really admire folks who love what they are doing and want to share that passion with others.
I really felt good riding away from this surprise and intend to get back there again as soon as possible.
Posted by Picasa