The Birthplace of Carl Festival

I didn’t make it to last month’s Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Missouri but I did make it to Saturday’s somewhat smaller Birthplace of Carl Festival in Indiana. Well, it wasn’t a festival exactly. It was the dedication of a new monument and by somewhat smaller I mean approximately 100 versus 53000 attendees. The monument dedication took place in the town of Greensburg and the Carl being celebrated was Carl Graham Fisher who was born there in 1874. Fisher was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and an instigator in the founding of both the Lincoln and Dixie Highway Associations. He got his start as a automobile dealer and owner of a company making automobile headlights.

With all those automotive connections it is only natural that many showed up at the dedication. There were some beauties including several Packards which was a brand Fisher drove.

The 1915 Packard that Fisher once owned and used to pace the 1915 and 1916 Indianapolis 500 races sat in front of the Decatur County Museum. The tarp covered monument was close by.

At 12:30 the crowd’s attention turned toward the museum’s front porch and a number of speakers. Among them was the mayor of Greensburg who proclaimed it Carl Fisher Day. The photos I’ve posted are of Allen and Nancy Strong, current owners of Carl Fisher’s Packard and Jerry Fisher, Carl’s great-nephew and author of the biography The Pacesetter.

When the time came for the unveiling, Jerry and his wife Josie moved to the monument and pulled back the tarp. The monument’s text can be read here.

Following the ceremony, I walked to the nearby courthouse where a plaque honoring Fisher was erected in 2014. The sign’s text can be read here and here.

 

Aside from being the birthplace of Carl Fisher, Greensburg is known for the tree growing from its courthouse tower. Some extensive renovation is underway but the tree, not quite visible in the photo, is still there. The last two photos have even less to do with Carl Fisher than the tree topped tower. Greensburg is the only town I know of with an even number of Oddfellows buildings on the town square. Strange.

Positively Pike Street

Last Sunday, a website I follow (Cincinnati Refined) posted an article about a free walking tour in nearby Covington, KY. It sounded promising and my interest level climbed a little more when the information was shared to the Dixie Highway Facebook group. The connection came from the fact that the walking tour was on Covington’s Pike Street and Pike Street once carried the Dixie Highway. On Wednesday I took part in the weekly tour. The picture at right was taken at the end of the tour so I’ll cover it at the end of this post.

The tour start point was at the Kenton County Library on Scott Street just a short distance north of Pike’s eastern end. The Dixie Highway followed Scott and Pike through the intersection. A life sized Abe Lincoln stands at the entrance to the library’s parking lot. Beardless Lincoln’s aren’t as rare as they used to be or maybe they never were as rare as I thought they were. Few, however, show a Lincoln as young as the Matt Langford sculpture unveiled in 2004. That’s one good looking dude.

We met inside the library then walked past Abe to where Pike Street Ts into Scott. There our guide Krysta gave us an overview of the tour and some background on Pike Street. The street takes its name from the Covington and Lexington Turnpike that was chartered by the state in 1834. The street really was something of a commercial and transportation center with railroad freight and passenger terminals being built beside it.

Pike Street jogs south at Madison Avenue then slants off to the southwest. These buildings are in the obtuse angle on the north side of the street. I’ve driven through this intersection countless times and walked through it a few but never thought about how the buildings fit into it until another tour member mentioned it. They are, as the overhead from Google Maps shows, literally wedged in.

As we walked west on Pike we stopped frequently as Krysta told us about specific buildings and people associated with them. Two of the buildings in the preceding photo were included. The short white building in the center was most recently the home of Bronko’s Chili. It is currently being renovated for some unknown purpose. The fancy mosaic arch was added to the building next door in 1929. That’s the year that Casse’ Frocks, the name embedded in the arch, opened several stores in what was intended to be a nationwide chain. October’s stock market crash brought the effort to an abrupt end but no one has seen fit to replace the classy facade in all the years since. An identical storefront still stands on Main Street in Cincinnati.

