The 1908 Great Race from NYC to Paris: Part 3… Way Out West

My posts are few and far between. Part of the reason is the times. There is just too much happening now between the pandemic, the fires, and the election. As noted before, these are scary times, more scary than any other time in my 77 years. The other is that I love research and the Great Race has me fascinated. Just when I think I have exhausted my resources I find another article or more photos. This time it was 350 photos of the race stored in the Henry Ford Museum, a virtual treasure trove. Most of the photos in today’s post are from the museum.

Leaving Nebraska, the flat terrain and rolling hills of the Great Plains gave way to the mountain, deserts and distant vistas of the West while the roads became little more than dirt paths.

As the participants rolled out of Nebraska, they experienced their first real taste of the ‘Wild West.’ The unending farmlands of the Midwest gave way to the drier, open lands and vast vistas of Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. The terrain also changed. The flat and rolling plains the automobilists had been driving through across the Great Plains turned to towering mountains and deserts. The Rockies, the Great Basin and Death Valley lay ahead. Towns and cities became farther apart. People fewer. The already poor roads the racers had been following became little more than tracks in the dirt.

When there weren’t any roads or railroad tracks to follow, participants in the Great Race were left with following emigrant trails.

The animals also got wilder and bigger. The Zust team claimed they were surrounded by a pack of 50 or so wolves that circled their car yipping with anticipation on a dark and stormy night in Wyoming. Blowing the horn and using the spotlight didn’t discourage the hungry predators. They kept circling closer. It was only when the team broke out their rifles and shot several that the wolves decided that they hadn’t been invited to dinner. Local townspeople gathered up the hides the next day and sold them for the bounty paid by the government. The wolves’ taste for an occasional cow would lead to their eventual eradication in the West.

Not everyone made it to the Rockies. Baron Godard, who had driven another car from Peking to Paris in 1907, met his match in Iowa. Between being bogged down in mud and snow, getting lost, and having serious car problems, he decided to ease his journey west by loading his Moto-Bloc onto a train and shipping it to the coast. “San Francisco, here I come!” It broke the rules.

Baron Godard, in the Moto-Bloc in Paris before leaving for the US and the Great Race, shakes hands with well-wishers. Since the Baron had come in second the year before in a race between Peking and Paris, he had high hopes for his NYC to Paris race. They ended in Iowa. An early movie is being filmed here.

A photographer caught the Baron loading the Moto-Bloc onto the rail car. “Quit the race, sell the car, and return home,” the manufacturer telegraphed him. The French, who had started with three entries, were down to one. The greater glory of France now depended on G. Bourcier de St. Chaffray driving the French De Dion-Bouton— which is quite a mouthful to say.

The De Dion-Bouton leaves the Puteaux, France factory outfitted for the Great Race. I believe G. Bourcier de St. Chaffray is driving and Hans Hansen is his passenger. Hans would join the Thomas Flyer team after a hot argument with G. Bourcier that almost came to a Western shootout! Their fast draw was thwarted, however, by the fact the pistols were buried deep under all of the gear.
Monty Roberts, the driver of the Flyer, and Hans Hansen share a laugh.

The Thomas Flyer team had other ideas about who would win the glory. When they reached Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Flyer was a week ahead of its nearest competitor, the Zust. The De Dion was in third. And the Protos fourth. Given the quality of the vehicle, Monty Robert’s driving ability, and George Schuster’s mechanical talent— not to mention sheer determination— the team had been ahead for most of the race. It was a position they had every intention of keeping. The car was about to lose its driver, however. Monty had other race commitments back east and in Europe. He hoped to rejoin the team when it entered Europe to drive over better roads and, I imagine, harvest the fame of crossing the finish line first. E. Linn Mathewson, a Thomson Flyer car dealer, took over the driving from Cheyenne to Ogden, Utah. Harold Brinker, an auto racer out of Denver, drove the car into San Francisco. Schuster would take over then. 

The Thompson Flyer receives a grand welcome in Cheyenne.
E. Linn Mathewson steering the Thomas Flyer. I think that’s a “What have I gotten myself into?” look.
Linn Mathewson shaking hands with his replacement, Harold Brinker, in Ogden, Utah.

Getting into the spirit of the West, George bought a Colt six-shooter pistol before leaving Cheyenne. Who knew what lurked out in the wilds of Wyoming? Wolves or outlaws, perhaps? Best to be prepared.

There would be snow drifts to push the Flyer through…
Brush and mud to conquer…
Ice covered rivers to cross with hopes of not ending up on the bottom…
And high passes to climb over.
It’s no surprise that the teams would need a drink when they reached a town!

Peggy and I had followed the route of the race in Nebraska from Grand Island to North Platte where we spent the night at Buffalo Bill’s ranch as the Flyer had in 1908. We then continued to follow the route to Ogallala where we detoured to follow the Oregon Trail, which early pioneers had used in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. (Posts coming.) I was eager to check out the route that ancestors on both sides of my family had travelled looking for a better life— either by farming in the Northwest or striking it rich in California. So, we missed Cheyenne. We rejoined the race route for a brief time, however, between Rock Springs and Fort Bridger, Wyoming, when the Oregon Trail dipped south.

