Legends

We have often come across unusual stories in remote places. One eerie discovery was in a small town in central Minnesota.  It is the Legend of the Singing Oak.  It’s a beautiful setting.  (Be sure to click on the first picture and then scroll through.)

And in Girard, Kansas, there is the legend of how the St. Aloysius Church came to be.  Pictures are in this album that also includes the Tom Mix Museum.  Us older folks remember him from some of the 291 westerns he made. I mean really old!  He died in 1940.  Sort of a legend in his own right!

There are some fascinating stories across this land!

Artists You Meet

Sometimes while driving along in the middle of nowhere, you’ll see some artwork in a field or along a fence row and you just have to know more about it!  One such discovery was near Mullinville, Kansas.  This artist names all of his pieces for mostly local residents.  You might say these are his characterizations of the people he knows.  You’ll find his name and phone number in one of the pictures.  (Be sure to click on the first picture and then scroll through to see the detail.)

On a more serious note, we happened to be in Zanesville, Ohio, and noticed a statue on the top of a building that looked like he might be jumping off!  Then we noticed the boy tending sheep on the sidewalk.  All this started another investigation and we discovered the gallery and studio of sculptor Alan Cottrill.   As luck would have it, we were the only ones visiting at that moment.  Alan was working on a new sculpture and took time to chat with us.  You will see him in one of the pictures in this album.    His life story is quite interesting, too.  Check it out here.  

As a side note, we had lunch at Nicol’s Family Restaurant in Zanesville.  Good thing we did because they closed in April of 2017 after 70 years in business in the same location!  Love those Mom & Pop places, a dying breed for sure.

 

Breweries

We often visit breweries, micro and otherwise.  They are interesting for lots of reasons, let alone the samples you can sometimes get for free!  Many are steeped in history.  Others teach you things you may not have known about breweries.

For instance, did you know that Point Brewery, Stevens Point, Wisconsin,  makers of Point Beer, also make rootbeer and ciders?

Or Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was started there because of the clear water springs in the area? They’ve been bought out by Miller Coors and don’t allow pictures inside the actual brewery, but there are some inside shots on their website.  Several members of the Leininkugel family still are involved in the operation.

But Wisconsin is not the only state with breweries.  Winston-Salem, North Carolina has a nice one called Foothills Brewing.  It’s a micro brewery.  Try their taster! Hope you also enjoy the evening walk in the area.

Another nice micro brewery is Tangled Roots Brewing Co. with Lone Buffalo Restaurant on LaSalle St., in Ottawa, Illinois.

One of my favorites is The Blind Tiger in Topeka, Kansas.  It’s really unique with several different levels and outside deck areas at both the front door and the back door.

We have been to others.  They are always a pleasant ending to any day.

This and That

Sometimes we come upon some unique things when we least expect them.  For instance, in Reno, Nevada, one time, we chanced upon artists painting on the side of a building.  Unique art, to say the least.  And that rootbeer float at the local diner there was a piece of art, too!

Then there were the pigs on the sidewalk in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

And would you believe an actual working pay telephone on a corner in  Clara City, Minnesota?

Or how about old Ben of Sparta, Wisconsin? Sparta is one of the major bicycling areas in the country.  The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail is a 32-mile rail trail between Elroy and Sparta, Wisconsin. Considered to be the first rail trail when it opened in 1967, it was designed for foot, bicycle, equestrian and light motorized traffic.

 Someone took a lot of care with this mural on the side of a grocery store in Kalida, Ohio.  It features businesses and likenesses of people in the town.  Their names are next to them.

There is so much to see and enjoy in this country!

The Need for Lawn Chairs

Many times I’ve said, “You’ll never know when a parade will spring up!” and that proved to be true one late afternoon in Trenton, Missouri.  That is why we never leave home without our lawn chairs in the car!  We came into town and noticed chairs set up along the main street.  We stopped and asked someone what was going on and they said  the annual Farm Days Parade was about to happen in 20 minutes.  So we pulled around the corner and parked and dug out our lawn chairs.  A nice local couple asked us to join them in a shady spot.   A simple, pleasant way, to spend an hour! Check it out here.

Another reason to take your chairs everywhere are concerts.  We happened upon a Rock Band and Folk Festival in St. Peter, Minnesota, one year.  There are lots of lawn concerts in little towns around the country,

I’m looking forward to the next parade or concert!

Mamie!

Would you believe Mamie Eisenhower, wife of the 34th U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower,  was a midwestern girl?  Yup.  Born and raised in Boone, Iowa. It’s a small town of about 13,000 just north of Des Moines on U.S. Route 30.  If you travel the interstates, you’ll miss it. 