Frank Duveneck was born in Covington and a statue of the famous artist stands in a small triangle park formed by Pike, 7th, and Washington Streets. We didn’t actually enter the park but we learned a lot about Duveneck’s life with the statue in view. We are standing on Washington Street with Pike then 7th crossing in front of us. Back in the day, Washington was something of a dividing line with stores, restaurants, and taverns to the east and grittier enterprises such as livery stables, distilleries, and mortuaries to the west.

We walked beyond Washington to the middle of the block. The brick building farthest away in the picture is the former passenger terminal. The fence next to us encloses an area where several buildings, including a former distillery where a friend operated a bar back in the 1970s, stood until earlier this summer. Bricks falling from one of the buildings last fall left one person with permanent injuries and sent three others to the hospital temporarily. Safety was a big factor in the decision to demolish the buildings.

It was here that the tour officially ended and most people headed back toward the library. I used some of the time on the walk back to raise the subject of the Dixie Highway. Neither the article where I’d learned of the tour nor the library’s online description gave me any reason to expect the Dixie to be mentioned but, as a fan of the old road, I sort of hoped it would be. Krysta’s answer to my query was simply that they had not spent any time learning about the Dixie Highway. That matched what I was seeing. The focus of the tour and of the guides’ ongoing research was the individual buildings along the street. The beginning comments about the turnpike era were pretty much taken from a marker in that park with Duveneck’s statue. The Dixie Highway thing is minor and somewhat esoteric. The tour’s purpose was to inform participants about the buildings and it did that quite nicely.

Now for that opening picture. I noticed the moon on the walk west but merely gave it a glance. With a fortune teller in the background and without my attention being directed elsewhere, it hooked me solidly on the way back. Swami! How I love you, how I love you!

There Goes the Sun

We just had a total eclipse of the sun and by we, I mean me. The United States, has had total eclipses before but we (i.e., people within shouting distance of me) haven’t. I actually thought we had but that’s clearly not the case. I have a memory of standing on the school playground watching the image of an eclipse created by a pinhole in a piece of paper. Total eclipses have been visible in the U.S. in 1954, ’63, ’70, and ’79. Two of those are within my school years but both took place in the summer (June ’54, July ’63) when classes would not have been in session. But what really stomps on the idea that I’d previously seen a full sized solar eclipse in person is the fact that the 1954 event was visible only in Nebraska, Wisconsin, and neighboring states. The only states caught by the 1963 eclipse were Alaska and Maine. The best explanation I can come up with for my school playground memory is that some group met at the school specifically for the 1954 eclipse and saw about 79% obscuration. Maybe that’s it or maybe not. My recall sometimes reaches 79% obscuration, too.

Last Monday’s eclipse delivered 100% obscuration to fourteen of the United States and partial obscuration to all of them except Alaska and Hawaii. I could have stayed home and had 90.43% obscuration but I wanted to not see the whole thing. Not all complete obscuration is equal, however. NASA identified two “greatest” points. The self explanatory point of Greatest Duration was in Illinois near the town of Makanda. The point of Greatest Eclipse, which NASA defines as “the instant when the axis of the Moon’s shadow cone passes closest to Earth’s center” was in Kentucky near the town of Hopkinsville where most of the 30,000 plus residents embraced the name “Eclipseville”. Hopkinsville is about 240 miles from my home.

Area motel rooms and campsites sold out months in advance. I visited Hopkinsville about 24 hours before the big event but lodged more than 60 miles away in Owensboro. Food and souvenir vendors lined downtown streets and entertainers performed in areas set aside for the purpose. It wasn’t as jam packed and hectic as I had feared and my understanding is that even on the next day, when it was jam packed, it was not terribly hectic. People came to see something not say something.

My plan for eclipse day was to get somewhat close to Hopkinsville then seek out a parking spot on some back road. The Western Kentucky Parkway was busy but tolerable until it neared the Pennyrile Parkway where traffic tightened up in a way that promised congestion from that point on. I turned north (away from the congestion) on Pennyrile, took the next exit, then followed secondary and tertiary roads south to the path of the eclipse about twenty-five miles away.

