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Adventures in the Villa

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Frank Lloyd Wright

2022-09-25 Traveling to St. Louis, MO

Short drive today, but lots to see…

It is only about a two hour drive from Springfield, IL, to St. Louis, MO.

Coming into the city and crossing the Mississippi River again we were able to see the Gateway Arch. The architect was the talented Eero Saarinen. We were able to see it up close and ride the frightening “elevator” to the top in 2017… Today we can see it in context with the rest of downtown St. Louis…

Crossing the Mississippi River…

After several detours due to a closed interchange we finally arrived at our campsite…

We quickly set up and then we were off again to see the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kruase House in the nearby city of Kirkwood…

The Frank Lloyd Wright “Krause House”, in Ebsworth Park, was designed by Wright in 1950 at the request of Russell Kraus and his wife Ruth. Located in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, the 1,900-square-foot house is sited in a grassy meadow beside a grove of persimmon trees. The house is an excellent example of Wright’s Usonian architecture, intended to provide middle-class Americans with beautiful design at moderate cost.

For his Usonian homes, Wright developed a “unit system” based on geometric shapes. The Kraus House is based on an equilateral parallelogram with a complex floor plan of intersecting parallelograms. Typical of Usonians, the house has an open living area, a central hearth, concrete slab floors with radiant heat, and a wall of glass doors that affords views of the landscape. The same materials are used both inside and out: brick, concrete, glass, and tidewater red cypress. The doors to the main terrace incorporate stained glass designed by Russell Kraus, a mosaic and stained glass artist.

The Krauses moved into their home in January 1956 and lived there together until Ruth’s death in 1992. In 2001 a non-profit organization, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP), purchased the house and grounds from Russell and deeded the property to St. Louis County for the creation of a public park and house museum. Subsequently, the FLWHEP completed an extensive restoration of the brick, woodwork, furniture, and textiles in the home.

Today, the FLWHEP remains responsible for the preservation and operation of the house museum. The organization also serves as a focal point in the St. Louis region for educational programming on Wright’s legacy, as well as architecture and design in general. The St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department maintains the grounds, known as Ebsworth Park. Due to a generous donation from Barney Ebsworth, the park was named in memory of his parents, Alec W. and Bernice W. Ebsworth.

The design of the house is typical of most of the “Usonian” houses we’ve seen. (The Dana-Thomas house was “Prairie Style”…) Usonian houses still maintain the horizontal lines Wright was so fond of, and, of course, outrageous cantilevers. Usonian houses are generally one story, on a slab foundation, with similar materials used inside and out.

Arriving at the house we marveled at the entrance gate, clearly denoting that something special was ahead… We passed through the gate, drove up the hill, and around the house, and entered the motor court on the backside of the house…

The Krause house is one of the more complex houses, yet also one of the simplest. There are no right angles, nor rectangular or square rooms in the house. The house is arranged over a grid of equilateral parallelograms. You can see what results from this model:

We arrived at the motor court and carport…

The motor court follows the shape of the parallelogram as it cuts into the site. The house does not sit atop the site, but cuts into it…

Walking around the house we see the cantilevers, the brick walls with the mortar joints emphsizing the horizontal, and the integration of the house into the site…

The front door is not at the “front” of the house, but is where it ought to be – in the motor court. The art glass windows were designed by Wright or by the owner, a great artist in his own right…

The interiors are all brick walls or wood board and batt walls. Most lighting is indirect and all the light fixtures and all the furniture was designed by Wright…

The telephones are custom colored as Wright’s “Cherokee Red”, as is the floor slab…

When you design a floor plan as parallelograms beds are required to be parallelograms, too…

Or a hexagon…

It was a delightful tour. It is a very exciting house…

We returned to the Villa. Happy Hours ensued; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-23 Springfield, IL

