Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Capturing Capitols!

 One of the things that Jack and I like to visit while we travel is State Capitols.  We found early on, that each State's Capitol can really reflect the time it was built, the people it represents, and the area of the country.   They are all so very different from each other, it's not only been fun to see them, but quite an education!  

When we first started out, I only took pictures of the outside, not realizing how interesting or how important the insides were; boy was I wrong!  It was only later that I discovered that the history was really about the insides!   Who, what and why they put on the insides to impress and showcase, makes the Capitol what it is, otherwise, it's just a couple of "meeting rooms".  A good example of this is North Dakota.  Their Capitol is just that, a basic business building with meeting rooms for the Senate and House of Representatives along with offices for the Governor, etc.  Plain, no decor, straight business.  Only Capitol we've seen like that.  

Most, however, are quite the opposite.  As were the two we just visited, first in Kansas (Topeka) and the second in Iowa (Des Moines). Both beautiful, lavish and full of great art.  Both were built during the late 1800's and have the refined Renaissance style that give the impression of strength and dignity combined with utility.  Both were built after the Civil War, but proud to be part of it, although on the "edge" of it, so to speak.  Both Lincoln supporters.  Both are supported by "country farmers" and their politicians are "part-time" and paid accordingly.  

At the Kansas State Capitol, we were left on our own to view it.  Given a nice brochure and friendly greetings by the security staff.  We entered in the ground floor, which isn't unusual these days (after 9/11).  They use this "basement" area as gallery area,  This is where we found the State Seal, as well a chair made from the Cottonwood Tree (state tree), and John Brown's sword (the abolitionist).  

From there we moved up to first floor and got to admire the Rotunda and Overmyer murals.  One of my favorite things, is to look straight up to the Dome from the middle of the Rotunda!  It's always the highlight for me!  I love seeing what they put up there, what effort they have gone into.  

Surrounding the Rotunda were eight  beautiful murals painted by David H Overmyer of topics significant in Kansas history.  Adding to that, another large mural by John Steuart Curry created Tragic Prelude" featuring abolitionist John Brown, and "Kansas Pastoral", which depicts the life of the homesteader. 

As with most Capitols, the Senate  and House of Representatives Rooms were impressive.  The House featured marble, gold leaf and pink columns made from a faux marble process.  Allegorical murals painted on the ceiling along with the names of 10 prominent figures from the Kansas Territory era.  The Senate chamber featured several types of marble, the original native Kansas wild cherry wood desks, and massive hand-cast columns with ornate circular grills that once encouraged air circulation. These were unbelievably beautiful, a combination of bronze, copper and silver, and with such detail!

They had a nice Law Library, and other areas, but those are the "highlights", so I will move on to Iowa...

We lucked out and got an actual tour of the Iowa State Capitol!  I love it when they do that as you learn so much more that way!  Diana was a great guide and really took her time with us. Another unusual thing about this tour was that we actually got to go up to the Dome!  A first!  Because we had a couple that had done the tour the day before, but couldn't do the Dome (not sure why), they asked if it would be alright to start there so they wouldn't have to do the whole tour all over again - she agreed, so off we went!  Luckily we took the elevator up the 3 stories first, as the winding stairs to the Dome was another 97 (steep)!  Phew!  What a thrill though to look down for a change!  We still had quite a bit of the Dome above us, of course, but it was an interesting view to see the detail of the statues and paintings along the rim, as well as the banner that hung across it, closer.  

And the Dome from below looking up!

One of the things that impressed me about this Capitol was their attitude of "pay as you go".  As Diana explained it, that is one of the reasons it took 14 years for them to build the Capitol.  It's also the reason why many of the walls lay "bare" for years before they have art on them.  All that said, however, it's absolutely beautiful inside and out.  The Grand Staircase, made of granite, is one of the prettiest I've encountered, along with tile flooring set with wonderful designs throughout the three floors.  

The Senate Chamber and the rest of the rooms are original to the building except for the House of Representatives.   In 1904 a fire was started when the gas lights were being converted into electricity and the House of Representatives Room was lost.  All else was saved (including the furniture from that room). 

I have to say that he most impressive room was the Law Library though.  It was hard to capture it on camera, it was so large - five stories high, and two wings wide!  It reminded me of the pictures you see people post of "dream libraries" that you only fantasize about.  It was beautiful...

