Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blazing Bows :: LBJ Ranch

Our fiddlers had another fun performance this weekend. This time we got to help celebrate at the LBJ Ranch Annual Barbecue.

Shortly after Ladybird Johnson passed away in 2007, their ranch (including their home) has been open to the public and is now the LBJ National Historical Park. This year marks their 3rd annual BBQ--just like how the Johnsons used to host every year, in the oak grove along the Perdernales River.

This day also marked Kathleen's first solo fiddle performance. Here she is warming up.

She looks terribly nervous, no? Absolutely terrified! Such a pitiful sight.

A fiddlin' cowboy warming up

I love that this kid kept the price tag dangling from his violin scroll...a la Minnie Pearl!

Speaking of Minnie, these are the Jordan sisters, Minnie and Ella. Together they won last year's fiddle competition at the Old Settler's Music Festival.

Our fearless leaders, Cleve and "Sweet" Mary Hattersley

Tuned, rosined, warmed up, and...


Our four were featured in "Joe Turner Blues."

Kathleen also did a great job on her solo.

On our recent vacation, she heard this song from the Pine Leaf Boys...and liked it so much that when we got back home she picked it out on her fiddle.

She worked hard at getting it ready for this performance because she thought it would be "cool" to play her first solo at a national historical park.

LBJ loved driving visitors around his ranch. So we got to go on the car tour.

Except we had a "secret service agent" do the honors since LBJ wasn't available.

The restored small Lockhead Jetstar that our 36th prez used to land on the ranch airstrip. LBJ jokingly refered to this one as the "Air Force One Half."

Havin' BBQ

Listenin' to this band

This is probably about when the kids took off with all the other kids at the BBQ and flopped around in the heaping piles of mowed grass, throwing it everywhere, racing and chasing each other (girls still wearing their skirts).

Our sweet friend who gave us the violin Kathleen now uses (Yes, I said GAVE!) came by and told her she played the 100-year-old violin very well.

Dancing to the setting sun

Kathleen's jig

ASSURANCE: No, you don't have a problem with your central nervous system.
APOLOGY: Sorry, I was tapping my foot & dodging rain drops while taping.
LAME EXCUSE: Joe got better video, but it requires editing.

Here's a clip of Pine Leaf Boys' "Jig Cajin." if you care to listen to the original.

A fun afternoon at the ranch.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

North Platte Canteen :: Nebraska

A story worth telling

The first few days of our recent trip were spent getting many miles under our belts on our way to Mt. Rushmore. However, we made a couple of stops at some interesting places along the way. One of those was North Platte, Nebraska.

I had only heard of North Platte because Grammy had talked about a wonderful heartwarming book she had read called, Once Upon a Town.

It sounded like such a great story, but I hadn't had the chance to read the book. So...we just went there to see for ourselves!

North Platte was made famous by its accidental hospitality during WWII when a bunch of women went to the train station on Christmas Day to bring care packages to their sons coming through town on their way to the war. When the train came in, they realized their sons were not on board. They were other people's sons from a different state.

Most certainly a little disappointed, Rae Wilson was the first who decided to open her heart and give her son's special package to that train of scared young men headed for war--strangers. All the other women followed and welcomed those young men with their goodies.

All the women realized they filled a need--to make those troops going off to war feel one last bit of home and show 'em some love.

The North Platte Canteen was born.

In 51 months (December 25, 1941 - April 1, 1946), Rae Wilson and her organized group of women served 6 million service men and women on their brief 10-minute stops. They hosted 20+ trains a day.

Each DAY, they went through:

160-175 loaves of bread
100 lbs of meat
15 lbs of cheese
45 lbs coffee
40 quarts cream
500 bottles of milk
25 dozen rolls

This was a time when food was rationed. Individuals just kept scraping up what they could and giving to the troops--oftentimes coming from hundreds of miles away to bring their food. One boy frequently auctioned off "the shirt off his back" to raise money for the Canteen's supplies. Little kids even gave their birthday cakes to the troops! How sweet is that?

Here's a snippet from one of the soldier's thank you notes:

"To think that you people, to whom we all were strangers, would do all you did for us. I can tell you there weren't many dry eyes in those cars when we left, and do you know why? Because you people, such a small part of our country, had really brought home back to us. You showed us that this was the real America; this was what we had fought and worked for and wanted to come back to....

We know you call us 'your boys' but I wonder if you realize whom we saw in you? We saw our mothers, our wives, our sisters and daughters and sweethearts--but above all this, we saw--America."

This is a pretty good video that tells the story.

An encounter between character and circumstance. Just lovely.

It's amazing the number of these service people who still remembered their 10-minute stop in North Platte 40, 50, 60 years later. Mentioning North Platte could even bring dementia-stricken people into lucidity. Those types of situations that sear such a lasting impression on you for the rest of your life are indeed extraordinary. One 10-minute stop. Six million people.

Makes me feel kinda small for not doing more for others.

I'm so glad we stopped in North Platte. So happy I know about its story!

* * * * * * *

Another part of the story I remember was about one young lady who put her name and address in a popcorn ball she made and found a soldier to give it to on his way through town. They wrote many letters to each other and ended up getting married.

How many people can claim to have found their spouse in a popcorn ball?!

I found mine in a car ride home from college for Thanksgiving. And he was polite enough to ask if I'd like any of his potato chips. Maybe it was really the next time I saw him...across campus with his head all wrapped up in gauze. Yeah, that's what must have done it! Poor thing--bad, bad rugby accident.

