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2019-06-06 thru 2019-06-11 – Traveling West – Liberal, KS and then Home…

This morning we pulled out of the RV park in Liberal, KS, and pointed the Villa southwest.  In about three minutes we were in the far western part of the Oklahoma panhandle; about 90 minutes later we were in the far western part of the Texas panhandle; by noon we were in New Mexico…

These parts of Oklahoma and Texas look remarkably like Kansas…

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At one rest stop there were these nice little picnic shelters… Mid Century Modern!… Nice, but a little beat up…

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All day yesterday and all day today, until we entered New Mexico, we followed the railroad tracks.  About every ten miles we came to a small town dominated by these giant grain elevators or silos…

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The further we drove west the smaller and more distressed the towns were… Not being farming folk, we could not tell exactly what these facilities do, but we assume it is related to grain storage, food processing, feed production, or something like that…

By mid day we were at our campground in Tucumcari, NM.

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And, for the record, New Mexico does not look anything like Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas:

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Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Gallup, NM.

Friday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards Albuquerque and beyond…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

New Mexico looks like this…

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At one rest stop we found this Scenic Historic Marker:

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We weren’t sure what it meant… east and west looked pretty much the same to us.  Yes, western New Mexico does has more hills.  We rose to almost 7,000′ elevation before dropping down to 5280′ elevation in Albuquerque…

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Then we went uphill again to 7,275′ elevation at the Continental Divide…

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We eventually arrived in Gallup, NM, at about 6,500′ elevation…

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The sky was beautiful, the sun was hot, but the winds made the 89 degree temperature bearable.  By early evening we were able to turn off the AC, and by sunrise tomorrow it is supposed to be 48 degrees…

Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Kingman, AZ.

Saturday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams, and Kingman…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

Arizona looks like this…

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We drove for about six hours, taking time for rest stops, fuel, and lunch… We finally pulled into Kingman, AZ by mid-afternoon…

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Interesting note is that we stayed here almost exactly two years ago as our first stop after leaving Irvine on our 4 1/2 month trip, the day after Lynda retired…

Happy Hours and a light supper ensued in the Villa; tomorrow we head towards Palm Desert, CA.

Sunday morning dawned nice and cool, but the heat will be arriving soon.  We pointed the Villa west, towards the California border…

The drive was uneventful, as expected…

We crossed over the Colorado River…

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And we entered California!

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We were met by some attentive uniformed people who asked us where we’d been, and if we were bringing in any firewood…

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The California Desert looks like this…

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For those of you who insist on calling places like eastern Oregon a “desert”, please stop!  Rivers, grass with cattle grazing, and green leafy trees do not make a desert!  See photo above for what a desert looks like!

We moved on to Palm Desert, where they have succeeded in making the desert green:

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We spent the afternoon and evening with like-minded friends, sharing happy hours and dinner.  Early Monday morning we drove the final hour…

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We arrived home in Redlands; an enjoyable time was had by all…

Tally:

Miles driven: 8,379

Days traveling and camping on our own:  40 days

Days on the Cajun Country Caravan:  16 days

Days on the Springtime in Kentucky Caravan:  22 days

Total days living in the Villa: 78 days

Total number of Airstreams seen along the road:  211

Number of nights in the Villa over the past 24 months:  375 days  (51%)

And one last photo of our girls…

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2019-06-04 – Traveling West – Oklahoma City, OK to Wichita, KS

We had an easy drive and an easy day in general.  We were awakened in the early AMs with thunderstorms and rain pounding on the aluminum roof… By the time we pulled out of the RV Park the rain had stopped, but everything was very wet.

Oklahoma is green and gold.  So is Kansas.  I’m not sure where these photos were taken – North Oklahoma and southern Kansas look pretty much alike…

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All the rivers are muddy…

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We drove north, stopped for truck fuel, then stopped again for human fuel (groceries).  We arrived at Air Capital RV Park in south Wichita at about 12:30…

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We did errands, caught up on emails and other details, made reservations for the remainder of our trip, and generally relaxed…

We were able to find a fine French bistro in Wichita… We hailed an Uber, arrived early, and walked this fine old neighborhood in Wichita…

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At the appointed hour we arrived back at the restaurant – Georges French Bistro…

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It was delightful.  We sat on the sidewalk, and we enjoyed cocktails and wine along with 5 shared appetizer courses…

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We Ubered back to the Villa;  an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-06-02 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs and Bentonville, AR

We attended Sunday Services at Thorncrown Chapel.  Worshiping in such a beautiful place is a very special experience…

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An interesting point was that the preacher was the son of the founder and of the chapel… And there was some good old hymn singing going on…

A mystery occurred behind the blue pilaster on the right.  The minister suddenly appeared from behind the pilaster, then he went back again during some of the singing.  Is he just sitting on a chair back there, and had he been there since before we arrived?  Or is there a hidden back door there that he can slip in  and out of?  Or is there a stair to a basement with an exterior entrance?  Any ideas?

