West to East

Well that does sound like we are travelling a lot further across the country but no, just a few states.

Wyoming, on through Nebraska, dropping down into Kansas and further down into Oklahoma.

As we came into Kansas yesterday we found the historical marker indicating the geographical centre of the country.

 

We stopped in Belleville, KS for the night and walked from the motel to the BelVilla family dining. A little home style restaurant, licensed, nothing flash about the decor but great food and awesome service. I asked the girl if I could keep the menu, a newspaper style print with a beautiful old courthouse and water tower on the front.

 

If you know me then of course I wanted to find this building. Jack and I headed into the downtown district after breakfast. Belleville was established in 1869, some old buildings came into view but alas no old courthouse just the white Art Deco version in the town square. We drove in and around a few streets, asked two old guys (one at a workshop and one driving the USPS truck) and both have only been in the area for a couple of years and couldn't help.

As Jack filled the car with gas, I did a search on the phone and when he returned all I could work out was that it had been burned down and replaced with the current one and also that Belleville was known for the 'world's fastest half mile high bank dirt track!'

A race track for midgets and sprint cars. As we got back on the road there on the left was the Highbanks Hall of Fame and Museum so we stopped in for a quick look.

 

The gentleman was just opening up the doors as we were looking at the display out front. We went in for a short visit.

 

This picture shows a photo of the track at the top and below it a painting of the track. The Belleville High Banks dirt track is 23 ft high on the bank and 80ft wide, you can't walk up it but can certainly run at 140mph in these little cars!

 

There are some great displays, cars and memorabilia for the car enthusiast to stop and have a look. Donation for entry.

Back on the road and we are heading for Marysville and the Pony Express station. This is, as a sign said in a paddock, Pony Express country. From Washington this section of the highway is known as the Pony Express Highway.

 

A quick stop in Hanover, the visitor centre is closed but we saw the Pony Express Station on the Hollenberg Ranch just east of town. It is said to be the only one still on its original site. (Seems contradictory now when you get to the next stop! lol)

 

Next stop Marysville. The Marysville Pony Express Station is the only original station still on its original site. Home Station No.1 has been many other businesses over the course of history but has been lovingly restored and stripped of modern fabrications back to its original limestone walls.

 

The 18″ thick limestone walls, original openings for light and ventilation with a replacement roof – 12 years after the pony express ran through – the original roof had been burnt in a fire.

This station allowed riders to stay in bunks within the barn, often up to 10 days until the next mail came in, or they could stay at the nearby Barrett Hotel.

 

During the 19 months the Pony Express ran for, over 35,000 pieces of mail were delivered via 200 relay stations. The number of rides/mileage made is enough to circumnavigate the world 3 times over.

 

Mary set us up for a short video when we entered and Shirley gave us the rest of the tour through many wonderous antiques, machinery, vehicles, reproduction stagecoach, popcorn machine, dioramas and much more!

 

What a sensational stop, she suggested the Wagon Wheel for lunch near the statue and glass panels. We headed there next and had a great lunch with a quick visit to the statue in the 99F heat. The glass picture panels are great, the picture changes with your movement.

 

We continued our journey south through the great Kansas plains and farming land. Corn……..corn………..and more corn. I'm sure there is more to the crops than that, just seems like that is all you see. 🙂

We made it! We are back in Oklahoma.

Kat xo

 

 

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Capulin Volcano

On our meanderings up through New Mexico from Moriarty we headed for Raton and a side visit to Capulin (pronounced Car-poo-leen).

Jack had read about Capulin Volcano National Monument and had decided we would make a stop.

This now inactive volcano at its peak is 8182ft above sea level and is covered in rich volcanic soil and forested habitat.

An aerial view of Capulin from Wikipaedia.

Part of the National Parks scheme it is $15 per vehicle to go to the top, where you can take a couple of different hiking trails. One goes around the top rim and one shorter one down into the cinder cone volcanic crater itself. Be prepared for a steep climb back out though on a well paved path.

At the top of the Volcano you can see to parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Kansas.

It was President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916 who would have Capulin Volcano set as a National Monument.

