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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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

 

Laramie, WY Part 1

On Wednesday, 4th, Jack took me to Laramie for my birthday. We hadn't been out here before so it was another new place for exploration.

As we travelled further North into Wyoming we made a stop at the Ames Monument.

President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 but it was not until a few years later after slow progress of the Union Pacific, commissioning of Oakes Ames to head the railway project took place.

Oakes Ames was known for taking on difficult projects and he and his brother Oliver contributed significant funds for that time period to head the Transcontinental Railroad project.

The Ames Monument is a memorial to the brothers and was built near the highest point of elevation (8247 feet) on the Transcontinental Railroad in 1882.

 

It is known as the pyramid of the plains as its granite construction resembles the rocky outcrops in the background. It has two relief pieces resembling the brothers and is 60ft wide at the base, rising 60ft into the blue sky.

 

Travelling along the Lincoln Highway (US30 and I-80) we made a stop at the rest area and information centre. There is a memorial to Henry Bourne Joy, first president of the Lincoln Highway Association (1913) and president of the Packard Motor Car Company. He was called the father of the nation's modern highway system.

 

Here at the rest area is the memorial stone for Henry B. Joy and a monument commemorating Abraham Lincoln's 150th birthday. The bronze statue of Lincoln's head weighs 4,500 pounds and is 13.5ft tall sitting aloft its hollow granite base. It is situated at the highest point along the I-80 at its highest point of elevation 8640ft.

 

We headed on into Laramie and found the Historic Ivinson Mansion. We were met inside the garden gate by two young girls who directed us to the carriage house to organise tour tickets.

 

Kaydence and Alicia, both Grade 7 honour students (going into Grade 8) are among a number of students up to Grade 10 who through history lessons etc have learned or are learning the history of the Ivinson Mansion and all its wonders, antiques and stories. They then host the tours of the mansion.

So off we set with Kaydence and Alicia for our tour. The Mansion was owned by Edward Ivinson, a banker, he owned the First Interstate Bank and contributed to a hotel in the area. He and his wife Jane and adopted daughter(?) lived and entertained many in this gorgeous home.

 

It was one of the first to have electricity, indoor plumbing and heating.

After his wife died, Edward left the home and gave it up for a girls boarding house. The boarding house was used for girls from outlying ranch's. After the boarding house period it was left abandoned for a period of time and was later saved from being turned into a parking lot and restoration began.

Some pieces were stolen from the house and some have been returned, like the original front door knob fittings. Some window sections were missing or smashed and pieces have been recreated to complete the original appearance.

 

The entrance, floating staircase, rooms are absolutely stunning. The foyer and entry light fixtures are the only two original to the mansion. There is a section in the kitchen that shows the differing layers of wallpapers throughout the time and wallpapers have been recreated to fit to as far back as they could see a legible print on the walls.

 

In the drawing room the fireplace is original but the mantle is not. The fireplace and mantle in the dining room however, are original to the house. A few tiles were missing from the dining room one but spares were actually found in the basement.

 

The front parlour has a beautiful piece of furniture, a liquor cabinet handcrafted by John Hjorth. A Swedish architect and master wood carver he was prisoner #458 at the nearby Territorial Prison. Hjorth was imprisoned for forging a $25 check (cheque) and spent much of his time carving and making beautiful pieces of furniture with mythical creatures and detail. There are 17 pieces of his furniture on this first floor.

In the drawing room is a record player owned by Melville C Brown. Brown was mayor for a short period of time when outlaws ran rampant through the time. A group of vigilantes took over the lawless town with some outlaws joining the vigilantes to avoid being hung.

The library holds an original desk from the bank and was used during the boarding school period.

 

The dining room is exquisitely displayed with Jane Ivinsons dinner setting and original napkin rings that were gifted them with the Ivinson initials. I love the knife rests etc. Inside a special case is a cut crystal punch bowl set, said to be one of 12 owned by the Ivinson's.

 

The butlers pantry windows are original to the home as is the punch bowl and pitcher on top of the cabinet, a replica has been recreated so the others are not damaged.

 

The kitchen although without its original fire stove has original squeaking floorboards, clock work spice rack that locked down of a night time.

 

There is a dumb waiter in the hallway and was actually electric.

Upstairs you find the the dormitory room and maids room. She was very important to Jane and even had her own bathroom however, shared with visiting guests.

The Ivinson Mansion is an exquisite piece of restored history and was an enjoyable tour by two fine young ladies. A quick look inside the small school building and we headed off for lunch and the Territorial Prison.

Kat xo

 

Cheyenne Visit

Thursday was a free day and after some gun cleaning and new stock cover replacement it was time to head out.

After a car wash Jack and I ventured downtown and coming to the historic Plains Hotel we spied some neat old cars parked there doing a run from Paris to New York.

We headed across the square to the Depot where we found Accomplice Beer Company – Agarita Annie and Neuces Slim worded us up on this one!

What a great place, not only for being situated in the original Cheyenne train depot and right next to the railway lines but the ultimate in beer experience’s for sure.

When you enter the craft brewery you hand over a card and name then you are given a beer card.

Inside the main bar and restaurant area is 14 different beer taps, a variety of glass sizes, styles and growlers.

The beer menu board shows the beer appropriate to the tap including your ABV (alcohol by volume), IBU (international bitter units), name and brief description.

Now the fun begins! You place your card in front of the beer tap screen and pour as little or as much as you want. It then tells you how many ounces and how much it cost you for that pour.

As you work your way through them it will give you a total spend also.

We had salads for lunch that were great, although a little light on the chicken inclusion. The salted caramel apple fritter and ice cream was divine and big enough to share.

There are yard games for the back patio area and tables out the front also.

A great place to experience and we will definitely be back before the week is out.

As we headed back to the car the other vintage cars had come to the square with others turning up for a small car show.

The rat rod and its almost 80yr old owner were a hit!

A great quick visit in Cheyenne, as much of it we have seen before with a trip to the range to pick up packs ready for side matches.

Kat xo

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

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

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