"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19
"On a New Shore," steel silhouette sculpture by Brian Norwood of Jal, NM @ Indianola, Texas, 2/5/19

Friday, August 31, 2012

Waco, Texas Volksmarch -- Fri., Aug. 31

Knowing today was going to be a scorcher, we got up at 6:30 a.m., dressed, ate breakfast and headed into downtown Waco for an 11K (6.8 mi.) Volksmarch. The walk started at the Hilton on University Parks Drive. We were on the trail by 8:15 a.m.

The first part of the walk followed the Brazos River, then to Baylor University, followed by a stint through downtown Waco. On campus we zigged, we zagged, we saw quite a few of the beautiful brick buildings and the campus mascots--two live black bears! Here are photos of our walk along with some commentary.

This suspension bridge was the first bridge over the Brazos River. Cowboys herding cattle to the north to the railroads (to send them to packing plants) paid a toll to cross the bridge rather than trying to make the cattle swim the river. The bridge owner was granted a five-year monopoly on a bridge crossing the Brazos River so the tolls would pay for the bridge. Cowboys complained because they wanted the bridge to be free.
Suspension bridge over the Brazos River.
Baylor University:
Baylor U. Law School from the river side.

Science Building.

The imposing Science Building up close.

Science Building--back side.

One of the libraries on campus.
The Quadrangle and Georgia Burleson Hall.

Georgia Burleson Hall--another angle.
Bear Mascots: The bear exhibit on campus houses two black bears in an approved enclosure which is a USDA-licensed zoo.

This bear kept trying to crawl into a hole. I only got its "good side."

Bill Daniel Student Center.

Students' preferred modes of transportation (besides feet)
Baylor University School of Law
Pictures in downtown Waco: Our Volkswalk instructions told us we would go past La Petite Bakery. My gastric juices were rumbling by the time we got to the bakery at about 6-1/4 miles into the walk. I had been talking about a treat from the bakery for a good portion of the walk. Well...when we made it to the bakery, it was closed for remodeling. What a bummer! Never did find a bakery after we finished the walk.

So much to do that Waco warrants another trip.
Phoenix artwork on a rehab center.
We love Dr. Pepper, so this another item for the Waco "bucket list."
Dr. Pepper Museum Building.
Info on the Waco Tornado of 1959.

County Courthouse.
The County Courthouse in Waco is unusual in that the county had more money than the city due to cotton farming revenues; hence the County Courthouse is very ornate here.

Geese by the river.
The path along the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.
Sculpture depicting cattle being driven over the toll bridge.

Volkswalk over at 11:15 a.m., temperature 96 degrees! We were hot, tired, hungry and cranky. Our hope was to head back to the campground and see if we could extend our stay one night. We knew it was a long shot because (1) the campground is so beautiful with a nice cool lake to beat the Texas heat and, (2) it's Labor Day weekend. 

When we arrived at the COE gate we asked the hosts if we could extend our stay one night. Nope, campground full. They did call two other COE campgrounds on Waco Lake for us, but they were full as well. If a campground had been available we would have gone back into Waco to tour the Texas Ranger Museum. This just means we'll be making another trip to Waco!

At 1:30 p.m. this Friday afternoon we pulled out of Airport Park, headed for I-35 to points south. Dear readers, I would like to point out it was close to 2:00 p.m. on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. What were we thinking? We hit stop-and-go traffic in Waco, Temple, and south of Austin all the way to San Antonio. Harrowing would best describe the drive in that traffic. I can't tell you the number of times we had yo-yos (for lack of a better word) speed around us on the left, and cut in front of our bumper at a high rate of speed to get to the right-side exit whose exit lane had already diminished to the warning stripes. Scared us to death! And then there was the guy coming on the on-ramp who just HAD TO get in front of us from way behind on the on-ramp. He passed us on the right and darted directly in front of us. We would not have been able to stop if there was a slow-down on the freeway in front of us.

