Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On the Road to Hot Springs and Gulf Shores Part 3

I left Hot Springs and drove to Vicksburg, and got my 2nd National Park Stamp at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Then drove to Natchez and saw some of the beautiful homes.

There was a park that took my breath away, as soon as I have time I'll have to do a painting of it. The photos don't do it justice.

The National Park there is the William Johnson House. The story is about William Johnson who was born a slave, was free, and later owned slaves himself. 

I also visited Mobile.

Then headed to Gulf Shores stopping in the cute town of Fairhope.

The beach there was beautiful - I went to Ft Morgan at the end of the road. 

Here is an aerial photo I borrowed from the tourist information site.

Sadly it was time to head home and on the way I stopped at Tuskegee. The University there is beautiful. Many notables are connected with the University - Booker T. Washington was the first teacher. 

The Tuskegee Airmen Museum at the airport was very interesting and the movie was very moving. It talked about the struggles and sacrifice these men went through.

The next day I drove home to await the next trip!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

On the Road Again to Hot Springs and Gulf Shores Part 2

The rain ended and I was off again.

I have drive across Tennessee north and south, but never east and west, it's a long state, 440 miles across. I was amazed at all the state parks along I40, it seems there was one every 25 or 30 miles. My favorite part was the eastern third of the state.

I was driving along and saw a sign for the Appalachian Center for Craft  - I had just gotten their brochure about upcoming classes in the mail! So off I went to check it out. It is on beautiful Center Hill Lake high on a cliff. Their grounds are extensive, it is part of Tennessee Tech, where you can get a BFA degree.

I'm always looking for new artists and workshops (although I seldom take the time to go to them I always look) and what better place to look.

Stopping at Casey Jones' home in Jackson, TN I saw how much that had changed in 35 years. My first visit was with Michael 34 years ago. At that time I was drawing a lot of railroad depots and steam locomotives. I have work from that period in the Michigan Historical Society's Collection and in the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. So while I seldom do artwork of them I still like to look.

Back then there was just a locomotive and his house. Now they have built a small museum, added a number of cars, and have built a little village with shops.

Next stop Memphis. While not particularly wild about Elvis, I don't dislike him either but as long as I was passing through I thought I'd stop and see Graceland. It was not as glitzy as I thought it would be but it was interesting, and definitely right out of the 70s.

And I could not leave without going to Beale Street, home of the blues. Like Fells Point better visited at night when every eating and drinking establishment has music, during the day there are lots of tacky souvenir shops and parking is plentiful. My favorite part was the neon. If you look at the front of Carolina Creations I guess you can figure that out.

Not my photo I have to give credit to US News (I was not there at night), I would have loved to have seen them lit up.

I finally arrived at my furthest west destination - Hot Spring, Arkansas. Where my Michael and Bill Clinton were born.

The biggest attraction her for me are the Bath Houses. While only 2 are currently operating as bath houses, another one is the National Park Headquarters ...  Fordyce Bathhouse, you can have a free tour... , and another as the National Park gift shop.

You might think that the purpose of this National Park is to preserve these buildings, it is not, it is there to protect the water. Most hot springs, like Yellowstone for instance, are created by volcanic activity, this hot springs is different. The water does not smell like sulfer. It comes out of the ground at 400 degrees from 47 springs. They say the water that is coming out now fell as rain water over 4000 years ago. It is delicious, you can fill your jugs in several places, you are drinking untreated water, they only thing they do to it is cool it down. It is full of minerals which is what gives it its healing power. I enjoyed a massage...

...soaking in the pools at Quapaw Baths & Spa - I was there on a weekend and they were booked but soaking in the pools was wonderful.

This is a photo from their website. each of the 4 pools is a different temperature.

...and a full treatment at Buckstaff Baths that was like what you would have gotten 100 years ago, in the same tubs and steam (metal box with just your head sticking out), being wrapped in hot towels, it was heaven.

One day I did the massage and soaked in the pool for about 2 hours went back to the rv, went to sleep at 8 pm and didn't wake up until 8 am the next day.

The shops downtown weren't that great but I did see a few nice ones in other parts of town. I went to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, looked at the lake then drove to Little Rock.

In Little Rock (about 45 miles) I was impressed with the Arkansas Arts Center but my favorite thing was Mill Park.

There is an authentic reproduction of a water-powered grist mill there that is a reproduction of one built in the 1800'. It was built in 1939 and appears in the opening scene of the film Gone With The Wind. The neatest thing though were the bridges made from cement. I've written before about the bridges in near where I grew up in Michigan at Somerset. The bridges there and in Little Rock were built by artists from Mexico, but not the same people. I loved it!

The next day I took off for Gulf Shores.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

On the Road Again to Hot Springs and Gulf Shores Part 1

I just returned from a great trip in my RV - I guess I need to name her one of these days!