Diana explained that the spiral staircases (one at each end) were so old now that only the librarians were allowed to climb them.  They also had a few very rare "non-law" books on display in a showcase: a 14th century hand lettered book and a book printed in 1742 by Benjamin Franklin. 

Both these Capitols were wonderful examples of our Country's pride.  Each taking care to showcase their State, while still representing the Country as a whole.  I'll leave off with this quote that Iowa had over one of it's doorway's that I thought was quite good...

...and now we are on the road in South Dakota,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https:/https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/albums

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Kicking Back in Kentucky...


Still waiting on our car part, we moved from Lexington to Elizabethtown to Calvert City, which is near The Land Between The Lakes of Kentucky.  We finally found a campground that could take us for more than a week (just in case that darned part continued to take it's time getting here!).  At least here, there were places to drive around and see, as well as nice weather to enjoy!

Like I've shared, if you have to be "stuck" some place, Kentucky is a great place to have it happen!  I'm actually writing this today, because it's the first time we've gotten rain since we've been here...so, we changed our plans and are staying inside!  ;-)

One of the first things we did when we arrived here was to take a drive into the town of Paducah and visit the National Quilt Museum.  We had read about it, and having some close friends who are quilters, we have become very appreciative of the art.  In our travels, we have been to all types and sizes of museums, and have learned to keep an open mind.  The size of the town, nor the brochure isn't always a true indicator of the true quality of the museum.  It is always wonderful when you discover a "true gem"...and this one was that.  The beauty and quality of these quilts were truly jaw-dropping.  To be able to get up close and see the detailed stitching without them being behind a case was also special.  Each displayed with good lighting and descriptions of the artist, details of the quilt and it's "history".  There were hundreds on display to enjoy.  What a treasure this place was!

One of the things we love to do when traveling is find local music...and so far this summer, we haven't had that pleasure, and I've really missed it.  Usually it's been in the south, and we haven't spent much time there this year, so when I saw an ad for The Kentucky Opry, I looked into it!  They had a performance playing the first weekend we were here of "100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time".  Sounded perfect, so I got us tickets!  

Wow, what a night!  Such fun!  Clay Campbell is the main singer, along with a great band (one is his son), two additional men, two women, a guest violinist and a couple of his young students who "clogged".  They were all great.  It was a two-hour show (with very comfortable seats, I might add!) and had us toe-tapping and hand-clapping all the while!  So glad we went!  

We took the scenic drive around The Land Between The Lakes one day.  The lakes here are HUGE!  Lots of boats and marinas...hardly anyone out on the water though (even on weekends!).  Sure seems a shame...We got a chuckle along the way I have to share...about half way through the drive is a "Bison & Elk Prairie" that you pay $5 per car to enter.  We thought, "what the heck, why not?" So we went in. We, along with about six or eight other cars, all driving about five miles an hour, driving along this loop, all craning our necks, looking for the bison or elk...nothing.  The ONLY thing we spot are about a half dozen wild turkeys!  So, we leave there and go on down the road.  Now, we end the "scenic drive" of Kentucky and crossover to Tennessee and are just about to turn around when Jack spots a sign saying "Bison Reserve".  We chuckle...but then, just beyond the sign, he spots a whole herd of them!  No fee, no drive, they are just there, all along the fence!  We drive over to them and laugh...I joke and say "well, now we know what happened to the Kentucky bison, they wondered over to Tennessee!"  

On our way back, we stopped at Lake Barkley for lunch at a cute little cafe called Buzzard Rock.  I have to admit that we chose it for the name, but we were glad that we did, because the food was great too!  

Speaking of food, I got to try a "regional" dish the other day.  I love doing that!  This one is called The Kentucky Hot Brown.  I had heard of it before, but never had the opportunity to try it.  The waitress said that it's really only from this area of Kentucky, as it originated from Louisville.  It's basically "leftovers":Bread (toasted), covered with turkey, smothered with a very rich creamy, cheesy sauce, topped with tomato slices and two strips of bacon and then browned/broiled on top.  Very Rich!!   I couldn't eat it all, and it turned out to be to rich for my system, but it was good!  

Patti's 1880's Settlement in Grand Rivers (about 15 min. from our cg) had signs all along the roads, brochures in every establishment and Ads in every booklet.  The Restaurant even suggested making "reservations".  It certainly created a "must see" factor.  We saved it for our least busy day, thinking it would take us most of the day to see all of the "settlement"...what ever that was...

