Friday, April 4, 2014

April Foolishness

You know I had to use April Fools somehow, didn't you?  Why am I foolish--well, because this southern girl is headed north in April--and it's getting COLD! I may have to find some gloves so that I can hold the camera still!

We left Tulsa on Tuesday and headed to Kansas
The roads were narrow, and the wind was gusting up to 35 mph.  Never have I been so glad that Glen was driving--I had to shut my eyes a couple of times.  Of course, I managed to open them to capture this scary moment.

Love the highway signs in Kansas!
We got to El Dorado State Park in time for Glen to go paddling.  The winds were a bit high for me, but he pulled his kayak down under the bridge and went for it.

The Flint Hills--so named because of the layer of rock just below the surface--proved to be a beautiful landscape.  Grasses as far as we could see.  I was told that in a few weeks, all of this will be brilliant green.  We will have to schedule our next visit to coincide with that, for sure.
The next morning brought the blue skies that I always hope for. My visit to Pioneer Bluffs was so educational--this is a ranch that has been preserved so that visitors can learn about farming methods from the 19th century. And of course, they have a lovely quilt block--the first in the Flint Hills Quilt Trail.

 Inside of the barn--this was a Sears barn--or some other similar that was delivered by train and assembled on site.  It still amazes me that barns were built that way, but I have seen a lot of "mail order" barns along the way.
We took a break from the Flint Hills and headed northeast to Ottawa, where Chris Campbell started the first quilt trail in the state.  She and I took the tour yesterday.  At the Krambeck farm, a Wedding Ring quilt block features an Angus cow.  These fellas seemed to  be posing for the newest piece of art. Or maybe they just hoped I had food.
 Proud barn quilt owner!  She had these shirts made for all of her family.

Here is an unusual quilt block location for you--the front of a general store that was rescued from Milford, KS, before the area was flooded to create a reservoir in 1962.  Yes--moved intact and installed on this farm.

How fun is this? I was told that everyone from small children to a ninety-year old woman to a few cats have enjoyed the slide!
 My tour ended at Chris' Corner quilt shop--the first quilt block in KS.  The Ohio Star represents Chris' more traditional style, and New York Beauty her coworker Brenda's style of quilting.

On the road again--I am blogging from the bus as we head north.  Ain't technology grand?

It's getting COLDER.  Uh-oh. But we are going to Wichita to see George Strait tonight, and that will be indoors.  Ready for a fun day!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Madness on the Quilt Trail

We had such an incredible time in Louisiana, and I haven't shared nearly enough.  We definitely ate our way through Ponchatoula--our hostess, Ann, cooked up some crab pie that was just delicious!  She also took us to the Millside Restaurant, where we saw another of her quilt block creations: 
The catfish and shrimp represent two of the types of seafood served here, and of course that meant that we had to sample two different Po Boy sandwiches.  Oh, wait--they had soft shell crab, too, so Glen and I split three sandwiches!
Oh, and I forgot to mention the gumbo.  Of course there was gumbo!  Incredible.

Our favorite part of the meal was a new experience for us both--crawfish!  Here I am with Ann and our second platter full.
I realized as soon as I looked at these guys why I never liked crawfish in Georgia.  Ours are about 1/4 the size, which means that there is almost no meat inside--just not worth the effort.  In Louisiana, it's a whole 'nother story--and we savored every bite.  I got pretty good at getting the meat out of the tail, but Ann prepared a few just to make sure I had plenty. That's a good hostess for you!

Everyone tells me that I write about food a lot, and I know that I do.  But that's part of traveling, isn't it?  But just for the naysayers, here is a photo of a place where we didn't eat. The name just made me smile.  Mind you we didn't avoid the place for any particular reason; we just had plenty to eat already.

OK back to the quilt trail.  Here is an awesome quilt block created by artist Rolly Bruce. He is quite a glass artist; every window in his home has a different design!  Isn't this incredible?  It is on plexiglass, so that it will withstand the weather. I will challenge you to find out more about this block on the Louisiana quilt trail by checking out their website:

We hated to say goodbye to Ann Boudreaux and Ponchatoula.  It really felt like leaving family behind!  But the great thing about family is that you can always go home again--and we will.

This was one of the times I was SO glad that Glen does most of the driving--the bridge across Lake Ponchartrain to New Orleans--scary!

I had planned a weekend in New Orleans, and of course that meant--yep, food!  We saw Commander's Palace on Top Chef last year, and it looked pretty cool.  So--Sunday Brunch started off our day.  That's Glen in my favorite shirt.  Real men do wear pink!

We had a good walk around the historic cemetery.  I expected to see a lot of French names, but many were German.  I am going to have to look into New Orleans history a bit more, I think.

SO--I started off calling this madness.  Yes, it got crazy from there.  First, a drive to Ajax, LA, where we stayed in a nice RV park and paddled the Red River.  Both of us forgot our cameras, so you will just have to take my word for it, I guess.

Mt. Pleasant, TX was our next stop.  It's not a barn quilt, but it's a pretty cool barn painting, don't you think?  Even in the rain!

