Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Monday, December 31, 2018

Grapevine: Christmas Capital of Texas - Monday, December 31, 2018

Here it is, the last day of 2018, and we're up and at 'em to do another 10k Volksmarch. First, body fuel was important to give us energy as we walked around Grapevine: the Christmas Capital of Texas in the cold December air.

Yesterday, I saw a restaurant in Irving, Texas, near where we were staying called Jam + Toast. That sounded like my kind of breakfast place. That's where we headed this morning and we were not disappointed. The menu is extensive with combos, pancakes, waffles, French toast, omelets, crepes, and healthy food choices as well.
Jam + Toast in Irving for breakfast.
Perfect breakfast: Challah French toast, two
eggs over medium, and bacon. Mmm!

Nicely fortified, we drove 15 minutes to Grapevine to start our walk. Starting out, the sun was shining but the temperature was about 45. I wore my heavy coat because the wind was cold. 

The beginning of the walk was on busy city streets, but soon we entered a park, walked by a creek, and passed a beautiful butterfly sculpture. 

Butterfly sculpture in the park.

From there, we headed a few blocks away to visit Nash Farm: "A Living History Experience." Normally there are activities going on, but after the holidays things quiet down on the farm as evidenced by Leroy the barn cat.

Leroy taking it easy.
The Nash Farmhouse

The Nashes, Thomas Jefferson and his wife Elizabeth (along with five daughters and a son), were farmers in Grapevine, Texas, starting in 1859. The farmhouse was built in 1869. Can you believe the size of that kitchen below? 

Nash farmhouse kitchen.
Looking across the yard toward the barns.

The Speckled Sussex chickens below were very friendly. I think they wanted to be fed because they ran over to us when we walked up. This breed of chicken is very popular with farmers because it is useful for both meat and egg production. Speckled Sussex is a heritage breed that has been endangered in the past.

Speckled Sussex chickens, all cooped up.
The toms were struttin' for the hen.

At the farm, we also saw sheep, old farm equipment, and a small graveyard. It definitely reminded us of years gone by.

On our walk, we also passed the Grapevine Vintage Rail Museum where we checked out a railroad turntable and an old engine on display. 

Grapevine Vintage Rail Museum.
Railroad turntable and historic Victorian-style coaches.
Bonnie, Bob Alton, Andy Thomas,
Darren and Susan Medlin, Helen Hull

A very nice stop was the Grapevine Visitors Center which was totally decked out in Christmas finery. If you looked closely, you could see railroad details in much of the decor.

One of the main attractions in town is to take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. One of the rides is the Cotton Belt Route train ride to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. At this time of year, the train does not run, so we kept on walking.
Visitor Center

The following six photos show the Visitor Center decor. There were even snacks out in the lobby. Very sweet of them.

Kyle and Susan Medlin.
Nice train ornaments.
Train wheels in the railing.

We exited the back door of the Visitor Center to walk through the grounds of Settlement to City Museum. The buildings were closed today.

Bob Alton, Kyle and Darren Medlin.
Cotton Ginners Museum.
Christmas Coach

Christmas coaches, such as the one above, took visitors from the railroad to their hotel or the homes of their loved ones.

We continued around the block back to the main street where there was a lot to see, including a unicorn, sculptures, and the Grapevine Train Depot.

"Imagine," the Flying Unicorn.
The Grinch made an appearance at
A.J.'s on Main BBQ.
Grapevine Train Depot Museum.
Sculpture outside the depot.
A beautiful clock.

The Vetro Glassblowing and blacksmith shops were not open today.

Susan and Darren Medlin.
You can make your own
handblown glass ornament

Most of the rest of the walk was through pretty neighborhoods. Oh, Grapevine has a very nice 9/11 Memorial, too. Our walk took us there.

Below are 9/11 Memorial sculptures honoring flight crews, 343 FDNY, and the Law Enforcement Officers Never Forget Memorial:

United Airlines Flight 175 (on the right)
343 FDNY
Recycled steel from the World Trade Center
Limestone fragment from
impact zone at the Pentagon.
Stone from the crash site in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
American Airlines Flight 11.
Law Enforcement Officers
Never Forget Memorial.

