The Lope: March 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

No Soda for You!

The heart of a roadie quickens when stimulated by the spark of unfamiliar neon in the distance. Such was the case when we cruised into Baxter Springs, Kansas, as dusk settled in this past Thursday.

We'd seen this new sign - a Route 66 shield above "SODA FOUNTAIN" - at 1126 Military Avenue, on the main drag through "Baxter." Granted, a neon "Route 66" is a virtual guarantee that the place advertised isn't vintage, but even a retro soda fountain can be cool if done right (no excessive Elvi, please). I was salivating anyway; maybe I'm a bit Pavlovian as when I last saw an unfamiliar sign in this region of Route 66, I got a cool tour.

A peek through the window reveals a very nice looking soda fountain - glass brick, if I'm not mistaken - within an otherwise spartan setting, save for the appropriately chequered theme.

On viewing the booths across the rather large room from the fountain, I began to notice something odd. All of the customers were very young and there were identical - and really nice - computer monitors in most of the booths.

Not a Public Facility

That's when I saw the plaque outside:
Bill Abernathy Memorial Lifetime Learning Center
Not a Public Facility
This Route 66 soda fountain is devoted to the enrichment and lifetime learning of the citizens of all ages in Cherokee County Kansas.
September 2007

September 2007? I was surprised I'd not heard of this. I hadn't been to Baxter Springs since attending a Route 66 parade through it in June of last year. I had heard rumors of a soda fountain in Baxter Springs, but no accounts that it wasn't pubic.

As I was looking at the plaque an older couple blew past me excitedly and headed for the door. They were quite disappointed when they saw another "not a public facility" sign on the door. The man explained that they'd dined at the nearby Cafe on the Route (where we were headed, too) and were looking forward to an after-dinner malt.

Another plaque displayed scripture.

When I reached home, I did a little research and the only substantive thing I found was this Joplin Globe article by Roger McKinney, dated October 12 of 2007.

McKinney mentions the remodeled 1923 building contains a 1940 soda fountain. "1940 soda fountain" may refer to only the mechanical parts; I think the glass bricks are modern.

The article goes on to state that the learning center features wireless Internet and serves middle-school and high-school students in the Baxter Springs, Riverton and Galena school districts. There's no mention of the "citizens of all ages" on the plaque. I phoned the center on Friday and left a couple questions on an answering machine. I'll post if they respond.

I do think the student learning center looks like a great idea, and while I love the sign, it does feel a bit deceptive from the perspective of a tourist exploring the town's main drag. I wonder how they'll deal with the flow of people touring Route 66 this summer, most of whom aren't going to notice the plaque from the street and will be lured as I was, like moths to a neon flame.

So, do you think "student of life" counts?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where is Ace Jackalope? (episode 20)

Ace stops at the crossing to view this particular bit of art. Where is Ace Jackalope?

Monday, March 24, 2008

50 years of the Peace Symbol

The familiar "peace" symbol is now 50 years old.

I figured it originated in the 60's, as illustrated here a VW mini-bus displayed at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, but I just learned it comes from anti-nuclear protests that were carried out in England 50 years ago. Read about in this CBS News story.

The symbol rapidly mainstreamed and is used for pretty much any peace-oriented protest. Here's Ace at the fall festival of Bethel College in Newton, Kansas, where anti-war sentiments were common among the students.

The symbol is supposed to be an "N" and "D" for "nuclear disarmament". For the life of me, I can't dissect the symbol and get that from it.

Anyway, here's Ace modeling the peace symbol in the country of its origin, specifically, on London's "Mod" hangout, Carnaby Street (October '06).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, 2008!

I hadn't published this one before. It's the huge Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ near Groom, Texas, in 2003 or 2004.

They had finished the grounds by the time of our July, 2005, visit.

And its floodlights made it look good in a rain storm in 2007.

I was stopped in my tracks just a month ago by the passion displayed on this ivory crucifix from early 17th century Germany, on display as part of the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum. Although the Christ is almost four centuries old (circa 1610-1625), the silver nails and fruitwood cross are modern.

