Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Museums’ category

Natchez, Mississippi

My friend, Rhett Riplinger, told me Natchez is a great and interesting town, so I spent a couple of days exploring. Still I left a lot undone. I walked around downtown and along the riverwalk. Then I saw a little horse and carriage with a man standing beside it in front of the old train station. I hustled over just in time. Within a couple of minutes I realized this guy was going to be a classic, and I started the recording app on my phone. He grew up here, adding a lot of color commentary, but he knew his history…..although some may have been embellished.

There was the ‘Hanging Tree” at the court house and old jail, where paranormal stories abound. There are Clan stories. Bowie’s Tavern has an old bar where Kit Carson inscribed his name. Sam Bowie, born in Kentucky, grew up across the river, gaining fame in the “Sandbar Fight” in the middle of the Mississippi River. He was shot twice and stabbed three times, once in the sternum with a sword cane. With the sword sticking out of his chest, he grabbed his opponent’s shirt, killing him with his large sheath knife.

The Natchez Indians had settled this site on a high bluff above the “Father of Waters” for 1,000 years before the Europeans came. Probably the “Mississipians” had been there long before. When De Soto came in 1540 with 600-700 armored and mounted soldiers, the Natchez “Sun God”, Quigualtam, had heard how he had treated Indians along his journey. De Soto sent emissaries several times asking for treasures and surrender. On his last attempt, he said he was the father of the Sun and was more powerful than the chief. Quigualtam told him to prove it by drying up the river. When that didn’t happen, the Natchez chased and raided De Soto all the way to the Gulf.

The Mississippi originates in Lake Itasca in Minnesota, traveling 2300 miles to the Gulf, which makes it the third largest watershed in the world. It carries a half million pounds of sediment every day. Over the eons, it is responsible for making what is now south central United States. From “Guide to The Natchez Trace Parkway” by F. Lynne Bachleda. It remains a relatively untamed river.

Samuel Clemens spent a lot of time in Natchez. My tour guide told the story of Clemens being invited to the 1st Presbyterian Church. Before the service, he noticed the Slave Gallery upstairs. He tried to go up there to join them, but couldn’t find the way up. It was said that was one of the inspirations for “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn”, where the kids fake their death on the river and view their funeral from the rafters. Later he was asked what he thought of heaven and hell. He said he didn’t want to comment because he had friends in both places.

Natchez was a rich town before the Civil War, with river transportation, lumber and cotton being the primary businesses. After the war, times were different. A lot of the shipping business went to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The transition from slavery and today didn’t always go easily. I visited the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. You could spend the rest of your life reading all the books in that museum. I was their only visitor that afternoon, and was given a guided tour that lasted three and a half hours. I was thankful, but exhausted. History is rich here. We discussed recent issues we have had in Charlottesville, or what I call “Statue City”. They said it could have easily happened in Natchez. Diving back to camp, I couldn’t help but think of how terribly the Native Americans fared. Yet we hear little of it today.

Natchez State Park was a great place for me to stay. It was quiet with a good staff and good facilities.

Natchez Trace Meriwether Lewis Campground to Ross Barnett Reservoir

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Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi includes a museum and beautiful grounds. “When Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto passed through this area in 1540, he encountered an established Chickasaw Indian civilization nestled in the wooded hills and valleys. The Chikasaw, who had a reputation as fierce fighters, ultimately drove de Soto westward toward the Mississippi River, the ‘discovery’ for which he is perhaps most famous.’ from Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway by F. Lynne Bachleda. De Soto came with 700 armed men on horseback. It is a story of torture, enslavement and murder.

Tupelo is also the sight of a battle in the French and Indian war, with the Chickasaws joining the British. There was also a Civil War battle here. The town was originally named for the native Tupelo tree. It was home of the Chickasaw and Choctaws for thousands of years. Mud Creek and Town Creek intersect here, and there are many surrounding lakes, so it was a good area for hunting, fishing and planting for the native Americans. As with most places, there is much more to see in Tupelo.

