Setting The Scene

Saturday was a successful club match day with The Gamblers. With 20 or more shooters in attendance we got through 6 stages as the afternoon cooled off as the sunlight began to fade.

Sunday with a team of around 13 we set to getting stages ready, props in place, targets out, shooters bags packed, tables organized and the club house decorated with flags, Gamblers paraphernalia and more.

The trophies are mostly set up and as we wait for Wednesday to roll around, then the final bits and pieces can be setup ready for ‘Another Roll Of The Dice’.

For then some 130 shooters will descend on the Gold Coast ready for the annual match.

See you soon!

Kat xo

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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

 

 

Laramie, WY Part 2

As we left the Ivinson Mansion we headed towards the railroad and found the historic Old Buckhorn Bar.

Established in 1900, it is Laramie's oldest standing and most historic bar. It has the gorgeous, heavy timber carved, mirrored bar back. There are a number of taxidermy heads placed around the walls with antique firearms and signs.

A bullet hole features on one of the glass panels, enquiring minds had to know the story behind this. Alas not from an outlaw's gunfight but a disgruntled ex decided he would take a 30/06 and fire it towards his ex girlfriend in the 70's after they broke up. She survived, the original mirror panel still remains and now it's on a tshirt! A bullet hole glass break pic with 'I survived the Buckhorn Bar'. A beer and we head off to find one with food.

Around the corner is the Crowbar Grill. A neat little place, great food and a nice Belgian White Passionfruit beer. The place was packed on this 4th July considering the rest of the town was very quite.

Next, the Wyoming Territorial Prison, built in 1872 it was restored in 1989.

 

Before entering the Prison building itself we viewed the Warden's house built in 1875 by inmates it was constructed with 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room and basement.

 

This is a self guided tour into the prison and features furnished cells, guards quarters, dining area, laundry room, an infirmary and the women's quarters.

 

The first room in is the processing room where prisoners were fitted with their black and white stripe uniform. Rules and regulations were cited to each prisoner regarding bathing, airing bedding, hygiene etc.

The walls are hung with pictures of prisoners who were here, information regarding the prison conditions, the locking mechanisms for cells, etc.

 

The Wardens office had also been restored back to 1890's glory. Faded patterns on walls were found and subsequent reproduction of exacting color's and patterns for wallpaper were used in the restoration.

 

Before the erection of the stockade and the calling of the mountains to the west 25% of the prisoners in 1875 escaped. The stockade prevented some but there is record of at least a few scaling the stockade wall and escaping.

 

As you move through the additions of the prison there are preserved excavation sections, an exhibit on Butch Cassidy. A very well presented display on the man, the myth, the legend, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, an 1888 blown up safe, and more.

 

In 1882 the first wing on the broom factory was built and later further additions plus steam pipes heating instead of wood and coal were implemented.

The broom factory building and equipment are still original except the flooring was replaced. Brooms are still made here during exhibit displays and are sold within the gift store.

 

Now in Part 1 I had referred to John Hjorth, the Swedish architect/wood carver. Two of his furniture pieces are on display here – a table and a bench. Other pieces made by prisoners such as horsehair woven hatbands, halter's and a very intricate model ship.

 

A great site which has another small town section that we didn't go into. Definitely worth a visit!

What a great way to spend Independence Day in Laramie, finished with dinner, cupcakes and fireworks looking like glitter against a burnt orange sunset.

Thanks to my darling man and a spectacular Wyoming backdrop!

Kat xo

 

Places We Hadn’t Been

Amarillo, Texas – The Big Texan

Jack and I have been through Amarillo many a time before. Every time we do he makes the comment about how he has been to The Big Texan before………..but I haven't!!

Finally we stopped and I got to experience this fabulous venue on Route 66 with its colourful hotel, the big cowboy, the odd cowboy boot wearing excited dinosaur and the big bull outside the restaurant.

 

Inside is a gift shop, laser shooti arcade, their own craft brews and bar, a fabulous restaurant with stuffed animals, deer horn chandeliers, wait staff all wearing the mandatory cowboy boots and hat and of course it wouldn't be complete without the outdoor area and the big rocking chair!