Belief systems are never more fascinating than when they've percolated through the cultures they conquer. A fine example of this can be found in the Penitente Brotherhood, a lay religious society prominent in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado during the 19th century. An example of the brotherhood's symbolic Doña Sebastiana, an effigy used during Holy Week, can be found at the Hutchinson (Kansas) Art Center. See our visit with Doña Sebastiana here.

Speaking of New Mexico, I've had requests for more photos from the cemetery of Capia de Santa Rita de Cascia (Santa Rita Chapel) at Bernal, NM (on an old alignment of Route 66). I ran this picture of the monument to Pedro and Virginia Sandoval, last year.

There are several examples of small crucifix's affixed to what appear to be hand-made tombstones in the cemetery. Here's one I hadn't published before. It is the monument of Rita Maroyez.

For a look at the cross and the crucifix in London and in Kansas, see last year's Good Friday post.

Have some eggs. No; I didn't do these. I'm lucky if I can get an even, solid color on an egg.

Pysanky egg artists Janet Regier showed us how these are done back in 2006 and we saw a bit more of her craft in 2007.

I usually look at Easter Island heads (moai) during Easter weekend. I'll have an update on this big mini-golf moai's fate, very soon. In the meantime, if you're in a tiki mood, check out Happy Easter Island and More Easter Stuff.

Of course, Easter Clearance starts tomorrow. Ace explicitly told me not to buy any more peeps.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring Equinox, 2008

Stonehenge, May, 1992

The first day of Spring arrived today and it's so windy today in Kansas that I swear it blew in.

We have few megaliths in Kansas, but we do have the sun...and a surprising amount of hills. This was the sunrise as seen along Kansas highway 400 (used to be be 96) in the Flint Hills near Beaumont, March 10, 2008.

Golgotha Fun Park

"Golgotha Fun Park" - say it with me now.

Say it aloud if you can; turn over the words in your mouth and taste the surreal quality of the combination. Pull the words apart and try to put them back together. See if they don't repel each other like magnetic Scottie dogs.

You can't make this stuff up. Golgotha Fun Park is a now-defunct miniature golf course in Cave City, Kentucky, which was named after the place where Jesus Christ met a painful death by crucifixion.

Here, concrete figures I've dubbed Red Jesus and Blue Jesus wait to forgive you for your bad putts.

Golgotha Fun Park really is situated on a hill, like its namesake may or may not have been. Here's the view of the rolling Kentucky hills on the other side of Mammoth Cave Road from the parking lot.

Mammoth Cave National Park is the big tourist draw of the area, around which tourist traps like Golgotha Fun Park sprang up.

We were in town with a bunch of friends and family for a visit to Wigwam Village #2 in September of 2007.

Back at Golgotha, the ten commandments flank this dilapidated green. Apparently the first nine holes of the course were oriented around the Old Testament, with the remaining devoted to the New Testament.

Nobody was in the park's building to answer our questions and there isn't much signage left, but there once was one that read " America's #1 Shaded Biblical Mini-Golf."

Indeed, things keep disappearing from the course. When I first saw it in 2002, this whale had a lawn ornament Jonah to give it context.

The park once had three Calvary crosses and a Noah's ark as an obstacle. I think this whale is probably the coolest thing they ever used, so I'm glad it had remained.

I fear there will be no resurrection for the links watched-over by Blue Jesus. From what I can tell, the New Testament holes were less customized and used mostly lawn ornaments.

According to Roadside America, the course opened in 1992. Tips to that site indicate it faltered in 2001, closed in 2002 and is now for sale.

Ace's pal Debra Jane Seltzer reports on her website that "In 2007, it was announced that the property would be transformed into a dinner theatre and a haunted mine attraction." Alas, unemployment will continue for White Jesus and this angel.

At least the dinner patrons will have a nice view of walking steak.

The Golgotha Fun Park sign is worth one more look, just for the words.

We at The Lope wish you a pleasant Good Friday, a rewarding equinox and a fine Easter weekend. Just be careful with those eggs.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2008

Green and Blue, and Wenches, too...