It really was kind of ridiculous for me to even try photographing the eclipse. Without even considering the pros at NASA and other organization, thousands of real photographers with much better equipment and infinitely better skills would be recording images that would capture the event for all of us to enjoy. I was here because I wanted to experience a total eclipse not because I needed a photograph. But… I got some anyway. I found a spot at the edge of a corn field about fourteen miles from Hopkinsville. It was far enough from population centers to keep my phone from picking up a signal. That’s why the screen capture is for the town of Trenton some two miles distant. I set up my tripod and mounted my camera on top. I snapped on the hood with a welder’s lens duct taped to it. I put on my googles. I took some pictures and I watched something marvelous unfold.

The first picture at right is the very first picture I took. Things had started happening as I parked the car and aimed the camera. A little bit of the sun was already gone by the time of the first shutter click. The photo of totality at the top of this post is sized to minimize fuzziness and to show some of the black sky. Although it does not show up in the photo, a star (or more likely a planet) was quite visible to the right of the sun and moon. A vision of totality with unfettered fuzziness is here. The second picture is my version of the diamond ring effect that appeared as totality ended. The third picture shows the sun starting to reassert itself. The Greatest Eclipse point was about 12 miles west of Hopkinsville or about 26 miles from where I stood. The duration of totality at that point was 160.1 seconds. The point of Greatest Duration, 90 miles beyond, beat that by 0.1 second. At my spot next to the corn it was 159.7 seconds. To paraphrase a slogan from an event that occurs in Kentucky on a more regular basis, it was “The most exciting two minutes in amateur sky gazing.”

Witnessing the sun’s disappearance, the mid-day darkness, and the drop in temperature was definitely exciting. It was also thought provoking. To some it was spiritual. More than anything, though, it was uniting. For a short period the eclipse was at the center of the actions of a huge number of people and the conversations of even more. And almost all of those conversations were quite friendly. Sure, in Kentucky I heard some grumbling about traffic and comments about “crazy Texans who drove all that way for two minutes” but there was no real anger in the grumbling and chuckles accompanied the Texan comments.

It was way short of a “The Day the Earth Stood Still” moment but there was just a tiny glimmer of that “tiny ball in a big universe” understanding. In the diner where I overheard the comment about “crazy Texans”, I also observed one fellow explaining the positions of earth, moon, and sun during the eclipse to what seemed to be a regular breakfast meeting of a local “Liars Club”. He wasn’t breaking new ground or fighting against doubt. All the old timers at that table understood the basics but were just a little foggy on the details.

A few weeks ago I visited some mounds in eastern Ohio that are believed to have been constructed at least partially to study the movements of the moon. On the day of the eclipse I held a device in my hand that, bad reception in the cornfield aside, was capable of telling me the precise effect that two heavenly bodies were about to have on the exact spot I was standing on. I thought of Arthur C. Clarke’s well known statement about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic. It somehow applied but far from perfectly so. I’ve since learned of other lines from other writers that proceeded Clarke’s and may have influenced it. One that seems quite appropriate to me comes from Leigh Brackett’s 1942 The Sorcerer of Rhiannon: “Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned.” Even though, as the latest and loudest news stories often show, plenty of ignorance remains, we really aren’t quite as ignorant as we used to be. I’m guessing that those mounds helped.

There will be another total solar eclipse within range of Cincinnati in 2024 and again in 2045. Those guys in the diner knew about both. There’s a decent chance I’ll be around in 2024 and a very slim but non-zero chance I’ll still be here in 2045. If I am, I hope that someone drags my ancient bones outside and makes sure my chair is facing the right direction.

