Sunday, June 25, 2006

Side Comment

I would like to say thank you to those who left comments after reading my Web Log. Some of the stories have touched me. Please keep writing. Thank you again.

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater

Abilene to Davenport Iowa

After we left Abilene we headed to the Kansas City Speedway for a victory lap. I was in the 1951 Hudson when we drove around the track. It was a sight to see; there were cars that stretched all the round the 1.5 mile of track with Tim McGraw playing in the background.

Soon after we parked the cars and headed for a pit stop. There were a few speakers with Mary Peters being the keynote and my favorite. She is such a great speaker that without much effort she can get the crowd to roll with laughter. She is a really exciting person. Soon after lunch we left for Davenport, Iowa and our swing route group rejoined the convoy.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Day five of the Convoy
The Swing Route

Today was by far the most exciting day during the convoy celebration. The drive today was long but it started out right. Wake up call was 5 .am. This is never fun. But, good things happened from the start traveling from Cheyenne to Denver then Abilene, Kansas. At 6 a.m. I climbed into my first 18 wheeler with the Highway Watch guys Ralph and Dave (Ralph if you read this don’t get a big head you just have a better name that Dave does, because Ralph it is my father’s name).

The trip took a different view when looking at the road from this massive tractor trailer. It gave me a larger perspective riding with Dave and Ralph asking question about what it was like driving a truck and living on the Highway. I know now riding with these two men that a trucker’s life is a hard one. I now have a deeper respect of truckers and the trials they go through.

When we got to Denver we drove in to the Forney Transportation Museum. We arrived early and I got a chance to walk through the museum before the program got started. The museum was wonderful and it has one of the largest displays of classic cars, trains, and horse drawn buggies. My favorite was a large coal powered train that you could walk through. I never realized how difficulty driving one of the old trains was.

Denver has great meaning to the Eisenhower family. My great-grandmother lived there and was married there to my great-grandfather. Her mother’s house was used as a summer White House during Ike’s time in D.C. After my tour of the museum was over, it was time to make a few remarks at the press conference before getting back on the convoy. The Lt. Governor spoke elegantly and was just as elegant in person. After her speech Dan McNichol spoke and then it was my turn. Soon after we left for Abilene.

Kansas was a different ball game all together. There were 11 different overpasses on which people were waiting to greet us. They lined the overpasses with banners and American flags to welcome us throughout the state, as we were escorted by the Kansas National Guard. This was a heartwarming experience that could never be replaced. When we arrived in Abilene it got better, bands were playing and people were greeting us like we were a part of the family. This was one of the most remarkable moments in my life. Soon after Dan and I were asked to say a few words. I have never felt so proud in all of my days on this earth: knowing that these people were here to remember my great-grandfather, Dwight David Eisenhower.


Day 3 of the convoy.
Travel free day.

It was a slow day. We started with breakfast at 8:15a.m., with the three D’s: Dan, Dana, and David. We took a left and pulled through town trying to find a quick bite to eat. It was Sunday in Salt Lake City and everything looked closed. So, we drove to the Capital Building and saw four cyclists and asked them where we could get something to eat. Nick looked like the leader of the group. He was in the dressed brightest spandex with the top being a bright yellow and red. He told Dana and Dan (they were in the front seat of the Hudson), that his uncle owned a place and to put it on his tab. So far on this trip, this is the kindest thing anyone has done for me.

The diner that we went to was called Ogie’s Café and it was a really amazing place. It had people from all walks of life there. The food was great, large portions of towering hash browns and fluffy eggs that were like air. After trying to eat all of it I felt that I was going to explode. So if you are ever in Salt Lake City and you ever make it to Ogie’s Café ask for George (Ogie) and tell them to put it on Nicks tab.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Day 2 Reno to Salt Lake City

Really tired, up at 5:00 a.m. again just like the day before. Breakfast meeting at 6:00 a.m., service was really slow did not get a chance to eat all of my food because we sat for at least 30 minutes before we got our food.

The trip to Salt Lake City was one of the most challenging of the original convoy. They were lost in the Great Salt Lake plains for two days with nobody knowing where they were. A good example of what the troops were going through during the 1919 convoy in the Great Salt Lake flats was noted in the Daily log of the convoy.

"Last 6 miles was natural desert trail of alkali dust and fine sand up to 2' deep with numerous chuck holes. No rain for 18 weeks and traction exceedingly difficult. In places chasses of trucks grounded on road surface leaving wheels free, making jacking up and digging out necessary. Sage brush was cut from desert to fill in wheel ruts, as this was the only material available. Five Class B's had trouble with petcocks, cylinder head gaskets, connecting rod bearings, valves and brakes." Aug. 20th

Our trip it was a lot easer for us. We crossed Interstate 15 from Reno to Salt Lake City. For half the trip I was riding in the 1951 Hudson. So far this has been the most exciting part of the convoy drive. The Hudson is painted gold with a brown plaid interior. It has the original motor and no AC! It gave me a different view of the convoy and made me understand that we are lucky to have the highway system. Dan was driving and at a rest stop we saw a sign that we were in a place that had no water for 40 miles. Think about that. All of the people that traveled to get to Salt Lake City during the 1919 convoy experienced this. It is amazing that Salt Lake is even a City.

We traveled on for a total of 9 hours making it to Salt Lake City just in time for a reception that took place in a great park were Brigham Young decided that this was the spot for his city to be placed. This park had a great view of the city it overlooked. During the dinner Senator Bob Bennett made remarks about the I-15 construction and the difference it made throughout his life. Senator Bennett was an amazing speaker.


On the road at 6:15 am in order to make it to Lincoln Park, (this was the ending spot of the 1919 convoy when they crossed the San Francisco Bay on two ferry boats.) Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta was the keynote speaker. He talked about the importance of the Highway systems over the last 50 years and illustrated the importance of the next 50 years. Andrew Firestone also was a speaker and discussed the relationship that his great-grandfather had with my great-grandfather Dwight David Eisenhower. Then it was time to depart from Lincoln Park to move onto Reno at 9:30. One of my favored things was the view of the city from Lincoln Park. I have never seen anything like it in my life. It was nice!

On the way to Reno is when all of the excitement really happened in the 1919 convoy. They had many problems moving to Carson City in Nevada. This is from the Daily Log of the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy that was filed by the United States Government after the original San Francisco trip:
"Aug.30: Departed Fallon, 6:30 a.m. Followed direct road to Carson City, via the Lahontan Dam. Heavy trucks had some difficulty in getting through soft sand holes about 2 miles west of camp. Five or more trucks were chained together and men not driving helped by pushing." On that day they only made 66 miles in 20 hrs.
It was not as hard on the trucks and the drivers this time. We made it through Reno with a huge state trooper and police escort to the National Automobile Museum in downtown Reno. Along the way we did run into a few problems when Dan McNichol's 1951 Hudson car had mechanical difficulties and had to be towed to Reno.

The Automobile Museum was huge with over 200 different cars. It was a really exciting place with my favorite car on display: a red 1965 mustang and it was amazing. After a speaking program where Nevada Senator William Raggio spoke we had lunch.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

First Post!

This is the first in a series of posts from the road on the Interstate 50th Anniversary convoy. We'll be departing San Francisco Friday, June 16th and arriving in Washington DC on June 29th. Should be fun!