Rather than a war-ready-soldier-popcorn-ball story, I've got my injured-rugby-player-potato-chip story.

(And it's our 14th anniversary this week!)

What's your story?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The rocks talked to me

Besides seeing things in nature that look like the alphabet, I also noticed that the time-worn rocks throughout our recent travels looked like various faces...with some stories to tell.

(Taken at Dinosaur National Monument)

See the double-sided Indian chiefs in this rock?

"Oy, this black manganese oxide doesn't do a THING for my nose and complexion. I might also add that my headdress is feeling quite heavy these last 10,000 or so years, and it's now making my eyebrows droop."

* * * * * * *

"Well, don't worry about it. I can't see a thing. For one, I've never been able to see you since we share the backs of our heads. Secondly, erosion has not yet made my eyes. Maybe in a few thousand years I'll get some and finally be able to see something. It sure is HOT around here."

* * * * * * *

"Yo, I grew up with Rocky Balboa. We were sparring partners...until my nose had been broken so many times and got so big I couldn't see him hitting me anymore."

"I'm going to have to reinvent myself."

"Hey, is this a microphone in front of me? I can do a pretty mean Elvis impersonation. Ahem." *tap, tap*

"Love me tender..."

* * * * * * *

"Yeah, carry on with Elvis, but I'd rather get out of the comic strip business."

"Enough, people--okay?! I'm getting tired of you all making fun of my long, exaggerated nose and my huge underbite. Nobody gives me any credit for my true intellect around here. I like to think of myself as more of an Alfred Hitchcock kind of guy."

* * * * * * *

"As an aging gorilla I kind of like the view and slow pace, so I think I'll sit right here and stay a while."

* * * * * * *

"Well, aren't you fortunate. I'm also an aging gorilla. Look, I don't even have the back of my head anymore. Erosion left me with a hole for my cheek, and it looks like I need dentures. All I have to look forward to is one day falling flat on my face. Hmph!"

* * * * * * *

"La, lalalala, la, la, laaaa! I love being a choir lady in pioneer times...because I don't like to go anywhere without my bonnet.

"I could sing for the next million years!"

"If you look closely enough you might also see my Roman-nosed, bearded giant husband singing behind me. At least Mother Nature gave him an eye."

* * * * * * *

"Someone said there was a beautiful moon tonight. I just can't seem to find it anywhere. I love me a near-full moon."

"Oh, ha ha. Seems the joke is on always. Would you come back this way, Mr. Moon, so I can see you just once? Anyone have a periscope I could use?"

* * * * * * *

"I am Queen Esther. Call me courageous if you want, but I've just gotta vent a little. It seems as though Mother Nature has played a bit of a trick on me. My arms fell off before erosion gave me eyes. Now I'm stuck here sitting atop my horse that took a 2,400-year break to graze. What a fine mess I'm in. I do kind of like my scapular profile though."

* * * * * * *

I cheated on this one--it's a photo of a photo (only one, promise)--a mudpot at Yellowstone.

Anyone see Teddy Roosevelt in this photo?

Photo taken at Mammoth Hot Springs.

The eyes with glasses, nose, & mustache?

Ironically, this was taken after we had seen him on Mt. Rushmore and after we had just passed under his quote on Yellowstone's north entrance archway. I'm sure he's smiling at this one--didn't even have to hire a sculptor for it!

So, how does nature speak to you?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Roadie 2010 :: Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Palo Duro Canyon

There was only day during the whole 18-day trip that required us to change our plans due to rain. So, instead of making it to our last park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we instead holed up in Durango for the day before heading to Santa Fe.

While in Santa Fe, we took the kids again to see the Loretto Chapel spiral staircase that was built by a "mysterious" builder who disappeared after he built it--for free.

When Mike saw the staircase how it was originally built (with no hand rails), he said, "Hey Mom, that looks like a DNA double helix."

Sure does. (Yay, biology book!)

We made an unexpected visit to our Albuquerque family for the kids to surprise their cousins after school. They were speechless! Great afternoon and evening for the kids to play together and all to visit!

Oh, there we go.

NOW you can tell they're really cousins!

On our way home from Albuquerque, on Route 66, we stopped briefly in Amarillo. We spotted Cadillac Ranch and, well, you just have to stop to sign the cars.

Yep, 10 caddies half the middle of a field.

Further down Route 66, we passed the Big Texan Restaurant

where Joe accomplished the disgusting feat of eating this entire 72 oz. steak meal in less than an order to get it free.

It all happened shortly after Joe moved to Texas--before we were married. He's now mended his ways--mostly.

Pointing to his name in the Big Texan book of shame fame.

Not far from Amarillo, we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon. Beautiful area.

I've lived in Texas for 14 years. Hadn't been to Palo Duro. Still haven't been to Big Bend National Park. Just this spring we finally made it to Guadalupe Mountain National Park (Joe's been there numerous times). Texas is a big state and all, but sheesh. Bad locals.

Bad storm on the way home. (Okay, this looks like the big bad wolf to me. Anyone else?)

This concludes our fall 2010 roadie.

4,400 miles,
32 Jr. Ranger badges,
18 days,
10 states,
10 national parks, monuments, and state parks,
4 Jr. Paleontologist badges,
1 31-ft. RV
1 great trip!

The end!