Friday, May 29, 2015

Our heads got full

We enjoy art museums. But after about an hour, we're like the student in the Farside cartoon who asks "Can I be excused?  My head is full."

So we spent just about an hour at a museum just ten miles miles my Mom's house: Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

About Oberlin College: It's the first coeducational college in the USA and the first to admit African Americans. Oberlin College also has the oldest music conservatory in the country. Michelle Obama gave the commencement address last Monday. And, Oberlin College's art museum has been described as one of he best college or university art museums in the country.

On display were sculptures from 3000 BC (three thousand!), contemporary art, paintings by the masters, Biblical-based paintings from the 1500s and 1600s, etc.  Very nice.
Entrance to the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
When you walk in, a big sign says "Look up."  What you see is an amazing ceiling that's just been refurbished in preparation for the museum's 100th anniversary in 2017.  The ceiling features 100 paintings of birds and foliage.
Clockwise from top left;  Wisteria as painted by Monet near the end of his life; "The Death of Adonis" by Gaulli circa 1683; "Young Girl Seated" by Matisse on the right; and a Diego Rivera self portrait.
After visiting the art museum, we had lunch at the Black River Cafe where Jim got a crepe as long as his forearm.  The food was good, but the beer selection was small.  And halfway through our 45-minute wait for the food, I remembered that when I ate here once with my cousin the service was very slow. Next time we'll try Feve, which was across the street and had a huge line -- apparently for a reason.  As an aside, the Cleveland Cavaliers just got in the NBA finals, and that's a fan wearing LaBron James' number in the background.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day and President Lincoln's Funeral Train

On Monday, Jim and I watched the Wellington, Ohio, Memorial Day parade, which starts at the village square and ends at the Greenwood cemetery. I was in the parade many times as a kid: riding my bike decorated with crepe paper, as a Girl Scout, and later as a member of the marching band.

Before this year's event there was a short program/wreath laying. Then the following marched or rolled by: representatives of veteran's groups; three guys depicting the drummers and fife player from the painting "The Spirit in 1776;" Boy Scouts; Cub Scouts (but no Girl Scouts, why was that?); part of the high school band; and some cars from car dealerships. That was pretty much it. But both the participants and the parade watchers were enthusiastic. 

After the parade, we walked to the the Lorain and West Virginia Railroad Station at the western edge of the village to see a replica of the Lincoln Funeral Train that made a three-day stop here in town.

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination and funeral (Lincoln died April 15, 1865) the train car is a full scale replica of the one that carried President Abraham Lincoln's body from Washington, DC, to his home in Springfield, Illinois, for burial. Although Lincoln never got to ride in it while he was alive, in its time the train was the equivalent of Air Force One.

I read that one-third of the nation's population got a glimpse of the train as it made a circuitous route to Springfield. In 12 cities (including Michigan City, Indiana, where we were just a couple of days ago) the train stopped, Lincoln's body was unloaded  and people filed by his open casket. In other cities where the train rolled through -- including Wellington -- people lined the tracks to watch.

We were told that President and Mrs. Lincoln had planned to take the body of their deceased son, Willie, back to Springfield when they returned. After the assassination, Mary Todd Lincoln had Willie's body exhumed and Willie's casket was carried on the same train as his father.

Military representatives follow the Spirit of '76 reenactors at the Wellington, Ohio Memorial Day parade. The Spirit of '76 marchers are a long-time staple in Wellington parades.  They are based on a painting of the same name by Archibald Willard, who  lived in Wellington for a time and is buried here. 
Lincoln's funeral train: The original train that carried Lincoln's body was destroyed in a fire in 1911.  The new train car was purchased and created with the help of many people and a non profit organization named the Historic Railroad Equipment Association.
Volunteer Dale Morehouse explaining what was on the train and how the replica came to be.  Mr. Morehouse did some of the upholstery work on the train.  He said the casket was six feet eight inches long and President Lincoln was six feet four inches tall.
Mary Todd Lincoln (we think; she wouldn't own up to it) near her husband's funeral train.  In real life Mrs. Lincoln was too distraught to accompany her husband's body to their home in Springfield and arrived a month later. President Lincoln's body was accompanied on the train by his son, Robert, and various dignitaries.
After visiting the train, we stopped at a very old cemetery in Wellington I've never visited (and not the one that the parade goes to). There was no sign, but I read on line that it's simply called "The Pioneer Cemetery."  Most of the gravestones listed deaths in the mid 1800s. That's Jim in the distance looking at a marker that revealed the September 7, 1857 death of a man named E. Bidwell Webster. Webster's infant daughter died ten months later,  then Bidwell's wife died one year to the day after her husband. There's got to be a very sad story there behind E. Bidwell, who was only 29 when he died. His father built the first frame house in Wellington.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No tornadoes: A successful trip across America's midsection