Competitive Cardboard

New Richmond did it again. On Saturday, folks from near and far were happily “Creating corrugated chaos on the Ohio” at the twenty-fifth Cardboard Boat Regatta. There weren’t quite as many entries as last year but I think last year’s field of 60+ was a record breaker. About five minutes of light rain fell an hour or so ahead of the start but it instantly forgotten and the skies stayed clear for all of the races. That does not mean that competitors stayed dry.

There were twelve heats for the various classes plus the free-for-all “Cardboard Cup” race. Not all of the races started with perfectly formed lines though many did. But cardboard craft clusters were just as likely to form from those perfect lines as from the less perfect ones.

Some of the racing was really serious but many, in fact most, of the competition seemed to involve more creativity than speed.

Construction materials — cardboard, tape, and paint only — remain the same but construction skills have improved considerably and there aren’t a lot of “dissolving” boats anymore. Crews can still end up in the water, however, and that’s when not losing your head is most important.

Posts on previous Cardboard Boat Regattas are here (2010), here (2011), here (2013), here (2015), and here (2016).

Star Wars Costumes

I may have missed attending a traveling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center in the last several years but, if I did, I don’t remember what it was. The museum brings in world class exhibits which I very much appreciate and enjoy. I was, however, rather wishy-washy about Star Wars and the Power of Costume. Still am to some degree. My initial lack of desire came from a lack of familiarity. I guess I’ve been sort of wishy-washy about the whole Star Wars movie franchise beyond the first one. I feared that not knowing all the details of the full story would make it impossible to appreciate the exhibit. That turned out not to be the case at all. My current wishy-washiness comes from the price. As a museum member, attending the exhibit on Friday cost me $17. The regular adult admission is $24 or $16 for age twelve and under.

As I purchased my ticket, a fellow who had just emerged from the display and the fellow printing my ticket, had a brief discussion about how much they had each enjoyed it. One aspect they both liked was that the organization is by “type” rather then chronological. Once inside I very much appreciated that too. Having things displayed chronologically either by story line or movie release sequence (They’re different, you know.) wouldn’t have helped me at all and would likely have confused me.

There are small clusters of similar characters such as androids, empire soldiers, and rebel fighters.

Sometimes a single pair of related costumes are displayed together. Here a couple of different Princess Leia outfits are combined and Chewbacca and Han Solo stand side by side in front of a hyperspace image.

And, of course, some characters seem to just belong alone. Darth Vader masks used for specific scenes are displayed nearby. Bits of Jedi wisdom are projected on the wall behind Yoda.

The last room in the exhibit contains many of the Star Wars toys manufactured by Kenner and tells the story of how the Cincinnati based company ended up with the contract that nobody wanted. The line was incredibly successful and revolutionized the marketing of movie based toys but did not keep the company from being merged into Hasbro in 2000.

I was honestly quite surprised that the exhibit actually made me want to see all nine Star Wars movies. I saw the first Star Wars movie and thought it was great despite feeling that George Lucas had really ripped off Dune author Frank Herbert. I also saw and enjoyed the second and possibly even the third but I don’t think so. Then the whole prequel/sequel thing made me lose interest completely. Now that the story exists in its entirety, my curiosity is coming into play. Besides the more than sixty costumes, the exhibit contains many informative panels and videos. They remind me of something I already knew which is that Lucas borrowed from and/or honored many more science fiction and adventure stories than Dune and he seems to have done a better job presenting the essence of Dune than anyone who has actually used the name. I don’t see myself doing an all day or more binge but maybe I’ll finally get around to watching what everyone’s been talking about for years.


Now I’m going to invent a additional Cincinnati connection. A panel in the Star Wars exhibit states that some of the areas costume designers studied were World War II, Vietnam, and Japanese armor. Cincinnati is home to a serious collector of Japanese armor and the Art Museum has many pieces in its collection. Dressed to Kill, an exhibit of much of this armor, ended about a month ago and I’m going to turn this into an opportunity to post a couple of pictures I took there with my phone under less than ideal lighting. And now I’m going to turn this into an opportunity to mention that all the other pictures in this post were taken with my pocket Panasonic and the lighting for most wasn’t all that good either. Here’s hoping you won’t judge them too harshly.


