Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Finally - since we got back it has been GO GO GO. First my ISP wouldn't let me access Blogger, so I emailed them and magically it started working. Then I had to start working again. Then we had some relatives come in from PA and NY. Then I thought I would get my posts updated.

As a recap, on July 11th we were visiting in Missouri. July 12th and 13th were supposed to be spent working our way home with the original plan including going by way of Kentucky. That change when due to a request by my mom after traveling to Ohio, Ontaria, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri - we were now headed to Georgia. That meant adding Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia to our trip. Try that one on your odometer for size.

See what happened was, the whole family was up in Iowa and Mom got to thinking it would be nice to have her new car before she drives (instead of flying this time) back up there to meet her Grandson after he is born. She also thought that having some help figuring out what kind of car to buy. Since we didn’t really have anything scheduled other than meandering our way back home, why not go to Georgia and see what we could figure out.
Then FabHub says, how long would it take to go through Louisiana on our way?
He said, well, I have never been there and if it isn’t too far out of the way…
I said, HA! Yes it is out of the way!

But then we decided why not?!
So – on July 12th we headed down the road. Did you know you can follow US 65 from Iowa all the way to Louisiana? It is a very nice drive with a lot of it updated to four-lane highway.

The rolling hills of southern Missouri reminded us of home, but at about half the elevation.

Our first stop was for lunch in Ozark, Missouri at Lambert’s Café - Home of Throwed Rolls! The place is a lot of fun and there is plenty to eat. There were a whole bunch of people there for lunch already when we got there at 11:00.

They had the sidewalk painted all over the place with happiness.

Lambert's has staff walking around offering to throw rolls at you and then someone comes by with some sorghum molasses for the rolls. There are staff members offering deep fried okra as sort of an appetizer, then your food comes and what you ordered comes in a huge portion. That isn’t all of it, there are more staff offering what they call “pass arounds”, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomatoes, and black eyed peas. Way too much to eat again, but the experience was fun!

Further on down the road, probably in Arkansas, we found a forked John Deere.

And other tractors with more traditional life going on, but on the highway?
Gotta love farm country.
That night we stayed in Conway, Arkansas – hometown as we discovered of American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen. Nope didn’t see him, just the flag.
We also saw this Toad Suck Daze mural.
The next day we decided to drive until we had to stop or got to Mom’s.

We knew we were in forgein country when we saw this contraption.

Seems to be storage or processing for something we don't grow inWest Virginia.

We stopped for lunch in Transylvania, Louisiana, population about 740 and one eye catching water tower.
There isn’t much to the town, just a few buildings along the side of US 65. The general store has a few bat related items for sale to crazy tourists and is also a small diner that when we stopped seemed to be the place for the local farmers to get their noon dinner.

And for anyone unsure about the use of dinner being the noon meal. We had a conversation in Iowa where my sister reminded us of the old days. In the farm country that I grew up in the work day’s meals are lined out as follows:
Breakfast (early), Lunch (9am), Dinner (12), Lunch (3pm), Supper (late), Snack (after dark)
It seems to be the same in northern Louisiana – a man in the diner told a boy to finish his dinner so they could get going. The boy really looked like his day had gone on way to long already. We all forget as kids how easy we have it in school until it is summer time and the work needs to get done.
Driving through Mississippi went pretty fast. If we had been wandering we would have seen more, but as it was we drove straight through on the Interstate, which meant the only somewhat odd thing that I got a picture of was Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.

And that isn't really very odd at all.

Now in Birmingham, Alabama we found something odd.

This is Vulcan.
He was built in 1904 for the St. Louis World's Fair to advertise Alabama and the capabilities of the industries in Birmingham. Vulcan stands 56 feet tall, from toe to spear point, upon a 124-foot pedestal rising to a height of 180 feet and weighs 101,200 pounds. Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States.

After the World's Fair the statue was set up in the Alabama State Fair grounds for many years. Then he was moved to the current location, but that site has been reworked over time until it's current layout was completed in 1999. In the above photo you can see a tower behind Vulcan's tower - that is an elevator which takes people up to an observation tower. There are also stairs inside Vulcan's tower.

FabHub decided to do a little posing at the foot of that tower. He is a super hero! All teachers should be considered heros for the work they do.
On the other side of Birmingham is another statue. Her name is Liberty, but she has a slightly different message. "Give us your tired, your poor, your insurance business.

