Tag Archives: historic

photo of Interior Othello's

Another Stop on the Tasty Trail – Edmond, Oklahoma

Teardrop Trail Log: June 10, 2017

Our first night on the Teardrop Trail was spent in Edmund, Oklahoma. On the edge of Oklahoma City, it is a great stopping place about half way from Dripping Springs to Omaha where Jim’s brother and Bob, his high school friend live.

Jim had introduced me to Edmond when stayed at the Best Western on the way to and from his high school reunion in July of 2015. It is conveniently located near I-35. On that trip, we explored a bit before having a wonderful dinner at Moni’s Pasta and Pizza, a culinary gem hiding in a strip mall on North May Avenue with great food and a casual, comfortable atmosphere.

photo of table with candle and check

A Lovely Evening

On the Tasty Trail this trip, we continued to explore the local culinary scene. A short Google search lead us to Othello’s, a family-owned Italian restaurant downtown, located in the building that was the original home of Edmond’s first hospital which was on the second floor of the town’s first movie theater. It is a picturesque dining destination with a classic vibe, complete with a pressed tin ceiling and candles melting over wine bottles. The walls were decorated with colorful murals of the Italian countryside. The service was friendly and we started with glasses of lovely Italian red. The menu contains many Italian favorites. Jim ordered Hellen’s Baked Ravioli and I ordered Nancy’s Penne Tomato Alfredo with Chicken from the Customer Creations section, a unique feature of Othello’s menu.

After dinner, we went in search of a bottle of wine for a night cap, but discovered that the liquor stores closed at 9:00. Disappointed, we returned to the cozy comfort of the Best Western for a much-needed rest. The morning brought a trip through the free continental breakfast buffet before we headed to Omaha.

photo of Our Rig at the Somervell Roadside Park

On the Road Again!

Teardrop Trail Log: June 10, 2017

Omaha, Nebraska, where I grew up, sits astride the famed east/west Union Pacific Railroad mainline and is midway between New York City and San Francisco on Interstate 80 — the ninth busiest highway of the Interstate system. When combined with the Nebraska attitude of getting things done, I’ve always favored traveling on major roads. Let’s not waste any time driving!

Map of 281 to Wichita Falls

Map of 281 to Wichita Falls

A move to Austin, Texas in the mid-80’s began to change my thinking. Austin is on Interstate 35, the main north/south artery between Larado, Texas and Duluth, Minnesota. With all the border-to-border truck traffic, and major cities like Dallas/Fort Worth and Oklahoma City  along its path,  it is one of the most congested highways in the Interstate system. The faster Interstate speeds are usually offset by traffic and the ever-present construction needed to maintain this vital artery.

Texas is full of historic and eccentric towns connected by scenic highways however, and I have gradually learned to love the sometimes slower, but much more interesting trips they offer. Our route to Des Moines, Iowa for the Red Power Roundup was another opportunity to enjoy the backroads of Texas.

Although I enjoy laid-back travel more and more, I still like our modern conveniences — Google and Apple Maps have transformed our travel. A quick search produced routes for one of our favorite Texas roads, Highway 281 from just south of Johnson City to Wichita Falls, Texas. It varies between two and four-lane highway, interrupted by small towns and cities along the way. Each provides a chance to stop, stretch your legs and take in an attraction or two.

The Highland Lake culture near Marble Falls and Burnet, aviation enthusiasts in Lampasas, the beautiful courthouse in Hamilton (most of Texas’ 254 counties have preserved historic and beautiful courthouses), farming around the unique town of Hico, a Depression-Era roadside park near Stephenville and re-entering more urban travel (with the promise of a Starbuck’s Mocha!) in Wichita Falls. Surprisingly, the route clocks in with a faster travel time than Interstate 35 — as long as you don’t dawdle too much!

