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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Torrington, WY

Today we took the ‘stage’ to Torrington to see the Pony Express re-ride. Here they did a changeover of horse and mail just as occurred in 1860-1863.

Outside Bomgaars Supply the horse and rider came through just as we arrived and managed to video! A minute later and we would have missed the changeover as they were slightly ahead of time!

One rider jumped off her horse, grabbed the mochila throwing it on to the next rider’s horse and then she was on and heading out of town.

The rider (Stephanie, hope that’s right) we spoke with has been doing it for 25 years now, she started with her Dad. Now her, her husband and kids do the re-ride each year.

The riders today do approximately 2 miles each (so as not to wear their horses out) compared to the past where the original pony express stations were 50miles apart. However they often rode 75-100 miles in a stretch changing horses every 10-15miles.

I had to laugh, her husband said they use 5 horses and a back up. Sounds like cowboy shooters – take what you need plus your backup’s.

I’m glad we got there in time to see it!

We headed into Torrington and made a short stop at the Goshen County Museum situated in the original South Torrington Union Pacific Depot.

It had some very interesting artifacts in there and also had the 1996 Pony Express mochila. The rider we spoken to carried the flame for the Atlanta Olympics during the 1996 ride.

Back we headed towards Hawk Springs (population 45) where The Emporium steak house was calling us for late lunch.

What a neat little place! Has a great cowboy decor and feel, beer garden and drive thru!

The steak and dessert were divine! Highly recommend a stop there or make the 80 mile trek from Cheyenne up there! It was worth it.

We headed back to Wild Horse Haven and doubt very much we will need anything much for dinner tonight!

Yours in touring

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

 

Shoot Low! They’re Ridin’ Shetlands!

In some form or another this line has appeared in songs (Texas…….), movies (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and a book title (by Lewis Gizzard).

Bloody funny and for some reason came to mind when I finished the new horse prop for the livery.

Keeping things proportionate when enlarging them meant my horses ended up a little on the short side and perhaps if I'd just done two, then their heads would have filled the window a little more than the 3.

 

 

That's okay though, we are getting more air flow through which is what we wanted to maintain.

I took a scrap piece and created the 'Greenhill Farms' sign to install above the window. Injecting a hint of another shooters alias into the range. Greenhill Bart has made the horse table props for the range and being from a farming background so I thought it appropriate to use that for this piece.

 

So welcome to the Greenhill Farms equine establishment! Today we are selling Shetlands! Cheap at half the price! Haa haa haa

 

At the mine I'm creating a couple of neat pieces featuring miners – they are still to come. Another scrap piece however I've created the tag board. Miners would place their tag on the board upon entering the mine and at the end of each day you would remove your tag as you came out.

 

We saw a display in Walsenburg, CO which had been called 'Numbers Up' meaning if work was completed for the day or something had gone wrong in the mine, who's ever tags were left on the board meant your number's up, you weren't going home and miners could be identified.

 

That's it! See ya!

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

 

Nebraska – Wyoming

Today we moved on and visited Gothenburg again briefly. Enough time for Jack to get another Pony Express badge, seeing as he lost it somewhere on the range a month or so ago and to send a postcard.

 

Next we continued on the Lincoln Highway to North Platte. We had also previously been here to Buffalo Bill Cody's house and ranch but this time we stopped in at the Golden Spike Tower.

With views overlooking the world's largest classification rail yard – Bailey Yard (have you been here before Paddlewheel???)

 

Here you can go up into the observation deck and watch Union Pacific Railroad workers 'sort and connect over 10,000 cars a day on two classification hump yards, with nearly 120 bowl rows and 315 tracks.'

 

It is 8 miles long, 301 sets of rails covering 2,850 acres.

North Platte was originally “Hell On Wheels Town” in 1866.

Inside the gift shop are historical displays and a short movie. Information boards line the walls of the internal observation deck and in the foyer to the outside observation deck the boards talk of the canteen.

 

This was a great stop and you could actually see the cars being pushed up the humps to be transferred down the other side into the bowl and let run down a track ready to be attached for their final destination.

 

It's lunch time and that means getting our skates on! Next stop Ole's for lunch and view some 200 mounted trophies displayed in this Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge.

 

The brochure says 'Rosser O. Herstedt (“Ole” to anyone that knew him) was one of a kind.' Born and bred in Paxton he seized on a unique business opportunity in 1933. (This part makes me grin) 'On August 8, 1933, prohibition in Nebraska came to an end. At 12.01am on August 9, Ole opened his tavern on Paxton's main street.' Lol!

He was a hunter and soon the lounge became a showcase for his hunting trips and safaris. It is still owned today by another Paxton native, Tim Holzfaster.

 

An Ole's club sandwich and a side of fries did both of us!!

On to our last stop before reaching Cheyenne, WY, we made a quick stop in Sidney, NE at the Pony Express National Monument which of course is right next to Cabela's….which of course we just had to go into!

 

Hope you've had a great day or having a great day!

Kat xo

 

Habit Forming

Riding habit that is!

After Land Run (not included in the previous blog) I set to getting a surprise job done for Annie D Vine. Her 1880-1890's riding habit in a Kelly green Melton Wool. Hawkshaw Fred and I had discussed the making of this for Annie's birthday without her knowledge which made me slightly nervous as we had only briefly discussed colour and thrown a couple of pictures her way.

Got the job done though, a full on week, trim hadn't arrived from Ireland and had to order more soutache which really put the pressure on. Not one to back down from a challenge though, it was game on!

The Victorian riding habit is an interesting skirt suited for ladies to ride side saddle and still be involved in the pleasures of equine sports.

A wider right hand side allows the wearer to sit upon their trusty steed and the skirt would drape nicely over their right knee and the saddle horn without revealing any knees or ankles. Keeping decorum to the max!

Once riding exploits have been had, the lady after alighting from her horse, can hitch up the skirt and fasten it in back on a button. This allows her to walk freely without tripping over the excess skirt.

 

Riding habits (as mentioned in the Truly Victorian pattern) were 'severe' in look and usually had no trim. I did however, find some old photographs of some with the military style braid work, so this is what we went for to add a little character at least.

 

The surprise worked! It fitted perfectly! Can't wait to see Miss Annie in her riding habit with all the accoutrements.

Maybe I'll see her doing some riding like this? Or not! From what I've briefly read, it took 2 men to get a lady up on her side saddle and there were many injuries and issues with restraining your horse BUT these are true pictures of women jumping their horses side saddle! Incredible.

 

Kat xo