Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 4: Montrose, CO

We did indeed have a slow, and for the most part, relaxing day today. We opted to rest in and save activity for tomorrow, so after a mid-morning breakfast we all did our Wal-Mart (Jim and Bobbie) and Walgreen (Suz and Rando) shopping and then headed downtown for lunch.

Montrose was named for The Legend of Montrose, a novel by Sir Walter Scott (at least according to the official Montrose site). It--like many Colorado towns--has a historic downtown with beautiful buildings. Another great thing about Colorado (at least for those of us who are dog lovers) is that it and many of its towns are dog friendly.

We had lunch streetside at the Daily Bread Deli & Bakery. As Rand put it, "Colorado is as close to California as you can get without going there." Kate was the perfect lady, and was lying by the table during lunch. She never moved as people passed by, and when one man stopped, let her sniff his hand, and then patted her and said "beautiful dog" she just wagged her tail and never made a move to get up. It was a pretty day, and though warmer than we had expected at 90, it was still pleasant with the shade and breeze.

Lunch was great--BLT & avo for me, on home-baked bread, with a Colorado cole slaw and raspberry tea; grilled ham & cheese for Rando (and Kate :); and "crabby salad on avo" for Jim and Bob. We discussed various afternoon trips and decided we should rest (since it was mid-afternoon by then) and make a full day of it tomorrow.

Rand and I made a stop at the Montrose Harley-Davidson for him to get a tee shirt and then I dropped him and Kate at the room while I went to the grocery store for a few room items. The City Market had a beautiful array of fresh breads, veggies and fruits, and a deli counter that made me wish I was buying dinner. Then there was the coffee bar, the flower stall, and so on. After stocking up on fresh fruit, bread and cheese and drinks, (and I confess, thinking of our friend Rich and his love for wonderful grocery stores and how much I loved this one!) I had to stop for a few pictures on the way "home."
The Fox Theater opened on October 29, 1929, amid reports of the stock market collapse. Bobbie and I had discussed the oddity of a minaret in Montrose, Colorado (or so it seemed to us in the historic downtown buildings) as we lunched across the street. According to the history, the "paint was not dry on the minaret" when the news came, yet that night, people came to the opening of the theater.
The former Elks building--circa 1926--is now a city building. It was renovated/restored for current use by architects (EL Malvaney at Miss Pres, forgive me for forgetting to note their names) who are renowned for their historical renovation expertise.
The current United Methodist Church (cornerstone indicates Methodist Episcopal 1917) caught my eye as I left the BPOE building. The church was established in the late 1800s, but the groundbreaking for a new building occurred in 1909, and this building (according to the church's historian site) occurred 10 years later. It was a beautiful building and this photo does not do it justice. There were 3 young boys (maybe around 11-13?) who were riding their bicycles up the newly added handicap ramp and then down the original stairs, but they respectfully stopped while I took my pictures. To be truthful, I really wanted to talk to them and find out a bit about life here and their relationship with the church (besides the obvious) but I had been gone much longer than anticipated by then, and while they were respectful, they had not seemed more than politely responsive to my smile and thanks for letting me take the pictures.
The Masonic Temple building, built in 1911, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is identified as the Classical Revival style.

Now, truthfully, I would not know Classical Revival style from anything, except since reading MissPres, I feel a sense of obligation to learn as much as I can when noting historical buildings (and am totally open to comments and corrections and value them). I only know I have loved historic buildings and interesting architecture for a long time (thanks, Grandma, for instilling that in me), but I also have learned to love learning about them and the various styles and features. I appreciate the guidance from ELMalvaney and others on MissPres, and the occasional comments by readers, such as Dwight on the post about Elk City, Oklahoma. It is fun to see a building and try to figure out particulars (like some of the architecture here, and I think "is that WPA Moderne?" or "is that Art Deco?" and then try to find the answers. We drove down a street today and passed the First Baptist Church, and in the past, I would never have given it a passing glance or thought. Instead, I said to Rand, "Look at that building. That is not what I would think a First Baptist Church looks like. I wonder about that building."

This evening, Jimbo and Bobbie joined us in our "pet friendly" suite for a light supper of the wonderful fresh bread, cheeses, hummus, fresh fruit, and wine, and we planned our excursion for tomorrow when we are all more rested. We enjoyed the laughter of friends, the beauty of a Colorado sky outside our window, and the love of a dog, who just laid on the bed and snoozed while we laughed away.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 3: Santa Rosa to Montrose

What else would you expect on historic Route 66?
A quick detour down a side street to see the famous "Blue Hole" diving spot--somehow I always thought it would be something more exotic than this. It is 81 feet deep and water outflow is 3000 gallons per minute. This early in the morning, there was no one diving yet.
The Lake City Diner was formerly a bank--established in 1901. Bobbie and I learned this at dinner last night, when we stopped there to pick up take-out. Inside, the floors are a combination of octagon shaped black and white tiles--which was the part of the floor where customers walked--and the hardwood floor, which was behind the bank counter. The current bar is part of the old marble-fronted and marble-top bank counter. There is an elaborate pressed tin wainscoting around the building and on the ceiling. The door to the original bank safe is still there, but now leads into the kitchen after the safe itself was removed.
The Guadalupe County courthouse, 1909.
This is a common site in Santa Rosa now. There were numerous empty buildings from the heyday of Route 66. There is little left on the historic route, with most of the businesses located out next to the Interstate-40. It seems to be mostly a service town now, with primarily motels, a few newer hotels (the ones near I-40) and restaurants.
The Sun 'n Sand is still open as were a few other of the original 66 motels.

