Monday, January 18, 2010

Almost Home

The San Felipe de Neri Parish Church in Albuquerque
Snow falling hard near Flagstaff

Today I was up and out of the hotel by about 8:30. Drove to old town Albuquerque and looked around. Seems like it would be a very interesting place, when the stores are open and the weather is nice.
Left and headed west along old Route 66. Drove for quite a while, stopped at several “trading posts” once I got near the Indian reservations.
I have noticed that if the billboard for an “Indian” shop advertises cheep tobacco, it is most likely run by actual Native Americans. If the store does not advertise tobacco, it is run by non-natives. The big deal here is at the non-native store, you are just a likely to find products made in China as made by real Native Americans. There are some exceptions, but they usually loudly proclaim their tribal affiliation on the signs. I, for one, like to buy my trinkets from the real deal.
As I approached Flagstaff, AZ, it started to snow, and it kept snowing. I got onto the highway and headed out of the area as fast as I safely could. They are expecting about 10 inches of snow today, 10-16 inches tomorrow and about 5 feet more by the end of the week.
Staying tonight on old 66 in Kingman, AZ. Tomorrow I head home. I can’t wait.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Birthday Tacos

Another old rusty car
The mission at the pueblo of Pecos
An old Neon Sign on Route 66
Sunrise in Texas

Not a bad day today. I got up early and had breakfast at the hotel. Departed before the sun came up and headed out along Route 66. The weather was nice, a little cold, but bearable.
Route 66 follows Interstate 40 thru most of New Mexico, but when you hit the Pecos River, it turns north and heads into Santa Fe. From there, it turns south and goes into Albuquerque.
All in all, a pretty decent drive, however, many of the owners of the vintage buildings on old 66 don’t want you to take pictures or get out and look at the buildings (in fact I think you’re supposed to close your eyes as you pass). Lots of fences around interesting items, but what can you do.
I got into Albuquerque about 4 pm and checked into the hotel. Walked down the street to a little Mexican restaurant and had carne asada tacos and Dos XX for dinner. It was pretty good.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I left Arkansas about 9:30 am and headed toward Tulsa Oklahoma. The idea was to find Route 66 and photograph the sections of the Mother Road from Tulsa to Kingman Arizona. I have already spent quite a bit of time shooting from Kingman to Santa Monica, California, and was hoping to be able to complete the highway from the Dust-bowl to the sea. That would only leave from Chicago to Tulsa that I have not been able to travel. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Most of the day was drizzle and rain. Oh well, maybe next time.
Tonight I had dinner at the Big Texan, home of the 72oz steak. Didn’t even think about ordering it. I had a nice meal. It’s been just over 25 years since I ate at the Big Texan; it’s as good as the memory.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Search of Hiram

The Sunken Road along the Hornets Nest
Marker to the 61st Illinois Infantry, Hiram's unit

Today was truly interesting.

As I was driving yesterday I saw a sign for the Shiloh National Battlefield Park. Once I got to the hotel, I looked on the map and realized it was only about one hour away.

Now I would guess that the battle of Pittsburg Landing means little to nothing to most people. I however have been fascinated with the battle ever since learning that I am a direct descendent of a man who may have been the oldest participant in the battle.

Hiram Holiday was 78 years old when he volunteered to take the place of his son, John Roger Holiday, in the Union Army. It was a common practice at the time, they really didn’t care who showed up, as long as someone did.

Hiram ended up with the 61st Illinois Volunteers, Who were a part of the Army of Tennessee under General Ulysses Grant. The 61st was assigned to General Prentiss’ 6th division. The 6th took a beating on the first day of the battle, eventually defending a piece of ground known as the “Hornets Nest.” When the Confederates couldn’t take the ground by infantry assault, they formed an artillery barrage that was the largest in American history, and lay siege to the area. Over 60 canon concentrated fire on the defenders of the Hornets’ Nest who held out long enough for Grant to establish a defensive position.

