Table of Contents:
This was planned as another of those "we're-retired-so-we're-going-on-vacation-for-a-month-or-so-until-we-get-back" trips. Last year took as through the Dakotas and as far west as Idaho. This year it was Oklahoma and the intervening states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas). Why Oklahoma? Well, it's the only mainland state I haven't visited. (Mark hasn't visited Oregon or Washington, and neither of us have visited Hawai'i.)
But the best-laid plans, etc., . . . . While we were in Oklahoma City, we got word that Mark's grandmother had died in California and the funeral was in Los Angeles in five days. Since we were already halfway there (Oklahoma City was in fact the westernmost point of our original plan), we figured the easiest thing was to just head west and we could make Los Angeles in three days. (The log up through June 7 was written before this adjustment to plans.)
But now knowing this ahead of time, we loaded up the car with books, clothes, books, cooler, books, snacks, books, .... Well, not quite that many books, but what with all the trip books, reading books, and linear algebra and projective geometry books (the last for Mark's research), there were definitely more than many people take.
May 27, 2003: The first part of the trip was fairly mundane--south on the New Jersey Turnpike, through Delaware and Maryland, loop around Washington, DC, and into Virginia. We stopped in Alexandria for lunch at the Hard Times Cafe, a chain of chili parlors which features Texas, Cincinnati, Teralinga, and vegetarian chili. Mark had Teralinga chili over spaghetti; I had Texas chili. It was a bit greasy--but then again, I'm used to low-fat, mostly vegetarian cooking--and the onions on top were chopped a bit too fine--more like shredded-- but overall it was tasty.
Since we still had fifteen minutes on the parking meter, we made a quick stop at the Book Bank, a used bookstore around the corner from the Hard Times Cafe. It was pretty good in genre paperbacks, but we didn't buy anything--we really have to cut back. I was tempted by a new-looking copy of Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON, but we've both read it already, and are unlikely to re-read it, and the library has it in any case.
Apparently the motto printed on at least some District of Columbia license plates is "Taxation Without Representation".
We passed another bookstore, the Book Outlet, in Gordonsville, but we were running a bit late, due to the scarcity of gas stations in Alexandria (involving a lot of driving to find one), and the fact that I missed our exit at one point and didn't realize it until about twenty minutes later. So we didn't stop. It didn't look all that great, as part of a large barn in the middle of nowhere, shared with an antiques shop.
In Ladysmith, Virginia, we passed a place named "A Touch of Grace Barber and Beauty Salon" with a Christian fish symbol on their sign. We have passed a *lot* of churches, including the Shekinah Glory Baptist Church. I can't help but feel there's something odd about the very Jewish term "Shekinah" showing up in the name of a Baptist church. Others may agree--it was right across the street from another Baptist church.
We eventually got to Farmville and checked in to the Comfort Inn there. Dinner was at La Parota, an "authentic Mexican restaurant." Not. (Although Mark said that the homemade hot sauce was very good.) My enchilada was a bit tough, as if it had been microwaved too long.
The evening's entertainment was watching "Morocco" on Turner Classic Movies and reading Homer Hickam's "The Coalwood Way".
Mileage: 480 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 480 miles
May 28, 2003: On Usenet in December 2000, Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote, "I've occasionally amused myself by imagining the copyeditorial queries you'd get if someone mistook a real history of the Civil War for a piece of historical fiction. . . . 'There appear to be some inadvertent duplications -- probably word processor errors. Wilmer McLean appears both as a farmer living in the vicinity of Bull Run, on whose land the first battle of the war takes place, and again as a farmer living in Appomattox Court House, several hundred miles away, which is where the war ends. The author should decide which character is the real Wilmer McLean, and find a different name for the other one.'"
I am not going to give you the history of Appomattox Court House--you can get that elsewhere. But I will have a few odds and ends.
The person who wrote up the final surrender document in a formal copy for the generals to sign was Ely S. Parker, a Native American. The surrender was negotiated and signed on April 9, 1865, and the formal ceremony, including the stacking of arms, was on April 12, 1865, exactly four years after the firing on Fort Sumter.
As for Wilmer McLean, the story is that after the battle of First Bull Run, McLean moved to Appomattox Court House to get away from the war. But he didn't move here until December 1863, a year and a half after the battle. Some sources claim the real reason McLean moved to Appomattox Court House was that he was a sugar speculator selling sugar to the Confederate Army and the railroad ran near to Appomattox Court House. After the war, he wanted to conceal this, and also get some fame that might be valuable, so he promoted the idea that he moved to get away from the war, only to have it end up in his parlor.
Even if all that is true, it still seems a mighty big coincidence. (Of course, one ranger insisted the Appomattox Court House wasn't all that important either, and it wasn't the end of the war. It's hard to say what was, though, because there was no Confederate government that the Union recognized as empowered to sign a peace treaty or even a total surrender.)
Wilmer McLean's house was dismantled in 1892 and the plan was to reassemble it in Washington DC, but the money ran out. Books say that the materials, left in piles at the site, were destroyed by the weather or carted off by souvenir hunters. The same ranger mentioned above says that there were not really any souvenir hunters, because Appomattox Court House was so far from any population center and before highways and general tourism, it was very hard to get to. This is true, but it is also possible that speculators would come out and removed wagonloads of the stuff for resale. In any case, the house has been reconstructed exactly, and the reason it could be exact is that before the house was dismantled, an architect made detailed drawings so that it could be put back together. If the house had not been dismantled, no drawings would exist, and weather or fire might have destroyed it with no records left at all.
(Oh, another reason the ranger discounts souvenir hunters was that Virginians didn't want souvenirs of their surrender. But *someone* was planning to make the house a tourist attraction--even a Virginian who didn't feel so strongly, or a non-Virginian. Either way, similar souvenir hunters were certainly possible.)
Along one of the roads was a marker for Joel Walker Sweeney, buried nearby. Sweeney (along with his brothers) was the popularizer of the banjo.
Lunch was at the Jumbo Family Restaurant, watched over by a portrait of Jesus--the one where he's pulling open his robe to show his exposed heart wrapped in thorns. Why is this better in a restaurant than a photograph of someone doing open-heart surgery?
Driving into West Virginia, we noticed that the speed limit jumped to 70. I didn't think it was that high anywhere in the eastern states.
We arrived at Charleston WV and had planned to stay in a motel downtown. But the area of Charleston that we drove through to get to it was so run down and abandoned-looking that we decided to stay at a Motel 6 a few miles outside town instead, in the area outside all towns on interstates that can best be described as "motelopolis". (According to what we heard, not all of downtown Charleston was like that, but a lot of parts that we drove through seemed to be.)
Mileage: 265 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 745 miles
May 29, 2003: We started out as usual, lost again. We were trying to find the two houses where Mark had lived as a child and we had directions from the interstate, but because we were already on one of the roads on the map, I tried to go from there. It turned out that the problem was that a turn from the South Side Bridge onto MacCorkle (and vice versa) didn't exist unless you had an aircar--the bridge was about fifty feet above the road, and you needed to guess that turning down a side ramp would get you there. ("Signs? We don't need no stinkin' signs!") So we drove clear from one end of Charleston to the other and back again before finally figuring out how to get there, and even then the directions were wrong in spots.
The first house Mark barely remembered, as he was only four at the time. It was up a series of narrow, steep, curving streets, and was itself in a hollow so that the second floor was level with the road. We were looking at it when a woman came out to ask what we were looking at. It turned out that she thought the storm the night before had done some damage we were seeing, and was relieved to hear that it was just nostalgia. We talked to her for a while, and then drove to the next house.
This of course had a new set of problems. First, we had to figure out how to get back to MacCorkle. Then we got to a block away from the end of the road we wanted, only to discover that they were working on the railroad crossing there, and we couldn't cross it. We asked the workers how we could get across, and found out that a dozen blocks down there was another crossing we could use.
Eventually we got on the street, only to discover that the address Mark's parents had given him had the wrong street number; it was from a different house they had lived in. (It turned out that the number was similar to the one we had been given, so the mistake was understandable.) But Mark recognized the house, which was quite distinctive. Or at least its setting was--we couldn't really see much of the house itself because it was high on a hill and behind a lot of trees. I guess moving from a house below street level to one above it could be considered moving up in the world. This one we didn't get close to--clearly the people wanted their privacy.
After this we tried to go to a UPS shipping place to send a package (one of our palmtops broke over the holiday weekend and we needed to send it in for repair). But the Mailboxes Etc. office listed in the phone book was either closed or moved--another example of a poor economy?
After all this, we decided to skip the State Capitol building (which Mark had been in already) and proceed. We did drive briefly through Nitro, where Mark's father had worked for Monsanto, but Monsanto didn't seem to be there any more. As Mark said, "They named the town Nitro to make it sound better than it was."
We then had a long drive to Lexington. Almost as soon as we left West Virginia, the mountains seemed to flatten into rolling hills covered with horse farms.
We got to Lexington in time to go to the Kentucky Aviation Museum. This is fairly small as these museums go, concentrating on items with some connection to Kentucky (aviators from Kentucky, planes built in Kentucky, and so on). One of their featured items, for example, was the first plane to fly over Kentucky (a quadraplane).
We got a tour of the highlights from the experienced volunteer there, but afterwards I ended up talking about science fiction with the new volunteer, a retired television writer named Richard Smith who is a member of SFWA and has actually been to conventions (including the Northamericon in Louisville). It's quite unusual to run into fans in a non-fannish context, or at least to realize that you have. And he liked all the classic authors: John Wyndham, Frederik Pohl, etc.
We decided to stay overnight in Lexington, as it had more choices than our next stop (Frankfort) and besides, it would be nice to check in before 7PM.
Mileage: 257 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1002 miles
May 30, 2003: We drove for about an hour along US-60, eschewing the interstate for a road that actually had farms and such along it, and wasn't even appreciably slower.
We stopped at a gas station that had pumps so old they didn't take credit cards, nor did they require that you pay inside first before they unlocked the pump. In fact, when I mentioned this idea to the clerk, she seemed astonished by it. She was even more astonished by the idea that in New Jersey, people cannot pump their own gas because it's deemed too dangerous, but have to let highly-trained gas station attendants do it instead. "Now you're trained," she laughed.
There was a sign behind her: "If you don't have money in your checking account, please don't write a check." I asked about it, and she said that she come often tell when a check was going to bounce, and would call the bank before accepting it.
Frankfort may not be the smallest state capital--it has a population of 26,000, and I suspect that Juneau (at least) is smaller--but it's definitely in the running. (Actually, Juneau has a population of around 30,000. However, Montpelier has a population of only 8000 and Helena of 7000.) It's certainly among the most laid-back I've been in. There are no parking meters, even right outside the Capitol, the streets have very little traffic, and they assume everyone knows all the streets. Which is why there is a dearth of street signs and no signs indicating that Main Street is one-way downtown--a fact I discovered *after* I had turned onto it and realized that all the parked cars on both sides of the street faced me. Luckily, traffic being what it was--basically non-existent--I was able to back up to the street I came from and turn the other way. The driver of the one car on the street leaned out his window to tell me it was one way, but nicely, not rudely or angrily. (Even the maps don't show this street as one-way, so I suspect it may be something very new.)
One reason that such a small town is the state capital is that the Louisville and Lexington factions couldn't agree, so compromised on Frankfort, a town more or less halfway between them.
Of course, some things are not quite as laid-back. To enter the State Capitol, we needed to go through a metal detector. But they didn't seem too concerned about anything we were carrying, including two pocket knives, and a pocket knife pen.
We latched onto a school group of a couple of dozen nine- to twelve-year-olds who were getting a tour from Dick Bell. (I mention his name because I thought he did a really good job.) We were lucky we arrived when we did, because the next school group seemed to be about fifty teenagers, a much more rambunctious group, and also too tall for us to see over their heads.
The Kentucky State Capitol is considered one of three most beautiful capitols. I have no idea what the other two are, or whether this is just a safe thing to say because everyone can assume their favorite is one of them as well. I do know that if you do a Google search on "most beautiful state capitols", you turn up Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. (At least Alaska doesn't show up--its state capitol looks like a bank.)
The Capitol copied its design from many sources. The rotunda is modeled after Napoleon's Tomb. The arched stairways are from the Paris Opera House. The State Reception Room on the second floor is patterned after Versailles, with Louis XIV furniture and "Duelling Mirrors" as a copy of the Hall of Mirrors. But it does have Irish crystal chandeliers, and an Italian table with a slab of marble split twice so as to form a symmetric pattern. It features an "eggs and arrows" border, representing life and death, and it also has faux marble (called "scaliola"--my spelling may be off) and faux tapestries (paintings that are copies of tapestries from Versailles). By the way, there is a city in Kentucky that is named Versailles, but it is pronounced "ver-sales". (Someone needs to make a list of United States cities named after foreign cities but pronounced differently, like Cairo, Illinois; or Lima, Ohio.)
In fact, the entire second floor is done in a French design, while the third floor is Roman. This means, among other things, that the words are spelled "Hovse" and "Kentvcky" on the third floor. The floors are also divided by governmental branch, with the executive on the first floor, the judicial on the second, and the legislative on the third.
The rotunda features famous Kentuckians. In the center is Abraham Lincoln, and around the outside are Jefferson Davis, Alben Barkley, Henry Clay, and Dr. Ephraim McDowell. Yes, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln were both born in Kentucky, meaning that at the only time the country might be said to have two Presidents, they were both from Kentucky. And that probably serves as the prime example of how Kentucky was truly a divided state during the Civil War (though nominally Union--it never managed to secede). Davis attended Transylvania University in Lexington, disproving Mark's claim that it must exist only to sell T-shirts. (We didn't stop to buy one; maybe we should have.)
Henry Clay was the "Great Compromiser," another example of Kentucky's ambivalence. At some point after 1910 (as far as I can tell), it adopted the motto "United we stand, divided we fall", probably as a reaction to all this division and compromise.
Alben Barkley was Vice-President under Truman, and was the first "working Vice-President." This was because when Truman became President on Roosevelt's death, he found out that he had been uninformed about a lot of things, including the atomic bomb, and that keeping the Vice-President "out of the loop" was not really a good idea any more (assuming it ever was).
And Dr. Ephraim McDowell? Well, he seems a strange fifth in this group. He was the "Father of Ovariotomy." In 1800 or so, he operated on Jane Todd Crawford and removed a twenty-two-pound ovarian cyst--in a time before ether or other anesthetic. (She apparently refused either whiskey or being knocked unconscious, those being the only anesthetic options at the time. Abigail Adams also had major surgery--a mastectomy--under similar conditions about that time.) This was the first successful abdominal surgery, in that the patient actually survived it.
There were dolls with copies of the Kentucky Governors' First Ladies' inaugural gowns. What happens when Kentucky gets a woman Governor? (For that matter, what was New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman's husband called?) For one First Lady they had two dolls for the two terms, and the second had a lighter hair color (in order to be accurate to the First Lady's newer, lighter hair color). I was reminded of the line about a new widow from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray": "When her third husband died, her hair turned quite gold from grief."
Because this was basically a school group, we heard a lot about Kentucky state government. For example, the Supreme Court has seven justices elected by district on a non-partisan basis, for eight-year terms, and it meets one week each month.
The legislative branch has 38 senators and 100 representatives, representing a state population of four million. The senators, however, are not elected at large, but just for larger districts than the representatives.
In the gift shop, there were caps that said "100% Hemp / Kentucky", so I asked the clerk if hemp-growing was legal in Kentucky. It turns out it isn't, and in fact the caps came from New Jersey! I guess there are people who want Kentucky to legalize hemp, but the cap certainly seems to imply that it is currently grown there. (It's like all those "Made in the U.S.A." stickers that you can buy where the stickers are made in China!)
Our next stop was the Kentucky Military History Museum. This was a relatively small museum, showing Kentucky's role in various wars. Interestingly, it dates the end of the Civil War as May 5, 1865, rather than April 12.
At one point there is a quote from John Hay, describing something as "a splendid little war, begun with highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that fortune which loves the brave." And what is he describing? The Spanish-American War, which I don't think anyone today would describe that way.
One "major" relic of World War II was the plaque put up by the Nazis in the cell in which Adolf Hitler was imprisoned from November 11, 1923, to December 20, 1924, and in which he wrote "Mein Kampf".
Upstairs there was a display of guns and other weapons with a Kentucky connection. Uzis, for example, are manufactured by Group Industries in Louisville, as well as by Fabrique National in Belgium, and in Israel. The Thompson submachine gun was invented by a Kentuckian (named Thompson, naturally).
There was a small Korea exhibit, a small Vietnam exhibit, and a small Gulf War I exhibit. Now they have to add a Gulf War II exhibit as well. I asked if the exhibits were small because they had to keep fitting more in, but the woman said that no, they at one time had a much larger Vietnam exhibit, but veterans kept coming in and having flashbacks or something that made them kick in the cases, so they scaled down the exhibit. That's a new one.
Riding along afterward, we were listening to the overture from "The Magic Flute" and at some point in a very repetitious passage, I said, "Get on with it!" to which Mark responded that Mozart knew the value of finding a good note and sticking with it.
We arrived in Louisville and checked in to the Signature Inn, a very nice budget chain: $71 for a double with microwave, fridge, and coffee-maker, plus free coffee in the lobby 'round the clock, free popcorn in the evening, and a really good breakfast with waffles and biscuits with sausage gravy. It was still early (about 2PM) but too late to see any major sites. So we found the nearest multiplex and for the first time were happy that they were running something on so many screens that there was practically no waiting for a show. In this case it was "Finding Nemo", which was actually pretty enjoyable.
Preceding it was an ad for some "Wild Thornberries" movies in which they get stranded on an island. I forget the real name, because Mark's suggested title--"Swiss Family Rugrats"--seemed so apt.
Dinner was at the Buckland Mountain Grill. We had fried green tomatoes (not bad, but too much breading for my tastes), and I had BBQ chicken with a bourbon BBQ sauce. Mark got something that was enormous, so we took half back to the room and may have it for lunch some day.
Mileage: 50 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1052 miles
May 31, 2003: We spent a lot of time juggling the three sites in Louisville we wanted to see. The zoo needed to be on a good weather day, but was also the only thing open before noon on Sunday. The art museum was closed Monday. The science museum would probably be more crowded during the week with school groups, but eventually we settled on Saturday at the art museum, Sunday at the zoo, and Monday at the science museum.
We got to the art museum a bit early, so we went into the University Book Warehouse to browse. Browsing is about all one would do in a textbook store, given the prices. When we were in college, most textbooks were around $7 or $8; now they're about ten times that. (As a comparison, mass market paperbacks were 75, later 95, cents. They are pretty close to ten times that now as well.) Even at 25% off for used, one doesn't just pick up a $60 used book on impulse. Well, this one doesn't anyway.
