Eric on The Road

Journeys into the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten - by Eric Model

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

All the best to you and those dear to you.

Two of our favorites: (Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Dave Seville & the Chipmunks) (I'll Be Home For Christmas - Frank Sinatra)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Canada Vignettes - "The Performer"

Via You Tube:

A National Film Board of Canada Heritage vignette featuring Roger Doucet singing O Canada at a hockey game in the Montréal Forum.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Florida lighthouse rises from ruin (AP)

From The Associated Press via USA Today:

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Three years ago, storms toppled the 153-year-old Cape St. George Lighthouse. It collapsed on uninhabited Little St. George Island, where it had been accessible only by boat and boarded up as a safety hazard.

But now the lighthouse has been rebuilt in a location where many more people can visit and appreciate it. It reopened to the public Nov. 29, marking the end of a rescue mission that was improbable at best and thought crazy by most.

New guidebook uncovers Maine's scenic preserves (AP)

From The Associated Press via USA Today:

At the request of the state Conservation Department, Tom Hanrahan has written a book, Your Maine Lands — Reflections of a Maine Guide, to show Mainers and visitors the wild and breathtakingly scenic preserves that few people — Mainers included — know.

Carlsbad Caverns reprises 60-year-old lantern tour(AP)

From The Associated Press via USA Today:

The planned one-evening revival of a lantern tour into the Big Room of Carlsbad Caverns National Park proved so popular that officials added another date.

The initial Dec. 27 date for the Rock of Ages program sold out, Paula Bauer, the park's management assistant, said Wednesday. The program was limited to 60 people.

Such lantern tours ran between 1927 and 1944.

Retired park historian Bob Hoff has said the program was popular, but did not fit the National Park Service's "scientific and educational value of the cavern tours." It ended in December 1944.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Banff may eliminate Mountie photo op (Calgary Herald)

From The Calgary Herald:

By Cathy Ellis, with files from Sherri Zickefoose
December 19, 2008

Banff, considered Canada's flagship national park, is one of a few destinations in Canada in which visitors can meet and snap photos of RCMP in red serge.

Town administration had proposed eliminating the town's $16,000 annual payment to the program in a bid to balance its operating budget, but council has come up with a compromise.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Passing: Sammy Baugh, Top QB of Early NFL

From The New York Times:

Published: December 17, 2008

Sammy Baugh, the Washington Redskins quarterback who was one of football’s greatest passers and a pivotal figure in transforming the National Football League from a plodding affair into a high-scoring spectacle, died Wednesday in Rotan, Tex. He was 94.

New Podcast Postings at Conversations on the Road

From Beer to Hockey to Canadiana and Americana. There's even a segment on Christmas on St. Pierre and Miquelon, a French Possession just off the coast of Newfoundland.

All at:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tourist stops, parks falling on hard times (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Laura Bruno

State parks and historical sites are facing cuts as governors seek to plug budget holes.

From scenic vistas and campgrounds to historical buildings, the cuts have forced closures and curtailed visiting hours.

The closures could bring wider economic problems, including delayed maintenance, parks advocates say.

"As all states are promoting tourism, what kind of message does this send?" asked Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, a historic preservation advocacy group. "There is the potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for restaurants … retail shops and hotels."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blackhawks do some team bonding after death of GM Tallon's father (Montreal Gazette)

From The Montreal Gazette:

By Red Fisher

"I am indebted to colleague Herb Zurkowsky for sending along this email from a fan describing this episode that slipped under the radar following the Chicago Blackhawks' visit to Toronto three weeks ago. It's an oldie, but a goodie, since it demonstrates once again what NHL teams are made of".

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mourning The Art Of Doing Nothing Together (NPR)

From NPR News:

Talk of the Nation
December 10, 2008

For years, academics have been worried about the loss of a collective American civic life. In his column for the LA Times, Gregory Rodriguez says civic life is even more important in dire economic times, and what Americans need now are places to gather and do nothing — without purpose or politics.

A River Town With Restoration in Its Bones (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: December 11, 2008

The Village of Athens, a separate municipality within the town of Athens, sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, four miles north of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Greene County. First settled in the late 17th century, the village, a port on the Hudson-Athens Ferry, became a thriving hub for shipbuilding, brick making and ice harvesting. Athens fell on hard times after the bridge went up in 1935, eliminating the need for the ferry, which closed in 1947. Athens’s layout and architecture have remained essentially the same since its heyday in the late 19th century. It has more than 300 buildings on national and state historic registers and has the feel of a living museum of American architecture, with examples of many of the predominant styles of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Stick, Second Empire, Folk Victorian and Queen Anne.

Preening for the Olympics, Vancouver Is Building Up (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: December 4, 2008

With the 2010 Winter Games a bit more than a year away, many buildings are rising in and around Vancouver, each crowned by a slender crane that hoists construction materials to the top. Some of these new buildings will be condominiums, and a significant number of them will be owned by those who plan to use them as second homes.

Passing: Van Johnson

From The New York Times:

Published: December 12, 2008

Van Johnson, the film actor whose affable charm and boyish good looks helped turn him into a major Hollywood star during World War II, died on Friday December 12 in Nyack, N.Y. He was 92.

