Stone Mountain Park

We had heard from some Oklahoma friends (Lady Roadrunner is from Georgia) that Stone Mountain Park in Georgia was a place to see. We did some research and added it to the list.

Agarita Annie and Neuces Slim had visited Stone Mountain before the Georgia State match and said it was definitely a must see. They had managed to see it, despite low fog and mist.

Jack and I headed there yesterday under perfect skies. Slightly overcast made it a little more pleasant for doing the walking trail, I didn't get right to the summit as I'd lost sight of Jack for some time and headed back to where he was resting. A great track though, stacks of people of all differing athletic abilities were on this stone track on a Sunday morning with a church revival service resounding from another section of the mountain.

We stopped near the flag poles, reading the plaques and the use of these flags during the Civil War. Many people do not understand the 'rebel' flag. It is history! It is the 'Confederate' flag and had great significance during the Civil War.

 

At the left end of the Confederate Flag Terrace is the Confederate Battle Flag.

At the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, the Confederate Commander was unable to recognize reinforcements because in the dust of battle the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy could hardly be distinguished from the Stars and Stripes of the Union forces. As a result, the Confederate battle flag was adopted in September 1861.


Far right on the terrace is the First National Flag.

The First National flag of the Confederate States of America was the Stars and Bars, with seven white stars in the blue field. One star for each Confederate state at the time of adoption this flag was raised over the Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, at sunrise on March 4, 1861.


Second from the right is the Second National Flag.

The Second National, a pure white flag with the 'battle flag' in the upper left hand corner, was adopted by the Confederate congress on May 1, 1863. The Second National was substituted for the First National which, it was thought, bore too great a likeness to the flag of the Union.


In the centre of the flag terrace is the Third National Flag.

Because the Second National flag, when hanging limp, could be mistaken for a flag of truce, the Confederate congress, on March 4, 1865, changed the design by adding a broad red bar across the end. This created the third flag of the Confederacy which was known as the Last National flag of the Confederacy.


Second from left is the United States of America Flag.

 

Now you can see and understand how it all ties in to history and in my opinion, a history that needs to remain told, understood, and never to be forgotten.

Great men fought, won and lost during this time period. The carving on the side of Stone Mountain is a tribute to the Confederate States of America. It was conceptualised in the early 1900's when both Northerners and Southerners were establishing memorials for the Civil War heroes.

 

Inside Memorial Hall (sits directly opposite, with a view to the carving) their is an auditorium with a film explaining the Civil War battles and a huge window with reproduction pieces indicating actual size, references to the 3 men depicted, how it came to be, design competition, the carvers etc.

 

The carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (left), General Robert E. Lee (centre), and General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is a spectacular sight to see and you really don't get the scale and depth of it until you have read the information or taken the Skyride up the mountain to fully appreciate the great feat the carvers have produced.

 

The total dimensions of the carved section is 90 feet high and covers an area of a large city block.

The actual dimensions of the carving itself are 76 feet high, 160 feet wide and at the deepest relief section, 42 feet. You can fit two school buses side by side on the back of Lee's horse. I liked the comparison between other well known carvings around the world. It's half the height of the Statue of Liberty but larger than Mt Rushmore and I thought that was big!


Here's some perspective on the stars on General Lee's collar, the buckle from “Black Jack's” bridle, and the mouth of the horse – actual size reproductions. You could fit in the horses mouth to get out of a rain shower, the buckle is as big as a stove, Jefferson Davis's thumb is as big as a couch and Robert E. Lee's head is 15ft tall.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum's first concept for the memorial was to include an entire Southern army!? It took 60 years (approx 13 actual carving) before it was completed as it was! A widower of a Confederate soldier, C. Helen Plane pushed for a memorial and by 1915 had rallied the Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy to contract the renowned sculptor for the project.

Over five decades, three sculptors later (Gutzon Borglum, Augustus Lukeman and Walter Hancock) time, lease, money issues and artist grievances, the carving was finally dedicated in May 1970. The some 420ft 'tallest' outside elevator was eventually completely removed by 1972.

 

The mountain itself was formed by volcanic activity and over time soil erosion has revealed the largest exposed granite rock in the world. It's only taken about 120 million years for it to get like this!?!

The park has the Skyride cable car, you can do a return trip, walk up and take the ride back to the bottom, ride to the top and walk down. There is a train that runs around the base. The Ampitheatre and pond area are beautiful and there are night time laser shows against the side of the mountain. Historic Square has a number of old homes that have been relocated, restored and house a number of antiques, these can be viewed for an extra entry price.

