Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Second Big Surprise - Nashville!

A view of one section of downtown Nashville from the Pedestrian Truss Bridge that spans the Cumberland River over 3,000 feet.

A full size replica of the Parthenon dominates the
large Centennial Park. Bult in 1897 it's now an 
art museum.

A section of Broadway, home to endless numbers
of music venues and restaurants.

That's the view of the State Capitol
Building, one of the few without a
dome (from our tour bus)


Roswell was the first and then Nashville. We were expecting a city like Memphis - lots of great music but kind of rundown. Instead it was rather like what it claims "The Athens of the South", and a gleaming modern high rise city, clearly growing and prospering. We only had one day so decided to take the On and Off Bus around the city. We mostly stayed on as it takes over 2 hours. Mid way we fell for the sales pitch from the driver and ate lunch at the Farmer's Market. It reminded us of Quincy Market both in architecture and the variety of vendors. We chose a Korean stand and had Bibimbap bowls, excellent.

We then took a walk downtown and across the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the river. Built in 1909 it was closed to vehicular traffic in 1998 and refurbished for bicycles and pedestrians.  Then it was time for the Country Music Hall of Fame. It's a very modern museum with multi media presentations illustrating the history of country music through the years. But it also illustrated one other major difference between Memphis and Nashville - the latter is very white! Not only in the Museum but seen around the city. And country music claims a lot of musicians that we wouldn't think of as country - Bob Dylan, most folk musicians (again, the white ones) and a lot of rock & roll groups. OK, there is always cross overs in inspiration and derivation.

There were long streets full of recording studios and companies! We saw two big universities right downtown - Vanderbilt and Belmont had beautiful campuses. Museums were everywhere - lots featuring artists like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash but there were several Art Museums, the National Museum of African American Music (separate but equal?), and the Tennessee State Museum. 

We saw a number of old industrial complexes 
turned into boutique shops, bars etc. 

Modern and Classical sculpture graced many
parks and street corners.

This fountain is in front of their Symphony Hall.

Written material, artifacts, costumes and film
illustrated each time period.

The building was very modern - like many new
museums, you started at the top and walked down

But the Country Music Hall of Fame was very entertaining with lots of videos of performers. We particularly liked the early music of the Appalachians and derivations from the European traditions.  But soon it was time to meet our shuttle back to the KOA Nashville. For only $10 each we were picked up at our resort and brought back - saving a lot of money and trouble parking in the city. The KOA was very nice and our second night we enjoyed the live entertainment at the poolside. The couple (sorry forgot their names) are on U Tube and have several albums out. They were very good! Our first night we ate out at a local steak restaurant - nice after our long 10 hour drive from our emergency stop visit to the Creek Golf and RV Resort in Cave Springs, Arkansas. 

The KOA's pool - nice but either filled with kids
or on this evening, threatened thunderstorms.

Our entertainers at the Nashville KOA

But we were off again the next day for one night at another KOA in Baileyton, TN - not much to say  like most KOAs, clean and attractive. It was half way between Nashville and our next two night stop at Walnut Hills Campground in Staunton, VA.  But that's my next post!

This was the only photo I took at the Creek Golf & RV Resort where we stayed for 2 nights while Junior was getting repaired. A gorgeous sunset after pouring rain and wind.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Family Time, the Total Eclipse and a Dead Stop

Scott put film over this phone to take
this photo. 

Uzi, Heather and Shira viewing the eclipse by the pool in their
backyard in Dallas

Uzi, Scott, Heather & Shira

We combined both this year. At last year's Stellafane Convention in Springfield, VT we saw a presentation on Solar Eclipses by a noted astronomer and vowed to see the next one. Easy peasy as it was visible both in Vermont and in Dallas, TX where our oldest son Josh has a home. We visit them every year now on our travels west. In the past that's been on the way out, but we timed our next stay during the solar eclipse on April 8. It was amazing and for us, very easy. We just set up in their backyard in Dallas and watched the spectacle. 

