Category Archives: interstates

Thanksgiving order out or possible pit stop on I-80 in Eastern Iowa: Augusta Restaurant

Always looking for places to eat just off Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa (a road oft-traveled) so thanks to Jennifer Miller at the DM Register for suggesting this place Augusta Restaurant in Oxford, Iowa although not sure I can handle the turducken (photo below – that’s a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey…and it’s available for Thanksgiving order….


*Turduckens *


Turducken-( All deboned by Chef Ben A chicken stuffed in duck stuffed in turkey with cornbread and Andouille sausage stuffing between each layer).

Includes two quarts of gravy. 120 $ NO price on the Organic Turkeys just yet.( let us know if you are interested in one)

Additional sides can be purchased (come in large metal square pans feeds 12 ) Some Prices have changed do to food costs

*Sweet Potatoes with roasted praline topping $25

*Green Bean Casserole with homemade cream of mushroom soup and topped with french fried onions $25

*Cranberry Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce $15

*Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie $35

*Bread Pudding $25

All you have to do is reheat!!!!!!!!

Your whole entire Thanksgiving for up to 12 people is only 259.70!

You can purchase separately of course ,

No, having to run around shopping for everything and then cooking

plus your meal is prepared by an award winning Chef !!

Please call soon there will be a cut off . The sooner you call the more options for pick up ‘

We will be delivering to DesMoine to the Yacht Club on Ingersoll.

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, interstates

Snowy drive on I 80 through Illinois

so far we have seen two cars in the ditch along Interstate 80 heading east through Illinois from Iowa but the roads aren’t that bad and we have seen several plows. very foggy and wintery scene. wish I was in the country Peru rather than Peru Illinois.



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Filed under Illinois, interstates, Uncategorized

Pain in the neck paying my “unpaid toll” in Illinois

Illinois Tollway logo.png

It took me about an hour to figure out how to pay my 60 cent “unpaid toll” on Interstate 284 online, in part because I couldn’t figure out which of the many interchanges was the specific one that I drove through without paying because I had two untenable choices – the exact change lanes or the i-pass lanes, neither of which I had. My advice in the future: if you do drive through without paying – try to figure out or make a mental note of where you are and the exchange number if possible (I don’t recall one being posted anywhere.) And you have to pay within 7 days or supposedly you are liable for a $20 fine. We had another situation like this on I-88 with unpaid tolls (this time because are only option was NOT to pay since the toll booths were unattended after 10 p.m. or so when we were passing through during our drive from Des Moines) and we got some sort of threatening warning that the third unpaid toll would not be a charm. And this was several years ago (we stopped going on I-88 after Illinois jacked up the tolls so markedly and now we go primarily on toll-free I-80…our tolls last week was because we took toll roads to Oak Park and to Evanston rather than taking toll-free I-55 into Chicago, as usual.)

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Filed under Illinois, interstates

Dangerous toll station on 294 in Chicago

What is it with Illinois and their highway toll areas? The state seems to have sacrificed safety, among other things, in its quest to, of course, save money. Yesterday as I entered the outskirts of Chicago at rush hour on Interstate 55, I took the exit onto 294 north and as I was barreling towards a bank of toll booths with a few dollars ready I found that there were no booths or toll takers, just a bunch of automatic toll areas, either exact change or I pass. I had neither and was not about to start fumbling around to find change with cars barreling behind me. So I drove through an I pass without paying. Why risk my life for 60 cents? or any amount actually? A few miles later, at another toll area, this one with a real live toll taker, I mentioned my previous experience and the toll taker said there is are rear end accidents all the time at the previous toll area due to the poor options.

Sadly it reminded me of stories I did at a Connecticut newspaper in the 1980s on highway safety after a number of bad crashes at toll areas on Interstate 95. And to think that I came to Chicago to write about a then-state-of-the art safely designed highway (the Edens expressway, as I recall.) Not too impressed now!

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Filed under Chicago, interstates

Politically incorrect tank/good stops for dogs in Kansas

Found a good place to walk Ernie near paxico Kansas on interstate 70 west of Topeka in the flint hills (supposedly…doesn’t look much like the flint hills here. It’s a rest area with a strange concrete bunker -like structure built into a hill. There is a nice hilly stretch of land for a dog to do its business. None back on the road. We were not sure how Ernie would do hanging out in the car by herself so we ate in shifts at the chipotle in Topeka. If the weather was warmer we might have been able to sit with ernie on the outdoor patio. Are there any chain restaurants that permit dogs? I know this is Kansas not France but maybe there are.

And for those few of you driving further west, there is a dandy little rural park off highway 156/96 just before Great Bend, kansas where we had the good sense to stop and let Ernie out to stretch and, as fate would have it, throw up. One more hour in the car and then we are in…Wright, Kansas. our destination.

Hours later and we just had to stop with Ernie at one of highway 50’s highlights in the small town of Offerle…the tank in the local park, a memorial to Vietnam vets. With Santa aboard. And a politically incorrect name painted on the barrel. We are not in Iowa any more.