In a letter to his wife, Lester B. Fillay, writes of the battle:
“Doubtless you will have read this account of the terrible Battle before this comes to you. I will not relate particulars til I come home I will mention a few items David Culver is mortally wounded Capt Haggard was wounded and can’t be found. Also Capt Mann there were 18 killed 30 missing and 43 wounded in our regiment. Old Man Holliday is among the missing.”
Hiram was captured, along with General Prentiss; he was taken to Camp Oglethorpe in Georgia, where he died from disease.

I walked around the battlefield, trooped the line along the sunken road, searching for a placard to the 61st. Finally about 1pm I came across one. It was on the far right flank of Prentiss’ line at a place called the Peach Grove.

It was almost surreal to walk the fields, knowing Hiram took his last breath as a free man in those very fields. I am so glad I took the detour.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the Road Again

Rusting Cars and Trucks Along the Stonewall Jackson Highway.
The Mill at Willow Grove

After a couple of days in Washington, DC, I find myself once again on the road, this time without Kenny as a co-pilot. Even though he spent most of the drive to Washington texting and updating his facebook, I really miss having him in the passenger seat.
This morning I departed Alexandria, and headed west. I stopped in Manassas and had the car checked and the oil changed for the long trip. From there I headed into the Shenandoah Valley. I tried to go to the Shenandoah National Park, but unfortunately it’s closed for the winter. After speaking with some real friendly folks at the Front Royal Visitors Center, I decided to take the scenic route and drive along the Stonewall Jackson Highway (Yankees take note, even though they are really friendly, they did mention that in their view the war ain’t over just yet, wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
It added about two hours to the trip, but it was well worth it. Driving through the farm land, past streams and rivers, and small towns, was a great reminder of how diverse this country is. And amazingly enough, if you get off the freeway and talk to some of the nice folks who inhabit the land between the coasts, you learn how some people and places are still friendly, even if you do have California license plates (of course I’m still leery of anyone with a banjo, ya just can’t be too safe). Tomorrow its off to Tennessee.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Welcome to Washington, Now Go Home

We arrived in Alexandria, VA last night. Got settled into the hotel and went to check email. There was a message from the person I was supposed to start work for on Monday. She said she had gotten a call from the Deputy Garrison Commander of Fort Irwin and he would not support my assignment. The bottom line is I drop Kenny off at the airport tomorrow, and I’ll be heading back early next week.
Today we went to Washington DC. We spent some time in the newly remodeled Museum of American History, the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum. Tomorrow we will go to the Dulles annex of the Air and Space before I drop Kenny off for his flight home.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Of Ice and Men

We slept in a little today, did not get up until almost 9am. We woke to a drizzling New Orleans morning. We went to the French Quarter in search of breakfast. At one point, I said something to Kenny about not seeing any real eating establishments on Bourbon St. Kenny pointed out that there were several strip clubs, a brothel or two and bars galore. He also pointed out the gentleman losing his breakfast in the street. As he put it, Dad, we’re in the middle of the freaking red light district at 11 in the morning, what do you expect to see?
We left the Big Easy and headed North East. On the radio the disc jockey kept going on and on about the horrible weather. They announced all kinds of businesses and schools that would be closed today and tomorrow. It started to rain a little bit, but was nothing to get real concerned about. As we moved out of range of that station, we switched to another station that kept talking about Snowpocalypse 2010. Kenny and I both were thinking “ you must be kidding.”
Later, once the sun went down, we realized that the roads were turning into a sheet of pure ice. We ended up driving at about 20 mph for several hours. When we approached one of the several accidents sites and realized that a police car had run off the road, I told Kenny it might be time to stop. We looked for a place to stay, but there were no hotels along that stretch of highway. I have to say, it was one of the more scary drives I have had.
We made it to Georgia and the roads instantly got much better. We made it to the hotel at a little after 12 pm. Tomorrow we should complete the last leg of our journey and arrive in Alexandria.