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Christmas Party Time!

Christmas is our favorite time of year, and when we’re not traveling, we love welcoming family and friends to our home. Today we’re sharing some of our decor and entertaining tips and tricks as well as a few of our favorite party food recipes. Come on in and stay awhile!

Christmas tree full of memories. Not all of the ornaments are from our travels, but we stopped counting them somewhere around 2,000.

Let’s Party

Decide what type of entertaining you want to do, pick a date, and send out the invitations! We enjoy having our friends and neighbors in for come and go open house type parties which avoid meals but include heavy hors d’oeuvres along with drinks and sweets. Our timeframe is usually from 7:00 – 10:00 in the evening, but with open houses anything goes. Think: brunch, cookies and cocoa, s’mores in the back yard, desserts only, or let your imagination run wild. In the following sections, we will show you how we do it at our house.

Photo by Nubia Navarro

The Bar

We put a table in an out of the way area of our living room away from the food and non-alcoholic drink tables. This is to keep traffic flowing and keeps the hard stuff away from the kid-friendly areas. Keep extra ice in a cooler hidden away in the garage, or outside. Tucking a box containing extra mixers under the bar makes them easy to replenish and keeps the bar top from being cluttered with too many bottles and cans.

This folding table bar works well for us, but a bar can be set up anywhere. Think: kitchen counter, entryway, patio or back porch, laundry room, or use a card table or bar cart.

Our bar includes one bottle each of scotch, blended whiskey, bourbon, tequila, gin, vodka. Mixers include still water, tonic and mineral water, ginger ale, and mini cans of Coke, and Sprite. Add cups, a bucket of ice, straws and/or swizzle sticks, napkins, a bar mat, and lemon and lime wedges for a great self-service bar.

Ranch Water: In a highball glass pour 1 shot of tequila, add ice and mineral water (Topo Chico is the brand we use), then finish with a squeeze or two of lime juice, stir and enjoy.

Photo by Timur Saglambilek – Pexels

We serve chilled wines in the kitchen, along with reusable acrylic wine glasses, napkins, and a corkscrew. Finally, we fill a galvanized tub with ice and beer and keep it in the kitchen too, along with an attached-to-the-tub bottle opener, a towel to wipe down the bottles, and plenty of napkins.

Party tip: Don’t chill bottled water. We have found that it cuts down on wasted bottles when guests have to pour it over ice in a cup.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks Bar

Hot cocoa bar along with iced tea, and cookies.

One of our newest holiday traditions is a hot cocoa bar, and now we’re including it in our parties. Try this delicious hot chocolate recipe. (Thank you, Diane!) Keep cocoa hot in a crock pot on low or warm but stir occasionally, then transfer to an airpot for serving. Accompaniments include Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (it’s possible that you will never drink hot chocolate without them again!), peppermint stick stirrers, and mini marshmallows. Serve unsweet iced tea (or hot tea, cider, or coffee) and add a tray with sugar, artificial sweetener, and spoons for stirring. Provide guests with a dish in which to place used spoons.

Party tip: Bar mats under your drink dispensers will keep messy drips off of the table.

Bring On the Food

In this section, we’re sharing some of our favorite dishes to serve on a Christmas open house buffet along with their recipes. Nothing we serve requires silverware.

Christmas party buffet
Hand Helds
  • Mini shrimp cocktails served in shot glasses. Pipe about a tablespoon of cocktail sauce in the bottom of the shot glass, add two chilled shrimp per shooter, and serve on a tray of ice.
Mini shrimp cocktails
  • Make ahead mini cheese balls with pretzel stick handles. Buy ready-made cheese balls, then use a spoon to scoop out enough to make a 1″ ball. Roll into ball with your hands. Insert pretzel sticks just before serving. Two medium store-bought cheese balls should make about 2.5 dozen.
Caprese Skewers
  • Make ahead caprese skewers. Alternate grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls on bamboo skewers. Just before serving, drizzle with store bought balsamic glaze (not vinegar) and sprinkle with fresh chopped or dried basil.
  • Cocktail Meat Balls: 16 oz jar of grape jelly, 16 oz bottle of Heinz chili sauce, 32 oz package of frozen meatballs. Mix jelly and chili sauce together in slow cooker, add frozen meatballs and stir until coated. Cook on low 3-4 hours. Provide toothpicks for serving.
  • Smoky bacon wraps: 1 lb sliced pre-cooked bacon, 16 oz package of little smoky type sausages, 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut each bacon slice into thirds and stretch to wrap one piece around each sausage. Secure by poking a toothpick through the sausage to hold bacon in place. Place bacon wrapped sausages in a large foil lined baking pan or cookie sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sausage is heated through. Note: we use the pre-cooked bacon because it crisps better and faster than uncooked, but uncooked bacon may be used with a longer cooking time. (Consider doubling the recipe because these will be gone in a flash.)

Party tip: Place a large, labeled tray near your kitchen sink where guests can set reusable items such as the shot glasses and wine glasses.

Grab a Plate
  • Meat and cheese tray. Serve along with mustard, mayonnaise, and slider buns for make-it-yourself sandwiches.

Party tip: If guests will be making their own sandwiches, leave a space on the buffet table for them to set their plate down.

Veggie tray with ranch dip
  • Veggie Tray with store bought ranch dip. We slice the vegetables and arrange them ourselves. Try carrot and celery sticks, three different colors of bell peppers sliced into sticks, mini cucumbers, radishes, sugar snap peas (blanch then refrigerate sugar snaps before adding to the tray).
  • Seven-layer Taco Dip. Layer: one large can of refried beans, one large tub of guacamole dip, one large container of sour cream mixed with 1 package of mild taco seasoning, 2 cups of shredded cheese of choice, chopped tomatoes – blotted dry with paper towels, large can of sliced black olives – drained, sliced green onions including tops. Serve with tortilla chips. (Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated but wait until just before serving to add the tomatoes, olives, and green onions.)
Chunky Cranberry Salsa
  • Chunky Cranberry Salsa: 12 oz package of fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 6 green onions – chopped, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves – chopped, 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, 8 oz package of cream cheese – softened. Pulse cranberries and sugar in food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in onions, cilantro and jalapeno. Refrigerate at least two hours but better if refrigerated overnight. Place cream cheese block on serving plate, drain salsa then spoon about half of it over the cream cheese. (The remainder will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but don’t expect it to last long because this stuff is addicting!) Serve with crackers and/or tortilla chips.

Party tip: Place a lined trash can near each drink and food area so guests can easily dispose of their trash.

Other Buffet Table Ideas
  • Mixed nuts and/or mints
  • Chips and salsa
  • Dips, spreads and assorted crackers
  • Pickle/relish tray
Desserts – Photo by Laura James
Oh, How Sweet

Desserts don’t have to be fancy, so we keep ours hand-held and simple. Here are some of our favorite store or bakery bought desserts.

  • Assorted chocolates arranged on a tiered serving tray
  • Brownie bites or fudge – place in pretty Christmas themed paper baking cups and arrange on a tray
  • One bite petit fours or mini cupcakes on a cake stand or tiered tray
  • Christmas cookie assortment

We are fortunate to have a little countertop in our dining room that works perfectly for a small dessert buffet. Dessert buffets can be set up anywhere though. Think: kitchen countertop, coffee table, entry table, desktop, bookcase etc.