As I write, I'm sitting in my Mom's TV room in Ohio, watching the TV news about floods and tornadoes in Texas (in the exact same cities we visited last spring), Oklahoma and northern Mexico. I’m also sitting here feeling lucky that we just drove across the center of the USA from Utah to Ohio over eight days in the spring, and -- other than cold and rain at the beginning of the trip -- had good weather with no thunderstorms and very little wind.

From Lincoln, NE (the subject of my last post) we drove to Coralville, Iowa, near Iowa City and spent the night at the Coralville Walmart. The RV area is next to a lawn with trees, and near lots stores and restaurants. If you gotta do a Walmart, it's a good choice.

The next morning we took off for Michigan City Campground in Michigan City, Indiana, a nice private campground just ten miles from Lake Michigan. We had dinner and beers at Michigan City's Shoreline Brewery. My quinoa and bulger burger was a seriously delicious meal.

Saturday afternoon -- and after $48 in turnpike tolls -- we arrived at our destination: Wellington, Ohio. We drove 1698 miles and stayed in seven cities over eight days to get to where Bev grew up and where we'll be staying with Bev's Mom for the summer.  We're also planning some short trips so stay tuned.

View out our rig's back window in Coralville, Indiana.  That's our tow car with the kayaks in the foreground. After Coralville, we passed Chicago via I-80 on a Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend.  Not the best planning.  However, the Illinois and Indiana DOTs had opened lanes under construction wherever possible, so it wasn't bad.  The worst spot was a place with a big sign and flashing lights announcing a right lane closure ahead, but the lane was open.

Jim leaving Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, Indiana, 50 miles east of Chicago.  Besides being on Lake Michigan, Michigan City is known for the nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We drove to the Dunes but the entrance was closed -- although we later learned the park has 14 other sections and they were open.  The closed road lead to Mount Baldy, a large moving dune with holes that appear and disappear, and that experts say are potentially dangerous. 
And most importantly:  Happy Birthday today to my niece, Brooke, who lives in Washington, DC, but was visiting her Ohio family for the holiday   Behind Brooke are her Dad (Bev's brother Bob); Bev; Brooke's Mom (SIL Suzie); Brooke's Grandma (Bev's Mom); and Brooke's Uncle Jim.  Love you, Brookie!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Seeing Don and Trudy in Lincoln, Nebraska

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights with my younger brother, Don, and his wife, Trudy, who live in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Thanks for your hospitality, Don and Trudy!  I may, however, have to up my Ohio State Alumni Association donation to counteract that University of Michigan concert you took us to.

As we were leaving Don and Trudy's house Tuesday evening, I asked them if we could only go to one museum in Lincoln, which one we should visit. They suggested the University of Nebraska's Sheldon Museum of Art. So that was our main Wednesday activity.  We especially liked a wonderful exhibit about Nebraska author (and University of Nebraska graduate) Willa Cather, famous for her books about frontier life on the Great Plains. 