This is one that did not survive, however.

Several hours later, we made a late lunch stop in Antonito, Colorado. We had a side-walk table so Kate could join us. The weather was cool finally, and a breeze just prior to the rain (in which we drove the rest of the way to our stop in Montrose) made it more enjoyable as well.
There seems to be little there except for a couple of tourist things (the Cumbres & Toltrec train that runs to Chama, for one) and several bars, taverns, or lounges. The drug store is closed and for sale.
A peek through the window was like going back to my childhood.
This hotel, circa 1911, is currently operating as a tourist hotel for folks coming to ride the train over to Chama.
The now-closed Palace Hotel, established in 1890.
A long and winding drive through the mountains and we finally arrived in Montrose later than anticipated--but that is another story. We just selected this spot as Randy had wanted to be near Silverton and Ouray, and there were no places in those two areas where we could find lodgings accepting a dog of Kate's size. It seems as if Montrose's draw is the Black Canyon State Park and people who are interested in camping and fishing. We unloaded in the pouring rain and called it an early night again, and really ready for a relaxing day tomorrow.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

OKC to Santa Rosa: Day 2

Back on the road this morning and heading west, we stopped for lunch in Elk City, Oklahoma. Randy knew he would be a while when I spotted this building, and then said, "turn down this street."

The Anadarko Basin Museum of Natural History is on route 66, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the site of the former Casa Grande Hotel (which was built in the late 1920s), headquarters of the US Highway 66 Association National Convention on April 27, 1931. It is the site of one of the world's largest drilling rigs, 181 feet tall, visible from I-40, though we were right in front of it.

The Elk City Carnegie Library.
Apparently, New York City is not the only place with a Carnegie Hall.
Per Cinema Treasures website, it is "pure Art Deco" and the architect is unknown.
Although I don't know what this building formerly was, it recalls to my mind the early auto dealerships, what with all the large windows. It is currently vacant, though most of downtown seemed booming, unlike many other small towns.
After a quick pit stop and grabbing lunch on the run, we headed further west to Amarillo and a quick stop to see friends and their new baby. This little sweetheart is our friend Jane's (aka Gigi in some parts) newest grand baby and our first meeting with her.
Here, Kate and Emery meet for the first time. Bonnie and Dave have two dogs, one of whom looks a lot like Kate, so Emery enjoyed getting to know Kate.
After a quick tour of the house--which Dave was busy working on--we hit the road back for more west. Two more hours and we were in Santa Rosa, our destination for the evening. We had just pulled into the hotel when our friends Jimbo and Bobbie pulled in right behind us. Talk about perfect timing. They joined us here for the rest of the trip to Colorado. We called it an early evening and all are signing off for the night.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Road Trip Day 1: Victorian Main Street

A pit stop in Van Buren, Arkansas led us to the unexpected Victorian Main Street in this town on the Arkansas River.

The King Opera House was built in the late 1800s, renovated and reopened in 1979. It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a young actor from the 1900s. The legend is he was running away with the doctor's daughter, but the doctor found them at the train station and killed him. The ghost appears in Victorian dress and top hat and has been reported by several directors of shows in the opera house, though that has not been verified, of course.
The Crawford County Courthouse, originally built in 1842 in Italianate style, was destroyed by arsonists in 1877. It was rebuilt from the remaining brick walls and a clock tower added.
The "perfectly preserved Victorian Main Street" (according to the Van Buren website) houses many shops, such as this book store.

The Anheuser Busch Ice House, built in 1892, is on the National Historic Register, and is one of the last ice houses still standing. The front entry has Anheuser Busch tiles, original doors, transoms and woodwork, and an 1843 bar.
The A and Eagle emblem is reported to be the last known emblem.

Back on the road again, we crossed into Oklahoma and a series of entering one Native American nation, leaving it to enter yet another one. We checked into our Oklahoma City hotel, which Kate is just not at all certain about. While she has traveled with us often, this is her first experience with hotels, and I am pretty sure she doesn't much like it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vacation Mode

I am already in vacation mode, and we have not even left yet. I have papers to grade and final exams to grade. I don't wanna. I'm ready to vacate.