The Thomas Flyer parked in front of Buffalo Bill’s home on the North Platte River.
Crowds were out to greet the Thomas Flyer’s arrival in Green River, Wyoming. People were still hurrying over to welcome the team. Note the prominent rock in the background…
Peggy and I took its photo when we briefly rejoined the route between Rock Springs and Fort Bridger.
Driving over the railroad ties in Utah, the Flyer was in for a bumpy ride. Another problem was that the railroad spikes tore up the tires.

Ely, Nevada was the next point where our summer road trip crossed paths with the race route. We passed through the town on our way east when we were following Highway 50, the “Loneliest Road in America.” (Another post.) Ely feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. And it is. It would have felt much more so in 1908. The Flyer had made its way south from Wendover, Utah following what is now Highway 93 (more or less) to Ely and then continued southwest across the Nevada desert following today’s Highway 6 (more or less) to Tonopah.

The Flyer team used railroad ties and brute force to get across the Western Pacific railroad in Nevada. They appear to be lifting the Flyer to get it onto the borrowed ties.
And here, they use logs to get the car out of Nevada mud. Peggy and I know from our years of attending Burning Man in the Nevada’s Black Rock Desert that there isn’t a heck of a lot of rain in Nevada, but when it does rain, the mud is no joke. The 24/7 event comes to a grinding halt.
And, as always, the car attracted attention wherever it was. This photo is taken in Cerry Creek, a small town north of Ely.

Along the way, it passed by what would become Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway. Think UFOs.  I’ve been interested in flying saucers ever since I saw one in 1969.  The participants in the Great Race didn’t report seeing any, however. Darn. (As an aside, I found it interesting that both the Pentagon and Japan’s military have set up task forces in the past couple of months to track UFOs. A little Twilight Zone music might be appropriate here.) But back to the race. 

Gate to top secret Area 51 in southern Nevada.
Peggy and I drove down the Extraterrestrial Highway and visited Area 51. We weren’t invited in. But then we weren’t arrested for taking photos either. (Post here on our visit.)

It was in Tonopah and the town of Goldfield 27 miles to the south that we first learned of the Great Race. In fact, we’ve driven the route followed by the Flyer from Tonopah south through Goldfield, the now ghost town of Rhyolite, and across Death Valley many times. I’ve actually ridden my bicycle over most of the route the race followed through Death Valley and on to Bakersfield, California.

I kicked this series off with a photograph of a mural depicting the arrival of the Flyer in Tonopah. The scene was looking south. Note the Mizpah Hotel.
It still stands.

When the Flyer was late in arriving in Tonopah, several residents drove out the road to see if there was a problem. They found the Flyer broken down and Schuster sleeping in a bunkhouse. (Another version of the story has him walking toward Tonopah.) He was roused out, given a ride to town, borrowed parts from a Thomas Flyer owned by a local doctor, fixed the car, and arrived to a jubilant welcome. Pretty much the whole town greeted the team.

The Flyer was attempting to cross this quicksand filled creek on the Warms Springs Ranch when it got into trouble outside of Tonopah.
This building still stands on the Ranch.

Cowboys and miners shooting their pistols into the air welcomed them to Goldfield. It was a cast of characters. There is still a cast of characters living there! (And a speed trap.) Crossing Death Valley, the Flyer had to put on balloon tires to get through the deep sand. Stovepipe Wells offered its only water. 

This would have been a view the team had as they left Tonopah for Goldfield.
The Flyer was almost buried by the crowd that gathered in Goldfield.
The Thomas Flyer passed through the Town of Ryolite just before entering Death Valley. Today it is a ghost town.
We took this photo of sand dunes in Death Valley from Stovepipe Wells. There was no lack of sand for the Flyer to negotiate through. I was glad for the paved highways when I rode my bike across the Valley.

The Thompson Flyer rolled into San Francisco on March 24th, the first car to travel across America in the winter. The team was given a hero’s welcome. Factories blew their whistles and cars honked their horns.  Its nearest competitor, the Zust, was still 700 miles away. The first phase of the race was over for the Flyer. Schuster was now to become the driver. He was eager to get to Alaska for the next phase of the race.

Market Street in San Francisco was packed for the arrival of the Thomas Flyer.

NEXT POST: Schuster travels to Valdez, Alaska to check out the next section of the race and the route is once again changed. Cars will be shipped to Japan and then on to Vladivostok, Russia where their next challenge will be crossing Mongolia and Siberia.

There’s Something Fishy about Barcelona’s Public Market

Meet Jaws. I met him at Barcelona’s public market.

Barcelona’s public market, La Boqueria, was on our must-see list when we visited the city in 2015. It’s rightfully famous for its size, variety of food, tapa bars and number of tourists. Not surprisingly, Catalans have become a bit grouchy about the latter. “Buy fish, don’t take photos!” one yelled at me. Little did he know that I was helping him out. If more people featured ugly seafood in their photos of La Boqueria instead of chocolate and oranges and mushrooms, and peppers, and corn, and garlic and strawberries, and cheese, and delightful tapa bars, fewer people would visit. Heck, fewer tourists would likely come to Barcelona. Problem solved.

So think of this as my campaign to help the Catalans who are hoping that the tourist numbers don’t climb into the stratosphere again when the coronavirus ends. The slogan for the campaign is, “Barcelona: Stop and Smell the Fish— but Don’t Let Them Bite You!”