Thank you so much for allowing us to share our Christmas entertaining tips and recipes. Whether you celebrate Christmas or other holidays, we hope we’ve given you some ideas that can be used for any party or family get together.

Five of the reasons our Christmases are merry and bright!

We hope each and every one of you are blessed with a joyful and safe holiday season.

Mike and Kellye

 

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!)

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

We Are Thankful

We originally made this post in 2019. Nothing has changed with us since then as we are still very thankful – perhaps even more so. For those of you who are not celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we hope that you find time in your busy schedules to reflect on what you are thankful for.

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We are thankful for our freedom, and grateful to those who have served and sacrificed to keep our country free. We are proud to be Americans. We fly the flag proudly, and we pray for the wisdom, judgment, and vision of our leaders so that we and future generations can continue to live happily and peacefully in this land of the free and the home of the brave.

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We are thankful for the freedom to roam. Free to travel with a sense of security. To see for ourselves the beautiful and historic lands that our forefathers preserved for us to admire and explore. Why leave this country when we have such magnificence in our own back yard?

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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon on a crisp September morning

We are thankful for our home. We are blessed with the good fortune to have a place to land after a trip. A place where we feel at peace after a long day’s work. A place for family to gather.

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We are thankful for you. One for the Money Two for the Road blog would not be worth the time and effort if it weren’t for our friends and followers. Words can’t express how appreciative we are for your support of our site and our posts.

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We are thankful for each other. After forty-six years together, neither of us can imagine being without the other on this crazy journey we call life.

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We are thankful for our friends and family. Our lives are so very blessed with our children, our grandchildren, Kellye’s mother, our siblings, our in-laws, our nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as all of our other wonderful extended family, including good friends who we consider part of the clan.

We give thanks and praise to God. We would have nothing to be thankful for if not for His undeniable grace. May each and every one of you be blessed with a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Mike and Kellye

 

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Chasing a November Sunset

We were driving home from Dallas when we saw this spectacular sunset out in the middle of scrub brush and ranch land. We were fortunate that it lasted over an hour, and we got to chase it home! Just wanted to share it with you.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Mike and Kellye

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Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

About the site

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site preserves the history of White Haven, the 200-year-old estate that was once home to Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. The park is located at 7400 Grant Road, St. Louis, Missouri.

The house was painted Paris Green in 1874 during Grant’s presidency and was repainted the same color during its restoration in the 1990s. The red buildings behind the house are the icehouse and chicken coop. We only took a couple of non-post-worthy pictures inside the house because our guide, Ranger Evan, was extremely interesting to listen to as she led us through the property.

Highlights of the park include:

  • Visitor center and gift shop/bookstore
  • Introductory film
  • Museum
  • Self-guided walk through the grounds
  • Self-guided tour featuring the historic trees on the property
  • Ranger-led tours of the house
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • John Y. Simon Research Library – by appointment only

The park’s website link: Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Importance of the historic site

Ulysses S. Grant was not only the victorious commanding general of the Union Army during the Civil War, but he was also the 18th President of the United States. Grant served two terms as president from 1869 – 1877. His wife and First Lady, Julia Dent Grant spent her childhood at White Haven. Her father, Frederick Dent, who was a successful merchant and land speculator, purchased White Haven in 1820 as a country get away from the family’s city home in St. Louis. It is hard to imagine today that the family’s second home was only twelve miles from their primary residence.

Historic photo, White Haven, circa 1860
Another view of the house that we almost matched to the historic image above. The white structure behind the house is a kitchen and laundry.

Ulysses and Julia at White Haven

Ulysses met Julia in 1843 when he visited White Haven with his former West Point roommate who happened to be her older brother, Fred. After courting for only four months, Julia accepted Ulysses’ proposal, which they kept secret for over a year. However, due to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War they wouldn’t marry until 1848. Ulysses served in the U.S. Army for eleven years prior to resigning and joining his wife at White Haven in 1854 to try farming. He built a cabin on an 80-acre plot that Julia’s father had given the couple as a wedding gift, and they named the property Hardscrabble. While Grant owned one enslaved worker, a man named William Jones who had been given to him by Julia’s father, he also hired free men to work on the farm.

Hardscrabble – photo from the Library of Congress. The Grants lived in this cabin for only three months. Upon the death of her mother, Julia’s father asked her, Ulysses, and their two children to live in his White Haven home with him. They never returned to Hardscrabble. The cabin can now be seen at the family amusement venue, Grant’s Farm, which is next door to the historic site.

Grant’s Pre-Civil War Years

By 1858 Grant, now with four children, was unable to support the family by farming, but instead of selling his one slave to make money he freed the man. Slavery was a topic on which he and his father-in-law greatly differed, as Frederick Dent’s White Haven was a slave plantation. Nonetheless, after failing at farming and on the verge of being penniless, Grant leased Hardscrabble and moved his family to St. Louis where he began a real estate venture. Unfortunately, real estate was not a successful career either, so he moved his family to Galena, Illinois and went to work in his family’s leather goods business. During this time Frederick Dent lost much of White Haven to foreclosure. He also began deeding acreages to his children. Then in December of 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. By February 1861, six other states had seceded and had formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War had begun.

This view of the back of the house shows the kitchen and laundry that was separate from the house.

Grant’s Civil War Years

After the war began, the governor of Illinois appointed Grant to lead a regiment of volunteers. Grant was so successful in training the men and gaining their respect that President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to Brigadier General. As the war continued, Lincoln became displeased with the North’s military leadership. Therefore, in March of 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant General-in-Chief of the U. S. Army, a rank that had only ever been held by George Washington. Over the following year Grant, who sometimes joined his subordinates in battle, successfully led the North to victory. Despite heavy casualties, he settled for nothing less than unconditional and immediate surrenders, which earned him the nickname, “Unconditional Surrender Grant”. The war ended on April 9, 1865, with the South’s General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Grant at Virginia’s Appomattox Courthouse.

Lee surrenders to Grant – Library of Congress image

Grant’s Post-Civil War Years

After the war, President Andrew Johnson appointed Grant Secretary of War of the reconstructing nation. During and after the war the Grants had purchased White Haven from Julia’s siblings and father and regained Hardscrabble. In 1868, Grant was elected President of the United States, having won against incumbent Andrew Johnson. The Grants moved into the White House in 1869 and hired Ulysses’ cousin’s husband to manage the farm at White Haven. By this time, Dent’s former enslaved workers had left, and French and German immigrants were hired as laborers. Grant had a barn and stables built at White Haven and began buying horses. The Grants visited White Haven as often as possible and planned to spend their retirement years there. However, the farming and livestock operation failed to make money, so in 1875, Grant sold White Haven’s assets and leased out the property. They would never return.

This stable housed Grant’s thoroughbreds. Today it houses the park’s museum.

Trivia: General Grant and Julia had been invited to join President Lincoln and the First Lady in the balcony of Ford’s Theater on April 15, 1865, the night the President was assassinated. However, the Grants had declined the invitation due to Julia wanting to visit relatives in New Jersey.

