Down The Road with Dave Volk - 2018 (2)

December 18, 2018

DOWN THE ROAD: 2018 - Part 2

We leave early on a beautiful morning and, like last year, catch the sunrise coming up over the Loess Hills by Sioux City.   However, our beautiful day changes quickly as we get south of Omaha.   We knew a storm had come through there but figured roads would be clear by the time we arrived……not so.  

Broken ice on one side of the road and glare ice on other.   We are fortunate as Becky is at the wheel.   While I have driven in these types of conditions many times during my years of campaigning across South Dakota, I was always a little impatient and risky.   The fact that I never had a mishap was more luck than skill.

Volk18 07Anyway, Becky’s “slow and steady wins the race” it’s what’s needed as the ditches are full of semis and cars who were not.

A black pick-up screams by us on the glare ice and not 5 miles down the road we see him in the ditch up to his gunnels in the snow.   I know I should not take satisfaction in his misfortune but I do, a little.

East of Kansas City the roads are clear and we begin the long road trip across Missouri.

We pull into Cape Girardeau weary and two hours late but we are still on our daily schedule.   I see in a tourist brochure that the town has a self-driving tour for Rush Limbaugh’s childhood haunts.   But we pass.   Next stop…Shiloh. 


Volk18 08After being rained out two years running, we finally arrive at the Shiloh battlefield near Corinth, Mississippi, and it is worth the wait.   The park and battlefield are excellent.

The important sites of the battle are laid out on an easy to follow map so you can visit the Peach Orchard, the Hornet’s Nest, the place where General Johnston was killed trying to rally his brave rebels to make one more push and drive the Union soldiers up against the Tennessee River.  

Volk18 09Probably the most moving site is the Bloody Pond.   Today it is this tranquil little pond surrounded by trees, some trying to hang onto the last vestige of their fall foliage.

However, on that long-ago Sunday soldiers from both armies would come here to get a drink and bathe their wounds.   By the end of the battle the pond had turned red from all the blood.

It is somewhat ironic that this horrific battle raged around a Methodist Church called Shiloh and was mostly fought on a Sunday.


From Shiloh we head south to spent the night in Birmingham, Alabama.   Not a lot to report except we went over to Ruby Tuesday to eat dinner.   Food and service were pretty good but when I decide that my Jack Daniels warranted another -- they inform me they were out.   Who the hell runs out of Jack Daniels!!   Then Becky ordered another glass of wine and getting that seemed to take forever…so…I head to the bar to check on it only to learn – they can’t find a cork screw!     All of a sudden, the fact that we are the only ones in the restaurant starts to make sense.


Mobile is a delightful city that has totally rejuvenated their downtown area where we stayed.   The Mobile Museum proves to be right next to our hotel.   It is outstanding, however, when we go through their Civil War section, I can’t find anything about Admiral Farragut and the battle of Mobile Bay.   I finally find one little cabinet way in the back of the museum.   I am guessing the Daughters of the Confederacy had something to do with this arrangement.

Volk18 10Although Mobile had very little contact with the war, they were the repository for thousands of the Confederate wounded – a grim business.   After the war a physician noted that the Civil War came at the “end of medical Middle Ages.”   Thousands of young men would die needlessly because of infections and the need
for basic cleanliness.

One thing I didn’t know about Mobile is that it is where Mardi Gras tradition began.   It was started there in 1703 by a Frenchman named Nicholas Langlois, 15 years before the New Orleans’s festival.   They have a beautiful park in the center of town dedicated to the Fat Tuesday celebration.


Volk18 11Our last stop before Longboat Key is St. Augustine.   Had a nice dinner with my niece from Jacksonville and her friend.   This is truly a beautiful little city, but must admit I am ready for the sunny beach, golf and getting settled. One of the nice bonuses of traveling at this time of year is that all the cities, large and small, are dressed up in their Christmas finery.  


The next day we are at Casa Del Mar by mid-afternoon and ready to be at our winter home by the sea.

Volk18 12Volk18 13Seeing all the Christmas decorations on the way here puts me in the Christmas mood and I put up our tree.   I have always been fascinated with the Titanic so we have several ornaments of that ill-fated ship.   Becky’s comments about my decorations:   “Well, nothing says Christmas like 1600 people freezing in the North Atlantic.”   I’m thinking there might be a little sarcasm in her observation.

Anyway, however you celebrate this time of year I hope you have a joyous holiday and a heathy and happy 2019! 



December 6, 2018

DOWN THE ROAD: 2018 - Part 1

Volk18 01
Becky and Me.

Well, it’s time! Given some of this cold weather it’s probably past time to pack up the car and point it south to Florida. Once again, my co-pilot, navigator, friend and SWEETHEART, Becky, will be with me. This is the third year we’ve traveled together. Also, big news, as I gave her a ring this summer!!!  Struck me that the last time I had given someone a ring was exactly 50 years ago.   Guess I do this every half century.   Anyway, I got a peach when I came a- courtin’ her and so glad we continue to travel together.