Traveling exhibits like Star Wars the Power of Costume, are possibly even a little more important now than normal since they and the Children’s Museum are the only public spaces that remain open during the restoration of Union Terminal. Since my last visit. a large window has been opened into the rotunda that permits a view of a portion of the murals there. Reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

Hurrah for Cosmos (repeat)

Some of the blogs I follow repeat a post now and then. Until quite recently, with the exception of an article I’ve posted for the last three elections, I hadn’t. On Easter Sunday, with no ideas handy and no time to develop one if it appeared, I didn’t want to totally ignore the holiday so dug out and re-posted an existing article. This week, as I enjoyed and learned from the recent PBS series The Great War, I remembered another series I had enjoyed and learned from and even blogged about. That series had been about science and the memory made me think about the March for Science that occurred two weeks ago. I honestly can’t decide whether to be disappointed that the education that series provided was incomplete and the march was necessary or encouraged that enough people care about science to make the march possible. Hurrah for Cosmos was originally posted March 16, 2014.


Cosmos: A Personal VoyageBack in 1980, Dr. Carl Sagan wrote a book called Cosmos as a companion to a TV series named Cosmos: A Personal Voyage which he co-wrote and “starred” in. I watched the series and read (and still have) the book. Sagan was a smart guy and a darned good communicator. In the book and the program, he set out to share the scientific community’s knowledge of the universe — the cosmos — with the masses. It’s generally accepted that he did a pretty good job. Until Ken Burns came along with The Civil War series in 1990, Cosmos ranked as the most watched PBS series ever.

Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyNow another smart guy and good communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is trying it again. We, the residents of Earth, have learned quite a bit in thirty-four years. The first episode of a new series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, aired last Sunday, March 9, on the Fox Network and Monday, March 10, on National Geographic TV. Additional episodes will be shown on subsequent Sundays and Mondays until thirteen episodes — same as the original — have been broadcast.

The chances are good that nothing I’ve said so far is news. The original Cosmos is legendary and the new one has been getting a lot of press. That first episode was even preceded by an introduction from President Obama. But there is at least a small chance that, like me, you missed the premier and that’s my excuse for making this post. Here’s my Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode one story.

It was the first TV show I’ve really wanted to watch in years. I got home from Bockfest in plenty of time and was parked in front of the properly dialed in TV as showtime approached. At this point, the accomplishment of a timely return home was nullified by the thing I returned home from. Last week’s post was on the Bockfest Parade which I had attended on Friday evening. I was back at the festival on Sunday and sampled some of the namesake product. With the odyssey start just minutes away, I dozed off.

For many, that would not be a problem. They would have had their DVRs all programmed and the show would have been recorded for viewing later. I have no DVR nor do I have access to National Geographic TV so watching the Monday night broadcast was out. Thankfully, Fox has provided a Cosmos On TV website. where I was able to watch the first episode, “Standing Up In the Milky Way”, as well as the President’s introduction and other related videos. It looks like future episodes will also be available there which I certainly appreciate since I’m guessing I might miss another broadcast showing or two.

It is clearly too early to know if “Cosmos II” will equal “Cosmos I”. There are plenty of connections between the two including the fact that Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, was a co-writer of the first and an executive producer of the second. And there is a Tyson-Sagan connection, too. They first met when the seventeen year old Tyson was researching schools and the world famous scientist gave the aspiring one a personal tour of Cornell. Near the end of his first Cosmos episode, Tyson talks about that day. “I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become”, he says. Tyson also spoke of that day in an interview with Bill Moyers where he recalls thinking “If I’m ever in a position of influence the way he is, then I will surely interact with students the way he has interacted with me, as a priority.” That excellent interview, spread over three shows, is here, here, and here.

The new Cosmos has already received some attention and generated some discussion. I’m confident there will be more and I have hope that it will also have some impact. I don’t believe in miracles but having something on commercial TV that I actually want to watch is mighty close.

