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Wandrin 2002

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by Lloyd Treichel

 

Wandrin

Dateline:  May 24, 2002 -- Denver, Colorado

The last column was posted April 1, 2002 in San Antonio, Texas.  As I posted that column, I realized that I had turned the column writing into a job. About ten days before the end of each month, I was writing a column and words to go with the photo tour.  It caused stress! In order to put balance back into my life, these columns will be posted on an irregular basis -- as the mood strikes me.

Since I still like to write about my wanderings -- and wonderings, here is the latest....

The Hill Country of Texas provide good areas for exploration. Since Admiral Nimitz was a native of Fredericksburg, Texas the Admiral Nimitz Museum and Historical Center is located there. Part of the complex includes the George Bush Gallery of the Pacific War. This museum covers the history of naval warfare in the Pacific. The presentation of the war in the Pacific during World War II included a timeline with references to events in Europe's war. It was an excellent overview and review of history that occurred within my lifetime.  Actually it was very early in my lifetime.

Enchanted Rock State Park includes a large granite rock out cropping. This large dome provides for a good hike to survey the surrounding countryside from this vantage point. This hike is a good deal for the state -- five dollars per person to enter the park and the privilege to do this hike. So I paid and hiked to the top of the dome. 

That made me wonder about all the other peaks around the country where one can hike to the top without any charge. In Colorado alone with the 54 14,000 foot peaks and the number of people climbing those peaks, there might be a lot of money to be had for the state (or federal) coffers. Just to fend off the flack that I will get for that proposal, how much did you pay for that last amusement park ride?  And that was for a three minute experience. 

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park includes his birthplace, boyhood home, and his Texas White House and ranch. It was a good review of the times of his Presidency.  His museum and library are located in Austin.  I left that visit for another time. 

One of the exhibits at the park was a living history farm circa 1900. The employees work at the farm pretending that it is 1900 as they milk cows by hand, make butter, split wood, haul water, can vegetables and fruits, butchering and cooking over a wood stove. The nice part about pretending is that at the end of the day they go to their gas heated home with running water and electricity.

Luckenbach, Texas.  It has a nice sound to it.  How many times had I heard that name and references to it in song?  The sign pointing to the town caught my eye and I headed down the road. The town itself is about a half dozen old buildings straddling the road. It was nothing special on that Sunday afternoon except for about a half dozen guys who were singing and strumming guitars to the enjoyment of all. 

Bob and Pat Martin live in Houston. Bob was a college roommate a long time ago. Since I was nearby, I headed to Houston for a visit. We visited for most of a day and caught up on far too many years.

Texas roads are well maintained. Over the past year, I have driven freeways and secondary roads in many states in the west and Midwest. After that brief and unscientific road test, I would rank Texas roads as outstanding. In addition, many of the roads' ditches were a profusion of colorful wild flowers during my spring time drives.

Unusual road sign ... On every road system, there are always the signs warning of road construction or the state of the road ahead. As I drove Texas roads,  I spotted the sign that: "Guard Rail Damage Ahead." ... Ya gotta wonder! ... Does this affect how people drive through this stretch of roadway? Do they slow down and are extra cautious because they know there is no guard rail to protect them from hurtling down a highway embankment? ... It would not surprise me that the warning signs were the result of a lawsuit filed against the state of Texas. 

Texas Longhorns ...  What is the evolutionary reason that an animal would develop such a huge set of horns?  I would have included a picture, but after several tries in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado I never did a good picture. In the early part of the 1900s the Longhorns were an endangered species. However, their numbers have recovered and now number close to 250,000. The numbers increased in large part due to western movies needing larger herds of Longhorns. ... I made up the last part! But you probably suspected that.

Gene Autry ...  This town is located in Oklahoma near the Texas border. Since Westerns are my movie of choice, this was a "must stop" on my travels.  This blink of a town (population of about 100) was renamed in his honor when Gene Autry bought a ranch nearby in 1939. Gene Autry sold the ranch in 1946, but the name stayed. The ranch has fallen into disrepair.  The Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum is located in an old school building that was used before schools were consolidated into larger districts.  The museum houses memorabilia from Gene Autry's film career. In addition, it has memorabilia from many other western movie stars from the 1920s to the 1990s. I had never considered Barbara Stanwyck to be in the category of western film star, but she was there along with many others. 