The Speed Art Museum (actually the J. B. Speed Art Museum) is a fairly small museum, but has a nice enough collection. The new acquisitions were in the first room we entered, and the first thing we saw was by Gutzon Borglum. Since one of the main sights in last year's trip was Mount Rushmore, I guess this provided a bit of continuity.
There was also a Cubist/Futurist "Pieta" by John Henry Bradley Stors. The docent on our tour later liked it, but I think Michelangelo did it better.
A contemporary exhibit had Ben Langlands's "Air Routes of the World (Night)", which was one of those airline route maps, with everything but the lines removed, and those shown as white lines on a solid black background.
The rather small African Art exhibit had the Yoruba saying, "The world is a journey, the after world is home." The problem with that philosophy is that it implies that what we do here isn't as important as if this world were home.
There was an exhibit of modern glasswork and Mark and I agreed that the best piece was Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova's "Cube in Sphere". This was a sphere of glass with another piece of glass with a square cross-section running through it along a diameter, both pieces containing many tiny bubbles in a semi-random pattern. They looked like stars or galaxies in the universe, and the square "tunnel" running through it looked something like a wormhole. In addition, the diffraction of the glass made the tunnel seem to warp like a gravity well when viewed from certain angles. It was very science fictional.
There were a lot of signs to help you understand the art and its "hidden" meanings. Some of them, however, sounded more like someone trying to come up with a new theory for a term paper than actual fact: "Roman commitment to organization can be seen in the intricate patterning of the tiny tiles of a mosaic to the rigorous order of the Roman law code."
We've commented on similar things, but isn't a painting of a Madonna and Child with Jesus holding a rosary a bit anachronistic? The sign said that just as Eve and the apple represented original sin, the apple the Madonna was holding represented her as the new Eve bringing redemption. I wonder if the fact that she was holding it upside down was part of the significance?
There was an unfinished painting by Christoforo Savolini, "The Expulsion of Hagar", in which the parts of the figures that had been done seemed to be emerging from a cloud or a sandstorm (the blank canvas). These days, that might be done on purpose. (Later, the docent tried to tell us that Ishmael was the father of the Jews. I kept trying to say he wasn't, that Isaac was, and eventually had to say, "Look, we're Jewish; we know.")
Benjamin West's "Elisha Raising the Shunamite's Son" had an explanation that it might be the first example of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. (The source is II Kings 4:31-37: "And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.") Why is it that Old Testament miracles are explained away as natural occurrences, but Jesus raising Lazarus is not?
Richard Redgrave's "Going to Service" was very Charlotte Bronte-esque. It was a scene from the 1840s, when the mass emigration of men to the United States and the "Commonwealth" (which might mean India et al, but may have been an attempt to put the deportations to Australia in a better light) left a lot of "redundant women" who couldn't find husbands and who had to find jobs as domestic servants, shop girls, or factory workers.
At 2PM we went to the lobby for the docent tour, where we turned out to be the only people on the tour. The docent, an older woman, took us around showing us her favorites. One of the items we had noticed before but discussed more was a painting surrounded by an elaborate painted frame that seemed to be modeled after a mantelpiece. In fact, the frame was done by the artist at the same time as the painting and was larger than it, so it really was part of the work. Yet the description was "oils on canvas" with no mention of the wooden frame. This seems to me an inaccurate description of the piece as a whole.
The docent showed us a picture that they had thought represented a Medieval noblewoman until they "conserved" it. Then they discovered that it said on the background Herodias, and that one could just see the top of the head of John the Baptist on her lap. Apparently it was just the anachronistic dress that threw them off. ("Conserved" is the term used now. They used to say "cleaned" but I guess they do more than just clean them these days.) When they conserved Rembrandt's "Night Watch" (in the Rijksmuseum) they found three more courtiers.
The docent also thought that Chagall's paintings represented the ghetto in Moscow, rather than his shtetl of Vibetsk. I won't say that she was as confused as the guide in the Hermitage in Leningrad (who thought that everything was from the Bible, including Leda and the Swan), but she did seem a bit uninformed.
Afterwards we drove over to where I knew there were a couple of used book stores close together. (Actually, there were three.) We discovered that in addition to a lot of used books, and used music, this area had a lot of interesting ethnic restaurants. We ate at Rufad's Kebob, A Taste of Bosnia. While the doner kebob was similar to Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, etc., doner kebob, the cevapcici were unique to Bosnia--at least as far as I know, since the last time I had them was in Mostar, Bosnia. (It was actually in Yugoslavia at the time, but only for the next couple of weeks.) The stuffed grape leaves were also different than what one finds elsewhere, and there were small sausages in filo dough roll as well.
Afterwards we went to All Booked Up, Twice Told Tales, and Book & Music Exchange, and ended up with six books and a DVD. One of the books was a large Bible dictionary, the size of a regular dictionary, but at $1 I couldn't pass it up.
At the Book & Music Exchange I used a credit card to pay, and they wanted to see a picture ID. No one here is willing to waive that for a New Jersey driver's license, which doesn't have a picture on it. (In fact, they don't even realize it is a driver's license until I point it out.) Luckily, I'm carrying my passport. Well, not "luckily"--there are enough places that seem to ask for photo ID for no good reason that I decided to start carrying it. (I also had to show it to get into the Kentucky State Capitol, but there at least they only required one person in a family to have one. I do have an expired passport of Mark's in my suitcase, and lots of places who just want picture ID will take that.)
Mileage: 68 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1120 miles
June 1, 2003: After breakfast, it was off to the Louisville Zoo. We got there about a half-hour early, so we sat in the car and wrote in our logs until it opened at 10AM. I overheard someone say that during the week there are usually fifty school buses lined up, so choosing the weekend was wise.
There seem to have been a lot of recent births. We saw both a week-old wattled crane and a baby giraffe.
We watched the "elephant aerobics", and were surprised to see one Asian and one African elephant. Asian elephants have smaller ears, a domed skull with two humps, a humped back, and are more muscular. They are traditionally more trainable, and all the old movies set in Africa use Asian elephants instead of African. But the trainer said that while African elephants are a bit more high-strung, they are certainly trainable. (Maybe individually they're better than in a herd that could be "spooked.") The Asian elephant was Punch, weighing 11,000 to 12,000 pounds, standing nine and a half feet at the shoulder, and being 33 to 34 years old. The African elephant was Micky, who weighed 7500 to 8000 pounds, stood eight and a half feet tall, and is 20 to 21 years old. (The trainer said that African elephants are taller and lankier, but that didn't seem to be the case here.)
Elephants cannot jump or roll over, but they are agile and coordinated. They were the third animal domesticated by man (after the dog and the donkey). I notice that Punch used her mouth to lift the log in the exercise, not her trunk as most people think. I also notice that elephants' nipple placement is near front legs, like in humans, rather than further down the torso as one sees in other mammals. Clearly this varies by species--I wonder if it follows other differences as well (e.g., even versus odd number of toes).
(Asian elephants [Elephas] are actually in the same clade as mammoths [Mammuthus], while African elephants [Loxodonta] are not in that clade.)
Watching the meerkats, I was struck that their facial expressions made them look like New York theatrical agents. Don't ask me why.
Naked mole rats are poikilothermic, not homiothermic. These used to be called cold-blooded versus warm-blooded, but I understand that they decided that those names were wrong, especially since I think there is also a separate classification of endothermic or exothermic.
The Australian section had ratites (flightless birds which encompass the ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis) and marsupials (kangaroos, wallabies, etc.). Some marsupials live in North American (e.g., opossum), but ratites seem to be almost exclusively from Australia and South America. (Ostriches inhabit Africa.) At any rate, my guess is that flightless birds need a fairly isolated environment to survive, and Australia and South America were isolated for long periods. (South America was an island continent for eons after it split off from Africa and before it connected up with North America.) Madagascar, home of the dodo, was similarly isolated until Europeans arrived, and then that was that.
A song in the Australian area rhymed "unusual" with "marsupial", leading Mark to observe, "We've lost our traditional rhyming values."
Sea lions have ear flaps, and can walk on their flippers, which are hairless. Seals have no ear flaps, and cannot walk on their flippers, which have hair. So why do I recall hearing about "eared seals"?
We saw two bald eagles which had wounded wings and so couldn't be released in the wild. I don't know if I had ever seen bald eagles before, as I don't think they are generally kept in zoos but released into the wild whenever possible.
In the "Islands" exhibits we saw plumed basilisks, which are also called "Jesus lizards" because they can run on water for up to a hundred feet.
Dinner was at Ernesto's, a Mexican restaurant with several locations in the Louisville area, and perhaps a chain beyond that. It's tough figuring out distinguishing the chains from stand-alone restaurants in an unfamiliar area. (And a stand-alone can become a chain. We remember Borders Books when it was a single independent bookstore.) The food was cheap and reasonably good. The tamales had shredded meat rather than ground, but not much flavor. Also, the only red wine offered was sangria, with the other half dozen or so being white or pink.
Mileage: 33 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1153 miles
June 2, 2003: We arrived at the Louisville Science Center after the usual flailing around one-way city streets. Their temporary exhibit was "The Avian Connection", about dinosaurs and birds, although it consisted more of just showing some dinosaur models with feathers rather than any sort of evolutionary progression or detailed study of similarities between the two. The dinosaur models were animated, some very realistically in that they seemed to respond to outside stimuli--if a new person walked up, they looked in that direction.
In general, the museum was more a hands-on technical science museum that a "traditional" natural history science museum with displays. Uncharacteristically, it was almost deserted. That was because school seems to have just ended, so school trips are over, and summer programs have not yet begun. This had its upside, but also its downside. Many of the afternoon demos were cancelled because someone decided they weren't worth doing for so few people. (Between this and the fact that the KidZone area was closed for maintenance, one man was complaining loudly to his wife that he was going to ask for his money back--they had bought four admissions and nothing was going on.) Also, possibly because it was just after the school year, lots of things were broken and waiting for repair. Still, having the museum almost empty made up for it.
At 10AM, we went to what was supposedly a talk about the space station, but since we were the only two people there, we ended up talking to the docent (who was originally from Venezuela) about the space station, the museum, and travel in general.
We went to see the Imax presentation of "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous". The dinosaur scenes (and Western landscapes) were wonderful in Imax, but the writing was definitely dumbed down. The idea that the paleontologist's daughter has is that T-Rex has parental instincts, but instead it kept coming out as questions like, "Do you think it possible that T-Rex laid eggs?" To which I wanted to shout, "Well, yes. How else would they have reproduced?" That's what reptiles do. The questions is whether they watch over the eggs (and the hatchlings) or not.
There was a display of various stages of embryos labeled something like "For mature audiences only; parental guidance suggested". There were also some of the landmark photographs of embryos from 1965, one of which I'm almost positive inspired the image of the "Star Child" in "2001: A Space Odyssey".
A display on replacement body parts which discussed how a single body can provide body parts for dozens of recipients, reminding me of James Morrow's story "The Assemblage of Kristin".
A hands-on display about building construction called "Toppling Towers" would undoubtedly have been renamed by now in any city close to New York.
There was a section with a lot of puzzles, such as to finish this square:
1 1 1 1 1 3 5 7 1 5 13 25 1 7 25 ?
(The answer is 63.) It's good to see math and logic exhibits in a museum--often they get overlooked because they're not flashy.
Mark's Feed Store is a BBQ chain that we decided we had to try. We got there at 3:45PM, and lunch went until 4PM, so we could eat a reasonable portion rather than stuffing ourselves. Lunch was a four-rib portion with two sides. I had smokey beans (which were very good, with shreds of meat in them), and sweet fried corn on the cob (which did indeed have a sweet taste as will as being a little crunchy).
June 3, 2003: Apparently bourbon is really just another name for whiskey (or whisky). But what is branch water? [After we got home, I looked it up. It is "a term first used in the 1800s referring to pure, clean water from a tiny stream called a 'branch.'"]
Kentucky must be a "concealed carry" state, because a lot of museums have signs saying that bringing concealed weapons (or unconcealed, for that matter) is prohibited.
Today was yet more rain. Eventually it will stop, and luckily we have no outdoor stuff for the next couple of days.
What we were doing first today was the George S. Patton Museum of Armor and Cavalry at Fort Knox. (Fort Knox is more just the depository, which allows no visitors anyway.)
We almost didn't get to see this, however. Because it's on Fort Knox, the security check is much stronger than any other stop. First they ask for picture ID at the fort gate. I have a current passport with me, but Mark doesn't carry his domestically. However, I at some point decided to put two expired passports in our luggage because they can serve as picture ID, at least for airlines. So I hand them my current and Mark's expired passport. This seems to satisfy them.
Then we were directed to an area where they checked the car and looked at our ID again. The former involved looking under the car with a mirror on a stick, and looking inside the car, in the trunk, under the hood, and in the gas tank. But they didn't open any of the luggage or other stuff, so it wasn't absolutely thorough. (Of course, if it was, people would stop coming. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this is a major consideration.) As for the IDs, the soldier looking at them asked, "This one isn't up to date, is it?" And I said, "No, but everyone still accepts it as ID." Well, "everyone" in this case was that I knew airlines did, for domestic travel, and even that was before 9/11. But I figure that it does identify Mark even if it has expired. The soldier seemed to think so too, and decided that we passed. In the lot by the museum, I saw an RV--a search of that is probably even more cursory.
We finally got to the museum. Fort Knox is the base for armored units, which is why the museum is here. And Patton was the first commander to use tanks in battle, and certainly the commander who best used them in World War II, so that is why the museum is named for him.
The exhibits start with the Egyptian (Hyksos) use of chariots (1750 B.C.E.), Assyrian cavalry (1100 B.C.E.-633 B.C.E.), and the Greek phalanx, which by locking shield produced a sort of early prototype of an armored transport. Also walking around were some soldiers in fatigues talking about strategy and tactics over the ages. One said, "If you see how much the world has changed in the last thousand years, it makes you wonder where we'll be in another thousand years." Sounds like a possible science fiction fan!
The Mark V Star tank (a British tank with a parallelogram shape) was described thusly: "The rail along the top supported an automatic lock/release unhitching log attached to the tracks to aid in crossing difficult terrain." What is an unhitching log, or am I parsing this wrong?
There was a display on "colored" units in the tank corps during World War II. Executive Order 9981 (July 1948), commonly thought of as integrating the armed forces, merely guaranteed equal opportunity and treatment (basically "separate but equal"). Units remained segregated until 1950, when the draft during the Korean War brought in more black soldiers than black units could hold, while leaving white units undermanned. So commanders started placing people regardless of race, and in 1954, segregated units were officially ended.
Walking around, I found myself asking, "What exactly is a tank? How is it defined?" I asked one of the attendant soldiers and he said he was a tanker so wasn't sure, but thought it was an armored vehicle that was designed primarily as a weapon rather than a personnel carrier or such.
In the film "The Battle of the Bulge" the filmmakers used Sherman tanks to stand in for Panzer tanks and experts all complained. I couldn't tell the difference when I saw it, but studying them in the museum, I *think* that Panzer tanks have the front wheels bigger than the back, and also almost a rear deck, while Sherman tanks have the same size front and back wheels, and a more sloping back. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will tell me. :-)
Although the museum was primarily devoted to tanks and armored vehicles, it did have a section devoted to Patton himself. We watched an A&E "Biography" about him, which must have been a double episode, since it ran about an hour and half. What I find a bit odd is that, while Patton drove himself in many areas so they he could achieve success and fame, he didn't seem to understand that controlling his temper and language might be important as well. (Actually, as a child he was apparently very easy-going.)
In the gift shop was a T-shirt with a tank labeled with a regiment number and the slogan, "When you absolutely positively have to have it destroyed overnight."
Our next stop was the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. This is a log cabin, which *may* have been the one Lincoln was born in (though the evidence is sketchy at best), which had been dismantled (sound familiar?) and taken around the country in the late 1800s on tour, then eventually returned here (Hodgenville, KY), where a marble structure to protect it was finally put over it. By now, of course, even if it was authentic, only the logs would be "real." All the mud plaster, and probably the stones in it for the chimney, would have been newer substitutes. But the location at least is the same location.
We drove on to Mammoth Cave National Park, but decided to hold off on a tour until the morning when we were fresh. We did do a sort of "Floyd Collins Tour", seeing first his grave and then the mouth of the cave where he was trapped. As his tombstone says, "William Floyd Collins / Born July 20, 1887 / Buried April 26, 1925 / Trapped in Sand Cave January 30, 1925 / Discovered Crystal Cave, January 18, 1917 / Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known". His story was the inspiration for the highly fictionalized movie "Ace in the Hole" (a.k.a. "The Big Carnival") with Kirk Douglas. Even though he was buried April 26, 1925, he was apparently dug up at some later time and exhibited for many years in a glass-topped casket at the entrance to Sand Cave, and it was only about fifteen years ago that the Park Service decided that their mandate to maintain everything as it was in 1941 when the Park was created did not apply to dead bodies in glass-topped caskets.
We returned to Cave City for dinner. Cave City is a lot of motels, fast food places, and tourist stuff. They were building a "Dino Land" but it wouldn't open until June 6. I guess the season hadn't really started yet--at dinner hour the Kountry Kitchen was almost entirely deserted. Afterwards we watched "Goldfinger", in keeping with the Fort Knox theme.
Mileage: 128 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1281 miles
June 4, 2003: We returned to Mammoth Cave for our "Historic Cave Tour." This seemed like the easiest tour that actually went into some interesting areas (as opposed to the tour which was described as suitable for people with walkers, or the ones requiring lanterns and knee pads).
On the way we passed a sign warning to people to:
"Avoid" Misleading Information(and describing where the official Mammoth Cave was). This led me to wonder who invented quotation marks? (Or punctuation in general) My first answer was Marcus Quotinius. :-) For that matter, who invented capital letters and spaces? And who first started putting quotation marks around words for no good reason?
I was curious how popular Mammoth Cave was compared to, say, Carlsbad Caverns. The ranger said that at Mammoth Cave they give 400,000 tours a year, and have 1,500,000 visitors above ground as well. Carlsbad, he said, gets a lot more. It's true Carlsbad is prettier inside, but Mammoth Cave seems located much closed to more people and I would think it would be an easier vacation destination. Mammoth Cave was also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, while Carlsbad Caverns didn't make the list until 1995.
The Historic Tour covers a mile and a half (including the walk to and from the cave entrance) in two hours, and goes through areas of the cave that had been used for mining, areas where prehistoric human artifacts have been found, and some interesting passages such as "The Church", "Fat Man's Misery", "Tall Man's Misery", and "The Big Relief".