The remainder of the route to our first stop, Edmond, Oklahoma is Interstate 44. A toll road, it is new and fast. After all that Texas sightseeing, it’s time for a nice dinner and a bed.

photo of burros along the route

Local color

photo of maps and brochures

Des Moines – Here We Come

Teardrop Trail Log: May 2017

Planning for our trips on the Teardrop Trail is always an essential part of my experience. I love exploring the possibilities. This year, Red Power Round Up, the annual gathering of the International Harvester collectors, would take place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines from June 15 through 17. We discussed places and events we might want to see before and after the event. Trying to limit the driving to around 6 hours a day, we prefer to take the scenic route, including time to stop and stretch, grab a photo or try a local eatery when time permits. Several months before our scheduled departure, I began an intensive Internet search of websites, blogs and travel emails that would inform our route. I even tried a few on-line planning tools. Hard to believe this would be the fourth year traveling in the Ambassador, our teardrop.

We’ve been part of the Teardrop online community for quite some time, so I began posting inquiries about campgrounds, restaurants and points of interest on several groups’ Facebook pages. Members of Heartland Tear Jerkers had some great suggestions and even extended an invitation to a gathering in Rock Creek State Park, just prior to RPRU. I also reached out to Sarah Tucker of Cool Tears magazine and Marsha Corbin, the Executive Director at Old Trails Region in central Missouri. We had seen a television program of the Flint Hills in Kansas and Jim had seen an event featuring video woodworkers he followed online in Skiatook, Oklahoma. so I started researching the possibilities and contacting organizations along the route requesting brochures.

Armed with our trusty National Geographic Road Atlas, Adventure Edition,  I began to compile our wish list and enlisted Google Maps to get the mileage from point to point and answer the inevitable question, “Are we there yet?” As the itinerary came together, Jim and I reviewed options. I printed out the notes that would be clipped to the cover of the atlas for quick reference. Next step –- the to-do list.

photo of The Infinity Room at the House on the Rock

The House on the Rock

The House on the Rock defies description. Imagine the love child of the Smithsonian Institution and P.T. Barnum. Begun in 1945 by Alex Jordan as a lofty home perched on a tall chimney rock, it evolved as “one thing led to another” into an attraction with ever-increasing collections — as eclectic as it is enormous.

I was interested in the pipe organ and other musical instruments we had heard about, and based on the Web site, thought that an afternoon would be enough to explore the attraction. We inquired about the pipe organ as we bought tickets and were advised to not linger too long in any one place. We had no idea just how big this place was.

photo of Jim rubbing Budda's Belly

Rub Budda’s Belly …

We set out through the courtyard, rubbed the Budda for good luck and were quickly in the House. First opened to the public in 1960, the House is a series of rooms surrounding The Rock, no two the same size, shape or style.

photo of The Bauer-Coble Mushroom Lamp

The Bauer-Coble Mushroom Lamp

It is vaguely oriental, but also includes furnishings from other eras. The Infinity Room is an engineering marvel that hangs out over the valley floor several hundred feet below.

photo of Main Street exhibit at House on the Rock

Main Street

The collections that follow are too numerous and varied to describe here, but include a mock-up of a late 19th century main street — complete with fully furnished shops, homes and village services like a sheriff’s office and fire department. With the provided tokens, one can play the dozens of mechanical musical instruments that are scattered throughout the attraction. They vary from small music boxes and pianos to a complete 80-piece orchestra.

photo of Faberge' Eggs at House on the Rock

Faberge´ Eggs

Along the way, there are collections of dolls and doll houses, firearms, circus models, Fabrege Eggs, agricultural equipment, steam power, stained glass, classic cars, pipe organs, carousel horses and a giant carousel and replicas of the Crown Jewels.

photo of a 200-foot sea creature

200-foot sea creature

One building contains a multi-level exhibit of several dozen scale models of maritime ships from hundreds of years old to present. Any one of these collections stand on their own, but to have so many in the same place is overwhelming. Suffice it to say, we wished we had allowed more than an afternoon and could easily have spent a couple of days there. Simply Amazing.

photo of a Beautiful Stained Glass

Beautiful Stained Glass


photo of Wisconsin Capitol and Fountain

Exploring Madison

Teardrop trail Log: June 19, 2016

photo of the Capitol majestic dome

the majestic dome

We departed the Old Fashioned after the wonderful Wisconsin lunch – on to explore the city. Jim’s career in higher education information and instructional technology had taken him to Madison for conferences in the past. He would be my tour guide to this beautiful city.  Our first stop would be to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Wisconsin Capitol, where the corner stone was laid in 1837.