From here we took a right out of the park gates and headed for Folsom, all we found was a tiny little town, didn’t go into the museum and the historic hotel was closed.

Back on the road our next stop would be Trinidad, Colorado and on to Limon for the night.

Tuesday we headed NW to Cheyenne and on to Wild Horse John and Saginaw Sue’s – Wild Horse Haven as I like to call it.

Kat xo

Kansas to Missouri

Our gracious Kansas hosts, Bertie Winchester and Cooncan, put us up for a couple of nights so we could come shoot with them and spend time catching up. We met the new addition to the family, Sully, who was a bundle of energy, keeping us entertained and for at least Friday night, Jack seemed the flavour of the day.

 

We headed out yesterday to Lenexa where the Powder Creek Cowboys hosted their monthly match in perfect weather. Some 64 cowboy's and cowgirl's turned out for it and before long we were shooting 5 stages.

 

This is a good practice place with target placement, varied distance, height, shape and diameter making for an interesting shoot.

 

We enjoyed it, as it had been far too long since we had been there for their annual – Prince of Pistoleers. (Probably 4 years ago)

We almost had a mini version of our Land Run posse with Jack, myself, Bertie Winchester, Cooncan, Fannie Kicker and Titus A. Gnatsass.

We were missing Bertie in this picture of the ladies of our posse which included from Iowa, Hail Hot Mary and Gunslinger Grace.

 

We spent the afternoon chatting, trying to fix the speaker for tunes, drinking beer (well maybe that was just me) and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, all while Jack snoozed.

It was a fabulous visit getting to meet more of their family and we certainly appreciated the hospitality.

This morning we left them and headed for Kansas City, MO. Last time we stopped in at Union Station and every bit of history it had to offer. THIS time we headed back near there to The National WWI Museum and Memorial.

At the end of Memorial Mall (like ANZAC Parade is to the War Memorial in Canberra) is the Liberty Memorial with the museum being a sub terrace to it, the Assyrian Sphynx's, Cinerary Urns, Exhibit and Memory Hall's.

 

As you enter along the black granite causeway to massive bronze doors, it opens to a glass and light filled entrance. The glass walkway to the exhibit halls allows a view to the poppy field below.

 

Each of the 9000 poppies represents 1000 deaths. Nine million souls perished during WWI. If you catch the reflection juuuusst right you can get a view of the Liberty Memorial in the glass with the poppies as well.

Next we went into the 12min video of how the beginning of World War I commenced and then into the beautiful exhibit galleries. A very well thought out display with timelines, personal accounts and more.

 

As we moved through each gallery space there were many artefacts, uniforms, firearms etc.

 

There were life sized trench dioramas with sound and ambient lighting. Propaganda posters, medals, heavy artillery and so much more.

 

Towards the centre of the exhibits are another full on trench and battlefield setup with a short film across a grand screen, interactive tables depicting anything from camouflage to air combat, sound booths for personalised accounts, prose etc.

 

This is a very well thought out museum moving through the timeline culminating in the entrance of the United States into Allied forces during the campaign.

 

We finalised our tour by taking the elevator to the upper level and the courtyard surrounding the Liberty Memorial and the Assyrian Sphynx's.

The Sphynx's as stated in the brochure – 'Memory' faces East toward the battlefields of WWI, shielding its eyes from the horrors of war. 'Future' faces West, shielding its eyes from an unknown future.

 

I regretfully state that we decided we needed to get on the road and did not see the Exhibit Hall or the Memorial Hall 😦 during the car ride home I realised we had missed one of the main things I did want to see. The Exhibit Hall features flags of the allied nations in the order they entered the campaign. The Memorial Hall houses the largest fragment of the 'Pantheon de la Guerre' and includes bronze tablets with the names of 441 Kansas Citians that died in WWI. Disappointed much.

 

However, IF you ever get the chance to go through Kansas City, please do allow for a visit here. It was fantastic, very moving and just a stunning facility.

A great way to end our quick trip to Kansas/Missouri, thanks again to our wonderful hosts (actually saw a couple of cowboy's in the museum) and now we are back in Oklahoma getting set to head south to Leonard, Texas this next weekend.

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend wherever you may have been.

