.All Trips / Arkansas / Central USA / North America

A Visit to Thorncrown Chapel, Arkansas

00 Thorncrown Chapel (43)

One of the loveliest modern chapels I’ve ever visited is Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Thorncrown Chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones, who had apprenticed with the great Frank Lloyd Wright, and was built in 1980.  The chapel was commissioned by Jim Reed, a retired schoolteacher, who wanted to create a non-denominational pilgrimage chapel for meditation.  The chapel is elegant yet blends in with the local landscape, seeming an airy part of it.
Thorncrown Chapel is constructed mostly of local wood (e.g. Southern pine) and was built with the general rule of thumb that no materials bigger than what two people could carry should be used (e.g. 2x6s instead of massive beams).  The floor is constructed with slabs of …

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Central USA / Kansas / North America

“Pic of the Week”, June 26, 2020: Van Gogh Easel, Goodland, Kansas

00 Van Gogh Easel, Goodland (6)

It’s not every day you get to see an enormous Van Gogh painting sitting on an easel in a small prairie town.  But that’s what we encountered recently when traveling through Kansas.
Goodland, in western Kansas, is said to have the World’s Largest Easel.  It’s 80 feet tall and holds a 32 x 24-foot representation of one of Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” paintings.  The painting was constructed using 24 sheets of plywood surrounded by fiberglass mattes and layered with an industrial gel coat.  The paint used was industrial acrylic urethane enamel, known for it’s hardiness in extreme weather conditions.  The easel is built of steel, weighing more than 40,000 pounds. The supports are sunk 35 feet into the ground. 
Goodland’s painting is a …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 19, 2020: American Bison, Keystone Gallery

02 Keystone Museum, Kansas (9)

We stopped by the Keystone Gallery after visiting Monument Rocks, south of Oakley, Kansas. Unfortunately the Gallery was not yet open for the season. Still, our stop turned out to interesting.
Immediately adjoining the Gallery was a large pasture wherein we spotted this bison. He was surprisingly near and, as we had a barb-wire fence between us, we hopped out of our car to try to snap some close-up photos — the closest I’ve ever been to a bison (a.k.a. buffalo).
At first we thought this bison was alone, but soon it became apparent that he was part of a small herd as others started drifting over a rise in the pasture.  A small reminder of a time when thousands of bison …

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.All Trips / Central USA / North America / South Dakota

Dignity of Earth & Sky: South Dakota’s newest Landmark

00 Chamberlain South Dakota (11)

South Dakota has a new landmark of which it’s proud.  This sculpture is known as “The Dignity of Earth & Sky”, or Dignity, and was completed in 2016.  It’s located on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota.  Dignity is easily accessed as it adjoins a freeway rest area and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.  
Dignity is sculpture of a Native American woman which is crafted of stainless steel and glass.  Towering 50-foot-tall, her outstretched arms hold a quilt featuring 128 blue and white glass diamond shapes that flutter in the wind.  At night, LED lights make the diamond shapes glow (something we did not see).

Dignity, South Dakota

Dignity, South Dakota


When he was designing Dignity, sculptor Dale Lamphere wanted to create something that …

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.All Trips / Arkansas / Central USA / North America

Christ of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

00 Christ of the Ozarks, Arkansas (11)

We spent a few days driving around the Ozarks, enjoying the beautiful hills, forests and rock formations. It really is very scenic country. One of the recommended destinations in the Ozarks is Eureka Springs, a lovely historic city that’s terrific to explore on foot. An obvious stop in Eureka Springs is to visit Christ of the Ozarks and the Great Passion Play site which overlook the city. Our visit was before the season for the Passion Play began (we visited in early April), but the grounds were open for visitation, with no admission fee.

Christ of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas


Christ of the Ozarks
Sitting atop Magnetic Mountain is a gigantic white figure.  The statue, sculpted by Emmet A. Sullivan, is of Jesus Christ and it’s massive —  …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Kansas / North America

Monument Rocks, Kansas

24 Monument Rocks, Kansas (70)

I had not heard of Monument Rocks before staying at a hotel in Kansas during a recent road trip.  Our hotel room displayed photos of some beautiful rock formations and on doing a little research, we realized they were not far off our route and definitely worth trying to see.
For big city folks, driving to Monument Rocks might seem like driving to the middle of nowhere, but persist in your journey as the trip is worthwhile.  The road to Monument Rocks is mostly well paved, although the final 6 miles is a gravel road that during heavy rains might get flooded and be difficult to navigate without all-wheel or four wheel drive. When we visited the weather and road were …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Homes of Leadville, Colorado

00 Homes in Leadville

A great day-trip destination in the Colorado Rockies is the town of Leadville, at 10,430 feet (3180 m) above sea level the highest incorporated city in North America.  Leadville is a Victorian-era boomtown which in its gold and silver mining heyday was home to 30,000 residents.  Today, less than 10% of that number still lives here, but there’s a lot to see in Leadville that makes it well worth a stop.  Also, all the roads leading to the town make for a beautiful day’s drive.

Overview of Leadville, Colorado

Overview of Leadville, Colorado

70 square blocks of Leadville were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.  We’ve featured some of the buildings from the downtown area in a prior post. Today I’d like to focus on …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America

Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark

03 Colorado_Chautaqua_Dining_Hall. Courtesy Wikimedia and Hustvedt

The Colorado Chautauqua site was established in the late 1890s, when the Texas Board of Regents determined it needed to establish a summer school for teachers in a cool climate.  The Chautauqua Movement was a powerful and popular adult educational and social force at the time.  Boulder was picked as the site because the city fathers offered to supply the land, facilities and public utilities for the Chautauqua.  The presence of the nearby Rocky mountains was icing on the cake, because it was rightfully considered a very healthful environment.  

The Colorado Chautauqua opened on July 4, 1898, with 4,000 people attending. Boulder city leaders and Texas educators had created what was to become an important educational and social summer retreat.  Buildings …

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