The 'Old Florida' feel of Anna Maria Island (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Kitty Bean Yancey

Unlike similar sunset celebrations in Florida tourist meccas such as Key West, there are no rowdy crowds, wall-to-wall bars or panhandlers. Also absent on Anna Maria are high-rise condos and chain hotels. You'll have to drive off-island for a McDonald's or Starbucks fix.

"We've been all over Florida, but we love Anna Maria Island because it's so oldy-worldy," says Glynis Bayles of England, who is here with her husband, Robert, a retiree. Europeans and the value-minded favor this getaway, where low-rise is the rule. (Just one condo complex stands more than three stories high, and no more tall buildings are allowed.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Civil Rights in the North (WNYC)

From WNYC:

Leonard Lopate Show
December 9, 2008

Most histories of the civil rights movement focus on the South. Find out how activists and organizations in the North shaped the movement too. Thomas Sugrue is author of Sweet Land of Liberty.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hard times spark interest in New Deal tourist sites (AP)

From The Associated Press via USA Today:

By Tom Breen, Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The election of an ambitious new president in hard times is evoking comparisons with President Franklin Roosevelt, and the 75th anniversary of FDR's New Deal is sparking renewed interest in how Americans survived the Great Depression.

Now historic preservationists and tourism officials are hoping for increased tourism in places associated with the New Deal, like the town of Arthurdale, W.Va., which was built in the 1930s as a planned community for the rural poor.

Passing: 'My Three Sons' actress Beverly Garland (AP)

From The Associated Press:

She starred in many films and television programs in her long career (including the wife of Bing Crosby in a 1960's sitcom). But I'll always remember her as in "My Three Sons" as the second wife of MacMurray's widower Steve Douglas during the last three seasons of the popular series that aired from 1960 to 1972.

She died on December 7 in Los Angles after a long illness at age 82.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Before There Was Vegas, There Was Elko (NPR)

From NPR:

by Hal Cannon

Elko, Nev., started the big bands and the big shows long before the glitz and glam of Vegas. Today, the Commercial Hotel and Casino is still open in downtown Elko, but the live entertainment is gone except for few diehards making a cacophony of digital slot machine music.

Still, it's tempting to close your eyes and imagine the big bands, the dancers gliding around the floor and Bing Crosby's voice.

Hal Cannon of the Western Folklife Center tells the story of how Elko came to be the hottest casino town in the West.

National parks can be wonderlands in winter (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Jerry Shriver
USA Today

Changing travel demographics and trends see "off-season" visits.

Glacier Park coffee shop awarded historic status (AP)

From The Associated Press through USA Today:

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A coffee shop in Glacier National Park is being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lake McDonald Lodge Coffee Shop, just east of Lake McDonald Lodge, was built in 1965 for $140,000, as part of an infrastructure improvement program called Mission 66.

Say cheers to 75 years of Pat O'Brien's bar (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Jerry Shriver

If you clearly recall your last visit to Pat O'Brien's bar complex in New Orleans' French Quarter, perhaps you didn't stay long enough or try hard enough.

Canadiens Centennial: Rangers-Canadiens Salute

December 4, 2008 pre-game ceremony featuring introduction of former Rangers (Harry Howell, Ron Greshner, Brad Park, Andy Bathgate and Rod Gilbert) and Canadiens (Bobby Rouseau, Dickie Moore, Rejan Houle, Serge Savard and Henri Richard).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Plaza a place of hockey giants (Montreal Gazette)

From The Montreal Gazette:

December 5, 2008

Four Habs immortals - Morenz, the Rocket, Béliveau, Lafleur - honoured in bronze in Centennial Plaza at Bell Centre.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Passing: Pit Martin, NHLer of 1960's & 70's (AP)

From The Associated Press through The Chicago Tribune:

ROUYN-NORANDA, Quebec - Police divers recovered the body of Hubert "Pit" Martin, a four-time NHL All-Star in the 1960s and '70s, who drowned after the snowmobile he was driving plunged into an icy lake near his home.

Martin, who would have turned 65 next week, lived on an island in the lake that was reached by boat in summer and snowmobile in winter, but there were always tricky periods in spring and fall when the ice had to be tested regularly, said former Chicago Blackhawks teammate Dale Tallon, who is now the team's general manager.

Martin played 1,101 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks and Vancouver Canucks, amassing 809 points from 1963-79.

Martin was part of one of the biggest blockbuster trades in hockey history in 1967, when he and two other players were shipped to Chicago in the deal that made Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield part of a Bruins dynasty.

The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Martin was a strong skater and passer whose best years came on Chicago's MPH line with Jim Pappin and Dennis Hull. The Blackhawks had been planning to honor the line at the United Center this season.,0,7847443.story

Passing: Odetta (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: December 3, 2008

The singer, whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of American folk music and the civil rights movement, died on December 2 . She was 77.

An extended interview with the singer, whose renditions of spirituals and blues were part of the soundtrack of the 1960s.