Fun day in Springfield today…

Our first stop was the Dana-Thomas House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902 for Susan Lawrence Dana, a forward-thinking socialite living in Springfield, Illinois. The home, the 72nd building designed by Wright, contains the largest collection of site-specific, original Wright art glass and furniture. Wright’s first “blank check” commission, the home has 35 rooms in the 12,000 square feet of living space which includes 3 main levels and 16 varying levels in all. It cost $60,000 or $90,000 to build, depending who you believe. Susan Dana was a widow who lived in the house with an elderly cousin. She had 5 servants, including three who lived in the house. In 1944 the house was sold to the Thomas Publishing Company, who maintained the house while using it as their corporate headquarters. In 1981 Thomas sold the house to the State of Illinois for $1 million; they spent $5 million restoring the house. (A few years after the restoration, one of the original FLlW-designed lamps was sold by Christies at auction for $2 million…)

The tour was great. We were able to see virtually all the rooms on all the levels… However, no interior photography was allowed. This house was VERY Frank Lloyd Wright… Tons of detail, texture, art glass windows, giant urns, great furniture… Wonderful!

The east facade…

The south facade is over 150′ long…

Giant urn… There are several around the property…

These are the windows in the “studio”. Basically it is a giant party room in this separate wing of the house. The windows are all art glass. Over 400 windows contain art glass. Beneath it is the Library…

I always enjoy the utilitarian aspects… This is the carriage house on the rear alley…

All around the house is this band or frieze. It is cast plaster that was painted and glazed…

The eaves show Wright’s Asian influence…

The Breakfast Room is a half-rounded extension of the Dining Room. The tables all match, and when extended and added together hold space for 40 people. And, yes, there are 40 matching FLlW chairs…

The east facade again…

Following the Dana Thomas house we visited a more well-known resident of Springfield – Abraham Lincoln…

This is Lincoln’s Tomb. It is a fairly standard monument, just at a slightly larger scale than most. It was dedicated in 1874… As a life-long reader of all things Lincoln, I was familiar with much of this, but it was interesting to see…

Lincoln’s tomb had a long and interesting story…

Lincoln’s body was located in 17 different places between his death and final burial ten feet under the floor of this monument….

While the life of Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865) – the 16th President of the United States – was tragically cut short, it was his demise that greatly influenced how its nation’s most distinguished citizens were to be commemorated upon their death. After his assassination in Washington, D.C., he died the following day on 15 April 1865. “Due to increased communications technology, word spread across the country by telegraph and train allowing the country to mourn the loss of its president together”; this essentially marked “the first time the nation mourned as one.” There were many other ‘firsts’ related to his state funeral. For example, Lincoln was the first U.S. president to be embalmed and it could be said that his death “triggered the beginning of modern day funeral service.” As part of the preparations for his lying in state from 19 to 21 April, a catafalque was hastily constructed to support his casket. This raised bier of rough pine boards covered with black cloth has since been used for all those who have ‘lain in state’ in the Capital Rotunda. As well, Lincoln’s state funeral has often been used as a model for others to emulate. After his widow, Mary Lincoln, decided to return her husband’s remains to Springfield (Illinois) for burial, Lincoln’s casket was transported on a funeral train that passed 444 communities in seven states. This was the first time that a funeral train cortège was used for the national commemoration of a president’s death and is known as “The Greatest Funeral in the History of the United States.” Until the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, Lincoln was said to have the distinction of having the largest funeral throughout the world with an estimated one million people who viewed his body during a period of twenty days (15 April to 4 May 1865).