The walk took us downtown for a few blocks and then back to our starting point. The Torian Log Cabin in Liberty Park is made from hand-hewn logs. In the 1970s, the log cabin was going to be torn down to make way for a new home. When the Grapevine Historical Society heard about its imminent demise, on 48 hours' notice, members of the Society labeled the logs, disassembled them, and moved the cabin four miles to its present location in 1976.

"Walking to Texas"

The above statue honors all those who walked alongside their wagons on their journey to settle in Texas. It's nice to see a tribute to walkers!

"Sidewalk Judge" sculpture.

Our start and finish point was the Palace Theater. We had an Elvis sighting in the lobby.

We want to come back and do more exploring, see museums, and take the train ride to the Stockyards in Fort Worth. Thank you to the Texas Volkssport Association for hosting this TVA Memorial Walk. We also appreciate the volunteers who supported the walks this weekend. And the cookies were good, too.

After the walk, we rested and then went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant with Susan, Darren, and Kyle Medlin. Susan, Darren, Kyle, and I went to see Aquaman at 7:00 p.m. Bob wasn't interested in that genre, so he went back to the room. I rejoined him there at 9:30 p.m. We didn't go out to celebrate New Year's Eve, but we will walk tomorrow morning before we head home.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Panther City: Where the West Begins - Part 2, Sunday, December 30, 2018

Continued from Part 1...

After our exploration of the Fort Worth Water Gardens (see yesterday's blog), we met up with the rest of the Volksmarchers at the Sheraton and signed in for the walk. At 1:00 p.m., with a temperature of 41 degrees, a group of 18 of us headed out. 

Our first stop was the Chisholm Trail marker, very important in this region formerly known for its cattle drives. 

The Chisholm Trail mural, downtown Ft. Worth.

Cattle drives (this info is from a historical marker in downtown Fort Worth)
After the Civil War, people in Texas realized that an estimated 3.5 million free-roaming cattle scattered throughout the state were a valuable asset. Between 1886 and 1887, over five million were rounded up to make the five-month, 800-mile trip through Texas to railheads in Kansas.

Fort Worth, the last "civilized" stop before Indian territory, became an important supply center. Driven by 10 to 12 cowboys, or vaqueros, herds forded the Trinity River and bedded down for a few days north of the river. in 1871, a reported 360,000(!) "beeves" were driven through Fort Worth along the Chisholm Trail (today's Commerce, Calhoun, Jones, and Grove Streets). 

The invention of barbed wire and the advancing railroad brought an end to the cattle drives, but with the stockyards and the growing number of area ranches in need of supplies, Fort Worth remained a "Cowtown."

Today we had a guided walk led by Helen Hull. Since we had never been to Fort Worth before, we enjoyed having a knowledgeable local take us to the downtown points of interest where we learned factoids we probably wouldn't have found on our own.

First, we once again enjoyed the Water Gardens, heading down into the Quiet Pool.
Our group going to the Quiet Pool.
Quiet Pool. See how high the walls are?
That's to keep the city noise out.

In the distance, we saw an imposing building. I asked Helen what that building was and she told me we were going to walk to it.

This imposing building dominates the skyline here.

As we approached the above building, Helen pointed out the old United States Post Office a block down the street. We were going there as well.

The U.S. Post Office in downtown Fort Worth.

A memorial sculpture stood to the left and we headed to it. The Texas Spring Palace, constructed in 1889, used to be in this location. It was a wooden, two-story, Oriental and Moorish design building used for an annual exhibition of Texas agricultural products. During its second exhibition in 1890, the building erupted into flames. People poured out of the building, many having to leap from the second story to escape. Alfred Hayne, a native of England, returned to the burning palace to help others who were trapped inside. Alfred was the only fatality of the fire. He died the next day of burn wounds suffered in the rescue effort. This monument, in memory of his heroism and courage, was dedicated in 1893 by the Women's Humane Association.

Spring Palace Monument
to Alfred S. Hayne.
The detail on the base of the monument.

A side view of the building we had been looking at showed Art Deco detail. This is the T & P (Texas and Pacific) Railroad Passenger Terminal. The railroads were a major part of Fort Worth's economy during its infancy.

Art Deco designs over the street-side door.

The T&P Passenger Terminal closed its doors for good in 1967. The building has been repurposed into apartments. 

We walked next door to the U.S. Post Office building (which was open) so we walked through the lobby to see the historic interior. The detailing features marble, bronze, and gold leaf. 