Well, when we got there, the parking lot was pretty busy, and a bus had unloaded it's guests and was standing by.  Lots of people were walking around...but it took us a bit to figure out what it was we were actually looking at?  A town with a hotel?  Some ordinary shops (that all seemed closed)?  So, we went into the hotel to see if there was a map of sorts to find this "settlement".  Turned out that they use the term Settlement: "for their unbelievable menu." ...to continue:  "Our atmosphere is magical, filled with history, taking you back in time to a slower paced, relaxed setting.  Our beautiful gardens and unique gift shops, situated behind the restaurant, all have a story of their own on how they found their way to be a part of what we call Patti's 1880s Settlement."  Well,  that said, we walked through to the other side and wandered about..."their Settlement".  Many of the buildings closed, but cute on the outsides.  Nice gardens, Koi pond, Waterwheel, etc. but nothing like advertised.  The restaurant seemed nice, big, pretty, but the menu was a bit to heavy for lunch we thought, so we passed it up.  Nothing else in town was open, so we left.  

Since we had the rest of the day "open", Jack had discovered a bookstore downtown Paducah when he was having the truck serviced called Books-A-Million and suggested we go back there so I could check it out.  Well, you don't have to ask me twice!  Big mistake, big, big mistake...two bags of books later and I sheepishly thanked him for taking me to the store and promised not to spend anymore $$ for awhile!  ;-)

Well, we finally leave Kentucky on Monday and start our trek west.  It's been a great visit, but we are ready to roll once again! 

...on the road,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/albums/72157717012988911

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Kentucky Kamping...The Good, The Bad and The Relaxing...

Kentucky is one of my favorite states to visit.  Whenever we are here, the weather has been delightful, clear, sunny (not to hot, not to cold, not humid, not "always" raining), no bugs to annoy us, lots and lots of green grass with long beautiful fencing holding in sleek horses looking back at us as we drive by...ahhh

What could be better?  To be able to stay in one place, actually.  You see, "camping" this year has changed a bit...it has gotten more crowded, and thus, reservations are harder and more frustrating to deal with - especially over the weekends.  In our prior years of traveling, we used to be able to make reservations days to hours ahead of time.  Now, it's months to weeks ahead, and even then it takes several calls to get one location.  What I've found in "prime locations" like Kentucky, we've had to move several times - sometimes even in the same campground, just to have a whole week in one spot!  

To add to this equation, we needed to have some work done on our truck and a part had to be ordered...it was supposed to be here two days ago...it's still not here.  Oops, there goes our "schedule" full of reservations!  That was one of the reasons I always hated traveling that way, it locks you in, then what?  

When I'm not on the computer or the phone working through this maze...I'm enjoying the beauty around me.  Jack and I took a lovely drive out into the countryside of Georgetown to look at some barns that had hung "barn quilts" on them.  We found about a dozen along our drive.  Georgetown is outside of Lexington by about 45 minutes, and is a much smaller town.  As with most of Kentucky, many of the homes are large, rock or brick stately mansions with beautiful gardens all around them, each one deserving an "Oh my! Look at that!  Wow!  Oh, how beautiful!"  If I took pictures of all of them, I would have hundreds and hundreds, so, I just admire them and drive on.

 Additionally, we discovered the Lexington Cemetery, established in 1849.  What a beautiful old cemetery!  While driving through it, we found that it not only had "local" Civil War hero's but a Vice President (John C Breckinridge (1821-1875) as well as a former Speaker of the House (Sen. Henry Clay (1777-1864),  but the biggest surprise was Mary Todd Lincoln's family plot - everyone but her - she's with her husband (of course) in Springfield IL.  All in all, some incredible and unusual headstones along with beautiful gardens and ponds.

Because we have been to Kentucky before and enjoyed several areas of the state, we don't have the need to rush to "go and see" this and that, and that is another reason I wanted to come here for a few weeks - to just relax...sit back, read a book or two...take a walk, or not...call a friend or two...

So, here we are, under the sunny skies of Kentucky, awaiting the "next turn of events", not quite sure which direction we will be heading - plan A or plan B yet...so, I guess I will just go grab my book and wait and see!

kicking back in Kentucky,  Marie

If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on my Flickr at https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/