A road trip is always an exciting new adventure, going somewhere where the experience will be new, even if the destination is not. The trail is the thing: what you do along it is what makes the journey interesting.
Marty's post this morning got me thinking about bridges--one of my favorite things to see and photograph. The above bridge is one on the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was from my second trip to SA (2002), when I was able to spend 3 months and $15,000 doing pretty much whatever I wanted every single day. I was on sabbatical from a university whose president many years ago had the foresight to obtain an endowed fund to support faculty development.
During that trip, I met Courtney and Lira, and 3 months later, that same university helped bring them to the US for their first visit. Here, we showed them downtown Fort Worth on a rainy day from one of my favorite views--a hilltop on a cemetery.
On our first trip to Florida that same year, we drove over this bridge in Mobile, Alabama. This was pre-GPS and we had a disc that played on the computer and mapped out our route for us. The long and winding way through Mobile and the tiny little roads to Winter Park convinced us that technology was not always better than just looking at an old-fashioned paper map and making your own decision about which route to take.

In 2006, I would get an unexpected trip to London--my first and so far, last. Tower Bridge, sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, spans the Thames. London Bridge actually rather resembles the Elbert, Texas bridge across the Brazos River.
Much closer to home, the year Mom and I moved my niece back to Texas, we made a pit stop in Vicksburg as we were crossing into Mississippi from Louisiana. Though I had photographed the bridge in years before, this was the first time that a security guard actually came out to ask what I was doing. It must have been an orange alert day or something. Although I have looked at this photograph a number of times, today I noticed that a train was actually approaching at the time. That is a prime example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Imagine if I had been that observant that day, what the next few pictures might have looked like. Of course, I also recall that the air conditioner in Mom's truck had gone out back in Texas and we were really hot and wind-blown, and desperately ready to be home after 10 hours on the road.
As we head out in the morning, I will be awaiting all the grand new adventures, the picture opportunities, and the time to savor with Randy, Kate, and our good friends. Even if on some stretches of road I will be grading papers and on Thursday night, post grades from a hotel in Santa Rosa, the first day the window to post opens. Technology has come a long way since 2002.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tula Opry

Last night, Randy and I made our first visit to the Tula Opry. (See more information here). This great little place in the community of Tula (about 15 miles or so out of Oxford) is now home to Tula Opry. We had heard the band play last summer down in Water Valley (Small Town Mississippi on Friday Night. Band member Rusty Pinion (on the banjo) has built the Tula Opry. They play a mix of bluegrass (my all time favorite) and gospel, with the occasional old c&w thrown in for good measure.

Last night the Opry was packed with SRO by the time we got there and the guest band was already in full swing when we walked through the door. It is a quaint little place, with a stage reminiscent of the western shows out in New Mexico and Colorado that I have enjoyed during visits to Ruidoso and Dolores. The walls are decorated with the kind of memorabilia one would expect in a place called the "opry" and includes the vintage Lone Ranger guitar. (Photo courtesy of Randy's new iPhone with flash. My old iPhone just didn't cut it. :)

We enjoyed a couple of hours of music, I saw a former student who is visiting her parents for a few weeks, and got to hold her new 7 month old baby girl. After intermission, we even got seats on the front row and I could feel the air conditioner! The young man (I'm guessing around 8 or so) sitting next to me proudly informed me the woman singing was his grandmother, and that "Muleskinner" was his favorite song she sang.

It was a pleasant evening and as Rand and I drove back home, we talked about how it stirred memories of our childhood--going to musicals and gospel "singings" and in Rand's case, "Rock in the Park" summer.

The video is a collage of small pieces of the show, and of course, includes Muleskinner. Enjoy their next show on September 11, 6 p.m. A word to the wise: get there before 6.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Black Jack to Clarksdale

I had to make a trip to Batesville today, so stopped by Black Jack community to locate the old school building. It was mentioned in an earlier MissPres comment about the architecture of rural schools.
You can read more about it here .

Batesville is only a half hour from Clarksdale, another trip I have been planning on for several months since reading about Lustron houses on the MissPres blog. I had looked up the location on the Lustron preservation site before leaving, but it was not at the alleged address. I drove up and down Cherry street to no avail.

While in the area, I spotted a now unused school complex, and stopped to explore a bit.

The Industrial Arts Building on Riverside Street.
The old school maintenance building for the Clarksdale school system.

Graveyard at the school.
Wonder how many couples stood under this tree before or after class?

The school reminded me that E. L. on MissPres had mentioned the Lustron house being on School Street, so since it had clearly been a bust on the "official" site, I was pleased to see School Street was the street behind the school I was exploring. Sure enough, down at the end of the street, there it was.
Lustrons were all-steel houses (inside and out, walls, ceilings, floors, roofs, frame, shelves, cabinets, etc.) prefabricated and set up on site, as an answer to the housing crisis following World War II. You can read more about Lustron houses and their fascinating architectural and political history here and here.

Heading back home, I passed this gorgeous field of sunflowers. It was a bit tricky to turn around on the narrow dirt road. A semi has a smaller turning radius than the Equinox.
I have spent so much time on the house and on research this past week that I could not resist a little road trip today. After all, rain is in the forecast for the next 3 days. While I will welcome the respite from the heat, I dread the resulting greater humidity. As Si put it in one of his songs:

"You know how hot it gets in Mississippi. You know how dry it gets in the summer sun. Dust clouds swirl all down the Delta. I just hope that I don't die before the harvest comes."