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I visited the Chicasaw Council House at Pontatok, where tribal chiefs and leaders met in the 1820’s to adopt laws and treaties (that would not be good). This area also marks the National Trail of Tears. When all was said and done, the European settlers took their land and marched them to Oklahoma. The good news is that many return to their homeland for annual ceremonies.

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As Ed Brownfield reminded me, President Jefferson made the Trace a mail route and more of a road between Nashville and Natchez, which took them about two weeks to ride the 450 miles. It was a difficult, lonely and dangerous road. The white man’s use of the trail was to take their crops and goods down the Ohio or Tennessee Rivers on wooden rafts to the Mississippi and to Natchez. They would sell everything, including the wood from their raft. Then they would either ride or walk the Trace back to Nashville or into Kentucky. Since they were flush with cash, they were easy targets for bandits, especially in the sunken areas. They would sometimes travel in groups for safety, but that often slowed travel.

kaintucks

from: https://www.scenictrace.com/follow-the-path-of-the-kaintucks-on-the-natchez-trace/

 

Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We went to visit Falling Waters, a summer house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family, owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. The property on Bear Run was once a country club. Then Kaufmann bought it for his employees to use in the summer, who paid $1/night to stay. There were cabins and activities of hiking, swimming, volleyball and fishing. Later Kaufmann asked Wright to design a house across from waterfalls on Bear Run. Wright pushes to build it over the waterfall. It is a very cool house with cantilevered balconies and patios, and steps from the living room down to the river. A small swimming pool was built as part of the house filled by the stream. I loved the huge fireplace with a steel grate and a giant kettle that swings into the fire to make warm beverages. It would be great fun to walk the beautiful grounds, but the rains came and we retreated.

After lunch, when the storm passed, we hiked the Fernwood Trail through the Peninsula. This was once built up with a hotel, boardwalks and other businesses, but once cars became prevalent, train travel to Ohiopyle dropped off and the hotel closed. Later all the buildings were removed and trees replanted. It is now a forest with only trails crossing it. For all the visitors who come here, they have preserved the wilderness feel. When you are on the river, you don’t see any signs of civilization. Ohiopyle is a cute, little town with outfitters for rafting, biking, climbing and fishing. The park is 20,500 acres of forest, streams, the Youghiogheny River, The Greater Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 mi) and lots of other trails. This is surely one of the best state parks I have visited. 

The Royal British Columbia Museum

 

October 18, 2017

On a very rainy day in Victoria, we went to the Royal British Columbia Museum. It was a bit difficult to find parking since the truck wouldn’t fit in the parking garage, but we found something a few blocks away. We checked our rain gear and started on the first floor, which is all about people of British Columbia and their varied backgrounds, pictures and stories. There is a great display of the wildlife of BC, so real you think you are there. You can walk through the HMS Discovery, Captain James Cook’s ship, as it landed in a First Nation town to replace a mast. Then you can walk through a recreated town of the 1800’s.

I was particularly interested in the Natural History section that gave great descriptions and displays of how previous climate changes affected animal, plant and human life. There were excellent displays of today’s climate change with our warming planet. Some areas will turn into deserts as fires and heat destroy trees and plants. Different insects and animals will move into these areas that formerly wouldn’t survive the cold. There was a display of how the Mastodon had tusks and teeth perfectly suited for digging through snow and eating moss and lichens. As the climates warmed, they couldn’t adapt to other foods. Rising waters will also affect our landscapes, and warming waters will affect fish populations.

For me, the First Nations section was the best. Great displays showed how they made fish traps, carved bones for tools, cut stone for arrow points, wove goat wool for clothing, made clothes and rugs from skins, made canoes and much more. The totem pole display was awe-inspiring. Martha kept coming back to get me to come along. This is the best I have ever seen. I think it is a shared endeavor with the First Nations.