The first room was "The Rotunda" the sixth largest in the system, and heavily used for mining in the 19th century. A short ways from that was "The Church", so-called because a pulpit-like rock formation led to it being used as a church in the 19th century, particularly in the summer, when the constant 55-degree temperature was much more comfortable than the temperature above ground. Of course, since all the lanterns were placed around the pulpit, and it was pitch-black without them, no one could leave church early. (The CCC electrified the main tunnels near the entrance in the 1930s.)
The ranger pointed out the "historic graffiti" from before 1941 (when Mammoth Cave became a National Park). Any graffiti from after that is a Federal offense. They used to allow self-guided tours without rangers, but too many people were writing their names on the walls, so now no one is allowed in except on a guided tour.
There are 365 miles of cave mapped. Mammoth Cave is the longest in the world, though I don't know if that is the 365 miles, or an estimate including unmapped parts.
The ranger claimed that "The Big Relief" used to be just "The Relief", but that when they installed rest rooms there, it became "The Big Relief".
Towards the end of the tour we got to find out what it was light without light, at least somewhat, as the electricity in one section failed. Of course, both rangers had fairly strong flashlights (they looked like the kind that take 4 "D" batteries) and everyone else who had a flashlight (including me) lit theirs. The ranger was apologizing for the inconvenience, but I though it was the best part of the tour.
At one point Mark asked the ranger why there were very few "decorations" (such as stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone, or boxwork) in the cave. The ranger responded (humorously), "Are you saying my cave is ugly?" "No, no, just unadorned." At any rate, the answer is that the flow is too fast to allow limestone build-up, but on the other hand does allow for a much more stable and hence large cave system.
Driving through the park above ground, we saw wild turkeys.
From there we drove to Fort Donelson National Battlefield. This was the site of one of the first attacks by Grant to seize the Mississippi River (and its tributaries) and split the Confederacy. It's also where he got the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
The battlefield is small compared to Vicksburg and other battlefields, both in size and in attendance. The parking lot for the (small) visitors center had spaces for only about a dozen cars, versus the huge lots at Vicksburg or Shiloh. There is a self-guided auto tour either by brochure or audiotape, but since the words were identical, we opted for the brochure.
We stopped for the night in Paris, Tennessee. Dinner was at a local restaurant where I had a "country ham" sandwich. Country ham is what I always called "ham steak", though not quite as thick. After dinner we asked for directions for the best route to Memphis, and someone ended up spending ten minutes with us, with a map, discussing various routes, and whether we wanted Memphis or West Memphis or, as was the case, Mountain View, Arkansas. We followed his direction most of the way, but switched to the AAA routing for the end, because the roads he recommended weren't even on our map.
The motel cable system got Turner South, which often has low-budget horror films, but not this night (unless you count "Critters"), and in addition, a lot of the stations kept cutting out. We complain about our cable system, but it's better than this.
Mileage: 197 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1478 miles
June 5, 2003: We started by driving from Paris to Dresden. That is, Paris, Tennessee, to Dresden, Tennessee. In the same area of Tennessee, one also finds India, Jordan, Macedonia, Denmark, Troy, Bogota, Moscow, and Brazil; nearby Kentucky has Moscow, Dublin, and Cuba.
There is a geographic anomaly in this area. There is a section of Kentucky that is completely surrounded by Missouri and Tennessee. It is a peninsula into the Mississippi which is connected to Tennessee on its southern isthmus, and all the river around it belongs to Tennessee or Missouri.
One advantage of getting off the interstates is that one sees farms and towns, but the roads can be hard to follow. Signage is often limited and when one comes to a crossroads, the signs don't always say which is west and which is east (for example), or what towns are in which direction. Back on the plus side, you see more wildlife (ospreys and hawks and some bird with an orange spot on its head, and a lot of dead armadillos.)
What you don't see are grocery stores. Even where there is a town, you see only a convenience mart in a gas station, where one's cheese choices are shredded cheese or American cheese slices.
As with our previous year's trip, there was a lot of road work to slow us down. (Apparently they're repaving all of I-40 through Arkansas, for example.)
We had lunch at the Ozark Folk Center. Mark had chicken and dumplings, which he described as "dumplings and dumplings with chicken bits." I had ribs. They claim to feature Ozark cooking, but most of their menu was hamburgers or fried fish which we could get back home. We had sort of planned on seeing the Center itself but 1) neither of us was enormously interested and 2) it looked like it might rain. Since the Center was an outdoor museum like Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, this made seeing it in the rain a problem, and we also suspected that given how empty the parking lot was, there would not be as many crafts demonstrations as during the real tourist season.
We return to I-40, driving along even emptier roads to get there. (This was in part because it went through a couple of National Forests, but also reflected the low population density in the area.) As soon as we got near the interstate, we saw lots of motels, restaurants, etc.--none of which we had seen in a couple of hundred miles of travel along state highways. We stayed at a Best Western, watched "Shane" on television, and slept okay except for a car alarm going off at 4:30AM. Luckily it remained at the same tone, so eventually we could fall back asleep.
Mileage: 401 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 1879 miles
June 6, 2003: We were thinking of stopping at Fort Smith, but since it kept raining on and off, we decided to skip that for now (and maybe hit it on the way back). We did stop at Sequoyah's Home Site. Sequoyah, a.k.a. Sequoia, a.k.a George Guess, was born in 1776--or possibly 1760, depending on which part of the exhibit you believe. At least it all agrees he died in 1843 in Mexico looking for a lost Cherokee tribe there. He is best known for having developed a Cherokee syllabary of 85 symbols. It is often mistakenly called an alphabet, but since the characters represent consonant-vowel combinations rather than just consonant or vowel sounds, it is more correctly called a syllabary. The fact that some consonants don't exist in Cherokee makes the number of possible syllables more manageable than they would be in English.
There are some strange transliterations into the Roman alphabet, however. "ts" is used to represent a "j" sound, and "v" is used for a "short u" sound.
For this work, Sequoyah is called the "Cherokee Cadmus", at least in this display. His work is summarized in "A Tribute to Sequoyah" by Robert Latham Owen.
Throughout Oklahoma, one sees references to the "Five Civilized Tribes": Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. I have no idea why they are considered more civilized than the others.
We talked to the ranger-equivalent for a while. (Because this is a state historic site rather than under the National Parks Service, I'm not sure what his title should be.) Apparently the tribes of very protective of what lands they have in Oklahoma, or think they should have, claiming that they belong to them. But they seem to forget that almost all the Indians in Oklahoma were resettled there from elsewhere. John Steinbeck, in "America and Americans", wrote of the United States government moving the Indians from land that white settlers wanted to undesirable land: "This process took an unconscionably long and bloody time, and mistakes were made, such as the prime one of moving the Cherokee tribes from the Appalachian Mountains to the West and settling them on unpromising-looking Oklahoma. When oil was discovered there, the mistake was apparent; but for some of the Indians it was too late--they kept the oil."
We arrived in Oklahoma City about 3PM.
We had dinner at Chelino's, a Mexican restaurant that had much better tamales then the place in Virginia. Then back to the room to do some laundry (this Comfort Inn even offers a complimentary laundry room, instead of the usual coin-operated one).
Tonight in honor of being in Oklahoma, we watched "Far and Away", which we had brought with us on tape (along with a VCR).
Mileage: 317 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 2196 miles
June 7, 2003: The Oklahoma City newspaper has a religion section, and a lot of the radio stations are religious. The Crossroads Mall has a store called "Inspirational Surplus": Bibles and other inspirational books and materials for up to 90% off, according to their billboard. I wonder if that includes books of slogans designed to be posted on church signs, like "The password for eternity is Jesus" or "A day without Jesus is like night."
The shower in the hotel room was very strange, and after ten minutes of being unable to figure out how to turn it on, I had to call the front desk. It turned out that you pull down on a ring around the faucet spout!
We drove down to Norman, Oklahoma, which is just southeast of Oklahoma City, and the home of the University of Oklahoma. The AAA book described a guided tour of the campus as a tourist attraction, but at the Visitors Center they said that the tours were more designed for the prospective students. However, there was a brochure that had a map and descriptions, including history and stories, about the various buildings. There was also a free CD tour, but returning the CD and player seemed more trouble than it was worth, especially since the center closed at noon on Saturday.
We mostly walked around the Parrington Oval, which formed the original campus. Examples of information in the brochure included that the Chemistry Building used to be the (Edwin) DeBarr Building until 1988, when it was discovered/revealed that DeBarr had been active in the Ku Klux Klan (in the early twentieth century).
Many of the trees are labeled with their common and scientific names, along with them in Braille and some sort of bar code.
When the Science Building burned down in the early twentieth century, the president of the university asked mathematics professor Frederick S. Elder what was needed to continue teaching. His reply: "Two yards of blackboard and a box of chalk."
Evans Hall was the main administration building and built in something called "Cherokee Gothic." It has statues of the various presidents of the university in niches on the front, or at least the ones through the 1970s. I can't remember if they go up to the present, and I'm not sure how they'd add new ones.
A major sight in Norman, and part of the university, is the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. This is the largest museum associated with a university, according to the brochure. It has a lot of Native American artifacts and art, including the Cooper Skull, the oldest painted North American object, but the main appeal is the dinosaur exhibit.
I have to admit that I would be a little more impressed with the museum if they didn't advertise on billboards that they have the "World's Largest Brontosaurus." There is no such thing as a brontosaurus. What was named a brontosaurus turned out to be an apatosaurus body with a camarosaurus head mistakenly attached.
As you enter the exhibit, you see a Ralph Shead Dinosaur Mural, one of five (I think) that he did for the WPA. It is a classic mural in the Charles Knight tradition, with dinosaurs from different eras and different regions all in the same scene. It's very dramatic, but the modern approach is to be more accurate and show dinosaurs (and other fauna and flora) from a single area and a single time period. (In a sense, I guess, they now try to follow Aristotle's unities.) This means no stegosaurs with tyrannosaurs, but that's the price of accuracy. The museum has five enormous murals done by Karen Carr, all done entirely on computer and printed on huge sheets of vinyl hung like wallpaper.
Another Shead mural, of the Lower Permian, is now considered inaccurate in details such as the length of some of the tails, as well as placing animals from different regions in the same scene.
248 million years ago, at the end of the Permian, the continent of Pangaea formed, which caused a fall in the sea level and a change in world climate. Whether these were the reasons or not, this was the period of the greatest mass extinction on earth: 66% of vertebrate families, 33% of insect families, and 52% marine families became extinct, making up 75% to 95% of all species.
There was a skeleton of a Cotylorhynchus romeri, a synapsid found in Oklahoma. The museum tries to keep things as connected to Oklahoma as possible, though obviously many of the dinosaurs are not from there.
In case you were wondering, carnosaurs used their jaws to capture their prey, while coelurosaurs used their hands and claws.
Here they did talk about ectothermic (cold-blooded) versus endothermic (warm-blooded), though they seemed to acknowledge that this division was neither absolute nor complete.
They had a Saurophaganax skeleton. This was the Jurassic's largest carnivore, but we don't seem to have heard much about it. Had they called it the largest *carnosaur*, I would understand this better.
What is the difference between pteranadons, pterosaurs, and pterodactyls?
As noted, they have the world's largest Apatosaurus and also the world's largest Pentaceratops skull. The skull sat hidden in their storage for fifty years before someone realized what a prize they had.
They had the skeleton of a gomphothere. These are related to mastodons, mammoths, and elephants.
The elevators are called "Dinovators" because they go up past a glass wall right next to the huge Apatosaurus skeleton, letting you see it eye to eye. In fact, one elevator is named "Eye to Eye" and the other is "The Belly of the Beast".
There was a special exhibit of Karl Bodmer's engravings, with aquatint and hand-colored, from the expedition of Prince Maximilian and Bodmer from Germany to Fort Clark and back from 1732 to 1734. These are enormously detailed engravings of the scenery, flora, fauna, and Native Americans of that trip. Since the expedition also collected artifacts, and some of the engravings are of these artifacts, we know that the engravings are very accurate.
One of the Native American exhibits was being re-done, so there was a small exhibit about Native American stickball near the entrance as a substitute.
Earlier I talked about how the docent in Louisville thought we were English teachers. Here, the "arthropod guy" thought we were naturalists. (It might have been Mark's binoculars.) I think we're getting to be like Zelig, who in the Woody Allen movie of the same name is basically a human chameleon who blends in with whatever group he's in. (Mark said when he was in junior high school, the librarian once commented that she could usually tell something about a student by which section of the library he would go to, but Mark would go to a different section each time he went in.)
Regarding the cave decorations that I talked about a few days ago, they are called speleothems and include draperies, soda straws, helicites, cave pearls, column, cave coral, rimstone, splash cups, and flowstone, as well as stalactites and stalagmites.
Lunch was at the Thai Kum Koon restaurant, where we had Yum Pla Muk and "Evil Jungle Chicken." Both were very good, at least as good as what we get back home. (When the waiter/owner delivered our food, Mark said, "Kap khun," which is "thank you" in Thai, and got a double-take from him.)
After lunch, we went to the university's art museum, which supposedly has a good collection of French Impressionists, but it was closed for renovation. It figures--that's our standard luck. So instead we visited five bookstores and and a comics store, and ended up with only one book--from the comics store. (I was tempted by a book of annotations for James Joyce's "Ulysses", but I haven't managed to get past the second chapter any of the times I've started it.)
On the "Prairie Home Companion", someone was singing a tribute to Wisconsin cheese: "Stand up, stand up for cheeses, let the fun begin. What a friend is cheeses that come from Wisconsin."
This evening we checked our answering machine and learned about Mark's grandmother's death. We did some rapid calculations and concluded that it made more sense just to drive to Los Angeles rather than fly. Flying would involve repacking suitcases, leaving the car and a bunch of stuff in Oklahoma City, getting tickets without a Saturday night stay, flying when the only picture ID Mark had was an expired passport, and renting a car in Los Angeles. Driving would involve pointing the car west on I-40 and driving until we hit the Pacific. We had a map that would cover tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday we could go to AAA in Albuquerque to pick up the rest of the maps and books we would need. If the Joads could do it in their car, we could certainly do it in ours--and along pretty much the same route.
Mileage: 68 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 2264 miles
June 8, 2003: So we drove to Albuquerque, about 540 miles. We stopped in the Texas Visitors Center on I-40 to pick up a better Texas map than the one we had as part of the entire central third of the country, but since it wasn't until Amarillo, half-way across the panhandle, it wasn't very useful.
I've been watching license plates as we drive. So far I've spotted almost all the states, but the most frequent "out-of-state" plate seems to be Indiana. I see two or three Indiana plates every day, even this far away. Other than one New York plate yesterday, it's been a while since I've seen anyone as far from home as us, but today I did see a New Jersey plate.
I-40 follows the general route of old Route 66. In places Route 66 still exists (as the main street of the towns along the way, but in a lot of areas the old road connecting the towns is completely overgrown. It's 2278 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago, and we ate lunch at the Midpoint Cafe, 1139 miles from each end.
The speed limit here is 75 mph, and it's annoying when the ubiquitous construction slows us down to 60 mph.
The big event of the day was shopping after we got to Albuquerque. We hadn't actually packed clothing suitable for a funeral for our vacation, so we needed to go buy something a notch above jeans and T-shirts--well, a couple of notches. An additional benefit for me was that I found a purse that has a compartment just the right size for my palmtop. (Other than the shoes I bought at an outlet store in Maine, this was the first clothing I had bought since retiring two years ago!)
Mileage: 539 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 2803 miles
June 9, 2003: We had breakfast at a Mexican place called Garcia's. When I later looked up details of our 1992 trip to New Mexico, I discovered that last time we were in Albuquerque, we ate breakfast there as well! Their T-shirts say, "Help Stamp Out Gringo Food--Eat at Garcia's".
We were at the Albuquerque AAA when it opened at 8:30AM, and it was a good thing we didn't go on to Gallup or Flagstaff planning to stop there, because it turned out that Albuquerque was the only AAA office along our route until the Los Angeles area. It's hard to believe that if you're in Flagstaff the closest AAA office is in Phoenix, but it's true. We got most of what we needed, but they were out of San Fernando Valley maps, so we'll have to get that in California.
The section of I-40 west of Albuquerque to the Arizona border is some of the most beautiful Interstate highway driving I've seen. There are magnificent rock formations, especially when the sun hits them, and the overall scenery is just amazing.
However, when one gets near the Arizona one starts to see billboards for "Indian City", one after another. I think Indian City is trying to be Wall Drug, but with all their billboards in a ten-mile stretch instead of over hundreds of miles of highway.
We drove straight through Arizona, stopping only for gas in Flagstaff. The scenery east of Flagstaff is not very interesting--it seemed to get dull as soon as we left New Mexico--but west of Flagstaff it becomes evergreen forest and is quite unlike how one usually pictures Arizona. We crossed the Continental Divide at about 7700 feet--a lot higher than we expected to be this trip.
The last part of Arizona was desert. Crossing into California, one finds an inspection station instead of a welcome center. They ask if you're bringing any citrus fruit in (and I assume confiscate it if you are), and quarantine any birds.
The desert here has Joshua trees, which I remember best from the "Twilight Zone" episode "I Shot an Arrow". That was shot in Joshua Tree National Park, but the strange-looking trees grow in desert areas outside the park as well.
We got to Needles. It was 107 degrees and gasoline was $2.199 a gallon. The latter is because it is almost literally in the middle of nowhere. It's a hundred miles west to the next town (Barstow), about thirty miles east (Kingman), and about the same south (Lake Havasu City).
Dinner was at the California Pantry. Its menu was limited, but it seemed to be that or Denny's.
We had a half tank of gasoline, but decided to fill it before heading west. The cheapest place we saw (at $1.999 per gallon) had a machine that took only cash or debit cards. I had resisted getting a debit card, but it got to the point where that was all our bank would issue as an ATM card, and that's what they preferred as ID when I cashed a third-party check (which includes checks made out to Mark). So I had just recently gotten one and this was the first time I used it as a debit card. This Passover was the first time we used a cell phone, so this is really a high-tech year for us. :-) )
Mileage: 543 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 3346 miles
June 10, 2003: Breakfast was at Denny's, right next to the motel. (We've been staying at Motel 6 for this cross-country stretch, since we're not spending a lot of time in the room.) The "Grand Slam" breakfast--two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausages, and two hotcakes--was on sale for $2.99. Anything smaller cost more, so I got the "Grand Slam" and didn't finish the whole thing.
We drove through the Mojave Desert. The temperature in Needles at 7AM was 84, but in the desert it actually dropped into the 70s, and by the time we got to the Cajon Pass, it was 56 and foggy. In Burbank it was back up to about 70, but still overcast. This is apparently very unusual weather, though a front page newspaper story we saw seemed to suggest that this was going to be more typical for Los Angeles for the next twenty years or so.
