Outstanding in any field: Michael Kline Pottery

Hand-thrown pottery vase with hydrangeas by Michael Kline., North Carolina potter.

Hand-thrown pottery vase with hydrangeas by Michael Kline., North Carolina potter.

Who knew that a trip to the 2016 Apple Festival in Hendersonville, North Carolina, would have so many perks — a stay in a tiny house, tours and tastings at apple orchards, and drives along back roads through some of the most scenic country in the South.

But a little-known (to us, at least) show and sale of contemporary art pottery just may be one of the best finds of the trip.  Cousins in Clay, featuring potters Bruce Gholson, Samantha Henneke, and Michael Kline with guest Kristen Kieffer, offered some of the finest pottery creations we’ve seen, all in a pastoral setting.

Because we’ve been familiar with Michael Kline’s pottery for quite some time, we were on a mailing list advertising this Labor Day weekend show and sale.  But being in Kline’s backyard and seeing the pottery was an experience in itself.

Under the tent: Looking over the selection of Michael Kline pottery.

Under the tent: Looking over the selection of Michael Kline pottery.

Michael Kline greeted us by the tents in the field behind his house.  And the more he talked, the more we felt like old friends, not just casual shoppers who dropped by on a summer’s day.

Quiet, country view at the home of Michael Kline and Stacey Lane in Bakersville, NC.

Quiet, country view at the home of Michael Kline and Stacey Lane in Bakersville, NC.

Turns out, his mother-in-law, Jackie Lane, is a friend of ours from Knoxville, a connection we never made before.  But how fortunate for us:  We enjoyed chatting with her and meeting her daughter Stacey Lane (Michael’s wife), a jewelry designer who teaches and displays at nearby Penland School of Crafts.

Stacey Lane (wife of Michael Kline) and their dog Jack greeted us under the checkout tent.

Stacey Lane (wife of Michael Kline) and their dog Jack greeted us under the checkout tent.

To say we were “wowed” by the pottery would be an understatement.  With an earthiness that comes from a blend of clays, Kline’s pottery stands on its own with signature bold vines against pale, grainy backgrounds.

Multiple textures, earthy colors, signature motifs -- this is Michael Kline Pottery

Multiple textures, earthy colors, signature motifs — this is Michael Kline Pottery.

Each piece was a treasure.  From huge, hand-thrown pots, to chunky, hearty plates that would be starring pieces on any table, Kline’s unique pottery is easily identifiable.  We could see it featured in any Southern magazine, showing classy clay pieces in a country setting or standing proudly alongside antique pewter and hand-blown crystal.

With a shape reminiscent of an earthenware jug, this piece features a slightly darker background.

With a shape reminiscent of an earthenware jug, this piece features a slightly darker background.

Kline positioned this stunning vase in the middle of a long country table filled with pottery -- quite the centerpiece!

Kline positioned this stunning vase in the middle of a long country table filled with pottery — quite the centerpiece!

Coffee mugs by Michael Kline

Coffee mugs by Michael Kline

His newer work reveals an interest in detail — tiny, repetitive motifs —  covering hefty mugs . . .

Repetitive designs on mugs by Michael Kline

Repetitive designs on mugs by Michael Kline

and forming delicate edges on serving plates.

A rim of daisy-like motifs adorn this platter of subtle colors and textures.

A rim of daisy-like motifs adorn this platter of subtle colors and textures.

We wandered down to his studio, a simple house with tools of the trade:  potter’s wheels, a utilitarian yet beautiful kiln, and pieces filling cupboards and tables.

Michael Kline's workshop in Bakersville, NC

Michael Kline’s workshop in Bakersville, NC

And who wouldn’t want to “set a spell” on this porch with summer flowers and stately pottery?

Beauty on the porch at Michael Kline's workshop

Beauty on the porch at Michael Kline’s workshop

Our serendipitous trip to little-known Bakersville, North Carolina, remains a fond memory.  Fields of flowers, weathered fences, and an out-of-the-way workshop where the marvelously collectible pieces of Michael Kline Pottery originate — it doesn’t get any better, or any prettier, than this.