Total eclipse at Lake Willoughby

Sean, Will and 11 friends went up to Northern Vermont to
view the eclipse, after spending the weekend at our 
home in Shrewsbury, VT. 

Our son Sean and his friends had a different experience, along with many in the northeast. The weather in northern Vermont was clear and they had a wonderful view, but then they had to join the thousands and thousands driving south. All hotels were full on the way and they have an electric car - "long, long, long lines at the chargers". They left Lake Willoughby around 4 PM and got to Boston at 5:30 AM! And with a 9 month old baby on board.

Josh, Michal and Scott up in the Penthouse of 
their apartment in Tulsa for a party. It was the 
opening day at the Oneok Field, home to the
Tulsa Drillers. 

Watching the game from the Penthouse is like
having a private box.  It's a lounge, game room,
kitchen with decks for everyone that lives there.

Our son Josh has 5 children but only 2 of them are with he and Michal now. Daniel and Cookie are both at Columbia University and their third Maya, now in London, has been accepted by Columbia for next year. Like Cookie, she still had one more year to finish high school in England, but got accepted anyway. That means they have had to take all their A levels (graduation exams) a year early. We're pretty proud of all of them. The last two, Jonathan "Uzi" and Shira are at the University School in Tulsa, OK, near where Josh works as a Radiation Oncologist. Uzi graduates this year from 8th grade and they and Michal are moving to NYC to finish school there at the New School in Manhattan. Josh only works 3 or 4 days a week so he'll commute. They've done this before in London and Costa Rica and it works for them. Hard to imagine - but the results are wonderful. 

Scott got a virtual haircut at the Greenwood Rising
Black Wall Street History Center

Josh and Scott at the Philbrook Art Museum

The Philbrook Art Museum, opening in 1939 in the 1920s villa of Waite & Genevieve Philbrook. When Josh and family lived full time in Tulsa they had a home just a block away. 

So after our long weekend in Dallas, we spent the rest of our 10 day visit in Tulsa. I really love this city and will be sorry they are leaving. We visited the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Black Wall Street History Center, the Botanical Gardens and lots of time at The Gathering. We stayed at the Warrior RV Park right in Tulsa which was convenient but very basic. That's OK as we spent most of our time with our family. 

Lighting the candles on Shabbat

Walking around Tulsa - great weather during out

There is so much to do in The Gathering - here
the garden of mirrors.

Shira and I hide in the giant stem garden

Shira and Scott made my birthday cake - 
celebrated a few days early on our 45th wedding

So now - the Dead Stop! It happened in Centerton, Arkansas. We were on our way to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art when our RV brakes came on suddenly. Luckily we were coming up to a red light and I was able to pull over on the side of the road. Then the motor revved up to 4,000 rpms at idle.  Scott fiddled around and finally it seemed to stop. So we continued on. A few miles later the motor revved up again and we almost came to a stop. Luckily there was a parking lot right there to pull into - a Verizon Store (how appropriate for this Verizon Retiree). 

Many calls and hours later we got a tow company to bring Junior to a dealership and Baby to a RV park. We spent the next day waiting impatiently for news from the service department. We had to cancel our reservations in Little Rock. Finally we got the call and good news! It will be ready this afternoon and we decided to drive direct to Nashville tomorrow. That will put us back on schedule. It's 8 hours and 12 minutes Google time - longer than we've ever attempted. It will take us 10 to 11 hours.

Two problems combined to cause our situation. The emergency brakes on the RV came on due to faulty wiring. The sudden stop forced the plastic floor cover forward and over the end of the gas pedal. We vacuumed Junior in Tulsa the day before and evidently didn't put it back correctly. It happened again a little later and that's the answer. They fixed the emergency RV brake system and the floor cover - and a long standing engine light service problem as well. So we're off as early as possible tomorrow.  More news in my next blog!

Shira models a parasol at the gift shop
at the Botanical Gardens

They had a Lego art installation showing there - animals in all
colors and sizes - totally in Legos.  Here's a American Bald
Eagle in Pride colors.

This was a larger than life size zebra!