 

Confederate Hall which sits at the base of the walking trail doesn't open until 12pm on a Sunday so we missed seeing inside this building. It sits adjacent to the car park where the original owner Andrew Johnson's house, the Gilbraltar Hotel was when the township was known as New Gibraltar.

 

A beautiful spot to visit and I would recommend it to anyone. I can imagine summer season is going to be jam packed with visitors, it was bad enough on a warmer than usual spring day in off peak. Lots of people enjoy this area that is evident. My tip is if you are going to spend the money to get in, enjoy the rides and historic square then I would suggest picking a time when you can spend the time to stay and enjoy the laser show as well.

Thanks Georgia for highlighting our trip as we left this state.

Kat xo

 

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Georgia On My Mind

Tuesday we hit the road travelling through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and into Mississippi. We made an overnight stop at Olive Branch and today are hitting the road for Georgia.

As Elvis crooned across our airwaves yesterday Jack said we would make a stop at Tupelo to Elvis' birthplace and Museum. Yippee!

This morning we made the stop in Tupelo, Mississippi to visit the Museum. No photos are allowed in the Museum which features times during the Depression when times were tough for Vernon and Gladys Presley. There are many photos, memorabilia, clothing worn by Elvis and more.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 (his twin brother was stillborn) in the tiny little two room 'shotgun' style house at this very site.

The small church Elvis and his family attended was a block over on Adams Street. When the church needed to build a larger facility it was used as a house and later purchased by the Museum in 2008 and relocated here to its current site on the house and Museum grounds.

 

He grew up with the church services and the gospel sounds that would set Elvis on a path of music, beyond the weekly gatherings around the radio listening to the Grand Old Opry.

It was Reverend Frank Smith who taught a young and shy Elvis a few guitar chords. He was encouraged to perform during services, often with his parents. The Reverend would walk and play which statements attribute this to Elvis performance style.

Also noted in the Museum was that Elvis used to entertain himself with simple toys and Captain Marvel, Jr comics. Speculation maybe? They also suggest his signature hairstyle and perhaps the TCB (taking care of business) lightning bolt could have been attributed to these comics.

 

In 1938, the family lost their house when Vernon was sent to prison for forging a check (cheque) where he served 8 months of a 3 year sentence. Gladys would work to keep food on the table.

As Elvis continued school, taking his guitar with him at times performed for friends. His teacher entered him in a state contest where he placed 5th.

In 1948 the Presley's moved to Memphis. This became a turning point in Elvis' career where he began performing with other boys who played music. He still had the intention of being part of a Gospel quartet.

In 1953, he paid $3.95 to make his first recording 'My Happiness' and 'That's When The Heartache Begins'. Then if you have ever done a Sun Studio's tour in Tennessee, we all now what happened after that and how Marion Kesker had saved the recording and later Sam Phillips produced many of Elvis' recordings.

The grounds to the Museum are spectacular with plaques of information during the years of pivotal moments, a bronze statue depicting a young Elvis in oversized overalls and a meandering walk both wheelchair accessible by way of ramps and paths or stairs to the top of the property to another statue called 'Becoming'.

 

This stunning statue shows a small Elvis and as a mature, larger than life flamboyant style as he had become.

 

Onwards and we cross into another state we have not visited – Alabama. We will pass the Talladega Super Speedway. Now comes to mind, besides NASCAR races of course, is Talladega Nights – Ricky Bobby, shake and bake – a very funny movie. We will make a stop here on the return trip to the Motorsports Speedway Museum and Hall of Fame!

 

From Alabama winding through the Talladega National Forest, we continued East heading across the border into Georgia.

 

We found the range, then the hotel and we are ready for an early start tomorrow. We missed the registration as we forgot we would lose an hour!

Kat xo

 

The Flying Fortress

To aviation enthusiasts around the world, some of the WWI and WWII planes are the jewel of the crown when it comes to modern warfare. They were the forefathers in air defence and you can't mistake their distinctive sound, gleaming metal and intriguing nose cone art that made them what they are.

This weekend in Oklahoma, such beauty of the skies is visiting the Wiley Post Airport. The B-17 bomber known as “The Flying Fortress” was produced by Boeing in Seattle, Washington. During the years 1935-1945 some 12,000 were produced, with 4,735 being lost during combat.

This morning whilst shooting with the Territorial Marshals, we were just about to start stage 5 in the Saloon when I heard the sound of her go overhead and I ran out to see where she was. I yelled to Jack and we watched her almost hanging in mid air like a model as she cruised across the skies.

After we had unpacked and got changed, we headed for Wiley Post to see the 'Madras Maiden' in all her glory. She was produced in 1944 but didn't make it to combat with the 381st Bomber Group in England. She was bought and sold at various times and eventually purchased by the Erickson Collection in 2013 in Madras, Oregon.