Wasn’t sure if I would even do a blog this year. After 7 years I thought maybe I would be getting a little repetitious or, as my Grandpa used to say, “Chewing my fat twice.” Not even sure what that means, but it seems to apply.

However, we are stopping at two new places on this trip, so hopefully will have some new material.

Before I give you our itinerary a quick story about my Grandpa Frankie Volk.   When I was little I would, from time to time, get exiled to their farm by Ethan.   I always liked to hang around Grandpa as he was a funny, happy-go-lucky guy.   Also, it kept me out of the grasp of my Grandmother, who might find real work for me to do.  Volk18 02

Anyway, once in a while my Grandpa would give me some small task and would command:   “Arschloch, get me that hammer.”   “Arschloch, get me a dipper of water from the pump.”   I never thought to ask what “arschloch” meant as I just assumed it was an endearing German term for his grandson.   It wasn’t until years later I discovered it meant “asshole.”   That Grandpa Frankie was a hoot!   He loved pool and pinochle and pranks and he can still make his grandson chuckle, even though we lost him many years ago. Arschloch indeed!!!

Now our itinerary:


As always, we will be off early with a long-stretch first day schedule.   We hope to make Cape Girardeau, Missouri.   It is a good 10 hours away and includes that long stretch of boring highway across the plains of the ‘Show Me State.’   I heard that Cape Girardeau is where Rush Limbaugh calls home.   Since I do not talk politics in my blog, I will just say what Forrest Gump used to say when faced with something uncomfortable:   “That’s all I have to say about that.”


Volk18 03From there we will head south to Corinth, Mississippi and the battlefield of Shiloh.   I have tried this twice before.  However, the first time I got to the battlefield it was raining so hard I could not see anything. Becky and I tried again last year and once again we were rained out. Hope is the 3rd time is charm.

Shiloh was the first truly bloody affair of this long war and would be the bloodiest in US history until the Battle of Antietam.    

I think before this battle people were still under the delusion that their side would score a quick victory, end the war, and the boys would come home.   Yet, when they saw the savagery and death count of Shiloh, they realized how horrible this war was going to be.   It was a precursor of the savage fighting that would rack our country for three more years.   A newspaperman of the time wrote:   “After Shiloh the South never smiled again.”


Then, on to Birmingham to spend the night. The next day we have a short drive to Mobile Bay, Alabama. I was there many years ago as a young State Treasurer and it was there that I encountered an elderly tour guide lady from the Daughters of the Confederacy. She began the tour by saying, in a sweet as honey drawl:   “Now down here we do not call it the Civil War, it is called the War of Northern Aggression.”   Well, I thought that was funny and laughed.   She then proceeded to glare at me and say, ”Sir I was not attempting to be humorous.” It was the kind of withering look I would often get from Presentation nuns at Mitchell, Notre Dame and it chilled me to the bone. I almost made a quick “sign of the cross.”   Needless to say, this Yankee behaved himself for the rest of the tour.

Volk18 04The Battle of Mobile Bay was in August of 1864.   The Union naval forces were led by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut.   He became famous for his line “Damn the torpedoes (mines) full speed ahead”!!!   The actual quote was:   “Damn the torpedoes!   Four bells! Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed”!!!

Thankfully historians shortened this up for us.

Mobile had been the last important port on the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi River remaining in Confederate possession, so its closure was the final step in completing the blockade in that region.

This Union victory, together with the capture of Atlanta, was extensively covered by Union newspapers and was a significant boost for Abraham Lincoln's bid for re-election three months later.


Volk18 05From Mobile we will head into Florida and spend some time at St. Augustine. Founded in 1565 by the Spanish Conguistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles.  St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the contiguous United States.

It is a delightful and charming little city.


From St. Augustine it is a fairly short drive to our winter home Longboat Key.   We will arrive mid-afternoon. Plenty of time to unpack and get settled before wandering down to the Gulf for the nightly cocktail and setting of the sun ritual.  

There we will renew acquaintances with our fellow Casa Del Mar friends from previous years.   We will get caught up with each other, compare our latest medical procedures, and then the time-honored rite of ‘dueling grandchildren’.  

For years I have passively oohed and aahed over the latest photographs of their grandkids. This year it will be different as Becky has 4 brilliant and darling grandchildren and I have become cat-quick at whipping out my iPhone to show off these cuties.

Volk18 06From the sunset we will once again wander down to the Lazy Lobster and indulge in their wickedly delicious bisque and a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy a Merry Christmas with friends and family.


Down the Road - 2014

Down the Road - 2015

Down the Road - 2016

Down the Road - 2017