Front entrance to the Sheldon Museum of Art at the beautiful University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  Jim said it looked like a scene from "Game of Thrones."
Clockwise, from bottom left to center, snippets of art at the Sheldon Art Museum:  "The Crying Tree," a depiction of Los Angeles by Patssi Valdez; "Phenomena Blue Rules the Day," by America artist Paul Jenkins; a portrait by Grant Wood, who also painted the iconic "American Gothic;" Jim as seen through a doorway--the painting on the far right is by Georgia O'Keefe; and, in the center, a painting from a collection called "The Romance of the Moon." 
After the Sheldon Art Museum, we had lunch at the Leadbelly Gastro Pub in downtown Lincoln.  Then we went to a grocery store called HyVee so Jim could check out the beer selection. He gave it a thumbs up.  (Jim wore his Oregon State gear all day Wednesday hoping to run into former Oregon Beavers and new Nebraska Huskers coach Mike Reilly, but all we saw was Reilly's face on a billboard).
Peonies at the HyVee Market in Lincoln. Someone should paint these and hang the result at the Sheldon.
We stayed at Camp-A-Way RV Park, the only RV campground in Lincoln. Even though it was at the corner of I-80 and I-180, it was pretty quiet (and just plain pretty) and only 8 miles from Don and Trudy's.
A new (to me) RV park amenity.
Bev, Trudy, Jim and Don at Lincoln's First Plymouth Congregational Church, where we heard the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club Wednesday evening. Trudy teaches in the College of Journalism at the University of Nebraska.  Don is a family physician.
A portion of the University of Michigan's Men's Glee Club in Lincoln on their "Heartland" Tour to midwestern cities.  Didn't see Columbus, Ohio, listed.    

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chilly and Rainy

When we drove by a sign on Wyoming's I-80 stating "Continental Divide: 7,000 feet," Jim said "No wonder it's so freaking cold."  Why it's so cold everywhere else in Wyoming and Nebraska, I guess it's just a cool spring. In fact, on the TV news in Lincoln, Nebraska last night, the weatherman said it has not been this cold in parts of Nebraska for 100 years.

As for our journey: After our first night at the Rocks Springs KOA, we drove to Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, where we stayed a couple of years ago. The military RV camp there is treesy and charming, if a little messy. The base itself is pretty, with huge red-brick-Civil-War-era-looking buildings.  As we're on a roll to get east, we stayed in Cheyenne just one night.

Our third night we stopped at a private and also tree-filled campground with very level sites just off I-80 in North Platte, Nebraska. We didn't even unhook our tow car, so I can't tell you much about North Platte, except the nearby Platte River is encroaching on homes and a golf course.

After a night in North Platte, we headed east again to Lincoln, NE, where my brother Don and his wife, Trudy, have lived for many years. We had a nice evening at Don and Trudy's home last night and will see them again tonight. 
Driving in and out of a rainstorm near Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The road that leads to the Warren Air Force Base RV Camp in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Apparently it's been raining a lot. A well-marked detour got us to the camp.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What we did on our Salt Lake City "vacation"

We have a house in Salt Lake City and stop there about three times a year -- usually in the spring (grandson's birthday), fall (granddaughter's birthday) and Christmas. Our daughter, SIL, and the aforementioned grandchildren live in the house while we are on our grand RV tour, and we are there all together the few weeks every year Jim and I are home. We're about to start Year Number Five of doing this, and it's worked out well.

As of early yesterday afternoon, however, we are back on the road. The plan is to barrel east though tornado alley to see Bev's mom in Ohio.

While in Utah we spent time with friends and family, got two cars and the RV checked over, sorted through the various detritus that collects in the RV while on the road, made trips to the doctor and dentist, and took Cooper to the vet. At age 16 Coop got a clean bill of health minus some achy joints. We checked out about the same.

Anyway, we left Salt Lake about noon yesterday, got on I-80 eastbound, and spent last night at a KOA in Rock Springs. We've stayed at a couple of nice KOAs in years past (Bear Lake, Utah and Montpelier, ID), but KOAs are not usually high on our list of campgrounds.  There's usually not much ambiance. The Rock Springs KOA, for example, is a big gravel parking lot; after a night of rain it was a big, muddy, gravel parking lot. But the staff was nice, it's right off I-80, and for one night when you are not planning to sight-see, it really doesn't matter.
I always wonder what the grand kids will grow up to be interested in.  Five-year-old Mia seems to like photography (or maybe she just likes using the camera Grandma wants to use) and took this photo of me at a park.  I liked it so much I used it as my Facebook profile picture. That's a glimpse of my daughter Ashley, behind me.
Five-year-old photographer Mia, who had her tonsils out while we were home.  Can't say enough good things about Primary Children's Hospital, where two of the nurses wore Wonder Woman outfits instead of scrubs.
Three-year-old Marshall will climb anything. He also rescues horses from the mud (he says).
Mia walking to the entrance of the new, beautiful Museum of Natural History near the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  Like her Grandpa, sometimes she just doesn't want to face a camera.
Brunch at Wasatch Brewing with Salt Lake friends John, Deb, Thelxi and Steve.