We were lucky enough to pass through Shamrock, Texas, last month and took this photo of Ace Jackalope with the 1930's Art Deco Conoco station on Route 66, which now serves as the city's Chamber of Commerce.

See more of it, and many other things Irish, Shamrock-related...

...Celtic, or just plain green, in last year's Saint Patrick's Day Megapost, and 2006's Things Irish, and then some.

From green to blue, yet still Irish.

Arnie's Bar is an Irish pub located, since 2000, in the building that gave Tulsa, Oklahoma's Blue Dome District its name.

It's pretty easy to see how the name came about.

Like Shamrock's Chamber of Commerce, Arnie's is housed in a vintage gas station - a 1912 Gulf station, to be exact.

According to Arnie's website, back in the station's heyday, the Gulf service station attendant used to live in an apartment right beneath the dome.

The bays for servicing automobiles are still apparent.

As is the Moorish architecture and decoration.

There's even a touch of streamline design in the shape of the neon sign.

And it, like the Shamrock Conoco, is on Route 66.

I love to see residential decor for minor holidays like St Pat's. This concrete lion guards a residence at 2427 South Wall Street in Joplin, Missouri. Did I say "minor holidays? In Ace's new America, he'd make St Patrick's Day a national holiday. Think about it - Monday off, and since it'd be a national holiday, it'd be an act of patriotism to drink green beer, if you're into that sort of thing.

This past Fall at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival, we encountered the Doxies, a singing group that specializes in creatively bawdy and suggestive songs (not the rock band, The Doxies).

Which reminds me, our search word data for this time of year indicates a rising interest in the various renfest posts, so here's Spring of 2007, Spring of 2006 and Fall of 2005. And this is another Doxie, Shannon Rose. With a name like that, I had to include her.

Ace immediately scoped out Molly McGuiness, a Doxie with suitably Irish attire.

'Til next St. Patrick's Day, may the road rise to meet you and may you remember to renew your site before the Devil has your URL.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Ides of March


Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi Day

Today, March 14, mathematicians celebrate International Pi Day because it's 3/14...3.14...Pi.

Many of them celebrate with pie. Smart people, mathematicians.

Look! A bunch of circular pies inside a bigger circle. If that doesn't say "pi=pie", I don't know what does. This was at last year's Mennonite Relief Sale (MCC Sale) in Hutchinson, Kansas.

But is that enough recognition to give pie? Nay!

National Pie Day was in January, but I don't see reason we can't celebrate pie again, do you? Indeed, there is no International Pie Day, as far as I can find, so let's decide it's today.

Some impromptu International Pie Day awards:

Best Mass Assemblage of Pie goes to the MCC sale.

Like tasty soldiers, MCC pie awaits deployment.

Best Pie of Historical Significance goes to Little Jack Horner.

Best Pie on Missouri Route 66 goes to A Slice of Pie in Rolla.

Ace guards his Moe's Millionaire

This pie was so beautiful I hesitated to eat it. But I got over that.

Best Pie on Texas Route 66:

The winner is the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, where Ace met with Midpoint Pete over some ugly crust pie in May and July of 2005. We passed through Adrian on Feb 29 of this year, and missed the seasonal opening of The Midpoint by one day. Ouch!

Best Pie in Rural Missouri is a tie. We discovered both during the Food Coma Caravan, an annual road trip/eating binge started by friends in Kansas City.

Tupelo Honey's, Greenview, Missouri.

Cookin' From Scratch, Doolittle, Missouri

I know that Patsy Terrell is also planning to salute pie today. I can't wait to see if others jump in.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Arizona Aloha Festival

If you happen to be in Arizona this coming weekend, and want to broaden your cultural horizons - for free, at that - you might want to take in the Arizona Aloha Festival March 15 and 16 at Phoenix' Heritage and Science Park, downtown. I found out about the festival last year while shooting photos at the Bikini Lounge; a bar patron told me about it.