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Amarillo to Tulsa

I was fascinated by the DC3 on display. In 1973
I spent 6 weeks in Africa including one week
in Ethiopia in a DC3 as part of an 
experimental tour designed by the sister of 
Haile Selassie.  There were only 6 of us tourists
and several staff including our own pilot!

We left Roswell early to avoid gusty winds and settled into the Oasis RV Resort on the edge of Amarillo. It was a quiet park with a tree, little patio and picnic table.  That afternoon we visited the Texas Air & Space Museum and stopped by Cadillac Ranch on the way back. The latter is one of those strange roadside attractions that are inexplicable. Who thought of them? Why do so many people go there? But then of course, we did (along with a lot of others and on a day where it was VERY windy).

I really enjoy getting in the cockpit of planes - 
but they are a tight fit and particularly getting

Born in 1875, Harriet was the first woman to
receive a pilot's license (1911) and the first
 woman to fly the English Channel. 

Unlike the other women featured here, Ethel
wasn't a first or famous but her story of 
being an aviation mechanic during the war
honored all women who served.

The Air & Space Museum was very small compared to many we've visited over the last three trips. Like many it has a small staff and many dedicated volunteers. There were many signs explaining the big plans to expand to a new location but the volunteer we talked to was very skeptical.  But still there were new interesting tidbits. As usual I found most interesting the stories about women who served in various ways both in the military and in the aviation industry. One strange coincidence involved Harriet Quimby, the first woman aviator. She died flying the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squatum, MA in 1912. My father attended that meet and often talked about it. He was 6 at the time.

A detail of the spray paint layers on
the cadillacs.

It was so windy we could barely stand. This is the "famous''
Cadillac Ranch. A kiosk sells spray paint cans so you can 
add graffiti to the already thick layers!

Bessie was the first African-American woman to
hold an American Pilot's license and the earliest
Black person known to earn an international one.

The next day we spent at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. One of the largest canyons in the U.S. it is about 35 miles long with an average width of 6 miles. It's been nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of Texas" for it's multicolored layers and steep walls. It became a State Park in 1934 and the CCC built the loop road and many structures over the next 4 years. Four groups of veterans, two groups of African-Americans and one junior group did the work - CCC groups were segregated by race and age. 

We drove the loop road and hiked the Paso del Rio trail, which followed the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River which formed the canyon.  Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived in Amarillo and nearby Canyon in the early 20th century wrote of the Palo Duro: " It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color." She painted the canyon between 1910 and 1918. 

The Loop Road is 15 miles long and has a steep descent as you can see in this photo taken at the top.

The Visitor's Center was built by the CCC into the side of the canyon at the top with thick stone walls.

Scott's phone malfunctioned after the two previous photos so I added one taken off the web.

That evening we celebrated with a dinner at the Toscana Italian Steak House in the renovated historic Barfield Hotel downtown. The cocktails and food were terrific! And the service outstanding. The restaurant manager came over to chat with us and on the way out, the General Manager told us about the renovations and history of the hotel! 

At Toscana Italian Steakhouse - we enjoyed the 
house made pasta dishes and shared a antipasto
salad first.

My Shrimp Scampi 

Next day we were off early again, this time to the Foss State Park in Oklahoma. We've stayed there before but this time got a site right on the lake. We enjoyed a walk and met an interesting fellow who was camping in his van at one of the day picnic spots. He's a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War and after he talked to some of the park staff, who also served in the military more recently, was given a free site for a week. One of the Park security officers came by to visit him and we all waved to the Google car that circled the park filming for Google maps!

These flowering trees, magenta in color followed
us from Foss all the way along the highway into

Baby & Junior at our lovely site in Foss Lake
State Park, OK. 

Next we're spending 10 days with our oldest son Josh and his family, which right now consists of Michal, my daughter-in-law and the two youngest, Jonathan "Uzi" and Shira. They live in Tulsa during the week as the kids go to the University School there and weekends at their home in Dallas. But that's my next blog!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Surprising Roswell!

Aliens on the wall, standing and sitting!

Mexican Aliens!

