Today I arrived at The Travellodge, my home for the next couple of days. I parked my car in the garage across the street; too bad it costs $ 27,50 per day. After checking in, I went to Grant Park as today was the last day of the Chicago Jazz Festival. The park was full of stands, people and three Jazz podia. I just looked around, enjoyed some of the music (musicians jamming together) and emused myself by the fact that these musicians -while freaking on their instruments- all tend to pull faces as if they were about to ejaculate.
Between concerts I had some chicken saté and an imported Heineken (the festival’s main sponsor):
There were even a couple of Dutch musicians playing tonight but I kind of missed them. When I was standing still watching them a jazz festival employee came over policing me that I must either sit down or walk on as I was not allowed to stand still… doh…
As I continued on over the Interstate 80, I left boring Nebraska and entered the rolling hills of
Ohio Iowa. Still corn and wheat but not flat anymore and more pitoresque. So I decided to leave the interstate and drive trough the countryside. Driving along I passed several towns which where settled by the Danish (Danish windmill, settler museum and even a replica of the little mermaid as seen in Kopenhagen) and I stumbled upon a Labor Day County Fair in Guthrie.
The fair had it’s usual share of food stands and merry go rounds, but this county fair was really about country as there where several country style competitions going on. Like who’s got the best looking sheep:
…or beef (that’s how they call cows here)…
They even had competitions on who grew the best looking corn:
…or pumpkins (or novelty table gourds (?) as they call it):
But it didn’t stop there, there were prices for about every vegetable and fruit people grow in Iowa. And what’s a county fair without shootin’…
…and -mini- tractor pulling?
I even spotted a couple of
Mormons Amish in the wild:
After the competition the farm animals probably end up right here:
Seems like the Fire Dept is not only good for extinguishing fires
Next door was also a car show, with a collection of nice old American cars. Here’s a good lookin’ Camaro:
After the fair I went back to the Interstate and continued my journey untill I saw a sign pointing to the Bridges of Madison County and John Wayne’s birthplace. I went to have a look at one of the bridges and as I stepped out of my car a couple of hillbillies asked me if I was from California. When I said I was from the Netherlands they were very happy and friendly as they had been to Amsterdam a couple of times. They told me you are allowed to drink and drive while you’re on Iowa’s dirt roads so they gave me a beer which I gladly accepted
I am in Nebraska, the land of corn. It’s flat, it’s only got corn, a bit of wheat, and it’s quite boring. After waking up I had some breakfast (that’s rare in a motel) and some elderly people started talking to me. The woman asked me where I was from so I replied ‘The Netherlands’. So after a couple of minutes she asked me, so, where in Sweden is The Netherlands exactly? sigh… Mor(m)ons!
So today (Jo2‘s wedding day!) was a highway day with my TomTom set to Des Moines and Chicago. Along the way though, stopping for petrol at a Shell station (I try to shop at Shell, support the Dutch economy a bit ) I saw a trailer with two very nice classic Vincent motorcycles. Especially the café racer appealed to me; what a wonderfull machine! Another bike for my wanted list…
On Thursday I found a brochure about another Steam Train ride really close by the motel I had stayed for the night: the Georgetown Loop Railroad. I drove to Silver Plume station and got a combination ticket for the train ride and a visit to the Lebanon Silver Mine. Unfortunately the original steam train was under restoration so we got an old diesel locomotive instead. Also cool, but not as cool as a steam train of course.
After about 10 minutes we stopped at the Lebanon Silver Mine and the people who got tickets got off here for a visit to the mine.
As the guide told us, in the past silver was part of the US monetary system, just as gold. This means that silver was sort of subsidised by the US government until -after political issues- this was abandoned and it was not affordable anymore to operate many silver mines. So this mine was shut down in the early 1900′s even though there are still several silver deposits to be seen.
After the train ride and the silver mine I headed for Boulder, Colorado. When, after a couple of hours, I entered Boulder I saw I road sign that said ‘Nederland’. Curious as I was I decided to follow the sign and so I ended up in Nederland, Colorado!
I wondered, and pretty much assumed, the town was settled by the Dutch. However, reading the Nederland Area Historical Society‘s website it appears the town was settled byt trappers and grew due to the goldrush. It wasn’t even named Nederland in those days, that came later:
1873 Investors from Holland buy the Caribou Mill and change the name of Brown’s Crossing to Nederland, which means “lowland,” being lower ground than at Caribou. The dutch company went bankrupt in 1878, but the name remained.