We had a bit of lunch in their little restaurant, then went into the iMax theater for a 4-D movie of Henry Bates’ research in the Amazon for 11 years in the 1850’s. The screen is four stories high, and you feel yourself looking up into trees and down to the forest floor. It is so life-like, and the photography is incredible and so is the true story. The acting is superb. How could a young man and his friend, Alfred Russel Wallace go to the Amazon in the 1850’s, tramping through such a dangerous forest looking for bugs? If the other three movies are nearly this good, I’d like to see them all.

The Royal BC Museum is a wonderful museum. I hope I get to return.

Travel to Hayburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake

September 22, 2017

We drove through University of Idaho, where our friend, Karen Human, went to graduate school. It is a beautiful school in a beautiful area, and Moscow is a cute, little university town.

On the edge of town, we visited the Appaloosa Museum. These horses were likely brought by the Spanish, but their heritage goes back thousands of years, probably originating in China. The Nez Perce developed this breed along the Palouse River and throughout their region. Their traits are they have a great disposition and work well with children and all members of the family. They are strong, durable and very fast.

In the war of 1877, Cheifs Joseph, White Bird and Looking Glass and a small band of women, children and men managed to outrun the army for four months over 1500 miles, partly because of the Appaloosa horse. There was a map in the museum showing the routes of the Nez Perce or the Palouse tribe, the army chasing them, and also the routes of Lewis and Clarke.

Lewiston

September 20, 2017

On a rainy morning, we went to the Hell’s Gate Visitor’s Center and watched an excellent movie about Lewis and Clarke’s crossing the Rockies in Idaho. Then we read the plaques and pictures throughout the center and looked at a big relief map showing their incredible journey through these huge mountains in the snow. They never would have made it without Sacagawea or the help of so many Native Americans along their whole journey. It would be fun to ride horses along their route. I don’t know how they made it in 11 days, but they almost died.

We went to the very nice Lewiston Library to post and pay bills. It is worth the trip just to see all their art and statues. We had sandwiches at the Stax Restaurant, which was quite good, then went down the block to the Nez Perce Museum. I was disappointed that only a small part was about the Nez Perce Indians, but realized this is Nez Perce County, so it was more about history of the county. The Nez Perce were instrumental in saving Lewis and Clarke’s expedition only to be persecuted by the Army years later, stripped of their lands and forced to cross the same treacherous mountains in spring high waters to a reservation in Montana.

On a rainy, cold afternoon, we took the afternoon off, read and watched a movie.

Museum Day

Horseback riders on the beach

Boats salmon fishing

Beach for miles and miles

Looking across the bay of Columbia

Mouth of the Columbia River

Size of this huge river is awesome. Three ooats in the middle are commercial fishing boats

The bridge

Thursday, Aug 17, 2017

I had one day to explore the area. I wanted to see Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1806, but I visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center on the Washington side first. It was much more than I expected, leading you through their incredible journey as you walk down a hallway. It was very cool, chocked with so much information, by the time I got to the bottom, I had adsorbed all I could. But I enjoyed looking at the boats, clothes and all the journals. I didn’t realize Jefferson employed trainers for Lewis at the White House for two years.

Jefferson knew their trip would open the west to trade. Just 50 years later, the great western migration would begin, and 100 years later, there would be a ban on hunting elk, as they were almost gone. It is incredible how much happened in such a short time. When Lewis and Clark crossed, the plains were covered with buffalo, deer, antelope and bear, and the Sioux ruled. Without the help of a number of Indian tribes, they would not have made it.

By the time I explored the park and museum, I was starving, so I stopped and got lunch. Thankful to be well-nourished as I crossed that 4-mile bridge. I realized I could never have been a fighter pilot. It just makes me light-headed trying to stay in my narrow lane, not look around and get across that bridge. Whew! I was headed for the Maritime Museum in Astoria, It’s a great one! I started with a 3-D movie about hurricanes. The northwest gets rains, storms and hurricanes off the mighty Pacific.

