ctsprinterlife: OTR 8.0: Mississippi Part One

TransAmerica Trail (TAT)

The TAT is a 4200 mile transcontinental route comprised largely of dirt and gravel roads. The trail is the creation of Sam Carrero, an avid off-road motorcyclist with a passion for exploring and tackling challenging terrain.

Sam began the process of mapping out this coast to coast off-pavement adventure in 1984. It took him 12 years to put the route together. The route utilzes only publicly accessible roads and trails, however, it is not intended for standard vehicles or standard motorcycles. Many portions of the route require 4WD and high clearance and significant portions are single lane only at best.

County Road 738
County Road 738

We had a blast driving the Mississippi portion of the TAT. Several nights of rain made some portions of the trail muddy but still passable. The notorious County Road 555 was partially washed out (see video below) and after a driver/navigator consultation we retreated to find a road in better condition and then rejoin the TAT!

County Road 555
County Road 555, Lambert, MS (pop. 1296 – size 544 acres)

The Mississippi portion of the TAT is relatively short at about 300 miles but it provided us with a fun overlanding experience and the opportunity to travel through some very rural areas of Mississippi. The majority of the trail takes the traveler through large swaths of pine forest, some farm land and the occasional cluster of homes and a small church.

This part of Mississippi is known as the Pine Belt. When we think of the timber industry we tend to think about the massive timberlands of the West and forget that Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia are still major producers of timber. Timber is the second largest agricultural commodity in Mississippi (poultry is number one).

Another observation from our trip across the state on the trail is that there is significant poverty in rural Mississippi (Mississippi has the highest poverty rate of the fifty states and DC). While we only passed through a small number of rural communities, we saw that people are living in very impoverished circumstances. A number of these small communities appear to be segregated and that the most impoverished of these communities are inhabited by Black residents.

The photos below are from a small town that we crossed through while traversing the state. The town has a population of approximately 448 people and is predominately Black (85%). The poverty rate for Blacks is 52% and for males 60%.

The balance of this post will provide a brief recap of our experiences in the towns we visited that are not along the TAT.

Corinth —- home of the slugburger

Corinth is a handsome town (pop. 14,000) in the northeastern corner of Mississippi and was our jumping off point for the TAT. We had planned on visiting Corinth even before our decision to tackle the TAT. The town is steeped in Civil War history (First Battle of Corinth and Second Battle of Corinth) and has 18 structures or locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But alas, the charm and history of Corinth had not driven our desire to visit the town — we must confess it was our (well, honestly, for just one of us) obsession with eating a Northeast Mississippi specialty – the Slugburger. Additionally, we needed to try the Slugburger at Borroum’s Drug Store and Fountain because Borroum’s has the best Slugburger in Corinth. Borroum’s is the oldest drug store in Mississippi and still operated by the same family (the business was started shortly after the end of the Civil War when Jack Borroum arrived after being released from a Union Army prison camp).

What is a Slugburger, you ask? Slugburgers are a mixture of ground pork, soy flour, and spices. The mixture is flattened into a patty and deep fried in vegetable oil. The patty is placed on a hamburger bun with a garnish of mustard, onion, and pickle. Developed during the Great Depression when money and meat were both scarce, slug burgers were made with a mixture of beef and pork, potato flour as an extender, and spices, then fried in animal fat. Mrs. Weeks, credited with creating one of the first, found the “burgers” were a way to make meat go a little farther at the family hamburger stand. Selling for a nickel, sometimes called a slug, the imitation hamburgers became known as Slugburgers.

New Albany-or-the crash

We popped off the TAT to visit New Albany and cycle the Tanglefoot Trail. The Tanglefoot is a 44 mile paved bicycle trail that was formerly a line of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad (which still operates today as a subsidiary of the Rock Island Rail). As an historical aside, the railroad was founded by Colonel Willam Clark Faulkner, great-grandfather of author William Faulkner. The line was conceived as a way to move timber to the Gulf. The trail is named after the steam locomotive Tanglefoot which was used during the construction of the line.

The Tanglefoot is an award winning trail – noted for the scenery and small towns that can be visited directly from the trail. We set out from the trailhead in New Albany heading due south. The ride was delightful – forest, farm fields, numerous creek crossings and lots of wildlife.

Unfortunately, our delightful ride became less so when the smarter, wiser and better looking member of this partnership crashed after getting sideways in some loose gravel at the edge of the trail. Maria managed to finish the remaining 15 miles of the ride but was unable to walk on her own power once off the bike.