Since traffic had already been bad at 2:00 p.m., by the time we reached Austin at 4:00 p.m., we had had enough. Our decision was to take the Toll Road to the east of Austin to avoid downtown traffic. The Toll Road was wonderful--wide lanes, few on and off ramps to deal with, and lighter traffic. HOWEVER, we had no idea how much it cost. By the time we had taken The Beast and Rigamarole through five toll booths, the total cost was $23.00!!! We won't be doing that again.

What we learned: 
  • DO NOT travel on a Friday afternoon.  
  • DO NOT travel at rush hour.  
  • DO NOT travel on a holiday weekend. 
  • DO NOT take toll roads without knowing the fares. 
  • DO NOT skip lunch. 
  • Get enough sleep the night before. 
  • Always drive defensively. 
  • Leave lots of room for stopping on the Interstate. 
  • After being on the road for six weeks, we are ready to stay in one place for a while. 
We were so happy to return to San Antonio safe and sound. We are now tucked into our comfy spot at Travelers World RV Park until sometime in October when we will start our next adventure.

For dinner tonight we went out to a really good Mexican restaurant called Nicha's. It's only about 1/2 mile from our RV park.

"The future is wide open."  ~Tom Petty

It's been a long day. Travel Bug out.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Army Corps of Engineers Park -- Thurs., Aug. 30

Driving, driving, driving--not much stopping--all the way from Edmond, Oklahoma to Waco, Texas. Check-out time from Arcadia Lake Campground was 5:00 p.m., we left at noon. 

We had planned to stop at Turner Falls Park in Davis, Oklahoma on our journey south; however admission to the park is $12 per person/per day. If we opted to camp there, it would be an additional $12 per night. We read a review on tripadvisor.com from August 2012 saying the water level in the park is low because of the drought.  

Bob and I discussed the stop at Turner Falls and decided instead to take a separate long weekend to Davis, OK and camp somewhere other than Turner Falls. We can unhook "The Beast" and drive it to the waterfalls in the area, swim, hike and explore from a different campground.

The driving was pretty easy heading south on I-35. We arrived at our next campsite, Army Corps of Engineers Airport Park Campground on Waco Lake. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. Our back-in site, #60, had lake views on two sides. The site is electric and water only, but there is a dump station in the park. Some sites had sewer, however they were $4 more per night and we had dumped our black tank last night so no need.

When we arrived, the sun was setting over the lake out our back window. On the dining room side of our 5er, the full moon was rising over the lake. Absolutely gorgeous. The site was 65' long...plenty of room for The Beast, Rigamarole and there was separate parking in our site for four other cars! We had a covered picnic area with picnic table and two beaches to choose from. 

Sunset over Waco Lake, COE Airport Park, Site #60.

Moon rise over Waco Lake, COE Airport Park, Waco, TX
Here's Rigamarole basking in the sunset.
This was our first time at an Army COE park, but it won't be our last. We liked it so much, we decided we will be back for a long weekend (or a week) and will request site #60. We are not finished exploring Waco yet! 

This is called Airport Park for a reason--the Waco airport is about a mile away. During the day, you could hear jets from time to time, but not so much at night.

For dinner, I grilled tilapia with cumin seed and garlic powder, and we had a large green salad.

Animal sightings at Airport Park: 12 deer, one roadrunner, lots of great blue herons.

This particular COE Park has gates that close at 10:00 p.m. and re-open at 6:00 a.m. We were happy to spend the evening in our site. In fact, we were so in love with the site we thought, on the off chance the park wasn't completely full for Labor Day weekend, maybe we could get another night. We decided to ask on Friday if any sites were available. Check-out time at this park is 2:00 p.m. For Friday, we made plans to do the Volkswalk in Waco, Texas early in the morning.

Great evening.

Travel Bug out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All Things Cowboy -- Wed., Aug. 29

Bob woke up and ran seven miles on trails around our campground at Arcadia Lake. Way to go, Bob! Even though we were in an overflow site at Arcadia Lake's Central State Park, this site was way better than either of our Passport America sites in North Platte and Elm City, Nebraska. 