It’s a bit silly though that the Historic Society does not seem to know that Nederland actually is the Dutch name for The Netherlands, instead of a Country’s name they just seem to think that it is a common word or something.
The town itself does not resemble anything Dutch at all, except for the name…
Today I traveled from Durango through the Rocky Mountains to Silverton, an old mining town. Along the way I passed the old steam train that rides daily from Durango to Silverton:
The views of the Rocky’s were great, reminds me of the French Alps. Silverton is a very nice pitoresque town. It consist mainly of two streets, one surfaced, the other not. The town was full of old Victorian houses and old brothels that are now tranformed into nice restaurants, pubs or tourists shops. I found several old cars, from wrecks to quite reasonable T Fords (again).
From Silverton I drove upwards. Ouray was also a nice Victorian style town, but after Ouray you drive out of the Rocky’s and into the flatlands again which is much less interesting than the Rocky Mountains. From Ouray I followed the 550 and 50 to Grand Junction, taking a left towards Denver. I am now staying in a motel in Glenwood Springs. Tomorrow I want to head for Boulder and / or Denver.
Finally I have some internet access again; but I’m going to sleep now… it’s already 01:05… cheers!
On Tuesday I visited Monument Valley in the middle of the Navajo reserve. I had high expectations of this area but it was less spectacular than I had thought. Not bad, but nothing compared to the Grand Canyon for example.
From Monument Valley I drove to Colorado to the Mesa Verde National Park where several old 800 years old Indian ruins were to be seen. The one I visited (Spruce Tree House) was the one that was best preserved:
Yesterday I drove from Grand Canyon National Park into Utah to Mountain Ridge where I stayed in a Motel. Today I went to see Bryce Canyon, an impressive amphitheatre full of pointy rocks.
From Bryce Canyon I drove the long way back to Arizona to the Monument Valley area. At Kayente I stayed at an overpriced motel; I had to pay $ 118,- for a motel room what probably normaly costs about $ 60,-. The big increase in price is because all acomodation in the area was sold out so the hotels call eachother and raise their prices if there is almost nothing left. Basterds!
Today -on my mum’s 60th birthday!- I went to see the Grand Canyon. The view was magnificent, seeing the tiny Colorado river down below and all that canyons, pillars and rocks all around you. It seems surreal standing there, as if you are watching an image or something instead of seeing this huge canyon. I don’t think it’s possible to capture it properly on film or in a photograph, you should really see it for yourself to experience it. I did give it a shot though (clickable):
No language can fully describe, no artist paint the beauty, grandeur, immensity and sublemity of this most wonderful production of Nature’s great architect. [Grand Canyon] must be seen to be appreciated.
- C.O. Hall, Grand Canyon visitor, 1895.
I can only agree with Mr. Hall…
Today I left Las Vegas and headed for Arizona; first stop: The Hooverdam.
Hoover Dam, also known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. When completed in 1935, it was both the world’s largest electric power producing facility and the world’s largest concrete structure. This plaque in the middle of the dam marks the border between Nevada and Arizona:
From the dam you have a great view of the Black Canyon and Lake Mead (clickable):
Walking over the dam to the Arizona side you have a good view of the dam itself. The four towers are the water intakes of Arizona and Nevada. So, the last to towers are responsible for all the abundance of fountains and waterfalls in Las Vegas
From the Hoover Dam I drove into Arizona and made my way towards Valle, about 26 miles from Grand Canyon National Park. Along the way there were some massive thunder clouds over Arizona. I tried to capture the lightning but that was a bit harder than I had hoped for. So here’s a panorama shot without lightning
I had some really nasty dinner at the Flintstone’s diner / gift shop (tasteless roastbeef in loads of gravy on wet toast with potato mash and beans). Ah well… at least I got something to eat
Today I went for a walk through the city of gambling and lots and lots of kitsch. Walking along The Strip, at one moment you might think you are in Paris:
…while at the other moment you think you are in ancient Rome:
…or on the Piazza San Marco in Venice:
Walking around The Strip with all that Kitsch, huge fountains, waterfalls, white tigers and fashion designer shops makes you feel you are in some theme park instead of in a real city. It feels like the Efteling or Disney Land. Check out the Kitsch
At an urban clothes store I found two interesting books on Pressure Printing, and how to set it up at home. I’m surely going to give that a try when I get back home. (And when I have a home )