photo of the Classic interior of the Capitol

Classic Capitol Interior

The building was erected on the highest point of the isthmus of Lake Mendota and Monona. The dome was modeled after the dome of the United States Capitol and is topped by Daniel Chester French’s elegant gilded bronze statue, “Wisconsin.” The walls were decorated with colorful murals, stone from around the world, hand-carved furniture and exquisite gold mosaics. From the observation deck, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the city.

photo of Student Union on Lake Mendota

Student Union on Lake Mendota

We then proceeded down “The Drag” (State Street) to the University of Wisconsin – Madison also located on the isthmus. We walked along the landscaped campus that has the familiar feel of academia until we reached the Memorial Student Union, considered one of the most scenic student unions in the country.

photo of Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

We entered the building and walked past the Rathskeller, a German pub adjacent to the lake terrace overlooking the shore of Lake Mendota. The Terrace was crowded, filled with both students and members of the public enjoying the picture-perfect sunny day, socializing, gazing at the lake and the sailboats. Picture perfect. Hard to image how this idyllic view would look in January, something Jim and I continued to discuss as we toured the state.

On the way back to the car, we indulged in some window shopping walking up State Street.  From indie book stores to the incredible range of locally-owned specialty stores and boutiques filled with treasures, we were treated to a fun-filled afternoon. Lo and behold, we spotted the familiar green logo – Starbucks and it was Mocha time.

photo of Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

photo of old tractors with Harvester Heritage logo

Harvester Heritage Interview

Teardrop Trail Log:  June 18, 2016

At Red Power Round Up, I was able to connect with Sally Jacobs, the McCormick/International Harvester Archivist at the Wisconsin Historical Society. I had been working with Sally and other staff members as I compiled the material for Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. The collection is amazingly rich, offering publications like Harvester World online. The Internet has radically changed how authors access material. On past projects, I traveled thousands of miles, poured over boxes of papers and books, created countless index cards, before even starting to write.

image of Irma Harding by Haddon Sunbloom in 1948

Irma Harding by Haddon Sunbloom in 1948

Because the 27th annual Red Power Round Up was in Wisconsin, I really enjoyed getting to meet the people behind the emails and phone conversations I’d worked with for several years. As I was walking through the fairgrounds, I noticed a portable recording booth that was part of Harvester Heritage, a project of the International Harvester Collectors Club established to preserve the history. After Sally and I chatted for awhile, she mentioned Harvester Heritage and suggested that I sign up to record an interview about my research on Irma Harding. I walked back to the booth and the process began. I’ll be contributing both the visual and audio parts of my presentations to Harvester Heritage to share not only Irma’s story, but the story of the women behind Irma Harding, the roles they played at International Harvester and how they helped change the mid-western farm families way of life.

photo of the rebuilt and painted tractor

1936 Farmall F-12 Restoration in Three Days

Teardrop Trail Log: June 18, 2016

One surprising highlight of this year’s Red Power Roundup was the “flash” restoration of an old Farmall tractor in just three days. Originally the brainchild of Howard Raymond of Wellfleet, Nebraska, the idea had its roots in another restoration completed by volunteers in Madison, Wisconsin in 2009. Deciding on a Farmall F-12 that was stored in a warehouse, the process of gathering volunteers and sponsors took a couple of years, and the unrestored tractor was displayed at the 2015 Red Power in Sedalia, Missouri to encourage participation.

Everything was ready to go on Thursday, June 16th, with 40 volunteers and an unrestored tractor. In the space of three days, it was disassembled, sandblasted, the motor overhauled, new brakes and clutch, the magneto and carburetor overhauled, re-assembled and painted. By Saturday, it was showing off around the ‘Roundup. The restored tractor then was presented to Case/IH for inclusion in their Farmall Collection.

Information regarding the planning process and a picture of the original unrestored tractor is available on the 2016 Red Power Roundup site. What a remarkable effort!