Fortunately, after a visit to the local urgent care and a consultation (and more xrays) with an orthopedist the next day in Oxford, it was determined that Maria did not have a fractured patella, just a severe contusion. So we purchased crutches, swallowed some pain meds and got back on the road two days later. Ten days later we were back on the bikes! Phew!

Oxford —- or everybody loves ole miss

We were fortunate in one sense that Oxford was a short drive from New Albany and is home to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and Specialty Orthopedic Group. After Maria received the good news that there was no fracture, we decided to stay in Oxford for several days and let Maria begin her recuperation.

Oxford worked well for us as our time there allowed Maria to get rest and stay off her feet for several days. So, perhaps needless to say, we spent most of our time in Oxford drinking coffee and tea, drinking beverages other than coffee and tea, and dining. The good news – as home to Ole Miss – there are plenty of choices from a culinary perspective.

We would say that while the town is very attractive and has plenty of dining options, we found Oxford more touristy than we expected and we are of the opinion the hype about how cool the town is overstated. Perhaps, we just missed it with Maria being less than one hundred percent.

Taylor grocery — “eat or we both starve!”

While we were in Oxford, a number of folks we met recommended the quick trip to Taylor to dine at Taylor Grocery. Taylor Grocery is billed as the best catfish in the South, and we would not argue with that claim. The building was erected in 1889 and we are pretty certain that not many improvements have been made to the property (part of the charm – see photographs below). We also had the good fortune to meet the owners, Lynn, Debbie and Sarah Margaret Hewlett. Lynn joined us at our dinner table, making sure we sampled most of the menu items—we had a great evening! We have included our note to Sarah below. For more information on the storied history of Taylor Grocery click on the link: https://taylorgrocery.com/


Hello Sarah—
We had the great pleasure of dining at Taylor Grocery this evening (3/31/22) and wanted to send our appreciation for the hospitality and outstanding meal.
From the moment we met Lynn on the porch playing his dobro, we knew we were in a special place. We ordered an appetizer and catfish dinners from our friendly and helpful server; and we also received complimentary sides of gumbo, rice and beans, and fried okra. And we managed to eat chocolate cobbler, too! Everything was delicious.
On our way into the restaurant, we were chatting with a local gentleman who inquired about our van. When we went to pay for our dinner, we were so surprised to hear that he had already taken care of it-Mississippi Hospitality!
We are from Connecticut and have been traveling throughout the US in our van six months annually for the last four years, and Taylor, MS will always hold a special place in our hearts. Hopefully, we will we back again.
With our kindest regards to all at Taylor Grocery,
Maria & Stephen

We hope you found this post from the first leg of our exploration of Mississippi interesting. Our next post regarding Mississippi will chronicle our time in the Mississippi Delta.

Be seeing you!

Bayou Teche: laissez les bon temps rouler

Boiled Crawfish, Janes’ Seafood

After our stay in Baton Rouge we decided to dive deep into Cajun Country. We chose to roughly follow the Bayou Teche south to tour South Central Louisianna Cajun Country. The Bayou Teche runs from Port Barre south for 125 miles before flowing into the Atchafalaya River.

Breaux bridge

Breaux Draw Bridge

Breaux Bridge is La Capitale Mondiale de l’Écrevisse (the crawfish capital of the world). The founding of Breaux Bridge dates back to 1771 when Acadian Firmin Breaux purchased land on both sides of the Bayou which he then connected with a footbridge. The Bayou Teche was the main means of travel in this part of Louisianna at that time. For more information on Bayou Teche: https://www.louisianatravel.com/paddle/trail/bayou-teche-paddling-trail-entire-bayou

Breaux was in Louisiana after being forcibly removed along with thousands of other Acadians as part of the Great Deportation. The British deported thousands of Acadians to Louisiana from the Canadian Maritimes and land which is now Maine. So, if you ever wondered how a portion of Louisianna is populated by a close-knit French speaking population – now you know. For more information on the Great Deportation: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-deportation-of-the-acadians-feature

While poking around Breaux Bridge we met a number of friendly locals. Chief of Police Rollie Cantu greeted us upon our arrival (he was directing traffic) and provided us with information about the town. Kenny Domingue aka the Handle Bar Healer, provided us with the history of the town (first the Spanish then the French inhabiting the area). Artist Robin Guidry, owner of the Pink Alligator Gallery, broke out the wine for us while we shopped (at 11:00AM) and Jacqueline Salser, owner of Chez Jacqueline provided us with all the local gossip and lots of laughs. Lastly, if you thought that after 250 years in Louisiana the Acadians would have stopped speaking Cajun French or lost their accents, you would be wrong.