Driving north towards Tulsa, we passed through a lot of hilly countryside.  I was surprised, as I expected nothing but flat land. And, as usual, I got a kick out of some strange strange place names--how about this one? 
We also passed through Paris and Bogota before we got to Deport.  Maybe that was someone's name--I don't know!

I was so proud of myself for finding a parking spot in Tulsa right next to the Arkansas River. It looks so wide on the map--had to be some good kayaking there!  oops. It's wide, alright, but not much by way of water.
Luckily, there is a really nice bike path along the river, and we enjoyed that today.

March madness continues tomorrow as we head to Kansas!  Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"March"-ing off to the Quilt Trail!

It has been a long winter, but it's finally time for the big tour--EIGHT MONTHS on the quilt trail!  We have rented out the house, so there is no turning back now.

Yesterday, we drove to Ponchatoula, Louisiana to see the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail.  The "Northshore" refers to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, so we are not too far from new Orleans.

Ruby--the bus--was spiffed up just a bit recently, with some new paint around the top and a nice polish--I think she looks great!  The  little car with the kayaks and the bikes--yep, it goes with us too, towed behind our home on wheels. We are ready!

Here are Glen and Gracie in our parking spot at the home of Ann Boudreaux. You can also see her quilt block, which is one of the first on the trail here.

This is one of the first blocks we saw--a Ponchatoula Strawberry inside a traditional quilt block.  Another of Ann's wonderful creations. Ponchatoula is known for strawberries, and their annual Strawberry Festival is huge! Too bad it's next month.

 Yesterday, we visited a turtle farm run by Ann's nephew, Keith.  I learned so much!  I had no idea that those little baby turtles that we used to have as pets were banned--apparently because they often carry salmonella. Keith explained the process by which the eggs are made disease-free--and ready for shipment all over the world.  But the US government still won't allow turtles of less than 4 inches to be sold.  Who knew?

 Here are Ann and Glen with the quilt block that Ann created for Keith's farm.  If you look closely, you can see red markings on the sides of the turtle's head.  He is a red-eared slider, native to the area.

Ann is spoiling us--wonderful dinner Tuesday night at Cafe NOLA (I had pasta with eggplant, crawfish, and andouille).  Yesterday we enjoyed lunch at Paul's cafe--a family-run business. I had never tasted cabbage casserole, but I am going to get a recipe soon--yummy stuff!

The quilt block here includes the coffee that Paul serves starting early each morning, the strawberries for which Ponchatoula is known, and Paul's work as a fireman.

Just outside of Paul's--I couldn't resist this shot!

After lunch, we headed to Kliebert's  Turtle and Alligator Farm. They call themselves the original Swamp People, and sure enough I found Mike Kliebert on the show's website as part of the first season's cast. Here is T-Mike (that means "petite Mike," kind of like Mike Jr.)  He seemed so fearless as he showed us how to handle a big guy. You can't tell, but we were on the other side of a fence.

We finished the beautiful day--our first full day of this tour--with Ann's Ponchatoula crab pie.  Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Relaxing in Peru

We arrived in Peru, Indiana late in the evening, after zig-zagging down lots of 2-lane roads through tiny towns and between corn fields.  Peru is a lovely town, but there isn't an interstate that takes you there from Ohio!

We were warmly greeted by Jayne and Keith Kesler, whose guest house we had been offered for a couple of days. Jayne took up the barn quilt trail and helped expand it from the already extensive trail created by Nancy Sarver and several other women.

We couldn't see much of our new home away from home until the next day. It was just as lovely inside as out!
The next morning, Jayne and I set out on a tour of the south end of the county, where we saw dozens of barn quilts and only got lost a few times. .  This Log Cabin was a favorite.

Some might argue that the Spools quilt block here should be larger, and I can't completely disagree.  Most of the blocks on this trail are 4-by-4 feet, rather than the traditional 8-by-8.  But that said, this barn is so fabulous that I couldn't complain.

Jayne and I stopped to see a couple of quilts on homes in town. As we stepped onto the sidewalk, I was so excited--"Look!  Star Bricks!"

The sidewalk was paved with these bricks, which I had heard about but never seen. When touring the Athens County, OH, quilt trail in 2009, I saw this artist-designed barn quilt and was fold that it was a replica of the bricks that had been manufactured in the Hocking Valley in the 19th Century.  I have to think that these bricks originated there.

After lunch, Jayne and I headed over to meet Barb, Nancy Sarver's daughter, who took us on a tour of the original quilt trail that her mom started. Nancy was out of town, but I know that when we talk, she will have loads of great stories to share!

Barb proudly took us to her parents' farm, where "End of Day" graces the barn. I have had some folks ask why I include barns with siding--let's face it; they are not as charming as wooden barns.  But under that siding is an historic barn, lovingly (and expensively) preserved, and I have to admire that.

By the way, you just might be able to discern what kind of tractor Dad favors.  Green and Yellow are a popular combination in barn quilt world, and it's not just corn and beans!

I gave a talk that evening at the local museum--I am having so much fun speaking about barn quilts--and signing those books, of course.