We won't be able to be in Phoenix at the right time this year, but I did stop in last year for an hour or so on the festival's second day, March 18, 2007. Ace gravitated toward this nice Maori performer, Leilani Miria Thompson-Kihi, shown here with her daughter, who was as curious about about Ace as he was about her people.

Performances of native dances from Samoa, Tonga, French Polynesia, Hawaii, the Philippines, etc., are the main draw of the festival. There are also Martial arts performances, storytellers, Tahitian drummers and slack key guitar musicians. Aside from the substantial Polynesian-transplant population of Phoenix that likes to keep alive their traditions, performers have also come from Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands.

I wasn't able to stick around after performances and ask names very much last year, but a current festival organizer was kind enough to help me ID a few people. At this "Island Jam", Kamalu Tinnell (red shirt) and Pat Tinnell (white shirt) are playing.

If things were on schedule, these were members of the Arizona-based Polynesian Review, Ka’ea Mauna Lani, performing Hula.

Leilani Miria Thompson-Kihi performed dances with poi balls (those white things).

The poi are used as an adjunct to the dance itself, as part of a story-telling tradition.

I noticed they weren't on fire, unlike some other poi performances I've seen; I'm someone in charge may have thought fire in a crowded festival wasn't such a great idea.

These are other Maori guest artists from New Zealand.

Like the women's dances, these also tell stories, often of past battles.

They are also performed for intimidation - a hold-over from more tribal days.

From left (according to festival chair Lacretia Bacon): the older gentleman is David Rawiri Thompson, the young man is Leilani Miria Thompson-Kihi's son, the gentleman with the shaved head and tattoos on his legs is Arapeta Takoko and the youth is from a local Maori family.

You're probably wondering about the tattoos. I was. Tattooing is part of a Maori tradition. I don't know whether the ones on this young man's face are permanent or not.

There is of course a market area with Polynesian and island inspired clothing, jewelry, textiles, etc.

I bought Ace some material for future tiki adventures...not that I know what to do with it, now that I have it.

There was even clothing for your canine.

The canine mannequins vexed this real doggie.

There were no carved tikis for sale at the fair, which was a surprise to me. These were purely for show; someone had brought their collection for display.

There were a few manufactured tikis hanging around.

This one was decor for a food vendor. There was a lot of island-themed food available. I believe that's the case this year as well.

The festival's venue, the Heritage and Science Park, included what is said to be the only preserved block of housing from the original Phoenix town site, including the Rosson House, shown here. Festivities also spill over into the Arizona State University (ASU) campus.

These Ukulele players were hanging out at Aunty Aloha's Ukulele Corner.

There were also Ukes for sale

Slack Guitar player Moon Kahele performed and posed with fans.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Another One from Tucumcari

Americana Motel sign in Tucumcari, NM, on Route 66. - February 28, 2008.

This was the only older motel sign that was still lit at 1:30 AM, which I suppose makes the actual date February 29.

Such are the perils of shooting so many pictures on the way - that one arrives at one's destination too late to catch most of the neon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Nothing Says Travel Like...

the flicker and buzz of old neon.

Tucumcari, New Mexico, 1:29AM February 29. The Friends Inn motel on Route 66 is an unremarkable structure with an equally unremarkable back lit plastic sign, but it does sport these nice bits of old neon to evoke memories of family vacations gone by.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Henry's Rabbit Ranch

Frequently, photos from a trip sit in my files, just waiting for a topical moment to hop onto the net. This is one of those times.

Rich Henry of Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, has entered the above photo of himself and Montana, his pet rabbit, in a Humane Society contest. Voting continues through today and Thursday, and will be tallied Friday. Click here to vote for Montana You'll have to click through a couple of pages. We did, and I'll tell ya why.

We were running late that roadtrippy day in July of 2006. We'd stopped everywhere between Springfield and here to take photos and eat...commune with a muffler man and eat again...take more get the idea. It was a Sunday too...not good for catching people open, and it was too late to make it to Henry's Rabbit Ranch during his normal hours.

