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

 

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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

 

Communism Tour

Thursday 17th August, whilst in Prague, Jack having an interest in history of past wars and effects chose to do a Communism Tour.

Not having known a great deal about it (history was not one of my subjects at school despite my obvious and very keen interest in it now) I thought this could be an interesting diverse look at Prague.

Now Katarina, our little tour guide, is only 30years old and has lived through part of this as a very small child. Her parents and grandparents however, lived through those turbulent times.

She was a wealth of knowledge. At this point it is now your turn for a history lesson in what I have recounted from her imparted information as we walked for, yet again, miles of Prague. (a little tram travel as well)

As previously mentioned in other blogs, originally Czechoslovakia was part of the Austrian Hungarian empire until during WWII it came under the Munich agreement.

Germany occupied Cžech until the end of the war when Russian troops moved and took it over. Czechoslovakia, disenchanted with western countries at the time, cooperated with the Russians.

They later came to find that power was being misused and the following elections communist parties were not being considered.

Along came the ‘Bloody 50’s’ and the ensuing protests came with imprisonment. One notable woman was accuse of treason and subsequently executed. She is said to be the only woman in the country to be executed for political reasons.

Ten others were executed and 48 imprisoned just for being associated with her. Another 248 ‘inconvenient’ people were executed and 2500 imprisoned around the 50’s. (Think a good majority of us can take a moment and be very thankful for the lives we have lived and are living)

I’ll try now to shorten some of the other notes I took down from this tour but I think you will find it interesting nonetheless.

  • In 1953 Stalin died with another (I had Kleenex and ?mark, I’m sure autocorrect took over here) people though it suspicious and wondered if they were poisoned.
  • After his death, for some reason they thought it a good idea to mummify his body! It wasn’t done well however and soon started to decay.
  • There used to be a large statue of Stalin situated on the opposite side of the river (to the main part of Prague). It was blown up in 1962 and not one scrap of it is left, apparently everyone wanted a piece of him!
  • During the 60’s liberation, hippies etc, CZ experienced a short period.
  • 1968 borders were opened, mostly to Yugoslavia. If you were a good worker you may have been allowed to go on vacation with your family to Greece for a week or two.
  • There was no more censorship of artists. Katarina’s grandmother was arrested for dancing to the Beatles and Rock’n’Roll music!

During our visit to Prague there were display boards of photos, a tank and a nightly cinematic display at the front end of Wenceslas Square. The anniversary of Russian tanks being sent in to ‘liberate’ the country on 21st August, 1968.

This caused massive protesting and 100 people died including a young Jan Polak who set himself on fire in protest of the occupation. He died 3 days later. His death mask cast in bronze is installed in his memory on the side of a building.

It is sad to think that someone would think protesting in this fashion would do them good by harming themselves in such a dramatic fashion. But like Polak, 13 others attempted this method of protest.

The 80’s brought with it another revolution around the time of the wall coming down in Berlin in 1989. At the start of the revolution in ’88, Katarina’s parents brought her to Wenceslas Square where hoards of people protested shaking their keys. (I got nothing….I have no explanation written for the significance of this)

Did you know?

17th January, 1939 – students who protested were sent to concentration camps. To this day that anniversary has been known as the Day of International Students.

A memorial for this is prominently placed in the city where the most conflict between students and police took place.

The year 1990 saw the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. Velvet as smooth as the fabric is, to indicate a smooth transition to peace.

The Velvet Revolution came to conclusion in 1993 when the country split and became Cžech Republic and Slovakia.

In our travels Katarina provided other, somewhat trivial information as we passed different places. Like;

  • The Rock Cafe where in 1994 Bill Clinton was given a saxophone to play during his visit.
  • The beautiful garden that once belonged to Franciscan monks who along with nuns, were imprisoned or disappeared during the communist regime.
  • Cžech Republic is one of the most agnostic countries in the world because it was not worth your while to speak of your religion for fear of persecution.
  • The last point reminds us that despite being churches in every town here they remain as a symbol and most are concert halls etc or are only used for Christmas services and the like.

So next stop on this tour is a visit to the bunker. Yes you read it right, a bunker.

The metro system was designed as an underground bunker but could really only hold half of the city’s people.

We head to one of the bunkers entrances through a bizarrely graffitied, gated, outdoor bar in semi suburbia??!!