One of our favorite pieces shows off what Kline does best:  incorporate local clay and earthy colors for one-of-a-kind creation.

One of our favorite pieces shows off what Kline does best: incorporate local clay and earthy colors for one-of-a-kind creations.

Apologies for this fuzzy picture -- the only one I took -- of Bert and Michael Kline.  Guess I need to go back for a better shot!! (Please, please.)

Apologies for this fuzzy picture — the only one I took — of Bert and Michael Kline. Guess I need to go back for a better shot!! (Please, please.)

Join us for more travels in North Carolina.  Next stop:  Penland School of Crafts!

–Rusha

For more information:

Michael Kline Pottery, 4062 Snow Creek Rd., Bakersville, NC; http://www.klinepottery.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/KlinePottery/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/285890650/

Cousins in Clay: http://www.cousinsinclay.com/

Stacey Lane Studio Jewelry: http://staceylane.com/home.html

 

Posted in Destination, North Carolina | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Livin’ large in a Tiny House: Flat Rock, NC

Our home away from home: a tiny house in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Our home away from home: a tiny house in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

When you wait ’til the last minute to make hotel or B&B reservations wherever there’s a huge festival, you just may be out of luck.  And we were.  No rooms in Hendersonville, North Carolina, during Apple Festival 2016.  Sold out.  Nothing much on any of the tried-and-true websites we rely on for lodging.

Another tiny home in Village of Wildflowers -- Flat Rock, NC

Another tiny home in Village of Wildflowers — Flat Rock, NC

And that’s when we got creative.  Somehow we stumbled upon the Village of Wildflowers in nearby Flat Rock.  Nice website.  Lovely photos.  Tiny houses.  That’s right — those adorable tiny houses that you see on HGTV’s  Tiny House Hunters. We signed up and stayed in a tiny house called Lake View.

Fully-equipped kitchen in a rentable tiny house in Flat Rock.

Fully-equipped kitchen in a rentable tiny house in Flat Rock.

Our 400-square-foot tiny home offered more than ample accommodations for three nights.  Immediately, we loved the open living room with natural pine walls and all the amenities you’d want in a compact space:  sofa, two chairs, bar with pull-up stools, fully-equipped kitchen, fireplace, and big flat-screen TV.

One corner of the living room with fireplace and TV -- visible from kitchen.

One corner of the living room with fireplace and TV — visible from kitchen.

The master bedroom was another study in usable space:  queen bed with storage underneath, book shelves on either side of the bed, and a wardrobe with hanging space and deep drawers.

Plenty of storage in this comfortable, compact master bedroom.

Plenty of storage in this comfortable, compact master bedroom.

No compromises on the bathroom either:  full tub with shower and lots of lighted spaces.

Bathroom with granite counter tops, good lighting, and both tub and shower

Bathroom with granite counter tops, good lighting, and both tub and shower

Pocket doors kept everything private but stayed out of the way.

Pocket doors, ample storage in tiny house in Flat Rock

Pocket doors, ample storage in tiny house in Flat Rock

Loft space (accessible by ladder in the living room) held another queen bed in a spacious carpeted area.  We didn’t venture up there except to peek in, but we knew at first glance that kids would love this space!

A screened-in porch with four chairs offered a view of the lake and a quiet place to read.  But we also discovered something else hidden away behind closed doors on the porch: a compact washer and dryer.  Handy, to say the least.

Screened-in porch holds 4 chairs. Hidden away behind doors is the washer and dryer.

Screened-in porch holds 4 chairs. Hidden away behind doors is the washer and dryer.

The Village of Wildflowers has both permanent residents and rental homes in this tiny house subdivision where variety in design and building materials ensure that no two are alike.

Open for inspection was an even tinier house, suitable for toting behind a vehicle if the owners wanted to be on the move.