And even Dunkin' aliens - where's Ben and Matt?

 OK there were aliens! Everywhere! But there was a whole lot more. There were two excellent museums besides the expected International UFO Museum and Research Center. I should put "Research Center" in a questionable category. And an interesting State park nearby, the Bottomless Lakes State Park. I was also impressed by the civic beautification efforts - lots of parks, benches, and sports venues. There is also the very handsome campus of the New Mexico Military Institute, a high school and junior college private school. 

At the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, many of the works are enormous - the studios must be very generously sized. I loved this work in the entrance. Fun life in the Southwest - a coyote is making off with their cat in the bottom corner. 

I loved this painting - great, probably
not, but I'd love to hang it in my 

Two works by Donald Anderson - they reminded
me of my entry doors to Siena in the dining room.

There were many whimsical sculptures and works!

We visited the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art our first afternoon. The reviews were so positive and they were all right. What a collection and a very beautiful facility. The museum was founded in 1994 as an offshoot of the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. The RAIR Foundation was initiated by Donald Anderson in 1967 and has brought artists to live and work in Roswell for one year, all subsidized. Up to five artists are chosen every year and over 300 have been part of the program. When they leave, at least one of their works is donated to the museum. Donald Anderson was the founder and President of the Anderson Oil Company and was an artist himself. 

This "space leisure" suit was worn by
Harrison Schmitt on the Apollo 17
mission.  This was in the Roswell
Museum as are the others in this

Now we're at the Roswell Museum. Goddard's workshop
 has been moved here lock, stock and barrel.
There are also many of his rockets from all time periods.

One of the many cases with Native American and
 Southwest settler items.

I loved the juxtaposition of these two very 
different paintings of a group of men around a

This illustrates the breadth of the art of display.

The second excellent museum, the Roswell Museum and Goddard Planetarium is a combination of several elements: a Planetarium, Western Memorabilia, an Art Collection and the workshop and rockets of Robert H. Goddard, one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry. He moved to Roswell in 1930 as a perfect place for his experiments and also his health, as he suffered from tuberculosis. I found his life and work fascinating and highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article about him. Scott was of course much more familiar with him! We saw the show at Planetarium and although the visuals and music were fun, they have lost the narration. A script and narrator is credited but the staff we talked to denied it's existence or at least, their having it. It makes for a confusing film. But the rest of the museum was excellent and very large - two visits would be necessary!

We of course went to the International UFO Museum and it's a theme park (for me at least - does anyone take this seriously???) The Roswell incident is a collection of events and myths surrounding the 1947 crash of a Air Force balloon. These "facts" are extensively mined through interviews with most of the residents of Roswell. I was rather horrified to hear parents discussing this stuff with their kids as if it was history! 

Ever wonder what the aliens look like - well you probably have already seen a few images!

There was actually a small section of
real information about the space 
program including this real space suit!

My favorite section was the film and TV features.

Love that surgeon is suit and mask about to 
operate - in what world???

Our last afternoon we drove out to the Bottomless Lakes State Park and explored. This was the first State Park in Arizona, instituted in 1933. It gets its name for the nine small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley.  The largest lake has swimming, boat rentals and picnic areas. The smaller lakes are linked by trails and have good fishing. Unfortunately the sky was overcast and it's still the end of winter here so it was rather bleak. People must be desperate because some few were swimming. Of course it was Easter so there were a few family groups picnicking by the biggest of the lakes, where there is a beach. But it must be lovely later in the season. 

One of the nine lakes at the Bottomless Lake 
State Park

Next we're heading for Amarillo, TX where we will spend another 2 nights - that's the next post. 

The "marina", beach and facilities at the 
largest of the lakes - not a great weather day!

We had a short hike exploring the different lakes.
They aren't far apart.

Another one.

Three more photos from the Anderson Museum - this fantasy painting took up one large wall!
The "sharks" hanging from the ceiling are made from golf bags!
Really handsome furniture is featured throughout the museum in living room groups, conference tables and in one case a "Bar" which looks totally functional but is a work of art.