October is going to be a whirlwind month, two more stops in Indiana, then on to PA, WV, VA, NC, and SC.  I sure hope Ruby is ready for us before we head East!  If you'd like to see my crazy schedule, here 'tis:

The next day, Jayne and I visited an apple orchard that has a barn quilt on the front--and this very cool apple in its roof tiles.  I learned a lot about apples and orchards--glad to have something new to write about.

I have been seeing a lot of these barn roofs lately in my travels--usually an animal or the name of the owners. Here is a first--Tweety Bird!

Glen and I expected to move on--which means back to a motel, as our poor coach, Ruby, still isn't fixed.  But Jayne insisted that we stay as long as we would like.  Whew!  What a wonderful break from the grind.  We also had a chance to play tourist at the Grissom Air Force Museum nearby.  That's me, as seen from W-AAAY up in the tower.

That's the view from here. We have fingers (and toes) crossed that we will be back in the bus on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On to Peru!

Indiana, that is!  But before heading out, we had lunch with Donna Sue and then visited her and her mom, Maxine, on their farm.  I always think I am going to miss the turn, but this lovely farm--with its golden quilt block--marks the corner.

Glen and I had spotted this barn quilt on the way to lunch, so on the way back to our motel, we stopped back by.  The English gentleman who lives there stopped his mowing to give us the tour of the cabin he is building on his property. When asked why has has a Tippecanoe quilt block on his barn, he said, "Well, I don't know--it seems like around here that's what you need to fit in!" 

I try not to take photos of Amish folks as they go about their lives, but I figured this fella would be none the wiser.  The upside-down ladder in the back of his buggy just struck me somehow.

On our final evening, we stopped by The Rock--a vacation rental property--to see Randi Gish-Smith's latest barn quilt painting.  The Pineapple design is emblematic of hospitality--very appropriate to the location!

Our last meal in Ohio was an American classic, and Glen hammed it up with the iconic Big Boy.  If only I could find him one of those spiffy checked outfits with the matching hat . . .


A few days later, we were headed back to Indiana.  Peru, Indiana, to be exact.  Our route took us along a lot of country roads--ideal barn quilting territory, but nary a quilt in sight.  Glen spotted this one by the roadside--I don't know the story, but it's definitely quilted!

We have been relaxing for a few days in a lovely guest house--more about that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the 2014 calendar is available on Amazon now, if that makes ordering easier for y'all.
Click here to Order barn quilt calendar from Amazon

I have a tendency to go Amazon Prime crazy, since I can order everything from batteries to a lawn mower--yes, I really did order a lawn mower--and have it delivered! I suppose our being vagabonds saves a lot of money, though I have to admit that we had quite a few deliveries to our last motel . . .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to Ohio!

We left New York and headed for Southern PA, where I had a few speaking engagements.  I have had a blast talking with quilt guilds! You can see some of the ongoing madness here:

While in PA we kayaked the Susquehanna River.  It was great to get out on the water again--even if we were in Harrisburg for about a third of the journey.

A few days later, we  visited Gettysburg. I highly recommend the CD tour--it really brought to life all that took place.  When I think of a battlefield, I think of a confined area, but this battle was spread out over miles!  Quite the history lesson and one that won't be soon forgotten.

Here I am with Gracie--no barn on the quilt; the story dates back just a bit farther!

 One thing that surprised me was how mountainous--and beautiful--Pennsylvania is.  I had no idea!  And the barns--such glorious barns!  None of them quilted, but they are fantastic just in their natural splendor.Borrowed this photo from  always give credit where due.

SO many times I have had people argue with me that barn quilts began with the Pennsylvania Dutch.  But Hex signs are NOT quilt patterns--that is, they were not intended to be fashioned into quilts and are not taken from sewn patterns. But aren't they lovely?

On to Ohio, where Barb and Jim Gabriel gave me the barn quilt tour. I loved this Clay's choice, patterned after the quilt that Clay's grandma made for his mom to use to cover her lap while watching him play high school football.  Go Clay!

 This one is just gorgeous--the center represents a lavender labyrinth that the owner has in her back yard. Too fun!
 We stopped off to see this gem at the feed store, and I realized that Gracie Pup was out of food.  See--barn quilts do contribute to economic growth.

 The next day, we headed down to Adams County--home of the original quilt trail--where a celebration/benefit was being held in honor of Donna Sue.  I bought an $85 pie at auction--we needed to buy something, and since we will be living on a bus, we don't need much by way of things. It was yummy.  With ice cream, of course!

That's Donna Sue, I, and Barb Gabriel at the celebration.
It was a fabulous gathering--a great testament to all those influenced by Donna Sue and her legacy.  We got to see some old friends and participate in the barn quilt community in a way that is seldom possible. Very rewarding!

Two  entire weeks in Columbus, as I have some quilt guilds nearby on my schedule. We are still waiting for our bus to be ready.  Poor Ruby--I'm sure she thinks we have abandoned her.  I think I will go and pitch a tent in the parking lot of the RV place--maybe they will get her fixed just to get rid of me!