Took it easy this morning and headed out for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum around noon. We arrived at 12:30 p.m. We thought we weren't going to go because both of us felt "museum'd out." However, Wednesdays are free at the museum until November. The Oklahoma Visitor Center told us this museum is a "must see," and someone else told us the same thing. So we went to see what all the fuss was about. 

Wow! National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum In Oklahoma City rivals the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming in its scope. 

I have to back up at this point to the day we toured the Golden Spike Tower in Nebraska because we learned something there about Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Shows that we did not learn at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. Here's the interesting fact we learned about Buffalo Bill Cody in North Platte, NE: His show entourage with all the performers and animals traveled together around the country on three separate trains. An engineer in a train on a siding in the Carolinas did not realize that Buffalo Bill's show was traveling in three trains. After the first train passed, the engineer pulled his train out onto the main line and collided head on with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show's second train. About 90 of the Wild West Show's 110 trained horses were killed in the accident. Buffalo Bill still toured after the accident, but his shows were not as big or flamboyant and they eventually died out.

Back to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: The first piece of art to catch our eyes was "The Remuda," by artist Tom Ryan. It is a 360'-long mural stretching across the entire western facade of the museum. Here's a partial pic:

"The Remuda" by Tom Ryan.
As we entered the museum, a docent greeted us, handed us a map and explained the best way to enjoy the displays. Directly behind the docent was a massive original plaster sculpture of "The End of the Trail," by James Earle Fraser. You may recognize it as it has been copied many times as small, souvenir-type gifts.

"The End of the Trail."  18' tall and weighs four tons.
This original plaster sculpture was made before the lost wax technique of bronze sculptures. It was in a park in California, decayed by years in the elements. The piece was restored to its former magnificence, then a bronze sculpture was cast from the original and returned to the park in California.

Thus started our visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Pictures were allowed only in certain galleries, some areas allowed photos but no flash. My blog for today contains the best of the pics I was able to take.

Bob and I were massively impressed and overwhelmed by the size and scope of this museum. The art collections, especially the in-house exhibition Prix de West, were so wonderful.

The second big sculpture we viewed was "Canyon Princess," by Gerald Balciar, carved from a single block of Colorado yule marble. The museum had to reinforce the floor underneath where the sculpture would reside. The artist brought the sculpture to the museum to finish sculpting it. Amazing piece!

"Canyon Princess," by Gerald Balciar.