Ulysses S. Grant standing next to his wife Julia Dent Grant, who is sitting
Ulysses and Julia in 1864 or 1865 – National Park Service photo.

Grant’s Post-Presidency Years

Julia had wanted her husband to run for a third presidential term, but he refused by publicly renouncing his interest. The former President and First Lady set off on a two-year world tour, fulfilling Grant’s lifelong dream of travel.  Upon their return to the U.S., he sought to win the Republican nomination for president in the 1880 election, but the party chose James A. Garfield as their candidate. Ulysses and Julia settled in New York to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer in the summer of 1884. Early in 1885, the former president began writing his memoirs. Three months before his death, Grant found that he had lost his fortune to an investment scam perpetrated by his son Jesse’s business partner. Because of the swindle, the Grants also lost White Haven. He completed his memoirs just three days before his death on July 23, 1885.

Ulysses S. Grant

Museum Exhibits

Click on an image to view as a gallery.

The Grant Family: Nellie, Ulysses, Jesse, Frederick, Julia, and Ulysses, Jr.

Trivia: Ulysses S. Grant is not the former president’s actual name. His given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. However, when his congressman submitted Ulysses’ application to West Point, he mistakenly wrote down Ulysses Simpson Grant, Simpson having been Ulysses’ mother’s maiden name. After attempting to correct the mistake at West Point to no avail, Ulysses finally gave up and signed his name as Ulysses S. Grant. The name would follow him throughout the rest of his life and into history.

Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. We learned a lot during our visit, and we hope you did too.

Want to learn about other American presidents? Click on these great parks:

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Monticello

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road.

Mike & Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

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Route 66 – Missouri

While the title of our post is Route 66 – Missouri, we have covered the route stops we made in Kansas too. Kansas only has 14 miles of the route, but we didn’t want to leave it out. Enjoy the trip!

Americana at its best!

The Route

U.S. Highway 66, better known as Route 66, was the first paved highway to connect the Midwest to the West Coast. The highway runs 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. After the creation of the first national highway system, construction on the road began in 1926.

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985 which led to the demise of many small towns and businesses whose survival depended on the road. Today the cities and states through which the old route passes preserve portions of the original road. Additionally, in 2001, the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program was established to help preserve historic places along the route. Administered by the National Park Service, the program collaborates with businesses, cities, and others by providing cost-share grants for restoration of some of the route’s icons.

Our kind of backroad. With the occasional farm, a few scattered houses, and a town once in a while, Route 66 through Missouri looked much like this.

Click here for a short National Park Service article on the history of Route 66.

Cuba, Missouri

The Missouri stretch of the Mother Road begins in St. Louis, or Joplin depending on which direction you’re going. However, our journey began in St. Louis, and we hopped on and off the route as we navigated our way through the city. Our first stop was in Cuba where we had lunch at Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q. The restaurant is not an original icon on the route, though with their delicious food it is undoubtedly a new one. Who doesn’t love a barbecue restaurant that has five different sauces on its tables along with cucumber and onion salad on their menu as a side?

Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q

Next door to Missouri Hick is the historic Wagon Wheel Motel which opened in 1936 as tourist cabins along with a gas station and cafe. Originally named Wagon Wheel Cabins, the motel was a popular stop on Route 66. During the mid 1940s the gas station and cafe were sold separately to other owners. A change of the name to Wagon Wheel Motel came with a change in ownership in 1947. In 2003, the motel was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and upon receiving grant assistance through the National Park Service, it was renovated in 2010. The Wagon Wheel still hosts overnight guests as the oldest continuously operated motel on Route 66. Today the gas station and cafe house a gift shop.

Route 66 icon – Wagon Wheel Motel
The Wagon Wheel Motel’s gas station and cafe

Navagating the Route

By the time we left Cuba, we had figured out how to travel the route using Google Maps. Even though we had three Route 66 guidebooks at our fingertips, Google turned out to be a better option for us. Google doesn’t show the route as a major highway, nor does it use the old road for trip planning. However, Route 66 is designated on Google Maps and can be seen by zooming in on the screen. Our trick was to ask Google for directions to the next town on the route and selecting the “avoid highways” option. This method worked very well for us though we did refer to the guidebooks at times. Sometimes the route dead ends, which requires getting on the interstate.

The Fanning Route 66 Outpost and General Store is located four miles west of Cuba, Missouri in the unincorporated community of Fanning.
The Route 66 Red Rocker sits next to the Fanning Route 66 Outpost and General Store.

Built in 2008 for the purpose of becoming the world’s largest rocking chair, this big guy actually claimed the Guiness Book of World Records title. However, a bigger rocking chair in Casey, Illinois took the title away in 2015. Renamed Route 66 Red Rocker, it is now touted as the biggest rocker on the route. The gigantic chair is 42 feet tall, 20 feet wide, and weighs in at 27,500 pounds.

Uranus

Yes, it’s a place. Yes, it’s a funny name. And yes, there’s a guy in Missouri who is laughing all the way to the bank! According to the guy, Louie Keen, who is the owner and mayor, Uranus is not a town it is a destination. We thought Uranus was the ultimate tourist trap, and we are (almost) ashamed to admit that we dropped a wad of cash there.

Uranus – good for some kicks on Route 66

The fudge factory does, in fact, have some of the best fudge we’ve ever tasted. We ended up leaving there with some of the chocolate-peanut butter, the cookies and creme, and Butterfinger flavors. All were sinfully delicious. Unfortunately, the gigantic gift shop attached to the fudge factory was out – yes, out – of Christmas ornaments. What tourist trap gift shop runs out of Christmas ornaments? Anyway, since ornaments are the only souvenirs that we ever buy, we had to settle for this car air freshener:

We’re almost afraid to open the package for fear of it smelling like an overly strong pine scented cleaning product. Maybe we will just leave it in its wrapper and find a place for it on the back of the tree.

Nope, definitely no false advertising here. There really is a Circus Sideshow Museum in Uranus, and at $6.00 per person… Well, let’s just say it was a deal for somebody, but not us. Though for those who’ve never seen a real merman or a two-headed baboon, it might be worth the money.

There’s even a jail in Uranus.

Moving on to Lebanon

Lebanon, Missouri was a nice place to stop for the night. While we did cruise Route 66 through the town, we didn’t find much in the way of nostalgic sights. Like so many cities on Route 66, old motels and gas stations that are now other businesses or in ruins are basically all that are left. We did, however, find a lovely city park that had murals and timelines depicting the city’s history and Route 66 heritage.

Mural in Boswell Park, Lebanon, Missouri

After being in the car all day, we were glad to have time to learn about the city and take a short stroll around the park’s pretty garden area.

After leaving the park, we headed to the most famous Route 66 icon in Lebanon: The Munger-Moss Motel. Nellie Draper Munger and her husband, Emmett Moss opened a cafe and filling station on the site 1945. In 1946, they added the motel which, under different ownership, still welcomes guests today.

Route 66 icon

Although the motel looks very nice, the vintage sign is what we fell in love with. With its mid-century style and bright colors, it brought back childhood vacation memories for both of us.

The neon sign was refurbished in 2010 with a grant share through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it at night. Though we did get to eat dinner at a great restaurant, Brickhouse Grill, which serves classic American fare ranging from wings and burgers to steaks and seafood. The food and service were wonderful, creating a perfect ending to a long day on the route.