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Filed under interstates, Kansas misc

Driving to Kansas for Christmas part 2

What a difference a day and a few degrees can make – of course we still have a day left until we leave for our nine-hour drive to Dodge City for Christmas but as of a few hours ago, things looked better on our route at least – snow later than earlier forecast in Iowa and snow rather than the freezing rain earlier forecast for Kansas City and Topeka. But who really knows? Could have changed again in the few hours I’ve been out of my office. Anyway, on the road again. Happy holidays!

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Filed under interstates, Kansas misc

Driving to Kansas for Christmas

Every year this seems to happen on the cusp of our nine-hour drive to western Kansas for Christmas with my in-laws. The steady drumbeat of meteorologists’ reports about impending doom (in the form of snow and/or the dreaded freezing rain). This year is no different, so as usual we have a wait-and-see attitude that includes keeping an eye on various websites from to the Kansas Department of Transportation (for road conditions.) We’re supposed to leave on Thursday at around 2 p.m. but now we’re being warned to leave in the morning if possible – but then we may hit freezing rain in Kansas. So maybe we’ll drive through Nebraska instead. Always an adventure.

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Filed under interstates, Kansas misc

Trapped by the “Illinois Tollway Unattended Toll Plaza” experiment on I-88

So we’re driving late at night on I-88 through Illinois en route to Chicago and we pull up to yet another tollbooth with our money in hand, $1.90, all ready to dutifully pay – and instead no one is in the booth and we’re greeted by a little flyer that tells us to pay online or by mail.

So we go on vacation for ten days, come home and I pull out the little flyer and find out that we have now committed a VIOLATION because we have not paid our toll within seven days. This hardly seems fair.  Is it really OUR fault that the Illinois DOT has decided to save money by closing this one tollbooth from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – which is often when we manage to arrive in Chicago after a long after-work drive from Iowa?

Okay, we could have paid it within 7 days but we were away from home and computers and checkbooks – which is what a VACATION is all about !!  What really irks me is that it appears from the wording that even if you DO pay after 7 days this still counts as a VIOLATION. And after three VIOLATIONS within 24 months you’re in deep do-do. So there’s really no incentive to pay after 7 days because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Why not give people a wee bit more time to pay – or just increase by increments the fee if it arrives after 7 days?

When I finally found someone to talk to about this at the Illinois Tollway office, she told me I was okay if I just paid by mail – i can’t pay online after 7 days.  So I’ve just sent in my check. But the wording below suggests otherwise.

Here’s the online info.

You have 7 Days to Make Your Payment

  • The Illinois Tollway grants a 7-day grace period to pay your unpaid toll.

If you DO NOT have an I-PASS
Making a payment can be done online or through the mail. Choose one of graphics below to learn more.

If you live outside the United States you must pay an unpaid toll by mail.
pay online image

pay by mail image

Have the required information available
  • Name of registered vehicle owner
  • Plate State/Number/Type (specialty plates must be identified)
  • Unpaid Toll: Location/Plaza/Date/Time

Use our Toll Calculator to determine the total cost of your tolls.

In the event of unknown plazas or direction, toll calculations will be based on the maximum charge (per toll) on our system for your vehicle category.

Maximum charge per toll:

  • Passenger Car (2 axle) – $2.00
  • Small Truck (2-axle) – $3.00
  • Medium Truck (3-4-axle) – $4.50
  • Large Truck (5 axle) – $8.00

Missed the 7-day Grace Period?

  • The unpaid toll has now become a violation.
  • Violation notices are issued when 3 or more unpaid toll/violations are recorded over a 24-month period. Fines will be assessed.
  • Payment after the 7-day grace period does not remove that toll from violation status.

Failure to pay tolls can result in fines and possible suspension of your license plate and/or your driver’s license.

Pay by Mail

In order to avoid the incident from being recorded as a toll violation, the mailed in toll payment envelope must:

  • Have all the required information filled out completely
  • Be delivered or mailed to the Tollway within 7 calendar days of the unpaid toll.

It is recommended you pay by check because your cancelled check is your receipt.

You can mail your payment with unpaid toll information to:

Illinois Tollway
2700 Ogden Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Attn: Cash Handling Division

What is the Illinois Tollway Unattended Toll Plaza Pilot Program?
The Illinois Tollway has launched a pilot program designed to improve efficiencies and reduce costs at
mainline toll plazas when traffic volumes are low. At the Pilot locations, Open Road Tolling lanes will be
operational 24/7, however all manned toll booths will be unattended between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and
only the far right cash lane will be open to allow cash‐paying drivers to pick up a toll payment form.
Cash‐paying customers will be given the option to pay online or mail in toll payments within the 7‐day
grace period.
Where will this pilot be conducted?
The Illinois Tollway has selected two toll plazas – the Spring Creek Toll Plaza (PL 99) on the Veterans
Memorial Tollway (I‐355) and the Dixon Toll Plaza (PL 69) on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I‐88).
Manned toll collection lanes will be unattended during the overnight hours of 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. when
traffic volumes are the lowest.
When does the pilot program begin and how long will it be in place?
As of February 16, 2010, the Unattended Toll Plaza Pilot Program is effective at the selected plazas. The
Pilot Program will be evaluated over the next three months.
Why not reopen the cash baskets at the Toll Plazas?
Exact change baskets were eliminated from mainline toll plazas when


Filed under Illinois, interstates