We got to the Los Angeles area and stopped at an AAA office in Upland for a San Fernando Valley map. Thus armed, we drove to Burbank, where we had decided to take the NBC studios tour this afternoon, as being something that was about the right length, and also on the way. It was also not grossly over-priced, at $7.50. By comparison, the Sony Studios tour is $20, and Universal Studios is now a theme park rather than a tour.
We passed the Walt Disney Studios, where the main building has columns in front, except that they are the Seven Dwarves.
We got to NBC Studios about 12:25, but the next available tour was at 1:30. So we went across the street to a Weinerschnitzel and had lunch. We used to eat at Weinerschnitzel when we lived in California thirty years ago.
NBC television started in 1943, and some of its better-known shows include "Texaco Star Theater", "You Bet Your Life", "Your Show of Shows", "Dragnet", "This Is Your Life", "Father Knows Best", "Bonanza", and "Star Trek". The three tones that go with their logo are "G-E-C". This may be because NBC was connected with General Electric early on. (The guide made a point of saying that "Bonanza" was the first NBC color show, but Mark noted that other networks had color earlier, for shows such as "Superman" and "The Lone Ranger".)
The tour consisted of fourteen people, which seemed smaller than the maximum the seating area for the introductory film would hold. Maybe the earlier tours are fuller.
All that is produced at NBC Studios now are taped shows, such as "The Tonight Show" and soap operas such as "Days of Our Lives". (These are apparently the two big attractions.) The guide said that while tape and film were of equal quality initially (a claim some would dispute), tape degrades faster, so shows they hope to syndicate in re-runs are done on film. For example, "West Wing" is shot on film at Warner Brothers Studio, "Ed" is shot on location at a bowling alley in New Jersey (I'll have to investigate this further), and "Law & Order" is filmed on location in New York City.
The prop storage warehouse is huge, because props for soap operas are saved forever. Why? Well, they're always doing for flashbacks, so they have to be sure they can furnish a room just as it was ten years ago. The various floor coverings (rugs, but also fake tile or wood floors) are stored in giant labeled rolls.
The prop department also does props for Jay Leno's gags, such as the "Beverly Hills Nativity Scene", a battlebot that was really a refrigerator to deliver a sandwich and a beer, and an R2D2-Ban roll-on combo. (I have to admit that I don't watch Leno, so these don't mean much to me.) We even passed a rack of prop artwork (paintings, etc.) used in dressing interior sets.
The wig department had some famous wigs on display, including a wig from "Shogun", and "what happens when women wear too much mousse" (a wig with hair shaped like spreading moose antlers). There were also example of make-up and masks.
NBC Studios has the second largest wardrobe department in the state. (Universal has the largest.) They have buyers who buy the simple things like jeans, T-shirts, etc., but also an army of people who make the special clothing needed.
The guide (who had been here only four weeks) seemed unfamiliar with the older history of the studios. He thought NBC had been here since the 1950s, but wasn't sure of the exact date. And he had no idea when "The Tonight Show" went from ninety minutes to an hour, or even that it ever was ninety minutes. He did explain why Burbank is popular, noting that Paramount is the only active studio remaining in Hollywood itself, while the rest are here where they can spread out more.
Some of the older sets for "Days of Our Lives" are steel two-story sets, but this design is hardly ever used any more. Rather, lighter-weight, multi-piece sets are assembled as needed. The guide talked about some of the tricks, such as "feminine" and "masculine" doors. "Feminine doors" are those for a woman's apartment and are constructed a little larger than standard-size doors to make the woman seem more petite and feminine. Conversely, "masculine" doors are smaller, to make the men look larger. John Wayne movies had smaller-than-normal barroom doors, and Alan Ladd, always had the doorframes made smaller to make him look taller. There is also set construction daily for the visiting bands for "The Tonight Show".
There were both green and blue screens for special effects. (You can't use a blue screen if the actor has blue eyes, or the eyes pick up the background image!)
Soap operas tape about sixty pages of script a day, as compared with movies, which do two or three. There are two studios and each holds about six sets, so while they're shooting in one studio, the other is being set up for the next six sets needed. They shoot out of order, that is, they shoot everything they need on a given set together even if it is spread over several episodes, and they shoot about two or three weeks ahead of when the shows will be aired. When someone gets kidnapped or goes into a coma, that's usually because the actor is due for a vacation, and the guide commented that everyone seems to come out of a coma with a really good tan!
The "Midway" is an outside area with some parking for the stars, but stunts are also done here, and outdoor concerts are staged here as well. We saw Jay Leno's car, a red sportscar today. He drives a different car every day, and is a workaholic who arrives 8:30AM every show day for a show that starts taping at 4:30PM. While we were there, Kevin Eubanks, (the leader of the "Tonight Show" band) arrived in a more normal car.
It may be that the Green Room used to be for the stars before they came on, but now it is for stars' guests.
Each studio has "elephant doors"--enormous rolling doors about twenty feet high and equally wide so as to be able to move in even very large items.
The "Access Hollywood" set used to be the "Tonight Show" set. This has the seating further away, and Johnny Carson liked the distance from the audience, since he came from a radio background. But Jay Leno came from a comedy club background and wanted the audience much closer, so the new set reflects that. Each seats about 400, but the old one is slightly larger. While "The Tonight Show" is filmed in an hour (for an hour show), "Access Hollywood" takes four to six hours for a half-hour show.
The guide talked a little bit about Foley artists and sound effects. He said that when they started adding laugh tracks to shows, it made people think that there was a live audience for them, and they would write in and ask for tickets. At first, NBC apparently didn't want to admit that they were using a laugh track, so they would just say that tickets were sold out for the next year. (The first live audience was for "I Love Lucy". The laugh tracks were composed of laughs taped from the audience for Red Skelton's pantomime skits.)
We went on to our motel and checked in. This was the Ramada Limited in Canoga Park, and we had a coupon from a magazine of coupons we had picked up in Needles the first time through that got us a room for $61.86 (tax included), which is very cheap for a nice room in that area. (We used another of these coupons in Holbrook later on.) We rested up a while and went out about 7PM to Saigon Sandwich and Coffee, which was right on the next block. We split a Banh Mi Xa Xiu, which is a baguette with barbecue pork, cucumber, cilantro, chile pepper, and Asian-style pickled vegetables. It wasn't fabulous but it was a pretty good sandwich. I also had a cold chrysanthemum tea and Mark had a coconut juice. Afterwards we watched "Patton" on DVD. When we bought clothing, we had also picked up a portable DVD viewer and a couple of DVDs. In addition to its own screen, however, there is also the option of connecting the player to a regular TV, so we could both watch it.
Mileage: 286 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 3632 miles
June 11, 2003: Our plan today was to see the Autry Museum of Western Heritage and then the Museum of Tolerance, but the first took basically the entire day by itself.
The Autry Museum is divided into several areas: The Spirit of Romance, The Spirit of Imagination, The Spirit of Opportunity, The Spirit of Conquest, The Spirit of Community, and The Spirit of the Cowboy.
The Spirit of Romance was about Western art. The big names in painting here seemed to be Thomas Moran, John Gast, Andrew Melrose, and [someone] Murdock. Mark noted that among them they represented naturalist, symbolist, and romanticist interpretations of the West.
A teacher leading a class through told them that Moran's "Mountain of the Holy Cross" was actually painted from two separate photographs of areas far from each other. There were also some "relics" of Theodore Roosevelt here, and the works of Charles M. Russell and sculptures of Frederic Remington (in particular, his classic "The Bronco Buster"). This represented a breakthrough from static to "in-motion" sculpture.
The section linking Romance and Imagination was about the rodeo and the Wild West shows. The museum claimed that the rodeo was one of the first American sports to include women, but it also claimed that these days they participated only in barrel racing and as Queens of the Rodeo. This isn't quite true, since we saw women calf-roping at the rodeo in the Black Hills of South Dakota last year.
They had a display about Annie Oakley (see my travelogue of the Dakota's for the story of her encounter with the German Kaiser), and props from "Buffalo Bill and The Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson". There was a short film, "Buffalo Bill: Man & Myth", which reminded me of the parallels to Buffalo Bill in Clint Eastwood's film "Bronco Billy".
The Spirit of Imagination was all about films, and hence our favorite section. As an attempt to be inclusive, they had a picture and write-up about Frances Kavanaugh Hecker, one of the two women who wrote Western scripts in the 1930s and 1940s. There was a film, "Stunts, Behind the Scenes 'Magic'", which featured Yakima Canutt. A lot of the items in the exhibits here were donations from Richard Farnsworth, as well as from Eastwood and other well-known actors.
"The First Westerns" talked about the innovations in "The Great Train Robbery", including the first camera pan.
"Big Five 'B' Western Stars" talked about Tom Mix (known for flashy clothes and elaborate stunts), Buck Jones (known for strong stories and Will Rogers-style humor), Tim McCoy (whose stories were too accurate and too slow-moving for the kids), Ken Maynard (known for his trick riding--he didn't even use a double), and Hoot Gibson (more of a clown, and one who used his fists rather than a gun).
Among the lesser lights were the Hoxie Brothers--the display claimed that the eight films with Al Hoxie "were considered to be among the worst of the kind and barely are remembered today."
"Singing Cowboys" said that Ken Maynard introduced the idea, which quickly caught on. In "Riders of Destiny", John Wayne (as Singin' Sandy Saunders) originally sang his own songs; later he just mouthed the words and someone else sang.
Gene Autry has four stars on the Walk of Fame: radio, TV, movie, and singing. (Autry, by the way, was raised in Oklahoma, so this tied in to the original plan of the trip.) Autry used his own name in films, another innovation. From 1937 through 1942 he was the top Western star. (What the display doesn't tell you was that in 1942 he enlisted and when he came back he had been displaced by stars who didn't leave Hollywood.)
These "singing cowboy" movies were called "horse operas", and created such stars as Tex Ritter, Eddie Dean, Jimmy Wakely, Monte Hale, Rex Allen, and of course Leonard Sly (Roy Rogers), known as "King of the Cowboys". These often had humorous sidekicks, such as Elmer Sneezewood and Max Terhune.
There were sections on various ethnic groups in Western movies. Herbert Jeffries was a big star in such films as "Harlem on the Prairie". Iron Eyes Cody, Wed Studi, and Jay Silverheels were well-known Indian stars. (Before Jay Silverheels, Chief Thunder-Cloud played Tonto, so Tonto was always played by an Indian.) However, even though Studi played the title character in "Geronimo", he got only fourth billing. Black Western stars include Mario Van Peebles and Sidney Poitier.
In the original stories, the Cisco Kid was originally an Anglo, but when Duncan Renaldo crossed him with Don Quixote, he became firmly Hispanic. Other than the Cisco Kid and Zorro, however, images of Mexicans as usually as needing American protection (as in "The Magnificent Seven", "The Three Amigos", "A Fistful of Dollars", and "Vera Cruz"), or as bandits. There was also a note on the common practice of casting whites as Mexicans (or as Indians). For Asians, the exhibit mentioned "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" and "Red Sun". The former I suppose could be termed a Western, though that seems to be stretching the definition.
"Women & Minorities in the Westerns" talked about stereotypes of women as civilizers, femme fatales, or the hard-riding type (such as Barbara Stanwyck). As for Indians, films portraying them as full-fledged three-dimensional characters are rare, with "Broken Arrow" being mentioned as one of the few. "Sergeant Rutledge" (with Woody Strode) is a non-stereotypical portrayal of blacks, and "The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez" (with James Edward Olmos) a more balanced approach to Mexicans.
Best Picture Oscars for Westerns went to "Cimarron", "Dances with Wolves", and "Unforgiven".
"Television Westerns" included all the standard ones, as well as the science-fictional "Wild Wild West", and the more modern ones such as "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "The Cherokee Kid".
"Epic Westerns", the last film, showed scenes from "The Covered Wagon", "The Iron Horse", "Stagecoach" (1939), "The Plainsman", and "Ride the High Country", and talked about the trend toward more adult westerns and spaghetti westerns.
A teacher with a small group of children about nine years old was pointing to the John Wayne display and telling them that John Wayne was a famous Western star, and that was what he looked like. The idea that there were people who didn't know who John Wayne was suddenly made me feel very old!
There was also a temporary exhibition of Carl Rungius's art. I not that in it, the museum describes (or at least treats) "Last of the Mohicans" as a western.
No matter how many times I learn it, I can never remember the relationship between caribou, elk, moose, reindeer, and deer.
I'm sure that someone has previously noted that with Impressionist paintings, the closer you get, the less you see.
A special exhibit called "Ocean View" was about the various coastal towns of southern California, including "Muscle Beach", surf bands, beach party movies, and so on.
In "The Spirit of Community", they talked about how Capt. Myles Keogh's horse Comanche became famous as the "only" survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, because people somehow never thought of all the Indians as survivors. (This is similar, I think, to the answer you get when you ask how many people died in the Vietnam War. You are very likely to get the figure for only the American dead.)
There was also a painting of the Custer massacre of Indians at Black Kettle's Indian Village in November, 1868, used to advertise Custer's Reserve bourbon and rye whiskey. Talk about tasteless!
As proof that people have always been idiots, a cigar cutter from over a hundred years ago had printed on it "Do not stick fingers into cutter."
There was a display of Marshals' and Sheriffs' badges--most were six-pointed, but some had five or seven stars.
The Spirit of the Cowboy had a section on the "charreria", a Spanish equestrian event still celebrated in parts of the Southwest.
Since this took five hours, we decided to call it a day. I would certainly recommend this museum to fans of the West.
We stopped for dinner at the Thai Seafood House--a Thai seafood salad and something called "Three Flavor Calamari", which turned out to be Sweet and Sour (and Hot) Squid, complete with the batter-dipped, deep-fried cooking method. I had a Thai iced coffee boba. "Boba" is what they called "bubble tea" in Toronto a couple of years ago--a beverage with small balls of (I think) tapioca. The balls are the size of small marbles or large ball bearings. (They have to be small enough to come through whatever size straw is provided.) In Los Angeles, apparently any beverage can be made a boba.
To commemorate Robert E. Howard's death, we watched "The Whole Wide World".
Mileage: 41 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 3673 miles
June 12, 2003: We went out this morning to run a few errands--get gas, go to the ATM, drop in to a couple of bookstores. We went to A & M Book Cellar (also known as Massoglia) which was only about a mile from the motel. It is one of the dealers frequently seen at conventions, and I can usually find something there. But the store, though large, was not as good as I had expected. Maybe it was that the science fiction was such a small proportion of the store. Their main stock in trade seemed to romances, with all its subdivisions, including a section for fantasy/time travel/SF romances.
We also went to the Bookie Joint, which visit turned out to be perfectly timed. It's normally open only on Saturday and Sunday, but the woman who owns it happened to be there (in fact, just arriving) to let the plumber in to fix a leak, so we got to browse. It had a huge science fiction section, and it was almost all older books (1980s and earlier), as well as a large selection of old magazines. (There was also a large selection of old general magazines as well.) I couldn't find anything for me, but I did find a few books Kate was looking for. The woman was saying that she was trying to sell the store because she wanted to retire (she was probably in her seventies), so I have no idea how long it will exist in this form.
We went back to the motel, changed and drove to the funeral (at a cemetery up in the San Fernando hills). It wasn't hard to find as the signage is in general much better here than most places (and certainly better than some of the intermediate places where we kept getting lost). After the funeral most of the family came to my nephew's house where we caught up on family-type stuff.
(My nephew's house was previously owned by a Hollywood composer, and we just happened to have a cassette of his music in the car, so we listened to it on the way there. We've been listening to Western music through a lot of the last few days, and war music after the military museums. A cassette for every occasion, that's what I say.)
Most people in the family were a bit surprised that we had driven out. I guess they figure (correctly) that Oklahoma City is still pretty far from Los Angeles. The only person who came as far was Mark's sister, but she had been planning to fly out to visit this week anyway. Someone asked how much clothing we packed, and it took me a second to realize that they were probably asking whether we packed enough clothing that we had something to wear to a funeral. They seemed surprised that we had bought our outfits on the way--I'm not sure why.
We stayed until about 7PM. We couldn't tell what time it was by looking at the sky because it was so overcast you couldn't tell where the sun was. This, people say, is unusual for this area.
We are seeing lots of trees with gorgeous lavender blossoms. What are they?
Mileage: 63 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 3736 miles
June 13, 2003: The weather remained overcast until we got over Cajon Pass, then cleared up (though it remained hazy). We stopped for sodas in Needles and gas in Kingman, Arizona, where the price was back to normal at $1.47/gallon as opposed to $2.29/gallon in Needles. (Yes, the price had gone up ten cents a gallon in a week.)
We spent a lot of the drive listening to the unabridged audiobook of Stephen King's "On Writing". The first part is mostly biography, and the rest heavily weighted toward writing a novel rather than non-fiction essays or short fiction. The best part of the biography might have been his description of selling the paperback rights to "Carrie". He had thought that they *might* go for as much as $60,000, of which he would get half, which was equal to about four years' pay as a teacher. When his agent called him to tell him that they went for $400,000, King insisted that he repeat the number several times to make sure he had heard it correctly. Finally his agent said, "Four, followed by five zeroes, then a decimal point, and then two more zeroes."
We had planned on staying in Flagstaff, but a rodeo there was driving up motel prices ($99 is just too much for a Comfort Inn). Winslow was the next town--they had Heritage Days. Holbrook, however, was okay, and we stayed there. Dinner was at Mesa Italiana, a surprisingly good Italian restaurant considering the isolation. I had Chicken Jerusalem, which was chicken piccata with shrimp, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms. At $38 for the two of us, this was our most expensive meal this trip, but not unreasonably so.
Mileage: 577 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 4334 miles
June 14, 2003: We stopped in Gallup, New Mexico, for gas, TV Guide, and juice. Browsing the international aisle, we ended up buying a large bag of hot New Mexico chiles. They had a very small kosher section, and in the Asian section they had several "Soy Vay" kosher Asian products. Then we looked at the Hispanic products, and I mentioned that they had Jumex juices. Now, this should be pronounced "HOO-mex", but I tend to say "JOO-mex" (or "JEW-mex"), which led Mark to look, thinking that there was now a kosher line of Hispanic products.
The I-25/I-40 interchange in Albuquerque is the only one I know of constructed and painted pink with turquoise trim to look like a pueblo building.
New Mexico of course has a state flower, a state bird, etc. But it also has a state fossil (the Coelypsis, the only Jurassic dinosaur found in New Mexico), a state cookie (the bizcochito), and state vegetables (chiles and frijoles, although my reference notes that chiles are botanically a fruit). But I think the notion of having a state question is unique to New Mexico, and this state question is: "Red or green?" (If New Jersey had a state question, I guess it would be "Which exit?")