From the Liberty Foundation website – '….restored to her combat configuration and painted in the colors of the 381st Bomb Group,mane sporting the Madras Maiden nose art, N3701G flies today to honor our veterans, educate current and future generations as to the high price of freedom and to preserve our aviation heritage.'

She is flown today by pilot, Connie Bowlin who not only flies this beauty but has also flown the famed Memphis Belle on many tours.

We have heard that the original Memphis Belle is soon to be installed in the National Museum of The United States Air Force in Ohio that Jack and I had visited back in 2016.

 

As we waited in line with anyone from 4 year olds to a B-29 veteran, we boarded the B-17 for a look and wondered at their cramped conditions in the bomber. An engineering and flight marvel that we were so pleased to see.

 

Sensational! Hoping to see her in the skies again tomorrow during Wild Bunch and capture it on video.

Kat xo

 

Kansas to Missouri

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Kat xo

 

Kansas Bound

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Kat xo

 

Land Run 2018

When we first visited Oklahoma for Land Run back in 2012, we found it to be one of the best matches we had ever been to. We met many amazing, funny and wonderful people, knowing from the start that it was something special.

This year Land Run had its 25th Anniversary combined with the SASS SW Regional (previously Red Dirt Rampage) with one enormous effort by many of the Territorial Marshal's. It is the third largest cowboy match in the US behind End of Trail (World Championships) and Winter Range (USA National Championship).

 

With 408 shooters from 22 states put into two shooting waves, 10 stages were quickly completed across 2 days.

Thursday was side match day with everything from Wild Bunch, Warm-Up, Long Range, Cowboy Clays, speed pistol/rifle/shotgun/derringer/pocket pistol/duelist/gunfighter and .22 rifle/pistol. It was a feast for play, practice and testing of guns with your first run counting for time. Congratulations to all side match winners!!!

Friday was the start of Main Match and we were met with cool clear skies and sunshine. Eventually we could leave the coat off and enjoy some warmth and less wind.

 

We were with Posse 18 headed up by Posse Marshal, Cooncan. Jack was a Deputy, as was John Bear and the rest made up of myself, Bertie Winchester, Hicock Holly, Dodge City Dixie, Reno Mustang, Renegade Roper, Sixgun Schwaby, Coyote Cole, Loose Cannon, Grady County Kid, Road Runner, Fannie Kicker, Titus A. Gnatsass, Doc Hurd, Silver, Kent and Fort Worth Dallas.

 

Five stages – 8 The Church, 9 Stagecoach, 10 The Range, back to 6 Fort Courage, 7 OKc Corral. Fun, quick and varying.

 

Friday evening ended with an 'all in' shootout. I chose not to enter this year but set to cheer on the fellow lady shooters, opting to spot with Jack and Hurricane Deck for each shooter on the north end. Four ladies and 29 men participated with the winners being 'Ima Quickshot' and 'Matt Black'.

This was followed up with a dinner in the pavilion catered by John Elder's restaurants. No one went hungry and it was efficiently done.

I was introduced to chocolate cake shots too – thanks Complicated Lady!! Yum!

Late that evening (as was expected) it started to rain and Saturday we all awoke to a very, very, wet and gloomy looking morning. Cowboy up we did and headed out to complete the final 5 stages. Hand warmers, coats, scarves, slickers, umbrellas, towels, everyone scrambling for what bit of cover there was.

The final five – 3 Mercantile, 4 The Mine, 5 Livery, 1 The Depot, 2 Saloon

 

Done and dusted! A clean match for me and Jack a few misses, it was up to the scoring system now to see how we faired against a tough pack of players.

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is the famed setting for Land Run banquets and you couldn't find anything more appropriate for a bunch of cowboy's and cowgirl's. Served meals and waited tables it certainly is in a class of its own and pleasantly surprised a number of new Land Run attendees.

 

The costume contest ran well and whilst I registered and encouraged entrants, my judge's for this year – Cheeka Bow Wow, Two Gun Johnnie, Shotglass and Tacky Jackie did an exceptional job of getting everyone through and we were all sitting down to hot meals with other halves and friends. I sincerely thank you all again for giving your time to do this.

There were many great costumes and some very excited winners in the categories of Couple, Men's, Ladies, Young Man, Young Lady, Military, Silver Screen and Soiled Dove. Congratulations one and all!

