More Jet Travel

 

Independence, Missouri

Working our way to Lincoln, Nebraska, we stopped in Independence.  As with so many of the towns we visit, there is a lot of interesting architecture.

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There are several denominations of churches within a few blocks… always interesting to see.  These two were so close I thought it would be illustrative of how tightly packed the churches were… and then realized it is an addition to an existing, growing church.

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A horse drawn history tour:

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President Harry Truman lived in this house, and used it as a Summer White House:

A nice “Peace Park” is watched over by this elegant little lady:

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After seeing so much traditional architecture, it was slightly surprising to come across this interesting spire:

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We were naturally drawn to it… turns out is is a temple for the Community of Christ; which seems to be a “Reformed” LDS denomination.  There were lots of cars in the parking lot, so we dared to enter.  We were just in time for the last number of a fantastic Choral Concert.  Awesome acoustics in the hall were perfect for the beautiful choir.

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Spartan Mansion

In a storage area of our campground I spotted an old silver trailer.  I knew it wasn’t an Airstream, but thought it might be a Silver Streak or another make I knew as a kid.  It turned out to be a Spartan Mansion…  Spartan was an aircraft manufacturer in the early 1900’s.  J. Paul Getty bought the company around 1935, and with housing shortages in WWII started using aircraft manufacturing techniques to build portable housing.  There were a couple of models with palatial names like “Manor” and “Mansion”.  While a “Spartan Mansion” may seem like an oxymoron, they were quite nice for their time, and a refurbished 1951 Mansion sold recently for $350,000.  Not this one:

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Lincoln, Nebraska

After arriving in Lincoln, we parked our “home” at Union College.  We love this school, where both our daughters spent some time, so we have volunteered to help Maranatha upgrade the girl’s dorm.  The volunteer time starts in about 3 weeks, so we have time to Jet to Washington to see our kids and help Karen close out the school year and inventory her kindergarten classroom.

 

Tri-Cities, Washington

Karen has been wanting to build a teepee for a while.  When finding that several of her kindergarten class didn’t have a clue what a teepee was, she decided to get it done.  Here is how you build a teepee in less than 40 seconds:

 

Show and Tell

Bryan’s second grade class was to have a “Show & Tell” day… and Bryan wanted to bring the lawn mower, because he enjoys mowing the lawn.  Since that seemed a bit unwieldy, we decided to document a bit of mowing.  The K-2 classes found this great fun:

 

Cheyenne

My son-in-law Loren has bought into a beautiful plane- a Piper Cheyenne. A pressurized turbine twin, it has seats for 7 and looks fast even sitting in its hanger!

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Outside the hanger are several helicopters, including an old Bell helicopter that seemed to be meticulously restored.  It made me think of the old “Whirlybirds” TV show I saw as a kid.  Cool.

 

Flight to Lewiston, Idaho

Just in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to read it in previous blogs, my son-in-law Loren is an Ophthalmologist working for a great company that flies surgeons and teams to cities all over the northwest.  And I bum rides when I can, for the simple pleasure of flying right seat in beautiful Citation Jet III’s.  It’s quite a ride!  Smooth, quiet, with amazing acceleration.  We had moderate icing on the way to Lewiston, Idaho, and rain all the way back.  No big deal.  Just fast and fun!

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Last day of School

The final day of class had lots of fun, food and frivolity!

 

And now the Friday night sunset that closed the final day of school:

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Corvettes and More

National Corvette Museum

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The Corvette below was the personal car of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the “Godfather” of Corvettes, from vision, design and development.  While he obviously drove any number of ‘Vettes, this is the only one he ever purchased.

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I’m sure the only reason I’m so fond of Corvettes is that we share the same birthday.  On my 50th birthday (a few years ago) my  good buddy Gary let me drive both his 50th anniversary Corvette convertible, and his 50 year old ‘vette!  What a treat!!  Thank you Gary!  (His looks exactly like the title shot above).  That same year we were driving through Bowling Green, Kentucky, where the Corvettes are made, and spent some time in the National Corvette Museum.  Since it was the 50 year celebration, there were literally acres of Corvettes parked everywhere; on grass fields as well as paved parking lots surrounding the factory and museum.   It’s a really fantastic museum, with more Corvettes, Corvette history and memorabilia than a person can take in.  But I tried!

Below is an interesting tidbit about the original Corvette emblem…

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This ’53 has been cut away to show you its innards.  I won’t show you mine…

Another ’53 as a mosaic, with thousands of tiny shots.  I love these.

 

This one looks a lot like my Uncle Hollis’ Corvette.  He stored it at my house one year and I had to keep it exercised occasionally.