Photo of Volunteers "flash" rebuilding the Farmall F-12

Volunteers “flash” rebuild the Farmall F-12

Waukesha Model Farm

Teardrop Trail Log: June 17, 2016

Each year, a local group hosts the Red Power Roundup, in this case Chapter 4 of the National International Harvester Collectors, Club, Inc. in Wisconsin. Other local clubs exhibit in the Chapter House, and I went there next. There is often a raffle, and I always register hoping a classic tractor will follow me home. Having completed that important bit of business and looked the various chapter tables over for interesting swag, I was about to leave when I spotted a model farm setup at the opposite end of the building.

It was a large and elaborate setup, with at least a dozen toy tractors and I stopped to look. As I made my way around the exhibit, the model owner introduced himself and we began to chat. It seems the model farm had a good story, and the owner, Allen H. Martin enjoyed telling it. Always on the lookout, I asked him if he would tell the story on camera, and he readily agreed. The video you see here was the result. He tells the story better than I can so …

photo of The world's best french fries

On the Tasty Trail – Cherry Valley Café, The Best Fries Ever!

Teardrop Trail Log: June 16, 2016

photo of Cherry Valley Cafe

Worth climbing over the construction

Thursday, we were heading north on I 39, when we embarked on the Tasty Trail in Cherry Valley, a quaint, mid-nineteenth century Illinois town with a cobblestone main street, lined by red brick buildings from a by-gone era. We spotted the Cherry Valley Café, located in an old bank built in 1909. A family restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – seven days a week. Just our kind of place. We dodged the barricades for the road construction on State Street and opened the door to be transported back in time. The vibe was very friendly, small town. The customers greeted each other and the staff had been described by one review as “Flo-esque,” very friendly and attentive. Happy Days?

photo of a Chicken Sandwich

Chicken Sandwich

Jim ordered the BLT and I chose the Chicken Sandwich. The best way to describe the plates was artful home cooking. On my sandwich, the chicken peaked out from under the bun ever so slightly and the garnish was a small symphony in red and green – lettuce, tomato, topped with perfectly placed pickles. Jim’s BLT was amazing. Carefully cut triangles of perfectly toasted white bread with layers of lettuce and ripe red tomato slices. The real center piece of the plate was the mound of crispy, mouth-watering fries, piled artistically around the sandwich. He selected one of these tasty morsels and plopped it in his mouth. His eyes lit up as he exclaimed,”Yum.” He is always kind enough to share a few fries. I really appreciated his generosity. They were amazing. As we left the Cherry Valley Café, we speculated on the secret process that created this amazing culinary experience. One reviewer had written that they have extra breading or something that increased their flavor and texture over normal fries. Jim observed that perhaps they were dipped in tempura batter. He is completely convinced that these are the best fries ever!

photo of Cherry Valley Cafe sign

Cherry Valley Café

photo of building that is All dolled up

Antiques in Perry

Map of the Mark Twain Lake area

Mark Twain Lake area

Teardrop Trail Log: June 15, 2016

We’re rarely on the road early, and by the time we visited the Mark Twain Birthplace and navigated across Mark Twain Lake it was nearly noon. Just as the thought of lunch was occurring to me, we pulled into Perry, Missouri. Once a booming coal town, it is now a destination for lake fun and antique shopping. It is also one of the prettiest small towns in Missouri.

After lunch at the Hootenanny, I wanted to walk around and photograph some of the buildings. Within a block of Palmyra and Main, there are several ornate examples of late-nineteenth century commercial architecture including wood, brick and cast iron façades.

photo of Miss Daisy's Antiques

Miss Daisy’s Antiques

Many of the buildings now house antique stores. We took the time to explore one particularly promising one. I’m a woodworker and enjoy finding, restoring and using old hand tools. This store had a generous supply of old saws, planes, chisels and the like and I couldn’t resist exploring. There were lots of other things to look at, and we spent about an hour there. We were definitely going to have to visit again when we had more time. Sadly, we needed reach Peoria by late afternoon and play time in Missouri was over for now!