While Jaws won the contest as poster child for the campaign, Ugly was a close second.
I don’t want to discriminate against other forms of seafood. This squid was hardly cute.
It’s hard to qualify shrimp for the campaign, but…
I’ll conclude with this photo, also a serious contender for poster child. I don’t have a clue what it is but I would be hard pressed to identify it as edible! Maybe some of the folks who follow my blog can identify it. Maybe they will even declare it is absolutely delicious!

NEXT POST: It won’t be on ugly seafood. (grin)

Bunnies, Bunnies, Everywhere… An Easter Tale

I drove into the Pleasant Valley Campground near Tillamook, Oregon and there were bunnies everywhere, including this magnificent creature.

I drove into the Pleasant Valley Campground near Tillamook, Oregon and there were bunnies everywhere, including this magnificent creature.

 

With Easter having arrived, I couldn’t resist re-blogging/modifying a post I did on some really cute bunnies a while back.

I had stopped over in Tillamook, Oregon to visit the cheese factory. It sends out tons of the stuff annually. I assume all over the world. I watched women whip around 50 pound blocks of cheese like they had been working out with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This made me hungry, so I ordered a sample plate of Tillamook ice cream. Bad idea. It’s really good. I mean really, really good. But eating all of those calories made me tired. It was time to find a campground.

And this is where the bunnies came in. I pulled into Pleasant Valley Campground, a few miles south of Tillamook, and was greeted by (drum roll please) RABBITS, dozens of them. There were black ones, and brown ones, and white ones, all of whom seemed to be chasing each other around in a glorious romp to make more bunnies. After all, isn’t that what rabbits do beside deliver Easter eggs?

Ignoring the obvious, for the moment, I asked the owner where all the rabbits came from. “Oh they used to live across the street,” she informed me. “One day, a few moved over here. They didn’t do any harm and the campers seemed to like them. So I let them stay.” The rest is history, as they say. Anyway, here are some photos I took of the rabbits. Enjoy.

I am going for the awww factor with this baby bunny.

I am going for the “awww” factor with this baby bunny.

This was only a few of the rabbits, but it makes the point.

This was only a few of the rabbits, but it makes the point.

Furry rabbit near Tillamook, Oregon.

This furry gal was napping when I snuck up on her, but then, her eyes popped open…

Alert brown rabbit near Tillamook, Oregon.

And she was all wiggly ears and twitchy nose.

It rained really hard that night. I discovered I had several rabbits using my van as shelter. The step is the doorstep to my van.

It rained hard that night. I discovered I had several rabbits using my van as shelter. The step is my doorstep. My flashlight caught their eyes. Scary. Was it a case of when good bunnies go bad?

Tillamook, Oregon Bunny. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Nah. I’ll finish off with another baby bunny. It was cold out and this tyke looks cold. I almost invited it into my van to warm up. 

I don’t know how many of these bunnies participate in delivering Easter Eggs, but any of them would be welcomed here! A very Happy Easter to our friends throughout the blogging world— Curt and Peggy

The Natchez Trace: A Bicyclist’s Paradise… The 10,000 Mile North American Bicycle Tour

The Natchez Trace between Natchez and Jackson Mississippi.

I don’t think there is a place along the Natchez Trace that isn’t beautiful. I traveled on it for 370 miles of its 450 mile length.

This is my fourth post introducing new followers to the type of tales they can find in my blog. Way back in 1989, I did a solo 10,000 mile bicycle tour of North America. While the journey predated blogging, Peggy and I retraced my route three years ago. Traveling out of California, we crossed the US following a southern route, went up the east coast into Canada, headed back west through Canada to Minnesota, and then finished our tour following a northern route back to California. This is a chance to visit much of North America and hear tales about my bike trek. Want more: Here’s a post from Canada. Scroll forward or backward for the rest of the story:  https://wandering-through-time-and-place.com/2016/09/28/

A large, yellow mutt came wagging his way into my camp. I’d unpacked my gear, set up my tent, and taken off my shoes and socks. My toes were celebrating their freedom.

“Well hello big fellow,” I said to the dog, glad for the company. He sat down beside me and worked his head under my hand, demanding that I scratch behind his ears. Then I was required to pet the rest of him. I had just worked my way down to his tail when he rolled over and insisted on equal treatment for his tummy.

I provided an initial scratch but my coffee water had started boiling. “Priorities,” I told him, “the petting zoo is closed.” Apparently this meant it was play time. He leapt up, grabbed one of my socks, and bounced off about 15 feet.  “Hey! Bring that back,” I urged. Fat chance. He put the sock down, backed off a couple of feet, and started barking.

I finished pouring the hot water into my coffee filter and got up, tiredly, to retrieve my sock. It had been an 80-mile day and I really didn’t want to play ‘chase the dog around the yard.’ I pretended that I didn’t care, that I wasn’t going for the sock, and that I was terribly interested in a large bullfrog that had taken up residence in the swimming pool. The pool hadn’t been cleaned since the previous summer. It made a great pond.

The dog didn’t buy it. He dashed in, grabbed the sock and ran off across the yard. “Okay, you win,” I declared while picking up a stick. “How about a game of chase the stick?” The dog cocked his head and increased his wags per second. I tossed the stick and off he dashed, leaving my sock behind. I quickly bare-footed it across the lawn and grabbed my sock.