As Katarina unlocks the door she explains the bunker. Built in 1952-1955 it features a 4000kg/4t door, stairs take you to a 60m depth and could accommodate 5000 people. That would give each person around half a square meter of space.

Now it is supposedly ready as a shelter for 2000 people. Probably a two week stay is all that’s possible. It you wouldn’t be any better off other than living a few days longer as there would be no supplies etc up top for replenishment anyway. She said she would, in what I would call true Czech tradition, head to the nearest pub and live out your last days drinking beer!

The last sections of tunnel we went into had some displays of older gas masks, hospital supplies and their practice propaganda for such an event.

There are 5 entrances in total, decontamination rooms and a 3stage filtration system for clean air. (Wish I could insert my surprised, wide eyed emoji in here)

On a final note before we headed back up above ground to appreciate the fresh air and sunshine Katarina told us that The Rolling Stones were the first band to play in Cžech Republic after the Revolution in 1990. They gifted money for electricity to be installed in the Prague Castle for the presidential offices.

Bet you didn’t know that bit of trivia!?

Kat xo

Day In Cheyenne

Last night we had a fabulous dinner with Wild Horse John, Saginaw Sue, Trigger Happy Ted and Misty Rider. A good catch up to start off our short stay in Cheyenne.

This morning was a leisurely start over coffee and then off to the country club for lunch on the deck overlooking the golf course.

 

A visit to the museum made for an interesting afternoon. Passing some of Cheyennes spectacular 1800's buildings, the Nelson Museum Of The West awaits.

 

With everything from taxidermy, firearms, Hollywood posters, Indian, cavalry, vaquero outfits, Spurs etc it is a fantastic exhibit over two floors, the third floor below – Lawmen and Outlaws display.

 

Gambling, guns and whiskey were the essentials for outlaws of the time or more likely is what caused the most grief in small railway and cowtown's of the west.

 

This a neat little museum and worth a visit if you are short on time, you can do it in a couple of hours.

We did get an extra personalised tour into the war bonnet room and the new exhibit acquisition room where they are organising new displays.

 

Then across the street into the military uniform display, what a collection! Mostly uniforms from actual military members and displayed with their name plate and photo! Such amazing collections!

 

A little saunter later down the road we arrived at The Plains Hotel for a rest and a beer. Yep, a Saddle Bronc for me, always got to try a local brew, well it comes out of Sheridan which is still Wyoming.

 

That takes care of today, won't be much to report tomorrow until we are at the airport!

Cheers

Kat xo

 

Now, Where Were We?

Oh yeah, so last Thursday we were heading here to Albuquerque, breakfast on the way, making a quick stop in Weatherford at the Thomas P. Stafford Air and Space Museum….as you do.

We have driven past it a number of times and it's the usual, 'we should stop and have a look at that place one day'. So this day we finally did!

 

In we trotted. To give some small background General Thomas P. Stafford is a well respected Oklahoman, and indeed throughout the nation, a man who was an author, fighter pilot, astronaut and test pilot. He commanded Apollo missions.

 

Inside the museum there are a number of planes from the Wright brothers days to the Lindbergh non stop Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St Louis, WWI fighters, experimental aircraft and modern day marvels.

 

Then there is a whole section on space exploration including the Russian joint missions during the space race. There are replicas of satellite launchers from around the world and unique information boards to imagine how much 'John Deere' horsepower it would take to fire up just one F-1 engine.

Go on, you're dying to know right? Try 56,000 John Deere 9620R tractors equivalent! The Saturn V rocket used 5 engines so that's enough tractors to reach from Weatherford, OK to San Francisco, CA or 283,800 tractors end to end.

 

Anyway, from the information we read in the museum Stafford was a very influential man both in flight and space, not only flying during service, commanding missions in space but teaching others to do the same and his expertise in these fields earned him the highest honours and Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

 

All in all, this was a neat little museum and is worth a visit, takes about an hour.

 

Now it's been a wild weekend but I'll get to that tomorrow after the Wild Bunch dinner and awards are done.

Kat xo

P.S. Well it's today now as the bugs were finding the light of the iPad in the darkness last night. Wild Bunch Awards and dinner tonight. Will do Wild Bunch blog tonight! 🙂

 

Smokin’ Guns At Rabbit Ridge Part 2

Okay, so after the exceptional opening ceremony yesterday, we shot 5 stages, got a little more suntan, had a blast with our posse and finished on a high note!