Lunch was at Little Anita's in Albuquerque. (It was a lot closer to the interstate than Garcia's, our other option.) Mark had the three-taco plate and said the tacos were better than those he gets back home. I had a bowl of Green Chile Stew, which was potatoes, beans, green chiles, and pork. (They said it was "flavored with pork pieces" but there was really a lot more than just flavoring. This reminds me of someone describing how difficult it is to avoid pork in the South, because it seems to be considered a seasoning as much as a meat. If you ask if something is vegetarian, the presence of pork may be forgotten by the person giving the answer.)
Because it was Saturday, the museums at the University of New Mexico were closed, and the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari would be closed tomorrow. So we decided to make a slight detour (an extra hundred miles), and go to Roswell.
Driving there, we passed by (though not through) a lightning storm and got to watch lots of bolts of lightening. Too bad I didn't have the cassette of "Bride of Frankenstein" music handy. (It was in the trunk. Who knew?)
We arrived in Roswell about 4PM, and decided to save the UFO Museum for tomorrow. So we went to the Roswell Museum and Art Center for an hour. We had visited this when we were in Roswell in 1992, but since then it had moved to an entirely new building. A lot of the pieces in the basic collection were the same (William Goodman's "Oddy Nocky", Willard Midgette's "The Pow-Wow", and Georgia O'Keeffe's "Ram's Skull and Brown Leaves" in particular were familiar), but there were new ones as well. There was also a display of paired pieces. For an example, a painting of an adobe gate done in an idealized fashion was paied with a photograph of a run-down shack in a very realistic mode, and the caption talked about how we seem to distinguish between old as scenic and romantic versus old as run-down and undesirable.
There was also a painting, "Buen Pastor" by Luis Jimenez, about the shooting of Esequiel Hernandez by Federal agents as a suspected drug smuggler. (He was a sheep herder.) This was apparently quite a notorious case here, but didn't seem to make national news.
There was also a photograph, "Mesquite Tree Full of Predators" by Laura Wilson, showing a tree with about a half dozen dead coyotes hanging from its branches. The curator described this as "one of the most deeply surrealistic pictures" he had ever seen--and it was real. (One assumes it wasn't posed.)
There is also a section about Robert H. Goddard, who did a lot of his rocket tests here. One of the displays showed the Boston Post newspaper from January 10, 1898, with an article titled "Fighters from Mars: War of the Worlds In and Near Boston". This seemed to be H. G. Wells's "War of the Worlds" credited to Wells, but rewritten for Massachusetts, with Middlesex County, Lincoln, and an illustration of a "monster near Concord." (There also seemed to be some changes in the first paragraph, but it was hard to read such small print at the back of the display case.) [On getting home, I found a reference, http://www.sansfigleaf.com/1998/f981214.htm, that said, "Very slightly altered versions, such as 'Fighters from Mars, or the War of the World in and near Boston', began appearing as early as December, 1897." This is also mentioned in an article on "future-war fiction" at http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/clarkeess.htm.]
Harrison Schmitt, who flew on the last Apollo mission (XVII), was from New Mexico, so there were some souvenirs of him as well.
We checked into the Frontier Motel, and managed to get one of the last rooms (by morning, a "No Vacancy" sign was up). I guess Fathers Day weekend is making things busy. We weren't very hungry for dinner but the Hungry American Restaurant was right next to the motel, and their buffet was only $5.50, so we had that. It would have been better if the food had been hotter than just lukewarm.
Mileage: 426 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 4760 miles
June 15, 2003: Today was Fathers Day, so we both called home to wish our fathers a happy one.
The UFO Museum is new since our last visit (in 1992). It seems to be in an old movie theater building, and is in fact just one big room the size of an older movie theater.
At the front desk is a big sign saying "No Crash Site Tours!" I guess they get asked this a lot.
The first "modern" sighting they mention is H. A. Dahl, who on June 21, 1947, claimed to have sighted six discs over Tacoma, Washington. Then Kenneth Arnold (the most famous sighter) claimed a sighting over southern Washington at 3PM on June 24, and on July 4, a United Air Lines plane claimed to have sighted flying discs.
However, the major focus is on Mac Brazel, who claimed to have found debris from a UFO outside Roswell. The claim is also that the Air Force attempted to cover this up. Brazel's granddaughter said the Air Force told Brazel that they would kill him and his family if he didn't keep silent. And someone at radio station KGFL said that Senator Dennis Chavez threatened to have their license revoked if they didn't stop broadcasting about it.
Suddenly everyone was seeing discs, not just in Roswell, but all over the country.
One of the "artifacts" was supposedly an I-beam with several dozen icons on it. The museum had a replica, complete with icons, based on the memory of someone who claimed to have held it briefly as an eleven-year-old boy. (This is labeled "The Roswell Incident I-Beam and It's [sic] Symbols of Unknown Origin".) Next to that is a display of some of the objects from the then-current Project Mogul, and it turns out that the tape reinforcement of the Project Mogul radar target had decorative icons because due to post-war shortages the Air Force bought some existing decorative surplus tape.
I suppose I should say that at the time the Air Force, after a brief period of appearing to believe the reports, claimed they were weather balloons or some such. Now someone has come forward and said that the Air Force surreptitiously encouraged these UFO reports, because they wanted to conceal various top-secret tests they were doing in the area at the time.
Referring to Capt. James McAndrews's "The Roswell Report: Case Closed, 1997", a sign claims, "The U.S. Air Force says that witnesses were *mistaken* in their statements that the events took place in 1947, and explain that the infamous events of the Roswell Incident did not actually happen *until October, 1957*--a discrepancy of 10 years!" This seems an awfully unlikely slip; I'll have to check this (pg. 56-58 and 156-157).
There was an astronomy section, including an article from "USA Today" listing Hubble's Ten Great Discoveries:
A third section covered "flying objects" more comprehensively. IFOs (Identified Flying Objects, or more accurately, objects mistaken for UFOs) include stars, planets, advertising planes, meteors, re-entry satellites, the moon, weather balloons, searchlights, missile launches, fixed ground lights, or strange clouds. They also include misperceptions, hoaxes, and photographic artifacts.
The three types of sightings are Daylight Discs, Noctural Lights, and Radar/Visual Sightings. The museum has photographs or records of each type, but admits that many of the photographs shown of daylight discs don't meet what they describe as the necessary criteria for acceptance or consideration: a witness to the photograph, the ability to examine the negative, the ability to examine the camera, and the photographer's testifying under oath.
The display on ancient astronauts says, "It is commonly accepted that ancient cultures on earth have been visited by extraterrestrial entities for many thousands of years, sharing this technology and influencing these civilizations." Oh, really? By whom?
They had the diagram of the "Palenque Astronaut" from Erich von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods?", with various parts labeled as "oxygen system", "pressure suit", and so on.
The display also claimed that "halos" around beings' heads in African and Australian art represented space helmets, but the aborigines in Australia made no such claim in their museums when we were there, and had other explanations entirely, and they should know.
There was a display on crop circles, but no text about the people who have admitted making the circles (and provided explanations and demonstrations of how they were done). The fact that one of them was the classic alien face should have been a clue! Most of the crop circles seem to be in England; is that because they are in desperate need of entertainment? :-)
The "evidence" of alien contact includes a *painting* made in Hamilton Township, NJ, by Tom Benson.
Someone recently (in 1997) brought in what they claimed was a metal fragment from the Roswell crash. Analysis showed it to be a scrap from a workshop using the Japanese metal-working technique called Mokume Gane, and in fact it turned out the hoaxer had worked in just such a workshop in Albuquerque.
A poster of the first landing of the space shuttle Columbia had a black ribbon diagonally over one corner.
http://www.TheWordIsTruth.org claims Harry S Truman was a believer, because he said, "I can assure you that flying saucers, given that they exist, are not constructed by any power on earth." That does *not* make him a believer.
They finished up with the prop alien from "Roswell: The U.F.O. Cover-Up" (1994, Showtime) and posters for "Six Days in Roswell" (2000) ( http://www.roswell6.com). We also watched part of "Flying Saucers Are Real" (Volume 2), but when they started showing scenes from "Plan 9 from Outer Space" as support for their claim, we decided to give up.
The museum seems to have an alien mascot, RALF (Roswell Alien Life Form).
It's not surprising that the UFO Museum doesn't present a stronger case against alien landings. The town seems to have made this a major industry, with all sorts of businesses based on them. Across the street is "Alien Resistance HQ: Defending the Planet 'One Tasty Beverage at a Time' / Rare Books, Beverages, & Truth". The music shop has a mock-up of an alien band, The Pleiadians, in the window. There are also Not of This World, Star Child, and Earth Station Roswell, three more souvenir shops. Even the streetlights are painted to look like alien faces!
Leaving Roswell, we drove through Bovina ("Home of 12,000 Friendly People (and 3 or 4 old grouches)") and Hereford ("Home of the Hostile Herd and the Lady Whitefaces").
We stayed overnight in Amarillo, and had dinner at the County Line BBQ. I like their menu--it provides "lite" portions of all their barbecue entrees. For example, you can get barbecue beef ribs with either two ribs or three. And their vegetable of the day was fried okra, and I really like okra.
We watched "Men in Black II" which not only fit in with the Roswell theme, but which we had actually taped yesterday in Roswell. And then we watched "Giant" in honor of Texas.
Mileage: 219 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 4979 miles
June 16, 2003: Driving east we passed through Groom, Texas, which has a giant cross near the highway, and near it a man-made hill with three smaller crosses with figures on them. I guess this is a Texas-style roadside attraction. Mark notes that one doesn't see giant Stars of David, in part because they are much more complicated to build.
We had lunch at Sonic Burger, a drive-in hamburger joint of the sort one used to see more often. I guess they're more popular in the South, where it's warm enough to eat in your car year 'round. The problem, in fact, would be that often it's *too* warm, and they don't have an air-conditioned eating area. They do have a patio with tables if you don't want to eat in your car, but even there you order through a speaker. They also don't put trays on the cars anymore. I don't know if it was that people would drive off with them, or that they couldn't make them to fit all the types of cars, or that people didn't want them scraping up their car doors, but now to eat in your car you have to juggle the hamburger, fries, and drink on your own. I did like the fact that you could get a quarter-pound burger with mustard instead of mayonnaise, though.
Our first stop was at the Oklahoma Historical Society. They were in the process of constructing a new, larger building across the road to house the museum and the archives. This was supposed to be done this year but is still under construction and won't be done until 2005. They are also adding on to the existing building, which will become the new State Supreme Court building. (They are also adding a dome to their capitol building, though that looks pretty much done.) In spite of all this, they were open. (On the floor plans, I notice that they told where the tornado shelters were in the building, and what the tornado warning sounded like, as opposed to the fire alarm.)
The temporary exhibit was "Cherokee Nation: A Portrait of a People" by David Fitzgerald. The historical background was informative, but photographs of people's faces, particularly when there are so many of them, don't do much for me. The historical background included information on the Trail of Tears, and the statement that after the syllabary was created, the Cherokee had a higher literacy rate that the Anglos in the area.
One fact not bandied about as much was that many Cherokees were slave-holders, and in fact the Confederacy's only allies during the Civil War were the Five Civilized Tribes. (Some Cherokees fought for the Union, making Indian Territory as divided a land as Kentucky.) Though the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in areas in rebellion, this didn't include the Indian Territory, and those slaves were freed under treaties in 1866. (Article XIV of the Constitution ratified in 1868 freed all the slaves.)
Cherokee Fire Dancers (forest fire fighters) are used around the country, and there were Cherokee code talkers during World War II, though the Navajos got the most publicity.
Another temporary exhibit was "Say, Have You Heard the Story ..., All-Black Towns of Oklahoma"; thirteen of these towns are still incorporated, though their populations are very small.
The main exhibit covered only the years from statehood (1907) through the 1970s. (I suppose that when they move, they will go up through the 1990s.) There was a display about the Tulsa Race Riot of May 31, 1921, and the claim that both the parking meter and the shopping cart were invented in Oklahoma City.
Two of the four governors in the 1920s were impeached, and in the 1930s William Henry "Alfalfa Bill" Murray was about to be. However, "not wishing to meet the same fate as Governors Walton and Johnston, Murray created the story that Oklahoma would lose its statehood if three governors were impeached."
There was surprisingly little on the Dust Bowl; perhaps Oklahoma doesn't want to be identified with the "Okies" of John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath". Of course, any state that adopts a nickname that celebrates the fact that its early settlers were cheats ("The Sooner State") shouldn't be bothered by that.
Instead. they talked about the Toll Bridge War. where Oklahoma built a free bridge over the Red River, and Texas Rangers closed it.
Famous Oklahomans include Mickey Mantle, Woody Guthrie, Wiley Post, and Will Rogers, as well as a lot of Western movie stars. Oklahoman astronauts include Gordon Cooper, Thomas Stafford, William Pogue, Shannon Lucid, Owen K. Garriott, and Stuart A. Roosa.
Peyotism in Native American religions was banned in 1899, but the ban was reversed in 1908, and its use has survived numerous challenges since then. (Well, if wine for religious purposes was exempted during Prohibition, why not?) The Native American Church was chartered October 10, 1918. Chartered by whom? I have no idea what this means, unless it's like incorporating as a non-profit organization.
A Civil War display showed the 34-star flag from the start of the Civil War with stars in *columns* of 7, 5, 5, 5, and 7--sort of like a seven-by-five arrangement with the center three stars of the top and bottom rows removed. It looked very strange compared to our familiar "full-area" arrangements.
The Confederate Congress had Indian representatives, but the representatives couldn't actually vote.
One of the displays seemed a bit dishonest. "The Atlanta Century" looked like a real newspaper of the Civil War era, but reading the stories, the language seemed awfully modern, and sure enough, down in the fine print was that it was effectively a "re-enactment" newspaper. This should have been said in larger letters (in my opinion).
The ship the USS Oklahoma was built in Camden, New Jersey, and just named for the state. When Oklahoma Governor Cruce objected to champagne for the christening (because Oklahoma had been dry since statehood), he was re-assured that no one would be drinking the champagne, and also that sailors would consider it unlucky if the ship weren't christened properly. (Why "christened"? Isn't there a better--or at least more politically correct--term?)
There had been a Wiley Post exhibit, but that had been removed to make way for an upcoming "Oklahomans in Space" exhibit. I guess no one who visits remembers Wiley Post any more.
I found myself wondering if Oklahoma has the greatest percentage of Indians of any state? I suspect the only contender might be New Mexico. I think Arizona has had too many Anglos for it to be in the running, but I guess Alaska or Hawai'i might be up there. (And right after I typed this, I overheard a guide in the 45th Infantry Division Museum telling a youth group that Oklahoma had more Indians total than any other state.)
I ended up in a discussion of the land rushes with a couple of people in the gift shop. There were three land rushes, the Unassigned Lands, the Cherokee Strip, and one other I can't remember. The three occurred between 1889 and 1892, and consisted of people lining up along the starting line. (In one case, for example, it was along the northern border of what is now the state.) Other lands were distributed by lottery or other, less chaotic means. Of course, the point should probably be made that whatever the method of distribution, the lands were not legally the Federal governments to give away.
From there we went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Rather than describe the entire progression of displays, I will just give some random comments.
The museum began with photos of what things were like before the bombing on April 19, 1995, but I found myself wondering if all the photographs were actually taken that morning.
I found myself wondering, what if Israel did one of these for each bombing they had? Yes, the death count is smaller, but so is Israel's population. The death count in Oklahoma City was 168. The count for 9/11 was slightly over 3000, with slightly under 3000 in New York City. (Various sources place the New York City toll between 2800 and 2829, Washington at 189, and Pennsylvania at 44.)
A display on the wall claimed there were fifteen terrorism incidents in the United States between 1985 and 1995, but the interactive computer lists fifty-five. (The former is from the Department of State, while the latter is from the FBI, so that might explain the discrepancy.)
They had a room where the played the only recording of the blast, from the Wikle water hearing across the street. When blast goes off, a bright light flashes and a wall of the faces of the victims lights up, which is certainly startling.
In all the descriptions, "Survivor" and "Rescuer" are always capitalized.
A section talks about the "Oklahoma Standard"--an outpouring of support and assistance--but we've now seen that the same thing happened in New York City, so attributing it to something specifically Oklahoman in nature is probably inaccurate.
One photograph showed cars on a freeway driving with their headlights on during the day as a reminder/tribute. This isn't really possible any more, since many (most? all?) cars now have headlights that are always on when driving.
A section titled "Shared Experience: 04.19.95/09.11.01" had exhibits showing parallels or similar scenes from Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or Pennsylvania.
Several conventions or festivals being held or scheduled for Oklahoma City were canceled after the bombing, but the Mid-Southwest Food Service Convention attendees stayed on to provide food service for the rescue workers and others.
The memorial itself is 168 individually crafted chair-shaped sculptures, arranged in rows by which floor the victims were on. There is also a reflecting pool and a "Survivors Tree" which survived the blast.
After this, we drove back to the Comfort Inn where we had stayed before our trip was interrupted. This time they claimed there were no double-doubles with a refrigerator, in spite of the fact we had stayed in one last time, and the room they gave us was smaller and less convenient. (One side of the bed was practically up against the closet doors, and had no nightstand or light.)
I did another couple of loads of laundry, and we had dinner at CiCi's Pizza buffet ($3.99). While not gourmet pizza, it was reasonably good.
Mileage: 282 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5261 miles
June 17, 2003: It was very humid this morning. Apparently this is common, though you probably don't think of Oklahoma as a particularly humid area.
Our first (and as it turned out, our only) stop today was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (formerly the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, I think). Our trip interruption worked in our favor here; we arrived just after opening of Prix de West art competition. In fact, the opening was two days earlier, and $22 million of art had already been sold. This is one reason this was our only stop--it added about an hour and a half to the visit just to see that section, which had about as many pieces as the permanent collection.
At the beginning of the museum, they say to "imagine your ancestors' lives." Not mine--the earliest any of my ancestors were in the (continental) United States was about 1903. Other than a brief stay by my mother and her parents in Detroit around 1920, the earliest any of my ancestors were out of New York City was when we moved to Maine in 1953. (Oh, I guess my father was elsewhere in World War II.)
They have a larger-than-life statue of Ronald Reagan because he "loved the ranching life." If I wanted a larger-than-life statue of a President who loved the ranching life, I'd choose Theodore Roosevelt. There was also a life-size (or larger) statue of "Charlton Heston as Will Penny", a gift from the NRA.
Their statue of Lincoln was a model of the statue of him in Jersey City at the eastern entrance of old Lincoln Highway, which was the first cross-country highway. (I wonder if there is a book that helps you follow the route, though I suspect a lot has been superseded by interstates the way Route 66 has.)