According to a plaque at the site, this bronze replica, one-fifth the size of the Statue of Liberty, was commissioned by Frank Park Samford as the symbol for the company he founded, Liberty National Life Insurance Company. The statue was cast in Sommerville Haut Marine, France, in 1956 and was placed atop Liberty National's home office building in downtown Birmingham and then moved to its present location and dedicated on July 4, 1989.

She does take a beautiful picture.
After leaving Birgmingham we drove all the way to Mom's in Georgia. It was a long day, but we really didn't start getting tired until the last hour or so.
The next day we went with her to the Toyota dealer where she decided that the RAV4 was definately her choice of vehicle. Unfortunately they wanted a bit more than we all thought was necessary so we left, but not before realizing that the Cash for Clunkers program would be starting in a week. She ended up using her Windstar in that program to get her new car and has since traveled to Iowa. She is pretty happy with it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Caused the Attention?

Every now and then I look at my blog to see if anyone else has been looking at it. Today I had a surprise. Some of these locations I recognize, but where did all these other people come from? This happened one other time when my running blog was noted on Phedipidations, but I doubt that happened again. Let me know if you have an idea what caused the attention.
Glad to see people are interested, drop us a line sometime.

Russell, MN, United States
Lubbock, TX, United States
Sheldon, IA, United States
Kansas City, MO, United States
Arlington, VA, United States
Merrimack, NH, United States
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Elizabeth, NJ, United States
São Paulo, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Granbury, TX, United States
Earlysville, VA, United States
Palmira, Colombia
Brunswick, GA, United States
Gramado, Brazil
Hammond, LA, United States
Lima, Peru
Trujillo, Peru
Warner Robins, GA, United States
Macieira De Cambra, Portugal
Philadelphia, PA, United States
Bow, NH, United States
Medellín, Colombia
Leola, PA, United States
Brooklyn, NY, United States
Nashville, TN, United States
Jesús María, Argentina
, Mexico
Wallkill, NY, United States
Curitiba, Brazil
Marietta, GA, United States

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 13 - 15 Welcome to MO

July 9, 10 and 11 were spent visiting with family friends in Missouri. Kathy and Larry are friends of my mom from when she and my dad lived in Kansas. After my dad passed away Mom decided that she would join them in a move to Georgia. So she went house shopping and found a nice one. Then she got lucky and found a good job. Now they have moved to Missouri and Mom is in Georgia, but they are still great friends. We have sort of adopted them into our family. Billy likes spending time with Larry talking about cows and other farming stuff and Kathy is such a great person we love hanging around.
After leaving my sister's house we drove down and arrived in the early evening. You would think that being out in the country no one would be able to sneak up on you, but Kathy was jamming to some tunes and got a big surprise.

HI! She was just recovering from the 4th of July weekend when all of her kids were in for the holiday. Then we showed up. HI!

On our way there we were following TomTom and the road numbers were not matching at all. We found out later that none of the GPS systems or even things like Google maps don't have the right numbering out here. I think it has been wrong for a long time, the county hasn't updated whatever data base needs updating. What we ended up doing was guessing at where the house was and telling TomTom to take us there. We guessed correctly, but since we were really on some country roads, sometimes they aren't fit for cars to drive down. This picture is taken after we turned around, the road beyond was more grass than gravel and we chose to "go around the block" to see if there was a better route.

The funny thing to us is - some roads might not be car friendly, none of them out here are paved, and sometimes they are little more than dirt, but they all have road signs and the houses are numbered. Tourists might get lost with their GPS systems, but 911 can find you. Maybe - hope they aren't using GPS too!
That evening we went out for ice cream at the local dairy bar. There is a Sonic on the other side of town, but when you want ice cream even the dogs know where to go.
This is Buster Brown and he Really likes his ice cream!

That night there was a pretty big storm that went through the area. One crack of thunder and lightening woke me up and when I looked out the window I saw what looked like fire at a house up the road.
It was pretty dark out and the house was about a half mile away. So I got my camera out and zoomed waaay in to see. The camera pulled a lot of light in making it look a lot brighter than it was, but I still couldn't see too well. Billy couldn't make it out either - and then the power went out for the whole area and so did the fire on the neighbor's house. Solved that problem, but what was it? Found out later they had put red, white, and blue rope lights up for their son who is in the military. The color of the plastic on the lights faded away in the sunny days to an orange. Mystery solved.