St martinsville

Eglise Catholique, Saint Martin de Tours, Mother Church of the Acadians, Est. 1765

Many of the folks living in St Martinsville are the descendants of Beausoleil Broussard. Broussard was a leader of the Acadians that fought bravely against the British in Acadia (now Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick). Once it became clear that the British would be victorious, he led a group of Acadians south to safety in the area that is now St. Martinsville. Broussard is revered in Acadian history as a hero in the fight against the British.

St. Martinsville has one of the most beautiful town squares we have seen – anchored by the Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church and the Presbytere. Interestingly, if you note in the sign below explaining the reason for the five flags hanging from the porch, the last government that is acknowledged is the Confederacy.

Today the economy of St. Martinsville is highly dependent on tourism (the town sponsors a half dozen festivals per year) while still keeping its agricultural roots with a sugar cane crop and crawfish farming. For more information about the history of St. Martinsville: http://www.stmartinville.org/ourhistory.html

New iberia – Avery island

Avery Island is home to world famous McIlhenny Tabasco Company. The company was founded in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny. McIlhenny was given pepper seeds which originated in either Mexico or South America. He planted the seeds and the rest is history!

The company is still family owned and managed 154 years later – which is quite unusual in an economy where larger corporations usually devour and homogenize unique brands and products. The ingredients and process are not secret but the family’s knowledge is not replicable.

The self-guided tour is fascinating, taking you through the various buildings where the peppers are ground and then mixed with salt to create the mash. (Avery Island is a salt dome and rock salt was mined there beginning in 1791, making it very accessible). The mash is then filtered to remove the skin and seeds, vinegar is added, and finally the sauce is put into white oak barrels for aging. The aging process can take up to three years – the process is quite similar to wine making. For more information: https://www.tabasco.com/tabasco-history/

Jungle Garden

Avery Island is also home to Jungle Gardens and the Bird City sanctuary. Edward Avery McIlhenny developed the gardens and sanctuary in 1895. At the time the Snowy Egret was an endangered species due to plume hunters attempting to meet the demand for feathers for women’s hats! Touring Jungle Gardens and visiting the Sanctuary is a nice follow up to the Tobasco Factory Tour. For more information: https://www.junglegardens.org/

From Avery Island we headed southwest to lands’ end at Cypremort Point which sits on Vermillion Bay. We then continued along the Bayou Teche to it’s terminus at Morgan City.

Cypremort Point
Tour’s End – Crossing the Atchafayla River

Cajun Cooking

Crawfish Cake, Cafe Jo Jo’s, Morgan City

We spent two full days slowly making our way south from Breaux Bridge to Morgan City. We had a great time exploring and meeting local folks in the towns and, of course, some dang good food.

Be seeing you!

ctsprinterlife: OTR 8.0: Alabama Part Two

Florence

From Birmingham we made our way northeast to the town of Florence. Florence sits on the Tenneesee River and is located in the northwest corner of Alabama in the Shoals. Florence is also home to the University of North Alabama (UNA),the oldest university in Alabama.

Florence is a beautiful town with many well preserved historic homes and buildings, including some grand buildings on the campus of the university which sits in the middle of town.

Florence was not in our original travel plans, but when we mentioned to some folks we met in Birmingham that we were going to Muscles Shoals they recommended a visit to Florence (right across the river).

Rosenbaum House

Rosenbaum house

You may recall from previous trips that we are fans of Frank Lloyd Wright structures (see previous post Falling for Falling Water). An added bonus of visiting Florence is that is the home to the only FLW design in Alabama.

We were fortunate that the Rosenbaum House was open for tours while were in town and that we had a very knowledgable volunteer guide. We spent about an hour inside the house and then did a walk around to view the outside of the home.

Construction of the Rosenbaum House began in 1939 and was completed during 1940. Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum and their children were the only people to reside in the home. After Stanley passed away, Mildred continued to live in the home until 1999. She could no longer maintain the home by this point and none of her sons wanted the home. Fortunately, the City of Florence acquired the home that year and has worked to preserve the home – making repairs to the roof and other areas – that were much needed when the family sold the house to the city. The city did a wonderful job restoring the house.

Rosenbaum House

This house is an example of what Wright called a Usonian House. Usonian Houses were intended for Middle Class Americans – simple but stylish and affordable – also small. That is not how things worked out in many cases. Most of his commissions were for wealthy families such as the Rosenbaums. Additionally, as with a number of the other homes Wright designed, he also designed most of the original furniture in this home.