Michael always said going on vacation with me is like going on a forced march, in this case I guess he was right. When I retire I am going to slow down and enjoy a little more. I love seeing lots of things, I just would like to not have such time limitations.

I was in a hurry to get to Hot Springs and soak but I did take time to stop to take a few photos on the way.

One place was the Murray Mill. It is on Balls Creek and has a 28-foot waterwheel. It is open seasonally, I was just a few days too early. It's just off I-40 not far from Hickory.

It was built in 1913 and is surrounded by outbuildings, including the Murray and Minges General Store, the Wheathouse, the John Murray House and other small buildings.

Inside are millstones used for grinding corn and roller mills for grinding the wheat into flour.

Here is a link for more information.

I used to draw this type of things, I don't any more but am still interested in looking at them!

I own a grindstone, which is considerably smaller than these, that came from Grindstone City in Michigan. It is in the thumb of Michigan and when I was a child you could just go up there and pick them up, it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places so I'm sure that practice has stopped. If you are interested here is more information about it.  We also had a Grindstone City grindstone as a step into our home on Woerner Road at Manitou Beach, Michgian.

Right around the corner from Murray Mill is Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. It is one of only two covered bridges remaining in North Carolina. It was built in 1895 and they have created a nice little park so you have a nice place to park. For more information about the bridge.

On the way back to I40 I spotted this unusual skeleton. 

Upon closer examination I realize he is really Joseph with Mary by his side. Baby Jesus seems to be missing but his bed is there. You never know what you'll see if you pay attention!

I made a quick stop in Asheville at Highwater Clay to pick up some glaze then headed west. It started to rain and I decided I'd better get off the road. I took the next turnoff I saw for camping and what a treat it turned out to be.

I have been camping since I was a child. My folks took us to Canada and all over Northern Michigan and I continued to camp as an adult. Over the past 30 years I've camped in a 1967 VW Bus, a 2003 VW Eurovan, and now have a 2012 Pleasure Way Sprinter and in them have camped all over the country. So I have been in a lot of campgrounds and I can say the one I found that day was the nicest one I have ever been in.

They weren't open for the season yet, I was a few days early but they said everything was turned on so I was welcome to stay. 

The campground is on Lake Douglas in Tennessee and the view was wonderful. Each site was paved and landscaped with stone, grass, a fire place or a fire pit. The bathrooms were tiled and everything looked brand new. I was surprised when they said it was four years old. It has all the amenities pool, basket ball court, gold carts to rent, wifi, cable tv, etc. I give it a 5+!!

In my next post I'll talk about stops in Jackson, Tennessee, Memphis and other places along the way.

You may ask, what does this have to do with art and Carolina Creations.... it's how I get my inspiration, how I find new artists and how I get renewed.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Quick Trip to Baltimore and the Inner Harbor

From Philadelphia I journeyed to Baltimore.

There I like to stay at the Hyatt or the newly renovated Sonesta because of the views of the Inner Harbor.

From Philadelphia I journeyed to Baltimore.

There I like to stay at the Hyatt or the newly renovated Sonesta because of the views of the Inner Harbor.

I usually have no time to look around while I'm there but this time I did. My first stop was the Visionary Museum - I could see Volis Simpson's sculpture from my hotel room! I've stared at the sculpture for years and finally got to go. Michael and I met Volis several times in his workshop when we would take visitors to view his amazing wind sculptures near Wilson, NC. We have a small one on the corner of our third floor balcony. I've written other blog posts about him.

Volis Simpson Park in Wilson

Vollis Simpson

I was pleased to see that they acknowledged him in the elevator!

I loved a lot of things in the this museum including the 
beautiful glass and mirror mosiacs on the outside.

This crazy lady.

This wall art made out of bread!

From the Visionary Museum I took the water Taxi to Fells Point.

I had gone the night before via taxi, the taxi ride out was ok, the driver very nice and helpful.

The taxi ride back was not, the driver talked on his phone the entire time in a foreign language and was downright rude when we asked for a receipt.

I would highly recommend the water taxi instead, It cost $8 for all day plus who doesn't love a boat ride.

As far as Fells Point goes, the only real attraction there right now are the restaurants, if you aren't going to eat I wouldn't bother. It has been cleaned up quite a bit since my last visit 5 or 6 years ago.

One of the things I saw on my way that was really cool was this water vessel.

We pulled up right beside it and I wondered what in the world it was. When I got home I saw an article on facebook and thought "that's what it was!" Here's a link. 

It's a machine that picks trash out of the waterway.

Later that night I walked to the Walters Art Museum, which was very interesting and on the way saw this tower.

It's a Washington Monument that predates the Washington Monument in DC. You can walk up this one too. There is a small museum at the base. I'm told the view from the top is great.

The last stop for Baltimore was the Helmand Restaurant not far from the Monument and the Walters. The food is Afghani and the place was packed but we only had to wait a few minutes to be served. I gave it 4 1/2 stars!

Next stop New Bern, NC!