18' tall, 16,000 pound white cougar.
Galleries in the museum include:
  1. Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Changing Exhibition Gallery which features touring exhibitions and special in-house exhibitions including the Prix de West.
  2. Arthur and Shifra Silberman Gallery of Native American Art showcases Native American fine art.
  3. William S. and Ann Atherton Art of the American West Gallery is home to the prized pieces from the museum's permanent collection, including painting and sculptures from Prix de West award winners and works from master artists such as Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Albert Bierstadt and William Leigh.
  4. The Weltzenhoffer Gallery of Fine American Firearms showcasing Colt, Remington, Winchester and Sharps firearms.
  5. Native American Gallery has displays to show how different Native American tribes expressed their world view through design elements on everything from clothing to tools to utensils.
  6. Western Performers Gallery uses film, posters, and memorabilia to show how actors have contributed to people's perception of cowboys and the Wild West. Large displays trace different western actors. John Wayne occupies a large portion of the gallery and includes his personal collection of firearms, kachinas and artwork. 
  7. American Cowboy Gallery. A tribute to working cowboys showing the history of many different cowboys in American history include vaqueros, Spanish, and paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys). Collections in this gallery include types of saddles, bridles, bits, spurs, barbed wire, brands and the rawhide works of master braider Luis Ortega. One interesting fact we learned about paniolos in Hawaii is that when it came time to send the cattle to market, they were herded into the ocean, tied to skiffs and rowed out to the big ships which hoisted them aboard and put them in above-board pens for their voyage to market. 
  8. The Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West. In this gallery, exhibits dealt with the military role in the West, hunting on the frontier, mountain men, and Native Americans. We had limited time in this area as we were running short on time.
  9. American Rodeo Gallery was set in a life-like 1950s arena. It has artifacts of rodeos, including history, champions, clothing, equipment, awards and memorabilia. To me, the most interesting part of this gallery were the video screens that showed different rodeo sports and narrated what the judges look for, what type of injuries the athletes sustained and the percentage of injuries racked up in each sport. We were not able to see everything in this gallery due to time constraints.
  10. Robert and Grace Eldridge Gallery. We ran out of time and didn't get to this part of the museum.
  11. Prosperity Junction: A circa 1900 Western cattle town at dusk where you could look in the windows and sometimes enter the shops. Full-scale structures include a saloon, school, telegraph office, livery, jail, newspaper office, mercantile, church and blacksmith.
  12. Children's Cowboy Corral: kid-size section of the museum where kids can put on western garb, check out a cowboy campsite, and see a diorama of a cowboy on horseback with a cougar on the bluff above him.
Outside is another world and a nice relief from the cold temperatures in the museum. Here's what you find outside:
  1. The Atherton Garden.
  2. The Norma Sutherland Garden with waterfall and peaceful ponds, natural vegetation.
  3. Western States Plaza--plants, fountains, art and arhcitecture.
  4. The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens (my personal favorite).  Follow flagstone walks, native plantings, and winding streams to the graves of rodeo bulls, horses, steer, and a steer wresting horse. Sculptures are beautiful out here and include a monstrous "Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry; the "Paint Mare and Filly," by Veryl Goodnight; "Herons," by Walter T. Matia; "Bald Eagle Off Cannery Point," by Sandy Scott, and "Ring of Bright Water," by Kent Ullberg.
To cap off our visit, the docent suggested we see artist Wilson Hurley's five panoramic murals (triptychs--panels of three) of the American West in the Sam Noble Special Events Center. Each PANEL of the triptych measures 18' x 46'. They are AMAZING!

Photos of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum follow:

Prosperity Junction:

"Hints for Plains Travelers" (Double-click to read.)

The Norma Sutherland Garden:

Beauty berries...I love the color!
American Cowboy Gallery:

Barbed wire in pull-out cases.
Double click to read.

American Rodeo Gallery:

The Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West:

Sam Noble Special Events Center with triptych murals by Wilson Hurley.
Grand Canyon
California Coast
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Upper Plains
Monument Valley, Utah
 Western States Plaza:

The Jack & Phoebe Cooke Gardens:
"Ring of Bright Water," by Kent Ullberg

"Herons," by Walter T. Matia.

"Paint Mare and Filly," by Veryl Goodnight.

"Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry (backside)

"Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry (frontside silhouette)

"Bald Eagle Off Cannery Point," by Sandy Scott
Dining on Persimmon Hill: Cute, popular restaurant for lunch only at the museum. They serve a buffet or offer a large menu selection.

"Abraham Lincoln," by James Earl Fraser: 

We closed the museum down at 5:00 p.m. and realized we hadn't had lunch. Drove around for a bit and found Braum's. It's like an upscale Dairy Queen. We hadn't been to one before. We enjoyed our lunches and headed back to the 5er to feed the fur-kids. They were happy to see us.

Upon re-reading an Oklahoma City guide book from the Visitor Center, I learned there was an Oklahoma City Redhawks vs. Albuquerque Isotopes AAA baseball game tonight.  Guess what? We went to it. Very nice evening, although it was quite warm even after the sun went down. The Redhawks won handily.

When the game was over, we rode the free trolley around downtown. Couldn't see much at night, but we gave it a shot anyway. 

After the trolley, we walked in the Brickhouse/Canal District which is trying to be a San Antonio Riverwalk. There were a few restaurants and bars open. The water taxis were running even at 10:30 p.m.

We made it back to 5er around midnight. Waited until today to post the blog from yesterday.

Travel Bug out.