Kat xo

 

Kansas Bound

Travelling today listening to the usual eclectic mix of music of Elvis, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker; throw in some Australian Crawl, Lee Kernaghan, Dire Straits; sprinkled with a small dose of “not your grandmother's music” (or perhaps even your mother's!) Saddle Tramps and we were on our way to Kansas.

I had my moments in the backseat – not because I was naughty, lol! – to do some car projects behind a slightly more tinted window and away from the glare. Got quite a bit done and Jack could stil see me with his “check on the kids” mirror anyway. 🙂

We took a slight detour into the older part of Wichita and headed for the river. We found 'The Keeper Of The Plains' a 44 foot tall cor-ten steel sculpture that stands at the concourse of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers.

Before we headed to see that, we found ourselves inside Exploration Place. The equivalent to Questacon, in Canberra back in Australia. I had asked at the counter about restrooms and the girl at the counter pointed me to the right direction and for how to get to the bridge to the statue.

I came out of the bathrooms giggling. Here is what I found on the back of the bathroom door. (Sorry, I thought it was funny)

 

It's no wonder the lady at the entrance, waiting on school kids, was having trouble to round them up as they were probably reading all the doors too.

Anyway, Jack and I decided that it would probably be a good place to visit but the bright spark reckoned it would be quieter on a weekend??!!?? I don't know about that.

Off we headed to the bridge that would take us across the river to a small exhibit and the spectacular statue before us.

 

Around the base of the statue are two walls of an outdoor exhibit made from granite and other media portraying the American Indian life, culture and language.

 

The sculpture by Kiowa-Comanche artist, Blackbear Bosin features music in the background and small water mist jets as you meander around the base of the rock it is perched upon. Out the front of the statue on the river are fire pits known as 'the rings of fire' that are lit at dusk which would be a sight to see!

 

This was one of those places that gave an ambient and serene backdrop to a bustling city beyond the rivers edge.

A must see if you ever get up through Wichita, KS.

Kat xo

 

Kansas to Minnesota

This morning after a fabulous breakfast and great hospitality from our hosts, we hit the road again and headed out for Kansas City.

We are visiting Union Station, just across the border in Kansas City, Missouri.

What a grand old lady is Union Station, with beautiful architecture, ornate ceiling rosettes, grand chandeliers AND Harvey's – a restaurant that once upon a time was a Fred Harvey house. I have a bit of an obsession with Harvey Houses.

 

Now there is Science City and a current exhibit of Mummies showing but we headed for the 2nd and 3rd floor history exhibits.

Union Station as it is today, replaced a smaller Union Depot that had served the city since 1878. The bigger station was built in 1914 on a new site away from floodplains just south of the central business district.

 

Just a few facts:

  • Jarvis Hunt, Architect was hired in 1906 for the building of Union Station.
  • When it opened in October, 1914 it was the second largest train station in the country.
  • It takes up 850,000sq ft/79,000m2 of real estate
  • Each chandelier, of which there are 3, weighs 3,500pds/1600kg
  • The Grand Hall clock face is 6ft/1.8m in diameter
  • The ceiling height in the Grand Hall is 95ft/29m high
  • In 1917 during WWI peak train traffic numbered 271 – 1945 during WWII peak passenger traffic was 678,363
  • 1933 Union Station massacre made headlines Frank Nash (notorious gangster, bank robber and escaped convict) along with 4 of his hit men attacked the men who had come to take him back to Leavenworth. 5 men including detectives and FBI agents were killed.

There are fabulous old photographs, information boards and displays of artefacts on the two levels overlooking the Grand Hall.

 

Mementos from special exhibitions are also on display along with information regarding the National Memorial and WWI Museum. The view across the lawn and fountain area to the Memorial is mighty fine. Landscape designer, George Kessler, indeed planned a beautiful city back in the late 1800's-early 1900's.

 

With a visit to Harvey's for extra breakfast (lol, don't need lunch! Have a go at the size of Jack's pancakes!!) we rolled out the door and back to the car to head further North through Missouri and into the state of Iowa.