For us, staying in a tiny house has its advantages: We were in one place for three days of exploring western North Carolina, we “cooked in” a couple of nights, and we gave up nothing in terms of accommodations.

Living room and kitchen view of Lake View, a tiny house in Flat Rock

Living room and kitchen view of Lake View, a tiny house in Flat Rock

We’re convinced that there may be more of these tiny house communities on the way in America, and, as an alternative to our usual hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, our tiny house stay felt like an adventure, one worth trying.

What about you?  Think you’d enjoy a tiny house vacation?

For more information:

Village of Wildflowers, 24 Empire Lane, Flat Rock, NC 28731; 828-707-0969.  info@thevillageofwildflowers.com; http://thevillageofwildflowers.com/

Posted in North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments

Right to the source: Apple orchards near Hendersonville, NC

Juicy the Giant Apple Bug at Lyda Farm, Hendersonville, NC

Juicy the Giant Apple Bug at Lyda Farm, Hendersonville, NC

As you might have guessed, it was this hay bale critter — Juicy, the Giant Apple Bug — that caused us to pull off Chimney Rock Road in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and into Lyda Farms. And cute he is, don’t you think?  But our eyes were on the prize:  the stunning apple orchards we had heard about at the NC Apple Festival just the day before.

Stepp's Orchard booth at NC Apple Festival 2016

Stepp’s Orchard booth at NC Apple Festival 2016

Armed with a listing of Hendersonville NC Farm Markets, we headed out to see if we could find those yellow, green, and red juicy globes hanging on the trees.  After all, we’d sampled just about every variety of apples grown in the area and washed it all down with apple cider, so it was just natural for us to want to see the source.

Walking through apple orchards at Lyda Farms

Walking through apple orchards at Lyda Farms

Just one of many orchards open during the NC Apple Festival, Lyda Farms offered us more than just a glimpse of apples in bags ready to take to our car.  We asked first if we could see the orchards behind the farm stand, and, with their permission, we commenced to looking and photographing.

Beautiful reds, ripe for picking at Henderson Farms

Beautiful reds, ripe for picking at Henderson Farms

Of course, those green varieties — Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, etc. — are mighty tasty. But for picture taking, we wanted to see the red ones hanging from the branches.  We didn’t have to go far.  Row after row of loaded trees greeted us, even though we’d heard from more than one vendor at the festival that temps and rainfall hadn’t been ideal this year.

We really couldn’t tell.  To us, the baskets of apples were picture perfect.

Baskets of apples ready to carry home

Baskets of apples ready to carry home

If you go to one of the markets, take a look around.  Sometimes bins filled to the brim are as interesting as the orchards themselves, like this wooden bin at Henderson Farms in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sorting apples at Henderson Farms, Hendersonville, NC

Sorting apples at Henderson Farms, Hendersonville, NC

And then express your appreciation to all who heave-ho these big baskets for our eating pleasure!

Sorting apples at Lyda Farms

Sorting apples at Lyda Farms

Farm markets are pretty much the same in that they offer a variety of goods — preserves, cider, fried pies, and the like.  But you really can’t beat the crunchiness of one of nature’s favorite fruits — apples right off the tree!

Plain and simply the best: apples!

Plain and simple: one of nature’s finest fruits.

To find orchards in your area (and some of them will let you pick apples yourself), go to any search engine for apple orchards or apple farm markets.  Since we were headed to North Carolina, our favorite sites were these:

So, dig in.  Find an orchard.  Soak up the beauty.  And crunch into something juicy and flavorful.  Apples in the fall are soooo good.

–Bert and Rusha

Can't beat this: apples right off the tree!

Can’t beat this: apples right off the tree!

 

Posted in Destination, Farmers Market, North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

“A triumph of human dignity”: The 9/11 Memorial Museum

In memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and those who have worked so hard to design and build a fitting tribute, we are republishing this post about the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.