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum ... in Oklahoma City is another of the "must sees". Fantastic!  That is the only way to describe it.  I loved every minute of the over three hours I was there. It was well presented without the overload of materials that I have seen in some museums. The Museum is a large complex of individual museums – each one a museum in and of itself.  To name a few, some of the sections are Native American, Firearms, Art of the American West, Military in the west, Rodeo, and Western Performers. 

Innocents ... are memorialized at the Oklahoma City Memorial.  A portion of the perimeter fence that was erected after the bombing (April 19, 1995) has been retained as part of the memorial. This is a living memorial as new messages and notes are posted on the fence. I had to gulp hard to control my emotions as I read some of the recently posted messages. 

Driving through Tulsa, I spotted a billboard that had two cowboys astride horses and one is saying to the other, ”Bob, I’ve got emphysema.”  ... This is what the Marlboro man has come to?

Tom Mix museum ... is in Dewey, Oklahoma. Tom Mix was a silver screen cowboy of the 30s and died in 1940. The parking lot was empty and as I approached the door of the museum, it appeared that it wasn't open. The sign on the door confirmed my suspicions.  The sign said that they had a robbery and they would open once again about three days after I had left the area. ... Robbery? Did they come in on horses? Were they actors who played the bad guys in Tom Mix movies and were going to get even?

Museums aren't open on Monday ... It is not true with the large museums, but some of the smaller or less popular museums are not open on Monday. I also passed some museums that were only open in the summer months. On the Monday, I was going to visit the  “Little House on The Prairie” museum, it was closed.  It was just north of the border between Oklahoma and Kansas.  It appeared to be an old one room school that was turned into a museum.  I was wondering if it was one of those....

Bad museums ... Museum was not the word to describe some I have seen this past year. They shall remain anonymous, but they all have one thing in common. They have no curator to make sense of all the "junk" they have displayed. I am sure some of the museum "displays" were from someone's attic after their death. The heirs didn't want to throw the stuff away so they donate it to the museum. 

Five and Dime stores ... have been replaced by the Dollar General, Dollar Superstore, etc.

Astronaut home towns ... exist in many places throughout the country and frequently there is sign posted on the out skirts of the town identifying that fact.  But just in case you don't have an astronaut, you can claim a Nobel Prize winner. That was Great Bend, KS.

Santa Fe Trail ... Many times as I drove along Hwy 50 in Kansas, there was a sign that said “Original portion of Santa Fe Trail.”  It would take them a day to cover the 15-20 miles which I would cover in 20 minutes. There are many people who detest the drive across west Kansas. Consider what it would be like 150 years ago.

More on roads ... Earlier, I had mentioned Texas roads.  Texas builds their roads with wide shoulders and frequently people drive on the shoulders for various reasons. In Kansas to stop those Texans from doing that, there are signs that say, “NO DRIVING ON SHOULDER”.   

Stone Construction ... In the Texas Hill Country, there are numerous natural stone constructed buildings dating from the mid 1800s to the present. In two separate towns, there were identical three story jail structures built around 1880.  In addition, there were churches, downtown business districts and even some homes built of stone.  The size of homes ranged from the small cabin to the building pictured here.  Built as a home about 1870 it is now a bed and breakfast.  

Cinnamon Roll Search ... There were numerous bakeries along the way and I continue to be amazed at the variations in the rolls. While in Fredericksburg  Texas with its five bakeries, there was a variation to suit any one's cinnamon roll standard.  Only one was even close to my standards. 

I did find an alternative to cinnamon rolls while in the area. At one bakery, based on appearance, I chose apple strudel over the cinnamon roll. That turned out to be an excellent choice. Perhaps I may have to turn my attention to apple strudel. That would be even more difficult to find.

Of course there are lots of other choices at the bakeries. This might be another area for me to follow my own advice of "keeping the balance". I should not be so mono minded and just enjoy the moment -- or whatever pastry is available at the bakery.

And so I continue my search....  for bakeries.

Latest Read ... Among many other books, I read "Miles from Nowhere" by Dayton Duncan. In this book the author tours those counties in the western US where the population is less than two persons per square mile. With historic research and interviews of the population, he presents his observations. One conclusion is that if you want to get away from people, don't go to these low population areas; go to the big city. It is easier to be incognito in a large city.

Vanity Plate ...   
An Oklahoma plate with "FYSHN".  With the appropriate accent, "I'm go'n' fyshn".