“Ha, ha, Mr. Dog,” I called after him while waving the sock about enticingly. To compensate my new friend for his loss, I played tug-of-war with the stick. We growled at each other appropriately, all in good fun.

It was early to bed. I had completed my trip from Alexandria by biking through the city of Natchez and was now camped about a mile from the beginning of the Natchez Trace.  I was eager to get up the next morning and start my 370-mile journey up the fabled Parkway through Mississippi and Alabama into Tennessee. As I zipped up my tent, the big yellow mutt did three dog turns outside the door and plopped down, making me wonder where his home was. I was hardly in a position to adopt a pet. Besides, he was well fed and wearing a dog tag.

My last memory before going to sleep was of the bullfrog singing to his lady-love. “Chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum.”

Downtown Natchez, Mississippi.

Peggy and I drove through Natchez on a Sunday morning and pretty much had the historic section of the downtown to ourselves.

Historic building with balcony in Natchez, Mississippi.

This historic building in Natchez came with an attractive balcony.

Downtown Natchez, Mississippi on a quiet Sunday.

The colors captured my attention here.

Old lamp posts adorn the historic part of Natchez.

Old lamp posts adorn the historic part of Natchez.

The city is known for its antebellum mansions.

The city is known for its antebellum mansions.

St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Natchez, Mississippi.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church was busy with its Sunday service so I didn’t go inside.

St. Mary's Catholic Church is located in downtown Natchez, Mississippi.

It was quite impressive from the outside, however.

Natchez has an interesting history. Once the site of a major Native American village, its initial contact with Europeans goes all the way back to Hernando de Soto in the mid 1500s. He wandered through the area searching for gold to steal, the primary occupation of Spanish Conquistadores. By the 1700s the French had entered the area followed by the British, the Spanish again, and finally, in 1795, the Americans. Native groups in the region included the Natchez, Chickasaw, Yazoo, Cherokee, and Creek, as well as the Choctaw further to the north.

As for the Natchez Trace, its beginning goes back 10,000 years and was probably tied to buffalo travelling along ridges doing buffalo things. Since these broad, heavy animals make good trails (think of them as early day bulldozers), Native Americans were soon using the routes for trade and travel between large communities.

The next stage in the Trace’s evolution was brought about by river trade in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Kaintucks, boatmen from the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, loaded flatboats with merchandise and paddled downstream to Natchez or New Orleans where they made handsome profits for their goods. The challenge was that you don’t row a boat up the mighty Mississippi. The boatmen had to hike or ride horses home. They sold their boats as lumber and made their way back to Nashville via the Natchez Trace

It was an adventure. There is a reason why the Trace became known as The Devil’s Backbone. It was crawling with highway men eager to separate the Kaintucks from their newly earned wealth. And that assumes that they could even get their money out of Natchez where cheap whiskey cost a fortune, hot love was based on cold cash, and cut-throats came by the bushel.

The development of steamboats in the 1820s changed things dramatically. These boats with their large, steam-driven paddle wheels could travel upriver. Boatman no longer had to hike or ride horses back to Nashville while fighting off thieves.  Gradually, people stopped using the Trace and it faded from memory.  But not totally.

In 1903, the Mississippi chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took on a project of placing markers along the original route. In 1918 the precursor to the Natchez Trace Association was created with the rallying cry of “Pave the Trace!” Work on the Parkway was started in 1937 and in 1938 it became a unit of the National Park system.

When I rode my bike out of Natchez in the spring of 1989, the Trace was mainly complete and had become something of a bicyclists’ paradise. (Today it is considered one of the top ten bike rides in America.)   To start with, there was no commercial traffic. No 18 wheelers would be whizzing by me. Nor were there any commercial properties or billboards, just lots of beautiful woods and small farms. Campgrounds and restrooms were located conveniently along the way.  Frequent rest stops featured local history. I was free to ride along and enjoy the scenery.

But I did have two responsibilities. The first was to persuade the large, yellow mutt that he wasn’t going with me. It started with a discussion in camp that I thought he had understood. Where I was going was dangerous for doggies. It was dangerous enough for me. About a mile from camp I chanced to look back, there he was, about 50 yards back. I stopped and waited for him to catch up, all a waggle. “No!” I said forcefully. “You cannot go. Go Home!” The tail stopped wagging. Two sad brown eyes accused me of horrendous deeds. Ever so slowly, he turned around and started back, tail between his legs. I felt terrible.

The second chore was more pleasant— rescuing baby turtles. Bunches were migrating across the Trace outside of Natchez. Each time I came on a crowd, I would stop, climb off my bike, and give the little tykes a lift across the pavement. I knew that there would be more coming along behind but I must have transported at least a hundred,undoubtedly saving them from being run over.

Following are several photos of the Trace from Natchez to Jackson, Mississippi that I took during the route review Peggy and I did this past spring.  In my next blog we will make a slight detour to the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi where a good friend lives and then head up the Trace to Tupelo and visit with Elvis.

Views along the Trace were constantly changing from being forested to open.

Views along the Trace were constantly changing from being forested to open.

Pine trees became common around Jackson, Mississippi.

Pine trees became common around Jackson, Mississippi.

Rich farmlands border some of the Trace.

Rich farmlands border some of the Trace.

There are a number of barns.

There are a number of barns.

These trees had yet to leaf out.

These trees were just beginning to leaf out. I enjoyed the silhouettes they created.

Numerous exhibits featuring the history of the Trace provide interesting breaks along the way.

Numerous exhibits featuring the history of the Trace provide interesting breaks along the way.

A number of the stops, like this one, include original sections of the trail.

A number of the stops, like this one, include original sections of the trail.

The Park has also rebuilt traditional fences that the pioneers who lived along the Trace would have built.

The Park has also rebuilt traditional fences similar to ones that the pioneers who lived along the Trace would have built.

A final view of the Trace for today. Many more will be included in my next three blogs.

A final view of the Trace for today. Many more will be included in my next three blogs.

 

 

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass… From the Sublime to the Wacky

Two bowls from the Glass Forge of Grants Pass Oregon.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass creates a wide range of glass art ranging from the sublime to the wacky. I loved the tree like pattern in the left bowl.

Red lipped blue fish produced at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

How can you not fall for a blue fish with red lips. While the artists of the Glass Forge produce much traditional glass art, they also have a wonderful sense of humor.

It’s Friday, so this is my day to produce a photographic essay for my blog. My choice for today is the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon. Peggy and I visited the studio on one of our Wednesday Date Days in November. (We’ve been having Wednesday Date Days for 27 years!) When we arrived the staff was working on glass art for the Lodge at Yosemite.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass, Oregon was founded by Lee Wassink, shown above creating a vase.

One of the neat things about the Glass Forge is that you are encouraged to watch the artists at work. In this photo, Lee Wassink, founder of the Glass Forge, demonstrates the creation of a vase.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornament.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornaments.

Vase found at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The studio provides an opportunity to peruse the wide variety of glass art available, such as this vase. As I posted this photo I notice a slight reflection of myself, a selfie.

Looking down into a vase at the Glass Forge Studio in Grants Pass Oregon.

I always like looking down into glass art for a different perspective, as in this vase…

Looking at the patterns inside a glass bowl at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And this bowl. I am amazed at the patterns, variety and beauty created.

Humorous mugs created by the artists working at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I really like weird and wacky. These mugs certainly qualify!

Glass fish with character at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And here’s another fish.

Variety of bowls displayed at the Glass Forge in Grant's Pass, Oregon.

This collection of bowls demonstrated the variety available.

A tall, graceful vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

One of several tall, graceful vases.

Glass paperweights available for purchase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass Oregon.

Someday, I am going to return to the Glass Forge to find out how these paper weights are created.

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melting the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melt the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

Furnaces for heating glass at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bubble is blown into the glass. Layers are added by returning to the furnace for more glass. The larger the piece, the more returns.

Bins that hold colored glass to add color to glass art created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

These bins hold colored glass that will be added to the various pieces.

The following series of photos follow the artists as they work together to finish a vase:

Color has been added to a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Check out the gorgeous color!

Top is added to vase at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bottom is added.

Shaping a top on a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And shaped.

A close to finished vase at the Glass Forge, Grants Pass, Oregon.

The finished product.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

Glass Genie created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I’ll conclude my Friday photographic essay today with this marvelous glass genie.

MONDAY’S BLOG: We will return to the Oregon Coast and visit the scenic Sunset Bay.

WEDNESDAY’S BLOG: Part 2 of my Sierra Trek series. I have to persuade a reluctant Board of Directors (“You want to do what?”), decide on a name, hire Steve, and determine our route.

FRIDAY’s BLOG: California mountain wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering through Time and Place… The 2016 Year in Review: Part II

America and Canada are crammed with beautiful sights that range from mountains to deserts to oceans, to plains, to rivers... and well the list just goes on and on. This is a waterfall from Old Stone Fort State Park in Tennessee.

America and Canada are crammed with beautiful sights that range from mountains to deserts to oceans, to plains, to rivers… and well the list just goes on and on. This is a waterfall from Old Stone Fort State Park in Tennessee.

Continuing on with our 2016 journeys, Peggy and I left Oregon in March to retrace my 1989, 10,000 mile bike journey around North America. We were on the road until mid-June, and I just wrapped up my posts on the trip. It took me longer to write about it than it did to bike it!  The truth of this is that I can’t begin to capture the experience in ten photos. It was a challenge to me to capture it in 54 posts and 1000 photos. None-the-less, here are a few random shots:

I started my journey in the foothills of California in the spring. In a couple of months the green grass here would be brown, or golden as they call it in California.

I started my journey in the foothills of California in the spring. In a couple of months the green grass here would be brown, or golden as they call it in California.

One of the more challenging parts of my ride was through Death Valley. Twenty Mule Canyon was on my way out of the National Park on my way into Nevada.

One of the more challenging parts of my ride was through Death Valley. Twenty Mule Canyon was on my way out of the National Park on my way into Nevada.

I found a touch of outer space when I rode by the Very Large Array of radio telescopes as I rode down the easter side of the rocky Mountains in New Mexico.

I found a touch of outer space when I rode by the Very Large Array of radio telescopes as I rode down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico.

Literally dozens of roadside sculptures entertained me on my bike trip and then Peggy and me as we re-drove the route. Peggy and I found this 25 foot high Longhorn in West Texas, where you would expect to find it.

Literally dozens of roadside sculptures entertained me on my bike trip and then Peggy and me as we re-drove the route. Peggy and I found this 25 foot high longhorn in West Texas, where you would expect to find it.

Louisiana is bayou country, the place where you expect to see water moccasins slithering through the water, or get good reflection shots.

Louisiana is bayou country, the place where you expect to see water moccasins slithering through the water, or get good reflection shots.

The Natchez Trace and the Blue Ridge Highway are both beautiful. It's the Trace here. An added advantage of both National Park highways is that no commercial traffic is allowed. Translate: I wasn't dodging 18-wheelers.

The Natchez Trace and the Blue Ridge Highway are both beautiful. It’s the Trace here. An added advantage of both National Park highways is that no commercial traffic is allowed. Translate: I wasn’t dodging 18-wheelers.

I found this small waterfall beside the road in the Great Smokey Mountains. Dozens, maybe of hundreds of such falls graced my trip.

I found this small waterfall beside the road in the Great Smokey Mountains. Dozens, maybe of hundreds of such falls graced my trip.

The Atlantic Ocean greeted me along this rocky shoreline of the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotiia. This was my fattest point east. After this it was time to turn around and ride 5,000 miles west.

The Atlantic Ocean greeted me along this rocky shoreline of the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia. This was my fastest point east. After this it was time to turn around and ride 5,000 miles west.

A stream along the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario. My rivers ranged from the mighty Mississippi to mere trickles.

A stream along the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario. My rivers ranged from the mighty Mississippi to mere trickles.

I crossed several mountain ranges including the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies twice. Tis is a photo of the rockies in Montana.

I crossed several mountain ranges including the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies twice. It is a photo of the Rockies in Montana.

One thing I learned over and over is that beauty comes in all shapes and forms, such as this lonely tree in North Dakota.

One thing I learned over and over is that beauty comes in all shapes and forms, such as this lonely tree in North Dakota.

Whoops. I just counted my photos. There are 12. I’ll call it a bakers 10.

 

A Truly Unique Set of Holiday Lights… The North Coast Series

Grey whale featured in Holiday Lights display at Shore Acres State Park in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Not your parents’ (or mine) display of holiday lights! This grey whale rising out of the ocean had to be at least 30 feet long. Over 10,000 lights provided a back drop.

A giant grey whale rose out of the water to a backdrop of ten thousand lights. It wasn’t quite what I had expected when Peggy and I drove over to Coos Bay, Oregon to check out the Holiday Lights display at the Shore Acres State Park. I thought we’d probably see sheep, cows, donkeys and a baby J or two. There might even be deer. They’ve become a common fixture on people’s lawns at Christmas. But frogs leaping into ponds, pelicans flying across the sky, a parade featuring an earthworm, turtle, grasshopper and snail— no way! And these were just a few of the sky, sea and land creatures on display, all created out of holiday lights.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

There was a butterfly...

There was a butterfly…

Dragonfly at Shore Acres Park.

A dragonfly…

Holiday frogs at Oregon's Shore Acres State Park.

And frogs.

Seals dive int the water at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Seals leaped into the water. They actually moved and made a splash. As did frogs, and whales.

Pelicans at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Pelicans flew across the sky.

Pelican at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A close up.

Crab and octopus at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

There was a crab and an octopus…

Flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

And beautiful flowers…

More flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

More.

Animals look over fence at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A porcupine, raccoon, deer and rabbit peeked over the parks fence to check out the display.

It wasn’t all about the wildlife you normally find on the Oregon coast, however. Some 320,000 thousand lights decorated the hundreds of shrubs that turn Shore Acres into a floral delight during the spring, summer and fall. There were lots of Christmas trees. A choral group sang traditional carols. The historic garden house on the site reminded me of fantasy gingerbread homes. And Santa was there! So what if he happened to be taking a bubble bath with a tiger and a moose. Fortunately, he was wearing his long johns. Old men with round bellies that shake like bowls full of jelly shouldn’t be seen in public with their clothes off.

Holiday lights at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A small pond at Shore Acres reflected some of the 320,000 lights.

Green lit arbor and Peggy Mekemson at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Peggy was turned green by an arbor while the dragonfly hovered above her head.

Gingerbread house at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

The historic garden house looked like a gingerbread house.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

The Shore Acres Holiday Lights display is a tradition that goes back to 1987 when Friends of Shore Acres decided to ‘string a few lights’ for the holiday season. It’s been growing ever since, both in number of lights and number of people who visit. This year, the visitors should top 50,000. Volunteers do all of the work. Lights are donated.

Shore Acres Botanical Garden

During the spring, summer, and fall, Shore Acres turns into a beautiful botanical garden, reminiscent of English gardens. This is the ‘Gingerbread house.’ All of the plants were covered in lights for the holidays. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Shore Acres Botanical Garden, Coos Bay, Oregon

Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park. Two of thousands of beautiful flowers.

Peggy and I discovered Shore Acres two years ago when we were staying at Sunset Bay State Park, which is located a mile down the road. The flower garden reminded us of England. As soon as I saw a newspaper article about its Holiday Light display, I knew we had to return. Peggy lives for holidays. Since we were heading back East for Christmas, she wouldn’t have the opportunity to break out her seven large boxes of decorations and turn our house in to a museum of Christmases past, present and future. I figured the lights provide a substitute. They did.

With Santa, Peggy and I would like to wish each of you a joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year.

With Santa and friends, we wish each of you and your families a Joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year. —Curt and Peggy

NEXT BLOGS: I jumped ahead in our recent North Coast travels to include the Shore Acres display for Christmas. My next three posts will serve as a wrap up for 2016 featuring some of our favorite photos from the year. Twelve of them we used in our annual family calendar. In January, I will return to our drive up Highway 101 to be followed by our visit to Sunset Bay State Park in Coos Bay, which, in its own way, is as special as Shore Acres.

There’s an Elk! There are 300! …The North Coast Series

This magnificent fellow was probably the bull of the herd, and proud of it!

This magnificent fellow was probably the bull of the herd, and proud of it! He was surrounded by some of his lady friends.

 

A blog quickie…

Peggy gets excited when she sees elk. So it’s not surprising that she multiplied the number she saw by 10. I can also get quite excitable. Roosevelt Elk are the largest members of six subspecies of elk in North America. Bulls can weigh up to 1100 pounds! Once, they were close to extinct in California. Today, there are seven herds in and around the Redwoods. The largest herd numbers 250. Most are closer to the size we saw. It was conveniently located in someone’s yard. I drove in so Peggy could take photos.

Elk herd near the Redwoods in Northern California.

There were probably 30 elk altogether.

I was impressed by the antlers shown here...

Peggy was impressed by the antlers shown here…

elk with large racks near the Redwoods in Northern California

So she took a close up. Given the season, I figured that Santa could turn to these fellows if his Reindeer refused to fly.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on strike. Xmas card by Curtis Mekemson.

Red-nosed reindeer goes on strike. (card by Curt Mekemson.)

The real deal: Alaskan Caribou. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The real deal: Alaskan Caribou. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

If this guy were a blacktail deer, we would call him a spike. I don't think I would want him mad at me!

If this guy were a black tail deer, we would call him Spike. I don’t think I would want him mad at me! The marks on his back suggest he has been nibbling at itches.

This doe was quite beautiful...

This cow elk was quite beautiful…

So we will end this short post with a close-up.

We will end this short post with a close-up of her. Lovely eyes!

NEXT BLOG: The Christmas lights of Shore Acres State Park

Long Beaches, Redwoods and Rocky Points on California 101… The North Coast Series

Treasures are often found by those who wander off from well-tred paths. This bit of driftwood I found on Clam Beach north of Eureka, California is an example.

Treasures are often found by those who wander off from well-worn paths. I found this bit of driftwood on Clam Beach north of Eureka, California. I am forever taken by grains and texture in wood. What better way to find them!

Far too often, travel consists of hurrying through a number of must-see stops. I understand this. Some places are rightfully renown for their beauty, history shopping, etc., and time is limited. So you have a check-off list and a timeline. If you are on an organized tour, your travel is even more directed and options for wandering are close to nil, which is one of the reasons that I rarely travel that way.

Sometimes I like to travel without an itinerary and stop willy-nilly when something captures my attention. I realize that I run the risk of missing something worth seeing, but I also open the door for new adventures. When Peggy and I visited California’s North Coast in October, Mendocino was our must see stop. We even had a reservation, which is rare for us.

After Mendocino, it was wander time. We followed Highway 1 as it wound its way up the coast and then cut across the coast range to Highway 101 at Leggett. We zipped up 101 to Eureka so we would have more time on the coast north of the city. Eureka, BTW, was apparently what Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, shouted when he discovered a way of determining the purity of gold. It means, “I found it!” California 49ers shortened the concept to mean, “I found gold!” It became the state motto.

Our first stop above Eureka was at Clam Beach for no other reason than we hadn’t been there before. What we discovered was something of a rarity for the North Coast, a beach that went on and on. A small trail wound its way through brush, eventually leading us out to the beach.

Clam Beach off of Highway 101 north of Eureka, California.

We found golden Dune Grass…

Pampas Grass growing on the California Coast.

And golden Pampas Grass. Its beauty is countered somewhat by the fact that it is an invasive plant from South America, often replacing native plants.

Pampas Grass on Clam Beach in Northern California.

For fun, I shot the same Pampas Grass backlit the sun.

And then had Peggy stand next to it for perspective.

And then had Peggy stand next to it for perspective.

A final shot of Clam Beach.

A final shot of Clam Beach with golden Dune Grass and Pampas Grass in the distance.

Usually when we are in this part of California, we spend some time in the Redwoods. Our views this time, however, were limited to what we saw from the road, except for one ancient giant we found at a rest stop. It had burned years and years ago, leaving nothing but a charcoal remnant of its once magnificent self. Still, it stood as a testament to the miracle of life…

This ancient victim of fire amused me when I noticed that its top was creating a new forest!

This ancient victim of fire amused me when I noticed that its top was creating a new forest!

Patrick’s Point State Park returned us to the rocky shoreline I associate with the North Coast. Peggy and I followed a muddy path down a steep cliff to get to the action!

Patrick's Pt. State Park north of Eureka, California on Highway 101.

Hiking down to the ocean at Patrick’s State Park, we spotted a rock that was lit up by the sun.

Close inspection showed it to a home for California Brown Pelicans.