They had a book, "The Beef Bonanza or How to Get Rich on the Plains" by Gen. James S. Brisbin, U.S.A., from 1881, which I guess was the equivalent of the dot-com books of the 1990s. (I eventually realized that "U.S.A." here apparently stands for "United States Army" rather than "United States of Amierca".)
The big meeting room has five Wilson Hurley triptychs: "California Suite" (the ocean), "Arizona Suite" (Grand Canyon), "Wyoming Suite" (Yellowstone), "Utah Suite" (Monument Valley), and "Dakota Suite" (plains and mountains). Across from the entrance was the famous statue "The End of the Trail" by James Earle Fraser. The description said that this reflected the 1894 view of Indians "defeated and bound for oblivion", though that turned out not to be true. One of the docents said that Fraser also designed the Indian Head on the penny and the buffalo on the nickel.
As we walked around the exhibits, I was holding my palmtop and a guard called over that there was no photography. She obviously thought it was a camera, but I explained that it wasn't.
The Prix de West exhibit had hundreds of pieces. The most memorable tended to be the large sculptures: "Home Is Where the Heart Is" by Edward J. Fraughton (which was priced at $180,000), "Sacagawea and Jean Baptiste" by Glenna Goodacre ($120,000), and "Hospitality of the Nez Perce" by Doug Hyde ($138,000). Even the paintings were priced in the mid-five-digits. For those of us who are used to only science fiction convention arts shows, where a price above $1000 is considered high, this was a shock, though this is definitely the high end of contemporary art. (In fact, the museum purchases the winning piece each year to add to its collection.)
One painting really caught my eye. "The Pony Raiders" by Dan Mieduch had a great use of back-lighting, but more than that, it caught the glare of the early morning sun off a lake as a means to achieve this.
Gerald Balciar's "Canyon Princess", a smaller copy in bronze of his eight-ton, fifteen-foot marble panther sculpture, was the most popular, selling about fifty copies at $950 each.
Tim Cherry tended towards humorous titles for his sculptures, such as "Catitude" and "Vertigoat". I wonder if he's a relative of science fiction artist David Cherry. (Apparently not, I later found out.)
A painting based in pop culture was "Mirror Image" by Don Spaulding, which showed a young boy in a gunslinger outfit looking in a mirror and seeing himself as a real gunslinger who looked just like the cover of his Western stories magazine.
Some of the Indian (Native American) style reminds me of Indian (Asian) miniatures--something about the precision of it, and the flatness, with no shading or depth. It also tends toward the geometric, with a use of repetition.
There was a cast of "Coming Through the Rye" by Frederic Remington, as well as his "The Bronco Buster" from 1895. Now, someone claimed that Buster Keaton invented the use of "Buster" as a name, but it may have been inspired by this. They also had a lot of Charles M. Russell's works. They didn't seem to have the early landscape artists featured in the Autry Museum (Moran, Gast, Melrose, and Murdock).
One sculpture, "One in a Thousand", was by Solon Borglum, who was one of the sons of Gutzon Borglum (who did Mount Rushmore).
There was a display for the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army pistol, which is considered "The Gun That Won the West".
The cowboy section did have some information on the Spanish/Mexican influence, but there seemed to be very little about that in the art sections. There was a room devoted to Luis Ortega, reataero, who was named a "Master Traditional Artist" by the NEA. There was also the ubiquitous barbed wire display.
The Hall of Fame of Western Entertainers includes such people as Tom Mix (inducted 1958), Gary Cooper (1966), Amanda Blake (1968), Gene Autry (1972), John Wayne (1974), Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (1976), Clayton Moore (1990), Jay Silverheels (1993), and Gilbert M. Anderson ("Broncho Billy") (2002). Interestingly, there was no Yakima Canutt, no John Ford, and no Cliff Eastwood. Will Rogers was inducted as a Great Westerner, though, so it's possible that some of these are there. And who is Vince Gill?
"Give our Cavalry troopers the saber. Sharpen it and teach them to use it. It never misses fire, and who does not believe that gallant Custer would not have given millions for a hundred sabres when he made his last stand." --Army and Navy Journal
The rodeo section noted that Ben Johnson is only man to win both an Oscar and an RCA World Championship.
Earlier, I quoted someone as saying that women compete only in barrel racing. Apparently they used to compete in everything--even steer roping and bull riding-- but this changed. According to this display, "Beginning in the 1930s, competitive cowgirls declined in number and prominence. Male-dominated rodeo organizations ignored women as serious participants, opting instead for parades featuring glamorous 'Ranch Girls.' This stance sharply diminished the role of true competitive cowgirls. With Gene Autry's monopoly of big-time rodeo in the 1940s, the participation of female contestants virtually ceased." It went on to say that women concentrate on barrel racing today, but didn't categorically state that was all they competed in. A category that seems to have disappeared, though, is trick riding, which ceased to be a competitive sport and became a contract act instead.
There is a definite fixed order to rodeos, by the way: parade, bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrangling, team roping, barrel racing, and finally bull riding. The latter was made famous by Bill Pickett, also know as "The Bull-Dogger".
The Hall of Great Western Performances was one of the high points of our visit, and also very new--it just opened two months ago. It began by claiming that the Western genre was started by Owen Wister's book "The Virginian" (1902). (This sort of conflicts with the notion of Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" as a Western.) The film Western began with the first film with a plot, "The Great Train Robbery" (1905).
Early stars featured in the displays naturally included Oklahoma native and favorite son Will Rogers. He was known for his homey sayings and philosophy. What they quoted here was, "Call me a rube and a hick, but I'd a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it."
Also featured were Jack Hoxie, William S. Hart, Tom Mix (from Pennsylvania, but with Oklahoma connections), Harry Carey, Sr.; Tim McCoy, Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones (also Oklahoman), Hopalong Cassidy (born in Ohio but raised in Oklahoma), and Gene Autry (from Texas and Oklahoma). There seemed to be a very high proportion of Oklahomans, possibly because early movie drew from real cowboys and Wild West shows which were common in this area.
They talked about "Sidekicks and Trio Westerns", Black Cowboys (such as Bill Pickett and Herb Jeffries), and Stuntmen. The section on Indians actually told you what tribe Jay Silverheels was from (Mohawk). Most of the museums seem to just say he was an Indian (or a Native American) and let it go at that.
John Wayne (who weighed 13 pounds at birth!) was born in Iowa. Gary Cooper was from Montana. Joel McCrea and Slim Pickens were from California, and Walter Brennan was from Massachusetts! Brennan said, "I never wanted to be a star. If you're not the star, you don't get the blame if it's a lousy picture. They always blame the star. They say, 'But that old man was great!"
There were the usual section on Women in the Westerns, and Anti-Establishment Westerns such as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Wild Bunch". Modern Western actors such as Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott were covered as well.
Mark took the quiz on TV Western themes and scored twelve out of twelve right.
The section finished up with Bob Wills and Western Swing, and Radio and Western Music.
There was also a short film, "Silver Screen Cowboys" with a lot of interesting details. For example, "Tumbleweeds" was a silent film that showed the Oklahoma Strip land run before even "Cimarron". "In Old Arizona", with the Cisco Kid, was the first outdoor on-location talkie. "The Cattle Queen of Montana" with Barbara Stanwyck was almost unique in its portrayal of a strong, self-reliant female lead character.
When films started, they would often hire Indians as extras. But as the industry geared up, the availability of regular extras led to the use of Anglo actors as Indians, leading to all those films with Indians with blue eyes. (Of course, until color came in, who could tell?) Eventually, actors such as Chief Dan George and Will Samson helped reverse this trend. And films such as "Conagher" and "Lonesome Dove" started to show a more realistic picture of the West.
Mark claimed that Rene Descartes was listed as a Great Westerner, because "he knew about the great planes."
This took us to 3PM, so we decided to call it a day.
We had dinner at Hunan Garden near our motel: Chicken Sizzling Rice Soup, Pot Stickers, and Curried Chicken. It was very good--my theory is that in the Southwest they're not as afraid to make the hot dishes hot as other places.
Then we watched "Unforgiven" and "The Making of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea".
Mileage: 25 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5286 miles
June 18, 2003: Why are so many hotel rooms designed so that the cold air from the air conditioning blows directly on you when you in bed. It's like sleeping in a cold wind tunnel.
Since we didn't have time for it yesterday, we went to the 45th Infantry Division Museum this morning on our way to Tulsa.
General Patton said of the 45th Infantry Division that it was "one of the best, if not the best, divisions to ever fight for the United States."
The first part of the museum was a general history of Oklahoma's military, including Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie (WAY-tee), the only Indian general for either side in the Civil War, and the last Confederate general to surrender. (And Geronimo is buried at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.)
A display of mortars in the over-sized fireplace led Mark to call it "bricks and mortar."
The display listed the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) separately. Usually they are combined. It also included the Mexican Border War (1916-1917), which occurred after Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916. This one is usually omitted altogether, and really is a "forgotten war."
They had a World War I canteen and mess kit almost identical to my father's from World War II. (Later they had the World War II versions, and I think the only change was from a relatively flat lid for the mess kit in World War I to a divided lid in World War II.)
The 45th Infantry Division was activated in 1923. As the display said, "The division's first symbol was the swastika [...]. After Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the Nazi party symbol, it was found desirable to change the division insignia." Good idea. The new symbol was the Thunderbird. Their motto is "Semper anticus" ("Always forward").
One of the main displays was the Mauldin Room, a collection of Bill Mauldin's World War II cartoons. One of them shows one G.I. holding a bayonet and saying to another G.I., "I'll be [darngoned]. Did ya know this can opener fits on th' end of a rifle?" (Apparently Mauldin wrote "damned" but the censor changed it.) Another shows a Nazi soldier holding a memo that says (paraphrased), "If attacked by soldiers with a Brooklyn accent, retreat, because in the last week, their temper has been explosive and their actions unpredictable." It's undated, but I suspect it was done shortly after the liberation of the first death camps.
The 45th was the division that liberated Dachau (April 29, 1945), and that may have been the first death camp liberated. There was a room describing this, and a docent taking a high school age group around was telling them about it. He was there, he said, and, yes, it did happen, and they shouldn't believe people who try to tell them that it was all made up or exaggerated. Dachau was the site where Patton required everyone from the town to come out and help bury the bodies. Afterwards, the mayor and his wife committed suicide. People in the town claimed they didn't know what was going on, but the docent said that the smell alone should have told them, because the camp was very close to the town. Mark's uncle was in a unit that helped liberate one of the camps, but I'm not sure which one.
(We later heard that when Eisenhower was informed about the camps, he directed the generals to march as many troops through them as possible, because he knew that some day people would deny that this had happened and he wanted as many witnesses as possible.)
There were also items taken from Hitler's apartment in Munich and from his bunker, as well as a name strip from a uniform for Goering.
The section for the "Korean Conflict" had the word "Conflict" partially overlaid by a piece of paper with a stencil saying "War" and having bullet holes and burnt edges.
They had some Bibles and such in a display of auxiliary groups. The Jewish Scriptures were labeled as "Hebrew," a term I suppose authentic to the era, but rarely used these days except in reference to the language. The book was actually the complete five books of the Torah, but there were also abridged versions available (because I have one). (The goal was to print something small enough to fit in a small pocket.)
The weapons display here has the flints in flintlocks, which makes it a lot clearer how they worked. I also now know why it's called a "half-track" (because the track is around only the front wheels).
We took a turnpike to Tulsa. I thought turnpikes (toll roads) were only east of the Mississippi, but there apparently are a few in Oklahoma. It's a bit ironic, considering the Toll Bridge War, in which Oklahoma was on the sides of no tolls.
(They have a turnpike here that has a sign saying "Exact Change Required" but no hint of what the toll is. I suppose one could assume it is under a dollar and just make sure one has the ability to produce any multiple of five cents under a dollar, but you'd think they'd post it on the sign. Even then, when you're whipping along at sixty miles per hour, you have very little time to decide whether you have the right change.)
Driving along, I am reminded that while the highways might have been more beautiful with any billboards or signs, travelers do actually want information about whether there is gas or food coming up, and so forth.
We got to Tulsa about 1PM, early enough to see the Philbrook Museum. The Philbrook Museum is set in a mansion built by one of the Phillips (of Phillips 66) during the 1920s oil boom, and is known for the building as much as the contents. Of course, one of the main attractions is the gardens, and those were closed for renovation and construction, but we're not big garden people anyway.
There was a special exhibit of modern works here (well, relatively modern). It was titled "Modern Masters: Corot to Kandinsky".
Jean Leon Gerome's "Mirmillion, Gallic Gladiator" and "Retarius" were preliminaries for "Pollice Verso", which Ridley Scott acknowledges as a prime inspiration for "Gladiator".
There was a Marc Chagall--"The Crucifixion", an odd choice, we thought. Rene Magritte's "The Almayer's Madness" is a tower with roots, part of a series of images in which objects were "moving from one thing to another", which reminded me of Escher, or of those "impossible figures".
Of the main collection, it seemed remarkably undistinguished. Just about the only one that caught my imagination was Pena's "Forest of Fontainebleu", which looked genuinely mysterious. The Italian religious paintings were repetitious--and with good reason, as it turned out. The docent on our tour later said that painters would go around with stock templates for a "Madonna and Child" and just add the faces of whoever paid them for one, along with a few personalized touches (like what fruit was in the garland).
During the docent tour, we heard more about the house itself than about the art works. The house had thick walls for security against "kidnapping and political insurrection" (as the docent put it), which were apparently major concerns of the newly wealthy. These walls now help to preserve the wood and textiles in the museum from the climate outside. The museum has 86,000 pieces displayed on a rotating basis.
There was a very small display of African art, which apparently is only about 1% of the Gussman Collection. There's the Clark Field basket collection as well, again with most of the baskets not displayed. The docent called our attention to Maria and Julian Martinez's black-on-black pottery, which she described as priceless, and to a basket with 5500 stitches. I liked the Woody Crumbo painting "Land of Enchantment", which showed a tourist family rather flamboyantly dressed in shorts, sandals, sunglasses, etc., gawking at an Indian family who were wearing somewhat traditional dress.
The wall paintings in the music room have the faces of the Phillipses' friends. They were originally painted as nudes, but when Mrs. Phillips's their mother came to visit, she was shocked, and they had the painter come back and paint diaphanous gowns on them. The main staircase was purchased from William Randolph Hearst, and the railings for the portico showed the Greek Muses as flappers.
A lot of the collection itself came from the Kress collection, which was distributed to museums in the cities that the best-performing Kress store locations. Originally, Kress had planned a museum in New York, but decided that this method would give more people an opportunity to see at least some of the art.
One painting by Thomas Moran that says "Mid Atlantic" on the frame is labeled "An Angry Sea" by the museum. I have no idea why. Another evocative painting was Thomas Moran's "Slave Hunt, Dismal Swamp". Moran paints in the style of Turner and Constable, though mostly of Western settings.
Driving to the motel, we passed a Salvation Army store that had a sign saying, "Got Jesus? 20% off furniture". It almost sounds as if you don't get the discount unless you're saved.
Dinner was at Binh Le, a Vietnamese restaurant. It was fairly mediocre, with Lumpia Rolls being basically hot dogs and shredded vegetables in a spring roll wrapper, and Hot Ginger Chicken being not all that hot.
Mileage: 124 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5410 miles
June 19, 2003: Our motel is apparently one of those that can't manage to put "USA Today" outside everyone's door (even though the cost is included in the room charge), so it ends up that whoever gets up first, wins. (They do have some copies down at breakfast.)
We drove up to Bartlesville and then to Woolaroc (whose name comes from "woods-lakes-rocks"). Woolaroc was built by another one of the Phillipses.
One enters through a wildlife preserve where one sees bison, elk, deer, etc. Well, actually, no sees mostly deer. We did see several bison and about a dozen elk, but this may have been because the truck came around with feed just as we were going through. I say this because when we drove a second time around later, we didn't see bison or elk at all.
Mark noticed that the museum still used the term "Eskimo" rather than "Inuit" (though the label was old).
A stuffed animal was labeled "Puma and seventeen other names."
We saw some that at first glance looked like "Coming Through the Rye" but on closer glance was "Payday Going to Town" by Sally Farnham, copying "Rye" even to having only six feet out of twelve on the ground (though she had another two attached via cactus).
Mark complains that every museum has Indian artifacts--I'm not sure the Palenque astronaut at the UFO Museum qualifies, and the Oklahoma City Memorial didn't at all. But we are going primarily to Western heritage museums, so it is to be expected.
Recalling the show at the Autry Museum, there was a Carl Rungius painting of a moose. There were Robert Lindneux portraits of such notables as Leif Ericson, Christopher Columbus, Francisco de Coronado, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody and more--with basically the same face in each one.
Once again I was reminded of the song line "I use antlers in all of my decorating."
There was an old doll there, and a girl looking at it said to her father that she didn't like to play with dolls, "especially ripped up ones"--but they weren't always ripped up. That's the problem with these historical displays. They make us tend to think of clothing and items from a hundred years ago as looking a hundred years old. I think somewhere a museum have a display of First Ladies' gowns or some such where they have reconstructed from new materials what the original looked like when it was new and displayed the pairs together. That at least gives you a better idea.
There was more Frederic Remington and Thomas Moran and a lot by Frank Tenney Johnson (who tends towards dark aquamarine colors). There were Joe Beeler sculptures (and paintings), and "Doughty Birds", which is apparently a well-known series of painted pottery (?) birds. There was "Westward Ho" by Emanuel Leutze, "the only important American tapestry about an American historical incident." I guess that means there are unimportant American tapestries, or important non-American tapestries, about American historical incidents.
There was a section about the Woolaroc plane which was (almost) the first to fly non-stop from the mainland to Hawai'i. (There was a competition with a starting date, but before that date the Army flew a military plane there, and one civilian who cared more about being first than the prize money flew there ahead of the date.)
Phillips 66 was not exactly named for the highway. During a road test, someone said, "This car goes like 60 on our new gas." The driver replied, "60 nothing, we're doing 66!" When it turned out that the test was on Route 66, they decided that had to be the name.
The museum also holds the only privately owned dinosaur egg in the world, 95 million years old.
From Woolaroc we drove to the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, just north of Bartlesville. This is a very small museum, and we were the only people there for the entire visit.
Mix was born Thomas Hezekiah Mix in Driftwood, Pennsylvania, in 1880. He enlisted for the Spanish-American War April 26, 1898. He claimed to have served with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and to have been wounded, but service records show that neither was true. When his enlistment was up, he re-enlisted, but (as the museum describes it) "on October 20, 1902, Tom left without telling Uncle Sam good-bye." (According to another source, he failed to return after a furlough. After he became a star, someone inquired with the War Department about his record, and they apparently originated the phrasing of "leaving Uncle Sam without saying good-bye." I guess they didn't want to arrest the leading box office star for desertion.)