Friday, the 10th was spent very quietly. There was some farm business that needed to be taken care of in town so the guys went and handled that. I stayed at the house and worked on catching up on the blog. That night we went out to dinner and had a great steak and then slept like rocks. Very relaxing day in the country.

The next day was a bit more challenging. First there was evaluating the baby bird situation. The mother had taken up residence in a corner of the porch and had four "babies" in the nest when we arrived. Friday morning only two of them were left. They sure looked big enough to move out!

As we moved around that morning they settled in the nest to see what we were up to for the day.

The main event of the day was a big dead Maple tree stump that needed to get out of the yard. It was really blocking Kathy's view of the corn, so it had to go! Just an inside joke there... there is plenty of corn to see around the yard. The corn years leave a person with a sort of fenced in feeling. When there are beans planted around the house the view is not obstructed at all. So, moving the tree had little to do with seeing the corn. That didn't stop the guys from trying to pull it down though. First Billy tried... it didn't budge.

Then they hooked a truck up to it and pulled, but that didn't work. It wasn't as hollow or shallow rooted as they had hoped.
So, out came the chainsaw. First one side got cut.

Then the other side got cut.

Then they used the truck to pull on it again... and it didn't move. So then the chainsaw came back out again and the cuts got deeper.
Then they pulled on it with the truck again and this time it moved, a lot.
My hero. Remember that clean look. It will change.
A you can see the tree was pretty hollow, but it had some strength to it yet. And some good flower dirt at its core.
So then they started cutting it up into managable pieces.
This is the look of a happy homeowner who can now see a platform for more flowers. Oh and I don't know if you have noticed the corn in all of these pictures. It isn't even tall yet.
After the tree went down, Billy took a minute in the shade and poked the bird nest and scared them all away. Since the babies were gone he pulled the nest our and then went back to work.
While the tree slicing was going on, Kathy went and emptied her wheelbarrow of the weeds it had on board so that she could collect all of that good flower dirt.
She isn't afraid of the corn, just doesn't like how it blocks the view and like I said it isn't even tall yet. Not for Missouri corn anyway.
Back at the tree the slicing starts to get serious.
Until the whole thing is down, cut up, and on the trailer.
Surprisingly it only took about two and a half hours to get it all done.

And in the end we have this beautiful plant stand.

Remeber how clean and dry he was?
He and Larry got cleaned up and we went to town for some lunch with their oldest son who had come home to get some stuff and then got roped into helping with the next project, moving some chest freezers out of Grandpa's basement. Luckily there were more people over at that farm working when the guys arrived. They got it done and then came back to the house and got cleaned up again.
So that was Missouri. It might seem like Billy ends up doing a lot of work when we are out like this, but he really likes to help people with projects like this. My job is to stay out of the way. HA.

Day 12 - THE Fort Dodge

July 7th was spent working on the projects and a bit of shopping. Then on the 8th we went out to breakfast with everybody before Mom and Brother headed off for the KC airport. Mom had an evening flight that turned into a night flight and Brother was her driver before he headed to his house and the end of his vacation. They will both be back to Sister’s house after the baby is born.

After we said good-bye to them FabHub and I went over to the Fort that IS Fort Dodge.
The Fort itself was built in 1851 to construct a military post on the Des Moines River. After two years the troops were ordered to abandon the fort and move north to Fort Ridgley, Minnesota to deal with some problems involving the Sioux Indians. When that happened the post sutler, or storekeeper, bought the land and buildings that made up the military post and in 1854 started the town of Fort Dodge.
The displayed buildings are set up to represent some of the buildings that would be found in a frontier town. There is a one room schoolhouse that is set up to display conditions as they existed. There is a big coal stove in the middle of the room, which must have made those students around it quite toasty. There is even a piano in the corner for music lessons.
The Conditions of Employment for Teachers seems humorous by the expectations of today’s staff.
Sweep and scrub the floors once a week (once a year seems more correct now), don’t wear bright colors (they haven’t seen FabHub’s new Tie-Di fun shirt from Michigan), dry your petticoats in pillowcases (can’t have those hanging on the line!), no loitering at Ice Cream shops (oops broke that rule a time or two), and no leaving town without permission of the school board (HA).
The General Store had lots of frontier era products and a checker board ready to go.