Sleek buildings greet visitors as they approach the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC.

Sleek buildings greet visitors as they approach the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC.

We don’t know many New York City visitors who don’t have the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center on their must-do list.  In fact, it’s at the top of many lists of places most people want to see — not because it’s a tourist attraction but because it fulfills this one desire we all have: to honor the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.  And honor them it does.

Tall monoliths reflected in a steel and glass wall outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Tall monoliths reflected in a steel and glass wall outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The visitor brochure calls the 9/11 Memorial Museum a “a triumph of human dignity.”  And even when you leave the subway to approach the plaza surrounding the museum, you get the sense that this is big.  Really big.  At first, you see construction at ground level — a new transit station, buildings being completed, cranes and yellow tape marking off places you can’t and should walk.  But when you look up — and you will — you are rewarded with a spectacular view of steel and glass marvels of modern architecture.

Squarely inside the plaza, we moved toward where people were gathered around massive pools of water to read names of victims etched in the peripheral walls.  And we weren’t the only ones talking in whispers.

Awesome view from plaza beside 9/11 Memorial Museum

Awesome view from plaza beside 9/11 Memorial Museum

Names of victims frame pools outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Names of victims frame pools outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

A cityscape frames the pools of water at 9/11 Memorial Museum.

A cityscape forms the backdrop for the dramatic pools of water at 9/11 Memorial Museum.

We wondered how so many people in line could fit inside the museum.  But we soon found out.  Four floors provide vast, open exhibit space for artifacts, salvaged materials, and memorial photos.  And we were amazed at how that space impacts visitors as they look upward and all around.  You move at your own pace while taking long looks at the remains of a disaster that touched us all.

View from above of salvaged artifacts and tributes to victims

View from above of salvaged artifacts and tributes to victims.

Survivors' Stairs near the Tribute Walk

Survivors’ Stairs near the Tribute Walk

Mosaic wall with quote: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

Mosaic wall with quote from Virgil: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

Salvaged wall from World Trade Center

Salvaged wall from World Trade Center

We stopped and stayed for a while in the space known as In Memoriam where visitors can stand or sit to view videos and listen to recordings by family members as they remember their loved ones.

Wall of photos -- part of In Memoriam

Wall of photos — part of In Memoriam

Artists — from schoolchildren to the world-renowned Red Grooms — provided interpretations of the tragedies with tapestries, collages, canvases, quilts and more.

At the end of our tour, we stood silently as we viewed wreckage — raw, open, mangled metal forms — that once were serviceable vehicles and supportive beams turned by fire and the weight of collapsed buildings into twisted, almost unrecognizable forms.

You might think that we would leave depressed.  And we were saddened by what we had seen. But this whole endeavor – the collecting, designing, displaying, and memorializing — contributed wholly to the mission stated in the visitor information: to “bear solemn witness” and to “honor the victims.”  It does all that and so much more.

A tribute to America in 9/11 Memorial Museum

A tribute to the strength and resiliency of America: 9/11 Memorial Museum

For more information:

The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center, 180 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007; 911memorial.org

Recommended:  Download the apps and guides: http://www.911memorial.org/apps prior to your visit.

Boomer Travel:  Most of the Memorial Museum is easily accessible for all, but lines can be long.  Also, be prepared to stand inside for entry into some of the popular areas. The Museum is wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The Audio Guide is VoiceOver compatible.  Large print materials are available at the desk.  Service dogs are welcome.

We’ve compiled our remembrances from a December 2015 trip to New York City under the Travel Series heading:  Christmas Holiday 2015.  Hope you’ll join us in reliving good times in the Big Apple!  — Bert and Rusha

Posted in Boomer Travel, Christmas Holiday NYC, Destination, New York, Travel | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Main Street’s the Main Thing: Apple Festival 2016, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Wanna try one?

Wanna try one?