 

Iowa is another new state to visit. We took a quick pit stop at Lamoni at the Welcome Centre and Amish store. I thought the buggy and horse were a statue when I saw the buggy parking sign! Lol! The horse must have realised the blonde needed an acknowledgement and with a turn of his head I realised it was real!

 

How fabulous Amish stores are with all their homemade and harvested fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices. Jack scored some Fig Jam and we got some awesome licorice wheels, YUM!

 

I head to the other end of the store where there is a neat little cafe set up and more goods. In the meantime, Jack perusing the information stand, finds the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum brochure. Winterset here we come!

Born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, John Wayne is one of the most recognised western actor's history has seen.

 

This small museum has a theatrette, a gallery with costumes, guns and other items used in films he starred in. It has one of his last customised cars on display, a buggy and beautiful panels from the ballroom in The Shootist.

 

The wax statue and painted scenes of Monument Valley are excellent. Monument Valley lends the perfect western landscape to many movies. Director John Ford made John Wayne a star in 'Stagecoach' in 1939. John Wayne directed and starred in 3 other films in Monument Valley – 'Fort Apache', 'She Wore A Yellow Ribbon' and 'The Searchers'.

 

John Wayne starred in 152 movies! (200 actually, including cameo appearances)

 

The sweet little 4 room house and birthplace of John Wayne sits on it existing site just round the corner on the same block as the Museum and Gift shop. It has been restored and includes period furniture of 1907 when he was born.

 

Then it was back on the road!

We need to be in Faribault, Minnesota y'all!

Kat xo

 

Oklahoma/Kansas

After a feed at the chuckwagon (aka Dennys), Jack and I jumped in the buckboard and reined in the horses (aka Dodge van hp). We are headed for Abilene, Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Well essentially the modern day version of it being the I-35 which runs all the way from Texas through Oklahoma and up into Kansas.

 

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail – the first cattle drive that headed north to Abilene. 1867-2017

 

We made good time and stopped in at the Dwight Eisenhower Library and Museum. The museum currently has an exhibit 'Chisholm Trail and the Cowtown that raised a President' and the library has two exhibits 'The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West' and 'Eisenhower and the Great War'.

First up we watched a documentary on the Eisenhower years and about the man himself. Dwight David Eisenhower, known as 'Ike', was a formidable man indeed, one of compassion and decency.

Next we went on a short guided tour through his Abilene boyhood home. The house is on its original site where the Eisenhowers lived from 1898 to 1946 when his mother passed away. There are still items within the home that belonged to the Eisenhower's.

 

He lived here from when he was 8 until he was 20 before leaving for West Point Academy. Six boys were raised in this home.

The blanket on the fainting couch was woven by the great grandfather who was a weaver. It is over 160 years old and still appears to be in really good nick!

 

The wooden box with the lid in the kitchen is a dough box. Ida made 9 loaves of bread every other day, to keep the boys fed.

 

Next we went into the Museum and spent a good amount of time in here. The first part of the exhibition was information that most of us cowboys and cowgirls know of the Chisholm Trail, its origins, the cattle drives, the cowboy's and how Joseph G. McCoy and Jesse Chisholm made it into the history books.

 

Chisholm, after marrying, had worked for his wife's father's trading post along the Canadian River in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). He also worked in a diplomatic capacity, brokering treaties with Indian tribes for the Republic of Texas and the United States Government.

Later after the Civil War, he went back to trading and essentially transformed the trails to be more usable by heavily laden wagons. He continued trading until he died in 1868.

McCoy after having been turned down from a few towns finally settled on Abilene, KS for his new 'cowtown'. There was a quarantine issue for Texas cattle at the time and after lobbying the Governor of Kansas got permission to create a corridor for cattle to be driven from Texas through to Kansas. Holding pens were built, paths were surveyed on the previously travelled trails that Jesse Chisholm had traded along.

It soon became the first of the cattle boomtowns. In a few years it had transformed from a small frontier town into a thriving boomtown.

The trail had been called many names and was finally officially recognised when the name was publicised in 1870. The Chisholm Trail was about 150 miles west of the old Shawnee trail. It was shorter and there were plenty of grazing grasslands and water for the cattle along this route and rivers were easier to cross.