 

What a unique experience! Oh and I forgot to mention this is the home of the 72oz steak that if you eat it in under an hour you get it for free! Holy cow! That's massive but one lady, Molly Schuyler, holds the current World Record for eating not 1 but 3 72oz steaks in under an hour – to be more precise, she did it in around 20 minutes!!

 

This restaurant has been running since 1960 and if you haven't had a chance to stop there then you need to! Even if only to brows the gift shop and check out the place.

Adrian, Texas – Midpoint

Midpoint on Route 66 in Adrian is the exact halfway point of the route! 1139 miles to Chicago and 1139 miles to Los Angeles.

 

Nothing much else in Adrian, the poor little Cafe was struggling with burst water pipes this day meaning no rest rooms and no food service. There were people from Leeds, England, Chicago and us.

Santa Rosa, New Mexico – Blue Hole

Again, every time we drive past the signs we say to each other, we should stop there one day, so came the time to take a side exit back onto Route 66 and visit the Blue Hole.

 

It's spectacular curiously crystal clear blue waters sit at a constant 61F/16C. It is 60ft wide, 81ft deep and has an outflow of 3000gal per minute. I'm curious about that and how large the outflow is, where does it go to, where does water come in? Divers can explore the hole but with lifeguards on duty it is for those wants to just jump into the refreshing waters from various rock points over and over again.

Moriarty, New Mexico – Sierra Blanca Brewery

How many times have we been to Moriarty now and not once have we managed to get to the brewery?! I hear you all gasp in disbelief knowing Jack and I enjoy beer tasting, okay well drinking, especially trying out new local craft brews and we hadn't been to this one just two minutes from the hotel!

 

It's been in its current location since 2006 and has around 14 varieties on tap for tasting, beer flight samples, or full glasses, your choice. Here we sampled the Outlaw Lager, Alien Wheat, Alien Vanilla Milk Stout and the Pancho Verde Green Chile Cerveza. Then Jack went for a straight up Alien Wheat and I had the Cherry Wheat – I like that one too. One case Alien Wheat $30 bucks!

Grants, New Mexico – Route 66 Drive Thru

Into Grants to drive thru their new neon sign for a photo opportunity. We will visit this again in February and see it of an evening lit up!

 

We stopped at the Mining Museum briefly and agin we will make time for this next trip as there is an underground tour of the uranium mine right below the building!

 

Milan, New Mexico – Transcontinental Air Transport Museum

A small little building of National Heritage, the restored 1953 Flight Service Station. The Federal facility operated until 1973. It tells the tale of Charles Lindbergh's involvement in TAT's historic plane and train cross country travel, mail routes and his gegraphical aerial photography taken in 1929.

The photos were recreated in 2008.

The Beacon 62 power shed sat in the Zuni Mountains when it was in operation. Each beacon tower with its accompanying power shed and concrete arrow made for a visual “light line” along the route.

These beacons were located 10-15 miles apart with every 50miles having a landing strip which would also consist of actual radio contact and a weather station.

 

Also on the grounds is the metal route arrow of 59B moved to the museum location from El Morro.

 

A 1955 “Delta Platform” UHF antenna.

 

The Transcontinental Airway was approved by congress in 1923 becoming the world's first civilian ground-based air navigation system. It was to improve airmail service from the then current daylight airmail service that took greater than 2 days.

 

The TAT passenger service cost $340 a ticket to get you from one side of the country to the other. Fred Harvey provided in Flint drinks and meals and after day 1 flight journey the Harvey Houses provided swift service to a waiting Pullman and the train ride and onto the next day's flight continuation.

 

This was a great little museum with some very interesting and unique exhibit pieces.

That's it for new and interesting places!

Kat xo

 

Stampede At South River

This year The South River Shootists hosted the 2018 SASS Georgia State Championship – Rooster Cogburn and the Lady.

The South River Gun Club in Covington, Georgia is a fabulous facility for multiple shooting sports, a club house and great amenities. It was nice to meet Len (president of the club) and Dun Gamblin' as they roamed the range during the weekend.

The cowboy range is spectacular. Tree lined berms, shade structures, umbrellas on unloading tables, shade over loading tables. The facades were all done with Rooster and Eula, throw in the odd horse, nitro box, wagon etc. Every range has fine gravel base and the paths down to the ranges are all asphalt making for a pleasant guncart expedition.