If you’re a Jerry Lee Lewis fan, you’ve probably quoted this line before:  “There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on!”  And that would be true of the 70th Annual North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville on Labor Day weekend.  What’s shakin’? Why apple trees, of course.  And you could get those red or green or yellow juicy delights at any of the 25 fantastic farm markets open during the festival.  You could also see a play at Flat Rock Playhouse, dine on pancakes at the Kiwanis or Lions Club or Elks Breakfast, or wave at the bands in the King Apple Parade.  But for us, Main Street was the Main Thing.

selling apples and apple products at the Hendersonville NC Apple Festival.

One of many booths selling apples and apple products at the Hendersonville NC Apple Festival.

It’s here that we found tent after tent with vendors selling everything from gutter guards to handmade soaps.

Booth filled with great looking hats invited folks in to "try one on"!

Booth filled with great looking hats invited folks in to “try one on”!

But they also sold what we came for:  apples.  Didn’t matter if you like Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, Rome, Golden Delicious, or Pink Lady.  They had ’em all.  So juicy and already lined up in bags or baskets to take to your car.

Baskets of apples ready for purchase at the Hendersonville Apple Festival.

Baskets of apples ready for purchase at the Hendersonville Apple Festival.

Plus, there was more to see and do than just crunch into apples.  The 35th Annual Henderson County Gem & Mineral Spectacular was going on, and the Mineral & Lapidary Museum trotted out their best geodes for all to see (and buy).

Geodes for sale!

Geodes for sale!

Or you could listen to music by the headline players every day of this four-day event on the big stage in the middle of Main.

Where the players play and the audience loves it!

Where the players play and the audience loves it!

Whole families gathered round the painted bears on Main Street — taking souvenir pictures of their trip to the Apple Festival.

Taking pictures with the bears on Main Street, Hendersonville, NC

Taking pictures with the bears on Main Street, Hendersonville, NC

And young and old tried their hand at winning a yellow rubber ducky by pounding the scale at the Hendersonville Police Department tent.

Sometimes it takes two to win a rubber ducky at the Hendersonville Police Dept. booth.

Sometimes it takes two to win a rubber ducky at the Hendersonville Police Dept. booth.

Two guys (well, they could have been girls) in blow-up costumes wobbled around, posed for pictures, and drew crowds at the Hendersonville Fire Department booth.

Firefighters in costume at Apple Festival 2016

Posing with the firefighters in costume at the Apple Festival.

We, of course, love food as well as the people serving it or eating it. So we became people watchers.  Now here’s a guy loving the festival and this roasted turkey leg.  (When asked how many years he had attended the festival, he answered, “This is my first time.” And when asked where he lived, he said, “Right here in Hendersonville.”) There’s a first time for everything.

Yum!  A big ol' turkey leg just off the roaster!

Yum! A big ol’ turkey leg just off the roaster!

And this lady was enjoying walking down Main Street eating a whole ear o’ corn with the husks wrapped up in a napkin.

Corn on the cob is pretty tasty!

Corn on the cob is pretty tasty!

But we couldn’t just stand around and watch people eat, now could we?  So we started with a baked apple turnover.  (Saving those calories by not eating fried! Right?)

Serving baked apple turnovers just as fast as he could scrape 'em off the baking sheet!

Serving baked apple turnovers just as fast as he could scrape ’em off the baking sheet!

Our favorite booth touted its origins in Paris, France, of all places.  It was mainly the draw of this French Apple Tarte that got my attention. (And money.)

Bert, on the other hand, gravitated toward this yummy, filling Apple Bread Pudding and washed it down with a Spicy Apple Slushy.

So enticing:  Apple Bread Pudding from the Paris Festival tent.

So enticing: Apple Bread Pudding from the Paris Festival tent.

There was no room for cider doughnuts after all that, no matter how nice this young lady was to us while filling an order for someone a little less full.

Smiling while serving -- this young lady worked fast to get hot doughnuts to hungry fairgoers.

Smiling while serving — this young lady worked fast to get hot doughnuts to hungry fairgoers.