After the service we drove to Bentonville; along the way we found, quite by accident, Hoss’s RV Repair.  The place was littered with old Airstreams (23), in various stages of repair and restoration…

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We traveled on…

Bentonville is home of Sam Walton and his family.  And his family’s store:

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The town Square is very nice…

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We had brunch at a very nice modern diner…

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We were very impressed with the center of this town of 70,000 people.  (In 1960 when the first WalMart was built the town had about 3,000 people…)

We wondered, as we looked around at these downtown buildings, how much of this was built, rebuilt, and/or owned by WalMart?  Did the first WalMart, built outside of town on the highway, kill the town?  Did WalMart buy up the deserted buildings and create this Disneyesque town square?  I don’t know…

(By the way, the original Walton’s 5 and dime is just a facade for the WalMart Museum.  There is a WalMart Neighborhood Market just a block away…)

In any case, the reason we were here was to see Crystal Bridges, the Museum of American Art built by the Walton Family Foundation… It is about 3/4 mile from the heart of town…

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The museum was designed by Moshe Safdie, world famous architect…

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The museum sits atop a small creek that has been dammed to form several ponds at several levels.  The weirs (dams) are under the buildings, so the surfaces of the ponds are kept mirror-still…

The vaulted roofs are supported by suspension cables.  Remarkable!

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But the REAL reason we are here is to see a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The Bachman-Wilson House was originally built in New Jersey in the mid 1950s.  Over the years it was lived in by a variety of families.  In 1980 it was restored; unfortunately, the adjacent river took up a bad habit of overflowing its banks on a regular basis.  By 2004 the owners appealed to the Walton family and convinced them that there is no greater American Art than a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house.  The house was disassembled and moved here, and it was reassembled on a site adjacent to the museum…

It is a classic Usonian, which typically turns a blank face to the street for privacy.  FLlW also typically hides the front door…

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There’s the door…

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(Sorry, no interior photos…)

The house bears remarkable similarities to the Spring house in Tallahassee and the Rosenbaum house in Florence, AL.  The board and batten siding, the views out to the forest, the horizontal lines, the cantilevered carports, and the stenciled cut-outs applied to the glass…

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The house has been beautifully restored and preserved… It is, indeed, a piece of American Art…!

But we move on!

In the little town of Bella Vista, in the far northwest corner on Arkansas, within a mile or two of the Missouri and Oklahoma borders, is another Fay Jones chapel…

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In contrast to Thorncrown Chapel, this chapel is built of steel.  Again, the details are beautiful…

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Built to honor Mildred Borum Cooper, wife of John A. Cooper, Sr., founder of Cooper Communities, Inc, the Chapel is a fitting memorial.  Besides being a devoted wife, mother, and member of the community, Mrs. Cooper had a deep spirituality and a love for nature.  Her family commissioned the Chapel in her honor to celebrate her life and her dedication to God and his creations.

We returned to Eureka Springs and enjoyed a dinner in a fine French bistro: Le Stick Nouveau:

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We enjoyed five courses of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres… and a bottle of fine Pinot Noir from Oregon…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-06-03 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs, AR to Oklahoma City, OK

We left the RV park this morning with high anticipation.  Due to posting a few photos of the two Fay Jones chapels on Facebook, we have been invited to view a Fay Jones home nearby, just outside Fayetteville, AR.  In short, it was spectacular!  It is sited on a golf course, on a 1/2 acre lot…

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Immediately we saw the detailing of lighting fixtures all around the yard, carport, and entry…

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Note the blank front of the house – hidden front door, no front porch, and no windows…

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Inside, the entry has a custom designed light fixture…

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The Living Room…

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The Kitchen…

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The Dining Room.  The table and all cabinets are custom designed by the architect…

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Architect-designed bar stools…

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The study was originally a teenage daughter’s bedroom; this is the custom desk and bookshelves…

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Blueprints from Frank Lloyd Wright’s office for an unbuilt house line the wall… All the bedrooms have custom built-in wardrobes, dressers, and bureaus…

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The rear of the house opens to the back patio, a koi pond, and the golf course beyond…

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The house was designed by Fay Jones at about the time of the Thorncrown Chapel.  The current owner has been here a little more than 10 years.  (PS:  the house is for sale!  Sale includes all the Fay Jones-designed furniture and fixtures…)

It was hard to leave this place, but we must move on.  We headed towards Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma is surprisingly green!