Closer inspection showed it to be a home for California Brown Pelicans.

Edging my way around a cliff provided another view.

Edging my way around a cliff provided me with another view.

Waves breaking at Patrick State Park north of Eureka and Arcata, California.

Including this…

And this.

And this. I really liked the dark and light contrast, along with the massive rocks.

Inching my way back to where Peggy was, the ocean waved goodby.

When I was inching my way back to where Peggy was, the ocean waved goodby.

NEXT BLOG: “There are elk!” Peggy yelled, almost causing me to crash. “There must be 300!”

Mendocino, California: A Favorite Town… The North Coast Series

A large, carved wooden duck that Peggy and I found gracing a wood-working shop on one of Mendocino's colorful streets.

A large, carved wooden duck that Peggy and I found gracing a wood-working shop on one of Mendocino’s colorful streets.

I’ve always been a fan of rugged, rocky coastlines. I’ve been fortunate in my life to live near the northern coast of California, which I define as starting down in Big Sur country and making its way up to the Oregon Coast. When I lived in Sacramento, summer escapes usually meant the Sierra’s, but winter escapes always meant the coast. Mainly I played along the 300-mile area of coast stretching between Monterrey/Carmel and Mendocino/Fort Brag on California’s beautiful, cliff-hanging Highway 1.

A view of the Mendocino Headlands, which host the town of Mendocino. The steep, rocky cliffs of Northern California, Oregon and Washington make up my favorite coast lines.

A view of the Mendocino Headlands, which host the town of Mendocino. The steep, rocky cliffs of Northern California, Oregon and Washington make up my favorite coast lines.

Now I live in Oregon, I’ve begun to explore the Oregon Coast. Over the years, I’ve also ventured along the Washington coast on occasion and made several trips to Canada’s Vancouver Island.

Last year, I wrote a number of blogs on both the California and Oregon coasts. I did a solo trip along the Oregon Coast while Peggy was off doing grandmother duty in Alaska and then a solo trip north from San Francisco while she was traveling to England with her sister, Jane.

This fall, my side-kick was with me on a couple quick trips: one visiting the town of Mendocino and then traveling north, following Highways 1 and 101 back to Southern Oregon. The second was over to Coos Bay, Oregon and Sunset Bay State Park. My next few blogs will cover these trips. Again, since Peggy and I are off in Connecticut and North Carolina visiting with our kids and grandkids for Christmas— plus making a side trip to Boston— these will be mainly photo blogs.

Mendocino is one of my favorite coastal communities. Founded as a logging town, it was discovered by artists in the 50s and 60s and today supports a thriving tourist industry. Through it all, it has maintained much of its original charm. Quaint buildings, lots of art, a great bookstore, and a magnificent coast all add to its ambience. If you would like to learn more about the town and see more photos, go here for the blog I wrote last year about the town.

Another view of the Mendocino Headlands, this one featuring a Monterey Pine.

Another view of the Mendocino Headlands, this one featuring a cyprus tree.

The Mendocino Headlands of Northern California.

Looking the other direction through the same cyprus.

A cliff from the Mendocino Headlands next to the town of Mendocino in Northern California.

Rocks, cliffs, and a pounding ocean: music to me on a dark stormy day.

We found these berries growing on the Headlands. T'is the season!

We found these berries growing on the Headlands. T’is the season!

The town of Mendocino, California as seen from the headlands on a rainy day.

Walking back toward the town from the Headlands, we caught this view of Mendocino. The town has done a superb job of maintaining its historic buildings.

Mendocino, California home.

I find the homes charming.

Pond reflection shot in the community of Mendocino on California's north coast.

This small, in-town pond provided a convenient reflection shot.

A landscaped walkway in the town of Mendocino, California.

Inviting walkways are found throughout Mendocino.

Woodworking shop in Mendocino, California.

This is the inside of the woodworking shop where we discovered the duck.

Early social media? Any idea what this is? It's an old fence that has seen service as a community message board for decades.

Any idea what this is? It’s an old fence that has seen service as a Mendocino message board for decades. You might say, it is a ‘staple’ of the community.

Veggies always add a little color on a cloudy day. Peggy and I found these in an old church that had converted to being a natural food store.

Speaking of staples, veggies always add a touch of  color on a cloudy day. Peggy and I found these in an old church that had converted to being a natural food store.

Mendocino, California rooster.

This rooster also added color, and character, to our day.

Not so colorful, but there is a story that goes along with this chicken wire Mendocino mouse. In my last blog about Mendocino, I had also included chicken wire sculptures. A person from Japan wrote to me and said he had also visited Mendocino, seen the sculptures in a shop, and wanted to know which shop it was so he could buy some. I was reminded of just how international blogging is...

Not so colorful, but there is a story that goes along with this chicken wire mouse. In my last blog about Mendocino, I had included a chicken wire cat from the same shop. A person from Japan wrote to me and said he had also visited Mendocino, seen the sculptures, and wanted to know which shop it was so he could buy some. I was reminded of just how international our blogging community is…

Tiki god in front of a house in Mendocino, California.

And finally, I’ll include this Tiki-like god sculpture we found protecting a house. Love the toothy grin. Or was I supposed to be frightened?

 

NEXT BLOG: A North Coast journey along California’s Highway 101.