Carthage, Missouri

For those who might be wondering why we skipped Springfield, it’s because we chose to visit a couple of national park sites instead. Since we’re trying to visit all of them, national parks are always our first priority. After the second park, however, we got back on Route 66 at Carthage. Carthage has several notable Route 66 sites, but our mission was to see the Jasper County courthouse.

Jasper County courthouse

The Jasper County courthouse was built in 1894-1895 and is constructed of local Carthage marble This gorgeous building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Town square, Carthage, Missouri

While we were there, we took a stroll around the town square. Our walk led to learning about a Civil War battle that we had not heard of before. The Battle of Carthage took place right where we were in the town square on July 5, 1861.

From Carthage, we took Route 66 west to Joplin. There are some murals that we wanted to see there, but not much else with regard to nostalgia. However, we arrived in the 5:00 traffic, and by the time we got to our turn-off downtown, we found the streets blocked off for some sort of street fair. Of course, we were disappointed, but we decided to skip Joplin and drive on to Galena, Kansas.

Mural in Galena, Kansas

The Kansas Stretch

The Kansas stretch of Route 66 was only ever 14 miles long, but remarkably, 13 of them are still drivable. Our first stop was in Galena which is a delightful small town.

Cute Texaco gas station that is now a curio shop, but since it was early evening when we arrived, they were already closed.

Our camera battery died after the shot above, but that didn’t stop us. We drove through the charming little town that helped inspire the Pixar movie “Cars” and used our cell phones for photos. Another converted gas station, Cars on the Route, is a cafe and gift shop that features some of the characters from the movie. We didn’t see Lightning McQueen or Doc Hudson, but the place was fun to see and photograph.

Cars on the Route. We do love retro gas stations.
A replicated “Tow-Mater” at Cars on the Route
“Red” was the shy fire engine in the movie.

After Galena, we drove 12 miles to our next stop near Riverton, Kansas. Brush Creek Bridge is the only Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge remaining on Route 66 in Kansas. Two others were dismantled in the 1990s. The concrete bridge was built in 1923 and is still drivable! Also known as Rainbow Bridge, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Grant share funds helped make repairs to the bridge in 2005.

Rainbow Bridge

Thanks so much for joining us on Route 66 through Missouri (and Kansas)! Stay tuned for “More Kicks on Route 66” through Oklahoma which is coming soon.

Need more road trip inspiration? Check out these great destinations:

Bar Harbor, Maine

Abilene, Texas Road Trip: Things to Do

Death Valley National Park

 

Travel safely, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

George Washington Carver National Monument

George Washington Carver National Monument turned out to be a delightful diversion from our Route 66 journey through Missouri. We thought our visit would be short because we arrived with few expectations and very little knowledge about the site or the man. However, this turned out to be one of the best stops of our road trip, and while we spent more than two hours at the park, we could have stayed much longer.

Beautiful drive into the extremely well-maintained national park site

Where is it?

The monument is located at 5646 Carver Road in Diamond, Missouri.

Features of the site include:

  • Visitor center and gift shop
  • Introductory film
  • Three levels of museum exhibits with a special area for kids
  • Guided and self-guided tours of the one-mile Carver Trail
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • Picnic area

Link to the monument’s website here.

The gorgeous gardens and grounds at George Washington Carver National Monument were worth the stop alone.

Why is this national monument significant?

The monument preserves the birthplace and honors the extraordinary life of George Washington Carver. It was on the site that George was born to an enslaved woman named Mary in 1864. No records exist to show his exact birthdate, and very little is known about Mary except that she was about thirteen years old when she was purchased by Moses Carver. What is known, however, is that George Washington Carver faced a great deal of adversity throughout his younger life. Though despite the odds, he became one of the most respected environmental agriculturalists and teachers the country has ever known. Furthermore, George Washington Carver National Monument is the first national monument to an African American.

This structure represents the approximate location of Mary’s one room log cabin and the birthplace of George Washington Carver.

George’s Early Years

George’s parents, Giles and Mary, were purchased in 1855 by Moses Carver, a German American immigrant who farmed in southwestern Missouri. Giles, who by some accounts was actually owned by a neighbor, died in an accident before George was born. When George was only a few weeks old, Arkansas night riders, who were known to terrorize blacks, kidnapped him, his mother, and his sister. George’s brother, James, somehow escaped the kidnapping, but the other three were taken to Kentucky and sold. Moses Carver hired a man to find them, but he was only able to find George, and Carver had to “buy” the baby back by rewarding the man with a $300.00 horse. The Carvers raised George and James as their own children and gave them their name. No one knows what happened to Mary or her daughter.

“Boy Carver Statue” by Robert Amendola, 1961

George’s Boyhood Years

As a boy, George enjoyed a daily trek into the woods where he would pray and absorb the beauty of his surroundings. With an innate sense of curiosity, he became interested in the plants that grew near his home. Moses Carver and his wife Susan had taught George and James the basics of reading and writing. However, young George yearned for more – he wanted to go to school. Black children could not attend the public school in Diamond, so at about age twelve George left home and walked eleven miles to Neosho, Missouri where he knew there was a school that would accept him. Information about James is unclear, but he left the Carver’s farm and went to Fayetteville, Arkansas around the time George went to Neosho. Later, he may have worked as a house painter or plasterer in Missouri. James died of Smallpox in 1883 at the age of 23.

The Carver Homestead

This is a restored version of the Carver’s second home built in 1881. George likely visited the Carvers here, but he never lived in the house.

Excerpt from a park information board:

“In the 1860s and 1870s Moses Carver grew hundreds of bushels of oats, corn, hay, and Irish potatoes in these fields. The farm where young George played and worked also produced fruit, wool, beeswax, honey, molasses, and livestock. When he left, G. W. Carver carried with him the conviction that farmers should be self-sufficient and good stewards of what had been entrusted to them…ideas he learned living here.”

The Carver family cemetery where Moses and Susan Carver, along with other members of the family as well as neighbors are buried. The last burial here was in 1919.

A Thirst for Knowledge

After spending two years in Neosho under the care of a woman named Mariah Watkins, George left to travel to Kansas with a group of people who were traveling west. Over the next few years, he traveled around the Midwest attending secondary school and working, usually as a domestic. He graduated from Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas. In the late 1880s, George found himself in Winterset, Iowa where he enrolled in nearby Simpson College to study the fine arts of painting and music. One year later, he enrolled in the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm in Ames, Iowa, now Iowa State University. It was there that he earned a bachelor’s degree in in 1894 and a graduate degree two years later. After graduation, he became the first black faculty member of the university.

Black and white image on George Washington Carver as a teenager.
George as a teenager – National Park Service image

Tuskegee Institute

In 1896 Booker T. Washington asked George to head the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. George accepted and spent the next 47 years educating students as well as farmers. Although he was sometimes referred to as Dr. Carver, he never earned a doctorate degree. However, Selma University and Simpson College each awarded him with honorary doctorates of science. In 1994 Iowa State University issued a doctorate of humane letters posthumously.

The national monument has recreated Carver’s Tuskegee Institute classroom in its museum.