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We checked into Twin Fountains RV Resort… Very upscale place!  It has a bar and grill, pools, rec rooms, miniature golf, a lounge, and a concierge.  (A limousine is available for free rides to any of the attractions within 3 miles of the RV park…)

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We hailed an Uber and headed to downtown Oklahoma City…

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This is one entrance to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum…

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Printed on this wall (and lots of other places) is the mission statement for the Memorial:  We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

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These two giant black granite walls flank the reflecting pond…

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9:01 everything was normal; the blast was 9:02; the healing began 9:03…

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The chairs sit on the site of the former building; they are in nine rows, corresponding to the nine stories.  You’ll notice that all the small chairs are in rows one and two…

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This former newspaper building is now the museum…

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This is the survivor tree – it was covered in rubble and most of the branches were blown off, but the tree survived.  Every year they harvest seeds, plant seedlings, and then distribute them to various stakeholders…

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This is the new Federal Building, built across the street…

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From this viewing window in the museum you can see the memorial below…

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It is a sobering remembrance, but, for us, it did not have the impact of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis…

We looked for a downtown street to walk, one with shops, restaurants, and bars.  We couldn’t find any.  Downtown Oklahoma City appears to be a concrete jungle of office buildings… By 6:00 pm it was deserted…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-06-14 Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Frank Lloyd Wright

No Airstream repair issues today! Just a romp through a rare icon of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

We had a leisurely morning and an easy drive north from Oklahoma City to Bartlesville, OK, located north of Tulsa, and a few miles south of the Kansas border.  Bartlesville is an oil town, subject to oil’s booms and busts. Mr. Harold Price wanted to expand his oil pipeline business, and to do so, he needed a new building. In 1952, he contacted FLW and told him of his intention to build a 4 story building for about $750,000.  FLW visited Bartlesville, rejected the chosen site, rejected the concept of a 4 story building, and convinced Mr. Price that what he really wanted was a 19 story building that would cost $2,000,000.  It was completed in 1957, just before FLW’s death.  And, to make a long story short, here it is:

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The building is laid out on a hexagonal grid, with a structure of concrete and all else being non-bearing walls.  The ground floor contained the local utility company offices, a salon, the lobby, and a fancy dress shop. The tower floors each had three offices and one (2 level) apartment. The top floor, where you can see the facade steps back, is the office of Mr. Price and his secretary.  If you look at the tower, the areas with horizontal louvers are offices, and the areas with the vertical louvers are the apartments. There are eight 2 level apartments, about 850 square feet, each with 2 bedrooms. One apartment was kept by Mr. Price for corporate functions, two others were rented to long-term tenants, but the others were only rarely rented. The rent, in 1957, was $285 per month, so you can see that this was an extremely expensive place.

We had a tour of the building, seeing Mr. Price’s office and one of the apartments, all beautifully restored. There are 4 very small, odd shaped elevators (hexagonal grid, remember?). There is one stair. It is a delightful and beautiful building!

Mr. Price and his sons ran his firm from the tower for about 30 years; His firm was then bought by Phillips Petroleum, who used the building for about 10 years until they moved their headquarters out of Bartlesville. After that the building sat empty, until Phillips had it restored about 10 years ago. Here is the fun part:

The tower was converted to a hotel!