Not all people on Main Street stayed alert and enthralled with the apple action, though. Perhaps even princesses need a nap every now and then.

Sometimes even Main Street can't keep you awake!

Sometimes even Main Street can’t keep you awake!

So put Labor Day on your calendar for next year.  The 71st Annual North Carolina Apple Festival will be in Hendersonville, North Carolina, in 2017, giving you enough time to lose a little before you visit the food booths on Main Street!

Kids loved these apple sippers at the Hendersonville Apple Festival 2016.

Kids loved these apple sippers at the Hendersonville Apple Festival 2016.

For more information:

North Carolina Apple Festival, Hendersonville, NC:  Labor Day weekend.  http://www.ncapplefestival.org/

Note to visitors:  Main Street not only has vendors set up in tents for the Apple Festival.  Retail stores along the street are also open, some with festival specials.  Numerous benches provide rest stops. Parking is available on side streets near Main Street manned by volunteers in vacant lots.  (Approximately $5.00 per day.)

Other events:  (Open orchards, pancake breakfasts, parade, exhibits, etc.) See listing on NC Apple Festival website.

Posted in Festivals, North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

Just an ordinary pond bordered by corn fields near a farmhouse in Flat Rock, North Carolina.  Still waters on a still morning.Pond in Flat Rock, North Carolina

Until the geese arrived.

Flight of geese, Flat Rock, North Carolina

And changed the mirror just by being there.

Mirror images of geese on pond. Flat Rock, NC

For more entries in the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror, click here.

Posted in North Carolina, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Travel theme: History

A sign posted on the Friends of the Knox County Library site on Twitter (@FriendsKCPL) got me thinking about Ailsa’s theme this week on her blog Where’s My BackpackTravel theme: History.

Norman Cousins quoteBecause we travel randomly at times, we stumble onto some of the most interesting sites just by accident. And so it was with great pleasure that we found a library filled with history in many ways.

Historic Rice Public Library in Kittery, Maine

Historic Rice Public Library in Kittery, Maine

The Rice Public Library in Kittery, Maine, is one of those quaint little buildings that begs to be seen.  We parked our car, headed into this sweet little 1889 Romanesque Revival building and proceeded to be charmed. (Immediately, our Southern accents gave us away as “foreigners,” but staff welcomed us warmly with an invitation to look around.)

Floor-to-ceiling shelves offer plenty of space for books in the Rice Public Library.

Floor-to-ceiling shelves offer plenty of space for books in the Rice Public Library.

For two people who love to read and travel, this was quite the find.  Beautiful woodwork, wide-plank floors, and nooks and crannies everywhere for reading, research and reflection.

Once Bert goes into a library, it's hard to get him out!

Once Bert goes into a library, it’s hard to get him out!

And here’s one more shameless promotion tied to this post.  September has been designated by the American Library Association (ALA) as Library Card Sign-up Month with Snoopy as the national spokesperson!

SnoopyLibrary

So, get a library card, search out a library of your choice, and let history come to life!

See you in the stacks!

For more information: 

Rice Public Library, 8 Wentworth Street, Kittery, Maine 03904; (207) 439-1553; http://www.rice.lib.me.us/

American Library Association’s Library Card Sign-up Monthhttp://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/card

For more entries into Travel theme: History, click here.

Posted in Destination, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

Nature does some pretty great framing on its own.  Just think how creatively we can see the world through wind-carved arches in Utah or a grove of trees in Cades Cove, Tennessee, or a pile of rocks on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.  But man comes up with unique frames of his own sometimes.

Make your own art with this ironwork frame on Great Island Common at New Castle Beach, NH.

Make your own art with this ironwork frame on Great Island Common at New Castle Beach, NH.

Like this one on Great Island Common in New Castle Beach, New Hampshire.  It’s meant for picture-taking.

Whaleback Lighthouse -- suitable for framing!

Whaleback Lighthouse — suitable for framing!