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Just before Valentine’s day in 2014, at 5:39 in the morning, the ground shook under the largest domed display room in the museum.  Then the floor literally dropped out… a huge sinkhole caved in the area supporting 8 cars! Some of the Corvettes fell about 40 feet, as rocks and earth fell all around them.  Some were buried so deeply that they were only found by digging exploratory holes in the rubble. The entire sinkhole fit within the perimeter of the display room, with most of the cars around the edges remaining where they were.  The cars were eventually hoisted out of the newly formed cavern, and several were restored. Three were so badly mangled that restoration would be impossible, so they are now displayed as they were brought up.  Pretty grim!  The event made world-wide news, and prompted a lot of jokes too…

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The least damaged car was still drivable:

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SIX

Some folks laugh a bit at Branson, MO… saying that’s where entertainers go out to pasture or whatever.  But I’ll admit we find a lot to like here.  On a previous trip we saw a group called SIX.  All brothers (guess how many!) who have been singing together forever.  They are fantastic!  So we got front row seats to see them again!  They not only sing well, harmonize incredibly, but also make all the band sounds with their mouths.  Percussion, horns, crazy sound effects – all done in an awesome fast paced show that… well, I guess you can tell I really liked it!  Just before the intermission, one of the SIX, spiky haired Kevin, said he was going to give a CD to someone very special… looked around the front row, and gave it to Cherryl!  He then asked our names, and where we were from.  We told him we were nomads, and lived in our motorhome.  Then during the break we had a nice couple ask us about motorhome living- so we got to meet some new friends!  A great concert!

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Silver Dollar City

My favorite attraction in Branson is Silver Dollar City, a very cool amusement park themed in the 1880’s.  There are world-class roller coasters, other rides for all ages, and lots of old-time shops.  Blacksmiths, carpenters, leather workers and more work at their trades and answer questions about how things were done back then.  It is very hard to ignore fun things like funnel cakes, pecan rolls and sourdough bread.  You might even find some great ice cream…  What is most appealing about the place it its wholesome atmosphere… there seems to be just a warm friendly vibe; patriotic and Christian, but definitely not pushy.  Very nice.

 

 

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One machine from the 1880’s surprised me- a device to make dovetail joints…

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There are lots of animals in the park too.  Here is a Western Mediterranean donkey, said to be probably like the one Mary rode to Bethlehem.  This one made this blog because she shares my sister Lori’s birthday.  But thankfully that is about all they have in common…

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Marvel Cave

The start of Silver Dollar City is actually Marvel Cave.  Indians found it by mistake in the early 1500’s when one of them fell in the opening and was never seen again.  When they saw “steam” rising from a cave opening, they decided it was an evil place.  They notched the trees all around to warn other Indians to stay away.  This accounts for the fact that almost no Indian artifacts were found in the cave, unlike most caves in the area.  Starting in the late 1800’s there were tours offered, if you didn’t mind climbing down a long rope, a 70 foot ladder, and then wearing special leather overalls with reinforced rear ends as you scooted down a huge debris field.  This would get you to the bottom of the Cathedral Room, which is the largest cavern room in the country.  From there you could explore by candlelight, and when done use a pickaxe to hike back to the ladder and rope.

By the mid 1900’s stairs had been installed, and a better exit built, and tourism soared.  To entertain people as they waited in line, shows were put on.  Then more exhibits, and more shows, and it expanded over the decades into what is now Silver Dollar City.  So really, SDC is the waiting room for cave tours!

The cave is visited by heading down 500 or so stairs, into the Cathedral room.  This room is about 20 stories high; a room so vast that the Statue of Liberty could stand upright (If she could get down the stairs).  Then, through the Serpentine passage, and down to a long  waterfall into an underground lake.   From there you climb a little bit, and get on a train to take you out the back of the cave and back up top.

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This picture may be hard to interpret: there is a four or five story stair tower, then a trail and stairs to take you to the bottom of this 20 story tall room.

 

Except.  When a lady in the tour ahead of you has a medical problem at the very bottom, your tour has to wait partway through, watch the emergency people go past you, and eventually have your tour cut short and reverse direction.  So no train to the top… lots of climbing up stairs!  We never did hear about the lady at the bottom.  Hope she’s not still there!

 

 

 

 

Edison / Ford Estates and a New Chapter

Edison / Ford Estates

By the mid- 1880’s, Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor, and frankly, was doing very well for himself.  He came to Fort Myers, Florida, not only for relaxation but for a tropical location for his research.  He was an avid botanist, and was seeking (among many other things) to find plants that could be a source for rubber.  He tested over 17,000 plants, and finally settled on Goldenrod.  Who would have guessed it?

Anyway, he purchased some riverfront property, and built it into a beautiful estate.  The only existing structure was enlarged to become the caretaker’s house and garages.  He built a pier extending almost a quarter mile into the river to a spot deep enough for ships bringing building supplies.  A beautiful two story home was built, a large lab building, and even a pool and pool house.  Not surprisingly, the estate had electric power, supplied by his own generators.  He was hoping to electrify all of Fort Myers, but that didn’t happen for another decade.