Mix's connection with Dewey is that he served as a deputy there between 1902 and when he went off to Hollywood. Pennsylvania still claims him as well; there is a "Tom Mix Festival" in DuBois, Pennsylvania, every September.
While William Hart and "Broncho Billy" Anderson played grim and authentic Western characters, Mix was the first star to portray the romanticized hero who became the mainstay of Westerns.
There was a small "theater" there (a room with chairs and a video set-up), and the owner ran "My Pal the King", with Mickey Rooney and directed by Karl Neumann. It was a film from Universal, and I though one of the sets looked a lot like one that was later used in "Son of Frankenstein."
The museum was pictures and belongings of Mix, including the suitcase that killed him. (He was driving through some construction work on a road in Arizona and hit the brakes too hard, and a suitcase slid forward from a stack on the back seat and broke his neck. The suitcases were aluminum, so there was no real friction between them, and also solid enough when it hit.)
We had lunch/dinner at Montana Mike's, a steak house. We tend to eat breakfast and one other meal. This often means we are the only people in the restaurant--steak houses don't have big crowds at 3PM during the week. Of course, this also means that we frequently get our "dinner" at lunch prices.
Mileage: 151 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5561 miles
June 20, 2003: This being the third Friday in June, the zoo was closed, and so we decided to visit the museums in Claremore. (Also, one of them opens late on Sunday, so that wouldn't be a good day for them.)
The first museum was the J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum. Though best known for its firearms (it's the largest private gun collection according to some sources), it interested us more for its other holdings. And indeed it had something of everything--a "collection of collections," Mark called it. Indian artifacts, beer steins, knives, musical instruments, clocks, World War I posters, organizational medals and pins, saddles, branding irons, barbed wire, James Rogers sculptures, .... The list goes on and on.
I was most interested in the World War I posters. The collections supposedly has 6000, of which maybe a couple of hundred were on display. Unfortunately, the display was *above* the cases of firearms and such, meaning one ended up with a stiff neck. Also, the descriptions and explanations were hard to read. They had the very famous "I Want You" poster, done by James Montgomery Flass. (They don't have attributions for all the posters, since some artists preferred to work anonymously, and others were produced by various art schools as part of the war effort.)
One poster was for the "ALA United War Work Campaign, Week of November 11, 1918". Okay, that was a little late to have a war work campaign. (The United War Work Campaign was like the USO in World War II, and composed of half a dozen religious and civic groups, including the American Library Association.)
One poster for War Savings Stamps showed how much one could expect to get back. Apparently they paid 4%. One War Savings Stamps poster showed a line of people in all sorts of ethnic outfits buying stamps, I assume to encourage the idea that we're all Americans and we're all in this together.
The descriptions emphasized how the posters used shame as a major weapon: look how much the soldiers are sacrificing, the least you can do is buy war savings stamps/plant a garden/eat less meat. I wonder if people now who see a poster that says, "Helping Hoover in Our U.S. School Garden" has any idea what it is talking about. (No, Hoover wasn't President then. He was in charge of war relief for Europe.)
The beer steins had some interesting one: a skull, a monkey reading Darwin, a stein that appeared to be a set of books arranged in a circle (one of a series of eleven, each for a different profession). Mark said he wanted to see the one from Franken.
Several weapons were described as "Registered weapons" or "Registered with the U.S. Treasury Department". I have no idea what that means. [Someone later told me that only certain types of firearms need to be registered.]
Among the musical instruments was a parquetry violin with a Texas star, but the description pointed out that while it was nice-looking because of the many different woods, it has very poor acoustics for the same reason.
They had an assortment of "parlor instruments": kaloharp, zither, autoharp, ukelin, banjo-lin, celestaphone, violin-uke, and so on. And what is the difference between a guitar, a banjo, and a ukulele?
The displays claims that Dixieland jazz is the only truly American musical art form. I wonder why they don't count rock and roll. The background of the exhibit was a collage of fake musical scores with everything in Italian, even having the composer as "Giuseppe Haydn".
There was an exhibit of ropes and hoods from famous hangings, various types of handcuffs, and "Outlaw Guns".
They had special exhibits of firearms for the various wars. I have concluded that there must be some sort of rule that every Desert Storm exhibit have a soda can with Arabic lettering on it. Iraqi dog tags are entirely in Arabic, except for the blood type section, which is in English.
Our second stop was the Will Rogers Museum. Rogers's best-known saying was, "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like." Of course, since he died in a plane crash on August, 15, 1935, he never met Stalin or Hitler (or the Kaiser, for that matter).
He wrote 666 weekly columns before he crashed. Someone will undoubtedly read significance into that number.
We watched some of his film "Doubting Thomas", but there were long stretches having nothing to do with him, so we didn't sit through the whole thing. He made seventy-one films, fifty silent (for which he wrote the inter-titles), and twenty-one talkies.
Although he became best known as a humorist, he first became famous as a trick roper and rider, and got his start in Texas Jack's Wild West Circus as "The Cherokee Kid". He was paid $20 a week, but meals were 75 cents each. There was a video running in one room of him doing rope tricks. In fact, there were videos in every room of his films, appearances, and even radio talks (apparently sometimes filmed as well). One video gave an overview of his films, and was in a room of movie posters; the hairstyle on the poster for "Down to Earth" made him look a little like Hitler. In "A Connecticut Yankee", he says his ancestor was Sir Roger de Claremore--a pun on his hometown that I hadn't realized before.
In addition to his skills as an entertainer, Rogers was also a humanitarian. He provided some of the first eyewitness reports of the Mississippi floods in the 1920s. This tied in with his love of flying--as a passenger--since he arranged to fly over the area to view it firsthand. He also helped raise money for Nicaraguan Earthquake Relief in April 1931. He also made a famous speech, "Bacon and Beans and Limousines" on October 18, 1931, to try to get people who were better off to assist others during the Depression. We had lunch at Carl's Jr., which has big sloppy hamburgers. I actually prefer a smaller, neater burger, but I must be in a minority.
We then went to Gardner's Used Books, Music, Videos & Collectibles Inc. (I think that covers everything.) It claims to have over two million used books, and probably does. I didn't find anything for me, by I found a couple of books Kate was looking for, including a hard-to-find one which is usually about $20 when I see it on-line--and here it was only $2.95. Looking for books for friends gives me all the fun of shopping, with none of the expense or storage problems.
We then went to an AMC theater to see HULK. This must be a new theater, since the seats were enormous: eighteen inches wide with a four-and-a-half-inch liftable armrest in addition. There was somewhat of a line, but there was also a machine to sell tickets by credit card. I guess this isn't that unusual in large multiplexes, but it's the first time we used one. Matinee tickets were $6--more than at home, but then prices probably went up there over Memorial Day weekend (they almost always do).
After the movie, we went to Taco Bueno for a small meal. It was acceptable, but I prefer Taco Bell's bean burritos.
Mileage: 57 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5618 miles
June 21, 2003: We had planned to do the Zoo today, but it was raining in the morning, with more predicted. So we decided to see the Gilcrease Museum instead.
Here we managed to hit a special exhibition on the last weekend it was there. Rendezvous 2003 was an exhibit of four artists: Tom Cherry, Blair Buswell, Bill Anton, and Matt Smith. Tom Cherry (apparently no relation to the science fiction artist David Cherry) had several pieces in the Prix de West in Oklahoma City as well, and because most of what he does are bronzes, many were the same pieces ("Flat Jack", "Catitude", and "Vertigoat" I particularly remembered). He does a lot of animals in somewhat stylized shapes. I notice he hadn't sold nearly so many during the whole exhibition in Tulsa as during one weekend in Oklahoma City.
Blair Buswell is another sculptor, doing primarily statues and busts, and she also has a very recognizable style.
There was the obligatory "Coming Through the Rye", as well as separate rooms dedicated to Charles M. Russell, John Edward Borein, Frank Tenney Johnson, Charles Schreyvogel (who did a lot on the Indian Wars), Olaf C. Seltzer (mostly paintings of Indians, with a series on Custer), Albert Bierstadt, and George Catlin (nature paintings). Of course there was Thomas Moran, including "The Dream City", which seemed similar to Thomas Kidd's "Gnemo" series.
Not all the works of art are Western landscapes or subjects, but most are. Some are peculiar, such as the trophy for the Belmont Stakes in the shape of a sculpture of an Indian buffalo hunter.
A section on Native American art described what they called "the flat style", having "bold color in strong contrasts, compositions of single figures or small groups rendered with little or no modeling, and lacking background or perspective." I think that's what I meant by similarity to (Asian) Indian miniatures.
There was a special exhibition of William R. Leigh, who used realistic and narrative styles at a time when modernism and abstraction were all the rage. His "Landscape on the Moon", done in 1947, is interesting in being more Impressionist than most lunar landscapes done by Chesley Bonestell or others who were trying to be scientifically precise.
A section on Native American mythical themes in the decorative arts talked about an Alabama tribe myth that said that originally the bears had Fire but they went off to find berries and neglected it. Humans found it and fed it with sticks, so Fire said it would help humans now. When the bears returned, Fire said it no longer knew them, so bears haven't had Fire since then. It's sort of the reverse of Terry Bisson's "Bears Discover Fire", and I'd bet he knew of the myth when he wrote it.
Mark points out that a lot of myths ("How the Oppossum Got His Smile" and such) seem to assume the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
In keeping with my noticing odd "Last Supper"s, they had an Ocumichu "Last Supper" scene where they're all eating watermelon. (In one cathedral in Peru, they're eating guinea pig.)
There were some video stations, but trying to listen to them was difficult, because other patrons walking by would talk over them as if no one were listening. We did watch two, one on the Aztec Calendar (Sun) Stone, and one on Diego Rivera.
Words in English were come from Nahuatl include chocolate, coyote, tomato, ocelot, Mexican, and mesquite.
Dinner was Chimi's, similar in appearance to a Chi-Chi's, but with *much* better food. Across from it was the Gray Snail Saloon, which actually sounds rather disgusting.
Mileage: 28 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5646 miles
June 22, 2003: Some days everything goes wrong.
We were doing the zoo today because we couldn't do it yesterday. The plan was to check out of the motel, see the zoo, then drive to Rogers, Arkansas, and see the Pea Ridge National Military Park either late today or early tomorrow.
Something I had said that the zoo opened at 10AM, so we sat around the room until about 9:30AM, then checked out and drove to the zoo, which turned out to have opened at 9AM. This bothered me, but I told myself I should be more mellow.
The zoo itself is really the "Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum" and is actually a combination zoo and natural history museum, with exhibits in buildings showing the history (well, pre-history, mostly) of various regions such as Northern Tundra and Southern Lowlands. This lets them get in what Mark claims is the obligatory Indian pottery, as well as the ever-popular, but unfortunately (for zoos) extinct, dinosaurs.
These buildings all have a picture of a gun with a circle around it and a slash through it, meaning one isn't allowed to bring guns in. I assume this means that Oklahoma is a state that allows people to carry guns around.
Stephen J. Gould has complained about one of the classic diagrams used to show evolution, that of a series of horse-like mammals, getting larger and presumably more improved until one sees the modern horse. Gould points out that this is actually an example of failing to adapt, since of all the genera of horse-like mammals that existed, the only one left is Equus. All the rest died off. What he doesn't say is that this includes not just horses, but also zebras, donkeys, jackasses, burros, and others. (However, in terms of genera, he is correct.)
An example of "rapid" evolution are light and dark peppered moths. In pre-industrial times, 90% of the peppered were light in color to blend in with their surroundings, but less than fifty years after industrial development started putting pollution in the air, 90% of them were dark.
Tallahassee and Tulsa come from the same word, meaning "abandoned town" in Creek.
The zoo is rather small (no rhinoceri or hippopotami, for example), and most of the animals they do have seem to be invisible, or at least well-hidden. We did spot the cheetahs, but the lions, tigers, and panthers were all in their cells and not visible from outside. Most of the primates were also hiding, and on the whole we were somewhat disappointed.
Of course, sometimes it was my fault. I almost didn't see the Alligator Snapping Turtle, which was the size of a small tricycle), because I was looking for something much smaller and it blended in with the rocks.
A section talked about air plants (epiphytes), which include orchids and Spanish moss (a bromeliad).
The shark tanks said that sharks produce live young, which got me to asking where sharks fall on the traditional taxonomic tree? They're not fish, and they're not reptiles, but what are they. Live young is usually considered a characteristic of mammals.
The big new attraction, just arrived in 2002, is the African penguins. As part of this, someone has sponsored a city-wide display of strangely decorated penguin statues on various street corners. This seems to be a new trend in organized street art. In Toronto a few years ago, it was moose.
We finished at the zoo about 2PM. By this point it was clear we wouldn't get to Pea Ridge in time to see it today. (Had we started at the zoo at 9AM, we probably would have, which would have made a lot of the problems go away.) So we took the scenic route to Rogers, or rather Bentonville (right next to it) and looked through the books for a place to stay. However, for some reason, Bentonville was an exceptionally expensive town for motels (even Motel 6), so we figured we would drive up to Joplin and then backtrack tomorrow and take a different route to Memphis. This turned out not to be a viable plan, as I will explain later.
So we drove to Joplin, or rather we drove north to I-44 and then had to decide west or east to find the exit for the motel we chose. Naturally, I chose wrong. This was even worse than you might think, because I-44 was under construction for that whole stretch and backed up bumper-to-bumper. So we had to crawl along seven miles east to get to the next exit, turn around, and crawl ten miles back.
Then we drove two miles north to the motel we had chosen from the book, only to discover that it had closed. Since it was listed in this year's brand-new AAA book, this was unexpected and annoying. So we picked another motel closer to the interstate. It was still open, but a bit run-down (the outside stairs were rusty in spots, for example), and when we got to our room the toilet was still flushing from the last time, and even opening the tank didn't show us a way to fix it.
Since we were really hungry, we went to the office and asked them to fix the toilet--and to make sure there was a room for us if they couldn't.
We had dinner at Red, Hot & Blue, a fairly good barbecue place, where the one positive thing happened--we could actually order sandwiches rather than only humungoid platters of barbecue. We also tried fried pickles, a recent Southern specialty. They were very similar to fried green tomatoes.
Returning to the motel, the toilet wasn't flushing anymore. But the only way I could flush it was to open the tank and lift the bar in there. Oh, well, it's only one night.
And the television was an old one without audio/video inputs. This doesn't sound like much of a problem, but we've been using our new portable DVD player to provide entertainment in the evenings, since unless we can get Turner Classic Movies, there's often nothing worth watching. (Even the usual reliable History Channel seems to have let us down.) Luckily, AMC was showing "Ghost" in widescreen with commentary subtitles, which was pretty interesting even if they did interrupt it with commercials every few minutes.
Oh, yes, the plan. Well, first of all, we ended up in Joplin after three-and-a-half hours of driving with no sights on the way, and if we had driven there directly from Tulsa, it probably would have taken only about two hours. And when I figured we could backtrack, I forgot that there was another sight on the original route (Wilson's Creek National Battlefield) that we would end up missing if we backtracked and then drove a more southern route. And to backtrack and then *return* to Joplin was just too much of a detour. So we decided to skip Pea Ridge and add a couple of odds and ends in the Joplin area instead.
Mileage: 203 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 5849 miles
June 23, 2003: And as the finishing touch on yesterday, the alarm clock in the motel room went off at 6PM.
The first part of the day was something that had been on the original itinerary, the George Washington Carver National Monument. This is the site was Carver was born. There is also a George W. Carver Museum at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver was originally just "George Carver," but took the middle initial "W" when he lived in a town where there was another George Carver. When someone asked him if the "W" stood for "Washington," he smiled and said, "Why not?" but he never actually used the name. But here it is the George Washington Carver National Monument.
Of course, Carver wasn't his name originally either, since he was born a slave (probably in July 1864, though no one is really sure). He was owned by Moses Carver; his father was a slave from an adjoining farm who died when George was young. George and his mother were kidnapped by slave raiders. George was recovered but not his mother. (This would seem to indicate that he was born somewhat earlier than 1864, but maybe not.) After that, Moses Carver took George and his older brother into his house and raised them more as sons than slaves. (Of course, after a year or so, they weren't slaves.) As was the custom, and because he did consider them as at least foster parents, George took their name.
Bedford Brown, the father of a friend, told him, "George, you can go out into the world, and you can make a lot of money; someone could steal it from you. You get a good education and no one can ever take it from you." Mark said this sounds like the Jewish attitude as well.
When he was young, he learned crocheting, painting, and the violin. In fact, one of his paintings won an honorable mention at the Chicago World's Fair.
Carver said, "No individual has any right to come into this world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it."
A panel in the display on "Christian Faith" barely mentions Jesus (only in a hymn title), but has quotes from Carver talking about God, the Great Creator, etc. He sounds more like a Deist than a Christian, at least in the sense of today when there seems to be much more emphasis in some branches of Christianity on Jesus than on God.
As Mark and I discussed, Carver seems to have been more a technologist than a scientist, more like Edison than like Einstein. He never patented anything, because "the Lord charges me nothing for the knowledge, and I will charge you the same."
His philosophy was, "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong, because someday in life you will have been all of these."
We then watched a video on Carver's life. (Why do we sit in rooms at sites to watch videos? We could watch them anywhere, assuming they were available. I suppose with broadband that could become the case, but I guess there's also something about connecting the events of the video with the location. Of course, most of Carver's life was not at this location.)
The video agreed that he didn't develop great new theories like Copernicus, or discover the rules of the universe like Newton, or write a great book like Darwin, or develop great inventions like Edison or the Wright Brothers. He was more like Burbank in his work, or Leonardo in his range.
The opening music for the video was Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", and the music throughout the rest was the Shaker hymn "'Tis a Gift to Be Simple, 'Tis a Gift to Be Free". Obvious maybe, but apt.
When Carver applied to college, he first applied to and was accepted at Highland College, run by the Presbyterian Church. But when he arrived, they rejected him because he was black--even though he was also a Presbyterian. He ended up at Ames College in Iowa instead. There he switched to a career in botany rather than art as he intended, because one of his advisors told him that there was "no future in art for a black man". His skill in plant drawings, though, suggested a career in botany as more practical.
After he had gotten his Masters, and taught at Ames for a while, Booker T. Washington asked him to come to Tuskegee Institute, and there he remained until his death. He had gone to Tuskegee at the age of thirty-six from an integrated environment to a segregated one, and some thought this would be too much for him, but apparently not. He also had many offers to work elsewhere, including one from Stalin who wanted Carver to reorganize Russia's cotton culture, but he declined them all.
At Tuskegee, he had no funds to stock his lab, so he used cast-offs that he found in the landfill. I guess this makes him an early recycler.