The Peanut Man

In addition to teaching, Carver did extensive plant research, especially with peanuts. He established an agricultural extension service, later issuing a bulletin entitled “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption” and encouraged cotton and tobacco farmers to rotate their crops with peanuts in order to restore nitrogen to their soil. With the invasion of boll weevils, many southern cotton farmers followed Carver’s advice by turning to peanuts. As a result, former cotton mills retooled to become peanut oil mills. Some say George Washington Carver saved the south’s farm economy due to his crop rotation and soil enrichment methods. His tireless research resulted in over 300 uses for peanuts and hundreds of uses for other food plants such as soybeans and sweet potatoes.

An exhibit from the museum at the national monument

Some of Carver’s uses for peanuts included:

  • foodstuffs such as mayonnaise, carmel, chili sauce, and coffee
  • cosmetics such as shampoo, face powder, and hand lotion
  • industrial items such as rubber, plastic, insecticides, and paint
George Washington Carver (center front) and staff, 1902 – Library of Congress image

There is no doubt the man was a brilliant biologist. However, in addition to his teaching and research career, Carver was a promoter of racial equality and traveled throughout the South spreading his message. He never married, and he spent his life living in a dormitory on the Tuskegee Institute campus. When George got older, his good friend and automotive manufacturer Henry Ford had an elevator installed in the dormitory so that George would be able to access his lab without having to use the stairs. Sadly, George died on January 5, 1943, after falling down the stairs in his home. He is buried next to Booker T. Washington on the campus of Tuskegee University.

The National Monument

The national monument is interesting on the inside and beautiful on the outside. Below are some additional photographs of the site.

A perfect reflection of nature, this creek would have piqued the interest of a curious little boy. It certainly piqued ours!
While it isn’t a peanut plant, this stunning zinnia would have undoubtedly been of interest to George.
Turtles sunning themselves on a log during an algae bloom in their pond.
Beautyberry
Trail through the woods. Perhaps we walked in George’s footsteps here.
White clematis

Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to George Washington Carver National Monument!

Want to visit more national monuments? Click on these interesting destinations:

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Colorado National Monument

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

National Corvette Museum

Where is it?

The National Corvette Museum is in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green has been home to the Corvette assembly plant since it was relocated from St. Louis, Missouri in 1981. The National Corvette Museum opened in its current location in 1994. Click here for the museum’s website.

National Corvette Museum – photo by Rich Howard

Trivia: Corvette sports cars were named for a fast type of naval warship also called Corvette.

History of the American sports car

This beauty is not an American sports car. It is a 1947, British built MG TC Roadster.

The MG (Morris Garage) Midget was the car that most people believe started the American sports car craze. Many of these cars were imported from Europe by returning American G.I.s after World War II. MG Roadsters then began turning up in races around the U.S., and it was this model, along with the sleek Jaguar XK120, that inspired the first ideas for the Corvette.

The 1951 Crosley Super Sport

After World War II, Crosley Motors, Inc. began producing the Hotshot and Super Sport. Crosley’s Super Sport, an updated version of the Hotshot, was introduced in 1951 and included doors which the Hotshot didn’t have. These models were considered the first American sports cars to be built in the post war era. Unfortunately, Crosley Motors closed in 1952 after only eleven model years of automobile production; however, their closing opened a door for General Motors and a design genius named Harley Earl.

A brilliant concept!

The father of America’s sports car

The son of a carriage and wagon builder, Harley Earl grew up in Hollywood, California. In 1906, after watching automobiles become extremely popular, Harley’s father changed his business from Earl Carriage Works to Earl Automotive Works. Harley would go on to Stamford University to study art and engineering because his dream was to build cars his own way. By 1916, his father’s business was building custom automobiles and accessories in the largest manufacturing plant on the west coast. Harley made a name for himself as an artist and designer and became highly popular after designing custom automobiles for several Hollywood actors. Fast forward to 1926 when he was hired by General Motors. Harley Earl was the first designated head of design at General Motors. His secretive “Project Opel” resulted in the Chevrolet Corvette. America’s sports car was first produced in 1953, and the rest is automotive history.

1955 model Corvette. While the 6-cylinder engine was available, 693 out of the 700 Corvettes produced in 1955 had the all-new small-block 265 V-8 engine. This cool car had a top speed of 120 miles per hour.
This interesting car is a 1946 Stout Y46 Concept Car and was the first fully fiberglass automobile in history. Having cost over $100,000 dollars to build, this car is the only one of its kind. That was a lot of money in 1946 and in today’s dollars would cost about $1.4 million.

Nostalgia Gallery

Our favorite exhibit in the museum’s nostalgia gallery: A vintage Mobil gas station servicing nothing but vintage Corvettes!
1960s Chevrolet dealer’s showroom. Check out the cool cars, then check out the cool candy machine!
St. Louis assembly plant exhibit

Trivia: Approximately 225 of the of the first 300 Corvettes that were built still exist today.

Corvettes on the racetrack

We didn’t spend a lot of time reading about Corvette’s racing history because it was so hard to keep our eyes off of the cars! Here are a few that really grabbed our attention.

2002 Corvette C5R GTI race car
This 1962 Corvette was once part of Grady Davis’s Gulf Oil Racing Team and was reportedly sold at auction in 2015 for $1.65 million.
They are all so cool!

Trivia: In 1954, the Chevrolet Corvette became the first production automobile with a molded fiberglass reinforced plastic body. The 1963 Corvette is the only model with a split rear window.

The Skydome

The best-known landmark in Bowling Green is the Skydome, which is the round yellow section of the museum featuring a tall red spire. (See it in the photo at the top of the post.) Inside the museum the Skydome showcases a selection of privately owned and one-of-a-kind Corvettes from their beginning in 1953 to the present day. In 2014 a portion of the floor of the Skydome collapsed into a sinkhole and sent eight Corvettes crashing into a cave.

Exhibit describing where the sinkhole opened up and swallowed eight cars.

A small plexiglass covered manhole in the floor enables visitors to look down into the cave. The museum also features a great exhibit that explains the cave and why the floor caved in.

Entering this exhibit may bring tears to the eyes of the manliest motorheads!

Click here for a short YouTube video of the initial part of the cave in from the museum’s security camera. There are videos of the cave in on the National Corvette Museum’s website as well. The fortunate thing about the collapse is that it happened around 5:30 in the morning, so no visitors or employees were in the building at the time. 

All eight of the sinkhole Corvettes have now been restored, and while all of them are beautiful, this black with red interior 1962 model was our favorite. The photographs on the Skydome’s wall are of Corvette Hall of Fame inductees.

Trivia: All of the first year (1953) Corvettes were painted Polo White with black convertible tops and Sportsman Red interiors.

Museum Delivery

New Corvette purchasers have the option to take delivery of their car at the National Corvette Museum and actually drive it off of the floor. Two lucky people were picking up their shiny new Corvettes while we were there. Several other new Corvettes were lined up and waiting for their new owners to arrive later in the week. Getting to watch all the fanfare (and hear them rev their engines) was exciting for us too – even if afterward we had to get in our 11-year-old SUV and head on down the road.

Pretty new cars waiting for their new owners to drive them off of the museum floor.
We’ll take two please; one for him and one for her! Who doesn’t love that stingray emblem?

Thanks so much for joining us on our tour of the National Corvette Museum. We hope that you will add it to your itinerary if you’re ever near Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is definitely worth the stop.

Need a little more road trip inspiration? Check out these amazing destinations!

Things to Do in San Antonio: River Walk

National Route 66 Museum

Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Where is it?

Fort Donelson National Battlefield is located near Dover, Tennessee.

The park features:

  • Visitor center and gift shop
  • Self-guided auto tour
  • Hiking trails
  • Picnic area
  • Camping is available nearby at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and at Paris Landing State Park

Click here for the park’s website link: Fort Donelson

Confederate Monument, Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Why is Fort Donelson significant?

The battle was one of the first major victories of the Civil War for the Union and for Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. More importantly, the Union’s victory at Fort Donelson gave them control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, the southern half of Kentucky, and middle Tennessee which included Nashville. With railroads and river access, Nashville became an important supply depot for the Union Army. The battle, which took place on February 11-16, 1862, ended upon the Confederates’ surrender at the Dover Hotel. General Simon Bolivar Buckner was the first Confederate general to surrender during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant to Major General after this successful campaign. Buckner, on the other hand, was sent north to spend five months in a Massachusetts prisoner of war camp.

The Dover Hotel

The Dover Hotel also known as Surrender House sits on the bank of the Cumberland River

An excerpt from a National Park Service wayside information board:

“On February 16, 1862, the Battle of Fort Donelson ended when Union forces captured the fort after five days of conflict. The Union and Confederate generals met at the Dover Hotel to conduct the final surrender terms. The Confederates relinquished the fort, which allowed the North access to the Cumberland River. This changed the course of the Civil War by giving the Union a way to invade the rest of the South.” 

Trivia: The Dover Hotel is the only existing original structure where a Civil War surrender took place.

The “unconditional and immediate” surrender

Grant and Buckner were friends, having attended the United States Military Academy at West Point together. The two men also served together in the Mexican-American War. They were unfortunately forced into opposing each other on Fort Donelson’s battlefield. During the signing of the surrender documents, Grant reportedly offered to lend Buckner money to tide him over until his release from the prison camp. It was a generous offer, but one that Buckner politely declined. After the war, Grant was elected President of the United States (1869-1877) and Buckner was elected Governor of Kentucky (1877-1891). The two men remained friends until Grant died poverty-stricken in 1885, after having lost his fortune to a swindling business partner of his son. Buckner graciously paid for Grant’s funeral as well as served as a pallbearer. He also provided Grant’s widow with a monthly stipend to help support her financially.

Inside the Dover Hotel

Meanwhile along the banks of the Cumberland River

An excerpt from a National Park Service wayside information board:

“Thirteen thousand dejected Confederate defenders of Fort Donelson huddled here [on the bank of the Cumberland River] against the cold on February 16, 1862. They had fought long and hard against Grant’s forces and did not consider themselves defeated. They had been surrendered against their will and now waited to be transported north. Never before in the Civil War had so many prisoners been taken, and the poorly clad Confederates could only guess what awaited them. After being issued two days’ rations and allowed to keep “their clothing, blankets, and such personal property as may be carried about the person,” the prisoners were shipped 120 miles to Cairo, Illinois. From there, trains carried them to prison camps in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Massachusetts. In September 1862 most of the prisoners were exchanged for Union soldiers being held in Confederate prison camps.”

Camp Douglas Prison Grounds Chicago.png
Library of Congress image of Camp Douglas Prison Grounds, Chicago, Illinois

The camps that housed the Fort Donelson prisoners were:

  • Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois – housed enlisted men and no longer exists.
  • Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois – housed enlisted men and exists as Camp Butler National Cemetery today.
  • Camp Morton, Indianapolis, Indiana – housed enlisted men and no longer exists.
  • Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio – housed officers and a portion exists today as Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.
  • Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio – housed officers and a portion exists as a Confederate cemetery.
  • Fort Warren, Boston, Massachusetts – housed officers and is now a National Historic Landmark and tourist site.
Rebel prisoners, Camp Morton, Indianapolis | Library of Congress
Rebel prisoners, Camp Morton, Indianapolis – Library of Congress

Fort Donelson National Cemetery

Fort Donelson National Cemetery was established in 1867 as a final resting place for Union troops who had been buried elsewhere around the area. In all, 670 of the graves here are Civil War burials. More than 900 additional graves are the final resting places of veterans of other American wars and their family members. Sadly, 519 of the burials here are of unknowns from the Civil War. Confederate soldiers were buried in other cemeteries because their loyalties were not to the United States (Union).

Cemetery Lodge

Cemetery lodge, built in 1877, served as the office and living quarters for the cemetery keeper until 1931. The Second Empire (French) style structure now houses the park’s administrative offices. 

Interestingly, the original late 1800s version of this cemetery featured wooden headstones. Today the headstones appear to be made of engraved marble or granite and many are arranged in swirl and circle patterns. Fort Donelson National Cemetery covers 15 acres and is surrounded by a limestone retaining wall with wrought iron gates.

Trivia: Several national cemeteries were established during the Civil War; however, more were sanctioned by the passage of the National Cemeteries Act in 1867. The act tasked the U.S. Army with overseeing all aspects of building additional national cemeteries. Functions included: acquisition of land, cemetery design, reinterring the dead from battlefield burials or other cemeteries, construction of roads, keepers’ lodges and other buildings, planting trees and plants, and installing permanent headstones.

Carriage House, now used as an information center for the cemetery
So young…

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Fort Donelson National Battlefield! Our goal is to learn about our country’s hallowed grounds and to pass along that knowledge so that the men who died upon them will never be forgotten.

Looking for more historical road trip destinations? Click on these amazing sites:

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Antietam National Battlefield

Gettysburg National Military Park

 

Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike & Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) 

©2022

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stop: Reedy Island Range Rear Light

Reedy Island Range Rear Light

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Where in the World is it?

The Reedy Island Range Rear Light is located on Taylors Bridge Road near Townsend, Delaware. We came across the lighthouse while traveling from New Castle to Lewes along Route 9, which is the Delaware Bayshore Scenic Byway. Along the route are several state-protected wildlife areas as well as the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Near Cedar Swamp State Wildlife Management Area, we saw this majestic great blue heron surveying its domain from a rooftop.

And then we saw these vultures on the other side of the roof. The overcast day caused the image to look sort of creepy. Would you be nervous knowing that seven vultures were sitting on your roof on a gloomy day?



Trivia: a group of eating vultures is called a wake. When they’re just hanging out, they are called a committee. If they’re soaring together in a group, they are called a kettle. This committee is apparently awaiting their next meal.

It’s a Fact Jack…

The Reedy Island Range Rear Light was lit for the first time in 1910 utilizing its lens and incandescent oil vapor lamp. As with most lighthouses, there is a spiral staircase in the center of the tower. (This one appears that it would be very a claustrophobic climb to the top.) The light was automated in 1951. Still in operation today, the 125 foot tall Reedy Island Range Rear Light continues to help ships and boats safely navigate the Delaware River. For an interesting, detailed history of this light and its keepers, click here: Reedy Island Range Rear Light

And now you know…

If you enjoyed this quick stop, we think you will also like these:

Very Large Array and Petrified Wood Gas Station
Turkey, Texas and the Dismal River
Hovenweep and Scout’s Rest Ranch

 

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

Featured

Halloween at Our House

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m Kellye, and today I’m sharing Halloween at our house. Since Mike’s job really gears up during the fall months, we can’t do much traveling. So, I thought I would invite you into our home to see some of our Halloween decorations. Also in this post, I’m going to tell you about our house. Our spooky house, that is, but my tales aren’t very scary, just strange. Come on in and visit for a spell…

Not-so-spooky dining room tablescape

One of my favorite things to do is decorate for holidays, and I decorate for almost all of them. When we’re not on the road, writing blog posts, or planning trips, I also enjoy creating tablescapes and crafting.

Is there a better Halloween centerpiece than a big bowl full of eyeballs?

The eyeballs came from Grandin Road last year. I bought the pumpkin salt and pepper shakers at Pier One years ago to use at Thanksgiving, but I would love to have these for Halloween.

Our breakfast room table

This tablescape had to be simple and easily movable because our lives practically revolve around that table. The ceramic pumpkins and striped plates are from Hobby Lobby. The Halloween confetti trees were purchased from The Holiday Barn several years ago. I bought the harlequin print table runner and matching napkins last year.

Close up of the place setting.

Our house

We built our house in a brand-new subdivision in 1988 and have lived in it for 34 years. When we moved in our son was six and our daughter was two. I won’t tell you how old we were back then, but we were practically babies ourselves! Soon after we moved in strange things started happening…

A 10-minute vignette

This Halloween decoration started with a cloche planter that I retrieved from the back yard. Then I added a plastic skull. A couple of crows and some reindeer moss finish the look. The two white pumpkins came from the grocery store. I simply sat them on top of the candlesticks to complete the vignette.

Footsteps on the carpet

Not long after we moved into our house, we began hearing what we thought were footsteps. If you’ve ever had plush carpet, you know that you can actually hear when someone is walking on it. Anyway, this only happened late at night, and they weren’t heavy, thudding footsteps. The sound was more of a soft swish, but it woke us up. Naturally, we figured one of the kids was up, but after checking, they were always sound asleep in their beds. This went on for a few years, and we convinced ourselves that we were just imagining things. Until Mike went out of town and the dog started acting like he was seeing someone in our bedroom…

Big brick fireplaces were the style in 1988. And this one is still in style at our house because we’re not too keen on tearing it down. It’s fun to decorate it for Halloween and Christmas though.

On the mantel we have spooky candles, bottles of poisons and potions, and creepy covered books. I made the book covers and the spooky candles using my computer and printer. Look for a link on how to make the candles farther down the page. I also made the bottles, and the how-to is at the end of the post. Stick-on bats fly out of the fireplace and other Halloween decor rounds out that part of our living room. Incidentally, we’ve never had a real bat fly out of our fireplace, but we have had a dove get trapped in there. Luckily, Mike was able to catch it and put it outside. I’m sure the poor thing was traumatized – the dove, not Mike.

Coffee table decorations

Scary books along with a vase full of black roses and sparkly spiders sit on a tray with black tealights. I also made the books and the vase. See the tutorial on how to make them here.

The man in the doorway

One night while Mike was out of town on a business trip, I woke up in the middle of the night to find our then 11-year-old son standing next to my bed. When I asked him what he was doing, he very calmly said that he had seen a man standing in the doorway of his room. I told him that he was just dreaming and followed him to his room where I tucked him back into bed. After climbing back into my own bed, I never thought another thing about it. Well, let’s just say I didn’t think about it until the dog kept acting weird and we had a thunderstorm. Then I started putting two and two together…

Big brick fireplace detail. The wreath is just a garland that I wired to a separate grapevine wreath, and then I propped the 31 October sign on it. The 31 October sign and the plaid stuffed pumpkins came from Etsy a couple of years ago.

“On the Street Where You Live”

When we have heavy thunderstorms and lightning strikes near our house, our intercom plays a very eerie, minor-key version of the song “On the Street Where You Live” from the movie “My Fair Lady”. No, I’m not crazy, and yes, we have an intercom. (We’re talking about a 1988 house, y’all!) Anyway, for a long time I was the only one who heard this weird music, and of course everyone, including our sweet little daughter, made fun of me. That is until our son’s baseball coach brought him home during a thunderstorm and they heard it too. We have no idea why this happens, but it still happens occasionally. Maybe if we ever get around to getting rid of the big brick fireplace, we will get rid of the intercom too. If that isn’t creepy enough, just wait, there’s more…

Antique look potion bottles sitting on top of a couple of Stephen King novels along with a pumpkin and black candelabra make this a fun little Halloween display in our library/study/office.

Get the tutorial for the spooky candles here.

The basement door

Our basement door is in our living room right next to the big brick fireplace. When the kids were younger, the basement was their playroom, and the door was always open. So, one night we were sitting around in the living room discussing where we were going to eat. (I never have cooked much, and that’s probably why two of our son’s first words were burger and king – no lie!) Anyway, all of a sudden, the basement door just closed by itself. Really! It was if someone had pushed it all the way closed to keep someone or something from entering or exiting the room. The door didn’t slam, and we all saw it happen. Miraculously nobody freaked out – probably because we were too hungry to worry about it. That never happened again, but we don’t leave the door open anymore either.

Our entry hall table

We have an entry hall because we’re not fancy enough to call it a foyer. A demilune table and mirror are the only things in the entry hall, but I like to dress them up for the different seasons and holidays. My favorite thing to decorate with is a tiered tray – I have a thing for them. This one has a gnarly Halloween tree with three crows perched in it, a few figurines, and some ceramic pumpkins. The Ouija board is a relic from my childhood (surely that makes it a bona fide antique), and the wooden figurines are Primitives by Kathy that I’ve collected over the last few years. A trick or treat sign, black candles in little star candle holders, and a bowl of candy fill the rest of the space.

Detail of the tiered tray with some vintage-looking mini trick or treat bags and tiny skulls hanging from the tree.

Creepy things at our house today

We haven’t had any strange occurrences in our house for years, except for the occasional eerie song from the intercom. Whoever or whatever was trying to spook us is long gone. Now days the creepiest things around our house are the fence eating squirrels and the geckos that move in during the summer months. Recently I found a gecko living in my car – it was on the odometer, believe it or not – but he ran off (probably because I screamed) and I haven’t seen him again. Just hope he doesn’t run up my leg while I’m driving because I will have a wreck. There’s also a tailless one living under our refrigerator. I accidentally cut its tail off when I tried to catch it and he ran under the refrigerator. Haven’t seen him since either, but I hope the little guy is living his best tailless life under there.