The weather cooperated (who'd have thought!?!?) and other than a fine misty shower or two it held out for the whole match!!

Thursday we shot 4 stages of Wild Bunch Posse'd with Cardboard Cowboy, Foxy Filly, Bo Dacious, Doc Kemm, Doc Who, Knot Hardly Dunn, Shamrock Sadie, Three Gun Lady, Silver Pistols, Slippery Stew, Doc Southerly, Kontankerous Tee, Rolan Kraps, and Schofield Twin. We then went our separate ways with Jack doing 6 stages of Black Powder while I spent the afternoon doing warm up stages. A big thank you to Reno Mustang and Dodge City Dixie for letting me rest my guns in your guncart!

 

That night Georgia Gypsy and Pale Ale Rider invited us into their home. Along with some other cowboy's and cowgirl's we enjoyed some great German food by Chef Gypsy. (she is an actual chef!) We thank you both for your fabulous hospitality.

Friday and we are into the main match with 6 stages today followed up with ice cream social, couples and team shoot. A great day, a few fumbles, a miss for each of us but tomorrow's another day as we say. Great Posse, everyone worked, some newer shooters as well – Jack and I, Shamrock Sadie, Knot Hardly Dunn, Double Tap, No Limit, Mt Zion Gypsie, Mt Zion Yellowboy, Maverick Fitzpatrick, Tucker T Fudpucker, Fancy Fillie, Buckshot Collins, Hambone Hannah, Doc Kemm, Doc Who, Dollar Down, Gatlin Glennie and Ranger Law.

 

Saturday comes around and we have the final 4 to do. With that out of the way we had lunch and headed down for the shoot off. An 'anyone can enter' shoot off, Shamrock Sadie and I decided to join the Open category ie: we shot wih the men and if we both hadn't fumbled with shotgun reloads we would have made it past our first rounds!

 

Good fun and it freed up the other ladies to enjoy a shootout. Congratulations to Sue Render and Red River Ray for winning the shootout!!

Back to the motel and it's time to get ready for the banquet and awards. The banquet was held at the Georgia International Horsepark in the Carriage Room. What a beautiful facility with a gorgeous rose garden, bridge, pond and a summer house/pergola – perfect for the LOCAS picture.

 

Had the opportunity to enter the costume contest this time wearing my silver and purple saloon outfit I won first place. Congratulations to all the other winners and spectacular costumes!

 

The banquet had a full service bar and staff attending to a beautiful buffet dinner. The food was amazing.

Into the awards and the match hosts certainly go all out with their awards, prize draws etc. Jack and I won the couples shoot. A buckle with a timber insert laser engraved with the logo etc.

Wild Bunch – I managed a clean match and was the only one who did. haa haa haa cracked me up! So a neat clean match pin, I won Ladies Traditional and Ladies Overall. Jack won Senior Modern, well done man!

 

Black Powder – Jack's rifle played up on the final stage of Wild Bunch which turned out to being a lost firing pin. He went to use the rifle on his first stage of the Black Powder match (thankfully rifle was first) and it wouldn't do anything. Believe it or not he found the pin up on the stage where he last shot for Wild Bunch too. As is the cowboy way, another shooter then says 'here, use mine, here is some ammo' and Jack is able to continue to shoot. Thank you Palmetto Traveller for loaning Jack your rifle. Jack placed 3rd in Senior.

Main Match – Jack finished a credible 2nd place in Senior category! Congratulations to Double Nickle 1st place, Mustang Dave 3rd place, Rooster Ray 4th place and Georgia State Champion and 5th place, Dungannon Gunner! Congrats gents.

 

I won Lady Wrangler with congratulations going to Georgia State Champion and 2nd Place Dixie Pistols, 3rd place Alchemist Belle, 4th place Cotton Tail, 5th place Pinky Pistols! Congrats ladies.

 

Congratulations to Georgia State overall men's Christian Mortician and Maggie Darlin' over all ladies. Christian Mortician and myself men's and ladies overall match champions!

 

The Top 20 also received a pin – for me, 14th overall.

Thank you again to all involved with the match, volunteers, sponsors to the match, etc. Stampede at South River was a great match and I would recommend it to anyone! It's a must do match!

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