So we took the opportunity to leave the Villa in the parking lot next door, and we spent the night in the tower.  Our room was one on the office spaces. (The 2 story apartments are also part of the hotel, but they are much more expensive…)  The interiors of our room is not original FLW, of course, since it used to be one of the office spaces.  But is was designed by the FLW devotees at Taliesen, the FLW school and studio…

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Here I am sitting uncomfortably in the FLW-style stair (which are always uncomfortable…

 

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The rooms are quite bright – only my camera skills make them seem a little dark…

 

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And the Villa, parked below…

 

We had a delightful time walking the town, having lunch in a local pub, and having drinks and dinner in the restaurant atop the Price Tower, located in one of the 2 story apartments…

I also took a selfie with Frank to celebrate his 150th birthday…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-06-13 A Visit to the Oklahoma City Airstream Dealer

Tuesday was a day spent in fear and anticipation, but all’s well that ends well…

As if our power situation were not enough to worry and annoy us, whilst traveling to the Airstream Dealer, we were hit with several gusts of wind. While control of the RV was never an issue, once things settled down we saw in our mirrors that our front driver-side rock guard was gone – blown away somewhere on the east-bound I-40. We stopped to survey the damage, and also saw that the vent cover on one of out fans was also gone. The missing rock guard “only” exposed vulnerable aluminum skin to the potential of damage from rocks being thrown up on the highway, the missing vent cover meant that we were exposing the interior to rain, which was sure to come.  Now we had more issues to report to the Airstream dealer…

We arrived at Leisure RV, the Airstream dealer in Oklahoma City, at 12:30pm for our 2:00pm appointment, chronically early, as usual. This is a large, multi-brand RV dealer with very impressive facilities. We spent our waiting time browsing the store full of gadgets and supplies, and we wandered through the sales lot admiring the brand new RVs of many makes and models.  Finally we met with our service adviser, we unhitched, and they pulled the Villa into one of their 16 service bays. Then we waited some more.

Our suspicions were confirmed that we had, indeed, blown the power converter. (This device takes the shore power and distributes it to the trailer as 110v and 12v power, also charging the batteries along the way…)  Fortunately, they had a new converter in stock, and repairs were underway. They did not have rock guards in stock, but they were able to replace the missing vent cover. So, at about 5:30, with one swipe of a credit card, we were once again on our way. We had called a nearby campground (KOA Oklahoma City East), who had a very nice camping site ready for us when we arrived a little before 6:00pm.

As soon as we arrived, we plugged into power to see that everything was once again working – no damage to any other electronics on-board; the one exception: The refrigerator did not switch over to 110v power when available, but it runs just fine on propane.

We took a quick dip in the pool to gain some relief from the stress (and heat – did I mention the heat?) we were able to have a restful night. Tomorrow we set out for Bartlesville…!

What the rock guard looks like and what it looks like when it’s gone:

 

Finally relaxing after settling in at the KOA…

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

2017-06-12 Driving across New Mexico, Texas, and into Oklahoma

So this happened:  Sunday night we inadvertently hooked up to bad power. 220V bad power, to be exact… I know, I know… I have an EMS to prevent this, but I was plugging into a 30 amp recommended to me by another Airstreamer.  Oops! Don’t do that! So we made some calls and altered our itinerary and headed to an Airstream Dealer and Service Center in Oklahoma City who could see us at 2:00 on Tuesday.  We didn’t know what the damage was, but the batteries were charging when we were towing, so at least the refrigerator stayed cold.

The drive east through New Mexico was quite green and scenic, although there is very little there… The road was very good, which was a treat. (Public Service Announcement: for those of you who think California has the worst roads in America: you have obviously never driven the 40 between Williams and Flagstaff, AZ…)

We stopped for gas just west of the Texas border, and again in Oklahoma, just east of the Texas border. So we crossed the Texas panhandle (180 miles) without spending any money. We did, however, stop at 2 rest stops, leaving appropriate things behind. There is a beautiful rest stop in Texas a few miles west of the Oklahoma border that is an homage’ to Route 66. We had a nice break, a few minutes of walking, and some time inside the air conditioned building looking at the exhibits.

We arrived in Elk City, OK, about 5:30, at a small RV park. We still didn’t know what our power situation was going to be, so we picked this place because it had a large, air conditioned Rec Room. Except that it didn’t…  Good news: Shore power was good, both AC units worked, electric water heater worked, rear TV worked, and everything else worked, except for the converter/battery charger, and the circuit into which the front TV and satellite receiver are plugged. We’ll have to wait and see about those… We also hooked up to water and sewer, so we both were able to enjoy long hot showers.

After a few adult beverages and some microwaved left-overs for dinner, we retired early. Tomorrow we see what the damage to our electrical system really is…

 

Entering Texas… Note the green countryside… Nothing but miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles…

 

And, finally, Oklahoma…

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