Friday I think as previously mentioned, was Wild Bunch, side matches, and a chilli dinner with joke night. THAT brought out some of the best and worst from all ages (might I add).

Saturday after the exceptional opening ceremony (see Smokin' Guns At Rabbit Ridge Part 1) we went through 5 stages of the main match which was pretty good and then we had a range dinner of catfish, shrimp and hush puppies with coleslaw and fries – of course a cupcake, and chicken tenders for Jack and others that didn't want catfish!

We had the band play last night but we retired reasonably early.

Throughout the night the thunder and lightning kept some of us awake and when it was time to see in the new day this morning it was still raining at a reasonable rate. Yuck!

Breakfast was had and by the time we left for the range it was very very light.

When we were ready to start shooting, all rain had ceased and we were blessed with spectacular cloudy, or cloudless weather for the rest of the day. It was particularly water logged and muddy – to say the very least!!!

 

Our group of shooters, Posse 1, (which included Annie Hicock, Fast Fingers Green, Billy Broncstomper, Belle Vaquera, Jackaroo and myself, C.S. Brady, Trail Agent, Slick McClade, Harpe, Jackalope Jeb, Red Jack Morgan, Okie Buck, Outlaw Bill Wilson, The Arizona Ranger and Three Sheets) finished in spectacular style, sliding into the very muddy Train Depot stage.

 

The clean match winners were announced and given a guncart hand towel. A neat idea and something different.

The veterans from each division (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard) were presented with a special challenge coin. I didn't know they had an area on the entry forms to state service, Jack had put his service down too and was pleasantly surprised to be included in this honour.

I present to you the 'Veterans Posse'. Everyone gave a standing ovation to these men and women. We thank you for your service.

 

Category awards were handed out with Jack and I both winning ours. Congratulations to the Lady Wranglers; Dew R Dye 2nd and Belle Vaquera 3rd! To the Silver Seniors; Three Sheets 2nd, 3rd and 4th!

 

We worked out 12 of the 16 in our posse placed!

The Mississippi State overall champions were Blackfish Kid for the Men's and Lady Gator for the Ladies.

The overall match champions were Slick McClade and Slick's Sharpshooter (not related, she belongs to a different 'Slick' family! 🙂 )

 

Well done to the Mississippi River Rangers for a fabulous and memorable weekend.

Kat xo

 

Smokin’ Guns At Rabbit Ridge Part1

……I'm an American soldier, an American, besides my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand, when liberty's in jeopardy, I will always do what's right, I'm out here on the front line, so you can sleep in peace tonight….. (yes, sing along, Toby Keith's American Soldier) well, what a heart rendering opening ceremony as Smokin' Guns at Rabbit Ridge is known for. The presentation of the Color Guard is the highlight to this match which usually falls on Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to all those who have served and are serving, be it here or across the world.

Sweetwater Sage riding Quervo trotted down the range with the Christian flag and Tumbleweed riding Sunny with the American flag ready to hand to Col. Benjamin Grierson and Sgt. Hampton for raising. This is all whilst they have Toby Keith's, American Soldier playing in the background. Man, just brings tears to your eyes. Just truly sensational! Go to Facebook to see the video.

 

After the Color Guard, National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, was a very moving tribute to Easy Lee who passed away just a short time ago. Fellow cowboy's from the Mississippi Rangers led a procession with the painted pony bearing a set of cowboy boots back to front in the stirrups, his rig, pistols and hat astride the saddle. May he rest in peace.

 

With the fire of multi shotgun blast, the ceremony was complete and after having the usual group photo beside the paddle steamer facade everyone departed to their assigned Posse and we are ready to throw some lead down range!

 

Five spectacular stages completed under light cloud cover with intense humidity….,yeah that's probably a good way to describe it, although I think the humidity hit its peak earlier this evening when the sun came out and we were all hanging around waiting for dinner and the band.

A visit with vendors, chatting with folks, drinking beer. Yep, sounds like a whole lot of fun!! When the band, Drivin' Sideways, got on to play with our resident star guitar player Fast Fingers Green from Oklahoma, we were rockin' out to the good Ol' tunes. (He played with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitter when teenagers! Just imagine! I was so born in the wrong era, love this music!)

 

We called it a night, been a long day, got another long one tomorrow (yes it was only 7.45pm when we left the range 🙂 ) and just too sticky to stay out longer.

 

Night y'all!

Kat xo