And why not?  A rocky beach, the Piscataqua River, and Whaleback Lighthouse — I’d frame this scene, too!

For more interpretations of the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame, click here.  

Posted in New Hampshire, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Inside George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station, Texas

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station, Texas

A trip is not a trip for us if we don’t stop along the way and see a place or two.  And so it was, that in going to a wedding in Houston, we were able to stop not once but twice at presidential libraries:  Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

Taking the circuitous route from Knoxville to Houston via Little Rock, AR and College Station, TX (and a few other places along the way)!

Taking the circuitous route from Knoxville to Houston via Little Rock, AR and College Station, TX (and a few other places along the way)!

Just as we stated in our post Inside Clinton Presidential Library, this tour of the Bush library comes with no strings attached:  no endorsement of anyone for president, no leaning to the left or right.  Just an assemblage of pics to get you inside two structures that are chock full of interesting memorabilia, gifts from all over the globe, and vignettes that reveal who these leaders of the U. S. really are.

Flags of many countries Bush visited during his term of office hang in the Presidential Library and Museum.

Flags of many countries Bush visited during his term of office hang in the Presidential Library and Museum.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum resides on the Texas A & M University campus, squarely in Aggieland.  How’d it get there?  Shortly after Bush became commander-in-chief, Texas oil businessman Michael G. Halbouty (Class of 1930) approached the President about placing the library in College Station.  The town even renamed Jersey Street as George Bush Drive in 1989.  In 1991, George Bush agreed to the placement of his presidential library and museum in College Station. The structure itself is open, stately, and commanding with its high-ceiling lobby leading into one of many exhibit areas.

The graceful  lobby of Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

The graceful lobby of Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Greeting us at the time of our visit was The National Parks Photography Project celebrating the centennial of the National Parks Foundation: 1916 to 2016. Elegant black and white framed photos lined the walls with a quote by John Muir posted squarely at the end: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

Celebrating the centennial of the National Parks Foundation is the National Parks Photography Project.

Celebrating the centennial of the National Parks Foundation is the National Parks Photography Project.

An expansive photo of the Grand Canyon filled another wall, accompanied by elegant words from President Theodore Roosevelt written in 1903.

“Leave it as it is.  You cannot improve on it.  The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.  What you can do is to keep it for your children, and for all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American . . . should see.”

A photo mural of the Grand Canyon

Photo mural of the Grand Canyon

George Bush Presidential Library has a comfortable feel to it.  You walk through “stations” (I guess you can call them that) and read about phases of Bush’s political life.

Exhibit on George Bush as Congressman

Exhibit on George Bush as Congressman

Or you can gaze at the many gifts bestowed on George and his wife Barbara during their years in the White House.

Like this grazed porcelain piece, “Sevres” by Jim Caswell, presented by His Excellency Francois Mitterand, President of the French Republic, following the President’s trip to St. Martin on December 16, 1989.

"Sevres" by Jim Caswell, a gift from Francois Mitterand

“Sevres” by Jim Caswell, a gift from Francois Mitterand

An exact replica of President Bush’s Camp David with his desk, comfy chairs, and photos is open for all to see (but not to touch).

Replica of Bush's Camp David in Bush Presidential Library

Replica of Bush’s Camp David in Bush Presidential Library

Other places, however, invite interaction.  Doesn’t Bert look a bit presidential in the Oval Office where tourists can have their picture made?

v

Bert posing as President in the Oval Office at Bush Presidential Library.

And I wondered just how it would be to stand in perpetuity like this Terracotta Warrior that guards part of an international exhibit on Bush’s visit to China.

Asleep on the job?

Asleep on the job?

Of course, if I wanted to, I could just sit and chat with the President. He looks as if he would listen, doesn’t he?

"Now, President Bush, I have a few things to go over with you, if you've got a minute."

“Now, President Bush, I have a few things to go over with you, if you’ve got a minute.”