Here is the caretaker’s house and the garages:

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The remains of the pier; used first for supplies, then sports boating:

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The main house:

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The “Midnight Garden”, originally featuring flowers that looked best at night:

 

Even some original wicker furniture from Edison’s time:

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Henry Ford was one of Edison’s employees as a young man. Later on they became strong friends, and Ford often visited Edison in his Florida estate.  The owner of the house closest to Edison’s property decided to sell, and he knew Henry Ford was a friend and frequent visitor of Edison.  He told Ford he’d really like to sell only to him, so the friends could be close.  Ford bought not only the house, but all the furnishings, ready to move in. Edison would spend a few months a year in his southern estate, but Ford usually only came down a couple of weeks, mostly around Edison’s birthday.

Ford’s house:

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Ford’s estate had been named “The Mangoes” for the huge number of very fruitful mango trees, but there were plenty of oranges and other “exotic” fruit trees. The properties have beautiful views of the river, and plenty of Palm Trees and flowers.  An astounding variety of orchids grace the property.

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Ford tried a few times to start automobile companies before he got it right… he left one of them, the Henry Ford Company, after only three months, because he didn’t like where the company was headed.  After he left, it was restructured, and renamed “Cadillac”.  The  first Cadillac was a 10 hp car, pretty much a Henry Ford design.

 

Edison’s large lab has been moved to Ford’s Museum of American Innovation, but a “smaller” lab is still here:

 

The museum is fabulous.  Thomas Edison was going deaf as he grew older, but still insisted on listening to and approving all music to be recorded and sold on his phonographs.  He found if he could bite the wooden frame holding the phonograph, he could hear the music.  It made me think of my favorite deaf jazz singer! (Love you Mandy!)

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Of course the Model T is what made Henry Ford famous: he literally changed the world with this car! This particular car was a gift from Ford to Edison.

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Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone liked to go camping and explore the Everglades.  They built a “Motorhome” on a Ford Model T.  It had a tank for water, and a few drawers for supplies, and when the drawers were removed there might have been a bit of space inside! Notice the stove and picnic basket beside the motorhome:

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Speaking of motorhomes… that brings me to:

Our Next Chapter…

We have sold our beautiful boat, GRACE.  We had an awesome time living on the water, but it was causing the dollars to flee my retirement account too rapidly.  We decided it was time to change the adventure a bit…  So our next nomadic home has wheels!  We have now moved aboard a big ole’ motorhome.  Quite different from Henry’s Model T.

Last week I talked about Frank Lloyd Wright’s design principles for his Usonian Houses. Our motorhome mimics these concepts in some ways:

He loved long horizontal lines.  The motorhome is very linear, and all the air conditioners and antennae are hidden from view so the lines remain clean. The entryway is rather tight, making you slightly uncomfortable and compelling you to go farther in.  When you round the corner and see the living area, it is much wider and far more open, almost making you say “Wow!”  This is where you are supposed to relax and feel like staying.  This is both the living and dining areas, with the kitchen right opposite. The kitchen area is small, but at least the cook is close to others in the living area.  The home has most of the furniture built in, so there’s little room for rearranging it! There is lots of indirect lighting, and the attempt is to let the nature outside be the focus. The bedroom is smallish (but still has room for a King Sized bed).  Does that sound like my description of Wright’s design? Yes, because I almost copied it from last week’s blog!

Ok, our new home differs significantly from a Usonian House, starting with the fact that it has wheels!  It has a large diesel engine to push it around, so the view always changes.  We actually have a bath and a half, which is more than Wright put in the Florida house.  It drives beautifully, and gets pretty good mileage for a house!

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So the months of research into portable housing has finally culminated in a 2017 Newmar Dutch Star.  Maybe I’ll put up a page about it like I did about Grace, in case folks have questions.  Like the boat, it sometimes feels VERY LARGE, like when you back into a tight spot… and sometimes it feels SO SMALL, when you try to fit everything you own inside!

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We get Library Cards!

When our dear friend Giny asked how nomads get library cards, we replied that we still had our cards from Colorado, and would use them till they found out we don’t live there anymore.  But we got to thinking… what if they did find out (don’t tell!) – we could have our library cards revoked!  So we stopped by the library in Green Cove Springs, where our mailing address is, and got shiny new Floridian library cards!  Of course we can only use them for eBooks and Audiobooks, but that is a great asset.  We also got to pose as Astronaut and Space Alien, and had the librarian take our picture.  What a day!

 

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Chasing the Next Horizon

From now on, we will be searching for our next horizon on land… we hope you will follow us there!