 

Remembering Timmy

Tim Goshorn has been gone just over a week. He died of cancer last Saturday. During that week, photos and memories from friends, fans, family, and other musicians have filled the internet. The few photos I have don’t begin to compare with the many great ones I’ve seen and my memories don’t go back as far or go nearly as deep as many. But I do have memories. Lots of them. All good. Most with tapping toes and a big grin.

I didn’t really know who Tim Goshorn was before that day in 1994 when I walked into Tommy’s on Main. Prior to that, I thought of the Goshorn Brothers as Larry and Dan who had teamed up in the Sacred Mushroom in the 1960s. I must have seen Tim play at least once before, though. I had attended one Pure Prairie League concert and I’m sure Tim was on stage that night but it didn’t really register. Although I liked Pure Prairie League’s music and very much appreciated the talents of its members, I was not a big PPL fan. I was a Larry Goshorn fan.

That first night at Tommy’s, Larry and Tim played alone. That continued for a few more nights then PPL drummer Billy Hinds came in with a snare and some brushes. Before long Billy was sitting behind his full kit and bassist Mike Baney and keyboardist Steve Schmidt had joined what always comes to my mind first when I think of the Goshorn Brothers Band. There were other lineups over the years and every one was impressive but the classic Larry-Tim-Billy-Steve-Mike lineup is the one that impressed me most.

It lasted less than two years but it taught me who Tim Goshorn was. A typical week had the GBB playing three nights at Tommy’s and I was often there for at least one of them. Sometimes more. I got to know Tim as an outstanding guitarist and as at least a casual friend. That GBB version ended in December of 1995 when Mike Baney was shot and killed in the parking lot during a robbery.

There were other reasons involved but that murder was sort of the beginning of the end for Tommy’s. The Goshorn Brothers Band continued with various members for many years and I saw them many times. Watching Larry and Tim trade off leads was one of my biggest pleasures. I also saw the duo a lot. A wonderful period for me was when they played Friday evenings at the Golden Lamb’s Black Horse Tavern in Lebanon. They started at 7:00 which meant an old man like me could have a couple beers and hear some great music and still get home before bedtime. It was there that Tim and I helped each other finish off what we think was the only bottle of Buffalo Trace in an Ohio bar at the time.

After brother Larry eased into retirement in 2012, I often saw Tim with the Tim Goshorn Band and the pretty much identical Friends of Lee. I also saw him with other groups and duos. I enjoyed them all. Tim was always entertaining, always seemed to be having a good time, and always made an effort to say hi.

In October of 2014, I saw Tim perform with the current Pure Prairie League. This time his presence registered very much. This time I was a Tim Goshorn fan. I wish I had a better picture. They’re out there. The last time I saw him play was at DeSha’s on US-22. It’s nearby and, as I have on other occasions, I stopped in for one set on the way to somewhere else. I spoke with Tim at the break and actually stayed for a few more songs. Damn, he was good.


My favorite Tim Goshorn song is Colors. The version from the 1994 True Stories (Live at Tommy’s) can be heard via YouTube here. A 2011 Chuck Land produced video of the brothers performing it can be seen here. All the Lonesome Cowboys might be my second favorite (It’s neck and neck with Sun Shone Lightly.) Tim Goshorn song. It opens a nearly hour long 1995 concert video of the original Tommy’s GBB line up (minus Steve) that can be seen here.

Happy Easter Island

This post first appeared last year. I’ve brought it back, with date appropriate updates, due to its uncommon concentration of useful historic facts.

 
eiflagTwo years ago I noted with surprise that Easter and my birthday have coincided only twice in my lifetime. But it has happened several times outside of my lifetime and that includes 1722 when Dutch sailor Jacob Roggeveen came upon a tiny South Pacific island which the residents may have called Rapa. Whether they did or didn’t mattered not a bit to Roggeveen who decided to call the island Paaseiland. Dutch Paaseiland translates to the English Easter Island. The island is now part of Spanish speaking Chili where it is known as Isla de Pascua. Its modern Polynesian name is Rapa Nui.

hcafeiheadThe opening image is the Isla de Pascua flag. The red figure represents a reimiro, an ornament worn by the native islanders. At left is an image more commonly associated with Easter Island. The island contains nearly 900 statues similar to the one in the picture. I’ve never been to Easter Island and have no pictures of my own although there are plenty to be found around the internet. This photo is one I took of an imitation at the Hill County Arts Foundation near Ingram, Texas.

The true significance of the statues, called moai, is not known but we do know that they once outnumbered inhabitants by roughly 8 to 1. The island is believed to have once held about 15,000 people. A number of factors reduced that to maybe 3,000 by the time Roggeveen came along. Contributing causes were deforestation, erosion, and the extinction of several bird species. The population probably remained around 3,000 until 1862 when Peruvian slavers began a series of raids that resulted in about half of that population being hauled away. The raiders were somehow forced to return many or perhaps most of those they had captured but they brought smallpox to the island when they did. Tuberculosis arrived just a few years later and disease, violent confrontations, and a major evacuation reduced the human population to just 111 by the late 1870s. There are currently 887 moai on the island. In the past there may have been more.

Today is the 296th Easter Sunday that Easter Island has been known by that name. The population has grown considerably and is now around 6000 which must make for a much happier island than when barely a hundred hung on. Of course the actual calendar date of the naming (and my birthday) passed more than a week ago. I hope everyone remembered to wish their friends and family a Happy Easter Island Anniversary.

Herding the Wheel Horses South

When a guy with a couple dozen fifty-year old tractors connects with a guy who twice drove from Cincinnati to Los Angeles to get to Kentucky, anyone expecting completely sensible behavior is likely to be disappointed. The guy with an aversion to direct routes is me. The guy with the vintage tractors is Terry Wolfe who first appeared in this blog back in 2014. As mentioned then, Terry collects Wheel Horse tractors. The tractors appear in the Old, Strong, and Fast and A Pretty Fair Week blog posts. Terry exhibits regularly at shows in Portland, IN, Greenville, OH, Arendtsville, PA, and elsewhere. A big show in Florida has long been on his radar but that was a little too far away for regular travel companions including his wife. He suggested it, the dates fit my calendar, and on the morning of February 19 we headed south with a herd of seven Horses in tow.

Although I thought about it, I decided long before departure that I would not attempt a daily journal on this trip. I did Tweet a few photos and comments and hinted at the possibility of a summary blog post. I was far from certain that would happen but here it is: an eight day trip in a single blog post.

We spent Sunday night in a motel south of Atlanta. On Monday we reached my Uncle Eldon’s place near Lake Alfred, FL, and stayed there overnight. Stops here appeared in trip journals in 2012 (Bunkin’ with Unk) and 2014 (Christmas Escape 2014). That’s Terry and Uncle Eldon tossing bread to fish and birds in the last picture.

Our destination was about thirty miles further south at Flywheelers Park where the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club holds several events each year. We drove the final leg on Tuesday and hit the right gate on the second try. The afternoon was spent unloading the tractors and erecting the canopy which was a welcome shelter from both sun and rain over the next few days.

I knew that a high school friend spent a good chunk of each winter in the general area and sent a text during the ride down to see if she was nearby. Tammy and husband Vic weren’t just nearby, they already had their trailer set up in Flywheelers Park and would be part of the show’s flea market. They found us as we were unloading and extended an invitation to dinner which was a pretty cool way to step into an unfamiliar show. Then, a couple of days later, they took us along on a grocery shopping trip to Avon Park. The dinner, the chauffeuring, and the general advice were much appreciated.

The show opened on Wednesday and so did the clouds. In fact the rain was quite heavy at times but the sandy Florida soil dried rather quickly between downpours. We managed to do some sightseeing during the rain-free periods. Terry had selected two of the Wheel Horses for on site transportation and we toured the grounds in style.

