Monday, October 31, 2022

LAX Terminal Transfer: Walking the Walk

We landed at LAX Terminal 6 on our Alaska flight after a pleasant flight on one of their A320s, including a reasonable lunch in First.

Early on it seemed to be almost an inside LAX secret that you could walk from one terminal to another by tunnels and stay airside. LAX re-opened the tunnels some years ago.

We’ve navigated it before and did it today with little effort. All you have to do is watch for the arrows pointing you toward Tom Bradley International Terminal, TBIT, or even B.

Eventually we see planes.

Even better, we can gaze down on the TSA queue we’ve avoided.

Best of all, we arrive at the entrance to the Qantas First Lounge, open to us as OneWorld Emeralds.

It’s arguably the best airport lounge in North America, and we plan to dine here and then try to sleep soon after boarding our American Airlines flight to London.

Our waiter, Vincent, asked us to make the difficult decision between Mumm’s and Taittinger for our aperitif, and a quick peek at the menu reveals there’ll be more decisions ahead.

It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Oh, and we give Taittinger (right) the edge over Mumm’s in a taste test, but they’re both lovely.

We shared a duck and watermelon salad.

We also shared Baja Bass and spicy stir fried pork mains.

The wine we chose was the Australian Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch 2015 Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria Shiraz - what we’d call a Wow wine.

We’ve read of people planning trips that can include a stop at this lounge. Sounds like a plan!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Heel of Italy's Boot

We've managed to keep busy the past few weeks since returning from our quick trip to the midwest, where we explored the ancestral roots of Kathy's family. 

Back home, we've pulled our boat out of the water and stored it in our driveway with the help of neighbors. We've cleaned out our eaves troughs, harvested the remainder of a bumper crop of tomatoes from our garden, and tried to accomplish a lot of other odds and ends. The tasks do mount up, don't they?

Tomorrow we embark on our longest trip of 2022. We fly from BLI (Bellingham) to SEA (Seattle) on Alaska mid-morning. From there we fly to LAX (Los Angeles) on Alaska, part of a flight that encompasses SEA-LAX-LHR-FCO. Booked nominally on British Airways, we're flying on Alaska from Seattle to Los Angeles, from Los Angeles to London Heathrow on American, and on British Airways from Heathrow to Rome. We are crediting our miles to Alaska, and with three airlines involved what possibly could go wrong?

After a day and a half of flying, capped off by an overnight stay at the Rome Airport Hilton, we'll take a train to Italy's Puglia region. a part of that country we've never seen. We'll eventually wend our way back to Civitavecchia, Rome's port city, where we'll stay for five nights before boarding Oceania's Marina November 11 for a 23-day transatlantic cruise that is port-intensive for the first 12 days or so (Italy, France, Spain) before sprinting across the Atlantic to land at Miami December 4.

Come along with us as we escape the rainy U.S. northwest and explore southern Italy.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

About that ‘Recombobulation Area’ at Milwaukee Airport (MKE)

We first noticed this marvelous sign while traversing the TSA checkpoint in Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport in 2014.

It brought a smile to our faces again yesterday just after the checkpoint as we were flying home after our week in Wisconsin and (mainly) Illinois. We wondered who coined the word and placed the sign. The simple genius of taking an already somewhat obscure word, discombobulation, and inventing an antonym is worthy of P.G. Wodehouse.

Wodehouse is the immortal British author (Jeeves and Bertie Wooster are his most famous characters) who invented the imaginary word gruntled: "I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”

little research revealed the creator of recombobulation was Barry Bateman, MKE's former airport director who retired in 2020. "He understood that traveling can be stressful and the signs are intended to put a smile on people’s faces," said MKE’s public relations manager.

Indeed they do. We’re far from the only ones who appreciate MKE’s signage. In 2009, the American Dialect Society named it the "most creative word of the year."   
We look forward to recombobulating ourselves on future sausage runs to Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Our Sausage Shrine in Milwaukee: Usinger’s Famous Sausage

On our final full day of this trip, we took advantage of the sunny weather to walk the half mile, mainly along Milwaukee’s RiverWalk, to what we objectively consider to be the world’s best sausage store.

Founded in 1880 by a German immigrant, Fred Usinger, its interior still looks much as it might have back then.

Usinger’s maintains a thriving online mail order business and sells “imperfects” and specials in-store. We looked over the inventory and scored well today. We’ve shipped a care package to Colorado relatives, and tomorrow we’ll be carrying aboard our flights a small cooler stuffed with sausage.

If we ever had a desire to steal a truck, this would be the one.

During our second visit of the day to Usinger’s, we shared a tasty pizza at the Oak Barrel, one of five or six restaurants and bars immediately across the street.

Our sidewalk table features what we think is the best view in Milwaukee.

We made one final visit Wednesday morning, buying more sausage and again taking advantage of the 10% discount offered to seniors Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Speaking of timing, we experienced a few drops of rain on our way back to the hotel, but made it back without getting wet.

The Hilton Garden Inn has been a fine place to stay for two nights, and we’re tentatively planning a leisurely lunch at a restaurant near MKE, before turning in our rental car and boarding our 5:25 flight on AS 366 to SEA.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Illinois College’s Two Elisha Bentley Hamiltons

Illinois College, founded in 1829 In Jacksonville, is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ.