I found the most interesting part to be about the tremendous forces the collide at the mouth of the Columbia, especially in the 1800’s before dams and the jetty were built. It is called Cape Disappointment and Deception Bay. A huge amount of fresh water comes to the sea with great forces. They meet in a place where the weather can change in an instant. There are shifting sandbars caused by these swirling waters. As a result it is called the Graveyard of the Pacific where 2,000 ships have wrecked. Many great sailors couldn’t even find the bay. Then they had to wait for the tides to be just right, sometimes waiting for a week.

Today, the once mighty Columbia has a bunch of dams on it. In the United States it is more like a very long lake that is so important for shipping. Locks move ships between lakes. Lighthouses mark the opening, and a jetty was built that helped prevent sandbar changes. Still today, the coastguard is busy in a sometimes frightening environment. With so many fishing boats as well as tankers, a lot can happen when the seas get up. The big ships are ushered in by harbor pilots, and then there is a change of pilots at the mouth of the river on their way out. Loading and unloading the pilot is frightening enough to watch!

Back at camp, I needed to wash laundry, fix dinner and prepare for the drive to Vancouver tomorrow. People gathered at the table, mostly to discuss the day’s fishing adventures. I got the laundry started, took a shower and thought I would just stop by to say hello. I managed to go back and forth to get the laundry done, but the conversation was good and so were the ordouvress. I was getting ready to leave when they all headed to the dining hall for a potluck dinner celebrating Jean’s birthday. Buzz said, “Come on”. It was a great dinner and more great conversation.

Buzz and Dave got their four fish for the day. Tony got his, but some came up empty-handed. We talked about rods and reels, and as usual, everyone used something different. Different baits, lures and lines.

This is a great place with a great group of people, but it is all coming to an end. Don and Jean have sold the place, and the new owners take over in November. It will be their private residence right on the river’s edge. Everyone is looking for a new place, but they are unlikely to find a place like this one. As dinner wound down, we exchanged email addresses. I would love to know what happens.

Biking Lititz in Lancaster County

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59℉ at 6:00 am with high of 82

Sunday, October 30, 2016

We have enjoyed our neighbors so much. A young couple from Alabama, Page and Jeremy. They were packing up to leave, so we visited some more and said our goodbyes. Then we loaded Martha’s bike to go for a bike ride in Lititz. While waiting for Martha to get ready, I talked with gentleman hooking up a Nissan Titan to his giant trailer. He was in the horse business and used to haul horses all over, driving diesel dually trucks. I said I was worried about my transmission since I downshift so much on big hills, but he said it is a lot harder on the truck if you don’t downshift. Like me, he was worried about it being enough truck to pull the trailer that weighs 7,600 pounds, but he said it does great. He hardly knows the trailer is there, and he loves the engine. He said he measured his gas mileage at 19.5! I don’t measure mine very often, but it’s more like 15. 

We drove through the cute little town of Lititz, where a lot of shops were open on Sunday, and it was pretty busy when we drove in. I thought we were biking in a park, but Martha handed me a piece of paper with 28 turns on it and the mileage between turns – Sheez! We rode right up main street with cars parked on both sides and traffic coming through. A few turns later the route carried us along a pretty stream and past beautiful farms and some very expensive houses. Then it came out on a busy highway with a narrow bike lane. I wasn’t happy. Then through neighborhoods and back down main street. I felt like the Amish driving their buggies – fortunate to have survived. 

Then we drove across the county to the Toy Train Museum, which is very cool. It is built and maintained by toy train enthusiasts. Built like a train station, it seems to be in the middle of farm country. We chatted with the nice lady behind the desk before paying the senior rate with a AAA discount, of $5 each. There were maybe 21 different exhibits or setups, some with small trains and some with large. Pushing buttons, you could activate a train or equipment. A little boy was telling his mom all the details of what was going on in an exhibit. He was so excited. A bent old gentleman was doing the same with his patient wife. The lady at the front said once a year there is a toy train convention. People come from all over the world, bringing the same enthusiasm, trading and buying cars and accessories. 

Next to the museum is a caboose hotel where you can stay in one of a whole bunch of cabooses. What a cool idea. As we drove through to the far end, we heard a train whistle. There is a little train station there, but this train didn’t stop today. It was a sightseeing train with many cars and a lot of people touring Amish country. This would be a great way to see it. 

It was supposed to rain today, but it hadn’t come when we got back. I wanted to go out to the ridge road at sunset and take some pictures, but by the time we showered, the rains came in hard with a lot of wind. We settled in with a glass of wine and listened to one of the Neil Young CD’s I bought from Ken.

Centre D’Interpretation Archéo Topo

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Topo means story. This museum is situated at the ferry that crosses the St. Lawrence to Trois Pistoles, which by the way was named for a silver goblet that was lost in the river. It was worth three pistoles (Spanish gold coins). Walking in we met Martin, a man of French and Innu heritage, who has a great sense of humor. Surprised to have walked into a coffee shop/gift shop, I began looking at a couple of taxidermy displays. I read about the world-class taxidermy collection. Surely there was more than this. After Martin finished joking with me, we paid $5 each and followed him into a movie room. He sat on the table and for a while explained his heritage and the native heritage of the region. Although his English was pretty good, I had a hard time getting everything. Native Americans have been here since the Ice Age began its retreat, but there was no scientific evidence until Louis Gagnon devoted 20 years to researching the area. The museum tells his incredible story and houses many of his findings. It also tells the story of how difficult it was to travel and survive in the area, showing many of the ways plants and animals were used for medicines and foods. It is not a big museum, but we found we just could not absorb it all in one visit.

The next room is filled with incredible taxidermy displays of so many of the animals and fish of Cote-Nord. Brilliantly done!

You can click on any picture to see a larger view and/or to comment. I have never seen a mink, but these little rascals look soooo cute!

Frederick Remington Art Museum

We drove 35 miles to Ogdensburg so Martha could get online and pay bills and we wanted to go to the Remington Art Museum. My bike brakes needed help also. All drives along the St. Lawrence River seem to be scenic byways, and this was certainly a pretty drive, although this area is very dry, and I AM SO TIRED OF HOT!!! Although very pleasant early, it got up to 93 degrees. I can’t imagine what it is back home. Still don’t have WIFI and I have used up most of my phone data for the next seven days, so I can’t really do emails or surf the net. 

We found the public library so I left Martha there and went to Crow Bike Rental and Repair where I met Betsy. Her repair guy was at the warehouse, but she suggested leaving the bike while we go to the museum. then she suggested “The Busy Corner” for lunch and to take the River Walk. What a nice lady! By the time I got back to the library, Martha was ready for lunch. “The Busy Corner” is a great little place where you can’t pay with credit card because that 3% charge is probably a big part of their profit margin. 

The Remington Museum is great. A small museum in a beautiful house, which was donated. Our guide, Frank, gave us a good history about the house as well as Remington and his wife. I love western art and horses, so this is right up my alley. I also love dental laboratory work, so I was fascinated by the technique for casting bronze. The paintings were very cool, and interesting to see that he struggled with colors and mixing colors. His paint kit looked like something you could buy at the Dollar Store. I couldn’t believe they let me take pictures, as most museums don’t allow it. I almost felt guilty about it, so I was just snapping pictures knowing I didn’t have a lot of time. I would love to go back.

Tomorrow being a travel day, we gassed the truck up on the way back to camp and I loaded up while Martha fixed dinner. You can’t carry fruits, fresh vegetables or firewood across the border, so Martha built a fire – despite being about 90 degrees – and cooked potatoes, onions, carrots and pork chops on the fire. 

We ran the air conditioner all night – Sheez!