Driving through Nebraska and Kansas we kept seeing these interesting plants but didn’t know what they were. The bottoms look like corn stalks but the tops were definitely not corn – more like big bushy cattails. Finally Kathy consulted the interwebs and discovered that the plant in question was sorghum. I’ve eaten sorghum but didn’t know what the plant looked like. News you can use!
Shortly after we stopped to take the photo of the sailboat in the previous post, we stopped at a roadside park to take a photo of a covered bridge. The covered bridge paled in comparison to what was across the road!
I don’t even know what to call this. It was definitely a facade of some kind, but I’m not sure what it was hiding – the Google satellite view is inconclusive, and we didn’t cross the road to investigate. It was a little creepy, actually. But made for some interesting photographs! 😉
Someone appears to have a lot of time on their hands and a very active imagination!
You never know what you will come across while exploring some random back road. No idea what the story behind this boat is, but it was sitting alongside a gravel driveway a quarter mile or so from a really nice lake.
“We must take all resources under consideration; all resources, because they relate fatefully to our life on earth, reflect certain grandeurs , and deserve not only our attention, but our reverence. Hence, while it is as essential as ever to protect the National Parks and Wilderness Areas, it is also essential that we protect the forests, the crops, the minerals, and the oceans, and it is essential that we preserve the purity of the air we breathe and the water we drink.” – Ansel Adams
Several of the commenters on my previous post mentioned the excessive-ness of the huge cottages on Lake Geneva. Kathy & I did find a few that would be more reasonably sized, assuming you could afford the lot. The top image is just the boat house for a larger mansion. The A-frame would be just about right, I think. Anyway, wanted to show what the folks on my side of the wealth curve would buy if we could! 😉
One of the highlights of our visit to Wisconsin was a cruise on Lake Geneva with our friends Jeff and Mary Pat. The cruise featured a look at the numerous “summer cottages” that surround the lake. They ain’t like any “cottages” I’ve ever seen, and would make a lot of the so-called “mansions” around Lake Norman look like guest houses.
I didn’t attempt to document them all, but I did take some photos of some of the most noteworthy ones. It was a nice cruise, a pleasant afternoon with fun people. Good weather and smooth sailing! 🙂
Our first overnight stop on the return home from Wisconsin took us to the town of Jasper, Indiana. We chose Jasper primarily because it was just about the right distance for the day, but also because it looked like it had an interesting downtown area for us to check out.
I was initially attracted by the fact that Jasper has a train station, but we noted that the train station was an anchor for a new mixed-use development called River Centre. A brand new Fairfield Inn sits along the Patoka River and is connected to the Jasper Riverwalk, a 4.5 mile multi-purpose trail that connects several businesses and restaurants, and winds through a scenic section along the river.
Across the river from River Centre and connected by a very nice steel bridge is the historic Jasper City Mill. The current mill building is a replica of a mill that was established on the site in 1817 and was in operation until 1933. Among the customers of the mill is said to have been Thomas Lincoln and his son Abraham Lincoln, who bartered goods for corn meal in 1828.
We got into town late and left early, and it was a Sunday so not too many businesses were open. But we got a good look at the town – enough to determine that it would be worth a re-visit. It is “on the way” to a lot of places we hope to visit, so we will be sure to add Jasper to the itinerary on a future road trip!
It’s not often we get to stay at a brand-new hotel. It’s even more rare to be the very first people to stay in a hotel room. But that was our experience at The Sessions Hotel in Bristol, VA. The hotel had just opened a week or so before our visit, and a paper in our room asked for feedback since we were the first ones to occupy the room. Cool!
When we were making our plans to return home from Wisconsin, Bristol was in the right location for our last night’s stay. We had been to Bristol before, but had only stayed at the usual next-to-the-freeway chain hotels. When I searched on hotels, one of the search results was ‘The Sessions Hotel, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel’ by Marriott in downtown Bristol. The price was a little higher than the freeway-side options, and the location was shown as being right in the center of town. Whenever possible we like to be “in town” so we can walk to dinner and shops instead of searching for a place to park. So what the heck?
Bristol is a historic town situated on the VA/TN border. In fact the VA/TN state line runs right through the middle of State Street, the main street through town. Bristol’s primary claim to fame is as the Birthplace of Country Music, so named because of “The Sessions,” recording sessions that took place in Bristol in 1927. These recording sessions launched the widespread appeal of musicians who, up until that time, had been known only locally in the areas where they performed.