Literally hundreds of normal looking golf carts were pressed into service as shopping and sight-seeing vehicles but many of the people carriers were truly part of the show. I saw the single-axle machine occupied and in motion on several occasions but never when I was able to get a picture.

There are quite a few permanent buildings in the park. Many, particularly those in an area called The Village, are made to look like businesses of yesteryear. The show itself is huge with an extremely wide range of vendors and exhibitors. Despite Oliver being the featured brand this year, the largest array of a particular tractor I saw was this field of John Deeres.

Anyone who has seen some of my TripAdvisor reviews may have noticed that I often mention convenience, cleanliness, and comfort in rating my accommodations. With the tractors outside, our bunks in the trailer were certainly convenient and, with some fairly thick air-mattresses, reasonably comfortable. Cleanliness not so much. Breakfast each day was bacon and eggs prepared over a Coleman with other meals usually coming from a grill. The pictured meal is Friday night’s steak dinner. While at first glance, the flashlight illumination might give the appearance of a romantic candle-light dinner, what really happened was that we fired up the generator and turned on a drop light so that two old farts could see to eat.

We cheated just a little on the tear down and were essentially ready to roll when official closing time arrived on Saturday. We made it across the Georgia line for the night and home at the end of a long Sunday. As you can see, there was an unplanned stop on the way but I helped speed things along by staying out of Terry’s way. The reason for the vibration that he had occasionally felt was no longer a mystery. So, yeah, this trip was notably different from most in my recent past but, except for the tractor herding bits, it wasn’t something totally new to me. I’ve done a fair number of destination oriented road trips and will undoubtedly do some more. There was even a period when I did a decent amount of tent camping and another with frequent van camping. My most recent tent camping was a couple of night in Rocky Mountain NP back in 2011. What we did last week was quite similar to my van camping. I enjoyed the differences between this and my typical trip and I don’t at all rule out doing it again. On the other hand, I make no promises or predictions.

Another Christmas Squirrel

Exactly two weeks ago I pulled out of my garage and waited, as I always do, for the door to close behind me. As it rolled down, I glanced up to my left to see a squirrel perched like a sentry at the peak of my condo’s roof. He or she waited as I thrashed around the car for a camera. I found one and hastily snapped an insurance photo through the window in case opening it spooked my subject. No worries. The squirrel held its position as I snapped more pictures through the half-open window. It darted down the roof’s far slope when I finally started moving the car forward.

The scene and the season connected in my mind and reminded me of my four year old My Christmas Squirrel post. The photo at left is quite a bit different from the one leading off that post but some of the key players are there. In particular, the tree, the snow couple, and the merry-go-round are in both.

My recent west coast trip provided an opportunity for a friend to tackle some sorely needed cleaning and repairs in my home. As my return would be just after Thanksgiving, she saw fit to not only expose (for the first time in years) the surface of my dining room table but to give it a Christmasy look. The aforementioned tree and snow people were joined by the basket of small stuffed critters which, while not specifically Christmas creatures, looked very much at home. I added the merry-go-round and brown bear.

The merry-go-round is one my Dad made. The figure I called “My Christmas Squirrel” in that earlier post rides on it. Other than being a toy, there is nothing Christmasy about it and my sister, who also has one, expressed surprise when I mentioned that it was among the things I displayed for the holiday. Makes sense to me, though. There’s also a connection between the bear and my Dad. Dad collected stuffed bears and had a double bed in a spare bedroom covered with them. Xavier Roberts, the guy who created Cabbage Patch Dolls, also made a series of Yonah Mountain Bears and I bought one as a gift for Dad when I stopped by Babyland General Hospital in 2004. After his death, Dad’s bears were divvied up among the grandkids and I accepted the return of the bear with the “Santa’s Favorite” bib. It is now part of my Christmas menagerie. Snowmen and squirrels and bears. Oh my!