We stopped at her birthplace and had Ann, the on-duty volunteer, all to ourselves.  She really knows her stuff and loves to talk about it.  She’s a retired fourth grade teacher.  She says one of her favorite things is having a group of schoolkids visit the house. We saw the summer kitchen off the back porch in a separate little building and the garage, too.  There is a charge of $5 per person, but it all goes to the upkeep.  Being off the beaten path, I’m sure they don’t get an over abundance of paying customers!  

Some of the items are from Mamie’s grandparents’ home.  She donated many items herself, too.   The one bed with the dress spread out on it is the actual bed in which she was born! If you want your kids to get a real glimpse of life in the 1940’s and 50’s, take them there!

Enjoy the pictures!

Cliff Dwellers

A couple years ago, we escaped the dreary Wisconsin skies in late February and headed southwest.
We had been on the road for three weeks.  After visiting relatives in Tucson and Phoenix, and attending a trade show in Las Vegas, we headed toward home.  After breakfast at a nice little local diner in Cortez, Colorado, we drove east on Route 160 about 8 miles to Mesa Verde National Park. Well, 8 miles is a little bit of an understatement.  That is where the entrance and the first museum are located.  After entering the gate, it is 23 miles up and down the mountains to the first of the ruins.  It was windy, but relatively warm – mid 40’s.  Even the ranger was pleasantly surprised with the weather.  It turned out to be a perfect day for exploring cliff dwellings.
We watched the 20 minute movie that tells all about the Indians who lived in the ruins.  We toured the artifact museum and then we hiked down into the valley and up the other side to the ruins.   There was a school class visiting with their teacher and a couple of parent chaperones.  They were much quicker at coming back up to the museum than I was!  Here are quite a few pictures I took at Mesa Verde.  The cliff dwellings are amazing!  
If you get a chance, it’s worth visiting.  You seniors don’t forget your lifetime National Park Pass!
 

Salamanca, New York

When someone mentions New York, we all seem to think of New York City, or at least skyscrapers and concrete.  However, that’s only a very small portion of the the state.  A lot of it looks like this area on the way to Jamestown, New York. We passed through there on our way to Salamanca, NY.  Where?

Salamanca is a town just inside the Allegheny Indian Reservation that is governed by the Seneca Nation.  It’s about 20 miles west of Olean and 60 miles south of Buffalo.  The population was 5,815 at the 2010 census. (Wikipedia) On the way, we started noticing that road signs were in English and another language.  It wasn’t Spanish nor French.  We later found out it was the Seneca language when we discovered we were on the reservation!

Salamanca is an old town with a few modern touches as evidenced by some of the architecture. The only industry there is casinos with a couple of hotels nearby.   But one entire city block in the heart of town is a very neatly kept antique mall.  The Family Dollar and the Goober’s Cafe have entrances both inside the mall and out.  We spent a pleasant hour there.

The reason we were there was because we were attending the graduation of a relative.  This year, for the first time in the 131 years of graduations from Salamanca High School,  the ceremony incorporated a greeting from the Seneca Tribe Members graduating. The greeting was in their native language and they wore traditional tribal dress instead of caps and gowns. It was impressive. Here are the still pictures I took. (The lighting was impacted by other people’s flashes that fooled my camera’s eye!)

One more interesting thing about Salamanca is The Plaza Restaurant on Broad Street.  It’s just a little place with a counter and wobbly stools and a few booths along the side, the classic little “hole in the wall” diner.  But the grill man, who is also the owner of 30 years, was poetry in motion.  He would crack an egg with one hand, swing his arm behind him and without looking, let go of the shell which promptly fell into a garbage bin under the counter.  Watching him put four slices of toast and push down the levers with one hand in one motion was amazing.  We were there for lunch and had to wait for a seat which we were lucky enough to get at the counter.  If you go there, don’t miss this piece of Americana!

One more little thing.  There is a nice historic  restaurant and inn named Myers Steakhouse  where we had dinner the first night.  We chanced to meet a couple, also driving a Prius,  and their young daughter who were passing through on their way home to Wisconsin!  Small world, as they say.  We got to chatting and had dinner together.  Turns out he writes a blog, too, but it’s not about traveling.  Check it out here

All in all, it was an interesting three days in Salamanca.

 

 

Butte, Montana

If you haven’t driven across the great northwestern quadrant of our country, you should.  There is beauty and history there.  One place you might want to spend a couple days exploring is Butte, Montana.  You don’t hear much about it, but it played an important part in the development of the mining industry.

There is an interesting brothel museum downtown, a special garden, a mansion, and beautiful scenery.

Here’s the garden and mansion.  

And here’s the museum.