Another feature of the Usonian House was that it was designed to grow with the family. In the case of the Rosenbaums, they had four sons. Wright designed a significant addition which was completed in 1948 and included dormitory style space for the boys, a larger kitchen and a guest room.

Dormitory Addition for the Rosenbaum Boys

For more information regarding the Rosenbaum House: https://www.wrightinalabama.com/

Muscles shoals sound studio

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

The Muscle Shoal Sound Studio (MSS) opened in 1969. The studio was founded and owned by the Muscle Shoals Rythm Section also famously known as The Sawmpers. The Swampers had established a reputation as super-tight R&B and Funk studio session musicians.

Between 1969 and 1978 the Swampers played on 200 albums. Seventy-five of those album went Gold or Platinum. Some examples of the groups that Swampers recorded with include: Boz Scaggs, Rolling Stones, Lulu, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and the Staples SIngers.

The studio was abandoned in in 1978 when the Swampers moved to a larger studio in Sheffield. Incredibly, while the studio was occupied by several different businesses and then sat vacant for many years, all of the studio equipment remained intact. The studio was purchased by a non-profit that now gives tours. The studio is once again being used for recording utilizing all of the original gear. For more information on the history of the studio and the Swampers: https://muscleshoalssoundstudio.org/

The shoals: Best food and coffee

Odette https://www.odettealabama.com/

306 Barbecue https://306bbq.com/

Turbo Coffee https://turbocoffee.co/pages/about-us

Our next segment will take us across Northern Mississippi, primarily on dirt and gravel roads. We will pick up the trail south of Corinth, Mississippi and attempt to follow it to the terminus at the Mississippi River. We will jump off the trail at regular intervals to visit some of the tiny towns scattered across this area of the state. Also, in keeping with our visit to Muscles Shoals Sound Studio, we will be visiting Clarksdale while in Mississippi – the epicenter of the Delta Blues.

Be seeing you!

The high road to taos – scenic byway

The High Road to Taos is a scenic drive that connects Taos and Santa Fe. We drove a portion of the route while staying in Taos. Leaving from Taos heading south, the first 30 miles take you on a winding route up and over mountains within the Carson National Forest. The scenery as you might imagine is quite spectacular.

While the views are impressive we found the cultural aspects of the trip even more impressive. The villages, architecture, churches and food reflect the Old Spain of the early Spanish settlements.

Each of the small villages has a Spanish style church – many have been continuosly operating for over two hundred years. We traveled through the villages of Penasco, Chamisal, Trampas, Truchas, Cordova and Chimayo. These villages still maintain the wood carving and weaving expertise and traditions that came from Spain with the first settlers.

SANTUARIO DE Chimayo

We followed the byway as far as Chimayo where we stopped to visit El Santuario de Chimayo. The intial construction took place in 1813. Long before the Spanish arrived Pueblo Indians considered this ground as sacred with healing powers.

The Catholic Church carried forward the belief that the earth under what is now the Plaza del Cerro is sacred and has miraculous healing powers. As a result, the Santuario is a major pilgimage site drawing over 300,000 visitors annually.

The Santuario is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the southwest. The evidence of the woodworking skills of the Spanish settlers is on display throughout the plaza – from the carved figures to the beautiful doors. The plaza is the sole remaining Spanish fortified plaza in New Mexico.

Arthur LowLow Meidna’s Low Low Ride Museum, Chimayo, New Mexico

Ranchero de chimayo

Any worthwhile pilgramage deserves to be rewarded with an excellent meal. Fortunately, while the total population of the small plazas that constitue Chimayo is only 3200 people, one of the best New Mexican cuisine restaurants is located here.

In fact, the Ranchero has been serving food here for 50 years to locals and travelers alike. Interestingly, for our fellow Nutmeggers, the owner, Florence Jaramillo was born in Hartford, Conneticut. Florence moved to Chimayo after marrying Arturo Jaramillo, who was a native of Chimayo. The site of the restaurant is Arturo’s ancestral home.

Espanola

We returned home via Espanola and the River Road (runs along the Rio Grande River).

The Espanola Chamber of Commerce and the McCune Foundation are sponsoring youth mural projects and we stopped in town to see some of the murals. We are glad that we did – as you can see from the photographs these are, without exception, excellent murals.

El Sembrador – Victor Joseph Villalpando

Be seeing you.

Thoroughly Modern Milwaukee (MKE)

We at OTR had never visited Milwaukee until this trip but a bit of advance reseach convinced us that it would be a good city to spend several days exploring. So after spending a week or so biking and camping in southwestern Wisconsin, we made our way east to the state’s largest city (pop. 595,000).

