Travels to the Heartland, Page 9
July, 2012
by Earl Cook
Photography by Earl & Gail Cook

This was our first major road trip in almost four years. We were headed for Chicago over the 4th of July, the U.S. Independence Day holiday. Our travels took us through the heart of Abraham Lincoln country and we experienced the present, future and past on this trip.

The automobile has provided us with a vehicle to experience tremendous personal freedom in our travels. Our trusty 1996 Honda Accord vTec with over 225,000 miles on her performed admirably again as we crossed both plains and mountains.

Fireworks are part of the American tradition of celebrating the 4th of July. These stores in the middle of Interstate 40 between Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenneessee get lots of business during these holidays.

They are located in the median of the interstate alongside Nickajack Lake and just before the road begins to climb the steep Monteagle. They are the only private businesses I have ever seen that were allowed to be in the median of an interstate. It says alot for the traditional celebratory nature of these businesses.

This is what Independence Day looks like to me... finding new ways to be efficient and smart while decreasing our dependence upon fossil fuels. It is great seeing healthy crops mixed in with these wind-powered electrical generators.

I have great admiration for this installation at Earl Park in Benton County, Indiana. This is because I was involved with one of the world's first prototype generators back in the late 1970's. It's interesting that the three-bladed windmill is still the norm and perched atop a tall tower. That's the same configuration we were testing. Earl Park??? Wow! That's cool.

Back in 1977-78, our blades were designed and manufactured by the now-famous aeronautical genius, Burt Rutan. I wonder if he had any input into the design of these blades?


Another sign of the times is the emergence of the bus system. The double-deckered busses promise a new alternative in travel with seats costing as little as $1 if reserved far enough in advance. At the time of this posting, they are claiming 18 million customers served.

In the days of expensive and exhausting air travel and either non-existant or inefficient train travel, Megabus is filling a needed gap for many travellers.

Chicago has many dramatic scenes and interesting architecture. The North Shore Drive provides a great way to see both Lake Michigan and the skyline. Going to the top of the John Hancock building allows great views for all 360 degrees.

Walking along Michigan Ave. and the Magnificent Mile allows seeing beautiful architecture, the Chicago River and a lively crowd along with upscale shops. The mixture of new and relatively old architecture is especially interesting to me. The old water tower shown at the left was the only building that did not burn in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.


We were on our way to a natural health conference and, ironically, it was being held at McDonald Corporation's national training facility know as Hamburger University. The center is located in the suburbs of Chicago in a beautiful wooded area with lakes and trails.

As expected, the facilities are exceptional and a good conference occurred. The irony of the location was not lost on anyone and was always an amusing topic amongst the attendees.

Matthew Thie, co-author, Touch for Health - the complete edition, international speaker and trainer, joins, Adam Lehman, founder of Institute of BioEnergetic Arts and Sciences, international speaker and trainer, pose with Ronald McDonald.

Obelisk sculpture on the HU campus.

We were doing double-duty as we attending the conference plus rolling out our new version of eTouch for Health 3.0. Basically, we took our business on the road and kept functioning while traveling and rarely missed a beat in our business responsibilities.

The National Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky just across the road from where all Corvettes are built. I have a lot of respect for Corvette because it is the only American product that is competing at the highest levels of international competition for sports cars.

Sports car endurance racing like that which occurs at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France each June, brings together the best and most-advanced automobiles in the world. This sport is usually dominated by the European teams such as Audi, Peugeot, Porsche, Ferrari and BMW. Corvette is America's lone entrant battling against the world's best.

It is for this reason, that I honor the Corvette's legacy and contribution. At left, singer and musician, Roy Orbisson's personal Corvette that he drove is on display in front of his likeness.

It was fun finding a photograph of Italian ‘Mad’ Max Papis in the Corvette Museum. We know Max from his days of driving the Ferrari 333 SP sports prototypes. Max had just earned his new monniker several months before we met him in the spring of 1996.

At the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona, the young Max in his first drive in America was co-driving in the MOMO Ferrari. When the car was in second place late in the race, car owner Gianpierro Moretti gave Papis permission to drive the car as fast as he could to win. Hour after hour, Papis drove the Ferrari faster and faster as he caught up 2-5 seconds a lap on the car that was only 1/2 lap ahead after over 20 hours of racing at full speed. Papis set fastest lap of the race in his last laps.

That is not what gained Max his monniker. It was close to being enough, but it was when he came onto the Daytona pit road travelling over 200 MPH that earned him the name of Mad Max. In his dramatic attempt to catch the leader, he had come into the pits with a dramatic screeching halt before getting a splash of fuel before he was off again in his chase.

Since that event, 60 MPH has been established as the official pit road speed limit at Daytona and Max has been known as Mad Max.



Abraham Lincoln is much revered throughout the states of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. The statue is of a young Lincoln and stands in the lobby of the Linclon Museum on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University. The college is located a short distance from the historic little town of Cumberland Gap.

As a kid riding the bus from southern Georgia to Detroit and back, I remember the bus stopping in this small town. The roads through the mountains back then were narrow two lanes that curved their way through and over the mountains. Visiting Cumberland Gap on his trip brought back those exciting memories.











Rafting on the Pigeon River in North Carolina.

A waterfall along the way. We always stop whenever we see a waterfall and take a few moments to enjoy the view and the sounds. The negative ions generated also provide a fresh boost whenever we are traveling long distances.

A mountain rain store passes through while the sun shines on the low clouds in the distance. These mountains are located in western North Carolina.

Our niece, Courtenay and her husband, Thom, have been hand-building their new mountain cabin for over three years. Courtenay has done much of the work herself and has learned many new skills. She has also had to master the use of new tools and instruments that she had never used before. Their work is incredibily precise and I am very impressed.

A few years back, their house, which has some areas three stories high, was painted by Courtenay using rope-climbing equipment! It's great seeing such pioneering and determined efforts. The smell of the new cabin in the mountains is incredible.

At the wedding of our niece, Allison, in Asheville, North Carolina at the Grove Park Inn. She and John have a new combined family of six kids. It was moving to see this new family form this sand mandala representing their new family group.

It's good to return home!

Lake Lanier is always a welcome site at the end of a long travel. The lake is northeast of Atlanta and is formed by the damming of the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers. On weekends and holidays, the lake is filled with sailors and boaters.

This is the lake where we sailed our Hobie for over 20 years. At one time, I was able to fly a hull all the way across the lake. Would like to try it again!