Relive & Explore The Past In Public Lands Of New Mexico

Relive the Wild West, explore exotic cultures, return to the dawn of recorded history, and travel back to prehistoric times.

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Glance into the future exploring the solar system and far beyond. And enjoy camping, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, birding, picnicking, photography, stargazing and much more. You can do all this and more for bargain prices in the public lands of the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico offers unlimited of unique opportunities.

In an earlier post Vogel Talks RVing discussed the unlimited opportunities available for outdoor recreation and camping at New Mexico’s 35 state parks—24 having ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes.

When planning a weekend getaway or summer vacation, consider coordinating visits to state parks, state museums, state monuments, and national parks in the area.

To get started, check out the following state museums and historical sites.

Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner: A unique new museum designed by Navajo architect David Sloan—shaped like a hogan and a tepee—and an interpretive trail, provide information about the tragic history of Fort Sumner and Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation.

Coronado Historic Site
Coronado Historic Site

Coronado Historic Site: In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies—entered the Rio Grande valley near this site. Searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, he instead found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers.

El Camino Real Historic Trail Site: Journey along the historic Camino Real, the Royal Road of the Interior Lands. This 1,500-mile historic trade route that extends from Mexico City to Ohkay Owingeh, is one of the oldest trails in the US and, for more than a century, one of the longest.

Fort Selden Historic Site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fort Selden Historic Site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Selden Historic Site: Fort Selden was established in 1865 in an effort to bring peace to the south central region of present day New Mexico. Built on the banks of the Rio Grande, this adobe fort protected settlers and travelers in the Mesilla Valley from desperados and Apache Indians.

Fort Stanton Historic Site: Fort Stanton is situated on 240 acres and surrounded by 1,300 acres of undeveloped BLM land in south-central New Mexico. There are 88 buildings on this historic site, some dating back to 1855.

Jemez National Historic Landmark: A short drive from Albuquerque and Bernalillo, the Jemez National Historic Landmark is one of the most beautiful historic sites in the Southwest. It includes the stone ruins of a 500-year-old village and the San José de los Jemez church dating to 1621-22.

Lincoln Historic Site: A town made famous by one of the most violent periods in New Mexico history. See the Old Courthouse with exhibits detailing the Lincoln County War. Walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and other characters of the Wild West.

Lincoln Historic Site
Lincoln Historic Site

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors: Originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain’s seat of government for what is today the American Southwest, the Palace of the Governors chronicles the history of Santa Fe, as well as New Mexico and the region. This adobe structure, now the state’s history museum, was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960 and an American Treasure in 1999.

New Mexico Museum of Space History: A visit to the Museum of Space History is a trip into the origins of our nation’s space exploration program. The Museum is composed of The Museum of Space History, The International Space Hall of Fame, The John P. Stapp Air & Space Park, Daisy Track, The Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Theater, and Astronaut Memorial Garden.

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum: Located in Las Cruces, the Museum tells the story of agriculture from 800 years ago when Native Americans planted corn, squash, and beans to today’s agribusinesses and family farms. Explore the museum, both inside—where you can see art and other exhibits and outside—where you can meet cattle and other livestock face to face.

Fort Stanton Historic Site
Fort Stanton Historic Site

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture: A premier repository of Native art and material culture, the Museum tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art. Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the museum shares its location with the other museums of Museum Hill: Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, and Museum of International Folk Art.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on the Public Lands Of New Mexico

Worth Pondering…

If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

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Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

What began as an idea formed during a session at the National Council on Public History’s annual conference in 2011 is now a reality.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

A group of University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate students created a unique mobile museum exhibit.

It’s only fitting that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette History Department’s Museum on the Move (MoM) is a vintage Airstream, because the iconic brand has such a rich history of their own.

As Professor John Troutman, the history instructor that brought the museum concept to life told Airstream Life, “What vehicle to support a mobile museum is more historical, and timelessly attractive, than an Airstream?”

The university located the 26-foot 1954 Cruiser on an Airstream forum, and Troutman and a colleague picked it up outside of Birmingham, Alabama in February 2013.

Students from the School of Architecture and Design came up with concepts to remake the trailer into a functional and modifiable mobile museum . They hired a local contractor—and Airstream enthusiast—to gut it, rebuild the frame and floor, and rewire it.

All the retro comforts were replaced with wood flooring and industrial framing to accommodate museum panels.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

Troutman’s graduate students developed the museum’s initial exhibit, “Crossing the Line: Louisiana Women in a Century of Change” during the fall semester of 2013.

Students and Troutman worked out the lighting, exhibit panel mountings, and exhibit “flow,” as well as acquired the show’s artifacts and images, and wrote the explanatory text.

The exhibit features 10 Louisiana women from the late 19th century to the present who created extraordinary change in the state.

The exhibit is based on research provided by students in a Louisiana Women course taught by history professor Mary Farmer-Kaiser. Troutman’s students pared down the list of 40 women to 10 after focusing on a theme of activism.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

In the spring and fall of 2014, they toured the exhibit all over southern Louisiana—to historical association meetings, local civic group meetings, farmer’s markets, music festivals, and schools.

“That is one of our greatest successes in terms of developing this program—the Airstream draws people in, long before they read the exhibit description outside the door,” says Troutman. “Everyone wants to talk about the Airstream, tells us their Airstream experiences, and asks where we found it. That gets them in the door, so that they can see the exhibits that our students will design and install each year. Buying an Airstream to serve as the exhibit vehicle is the best decision we could have ever made.”

Troutman’s students love the MoM because it gets them professional, hands-on experience in museum work and gets them out in the community—even out into Troutman’s driveway, which he describes as being “ground zero for installing our exhibits in the trailer.”

The academic work for the museum’s next exhibit, covering the history of oil production in Louisiana’s oil-rich state, is now taking place in student seminars. In the fall, Troutman’s graduate student seminar will convert that scholarship into “Oil in Louisiana,” the next traveling exhibit.

Being a history professor, Dr. Troutman is eminently qualified to speak on the place of the Airstream in the historical record: “Airstreams are remarkable: Their popularity reflected the desire of Americans to learn about other parts of our country, and to expand the venues for their family time and their critical family experiences, beyond their homes, and onto the open road. The design aesthetic of these trailers is unmatched and a thing of wondrous beauty.”

Museum-quality beauty, it seems.

Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move
Vintage Airstream: Museum on the Move

Details

Museum on the Move (MoM)

Museum on the Move (MoM) is a project of University of Louisiana at Lafayette History Department.

Public History students outfit a vintage Airstream trailer with an interpretive exhibit that will then hit the road to take history directly out of the classroom and to the public. Exhibits will be created on a rotating basis and require the melding of two courses and a cohort of students.

The first course is a traditional history course where students conduct research projects geared toward the planned exhibit. The next phase of the project is for a Museum Studies course, under the direction of Dr. John Troutman, where students re-craft the research done in the first class to create exhibit components that they will install in the trailer.

Once the exhibit is up and rolling, the trailer will be sent out on short runs to venues around the state where the students’ (and the program’s) work will be on display.

Website: www.museumonthemove.com

Worth Pondering…

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

—Maya Angelou

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Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Nestled in the scenic hills of Desert Hot Springs, a Hopi-inspired pueblo sits against a hillside. Not just any pueblo, but one built with natural materials collected throughout the desert.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When homesteader Yerxa Cabot settled in Desert Hot Springs, he used re-purposed materials and a little ingenuity to build a home so unique it remains a preserved museum to this day.

While the structure’s architecture is a unique sight to behold, there’s more to see here than Cabot’s Hopi-style pueblo. Inside, the house has been turned into a museum with rooms filled with Indian artifacts, artwork, and memorabilia. One not to be missed artifact is Waokiye, a 43-foot sculpture of a Native American head. Waokiye is one of 74 heads in the “Trail of the Whispering Giants” collection.

Cabot’s pueblo spreads an impressive 5,000 square feet, divided into 35 rooms and adorned with 150 windows and 65 doors. What a sight it is to see!

Cabot the Man

Cabot Yerxa was an incredible man often described as a visionary, artist, writer, builder, architect, adventurer, explorer, collector, idealist, and entrepreneur. He was a human rights activist concerned about the legal, economic, and cultural crisis for Native Americans. Cabot was a highly degreed Mason. Masons believe in independent thinking and self-actualization. Cabot was also the president and founder of the Theosophical Society in 1946-47 in Desert Hot Springs.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before settling in the California desert, Cabot Yerxa led an adventurous life, traveling to Mexico, Alaska, Cuba, and Europe. In Paris, France he studied at the Academie Julian art school.

In 1913 (at age 30) Cabot homesteaded 160 acres in what is now Desert Hot Springs. Pressed for water, he dug a well with pick and shovel, discovering the now famous hot mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs. Nearby, he dug a second well and discovered the pure cold water of the Mission Springs Aquifer. These two wells, hot and cold, give the area its name—Miracle Hill.

Cabot began construction on his pueblo-style home in 1941 and worked on it until his death in 1965 at the age of 81.

The Pueblo

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cabot Yerxa started building his Museum and home in about 1941 at the age of 57, although collecting the materials he needed to build the Pueblo started years before.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Hopi-inspired structure is hand-made, created from reclaimed and found materials. Cabot was inspired as a young boy when he first saw a replica of a Southwest Indian pueblo at the Chicago World’s Fair. Much of the material used to build the Pueblo was from abandoned cabins that had housed the men who built the California aqueduct in the 1930s. Cabot purchased these cabins and deconstructed them to build his Pueblo.

The Pueblo is four-stories, 5,000 square feet and includes 35 rooms, 150 windows, and 65 doors. Much of the Pueblo is made from adobe-style and sun-dried brick Cabot made himself in the courtyard. Cabot modified his formula and used a cup of cement rather than straw to make his bricks.

Waokiye

Waokiye (Y-oh-kee-ay), means “Traditional Helper” in the Lakota Sioux language.

Created by artist Peter “Wolf” Toth, Waokiye was completed in May 1978. At the dedication ceremony on May 20, 1978 Toth simply said, “The American Indian is a proud and often misunderstood people…even as a young boy I had admiration for my Indian brothers and perhaps this monument, and all the others, will bring awareness of a proud and great people.”

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Toth was an immigrant to the United States from Hungary. His family fled from the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. In learning about the Native American culture, he empathized with the tribes’ situation. He saw parallels to the violent repression of the Magyar people he experienced in Hungary.

Toth started his project, The Trail of Whispering Giants, to highlight the struggle of the American Indians for justice and recognition of their human rights. Waokiye is 27th in the series. The series has over 70 statues remaining throughout the United States, Canada, and Hungary. They represent all humanity and stand against injustice to all people. This philosophy is a mirror of Cabot Yerxa’s 50-year commitment as an American Indian Rights activist.

Tours

Guided tours are available October 1 to May 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are limited to 12 people.

Details

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Cabot's Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Season Schedule: October 1-May 31

Guided Tours: $11; seniors, active military, children ages 6-12, $9
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Address: 67616 E. Desert View Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
Phone: (760) 329-7610

Website: www.cabotsmuseum.org

Worth Pondering…

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

—Arthur Ashe

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Discover Hubbell Trading Post Where History Is Made Every Day

Little has changed in more than 135 years at the oldest continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Reservation.

discover this authentic Navajo trading post
Take some time to discover this authentic Navajo trading post and original 160 acre homestead. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is equal parts museum, art gallery, and general store, a place where Native Americans come to sell or trade blankets, rugs, and jewelry for groceries, tools, and clothes.

The post, its thick stone walls protecting visitors from the blazing summers and frigid winters of the high desert, continues to lure buyers and sellers alike.

Many of today’s customers are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who traded with John Lorenzo Hubbell, who bought the trading post in 1878.

Hubbell, a 25-year-old clerk and trader, learned much about the Navajos as he traveled the Southwest. He began trading in 1876 and two years later purchased the small post and surrounding land from a man eager to move on.

He acted as a bridge between the Navajos and the rest of the world.

Hubbell had an enduring influence on Navajo rugweaving and silversmithing, for he consistently demanded and promoted excellence in craftsmanship.

The local populace soon embraced Hubbell thanks to his kindness, patience, and generosity. He translated and wrote letters, mediated quarrels and, during the smallpox epidemic in 1886, used his home as a makeshift hospital.

Feel the old wooden floor give slightly and squeak beneath your feet as you enter the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Feel the old wooden floor give slightly and squeak beneath your feet as you enter the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

His business benefited as a result, and Navajos came to socialize as much as to barter.

Hubbell built a trading empire that included stage and freight lines as well as several trading posts. At various times, he and his two sons, together or separately, owned 24 trading posts, a wholesale house in Winslow, and other business and ranch properties. Beyond question, he was the foremost Navajo trader of his time.

The Hubbell family continued to operate the trading post until 1967, when the National Park Service took over.

Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time.

The post’s front door opens into the bullpen, a high-ceilinged room where bartering took place. Shelves

High counters and long shelves once crowded with bread, milk, and tins of food, now hold blankets and baskets, clothing and kitchen utensils. jewelry and souvenirs, while harnesses and hardware hang from the wood beams that run the length of the ceiling.

Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Much of the post looks just as it did in century-old photographs, giving visitors a sense of stepping through a portal in time. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A couple of side rooms hold Navajo rugs, cases of jewelry, paintings, kachinas, sculptures, and other works of art. There’s a good chance you’ll see customers negotiating trades.

Everyone notices the post’s creaky floorboards. Each step brings another groan of protest from the planks. But this isn’t the original floor. When the post was refurbished in the 1970s, contractors took great care to maintain the squeak, as it had become the post’s signature sound.

The trading post is the centerpiece of the 160-acre site. Visitors also can tour the Hubbell house; browse the visitor center (built in 1920 and used originally as a school); and see barns, corrals, wagons, and other historical farm equipment, as well as a variety farm animals, including Churro sheep and their prized wool.

The post hosts two art auctions each year. The next one will be Saturday, September 13. The auctions feature works from many tribes.

Details

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Operating Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Time zone: Unlike Arizona the Navajo Nation observes daylight saving time

Admission: Trading Post, free; Hubbell Home tour, $2/person

Join a tour of the historic Hubbell home, the original home lived in by J. L. Hubbell and his family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Join a tour of the historic Hubbell home, the original home lived in by J. L. Hubbell and his family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Elevation: 6,300 feet

Location: 1 mile west of Highway 191 in Ganado, on Highway 264

Camping: No camping facilities

Address: P.O. Box 150, Ganado, Arizona 86505

Phone: (928) 755-3475

Web site: www.nps.gov/hutr

Worth Pondering…

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

—John Steinbeck, author

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Sample the Spirit of Bardstown

Bardstown was recently named Most Beautiful Small Town in America by USA Today and Rand McNally—and it’s easy to see why.

Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral built in 1816-1819 was the first Catholic cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral built in 1816-1819 was the first Catholic cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the second-oldest city in Kentucky, Catholic roots, and bourbon production were the first features to put Bardstown on the map.

The Diocese of Bardstown was formed in 1808 along with the Dioceses of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Bardstown is mentioned in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and Downtown Bardstown encompasses all of the author’s reasons.

For bourbon connoisseurs, whiskey is to Bardstown what wine is to Napa Valley.

Consider this: In 1999, there were about 455,000 barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky warehouses. As of February 2012, the number topped 4.7 million. Plus, of the approximately $1 billion in distilled American spirits exported annually, Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey make up about 70 percent.

Bourbon has been in Bardstown’s blood—literally and figuratively—since the town was chartered in 1790.

Spalding Hall: Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History & Bardstown Historical Museum

Spalding Hall is home to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History and the Bardstown Historical Museum.

Spalding Hall (circa 1826) first served as St. Joseph College and Seminary, then as a hospital for both North and South during the Civil War. The Sisters of Charity ran an orphanage for boys around the turn of the century. Finally the Xaverian Brothers established St. Joe Preparatory School (1911-1968).

The Old Courthouse on the Circle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old Courthouse on the Circle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Presently the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History and the Bardstown Historical Museum occupy the main floor of Spalding Hall.

Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History displays a 50 year collection of rare artifacts and documents concerning the American whiskey industry dating from pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years.

The museum includes liquor memorabilia of Getz and other distillers from the 1700s to today, exhibits on President Washington, Abraham Lincoln, authentic moonshine stills, antique bottles and jugs, medicinal whiskey bottles, unique advertising art, prohibition prescriptions, Carrie Nation’s hatchet, and novelty whiskey containers.

The Bardstown Historical Museum contains items relating to 200 years of area history. You will find Indian relics, Lincoln documents, pioneer papers, John Fitch land grant, a replica of his first steamboat, Stephen Foster memorabilia, a new Trappist monks’ exhibit, gifts of Louis Phillippe and Charles X of France, Civil War artifacts and guerrilla Jesse James hat and wine bottle, St. Joe Preparatory School mementos and much more.

You can’t sample the bourbon at the museum, but you can one floor down at The Rickhouse which has 100 bourbons from which to choose. Old Talbot Tavern also has a bourbon bar.

The historic Spalding Hall is located in the heart of Bardstown on 114 North Fifth Street and Xavier Drive with easy access off the Bluegrass Parkway and HIghways 31E and 62.

Old Talbott Tavern

The old stone reminder of Bardstown’s beginnings still welcomes visitors to the bustling downtown area. Since the late 1700s, the Old Talbott Tavern, on Court Square, has provided shelter, food, and drink to Kentucky travelers.

The Old Talbott Tavern is said to be the oldest western stagecoach stop in America as the westward expansion brought explorers from the east into Kentucky.

The Old Talbott Tavern was built in 1779. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old Talbott Tavern was built in 1779. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not hard to imagine a stage coach pulling up beside the Old Talbott Tavern with its walls of thick Flemish Bond stone and deep inset windows. Established in 1779, the tavern still serves as a place of reprieve and drink for travelers. Influential Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Gen. George Rodgers Clark, Daniel Boone, and Jessie James are said to have found rest at the friendly tavern, which is considered one of the oldest stagecoach stops in the country.

In April of 1792, Daniel Boone was subpoenaed to give his deposition at the stone tavern. At this time the courthouse was not used because it was under construction.

In the old dining room, visitors can enjoy Kentucky classics such as a Kentucky hot brown (hot turkey over hot toast and smothered in a buttery sauce), fried green tomatoes, and southern fried chicken.

In the bourbon bar visitors can enjoy live entertainment, snacks, and an expansive list of spirits.

Address: 107 West Stephen Foster, Bardstown, KY 40004

Phone: (502) 348-3494 or (800) 4TAVERN (toll free)

Website: talbotts.com

Please Note: This is Part 7 of an ongoing series on Kentucky/Bourbon Country

Worth Pondering…

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer.
—John Lee

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Discover & Explore Northern Arizona

There’s much to see and do in Northern Arizona in addition to the Grand Canyon, particularly if you have an interest in Native American history and culture.

Meteor Crater from the sky (Credit: meteorcrater.com)
Meteor Crater from the sky (Credit: meteorcrater.com)

Flagstaff is also a jumping off point for day trips to see ancient petroglyphs, the ancient rock art of the Native Americans, as well as several unique attractions ranging from the Petrified Forest National Park and Monument Valley, one of the most scenic locations in the American Southwest, to the Meteor Crater, the best preserved crater created by a meteorite in the world where NASA Astronauts have trained.

While many travelers zoom through Flagstaff on their way to the Grand Canyon, the city is home to one of the country’s oldest astronomical observatories, Lowell Observatory, as well as one of the nation’s best museums of Native American art and culture, Museum of Northern Arizona.

Following is a sampling of some of the more interesting attractions in Northern Arizona.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater is the breath-taking result of a collision between a piece of an asteroid traveling at 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Today, Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet deep.

It is an international tourist venue with outdoor observation trails, air conditioned indoor viewing, wide screen movie theater, interactive discovery center, unique gift and rock shop, and Astronaut Memorial Park at the modern Visitor Center located on the crater rim.

The visitor center is located off I-40 at exit 233 (35 miles east of Flagstaff, 20 miles west of Winslow), Meteor Crater Road, then 6 miles south on the paved road.

The full-service RV park is located at the Interstate exit.

Museum of Northern Arizona

The Kiva Gallery at the Museum of Northern Arizona. (Credit: musnaz.org)
The Kiva Gallery at the Museum of Northern Arizona. (Credit: musnaz.org)

The Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff provides an excellent introduction to the Native people who live in Northern Arizona, especially the Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. The museum’s permanent anthropology exhibit documents 12,000 years of Native American tribal life on the Colorado Plateau.

The museum also offers two-day festivals that feature the music, dance and artwork of Native American tribes. These include the 81st Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, July 5–6; and the 65th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, August 2–3.

Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is a private, nonprofit, research institution founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell. A national historic landmark, Lowell is one of the oldest observatories in the United States.

Research conducted at this observatory had led to several important discoveries, including the realization that the universe is expanding; the discovery by Lowell of the planet Pluto in 1930; the co-discovery of the rings of Uranus in 1977; the discovery of periodic variations in the brightness of Halley’s Comet; and the first detection of water in the atmosphere of an extra-solar planet.

Lowell Observatory is located in Flagstaff at a 7,200-foot elevation.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano was born in a series of eruptions sometime between 1040 and 1100. Powerful explosions profoundly affected the lives of local people and forever changed the landscape and ecology of the area.

Lava flows and cinders still look as fresh and rugged as the day they formed. But among dramatic geologic features, you’ll find trees, wildflowers, and signs of wildlife—life has returned.

Self-guided Lava Flow Trail is a one-mile loop through the Bonito Lava Flow at the base of Sunset Crater.

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument preserves more than 800 identified ruins. (Credit: nationalparks.org)
Wupatki National Monument preserves more than 800 identified ruins. (Credit: nationalparks.org)

Wupatki National Monument preserves many free-standing masonry pueblos, field houses, rock art, pottery, baskets, and tools. In total there are more than 800 identified ruins spread around many miles of desert within the monument, but five of the largest—Wupatki, Wukoki. Citadel, and Nalakihu—are close to the main road and these are the only sites open to visitors.

All the dwellings were built by the Anasazi and Sinagua Indians during the 12th and 13th centuries

Wupatki is reached by the same loop road that passes Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, adjoining the main north-south route US 89.

Worth Pondering…

Beauty before me I walk,

Beauty behind me I walk,

Beauty above me I walk,

Beauty below me I walk,

Beauty all about me I walk.

In beauty all is restored,

In beauty all is made whole.

—Navajo Blessing Way

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Discover the Golden Isles: St. Simons & Sea Island

Four beautiful isles—St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll, and Sea—and a nearby coastal town are known collectively as Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia.

St. Simons Island

In 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to protect his southern boundary. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In 1736, three years after the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to protect his southern boundary. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The largest of The Golden Isles, St. Simons Island continues to reveal the remarkable beauty and fascinating history of what 16th-century Spanish explorers called San Simeon.

Visitors come year round to swim, stroll, and sail along its miles of lovely beaches, to challenge its 99 holes of superb golf and numerous tennis courts, and to explore its countless shops and restaurants.

St. Simons Island lies across the immortalized Marshes of Glynn, made famous by English poet Sidney Lanier. Moss-draped oaks line the winding island streets, creating a picture-perfect image worthy of a William Faulkner novel.

The island’s villages offer a charming and unique selection of shops, plus a variety of restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual outdoor fare. Visitors and residents alike enjoy outdoor recreation at Neptune Park and its Fun Zone, which includes a public pool, miniature golf, and a fishing pier.

As we discovered during a recent visit, St. Simons Island is dotted with historic sites and attractions, from the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum—a working lighthouse built in 1872—to the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, where, in July 1742, British and Scottish soldiers protecting colonial Georgia defeated a larger Spanish force in a battle that helped end Spanish incursions north of Florida.

44 men and 72 women and children arrived to build the fort and town, and by the 1740s Frederica was a thriving village of about 500 citizens. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
44 men and 72 women and children arrived to build the fort and town, and by the 1740s Frederica was a thriving village of about 500 citizens. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Frederica National Monument, which preserves archaeological remnants of the local British colony and its defense against Spain, and historic Christ Church, Frederica—one of the oldest churches in Georgia, with worship held continuously since 1736—are located on the island’s north end.  Fort Frederica, Georgia’s first military outpost, was established by British General James Oglethorpe. A visitors center and museum are also located on the site.

Live oaks, the same trees that overshadow Frederica Road, were milled for use in Revolutionary warships, including Old Ironsides, also known as the USS Constitution. Because the trunks and branches of this tree naturally bend, they were perfect for forming the hulls of boats.

Toward the southern tip, the Maritime Center, in the restored U.S. Coast Guard Station, provides fascinating glimpses of the area’s natural evolution, while highlighting some of its maritime and military history.

Year round warm weather in the Golden Isles allow

Moss-draped oaks create a picture-perfect image worthy of a Faulkner tale. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Moss-draped oaks create a picture-perfect image worthy of a Faulkner tale. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

s visitors to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, biking, golfing, or relaxing on East Beach.

Visitors can tour the island’s historic sites on a variety of transportation options.

Sea Island

Reached by causeway from St. Simons Island, Sea Island is an internationally acclaimed resort. The Sea Island Company features two of the world’s most-exceptional destinations: the Forbes Five-Star Cloisture on Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond property located on the southern end of St. Simons Island.

Though much of Sea Island is residential, Island life centers around The Cloister, perennially honored as one of the world’s great hotels. Golf club, beach club, gun club, horseback riding, fine dining, and numerous other activities are among the amenities enjoyed by its guests.

Guests of Sea Island who enjoy the game of golf can appreciate the Golf Learning Center and three championship golf courses at Sea Island Golf Club.

The Seaside Course, home to the PGA TOUR’s McGladrey Classic, is a links course graced by majestic ocean vistas in the tradition of St. Andrews.

The Plantation Course winds enticingly through marsh and forest, while the Retreat Course offers a uniquely dramatic and challenging design cultivated by Davis Love III and Mark Love.

If golfing is not your game, enjoy the Sea Island Beach Club, Tennis Center, Yacht Club, Shooting School, and Forbes Five-Star Cloister Spa.

Sea Island offers cuisine to satisfy any taste with seven exceptional dining venues, including the renowned Forbes Five-Star Georgian Room, which offers “Refined Southern” cuisine amidst grand décor. The Georgian Room is open to the public with reservation required.

Did You Know?

Eugenia Price’s trilogy LighthouseNew Moon Rising, and Beloved Invader chronicle the history of St. Simons Island and Christ Church.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on Brunswick and the Golden Isles of Georgia

Part 1: Discover the Golden Isles: Rich in History & Beauty

Part 3: Discover the Golden Isles: Jekyll Island

Part 4: Discover the Golden Isles: Little St. Simons Island & Historic Brunswick

Part 5: RV Camping in Brunswick and the Golden Isles

Worth Pondering…

The Marshes of Glynn

By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.

Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band

Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.

Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach-lines linger and curl

As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows the firm sweet limbs of a girl.

Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight,

Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of light.

—Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)

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Luling: Texas Black Gold

Barbecue sauce isn’t the only valuable liquid flowing in Luling. The town is dotted with oil pumps that still move the Texas black gold from the ground.

The Central Texas Oil Patch Museum pays tribute to the area’s oil industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Central Texas Oil Patch Museum pays tribute to the area’s oil industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once known as “the toughest town in Texas”, Luling was established in 1874 as the far western stop of the Sunset Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The developing importance of the town as a cattle-raising center, combined with the importance of the railroad as a shipping point, allowed the town to grow and prosper. Being the northern terminus of a freight road to Chihuahua, Mexico added to its stature.

As the cattle drives to the railroad head decreased, Luling survived by turning to its rich soil and hardy folk. Luling came to be known throughout the region as an agriculture center with cotton, corn, and turkeys as its principal products.

Cotton ruled the local economy until the momentous year of 1922.

On August 9th of that year, Edgar B. Davis’ Rafael Rios No.1 blew in, opening an oilfield 12 miles long and two miles wide. The Rios No. 1 proved to be a part of one of the most significant fields discovered in the Southwest.

Thousands of oil field workers descended upon the little community. They filled every available room and constructed a tent city, called Rag Town, along the railroad tracks. By 1924, the field was producing 11 million barrels of oil per year.

Almost overnight, the railroad town of Luling went from a population of 500 to an oil-boom town of 5,000 people. Tents filled every vacant area as roughnecks and their families set-up housekeeping. Work was hard and living even harder, but the dream that unfolded was a microcosm of Texas history-a time when a community of farmers and their families responded to the coming of the railroad, only to have their lives changed forever by the discovery of oil.

The Oil Patch Museum shares the history and illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas "Oil Boom in the Oil Patch". © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Oil Patch Museum shares the history and illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas “Oil Boom in the Oil Patch”. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Davis went on to become Luling’s resident philanthropist and established an agricultural foundations that continues to this day.

We stopped by the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum to explore the history of Luling during its early oil boom days.

To preserve the memories of Luling and honor the rich heritage, the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum was established in the historic Walker Brothers building located in the heart of the downtown business district.

This beautifully restored building is an historic landmark in itself. Established in 1885, it was a mercantile store, a place where cotton was financed and traded. One of the first buildings constructed in Luling, it played a central role in the town’s social fabric.

The spacious, two-story structure now showcases early oil-field machinery and memorabilia, displays of photographs that date back to 1910, and a scale replica of an old wooden oil derrick. The Oil Tank Theater presents a 20-minute film about Luling’s colorful history and current attractions.

The Oil Patch Museum is dedicated to the collection, restoration, and preservation of historic oil producing methods, accessories, and the people of the industry. Established to share the history with the public, the museum illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas “Oil Boom in the Oil Patch”.

The museum shows the contrast of the tools and technology of the past with those utilized in the oil industry today. This collection traces the development of the oil industry, from the first strike in the nation to the social and economic impact on Central Texas.

The museum strives to demonstrate the struggles between the men and women who were the oil field pioneers and to create a better understanding of the process of oil exploration and production.

The Museum is a focal point of tourist traffic, with the Luling Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center located at its entrance. The facility also serves as a community hall where meetings, seminars, and entertainment are conducted for the benefit of the citizens.

The center of Luling lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The center of Luling lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are almost two hundred oil well pump jacks within the city limits of Luling.

No industrial eyesores for this progressive community. The creative and artistic residents have  created moveable art to decorate many of the wells along the highways and byways. The pump jacks are decorated as everything from an airplane to an orca and a football player to a cow jumping over the moon..

A map of the Pump Jack Tour is available at the Chamber.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 4-Part article

Part 1: Luling: Barbecue Central

Part 3: Luling: Sixty-One Years of Thumpin’

Part 4: Luling: Texas-style Promised Land

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

More words of wisdom from an Oklahoma Cowboy

Will Rogers was quite the cowboy, with all the wisdom of simple, honest folk. His words still ring with common sense today…
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage the country ever has known.
Enjoy the following:
4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

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Good Times Happen in Kentucky

Thousands of snowbirds pass through Kentucky every year and miss out on some of the most incredible natural wonders and cultural treasures anywhere.

Kentucky Welcome Center, I-65, Exit 114 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Kentucky Welcome Center, I-65, Exit 114 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From horse racing and Bourbon Country, to the culture of Appalachia, Civil War significance, and Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky is a state enriched with deep traditions, important history, and authentic heritage.

Every mile we’ve traveled along the highways and byways of the Bluegrass State has led us to new discoveries: National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Mammoth Cave National Park in Cave Country, Grand Ole Opry of Kentucky in Renfro Valley, Cumberland Gap, Red River Gorge, Natural Bridge, folk arts and crafts in Berea, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, horse farms, and Bourbon Country.

Once an Indian hunting ground where Native American civilizations flourished as early as 13,000 years ago, Kentucky is bounded in the north by the great Ohio River and in the west by the mighty Mississippi.

White men explored the area as early as 1750 when Shawnee and Cherokee still dominated the land. Early white explorers including Daniel Boone entered Kentucky after the Cumberland Gap through the Cumberland Mountains on Kentucky’s eastern border was discovered in 1750.

In 1792, Kentucky separated from Virginia and became the 15th state. A border state, Kentucky clung unsuccessfully to neutrality during the Civil War.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentuckians fought in both Union and Confederate armies and there are many instances of brothers taking arms against brothers in the struggle. Confederate forces invaded Kentucky in 1861 but most of the fighting within the state ceased by 1863, after Union forces ousted the Confederate army.

After the Civil War, the state changed economically and socially. Tobacco became the major crop, the coal mining industry exploded, and emphasis moved from agriculture to manufacturing and services, causing a population shift to the cities.

Kentucky offers a mix of natural beauty, country charm, and metropolitan attractions.

The largest cities lie along the state’s northern region, with Louisville famous for the arts, industry, and the Kentucky Derby; and Lexington internationally known as the birthplace of thoroughbred racing champions.

Bordered by the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, Kentucky’s Western region offers timeless bluegrass traditions, natural attractions including the Land Between the Lakes, the city of Owensboro—Kentucky’s third largest, and the creative art and energy of Paducah.

Home to world-famous Kentucky barbecue and music legends, Bill Monroe, the Everly Brothers, and W.C. Handy, this region invites the RVer to travel the roads of tradition.

South Central Kentucky is best known for dozens of lakes and its extensive cave system.

Rich in small town charm, heritage, and beautiful waterways, this region invites the RVer to explore and enjoy nature and Kentucky’s historic small town southern charm.

Bowling Green is home to the famed National Corvette Museum and Lost River Cave and Valley, home to Kentucky’s only underground boat tour.

Marvel at one of the most spectacular and vast adventures in Kentucky—Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest cave system.

In the North Central Region you’ll find one of the state’s more popular claims to fame: Horse Country. Soft rolling hills, bluegrass countryside, and equestrian attractions including Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and the Kentucky Horse Park make this area a favorite for the RVer.

Built on the falls of the Ohio River, Louisville is home to the annual Kentucky Derby, “the greatest two minutes in sports,” and world-class museums including the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center.

Bernheim Arborteum & Research Forest, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bernheim Arborteum & Research Forest, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eastern Kentucky is home to the sprawling Appalachian Mountains, and the unique culture, music, and art of Appalachia, which has spawned many bluegrass and country artists.

Appalachian arts, history, crafts, music, and culture are celebrated and honored in festivals, museums, arts centers, and historic sites including the Highland Museum and Discovery Center, National Kentucky Folk Arts Center, Coal Miners Museum, and Mountain HomePlace, an actual Civil war era working farm as it was from 1850-1875.

Exploring Kentucky is discovering all the things you know about, and all the things you don’t. It’s experiencing more than 500 horse farms and touring the famous Bourbon Country distilleries.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of an ongoing series on Kentucky/Bourbon Country

Worth Pondering…

A richer and more Beautiful Country than this

I believe has never been seen in America.

—George Rogers Clark, 1775

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The Truth Is Here: A Great Place to Crash as UFO Festival Invades Roswell

“…In early July 1947, a mysterious object crashed on a ranch 30 miles north of Roswell”

alien_930x500As the story goes, sixty-six years ago, a rancher named W.W. Mack Brazel checked his sheep after a thunderstorm and found debris made of a strange metal scattered in many directions. He noticed a shallow trench several hundred feet long had been gorged into the desert landscape.

Brazel said he was struck by the unusual properties of the debris and dragged large pieces of it to a shed.

A day or two later, Brazel drove his rusty pickup down to the county seat of Roswell (New Mexico) and reported the incident to Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox, who reported it to Maj. Jesse Marcel, intelligence officer for the 509th Bomb Group, stationed at Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF).

In their book, A History of UFO Crashes, UFO researchers Don Schmitt and Kevin Randle say their research shows military radar had been tracking an unidentified flying object in the skies over southern New Mexico for four days. On the night of July 4, 1947, radar indicated the object had gone down about 30 to 40 miles northwest of Roswell.

In the summer of 1947, there were a number of UFO sightings in the United States. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In the summer of 1947, there were a number of UFO sightings in the United States. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The book says eyewitness William Woody, who lived east of Roswell, said he remembered being outside with his father the night of July 4, 1947, when he saw a brilliant object plunge to the ground.

Schmitt and Randle say Marcel, after receiving the call from Wilcox and subsequent orders from Col. William Blanchard, 509th commanding officer, went to investigate Brazel’s report. Marcel and Capt. Sheridan Cavitt, senior Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) agent, followed the rancher off-road to his place. They spent the night there and Marcel inspected a large piece of debris Brazel had dragged from the pasture.

Monday morning, July 7, Marcel took his first step onto the debris field. Marcel would remark later that “something … must have exploded above the ground and fell.”

According to Marcel, the debris was “strewn over a wide area, I guess maybe three-quarters of a mile long and a few hundred feet wide.” Scattered in the debris were small bits of metal.

“I didn’t know what we were picking up,” Marcel said.

“I still don’t know what it was … It could not have been part of an aircraft, not part of any kind of weather balloon or experimental balloon … I’ve seen rockets … sent up at the White Sands Testing Grounds. It definitely was not part of an aircraft or missile or rocket.”

Meanwhile, Glenn Dennis, a young mortician working at Ballard Funeral Home, received some curious calls one afternoon from the RAAF morgue. The base’s mortuary officer was trying to get hold of some small, hermetically sealed coffins and also wanted to know how to preserve bodies that had been exposed to the elements for a few days and avoid contaminating the tissue.

At 11 a.m., July 8, 1947, Lt. Walter Haut, RAAF public information officer, finished a press release Blanchard had ordered him to write, stating that the wreckage of a crashed disk had been recovered.

He gave copies to the two radio stations and both of the local newspapers. By 2:26 p.m., the story was on The Associated Press wire:

“The Army Air Forces here today announced a flying disk had been found.”

Blanchard had sent Marcel to Fort Worth Army Air Field (later Carswell Air Force Base) to report to Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commanding officer of the 8th Air Force.

Visit Roswell and decide for yourself! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Visit Roswell and decide for yourself! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Later that afternoon, Haut’s original press release was rescinded and an officer from the base retrieved all of the copies from the radio stations and newspaper offices. The next day, July 9, a second press release was issued stating that the 509th Bomb Group had mistakenly identified a weather balloon as wreckage of a flying saucer.

This revised statement sparked controversy and has continued to be a topic of debate 66 years later.

The military has tried to convince the news media from that day forward that the object found near Roswell was nothing more than a weather balloon.

In reviewing the literature both written including released government reports and oral statements, the evidence is inconclusive.

Additional information on Roswell, the Roswell Incident, Roswell UFO Museum, and Beyond Roswell is available in an earlier post: UFO Capital: Roswell

Roswell UFO Festival

alien12x18posterloresUncover the mystery and help discover the truth at The Amazing Roswell UFO Festival and 66th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident.

The City of Roswell invites UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike to join in the celebration of one of the most debated incidents in history this July 5-7, 2013.

The three-day event features guest speakers, authors, live entertainment, a costume contest, a pet costume contest, parade, family-friendly activities—and possibly an alien abduction.

The majority of the events will be held downtown, with very few exceptions. All events are within walking distance.

Website: ufofestivalroswell.com

Worth Pondering…
Well, at least my mom knows what species I am.

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