As some of you may recall, our city visit criteria are well established and straight-forward: third wave coffee and tea cafes, high quality street art, an art museum (or two), an excellent Italian restaurant (and professional baseball is always a plus).

milwaukee Art museum

Crying Girl, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and it’s predecessor organizations have been in existence since 1888. The Quadracci Pavilion pictured below was constructed in 2001. The impressive Pavilion with its moveable sail sits on the waterfront of Lake Michigan as the signature work of architecture in the city. http://collection.mam.org/

The MAM has several galleries devoted to modern, pop and abstract art which seems fitting with the architectural style of the Pavilion. The museum collections includes a number of works by major Pop and Abstract icons including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Mist, 2012, David Schnell

fika

Colectivo Coffee served as our cafe host for our stay in MKE. Colectivo is MKE based with cafes on the waterfront and in the Historic Third Ward. Colectivo is also a force in the roasting business and operates the Troubador Bakery as well.

Colectivo has been in a business for quite a while but clearly has not lost its edge and sits firmly in the realm of third wave coffedom. Our experience was excellent because of the professional baristas, friendly staff, great coffee, tasty sandwiches and treats along with an interesting and comfortable cafe space.

There are other solid third wave coffee cafes in MKE which are worth visiting but for a short stay in town you cannot miss with any of Colectivo’s locations.

Street art

MKE provided us with several excellent street murals nicely placed in the Historic Third Ward while the epic mural by @AEROSOLKINGDOM pictured above and below required a short drive down to an industrial area along the waterfront.

As you can see from the photographs there is an eclectic mix of fun and serious art to be found in MKE.

Historic third ward and Riverwalk

The Historic Third Ward District is a former warehouse area which has been revitalized into a thriving entertainment district. There are over 450 businesses in the district. The center piece of the district is the Milwaukee Public Market which houses restaurants, bars, wine shops, live entertainment and retail shops in an large open space.

The district is bounded by the Milwaukee River and the riverwalk which allows pedestrians to stroll along the river and of course provides direct access to the district. Nicely done MKE!

Our recommendations for the district – Onesto for excellent Italian fare, Thief Wine Bar for delicious and very reasonably priced wine, St. Paul Fish Company for fresh fish from the Lake and of course Colectivo Coffee.

Sports

Our timing was fortuitous in visiting MKE while the Brewers were at home. The Brewers did not play when we saw them, but have played better since we were in town (won nine of last ten games). Nonetheless, it is always fun to take in a MLB game, particularly in a stadium not previously visited.

The stadium – American Family Field – opened in 2001 and, like the MAM, is architecturally impressive. The stadium has the only fan-shaped convertible roof in the United States – which worked out well for us as rain moved into the MKE area on the afternoon of the day we were attending.

As you can see in the photos below the crowd was sparse as the city was still limiting attendance to 25% of capacity. The bewildering part of the rule was that while attendance was limited there was no social distancing with seating.

Our thoughts

We had a great time visiting MKE. The city is a good stop for three to four days, depending on your interests. There are plenty of options with professional sports teams, museums, fine and casual dining and live entertainment.

MKE is also very pedestrian- and bike-friendly with numerous paved paths in downtown and along the waterfront. Also, and very importantly from our perspective, is that the local folks we met were uniformly very friendly and open.

MKE – modern and friendly – worth a visit!

Our next planned post will be based on our travels through Minnesota.

Be seeing you!

Wisconsin: Say Cheese!

While we had planned to travel north through Wisconsin as part of OTR 6.0 we did not initally envision visiting the southwestern part of the state. But, after coming across some information about the Badger State Trail, it looked as if it would provide several days of enjoyable riding through the countryside. We decided to swing west to camp, bike and explore the region.

The geography of this area is predominated by rolling hills and dells. This is dairy country with much of the milk going to the production of locally made cheese. The picturesque countryside is dotted with dairy farms.

There is a large Amish community here, it is quite a sight to see fields being plowed using horse drawn equipment. The winding hilly roads require extra caution due to the presence of horse drawn carriages.

Badger state trail

The Badger runs north/south from Madison to the border of Illinois. This trail was originally the rail bed for the Chicago, Madison and and Northern Railroad, with successor railroads carrying freight until the mid 1980s. The trail was opened for cycling and walking around 2007. The trail is not paved but the dirt and sand surface is good. We thoroughly enjoyed riding through the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin.

Irma’s Kitchen

On the advice of a local resident we met while doing laundry in Monroe (The Cheesemakers) we had breakfast at a local institution in the nearby Village of Argyle (pop.857). Irma’s Kitchen was founded in 1976 by Irma Collins. Irma has retired but IK continues as a family operated business with two of her daughters serving classic and delicious breakfasts between 6:30am and 11:00am. Another of Irma’s daughters is an extraordinary baker, making pastries and PIES for the cafe.

We ended up having breakfast at Irma’s several times – not just because the breakfast and pie was delicious – we met the local guys’ coffee group on our first visit and knew we had to go back to capture more of the local flavor and history. Thanks guys! We really enjoyed chatting with y’all.

Jane Addams Trail

Crossing Richland Creek

With continued good weather we decided to bicycle south from Monroe and ride the Badger Trail into Illinois where it becomes the Jane Addams Trail. The trail runs 19 miles from the border to the town of Freeport.

The trail is named in honor of Jane Addams, the second woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Addams founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919. She worked for many years lobbying the major nations of the world to disarm and sign peace accords. Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois which is located close by the trail.

Mineral point

On the advice of our new friends at IK we spent an afternoon in Mineral Point. The town was founded in 1827 and is Wisconsin’s third oldest city. The town grew rapidly for a number of years after the discovery of lead deposits.

As the scope of the mining operations increased, experienced miners immigrated from Cornwall in England. The arrival of the Cornish miners enabled a significant increase in lead production.

The discovery of gold in California in the late 1840s coupled with diminishing lead production triggered an exodus of the miners from Mineral Point.

The legacy of the Cornish immigrants is still prevalent today in Mineral Point thanks to the construction of many stone cottages and buildings by the Cornish miners and the work of a number of residents to preserve the cottages and buildings.

Mining returned in the late 1800s due to the discovery of zinc at the bottom of the lead mines. The zinc mining played out by the 1920s. Today the town draws many tourists to see the architecture and shop and dine at the beautifully preserved historical buildings.

The mulberry pottery

Mineral Point has become an artistic enclave and we were fortunate to stop in to see the pottery of Frank Polizzi. Frank has been creating wood fired stoneware and pit fired earthenware for over forty years. Frank’s lovely wife Barbara shared the history of the pottery and explained the process for us.

The Mulberry Pottery utilizes a wood burning kiln built by Frank which can hold up to 300 pieces of pottery and achieves a temperature of 2400F during the roughly 15 hour process.

Yes, of course we loved many of the pieces and are now the proud owners of a beautiful vase!

Camping at Yellowstone Lake

More from Milwaukee (MKE) soon. Be seeing you!

Madison:post script

We had never been to Madison so decided to spend an afternoon there as we traveled from Yellowstone Lake to Milwaukee. We had read about the vibrant and pedestrian friendly shopping and dining area along State Street near the State Capitol Building. We thought it would be nice to stop for coffee and tea and explore the area.

We were saddened to find that protests last April-May had turned into violent street riots in which 75 businesses in this area were damaged and looted. Today 30 of the 75 businesses remained closed, boarded up and covered with graffiti.

The business owners requested financial support from the city in the amount of $250,000 to help repair damages and reopen. The city council voted not to provide funding since most of the State Street businesses are white owned and as such providing funding would constitute an act of systemic racism.

Terlingua, Texas

During our time at Big Bend NP we used the town of Terlingua (pop. 58) as our home base. Terlingua is only about twelve miles north of the Study Butte (stew-dee) entrance into the park and has a well stocked general store (Cottonwood GS) for provisions and a half dozen restaurants and shops in addition to motel, camping and RV accommodations. Terlingua has two paved roads – FM 170 which runs east to west terminating at Route 118 which runs north to south from Alpine to the park entrance.

Terlingua came into existence around 1900 after the discovery of cinnabar. The commercial value of cinnabar derives from the extraction of quicksilver, aka mercury. Shortly thereafter about a half dozen mining companies staked claims and set up operations. Over time the companies were consolidated as the Chisos Mining Company but still became bankrupt in 1937 due to falling market prices. During WW2 several mines were re-opened as heightened demand caused prices to rise but by 1947 the mines were again closed.

Many of the miners that worked these mines were Mexicans who came north for the work. Many of the descendants of the Mexican miners still live in Terlingua and the surrounding area. We visited the Terlingua cemetery where a number of the miners who died working the mines are buried and which also is the final resting place for many victims of the 1918 flu epidemic. The cemetery is still in use today.

The town itself is pretty ramshackle which frankly is part of the charm. The local residents are very laid back and friendly. The Terlingua Ghost Town is where most of the restaurants and shops are located – scattered amongst the ruins of the mining company buildings and housing. Many of the current businesses occupy the abandoned mining company structures.

We found Terlingua to be an excellent spot for visiting BBNP if you decide to stay outside the park and had a lot of fun after our hikes unwinding and meeting people in the restaurants and bars in the ghost town area.

Be seeing you!

P.S. Terlingua has the most stunning sunrises which you can watch from most anywhere in town as the sun rises over the Chisos Mountains, Class 1 dark skies for awe inspiring star gazing and the loudest packs of coyotes we have ever heard.

Chicken-Fried Antelope and Grilled Quail

Marfa and Fort Davis, Far West, Texas

After departing Carlsbad Caverns NP we traveled through oil country (see Carlsbad Caverns blog) and on through a number of small Texas towns on our way south. Our first stop was in Pecos. We stayed just a short while as the traffic from the Mid-Continent Oil Field has just overwhelmed the town with heavy trucks crossing through the main intersection from all four points on the compass.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in the tiny town (pop.479) of Balmorhea (bal-mor-ray). Balmorhea has a small water canal that runs through town surrounded by Cottonwood trees offering a shady, tranquil spot for our meal and a break.

From Balmorhea we continued south on Texas Route 17 to Fort Davis. Historic Fort Davis, managed by the National Park Service sits just outside of town. This fort operated from 1854 to 1891. Throughout much of its tenure the cavalry and infantry troops stationed here were tasked with protecting emigrants heading west to California from Native American attacks. During the Civil War the Union troops were withdrawn from the fort and it was occupied by Confederate troops from Texas.

Afte the war the fort was reoccupied by U.S. Cavalry troops including several companies of Buffalo Soldiers. From that point forward the troops were again focused on providing safe passage for emigrants and commercial freight operators. With the surrender and deportation of the majority of the Native Americans towards the end of the century the fort was abandoned.

Fort Davis is a great stop if you are interested in the history of the American West. The fort is in excellent condition and you can visit recreated barracks and living quarters.

We stayed the night at the Hotel Limpia (constructed 1912) in the town of Fort Davis (pop.1210). The Limpia is a charming western hotel with an excellent restaurant – Blue Mountain Grill.

Our next stop on this leg was Marfa, Texas. Marfa (pop. 1,981) is another town in Far West Texas that started out as a water stop for the railroad. Today the rail still exists and is operated by the Union Pacific Railroad with six to ten freight trains crossing through the middle of town each day.

During WW2 Marfa was home to a Army Air Corps training base which was abandoned after the war. Marfa became famous as an artists colony after NYC artist Donald Judd moved there in 1971 and purchased some of the empty hangers to permanently house collections of his work and those of other minimalist artists.

While we enjoyed Marfa we came away somewhat disappointed after reading and hearing all of the hype about the town. The minimalist large “art” installations are just not our cup of tea. The town itself is still charming with many examples of well preserved western architecture. There are a number of interesting shops and excellent restaurants albeit the prices are inflated for the tourist trade.

If you do go to Marfa we highly recommend the Hotel Paisano as a base for your stay. The hotel was orignially constructed in 1929 and served as a hub for cattle ranchers and tourists for several decades. The hotel fell into disrepair in the early 2000’s but was purchased and entirely renovated. Today it is a charming hotel with a good restaurant and bar along with great courtyard for relaxing with a cocktail or two.

A political/cultural item we would mention regards a phenomenon we have seen in several places. As Marfa became know as an artists colony a number of “outsiders” have come to town and purchased and renovated properties effectively pricing locals out of the market. The county enacted an adobe tax on adobe structures to capitalize on the rising market which raised property taxes 60% for all owners of adobe structures. Local folks who have made no improvements to their modest adobe homes are caught up in this and are hurting.

Lastly, and very importantly there is an excellent third wave coffee shop in Marfa trading as Do Your Thing Coffee and a very good roaster in town – Big Bend Roasters.

We are off to the rugged backcountry of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Be seeing you!

The Hotel Paisano

Santa Maria, Federico Archuleta, #el_federico

Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa, Texas

Fire Station, Marfa, Texas

Jeff Davis County Courthouse, Fort Davis, Texas

Fort Davis, U.S. Eighth Infantry, 1854 Texas Confederate Rifles, 1861

Hotel Limpia, Fort Davis, Texas

Adobe Tax

Jaguar XK 140

CT Road Trips: Yale University Art Gallery

Our second road trip of this home stay found us in New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery (http://www.artgallery.yale.edu ). We were particularly interested in seeing the three exhibitions currently on display.

Of course all road trips require sustenance in the form of coffee pre-activity and a meal with wine post activity. We enjoyed fika at Fussy Coffee ( http://www.drinkfussycoffee.com ) on Winchester Avenue. In addition to great coffee and light food, Fussy is strategically located next to the Farmington Canal Greenway which made for an easy and pleasant walk to Chapel Street for our museum visit. An added bonus of this location was the opportunity to view Kwadwo Adae’s mural “locomotion” which is on the FCG about three blocks north of Fussy Coffee (#streetartfromthe road).

After viewing the exhibitions, we made the short walk down Chapel Street for our repast at Atelier Florian (www.atelierflorian.net ). The focus here is on seafood. We tried the mussels, calamari and seafood tacos accompanied by white wine and found all to be delicious. A terrific spot for a mid-afternoon break.

P.S. As an added bonus we have included several paintings from prominent artists that we viewed on our way between the exhibitions.

William Bailey: Looking Through Time

This exhibition consists of a number of oil paintings by long time Yale art professor William Bailey. Bailey focused on still-life paintings at a time when abstract painting was very much in vogue. The majority of the paintings on display are large still-life oil paintings. The colors are muted yet vibrant while stylistically relecting many different artists and periods. Photographs of eight of his paintings on display are included below. Many of these paintings were done during his visits to Italy.

Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art

This exhibit includes paintings, wood carvings, textiles, pottery, photographs and drawings from the Yale collection as well as several other institutions. The exhibition includes pieces from a variety of first nations and tribes across the United States. The curators have been quite clear in the narrative to acknowledge that much if not all of this work was essentially stolen from the rightful owners as tribes were forced onto reservations. Yale has returned hundreds of artifacts to tribal nations over the last several years.

Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China: The Ann B. Goodman Collection

This exhibit provides 15 splendid examples of ceremonial clothing worn for special occasions such as birth, marriage, death and harvest. The clothing is incredibly intricate and detailed. All of this clothing was made by women who typically do everything from gathering the cotton, dyeing the material, sewing and embroidering the outfits. The groom’s wedding outfit in the exhibition was made by his bride to be! There is also a display of hats and jewelry that were worn at these ceremonies. This collection was recently gifted to Yale but is only on display through January 5, 2020.

Below Zero, Winslow Homer, 1894

“Hands Up” (Holdup in the Canyon), N.C. Wyeth, 1906

Le cafe’ de nuit, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Femme assise (Seated Woman), Pablo Picasso, 1936

APB’s (Afro-Parisian Brothers), Barkley L. Hendricks, 1978

Locomotion, Kwadwo Adae, 2015

Atelier Florian and Fussy Coffee

Oregon Coast: Astoria to Reedsport

After our stay in Portland we traveled west along the banks of the Columbia River to Astoria where we would begin our journey south along the Oregon coast. Astoria sits at the confluence of the Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. Due to the massive flow from the Columbia into the Pacific entering and departing the river is often extremely hazardous due to the ever shifting “bar”. The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria is an excellent museum which provides a much deeper understanding of the maritime history of the river. The museum sits right on the bank of the river and has a retired light ship which can be toured as well.

From Astoria we followed the Pacific Coast Highway south as far as Reedsport before turning inland to visit Crater Lake NP. The Oregon coast is breathtakingly beautiful and pristine. The state of Oregon purchased the land along the coastline back in the 1930s. As a result there is no commercial development on the beaches and the entire coastline is dotted with state parks and recreation areas where you can camp with a view of the ocean and walk five minutes through the dunes to the beach. Most of the beaches range from three to seven miles in length with broad flat expanses of firm sand making for great walks along the shore. Temperatures this time of the year average around 65F as the high.

There are also a number of small beach towns lining the coast which offered us the opportunity to dine on fresh seafood and enjoy good coffee and tea during our leisurely tour.

The Oregon coast also has numerous smaller rivers emptying into the Pacific. We capitalized on this by kayaking on the Nehalem and Siltcoos Rivers. We particularly enjoyed the Siltcoos as we were able to kayak all the way to the Pacific.

We had never been to the Oregon coast before this trip but came away as big fans. We cannot speak to the summer season (crowds) but September is glorious. And, by the way, the sunsets viewed from the beaches here are magnificent!

Be seeing you!

Columbia River, Fort Stevens

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Kayaking, Nehalem River, Wheeler, Oregon

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge

Migrating Grey Whales, Cape Lookout

Fishing Fleet, Newport, Oregon

Beachside SRA, Waldport, Oregon

Devils Churn, Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua Light, Siuslaw NF

Oregon Dunes NRA

Siltcoos River

Coffee with a View, Siuslaw River, Florence, Oregon