The presentations went off without a hitch as Flat Top Okie does an exceptional job of delivery and keeping to time. Everyone's friends and match photographers, Fly and Just L, chipped in for a raffle of a beautiful cowboy quilt Mean Mary had made. Grizzly Dave won it and promptly donated back for auction. On top of the original $3075 raised, an additional $800 by the generosity of Tacky Jackie and Bois D'Arc who then also gave the quilt to Just L and $500 from a rifle Mean Mary won and donated back for auction. Gorgeous people, all of them and that will go a long way to Just L's continued medical expenses.

 

In the Silver Senior category Jack finished 5th alongside Don Jorge taking 1st place, congratulations sir!, Aberdeen 2nd and SW Regional champion, congratulations to you sir also!, 3rd Greasy Creek Slim, 4th Lefty Wheeler, 6th G.W. Ketchum and 7th Creek. Congratulations gents!

 

Jack also came 2nd place in the Best Dressed Men's category wearing his 1890's sack suit!

 

Out of all the shooters there were only 54 clean shooters which goes to show the conditions on the second day probably had a lot to do with that.

In the Lady Wrangler category, 1st was myself alongside 2nd place Renegade Roper, 3rd Calamity Di Bar and 4th Cheeka Bow Wow. Congrats ladies!

 

I accomplished an overall ladies win for the Regional this year and with a clean match, finished 14th overall! Matt Black won the men's overall, congratulations!

 

To all that placed in their categories, won side matches, clean matches, won guns etc (thank you Bond Arms for the .45 derringer) a hearty round of applause to one and all.

To the Territorial Marshal's, Match Director's – Missouri Mae and Flat Top Okie and all the other Marshal's for your assistance during the past week and weekend, without you all, this shoot would not run like the well oiled machine that it is.

Looking forward to next year and if you've never been here to Land Run, get it on your calendar or bucket list!!

 

See you on the range somewhere.

Kat xo

 

Port Neches – Beaumont, TX

We spent the day with a leisurely breakfast, fresh air and sunshine before taking a ride with Texas Mac and Texas Flower, first via Nederland and Tex Ritter Park, then to Cowboy Harley Davidson and on to Gladys City.

 

Spindletop – the first place oil was discovered in Texas. So named for the small bursts of escaping gas that rose, ghost like from the ground and appeared like spinning tops.

The actual gusher was called the Lucas Gusher which is actually situated across the highway from the reproduction on the Lamar University grounds. The reproduction gushes water during re-enactments and other celebrations.

 

Here on the University grounds sits the small replica town of Gladys City, representing businesses from the 1901 boomtown. The man behind the plans for this “industrial utopia”, Pattillo Higgins, never actually saw his dream realised. As the news of the oil strike spread, buildings seemed to spring up over night in a haphazard fashion for the workers and their families, in a seemingly unorganised vision of what Higgins intended.

The original town had no saloon, for he and especially his wife, were involved in the temperance movement. Stella Higgins wanted no part of any drinking, gambling or prostitution within town limits. Of course saloons did exist further on the outskirts of town where I'm sure many an oil man may have squandered some or much money on these pleasures.

Mac and Flower are involved with re-enactments of this part of history in their town. Whilst the reproduction Gladys City does have a saloon, it is often changed into a tea room during these shows where high tea, fan etiquette, and discussion about the temperance movement can be participated in.

When Spindletop (Lucas gusher) first gushed in 1901, it did so for 9 days before being capped. During that time an estimated 800,000 barrels oil were lost.

 

The buildings depicted within the city are – Walkenshaw Steelworks, Barber Shop, R.C. Grinnell's Log Cabin Saloon, Guffey Texas Post Office, A.L. Gibson's Dry Goods Store, General Store & Living Quarters, Beaumont Oil Exchange, Edgerton's Photography Studio, T.A. Lamb & Son Printers, Gladys City Drug Store, Gladys City Oil Gas & Manufacturing Co., Nelson & White Engineers, Southern Carriage Works, Broussard's Livery Stable and the Lucas Gusher Monument.

 

There are many artefacts within each of the buildings and is worth a quick little visit and walk through history.

 

After a quick bite at Depot Hamburgers it was back to the house for the men to take a nap and a quick spot of sewing.

This evening we went to Port Neches Wheelhouse Restaurant. A popular waterfront restaurant and tiki type bar huts that seemed to be well patronised for a Tuesday night.

 

The barges, tugs and later a ship came through the river access. When the ships come in the bell at the bar is rung and there are half price 'ship shots'! A blue concoction of vodka, gin, rum and something but surprisingly was pretty good!

 

So the views were great! The food spectacular!

 

Jack and I thank you Mac and Flower for an interesting and exceptional evening. Actually, a fabulous day!

Kat xo