The Pharmacy was loaded with medical paraphernalia that would probably scare a patient today.
There were lots of Remedies available at the time. Many that claimed powers of healing that mainly seemed kill the pain with alcohol.

The Stomach, Liver, and Kidney Renovator formula includes lots of roots, seeds, water, and is 16 1/2 percent Alcohol. Seems like that would make you get rid of what ailed you in one way or another.

The Jail on site is holding a bad, bad hombre.
Oh no, the bad guy has escaped and is in the Blockhouse shooting at the locals!
It looks like he missed since they are still walking around.
One of the exhibition buildings on the fort walls included a lot of artifacts. Among the items on display there was an article that caught my attention. There was a ceremonial pipe made from pipestone (catlinite).
In West Virginia we have pipestem, which is 1) a plant that early settlers used to make pipe stems with to smoke tobacco, and 2) the name of local State Park and community. I grew up around pipestone, in Minnesota, which is 1) the rock used to make pipes that were mainly used in Native American ceremonial and religious events and 2) the name of a National Monument, local county, and city.

There were also exhibits from the frontier era homes and all sorts of military artifacts from several wars. Revolutionary, Civil, Spanish American, WWI, and WWII.

Back in the corner of the museum there was one exhibit that brings a lot of people in. I think that is why they sort of hid it – you have to go through a lot of other things to finally find this one. Or maybe they just wanted it out of the way of the real Fort displays.
What I am talking about is the Cardiff Giant. Legend has it that this 10 foot tall petrified man was found when a local farmer was digging a well on a farm in Iowa. Or maybe it was New York. Or maybe it was all a big joke, but there is a big rock that looks like a man, with really big ears, on display in Iowa and someone is still making money off of showing it to crazy tourists.
That was the end of our day. In the evenign we went out to dinner with my sister and her husband. It was nice of them to hang out with us old people.

Day 10 - Grotto of the Redemption

July 6th started when my aunt left for work and we left to go back to my sister’s house. On our way out of town we had to go past the A&W drive-in with this young man standing outside trying to share a root beer and sandwich with us.
I think there used to be more of the family there, but he is the only one left.

On the way back to Fort Dodge we stopped at West Bend, Iowa to see the Grotto of the Redemption.
The story of the Grotto goes back to a young seminarian, Father Dobberstein who in 1912 began work on building the shrine to fulfill a promise he made to the Virgin Mary when he was sick with pneumonia. The Pastor stock piled rocks and precious stones for years before he got started on the structure. The designed purpose of the Grotto is to tell the story of man’s fall and redemption by Christ.

This is a statue of Eve and God's Angel.
This is Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus.
This is Jesus laid into the arms of his mother.
The rocks were laid one by one into the forms that you see in these pictures. It is really an amazing feat completed by the Pastor and a single helper for many of the years.
There is a vast collection of minerals, precious, and semi-precious stones in the building of the Grotto. Petrified wood, malachite, azurite, agates, geodes, jasper, quartz, topaz, calcite, stalactites and stalagmites are just some of the rocks that were gathered, purchased or donated for building of the Grotto.
An interesting side note that adds to the oddity of the Grotto being built here in Iowa, is that the land surrounding the town of West Bend is not known to contain any type of rock or precious geological specimens. This is where Pastor Dobberstein was called to do his work so this is where he did it.
I managed to get Mom and my brother in a good picture before we left.
Then we found a vintage piece of technology that most people under - oh, let's say 15 years of age, have never seen in this country. They just don't seem to exist anymore.
After the Grotto we stopped for lunch in West Bend at the Wagon Wheel and had a delicious meal. Pork Tenderloins for all but me, I had a Reuben and it was wonderful.
After lunch we headed back to Fort Dodge and had a quiet afternoon/evening of watching the guys install a new screen door on the front of the house. Or was it the back screen? I forget, but I do know that it required at least one trip to Menard's. Sometime during the time we were there both entrances got new screen doors. The front door got painted green to match the shutters. The bathroom sink got a new shutoff valve and faucets. The lights on the front of the house got replaced. It all looks very updated now.
It was a little busy, but all things that my sister wanted done - and since she is a month from delivering our nephew, well... she gets what she wants.