There was a story, no doubt fictional, that at one point he asked God, "What is the purpose of the universe?" God replied, "That's too big a question for you." So he asked God, "What is the purpose of man?" God replied, "That's too big a question for you." So he asked God, "What is the purpose of the peanut?" The displays also cited as Carver's inspiration the Bible verse (Genesis 1:29), "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." But whether Carver ever claimed that or it was just someone's supposition wasn't clear.
There were a lot of references to cowpeas, which I had never heard of (or didn't remember). From the display, I think they might be black-eyed peas. [I looked it up; they are.]
Carver's discoveries of pigments that could be made from clays and other cheap materials led to the invention of crayons.
At Tuskegee, Carver received a salary of $1500 a year, and never accepted any raises. Still, he managed to accumulate savings of $33,000, which he gave to estabish the Carver Foundation.
Carver was not universally admired by scientists. He said his method was by revelation rather than by studying books and proceeding systematically from there. In fact, he didn't allow books in his laboratories. This would seem to result in wasting a lot of time testing ideas already shown to be ineffective. It clearly worked for him, but I would not endorse it as a system for all scientists.
One time Carver did work with people outside Tuskegee was during World War II, when Carver and Ford announced synthetic soybean plastics to replace rubber in 1942.
According to the video, Carver came up with a treatment for polio involving peanut oil, massage, and prayer. Sister Elizabeth Kenney also used massage, albeit without peanut oil, and it was equally effective. (So far as I know her method didn't require prayer either.)
Afterwards, we walked along the nature trail, being careful to avoid the poison ivy. I recently had an encounter with poison oak in our backyard, which has left me at least temporarily with discolored skin on my arms that one friend tactfully said made me look like a drug addict.
On the way to our next stop, we passed a billboard for a steak house with a picture of a steak and the caption "Why space aliens kidnap our cows".
Our next stop was the Harry S Truman Birthplace. This is by no means a major site, being just the small house in Lamar, Missouri, where he was born. (The major Truman site is in Independence.) Talking to the woman there, we discovered that before being acquired by the UAW and given to the state as an historic site, the house was owned by Everett Earp. She described him as a descendent of Wyatt Earp, but I suspect she meant just that he was related; he was probably a nephew. [Actually, the records indicate it was purchased from Mrs. Marie Earp.] Also, Wyatt Earp's first wife is buried in the old cemetery in Lamar. What an odd connection!
At least the Truman Birthplace is a "real" site. So much of what we're seeing advertised are completely "manufactured" sites, such as the "Precious Moments Chapel", designed after the syrupy-sweet child images of the same name. This is in Carthage, which also has a sign up saying it if the home of astronaut Janet Kavandi. And it has another sign claiming it has the Battle of Carthage Civil War battle site, which is true, except that there is nothing there to see (at least according to Chuck Lawliss's "Civil War Sourcebook").
Driving back through Joplin, we stopped at the Municipal Building to see the Thomas Hart Benton mural "Joplin at the Turn of the Century". There is actually a small display of the history of the mural (commissioned for the Joplin Centennial celebration) with pictures of a couple of Benton's other works. According to Benton, he became an artist because when he was young, he was caught staring at a saloon painting of a nude woman, and to cover his embarrassment, he claimed to be an artist studying it--and then decided to give it a try.
We stopped for lunch at Hardees, and realized that it is just the eastern version of Carl's Jr--slightly different menu, but same "smiling star" symbol, and similar phrases on the placemats.
We had passed a place called "Book Barn by Vintage Stock" which seemed to be a used book store, so we stopped after lunch. It was used books, DVDs, tapes, CDs, games, comics, and all sorts of stuff like that. I got a few more books for Kate (their minimum price for paperbacks seemed to be about $1, which is lower than most places), and we got a couple of used DVDs for us as well. The store is part of a chain covering the "Four States" area (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas) and probably worth keeping in mind.
Everywhere we drive now we are seeing tents set up selling fireworks. Many of them don't even put up a sign saying "fireworks", because everyone knows what they're selling.
Just so you don't think we see *everything* in the way of tourist attractions, we also skipped the American Fish & Wildlife Museum, which at least is up-front in its advertising about its pro-hunting and fishing agenda.
This area is very much the Bible Belt and a lot of the radio stations are religious ones. Still, it was striking to see billboards quoting such verses as "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head..." (I Corinthians 11:5), or even "Thou shalt not commit adultery." These seemed even more fundamentalist than one usually hears, and indeed it turned out that the billboards were sponsored by the Mennonites. Whether they were intentionally pointing out the hypocrisy of the "so-called" fundamentalists, who seem to ignore or downplay a lot of these verses, or that was just my interpretation, I don't know.
It was cold and rainy when the trip started, but by now it was hot (in the 90s) and humid.
In Joplin, one company that seems determined to hang on to its name no matter what is Fag Bearing Corporation.
There are a lot of tourist shops in this area, including Ozarkland, Ozark Valley, and Ozark Village. They all have similar billboards and may in fact be a chain.
Dinner was at Mexican Villa, a good local restaurant chain in Springfield, Missouri. They serve beer, but only 3.2 beer, and only with meals.
Mileage: 194 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 6043 miles
June 24, 2003: Our first stop was Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, another Civil War battlefield. The film here was narrated by Civil War era artist George Caleb Bingham, who quoted General Sterling Price (who was pro-Union) as saying that he thought slavery was good because "where slavery exists we are free from an oppressed laboring class." This is on a par with James Oglethorpe banning slavery not because it was bad for the slaves, but because it encouraged indolence in the slaveholders. (At least Oglethorpe's notion had a good effect.)
As was the case in many Civil War battles, the one turned on a mis-identification of troops--in this case, Union forces saw approaching them what they thought were the gray uniforms of the 1st Iowa, and didn't fire on them until too late, when they finally realized that the troops were really the 3rd Louisiana. (In addition to confusion over uniforms, the was a lot of confusion over the Confederate flag, which changed many times during the War. The "Stars and Bars" looked too much like the Union flag of "Stars and Stripes". A later version with a white section on the right looked too much like a truce or surrender flag if no wind was blowing. And so on.)
After the battle, one soldier wrote that the officers would tell them, "Don't get scared." "How can one avoid getting scared when one is scared?" he wrote.
Somehow, both sides claim this as a victory. The Union forces were defeated on the field and ended up retreating, but it is claimed as a Union victory because it helped keep Missouri from seceding.
In the film, it was said that during the War, northerners thought the southerners were illiterate rednecks. Later on, in the displays, a sign said of an artillery piece, "It's inventor was Col. Henry Shrapnell of the British Army."
Battle guidons were invented because the standard-size flag was too large for a man on horseback.
The ranger said that this day was his birthday, but he was confused about his age. He kept saying he was 28, but also he was born in 1974.
As we drove around the battlefield, the notes said that there were few trees in 1861, but now it was all overgrown, and so the views of hills and so on were blocked in a way that made it difficult to understand the battle. Apparently, they are working on clearing the area so that it is more accurate to the time of the battle. It's an interesting problem to balance the idea of "letting nature take its course" versus maintaining a historical status. Since this is National Battlefield rather than a National Park, there is probably no requirement that they do not re-do the landscaping. (There seems to be a wild turkey population here now; I wonder if clearing the land would drive them out, although there's still a fair amount of woods in the area.)
Most states number their roads (e.g., "New Jersey State Route 35"). Missouri letters theirs (e.g., "Missouri State Route N"). They can be either a single letter or a doubled letter (e.g., "FF"), but there don't appear to be any two-letter names in which the letters are different.
After the battlefield, we drove to West Memphis and checked into the Motel 6 there. Then we drove to Mud Island. This was not as easy as it sounds, because first of all, it was basically impossible to get back on I-40 East. We ended up going south on I-55, then turning around at the next exit, then going *west* on I-40, and finally turning around again.
And even though AAA claimed there was an automobile bridge to Mud Island, there isn't, though we drove all over the western part of Memphis looking for one.
Eventually we parked the car near the monorail to the island and bought tickets for the museum. When we got to the museum, we discovered that the Memphis Belle--the main thing we had come to see--was out for renovation! (In fairness, they did have a sign, albeit a small one, at the ticket office announcing this. Of course, once you've paid for the parking, you would probably feel like you should go anyway.)
The Memphis Belle is going to have its own museum, in Memphis proper, after its renovation.
It turned out that the museum (the Museum of the Mississippi River) was pretty interesting on its own, covering the history of the river from early European exploration to the current day.
One interesting historical note: the United States secured the land use rights for Fort Jefferson from the Cherokee, then later discovered the land was actually under Chickasaw control. So the United States government weren't the only ones to give away someone else's land.
A film about "Disasters on the Mississippi" talked about floods; boiler explosions; ice (yes, on the upper Mississippi this can be a problem); the New Madrid earthquake of December 16, 1811 (which was strong enough to ring church bells in Boston!); diseases (especially cholera and yellow fever); and steamboat fires, collisions, and founderings.
There was a display about Mike Fink, keelboatman. Mike Fink is one of the various fictional and semi-fictional American folk heroes, but much less known than Paul Bunyan, John Henry, or Buffalo Bill.
A section on music distinguished among Delta Blues, Urban Blues, Ragtime, New Orleans Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Elvis. (Mark said that the white suit in their Elvis display made Elvis look like a Liberace wannabe.)
In addition to the museum, there is a scale model of the river (in concrete) running the entire length of the island, at a scale of something like three feet to a mile. There is an hour-long guided tour of this, during which I asked the guide why, if the Missouri River is longer and more copious than the Mississippi is above the junction of the two, why it isn't the Missouri River. The only answer seems to be that once it was named, we were stuck with it. (Another point in favor of calling it the Missouri is that when the Missouri joins the Mississippi, it is the Missouri that is muddy, and it is what turns the Mississippi muddy.)
That part of Tennessee completely surrounded by Missouri and Kentucky is called a point bar.
There is now a flood plain where water is diverted when the Mississippi is going to flood and generally there is nothing on it. (For example, the last three or four miles of interstate headed east toward Memphis crosses a lot of empty area before it reaches the river.) But Tomato, Arkansas, is a city on the flood plain because it is fertile enough there that people are willing to put up with occasional flooding--but they do plan for it.
West Memphis, Arkansas, used to be Bragg, Arkansas, but since whenever people asked where that was, they were told, "It's west of Memphis," they eventually changed the name. The two cities together are supposedly the hardwood capital of the world. In area, Memphis is the largest city on the lower Mississippi, and is also the home of FedEx.
The guide also talked about how large ships can travel up the Arkansas to Oklahoma, in particular, the Port of Catoosa just outside Tulsa. The Mississippi has four watersheds: the Tennessee & Cumberland, the Ohio, the Missouri, and the Arkansas.
He described slackwater harbors (Greenville has the largest in the world). In 1927, however, this combined with the flooding meant that Greenville was under water for seventy days. After those floods, the Army Corps of Engineers came in and built flood control systems, so that while there were floods in 1937, 1948, and 1973, they were much smaller and less damaging.
Natchez was a large port where flatboat captains would sell their wares (and boats, for lumber) from upriver, then head back overland to Memphis over the Natchez Trace. This was so dangerous that the guide claimed that only a third of them made it back to Memphis alive and with their money.
Everything on the Mississippi seems to be measured as the distance from "Head of Passes", which is the end of the Mississippi (not the Gulf of Mexico, because there's a lot of delta below the Head of Passes). For example, Cairo, Illinois, is 954 miles AHP. Head of Passes is Pilottown, Louisiana, where bar pilots who have brought the ships through the bar turn them over to river pilots.
Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant in West Memphis called Margarita's. The chicken mole was pretty good.
Mileage: 333 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 6376 miles
June 25, 2003: We started early and drove to Nashville, where we went to the Adventure Science Center. This was previously called the Cumberland Science Center, but I guess that was considered too regional sounding, like it would be about the environment in that area and nothing else.
Unfortunately, while school is out, summer camp and summer programs are in full swing, so the museum was mobbed with young children. The wind tunnel video was not busy, because that wasn't all that exciting, but all the hands-on stuff was crowded.
They had animated dinosaurs, but they were not reactive in the way that the ones in Louisville were. The display had a lot of "though questions" such as, "What is one question you would like answered about dinosaurs?" Mark said his was how they communicated, but apparently among paleontologists, it is why are there no fossils from the Lower Cretaceous?
A question I though was worth asking kids was, "What are three similarities between Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex? What are three differences?" (Both are dinosaurs, both are from the Late Cretaceous, both are extinct, and both are land animals. But Triceratops is a herbivore, travels on four feet, and is not a therapod, while Tyrannosaurus is a carnivore, travels on two feet, and is a therapod.)
The Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Triceratops were posed with the Tyrannosaurus Rex appearing to attack the Triceratops and the question, "What will happen next?" Well, overlooking the fact the Tyrannosaurus Rex was probably a scavenger rather than a raptor, my answer was, "An asteroid will kill them all."
The best display was "The Atoms Family", which used all the old 1930s Universal monsters to talk about science (e.g., Dracula on light and dark, the Frankenstein monster on electricity). We were not the only ones walking around admiring all the stills on the wall saying, "Gee, I wish I could get these pictures."
We saw the video "Powers of 10". I think there are at least two versions, an older one that starts at a picnic, and a newer one that starts on a wetlands boardwalk. This was the older one.
Everything in this exhibit was bi-lingual. Each section had a quiz, but they were so easy that I took them in Spanish just to give myself some challenge.
Even here there was a barbed wire exhibit. One section had a display of a couple of patent announcements, and one of them was the one for barbed wire (#157,124; 1880). This patent generated $20 million in royalties.
The term "megalopolis" was coined by Jean Gottman in the early 1960s for the area between southern New Hampshire through Virginia. (Nowadays that seems to have been trimmed at each end and is often called "BosWash".)
Random comment on motels: Trying to find an extra outlet in a motel room can be a real adventure. Sometimes there will be one, but over by a desk rather than by the bed, and Mark needs one near the bed for his CPAP. One place we actually had to unplug the lamp because there were no extra outlets.
Also, what is it about motel air conditioning where it blows cold air directly on the bed? Our motel in Nashville was particularly bad because the room had a western exposure, so the air conditioning had to be on full just to try to compensate for the upper 90s heat outside.
Dinner was barbecue at Jack's, a "carry-your-own-tray" sort of place which is very good. (They give you a choice of three barbecue sauces from a condiments table, rather than insisting you make a single choice.)
In the evening we watched "Young Frankenstein" on the small screen, because the television was so old it had no audio/video connectors.
Mileage: 233 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 6609 miles
June 26, 2003: Today was The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home. (Or as someone earlier on the trip said his grandfather used to call him, "Andy By God Jackson".)
I had heard that the duel he fought in 1806 was because someone impugned his wife's honor. (Rachel Donelson and Jackson had married believing that her divorce from her first husband was final. It wasn't.) But here they claimed the duel was over a horse race.
Among Jackson's major accomplishments were that he vetoed the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States, and withdrew all Federal funds from it, effectively killing it, and that he paid off the national debt in 1835.
I had hoped that there would be a lot about Jackson and his career, but it was more a showplace of his house and furnishings. The James Polk Birthplace in North Carolina was actually much more interesting.
The information video did have some background. Not surprisingly, however, it tried to make Jackson sound as good as possible. So it described the Battle of New Orleans as having two thousand British casualties but only thirteen Americans killed. But casualties includes wounded as well as dead, so it really is apples and oranges. They also failed to mention that he was a slave-holder. The displays did cover this, but emphasized what a good slave-holder he was--how he didn't sell any of his slaves or split up families. That only happened after he died. The fact that he set up a situation where that *could* happen is not noted. He was described as a man of contradictions, and I suppose that his inaugural toast ("Our Federal Union--it must be preserved") might be considered in conflict with his slave-holding. (In a touch of irony, one of his grandsons was killed at Chickamauga, fighting for the Confederacy.) Jackson was also referred to as an "autocratic democrat".
There was also a special exhibit of someone's paintings of First Ladies as playing cards. Did you know that Edith Wilson was the great-great-granddaughter of Pocahantas?
From here we drove to Stones River National Battlefield. Or rather we drove towards there, but on the way we passed a Books-A-Million. I mis-remembered this chain, thinking it was remaindered books, so suggested we stop. Mark said sure, we were driving a little light anyway. (This was more irony.) When we got inside we realized my mistake, but decided to look around a bit anyway. After ten minutes I found Mark and told him that I had good news and bad news.
The good news was that I had found only one book I wanted.
The bad news was that it was the size of the Manhattan phone book and weighed ten pounds.
It was a science fiction art book, and I know it weighed ten pounds because I weighed it when we got home. By which you can deduce that we bought it. Well, Mark said we were driving a little light.
Then we went to Stones River. There's even less to say about this site than some of the others for two reasons. One, they were renovating the visitors center, so there were very few displays. (There was a video, though.) And two, the area has grown up around the site, so some of the pieces are "disconnected" from the main battlefield.
Stones River was described on the video as "the bloodiest day in the Civil War west of the Cumberland Mountains," with 23,000 casualties out of 81,000 combatants. (Antietam was the bloodiest overall.) Fought on December 31, 1862, and subsequent days, it was the beginning of Sheridan's "March to the Sea." General Rosecrans ended his report to his superiors with "Non nobis, Domine! non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam." So people who think the language in the film "Gods and Generals" is too over-blown should take note of the sort of thing people did say. It's quite likely that Chamberlain would quote a long passage about Julius Caesar; in fact, the only inaccuracy is that he would probably have done it in Latin.
We had lunch at a fairly good buffet called Ryan's, then drove to Cookeville, Tennessee.
Mileage: 150 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 6759 miles
June 27, 2003: We had planned on seeing a couple of places in Knoxville, but neither was particularly appealing, and we were getting tired. So we decided just to head home. We had figured on stopping overnight, but at 5PM we were outside Washington, DC, and that's just four hours from home, so we pushed on. We got home about 10:30PM, having traveled 783 miles today. The only thing of note we passed was the "World's Largest Fireworks Store" at the intersection of I-40 and I-75.
Mileage: 783 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 7542 miles
Costs for this 32-day trip:
Hotels 1783.44 Food 723.69 Ground Costs (gas, tolls, parking, etc.) 337.04 Miscellaneous (admissions, etc. 271.47 Souvenirs 295.56 Film & Developing 29.20 TOTAL 3440.41
This includes everything (including books and DVDs we bought) except the clothing for the funeral, and the portable DVD viewer we bought.
We used 216 gallons of gas at an average of 35.3 miles per gallon.
As with last year's trip, every state we went through had traffic-clogging road construction going on. We figure we avoid the crowds by avoiding July and August, but it looks like June is prime road construction season.
Evelyn C. Leeper (email@example.com)