It was the second college founded in Illinois, and in 1835 became the first in the state to grant a degree. It was the alma mater of Kathy’s great-grandfather and her grandfather.We learned during our visit that several more of Kathy’s ancestors had also attended it.

On yet another beautiful day, we arrived at the beautiful campus, which enrolls somewhere around a thousand students.

Thanks to a contact initiated by Beth Young in Quincy, the Chair of the History Department, Dr. Jenny Barker-Devine, greeted us with a variety of written materials laid out concerning Elisha Bentley Hamilton that she had discovered in the college archives. She spent three hours with us, pulling additional materials out of the college archives, and we can’t thank her enough.

Elisha Bentley Hamilton graduated from Illinois College with a B.Sc in 1860. The college awarded him a B.A. in the 1870s, whether in recognition of his becoming a practicing lawyer, or for some other reason of which we’re unaware.

His son, Elisha Bentley Hamilton Jr., graduated from Illinois College with a B.A. in 1902…

We also discovered that at least two of Elisha’s older brothers, William and Marvin (one of several Hamiltons who died in Carthage during the 1851 cholera epidemic) attended Illinois College. A faint “deceased” can be seen next to M.M. Hamilton’s name.

Jenny also uncovered the fact that one and possibly two of Artois’s daughters (and Elisha’s sisters) attended the Jacksonville Female Seminary, said to be the first women’s school for secondary education in Illinois. 

An Amelia Hamilton from Carthage is on the rolls. A Mary Hamilton is also enrolled but her home town is listed as Atlanta. It wasn’t until some hours later as we drove toward Milwaukee that we noticed an exit for Atlanta Illinois. It seems clear that Artois the farmer and hotel keeper wanted his sons and daughters to be educated, and took steps to see that they were.

Once we were finished in the archives, Jenny walked us over to the Illinois College Alumni Association, housed in a charming cottage that had us looking for Smurfs.

Waiting for us there were two file folders, one for each Elisha. They proved to be treasure troves, containing letters handwritten by Elisha Senior and typed by Elisha Junior, press clippings, and other bits of information, collected by this small private college to keep track of its alumni..

One example is a 1936 letter Elisha Junior wrote. He was a trustee and is enclosing a donation to a memorial fund for the college’s sixth President, Charles K. Remmelcamp. Toward the end of the letter to the former president’s widow, Elisha makes reference to his son, a graduating football star at Peoria High School and also “a very conscientious student” who has “made good grades all the way through.”

The clipping he enclosed of the high school football game is still in the file. Under the heading “Hamilton Is Standout,” one can read that “Most lustrous of the brilliant Central linemen was Bentley Hamilton who figured in an astonishing number of plays.”

The proud father was hoping his son, Elisha Bentley Hamilton III might be a prospect for IC. As things turned out, Kathy’s father attended Colgate instead.

The time passed quickly, and we eventually had to tear ourselves away and start our four-hour drive to Milwaukee, taking with us more information about Kathy’s ancestors, and fond memories of the midwestern hospitality and tangible assistance we’ve enjoyed during our stays in Carthage, Quincy, and Jacksonville.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Encountering Abe Lincoln in Springfield Illinois

Today has been a relaxing one with continuing beautiful sunny weather reaching into the high 60s.

We left our car parked at the Doubletree where we’d stayed last night and walked the three blocks to the Lincoln Museum and Library. We were disappointed to discover the Library is closed Sunday, but we used the time to enjoy the modern and high-tech museum.

Two separate theaters screen movies and their timing was such that we viewed them shortly after we entered. Both featured holograms so lifelike that we could have imagined we were watching live actors.

The displays and dioramas throughout the museum combine scholarship and showmanship. The First Family stands in the grand entry hall. We could have had our photo taken with them, but we weren’t dressed for the occasion.

So many tableaus from the life of Lincon, including the Lincoln-Douglas debates…

Here’s the cabinet meeting when President Lincoln asked their opinion of his draft Emancipation Proclamation…

Right up to their fateful attendance at Ford’s Theater…

The Lincoln Museum is definitely “worth a visit.”

Before leaving the area, we had to take a look at the impressive Illinois State Capitol Building.

Completed in 1888 at a cost of $4.5 million, it happens to be the nation’s tallest non-skyscraper Capitol building, at a height of 361 feet.

A statue of Abe Lincoln is at the front.

We then drove a few blocks and parked our car, then walked over to the Lincoln Home, a National Historic Site overseen by the National Park Service.

We signed up for a guided tour, and learned more about Lincoln the husband and father.

We entered the house in a group of 10 or so, which is about maximum capacity.

Lincoln enjoyed considerable success as a lawyer, and his ability to buy this house for his family confirms that.

This writing desk was Lincoln’s.

We’ve gained a deeper understanding of Lincoln and enjoyed ourselves along the way.

Late this afternoon we drove over to Jacksonville, Illinois, where we’re staying at a Hampton Inn. Tomorrow, thanks to Beth Young, we’re meeting a history professor at Illinois College, who is providing us with some information about two graduates, Elisha Bentley Hamilton I and II, Kathy’s great-grandfather and grandfather.

Tonight we dined at the top-rated Springfield restaurant, Leo’s Pizza. Better than last night, not bad, and reasonably priced.