It helps to have a support crew; my brother back in Joplin called ahead to Henry's, and Rich said he'd be happy to stay "Sorry We're Open" a little longer for inbound roadies. We made it there with plenty of sunlight left.

Route 66 enthusiasts will recognize that "Hare It Is" is a play on "Here It Is", the slogan of the iconic Jackrabbit Trading Post in Arizona.

Rich and his wife, Linda, have operated a Route 66 info center/souvenir-gift shop since 1995. The entrance is decorated with a faux gas station facade.

As to the gas station...funny story there: According to a page on Rich's website, the EPA once stopped by looking for buried gas tanks. He eventually convinced them it was never a real gas station.

Inside, Rich proved to be a worthy representative of Route 66 for Illinois, as well as for attractions in a number of other states. Here, he makes sure we haven't missed anything on this poster. As you can see, Montana is hopping over to help.

Not content to sit idly by, Montana performed for us. She's such a good ambassador that Ace may offer her a cabinet position in his new administration.

Around the room is a pleasant collection of "stuff" - some for sale, and some for show.

I have to love a place with one of the 1963-design Sinclair dinosaurs on display. Sinclair marketed these beach toys just prior to the 1964-65 World's Fair, allegedly to demonstrate the use of petroleum in plastics, and kept them in production with few modifications until the late 1990s. And that was your trivia for the day.

The "Jackrabbit Crossing" sign is a present from the Jackrabbit Trading Post, which Rich plugs on his website.

The building also houses a number of other bunnies. His initial interest in rabbits stemmed from a population explosion resulting from their daughter having pair of the critters. This confirms that bunnies not only breed with antelopes to create jackalopes, they apparently also take a liking to each other.

Montana nuzzled Ace.

Oops! Too much bunny lovin'

Rich has quite the collection of Campbell's "Humpin' to Please" trailers. He owns the trucks, too.

The defunct company's mascot was "Snortin' Norton."

Henry's Rabbit Ranch was recognized by the Hampton Inn's "Save a Landmark Program" in June of 2003.

Rich has a collection of - what else? - Volkswagen Rabbits. He tells me that since the time of this photo, three of the rabbits are buried "Cadillac Ranch" - style.

Thematic personalized plates abound.

And there's a truck with a fiberglass jackrabbit. I bet it'd be fun to drive in a parade.

I believe this is the same design as one used at the Jackrabbit Trading Post.

It isn't hard to find more rabbits around here.

But the true outdoor treasures waited like Easter eggs in the grass - vintage motel signs, rescued from ruin and awaiting display.

The Stanley Cour-Tel signs were moved here in 2004 after the motel was razed for St Louis airport expansion.

I believe these other two signs may be from the Lin-Air motel. Perhaps Rich or someone else can comment and clarify.

(Update: Reader and Route 66 preservationist Emily Priddy confirmed the signs are from the Lin-Air motel and comments: "Friends of the Mother Road helped orchestrate the rescue of both sets of signs when we learned the impending airport expansion had doomed the motels they advertised.")

Henry's Rabbit Ranch was our last substantial stop on our five-day Chicago to St. Louis trip, and one of the most memorable.

And remember - vote for Montana before in the Humane Society contest before Friday. We did, and no spam has resulted. (But never play poker with a man or a bunny named after a state.)

Update added June 25, 2008: Montana was found dead of natural causes this morning by her owner, Rich Henry. She died, I would suspect, of old age. Montana had joined Ace and the human candidates in a bid for the Presidency of the United States a bit over a week after this post was first published. Ace considered her to be a worthy, respectable (and beautiful) opponent.

As for me, I never saw a more regal rabbit.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Where is Ace Jackalope? (episode 19)

Ace dislikes firearms, but he's decided they're appropriate here. Where is Ace Jackalope?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Where is Ace Jackalope? (Episode 18)

Does this mighty warrior see the great bear above him? I don't know if it's bear he is hunting, but it's another animal that he's likely to find.

Ace isn't in this picture, but he and I were viewing this scene last night. Where exactly were we?

And for bonus points: of what great bear do I write?