According to the Marriott website, the Tribute Portfolio is a collection of boutique hotels designed to reflect the character of the city in which they are located, operated independently but under the Marriott umbrella. Each hotel has its own theme, decor and vibe.
The hotel occupies three buildings that previously housed a mill and warehouse. The public spaces and rooms were all designed around the theme of The Sessions. Music-inspired artwork, furniture and accessories abounds in the public areas, and each room is uniquely decorated with the theme of a specific recording.
From the hotel website:
“Situated in the heart of the Birthplace Of Country Music, our boutique hotel is named after the 1927 Sessions made by Ralph Peer and a few others. Bristol’s energetic passion for country music is reflected throughout the hotel’s thoughtful décor with curated pieces and musical offerings. Experience a free-spirited environment in repurposed buildings where rustic meets contemporary. Rest comfortably in uniquely designed rooms and suites with exposed brick and modern furnishings. Indulge at Southern Craft restaurant, an upscale wood fired smokehouse, offering award winning barbecue, classic favorites and sides. Sip cocktails on the rooftop bar and lounge by the cozy fire pit overlooking the city of Bristol. Get pampered at the Vision Salon and Day spa with invigorating spa treatments and body rituals. Host a special event in our indoor or outdoor music venues with a music stage or attend one of the concerts at our Bristol, VA hotel.”
Our room was Room 224, which was a Junior Suite. The room was named after the tune “Tell Mother I Will Meet Her,” recorded by Ernest Stoneman. The room number plaque outside the room had a replica of the record label, and in the room was a framed copy of the lyrics. The “Do Not Disturb” sign was a wooden record with “Time For A Rest” imprinted on it.
We didn’t explore the hotel much since we were only there overnight, but we certainly enjoyed our room. We did not, for example, sample the rooftop bar, but we did have breakfast at the adjacent restaurant. A lot of the amenities were still being finalized, as there were still painters touching up some of the rooms and hallways during our stay. Our conversation with the manager indicated that there are plans for an outdoor music venue and other additions in the near future.
Overall the hotel was nicely done. The decor and furnishings are of high quality, and the bathroom is the kind that makes you want to call a bathroom remodeler as soon as you get home! The hotel is a couple of steps above the typical “chain” hotel, and just the kind of thing that Kathy & I look for when we’re looking to get away but don’t want to drive too far. Bristol isn’t exactly known as a foodie mecca, but we don’t consider ourselves foodies anyway. There are plenty of unique, interesting and local places to eat – just the kind of place we look for. Who could pass up a hotdog or two from a place called the Earnest Tube (as in the musician Ernest Tubbs) or a place called The Angry Italian? We did pass them up this time, but would definitely put them on the agenda for another visit!
Bristol and The Sessions Hotel is definitely on our short list of places to return to when we are looking for a few days away. We hope they can start the live music back up soon. It would be a great place to visit this fall when things cool down and the leaves heat up!
“Big Things In A Small Town” That is Casey’ Illinois’ claim to fame, and the reason we stopped off on our way home from Wisconsin. Scattered around the downtown area of this town of about 3,000 located just off I-70 between St. Louis and Indianapolis. Casey only has one traffic light, and most everything is walking distance from the center of town.
Casey holds eight Guinness records, including giants such as largest wind chime, golf driver, knitting needles, giant chair, giant mailbox, wooden clogs, rulers and giant bird cage, constructed by businessman Jim Bolin.
We didn’t visit all of the attractions, and unfortunately didn’t try the ice cream 🙁 but we did do a pretty reasonable job of visiting the sights.
For our drive from Wisconsin back to Charlotte, we decided to stick completely to back roads. Taking 2 1/2 days to make a drive that many would make in 1 is just the way we roll. We encountered a number of interesting places along the way, some planned, many unexpected.
Case in point is our stop in Dwight, Illinois. We were attracted to Dwight because of the old Texaco gas station that is associated with Route 66. While at the gas station, I spoke with the docent there who encouraged me to visit some of the other landmarks in town, including the historic railroad depot. Never one to pass up a railroad depot unknowingly, we headed into town.
In addition to the depot, there is a bank building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a building that once housed an at-that-time famous treatment center for alcoholism. We couldn’t find the windmill or the church immediately and decided to not take more time looking.