 

Abilene, saw the usual well known figures flow through its streets such as Wild Bill Hicock, John Wesley Hardin, and more. Problems ensued with the cattle trade with cattle getting sick and the 'Texas tick' causing issues that essentially shut the cattle trails down in 1871.

It is said by historians that an estimated 3 million head of cattle made the trek from Texas to Abilene in a 5 year period. Safe to say Joseph McCoy's plans for a prosperous cattle business were indeed successful.

Whilst time and governance closed the cattle trails, the legacy of raising cattle and creating new agricultural ways has lived on for generations since.

One of Eisenhowers personal hero's, was a man named Thomas “Bear River” Smith who served as Sheriff in June 1870 until he met his demise in November of the same year. Smith had managed to tame the cattle town and was well liked. He policed mainly with just his spirit and a badge. He had outlawed gun carrying within city limits. His tenure was short lived when he was murdered during a homestead scuffle where his Deputy left him to fend for himself.

Into the next lot of exhibit rooms and there are lots of displays of Eisenhower growing up, Mamie his wife and beautifully displayed clothes of hers on rotating mannequins in climate control cases.

 

There are exhibits of his time during WWII and his exceptional leadership, D-Day, VE-Day, his presidential time etc. so much information, beautifully done and they are looking at changing the displays and renovating the museum. It will be an even more impressive museum when they do that. This is a Museum not to be missed.

 

The library across from the Museum had a, shall I say, more modern twist in a shortened version of the history of Chisholm Trail. There is also another exhibit currently being held there of Eisenhower and the Great War that we didn't see.

 

That my friends, is our quick history lesson and Museum visit for the day.

After a short stay with our Kansan friends Cooncan and Bertie Winchester we will head for Union Station in Kansas City before going on through to Morristown, MI.

See you on the trail!

Kat xo

https://www.eisenhower.archives.gov

 

Kansas – Nebraska Day Trip

Travelling along, no car projects this trip, so snooze! Yeah that sounds pretty good.

We were heading north through Kansas and came across Waconda Lake between Beloit and Cawker City, a massive expanse of waterway. Not much out this way except lots of farming and Beloit is clearly a very large agricultural hub.

 

Continuing North we took a quick side trip for a mile off the Hwy8 which took us to the Dr Higley cabin. (Lovingly taken care of, restored and remaining on its original site thanks to Mr and Mrs Pete Rust)

 

Birthplace of 'Home On The Range' the Kansas state song was written in 1871 by Dr Brewster M. Higley as a poem of his property in Kansas alongside Beaver Creek. In 1872 he gave it to a guy by the name of Dan Kelley who set it to music. A refrain was added (the chorus, home, home on the range….) and his poem 'my western home' became 'home on the range. The poem and song were published in 1872 and '73.

It became popular amongst Cowboys riding long distances with cattle drives and later Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it as his favourite song. In 1947 a bill was passed in the Kansas Legislature establishing the song as the official state song.

Continuing on, we crossed into Nebraska, heading towards Minden.

Minden established 1877 – the Christmas city – has a nice selection of old homes and the Harold Warp Pioneer Village. Anything and everything you could think of from mans progression since 1830. 26 buildings, 3 city blocks – not enough time to do in a short afternoon.

 

Next to Kearney (pronounce Car-nee). We crossed the Platte River taking us through even more farmland. Soon we hit the I80 into Kearney through the The Great Platte River Arch Monument. We went into the Arch Monument and their historical exhibit, wow! Oh….my….goodness!

 

The murals were just sensational! So much detail! Standing there looking at them while listening to the commentary you saw so much more. This is a place I could come back to multiple times and still see more. You were given a device at the beginning of the tour that had multiple points during the tour where you got the information along the way. More than that, the displays, the video's, the models, murals, everything was sensational!

 

Then it was find a motel to stay in and tomorrow we will see the some other museums, maybe a railway one and Chimney Rock before moving on through to Cheyenne, WY.

Sleep well!

Kat xo

P.S. The I80 was Einsenhower's way of employing those back from the war by building the greatest Trans continent road between SanFrancisco, California to New York. A multi lane highway stretching from one side of the country to the other! Made transport easier and gave all veterans an employment opportunity.