How to make spooky potion bottles

Supplies:

  • Clear glass bottle or jar with labels removed
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Metallic black acrylic paint
  • Metallic silver acrylic paint – optional if you want to add highlights but water it down before using as a highlight color
  • Medium artist’s paintbrush
  • Label – make your own design or click here for free printable copies
  • Glue – I like tape runners
  • Natural jute twine or string
  • Brown kraft paper or grocery sack

How to:

  • Use the sandpaper to sand the glass in all directions to give it a beat up, vintage look. You will probably want to do this outside.
  • Once you achieve your desired effect, take it inside and paint it lightly with the metallic black paint, evenly stroking from top to bottom. This makes the bottle look similar to mercury glass. You don’t want a completely black bottle. If the paint goes on too thickly, add a little water to thin it down. If desired, highlight using the metallic silver paint. Drying should take less than an hour.
  • When the paint is dry, glue on your label. I tore and burned some of the edges of my labels to make them look old and peeling before I glued them to the bottles.
  • For the top of the bottle, tear off a piece of the grocery sack or kraft paper and crumple it in your hands for several minutes until it starts to soften and feel like leather. Place it over the top of the bottle and secure it to the bottle by wrapping the twine around it several times until you get the look you want. Tie or glue the ends of the twine at the back of the bottle so it doesn’t unwind.
  • I embellished some of my bottles by adding chains and Halloween charms, but those are optional, and the bottles look great without them.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but I hope you enjoyed hanging with me on this first venture outside of my road tripping comfort zone. I plan to do another decor post or two for Christmas. In the meantime, look for more travel posts because Mike and I have some great destinations to share with you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Kellye

Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Where is it?

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is located at 2120 W Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas. The park features:

  • Museum and visitor center
  • Restored Mobil gas station
  • The school and grounds
  • Ranger led walks
  • Tours may be available on select days or by special arrangement with the park – all tours and ranger led walks require advance reservations

Website link: Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School still operates as a public high school today with a student population of about 2,500.

Why is Little Rock Central High School important?

Little Rock Central High School is one of the most significant sites of the civil rights movement in the U.S. In 1957, the school became a battleground, so to speak, in the fight between the State of Arkansas and the U.S. government over federally mandated desegregation of public schools. Additionally, whites wanted continued segregation, and blacks wanted educational equality and to attend their own neighborhood schools. The Alabama governor went against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow black students to attend previously all-white schools. A group of African American teenagers was, unfortunately, caught in the middle of the battle.

What happened?

Arkansas Governor, Orville Faubus, held a televised news conference on September 2, 1957, to inform Little Rock citizens that caravans of white supremacists were on their way to stop the integration of black students into Central High School. Faubus stated that he ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround the school due to the potential for “blood in the streets”. He was never able to provide evidence to prove those statements. Meanwhile, the Little Rock school board advised that no African American students try to enter Central High or any white school until the dilemma was “legally resolved”.

All eyes are on Arkansas

On September 4, 1957, nine African American students attempted to enter the school surrounded by a group of ministers as escorts. National Guardsmen blocked the ministers and students stating that under orders from Governor Faubus the students could not enter. Meanwhile, mobs of whites hurled derogatory comments, waved Confederate flags, and even spat on the black students. Governor Faubus claimed later in the month that the National Guard was called out only to prevent violence and not to prevent integration.

Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford attempts to enter Little Rock Central High School alone. She was then chased off of the campus by hostile whites.

Excerpt from the national park website of a black newspaperman’s observation:

“The mob of twisted whites, galvanized into vengeful action by the inaction of the heroic state militia, was not willing that the young school girl should get off so easily. Elizabeth Eckford had walked into the wolf’s lair, and now that they felt she was fair game, the drooling wolves took off after their prey. The hate mongers, who look exactly like other, normal white men and women, took off down the street after the girl.” – Buddy Lonesome, St. Louis Argus

Sad scene at Little Rock Central High School

While the world watched

Federal District Judge Ronald Davis denied a petition by the Little Rock School Board to delay integration into Central High School. The judge ordered integration to begin on Monday, September 9. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Also on September 9, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was the first civil rights legislation since 1875. On September 24, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard which took them out of Governor Faubus’ control. Stating that “mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts”, Eisenhower then sent federal troops to Little Rock to surround the school. The next day, September 25, nine African American students entered the school escorted by members of the 101st Airborne Infantry Division. About 750 of the 2,000 students at Central High School were absent that day.

False advertising perhaps? Governor Faubus closed all Little Rock high schools in order to avoid integration.

The aftermath

Racial tensions continued throughout the remainder of the school year with the issue of desegregation still an extremely hot topic. In September of 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Little Rock would continue with its desegregation plan. Therefore, the school board determined that the high schools would open on September 15. Overriding the school board’s decision, Governor Faubus ordered all Little Rock high schools closed pending a public vote on integration. Voters chose not to integrate, and the schools remained closed for the entire 1958-1959 school year.

The National Historic Site today

This Mobil gas station sits across the street from the school

Why would a gas station be part of a national park site? This station had a pay phone, and it was the closest pay phone to the events taking place at Little Rock Central High School. Members of the media gathered here to take turns calling in stories to their news desks.

This sculpture, “United”, by artist Clay Enoch is located in a garden near the east entrance of Little Rock Central High School. It was dedicated in 2017 on the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school by the Little Rock Nine.

The museum takes visitors through a timeline of events leading up to the integration of Central High School.

Today benches commemorating each of the Little Rock Nine can be found near the reflecting pool in front of the school. Statues of them also grace the grounds of the state capitol building. Every one of the nine students graduated from college. Some even went on to earn post graduate degrees, and some have written books about their experiences. Click here to view their impressive biographies. As for us, we are inspired by the way these determined people handled such abhorrent adversity. And now we are honored to know their story.

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site!

Need some road trip inspiration? Check out these great destinations:

Things to do in San Antonio: River Walk

Things to do in Sedona, Arizona

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

Featured

Water

Perhaps it’s because we’re born from water that we are drawn to it in nature, or maybe we are fascinated because its power can destroy as well as sustain life. In our travels we choose to cautiously enjoy the beauty of water while never daring to take it for granted. Today we are sharing some our favorite photographs of water. Dive in and enjoy.

“A calm water is like a still soul.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

Mirrored greens of spring. Hamilton Pool, Texas.

“Water is the most perfect traveler because when it travels it becomes the path itself!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

The milky Virgin River becomes The Narrows Trail. Zion National Park, Utah.

“Grace is finding a waterfall when you were only looking for a stream.” – Vanessa Hunt

We had no idea of what we might find when we set off on the trail, but we were thrilled to find ourselves alone with a stream and these beautiful waterfalls. Sabbaday Falls, New Hampshire. (Shot from an iPhone 10.)

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” – Loren Eisley

Magical Caribbean blues with sparkles and steam. Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.

“The power of nature can make fun of the power of man at any time!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

The muddy Ruidoso River surges angrily past the bridge its floodwaters destroyed. Ruidoso, New Mexico, 2008. See our post on Ruidoso here.

“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Sunrise reflections. Lake Mackenzie, Texas.

“Be like water. Flow, crash, fly!” – Md. Ziaul Haque

The sapphire hued Atlantic plays happily among the rocks. York, Maine.

“The fall of dropping water wears away the stone.” – Lucretius

The water-worn stone creates a perfect pour off for this little fall. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire. See our Franconia Notch State Park post here.

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” – Laura Gilpin

Early morning at John Dunn Bridge. Rio Grande River, New Mexico.

“An iceberg is water striving to be land.” – Salman Rushdie

Brilliant blue bergy bit. Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

“The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.” –  Gandhi