Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quilt Barns

I'm beginning to feel I've been living under a rock. This year I've run across several things I've never heard of before, like the Peace Pole Project, the Old Frankfort Pike, now Quilt Barns.

As we left Midway and traveled east through Kentucky and Tennessee and even into Virginia we kept seeing these quilt square on barns.

Now I've seen hex signs of the  Pennsylvania Dutch forever, but never these quilt squares. It turns out this is a project that was started in Ohio by Donna Sue Groves to honor her mother in 2001. Since then quilt barns can be found in 40 states. Follow this link for the story how this all got started.

The quilts are usually painted on 8' square pieces of plywood that are mounted on barns. The quilt projects are often headed up by the local arts councils and there are maps and trails for each state so you can find them all.

Western North Carolina has a large collections of them it turns out - where have I been, this from someone that pays attention to such things! Here is a link to a site that talks about them

Here are a few quilt barn photos.

For more info go to

Another interesting thing to look for as you travel!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Michigan M119 Tunnel of Trees

Part of our trip to Michigan was retracing some of the places we went when I was a child. A child of a father who loved to go for a drive. Who taught us to camp and enjoy sitting by the campfire.

The section of road I especially wanted to drive is Highway M-119 (Lake Shore Drive) north of Harbor Springs - probably the most scenic road in the State of Michigan. It is narrow and runs along a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan - called the Tunnel of Trees, which stretches for 20 miles.

Along the way you glimpse the Lake, the shore is rocky part of the way and sandy the rest.

One of the images from my memory from 55 years ago is the old church at Middle Village, on the shoreline below Good hart. As a child I was fascinated by the fact that we could see the roof below us (I grew up in FLAT southern Michigan).

To get there follow US 31 north of Harbor Springs turn left on M119. Soon your start to sense the tunnel with trees on both sides, close to the road. Along the way you can see Beaver Island from some of the view points on a clear day.

There is a real sharp turn on a hill I remember too from my childhood and got a thrill this time too going around it.

M119 ends at Cross Village. Somewhere between there and Macinaw City there is a bottle fence, or was a bottle fence. I asked everyone I saw about it and no one knew until we, by chance, met someone later in the trip  that remembered it as well, but he too could not remember its location.

In Cross Village there is Legs inn, a Polish restaurant that we went to on one of the many trips with my folks.

For more about the Leg's Inn's history follow this link
Here are a few of my photos from along the way.

We then spent the night in Charlevoix where I used to do art shows in this very spot.
This was a very special part of our trip to Michigan, it brought back so many memories.

There will be a few more posts from the trip, like our visit to Berea, KY and up through the Leelanau Peninsula which included a visit to our newest artist Steve Palmer! Who I'll do a post about as soon as his work arrives. He does very funky fish sculptures and fused glass.

I will have to say I do not miss how overcast Michigan usually is, don't miss the snow and cold (I don't think there is as much snow as there used to be), and don't miss the fact that pretty much all industry is connected to the auto industry in one way or the other but I realize after being gone for 30 years how beautiful it is and how much I enjoyed being around family.

Next in series - Quilt Barns

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Old Franfort Pike Midway Kentucky

As I said in my previous post we just returned from Michigan - our home state. On the way home we visited Excelsior Motors and Dave Hume. For Michaels 68th birthday he purchased a 1973 Citro├źn SM. It's in pretty good shape for a 40 year old car. He'll have fun working on it over the next few years. Dave says there are about 2200 SMs in the US and he has worked on 1000 of them. He's been doing it for 30 years. He was delightful and a wealth of information for Michael. We will certainly visit him again.

But the real subject of this post is the Old Frankfort Pike. We had no idea what a beautiful road his business is on!  I've been trying to research the history of it but there is little on the internet. I have emailed a couple people and have not heard back from anyone yet. So what I'm posting is what Dave told me during a brief conversation about it.


I took a couple pictures, but it is difficult to stop to take photos because it is a narrow road with no berm and a stone fence most of the way. So a few of these photos are mine, the rest I got off of the Lexington KY website.

This Pike is best known for the horse farms. Three Chimneys is probably the best known as the home for many years of Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history. The current bumper crop of stallions includes Smarty Jones, 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, and Big Brown, 2008 Derby and Preakness winner.

Not being a horse race aficionado the horses were secondary, but the farms and stables were breathtaking!

You'll pass through six historic districts, and by four National Historic Register properties on this beautiful drive. 

The stone fence goes for miles. As we went south on I 75 we could see that limestone is readily available in the area. I'll be interested in finding out how old the fence is.

According to Dave there is a log cabin on the road that Lewis and Clark stayed in on their trek west. There is also a building that was the toll house. The Offut-Cole Tavern is located at the corner of Old Frankfort Pike and US-62 in Midway. According to the historic marker, the log portion of the structure dates to the 1780s-1790s. Major John Lee, a founder and early leader of Woodford County, lived here and began its tradition as a tavern. Leased to John Kennedy and William Dailey, it grew in fame as a stagecoach stop (midway) along the toll road from Lexington to Frankfort.

It's odd that for such a beautiful and historic road it is difficult to find too much information about it.

I'll add to this post as I find out more. It was a real treat to make this drive. Some folks are trying to get it designated as a National Scenic Byway. Others don't want the designation because it will bring more traffic.

This stretch of road is 16.9-miles long and has been voted one of the 10 best scenic drives in the United States.  Bordering the road for most of the drive are locusts, Osage orange, dogwood, redbud, red and white oak, and sugar maple. In the spring, the flowering redbud and dogwood make a spectacular display. There are also many canopies of trees along the route. Most of these are formed by either locust or Osage orange.

It was fascinating.

Next in series M-119 and the tunnel of trees in Michigan

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Down Memory Lane visiting MCCourtie Park in Somerset Center Michigan

When I was in Girl Scouts, 50 + years ago, we visited this overgrown estate in Somerset Center, Michigan, not far from where I grew up.

I have thought about it off and on over the years because I remembered these amazing cement bridges. I was probably only 10 when we went there, maybe younger, but I still remember that visit.

We were just in Michigan and I wanted to go see if you could see any of them from the road, or even if they still existed.

Much to my surprise and delight the estate has been made into a park and the bridges restored!

The bridges are made from cement to resemble wood, bark and rope.

The estate belonged to WHL McCourtie, who owned the Trinity Portland Cement Company in Cement City. He called his estate Aiden Lair.

t may contain the country's largest collection of el trabeio rustico, the Mexican folk tradition of sculpting cement. 

McCourtie hired iternerent Mexican workers George Cardoso and Ralph Corona to build 17 bridges on his property. They formed the bridges with steel rods then covered them with cement and sculptued them to resemble wood and rope.

Cement chimneys were created to look like tree trunks rise out of an underground rathskeller built into the side of a hill where McCourtie (known as Herb to his friends) played poker with the likes of Henry Ford.

The Park is located in Somerset Center just off Highway 127, US 12, now designated as a Heritage Trail.
It's amazing what things can make an impression to a young child.
Next in the series - Midway, KY and the Old Frankfort Pike

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Andree Richmond Whimsical Sculpture

We have always loved Andree's work but these pieces are probably our favorites!

And this one is really over the top!
To see more of Andree's work click here!