Shortly after arrival at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, the remains of President Lincoln and his son “Willie” (1850 – 1862) were initially placed in a receiving vault from 4 May to 21 December 1865. From 21 December 1865 through 19 September 1871, the bodies of President Lincoln and his two pre-deceased sons Willie and “Eddie” (1846 – 1850) were held in a temporary above-ground tomb constructed on the site of where the current tomb now stands. As fund-raising efforts were under way to erect a fitting monument to his memory, the National Lincoln Monument Association chose the design of Larkin G. Mead Jr. as the winning entry among the 31 artists who made submissions in the 1868 design competition. The construction of the 117-foot-tall tomb which featured a classical obelisk surrounded by statuary began in September 1869 and the brick and steel monument was sheathed with Quincy granite in May 1871, just as the terrace and interior rooms were being completed. With the death of the Lincoln’s fourth and youngest son “Tad” on 15 July 1871, he was the first to be interred in the unfinished structure, followed by his father and two brothers on 19 September 1871. The burial chamber contained crypts for the Lincoln family and at the centre of the original burial chamber was the Lincoln sarcophagus, made of white marble, with his name surrounded by a carved oak-leaf wreath. The Lincoln Tomb was originally dedicated on 15 October 1874 with remarks by Governor Richard Oglesby and a brief address by President Ulysses S. Grant to “immense masses of people”. Although a custodian of the Lincoln Tomb had been appointed on 28 October 1874, there was an absence of rigorous security measures: there was neither a groundskeeper living on site nor a night watchman patrolling the area; lock-up consisted of a single padlock on the tomb’s chamber door and the president’s sarcophagus was only sealed with plaster of Paris instead of cement. This helped set the conditions for a plan made in 1876 to steal his body by a gang of Chicago Irish counterfeiters. With their master engraver sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary and to pressure the governor to release this man, gang members were to kidnap Lincoln’s body. For ransom, they would demand $200,000 in cash and a full pardon for the prisoner. The local police became aware of the plot and Robert Todd Lincoln, the President’s only surviving son, who was also informed, agreed to allow the crime to take place so that the criminals could be caught in the act. The date for the grave robbery was set for 7 November 1876, a presidential election day, as they were hoping the cemetery would be deserted on that night. The gang had sawed and filed the padlock off the iron door to the burial chamber and once inside, had lifted the heavy wooden casket out of the sarcophagus. With a United States Secret Service agent placed among the conspirators, he pretended to bring the horses and wagon up to the tomb and signaled the authorities who were in hiding to rush forward, but the thieves had escaped, leaving the body behind. The conspirators were captured in Chicago ten days later and at their trial, eight months later, they were found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison. A similar event occurred in November 1878 whereby the remains of a prominent New Yorker were stolen and held for ransom. This heightened sense of fear for the security of Lincoln’s remains along with the custodian of the Lincoln Tomb having received a postcard from Chicago to “Be careful – do not be alone – Particularly Thursday night Nov. 21st. C.” caused for the reburial of the President’s casket in a shallow grave within the tomb’s interior and remained there for eight more years. It is worth noting that as a means to further deter grave robbing, the State of Illinois revised its statute on its penalty to “not less than one nor more than ten years” in the state penitentiary which became in force on 1 July 1879.

Upon the death of Mary Lincoln in 1882, she was interred alongside her husband within the tomb. Over the years, the tomb had fallen into disrepair and its care was placed in the hands of the State in 1895. With a $100,000 appropriation made by the legislature, the funds would pay for a rebuilding and restoration program in 1899-1901. Robert Lincoln did not want a repeat possibility of his father’s corpse being stolen and in 1899 he notified state officials that he would provide $700 to secure his father’s remains similar to that of George Pullman – the inventor of the Pullman sleeping car – who died in Chicago in 1897. Considering the extreme hostility toward Pullman and to prevent the desecration of his grave, his casket was buried within a structure of railroad ties and encased in concrete. In May 1901, as the reconstruction of the Lincoln Tomb was nearing completion, Robert Lincoln met with the Governor and construction officials to arrange for the final burial of his father. Although he requested a quietened reburial and that the casket not be opened, some people argued that the remains should be identified in order to quell continuing rumours that President Lincoln was not the body in the casket. Finally, on 26 September 1901, after opening the lead-lined casket, 23 people – among them state officials and members of the Lincoln Guard of Honor – slowly walked forward and unanimously agreed that the remains were indeed those of Abraham Lincoln. After the viewing of the body, the red cedar casket was lowered ten feet in a large cage of flat steel bars resting on 20 inches of Portland cement concrete attached to an underground boulder. Four thousand pounds of cement [sic] were then poured down covering the cage and casket so that they would be hardened forever in a solid block of rock. After being moved 17 times since his original burial, Abraham Lincoln could now rest in peace. During the 1920s, the Lincoln Tomb was again exhibiting noticeable signs of deterioration which led to a second reconstruction that began in the spring of 1930. The interior of the burial chamber was redesigned in order to better accommodate “the ever-growing stream of visitors” and to “transform the monument into a hallowed shrine”. As shown in the photograph, in place of the old sarcophagus, a large red granite cenotaph marking his gravesite is flanked by the presidential flag and the flags of states in which Lincoln’s ancestors and Abraham Lincoln himself resided. Adjoining crypts hold the remains of Mary, Eddie, Willie and Tad Lincoln. After the major reconstruction, it was rededicated by President Herbert Hoover on 17 June 1931 and has remained unchanged ever since. The Lincoln Tomb was designated a National Historic Landmark on 19 December 1960 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 15 October 1966.

Written by André M. Levesque, April 2022

This is the grave marker. Lincoln is buried 10′ below this marker… The rest of the family is on the main floor…

A sign denotes one of the many locations of Lincoln…

This is the public holding mausoleum, another location…

But here is the rest of the story…

The final event in the saga of Abraham Lincoln’s corpse occurred on Thursday morning, September 26, 1901, in a large tomb known as Memorial Hall, in the presence of some twenty very prominent people and, of course, The Lincoln Guard of Honor, including Joseph Lindlay. His son, thirteen-year-old Fleetwood, was also present. Joseph had more or less snuck his boy in so he could witness history being made that morning.

Minutes prior to lowering the casket into the pit, some of those present suggested one last look inside the coffin—just to be absolutely sure. So a small group of workmen were summoned to remove the cover.

Here, in the April 1980 issue of Yankee Magazine, is how writer Charles E. Fitzgerald described what happened next…

“All at once the room grew quiet… Voices were muffled to church tones. The chief workman laid his chisel aside and carefully gripped the incised rectangle of lead over Lincoln’s head and tenderly drew it away. The fetid odor that escaped momentarily checked the viewers’ curiosity, fixing them in place. Then quietly they converged to ring the coffin and look in.

“The face of Lincoln was now alabaster white. ‘The features looked exceedingly white to me,’ said Judge B. D. Monroe. ‘Not a natural white but immaculate as a shirt bosom. Anyone who had seen a good picture of Lincoln could identify him.’ The headrest has disintegrated, allowing the head to fall back, and thrusting the chin forward, drawing first attention to the familiar whiskers. Though the eyebrows had vanished, there could be no mistaking the mole on the cheek and the thick black hair.”

After everyone, including young Fleetwood, gazed for several minutes at the face of Abraham Lincoln for the very last time, the casket was closed and lowered into its final—truly final—resting place.

Why, you might wonder, was Lincoln’s face “alabaster white” when back in 1887 it had been the color of “an old saddle?” According to the Illinois State Journal, that was due to a white mold that had covered the entire face during the intervening fourteen years.

As to Fleetwood Lindlay, he went on to live out a full life, passing on in 1963 at the age of 75. By then, of course, he really was the last person to have gazed upon the face of Abraham Lincoln.

Written by Judson D. Hale, New England Today, 2014

I remember this story from 1963. It was nice to see that my memory is correct…!

So it started to rain. We moved on…

This is the Lincoln family home… It was the only home Lincoln ever owned…

It was a one room cottage when the family moved in with their first baby, Robert… They had it enlarged to a full two story house shortly thereafter. On the first floor is a front parlor, a rear parlor, the Dining Room, a “family” room, and the kitchen. Upstairs are his and hers bedrooms, two children’s bedrooms, and a bedroom for the hired “girls”…

The rooms are surprising large… This truly was an up-scale house befitting one of the State’s top lawyers…

As interesting as the house was, we were ready to return to the Villa. Happy hours ensued and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-21 Traveling to Kansas City, MO

Another long travel day, this time through Kansas. But we did get in two tourist activities…

We pulled out of the RV park in WaKeeny beneath cloudy skies…

Soon the skies were threatening… And the rain began…

It rained for for two hours straight. Sometimes hard, sometimes not so hard, but it never stopped…

We refueled at a terrible Sinclair station. In the rain… And we were limited to about 15 gallons… So we moved on…

In Abilene, KS, we made a spontaneous, impromptu decision to stop in at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library…

Dwight D. Eisenhower was born and raised, along with 5 brothers, in this little house on the “wrong side of the tracks”…

The house is undergoing a full restoration, so it was not open for tours.

We enjoyed the museum. I’m not big into military artifacts or history, but the WWII exhibits were interesting. After stints as President of Columbia University, Head of the Joint Chiefs, and his eight years as President of the US, he and Mamie retired to Gettysburg…

So we moved on… More Kansas. Quite beautiful…

We fought the tight streets in downtown Kansas City, MO, which, of course, are always under construction… (I only ran over one red pylon…). We arrived at Community Christian Church…

In 1940, Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a new church building at 46th & Main Streets in Kansas City, Missouri. Departing from tradition, Wright envisioned a “church of the future”, integrating the entire property as worship space. His design included theatre-styled seating, gallery space for social events and a radical approach to heating and cooling. Instead of a traditional steeple, Wright designed a Steeple of Light that would beam light rays from the rooftop.

​The first concept of Wright’s design was published in the Kansas City Star on July 13, 1940. The building dedication was held on January 4, 1942.

​Community Christian Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2020 in recognition of its unique and outstanding architectural design.

Personally, this is the least typical Wright building I have seen. Many signature features, such is woodwork, windows, and details are not present here. But it is an interesting space, and well worth the visit…

The roof is basically flat, but this perforated dome sits atop. The “Light Cannons” that provide the “Steeple of Light” are inside this dome…

The walls are an interesting innovation: They are 2″ x 2″ steel tubes, at about 24″ spacing. Attached to the tubes is wire, then building paper, then about 3/4″ of gunnite; gunnite is an inexpensive spray-on application of concrete… These photos show walls that did not receive the gunnite, so we can see the tubes, wires, and paper…

There is a full projection booth at the balcony level. In the early days the church showed first-run Hollywood movies…

The tiny chapel is not by Wright, but it is fairly compatible…

One of the old light cannons…

It was a lovely tour, lead by two “church ladies”. We concluded the tour on the exterior balcony that overlooks the Park across the street…

I was able to find this photo on the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website, showing the “Steeple of Light”…

After the tour we walked across the street to the park; we noticed this guy; maybe he’s looking for Hollywood and Highland…

Across the street was a lovely restaurant… Happy Hours on ordered…

We had one more short drive to the campground for tonight… Over a wacky bridge… Called the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, it is a cable-stayed bridge, 316′ tall…

We parked at a lovely RV park…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2022-09-18 Traveling Green River, Utah

After an uneventful night we headed out. From Arizona, back into Nevada, then up the 15 into Utah…

Utah has magnificent geological formations. We took a few photos, but we are on a tight schedule, so we did not stop often or spend too much time being touristy…

We stopped in a little town called Hurricane, UT, to stretch our legs again…
These next photos are the amazing mountains all through Utah…
We soon headed east on the 70. More great mountains!

We continued East…

We arrived in Green River, Utah, and checked into the RV park. It was still hot…

We had been to Green River before, in 2018, on the Southwest Adventure Caravan. We had arrived from the south, and we spent hours at the Historic Museum telling the story of John Wesley Powell. Powell left from here on the Green River, which joins the Colorado River a few miles south of here. He continued on and explored the Colorado through the Grand Canyon…

We are not heading south – we did that in 2018. Tomorrow we continue East. We will drive over the Rocky Mountains, continue through Colorado, Kansas, and into Missouri. In Kansas City we will tour a Frank Lloyd Wright building. We continue east through Missouri and into Illinois to Springfield, where we will see more Frank Lloyd Wright, and all things Abraham Lincoln. Finally we will head south to meet up with the caravan in northern Arkansas…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-07-27 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 5 – Liberal, KS to Wichita, KS

We left Liberal, KS, at about 9:30 am. We will be in Kansas all day today!

Kansas looks a lot like Oklahoma. At least the part of Oklahoma we saw yesterday…

They do have windmills here. We saw many more under construction…

Here is a windmill blade being transported on a truck. They are over 110 feet long!

Our first stop of the day is Dodge City! and the Boot Hill Museum… We parked the Villa to check out the town.

Dodge City was named after nearby Fort Dodge. The city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. Its population was 27,340 in 2011.

The US Army built several forts in this area, starting in 1847 (When this area was still Mexico) and ending in1865, when Fort Dodge was built to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Dodge remained in operation until 1882.

The town of Dodge City can trace its origins to 1871, when rancher Henry J. Sitler built a sod house west of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations in the region, conveniently located near the Santa Fe Trail and Arkansas River, and Sitler’s house quickly became a stopping point for travelers. Others saw the commercial potential of the region with the Santa Fe Railroad rapidly approaching from the east. In 1872, Dodge City was staked out on the 100th meridian and the legal western boundary of the Fort Dodge reservation. The town site was platted and George M. Hoover opened the commercial establishment – a bar.

The railroad arrived in September to find a town ready and waiting for business. The early settlers in Dodge City traded in buffalo bones and hides and provided a civilian community for Fort Dodge. However, with the arrival of the railroad, Dodge City soon became involved in the cattle trade. Deputies Bat Masterson Wyatt Earp both served in Dodge City.

In 1866, the first Texas cattle started arriving in Baxter Springs in southeastern Kansas by way of the Shawnee Trail. However, Texas Longhorn cattle carried a tick that spread Texas cattle fever among other breeds of cattle. Alarmed Kansas farmers persuaded the Kansas State Legislature to establish a quarantine line in central Kansas. The quarantine prohibited Texas Longhorns from the heavily settled, eastern portion of the state.

With the cattle trade forced west, Texas Longhorns began moving north along the Chisholm Trail. In 1867, the main cowtown was Abilene, Kansas. Profits were high, and other towns quickly joined in the cattle boom. However, in 1876, the Kansas State Legislature responded to pressure from farmers settling in central Kansas and once again shifted the quarantine line westward, which essentially eliminated Abilene and the other cowtowns from the cattle trade. With no place else to go, Dodge City suddenly became the “queen of the cow towns.”

A new route known as the Great Western Cattle Trail or Western Trail branched off from the Chisholm Trail to lead cattle into Dodge City. Dodge City became a boomtown, with thousands of cattle passing annually through its stockyards. The peak years of the cattle trade in Dodge City were from 1883 to 1884, and during that time the town grew tremendously.

Dodge City became famous because no town could match its reputation as a true frontier settlement of the Old West. Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West, many of whom participated in the Dodge City War of 1883. It boasted also the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels, including the famous Long Branch Saloon and China Doll brothel. For a time in 1884, Dodge City even had a bullfighting ring where Mexican bullfighters would put on a show with specially chosen Longhorn bulls.

As more agricultural settlers moved into western Kansas, pressure increased on the Kansas State Legislature to do something about splenic fever, known today as anthrax. Consequently, in 1885, the quarantine line was extended across the state and the Western Trail was all but shut down. By 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners moved west to greener pastures, and Dodge City became a sleepy little town much like other communities in western Kansas.

Today the Boot Hill Museum showcases ancient artifacts, stages gunfights daily, and offers other tourist attractions…

Apparently there is a festival coming up. We’re not sure what it is, and we’re not sticking around to find out…

But we do like old towns. We explored the town of Dodge City… There are historic, old west restaurants right next to the museum..

But seriously folks, there is a nice section of the old town that has been restored…

I like to see details of how new construction technology is uses to preserve old buildings…

Across the street from the town is the Santa Fe Depot…

So we enjoyed some history in Dodge City, then we were back on the road, heading to Wichita… Kansas is quite lovely from one end to the other…

We arrived in Wichita to the Air Capital RV Park. Nice clean sites. Again, good power is a must. It is 97 degrees, and 86% humidity. It is not suitable for man or beast…

At 6:00 pm we called Uber, and we were driven into “downtown” Wichita, to George’s Bistro. We had some time before our reservation, so we walked for about 20 minutes. (Note to self: avoid walking in this kind of weather!)

But we did find the Allen house, completed in 1918, and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We were here in 2019 and had the full tour… See photos in the Blog archives: Search “Allen House”.

Back at George’s Bistro we went in to cool off. We sat at the bar and ordered Old Fashioneds, made with Boot Hill Distillery’s Bourbon. Drink Local!

We had a lovely dinner of French Onion Soup, Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites, and Crepes with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, and Arugala. I had brought with us a 2005 Cht Clerc Milon, a tasty Bordeaux…

Dear long-time reader: If you think you’ve seen this photo before, you’re almost right…

This was taken at the same restaurant in June, 2019…

We Ubered back to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-05-29 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Estes Park, CO – Day 3 – Rocky Mountain National Park

Today was a real thrill. Today’s drive was what Rocky Mountain National Park is all about. We drove from the RV Park (elevation 7,729) to the Alpine Visitor Center (elevation 11,796), passing the high point in the road at elevation 12,188…!

I took about 5,000 pictures. I’ll try to condense them down here…

There are several ecosystems visible from the road – forest, snow, rocks, tundra… It changes at every turn…

In the photo above we can see outside the RMNP. The entire Park is surrounded by National Forests…

At the Forest Canyon Overlook, the pathway was totally covered with snow. We decided to skip this path… We are at elevation 11,700, and we can feel the effects of the altitude…

We are now above the tree line. Nothing but tundra consisting of tiny plants, miniaturizing themselves as a way to survive…

Below are the Lava Cliffs…

Here we see the Gore Range – mountains reaching as high as 12,928′.

We have arrived at the Alpine Visitor Center, elevation 11,796. My Hemoglobins are starving! There is about 14′ of snow on the ground…

Our drive back “down” was exciting! We are driving on the edge of the world!

And then it started to snow!

The rest of the drive down was uneventful. Near the park entrance we saw these funny looking animals…

We believe they are either mule deer or elk?

Quite serendipitously we stopped by the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. I noticed the detailing…

Something seems familiar… I Googled it…

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, also known as Rocky Mountain National Park Administration Building, is the park headquarters and principal visitors center of Rocky Mountain National Park. Completed in 1967, it was designed by Taliesin Associated Architects, and was one of the most significant commissions for that firm in the years immediately following the death of founder Frank Lloyd Wright. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

Who knew!

So that concluded our time in Rocky Mountain National Park…

We had a drivers’ meeting to discuss our drive to Colorado Springs on Monday – Memorial Day. There are three pages of detailed driving instructions to travel the 145 mile route… Colorado roads must be amazing! (Apparently 20-30 miles of the 70 are under construction, so we are taking back roads…!

This evening, after the meeting, we returned to Bird and Jim, a local restaurant (“Colorado Cuisine”). This time we brought friends… We enjoyed craft cocktails, Smoked Pheasant Chowder, Short Rib Sliders, Colorado Trout, Beef Tenderloin, and something they called the “Carnivore Plate” – Elk Tenderloin, Lamb T-bone, and Wild Game Sausage. And a bottle or two of wine.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-05-28 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Estes Park, CO – Day 2 – Rocky Mountain National Park

Today we enter Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is located approximately 76 mi northwest of Denver in north-central Colorado, within the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The park is situated between the towns of Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the center of the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River located in the park’s northwestern region.[6] The main features of the park include mountains, alpine lakes and a wide variety of wildlife within various climates and environments, from wooded forests to mountain tundra.

The Rocky Mountain National Park Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson on January 26, 1915, establishing the park boundaries and protecting the area for future generations.[3] The Civilian Conservation Corps built the main automobile route, Trail Ridge Road, in the 1930s.  In 1976, UNESCO designated the park as one of the first World Biosphere Reserves. In 2018, more than 4.5 million recreational visitors entered the park.  The park is one of the most visited in the National Park System, ranking as the third most visited national park in 2015.  In 2019, the park saw record attendance yet again with 4,678,804 visitors, a 44% increase since 2012.

The park has a total of five visitor centers, with park headquarters located at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center—a National Historic Landmark designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West. National Forest lands surround the park on all sides.

Today is the beginning of the summer season in the park. To control the crowds you must make a reservation to enter the park. We had procured a 9:00 am entrance time to go to Bear Lake, an alpine lake with a lovely walking/hiking path around it. We waited in three lines of cars for over 1/2 hour before we finally arrived at the entrance station.

Once in the park we again saw these magnificent mountain peaks…

Once at Bear Lake we had friends take our picture… While the temperatures were in the mid-60s, the wind was freezing…

The lake is mostly frozen over. The path around the lake is mostly snow, slush, and ice, with rare patches of dirt, mud, and rocks.

This is what the path looked like most of the way around the lake:

After completing the Bear Lake loop we drove a short way to Sprague Lake; this is Glacier Creek, which feeds into the lake.:

Spraugue Lake is named after Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area. Sprague built a homestead in Moraine Park in 1874 that eventually grew into a hunting and fishing lodge and dude ranch. He dammed the creek to create the lake so his guests could enjoy fishing and boating. The lodge operated from 1910 to 1940, preceding the actual National Park.

We enjoyed watching the ducks dive for food…

The lake offered great views all around. It was an easy 3/4 mile, with no ice and snow underfoot…

We don’t know what animal hatched out of these eggs… Maybe Elk? Moose?

After our time in the Park it was time for lunch! Bird and Jim’s serves “Colorado Cuisine”. Local ingredients, and creative recipes. We enjoyed a Smoked Pheasant Chowder and Short Rib Sliders…

After lunch came a nap; then we had our first GAM – a “Get Acquainted Meeting”. We will have five of these, giving us all an opportunity to get to know each other even better…

After the GAM we walked around the pond, and returned to the Villa.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-23 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Los Olivos to Bakersfield

It was 43 degrees at sunrise in the vineyard. As the light hit the solar panels I switched on the furnace to warm up the place. We treated ourselves to bacon and eggs for breakfast, along with coffee. After a relaxing while we hitched up, locked the vineyard gates behind us, and aimed the rig towards Bakersfield! Bakersfield? Yes. In Bakersfield there is a very large house by Frank Lloyd Wright and two smaller houses by Richard Neutra. In addition, there is some celebrated ecclesiastical architecture, the last operating Woolworth’s lunch counter, and several fine dining restaurants. Bakersfield is not to be missed!

To get to Bakersfield from Santa Maria is a 100 mile long lonely road, through the towns of New Cuyama and Cuyama. Finally we arrived at the town of Maricopa, population 1,229. This fine church stands at the center of town:

This church was built in 1908 by C.H. Hoogenboom, my grandfather. I have a snapshot of the church taken by my grandmother in 1908. It has not changed one bit!

We pulled into the River Run RV Resort, right alongside the Kern River. The Kern River has not one drop of water in it… But there is a nice pool and lots of shade. It is 80 degrees this afternoon…

We had lunch, a short dip in the pool, and a quiet dinner in the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-20 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Traveling Forestville to Redwood City

We said farewell to Forestville and the Riverbend RV Resort; we drove south, just past Petaluma, where we stopped in at The Land of Promise. We shared a few glasses of wine with this wonderful family, picked up our lasted wine shipment, and discussed our planned visit next year. This is a “must do” stop on the caravan.

Further south we stopped in at the Marin County Civic Center, the last major project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLlW) before his death in 1959. The building was completed in 1961, with some additions coming later…

It is a remarkable building, and it will be our first stop on the caravan to see architecture. I was very pleased that the building is very well maintained, and that updates (signage, furnishings, computers) have been sensitively integrated. As you may have noticed, the theme here is circles!

Unfortunately, there were no docent-led tours, so we followed their “self-guided” tour handout. It was a great building to see and experience, and we were only denied access to one area, and kicked out of another…

After the fun of the morning we drove south for a grueling time in San Francisco Bay Area traffic. We ignored the GPS telling us to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (we had already done that in 2011…). We drove over the Richmond Bridge and headed south through Oakland to Hayward, then across the San Mateo Bridge and on to Redwood City. The Redwood City Trailer Villa was spartan, but well-located. We will stay here if we can confirm a tour of the Hanna house (FLlW) in Palo Alto. As soon as we were set up we drove to Menlo Park and caught the CalTrain into San Francisco, another option for our caravaners. I needed to see how it worked. Once in San Francisco, there was only one place to go:

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District, Tadich Grill is the oldest (1849), continuously run restaurant in California, and third oldest in the United States. Long ago, when I was working, I visited Tadich once per week for over a year… Yes, I know – 3,000 great restaurants in San Francisco and I went here every time…

We enjoyed a few Old Fashioneds, Clam Chowder, and Ciopinno. We made the 8:09 CalTrain back to Menlo Park; an enjoyable time was had by all…

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