Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ozark Country Roads

When I visit my sister in Missouri, my favorite thing to do is to drive around the country roads to see what I might find.  It's usually beautiful views or picturesque barns and even an old fashioned mill on one drive.  But, on this particular day, I found a little known Pioneer Village called Bakersville.

We were driving on a rutted, dirt road so coming across this little community was quite a surprise.  Our curiosity got the best of us so we stopped to have a look around.

We examined the old buildings which all had an authentic look to them.  We even got a close-up look at this old covered wagon.  What we didn't see were any people.  There was no one else around.  We had the place all to ourselves.  It was as though the place was an old deserted ghost town.

At one of the buildings we found was a Seed Store that was open so we went inside but mysteriously, there was no one attending the store.  Since no one was available to ask questions, I had to do a little research about this place.  Apparently the seed store actually does sell packets of seeds, mostly heirloom varieties but, usually during festival periods.  In fact, it looked like the place has at least two big weekend festivals every year when the little town is humming with visitors and that flour mill is selling fresh bread.  

The property sits on the site of an old homestead that was once owned by a family named Rippee.  The family farmed the property for many, many years trading with the Osage Indians and caring for Civil War soldiers all while growing a large variety of crops. 

So now this area stands as a legacy to a passing time.  It's amazing the things you can find if you just take the time to travel a few back roads.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Nation's Library

With so many historical buildings and grand museums to visit in Washington D.C., it's easy to miss the Library of Congress.  It is one place that I'm glad I got to see.

The building dates back to 1897 and it is simply magnificent inside.  Unfortunately, photography was not allowed looking into the grand reading room that is surrounded by huge stacks of books.  However, the foyer of the building was so palatial, I didn't miss getting that other view.  Off to one side of this lofty area is the Jefferson library containing some of the books that Thomas Jefferson sold to congress after the original collection went up in flames in 1814.  The library is working with a generous grant to try to reassemble all of Jefferson's books here.

On the lower level of the building is a wonderful museum full of all kinds of interesting things to see.  Above you see Gershwin's piano.  From time to time, famous pianists are allowed to play it.  Wouldn't that be fun to see?  The museum also contains things like the maps of Lewis and Clark, Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible and Bob Hope's 80,000 page joke file.  It's an eclectic mix of documents and items.

You can even get a close up view of the Presidential Medal of Freedom!

It's another historical Washington building that is well worth a visit.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Distinctive Group

Almost everyone who travels to London puts a visit to Westminster Abbey on their must see list.  I can still remember my very first glimpse of this imposing church back in 1985.  On a visit there it would be hard to miss Parliament Square situated directly across from the Palace of Westminster (better known as Parliament) and right in front of the Abbey.

So, if you've been there you have no doubt seen the array of distinguished gentlemen  who have permanent residence in the square.

There is of course England's most famous Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill in his bulky overcoat and leaning on his cane.

Mahatma Gandhi is there and he's bearing up quite well to the slight chill in the air.

Nelson Mandela now has a place of honor on the square.  He appears to be in perpetual discussion with those that pass by.

You might be surprised to find Abraham Lincoln standing with this group in his famous Lincolnesque pose.

So, if you are visiting that famous Abbey, be sure you pause and say hello to these fine humanitarians.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

El Presidio

In the heart of downtown Tucson is a historic gem, El Presidio de San Augustin del Tucson the original Spanish settlement built in 1775.  It was a fort that was roughly built in the beginning but, grew to 11 acres over the next few years and was surrounded by a tall adobe wall.

The adobe wall surrounding the fort is gone now but this wall on the historic property has been painted with a mural that depicts the colonial life inside the fort back in the 18th century.

El Presidio is open to the public with historic reenactments happening periodically and a museum with artifacts from those early years.  I happened to visit when this group of volunteers were practicing for an event so I got to watch them go through their maneuvers without any crowds around.

The Tucson fort was among the largest of the frontier forts of that era but very little of the old buildings remain.  You can see a few adobe structures on the site.

El Presidio remained in use until the Americans arrived in March of 1856.  The fort was soon dismantled and over time the wall was taken down.  Now it's just a tiny bit of history in the shadow of the downtown Tucson high-rises.