Post office lobby.
I LOVE this table!
The intricate design above the clerk's windows.

Helen let us know at the beginning of the walk that we would be crisscrossing the downtown streets. There is so much to see! 

Here are a number of photos of murals, art, cool buildings, and other stuff.

Zipper mural.
St. Patrick Cathedral.
St. Patrick's Church
A. D. Marshall Public Safety & Courts Building
Close-up of the facade of the above building.

Across the street from the Public Safety & Courts building is a very intriguing group of things to look at. It bore further investigation, so we headed over. 

The first thing that caught our eye was the unique Flatiron Building. This was known, in the early 1900s, as the tallest building in North Texas. It was erected in 1907 for the renowned Dr. Bacon Saunders, Dean of City Medical College; Chief Surgeon, Nine Railroads; acclaimed as a pioneer of medicine in Texas. 

The Flatiron Building was designed by the distinguished firm of Fort Worth architects, Sanguinet and Staats, of reinforced concrete over a steel frame. This Renaissance Revival structure was inspired by the wedge-shaped Flatiron Building in New York. 

Flatiron Building in Fort Worth.

Now, here's a very cool part of this walk: Panther City. I never knew this before today. Wouldn't you know, it all got started with a newspaper article? Here's how this particular nickname came to be.

A newspaper story reported that Fort Worth was such a dull and drowsy place that a panther was seen sleeping in the city on the steps by the courthouse. In their initial endeavors at establishing this city's identity, the nickname Panther City was adopted for Fort Worth. The name was catchy and the local newspaper, the Fort Worth Democrat, added a drawing of a panther to its masthead.

In addition, live cubs were housed at the City Fire Hall and at many of the local businesses. At one of the community parades in Dallas (at that time a small town east of Fort Worth), the representatives of Fort Worth carried panther cubs on their floats in representation of "The city where the West begins."

The Panther City Fountain (2002).
Another walker and another view of the panther.
Up-close view of panthers (?) on Flatiron Building.
Cool old hat store sign.
Interesting design.
I love these old clocks.
Concrete owl detail on a building.

People in our group told stories of the major damage sustained by the building below during a tornado a number of years ago. Windows were blown out around the building and people inside had to shelter in the interior. An accounting firm lost thousands of paper records, some of which were found up to 60 miles away. Now the building's windows are reinforced with bars. 

At the north end of downtown is the Tarrant County Courthouse. We could not look inside because it's closed on Sunday. It sits atop a hill overlooking the Trinity River.

Tarrant County Courthouse.
The courthouse pediment and clock tower.

We then made our way back into the heart of Sundance Square. According to Wikipedia, "Sundance Square is the name of a 35-block commercial, residential, entertainment, and retail district in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Named after the Sundance Kid in Western folklore, it is a popular place for nightlife and entertainment..."

Suit of armor atop Haltom's jewelry store.
Haltom's clock.

The city's Christmas tree.
Haltom's jewelry store.
Topiary horse and rider.
Fort Worth Convention Center
John F. Kennedy Memorial.

At this point, those who were only walking 6k headed back to the Sheraton. The rest of us continued on to finish a 10k walk.

Bass Performance Hall with its
bas relief angels. Gorgeous.
Front view of an angel.
Fire Station No. 1.
Police cars carry the theme,
"Where the West Begins."

Our walk concluded at the Intermodal Transportation Center served by Amtrak, Greyhound, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and the TRE (Trinity Railway Express).

There's a panther on the building.

Intermodal Transportation Center.
A restored streetcar on display.

The Santa Fe Depot below was built in 1899 in the Beaux Arts style, featuring native stone banding. When intact, the north windows of painted glass depicted travel from Pony Express to steam locomotives. Visitors here included Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Depot was used by six railroad companies. As of 1970, Santa Fe served Texas with greater trackage than any other railroad, 5,102 miles. It is now a Texas Historic Landmark. The building now houses an events center. A wedding was taking place there today so we couldn't go inside.

Santa Fe Depot.
Santa Fe Depot (street side).

As you can probably tell by the length of this blog, we were quite enamored with Fort Worth. Thank you to Helen Hull for taking us around and showing us the fascinating pieces of history that make this town unique. Well done. Brava!