One unexpected pleasure for me, a former English teacher, was the emphasis on the accomplishments of  Barbara Pierce Bush who married George H. W. Bush on January 6, 1945.  In addition to serving as First Lady and mother to George W. (Governor of Texas and 43rd U. S. President) and Jeb (Governor of Florida), Mrs. Bush championed her primary cause:  the promotion of literacy for all.

A room dedicated to Mrs. Bush made us feel as if we were sitting in the Bush family den, watching TV, and gazing at books that Barbara has written or loved.  (Profits from two books she co-authored, C. Fred’s Story and Millie’s Book, benefit the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.)

You are invited to take a seat and watch a video on Barbara Bush's emphasis on literacy in this comfy den setting.

You are invited to take a seat and watch a video on Barbara Bush’s emphasis on literacy in this comfy den setting.

At both of the presidential libraries — Clinton’s and Bush’s — we took time to watch the beautifully produced videos chronicling the childhood, college years, and White House stays of both Bill Clinton and George Bush.  Coincidentally, when we visited in Fall 2015, two other people in those family videos were candidates for President:  Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Jeb Bush, a Republican.  How interesting to see them in their younger years!

We felt welcome at the Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  And maybe it’s a credit to the volunteers who treated every person we saw that day as special guests. Along with the artifacts, videos, photography, and corners filled with information, there’s a sense that this Bush library — and perhaps all presidential libraries — belong to the people, no matter what party they ascribe to or how they regard the person who occupied the White House during their term.  Presidential libraries are for all of us.

Barbara Bush with U. S. flag at Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Barbara Bush with U. S. flag at Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

For more information:

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, 1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, TX 77845; 979-691-4000; www.bush41.org.

Facebookfacebook.com/bush41

Twitter: twitter.com/bush41

YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/user/41President?feature=mhee

 

 

 

 

Posted in Boomer Travel, Destination, Museum, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Travel theme: Writing

Wending our way through the narrow streets at Prague Castle.

Wending our way through the narrow streets at Prague Castle.

Consulting a travel book can sometimes be tricky.  You see, we had this book on Prague.  A very good book, as it turns out.  It had a whole section on Prague Castle and Hradcany.  (Fascinating place, by the way.) And it said that when we went there, we should look for Golden Lane.  “The picturesque artisans’ cottages along the inside of the castle wall were built in the late 16th century for the Castle’s guards and gunners.”  And right beside the write-up was this sweet picture of colorful cottages along a tiny lane.

But when we funneled our way down a first lane to get to Golden Lane, we realized what we were up against:  summer tourists.  By the droves.

Crowds of tourists at Golden Lane, Prague

Crowds of tourists at Golden Lane, Prague

So that when we entered Golden Lane, we could hardly view the sweet cottages for all the people taking pictures and coming and going in and out to escape the pop-up shower that soaked us all.

But we were looking for No. 22.  After all, said the tour guide book, the writer Franz Kafka stayed at No. 22 with his sister for a few months in 1916-1917.  And we wanted to know what writing. And where?  And when?

House No. 22 at Golden Lane, Prague where Kafka lived from 1916-1917.

House No. 22 at Golden Lane, Prague where Kafka lived from 1916-1917.

So, we entered No. 22 and there was the confirmation:

And here's the proof:  Kafka wrote A Country Doctor right here in No. 22.

And here’s the proof: Kafka wrote A Country Doctor right here in No. 22.

Of course, we had to buy a copy.  And then, oh yes, we’ll take that, too:  a little journal with this graphic that we noticed was on t-shirts and pencils and buttons to wear.

A little journal sporting a Kafka-esque graphic cover!  Don't you love it?

A little journal sporting a Kafka-esque graphic cover! Don’t you love it?

Writing by Kafka is popular in Prague!

For more entries in Ailsa’s Travel theme: Writing, click here.

And our book that led us all through Prague?  Prague 2016 by Eyewitness Travel. www.dk.com

Posted in Europe, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments