Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Wonderful West

This is going to be a L--O--N--G post because there is so much to show and tell!  Leaving Wisconsin, we had a mighty long drive in front of us, as I had to be in Wyoming in less than a week.  But I was determined to enjoy some of the sights of the West--so we drove a couple of full days and rested for a few.

First stop--The Badlands. What a beautiful national park, especially when viewed from the vantage point of a bus.  Everything looks better from a bus!
 Yep, those are real cowboys! (Excuse the dirty windshield)
 Our next stop--the Black Hills and Custer State Park.  As we drove the winding road into Custer, Glen noticed this quilt block peeking out along the roadside--how about that?
We couldn't stop in the bus, so once we reached Custer, I drove back (about 30 miles each way, but hey--it was a South Dakota barn quilt!) and left a note on the house.  By the time I got back to our campsite, I had spoken to the owners and found out that they had hung the block just three days earlier!  Pretty nice timing.  The owner, who works at the Crazy Horse Memorial,  invited us to visit. 
 On to Wyoming--my vote for most beautiful state in the US. I looked outside to see that it was "snowing" in our RV park. Granted, the weather was cool, but not that cool.  Turns out that we were in a grove of cottonwood trees, and their seeds fall in the midst of "cotton."  New to me!

Wyoming is a great place to seek out wildlife.  We took a drive into the mountains near Buffalo, where we encountered this fella and several of his friends.

And these are his mountains--just nothing more beautiful anywhere.

A drive along a somewhat scary Forest Service road through Crazy Woman Canyon (Who knew I had my own canyon?)  took us to a couple of unexpected treats.  I would love to tent camp here.

On to Montana and more incredible scenery.  Surrounded by mountains on all sides--and more of that cool weather.  This is the view from a roadside in Bozeman.

I conducted a barn quilt painting workshop inside of a barn here--what fun!
Missoula may not be quite as scenic, but it does have a small quilt trail. Even better--these quilt blocks are painted directly on the barns, as the original ones were in 2001.

Imagine driving down the street with this in the background!
It seems that wherever we travel, we end up eating Chinese food. It's sort of like McDonald's in that it's inexpensive and we pretty much know what to expect. In Missoula, a glance out one of the the restaurant's windows revealed quite an amazing sight.  There were actually two rainbows, but this is the best photo. I am not sure I have ever seen one with such vivid colors!

Well, that was the good news.  Saving the bad news for last, as we crossed the mountains near Missoula, dear old Ruby started to cough.  Then she hacked, then she stopped. Yep--she was down for the count.  Here she is being towed into a repair shop. We left her there as we continued our journey westward.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Wealth of Barn Quilts in Wisconsin

Wisconsin was actually late in joining the barn quilt movement, but with so many incredible dairy barns--those who got into barn quilts did so with a vengeance!  We had visited only briefly in the past, but now it was time to really dig in.

The day after we arrived, I visited with a quilt guild in Milwaukee and then took a side trip to the nearby quilt museum.  This is a really wonderful quilt, a 9/11 memorial. If you look closely, you might be able to see that each piece of this quilt is a face--a photo of someone lost in that tragedy.
While in the area, I met my online friend Yvonne, who has contributed photos for my calendars.  We have chatted about barn quilts a lot, and on a sunny Saturday, Glen and I shared another of our interests with Yvonne and her husband.  Here we are kayaking on the Rock River.
Our campsite was near Walworth County, WI, so each time I set out on the road I allowed a bit of extra time for photos.  Love this spotted Ohio Star!
We headed north to an unusual campground where we were parked out in a field.  The mosquitoes were horrible--like nothing I have ever seen in Georgia!  At least we had friendly neighbors.

In Oconto County, I met a dairy farmer whose sense of humor is reflected in his choice of barn art.
I also toured a magnificent stone barn--really an incredible structure that is in the process of being restored.

On to the granddaddy of all quilt trails--Shawano County.  This is the largest single-county quilt trail in the country, with more than 250.  And oh, what beautiful barns--and quilt blocks!  I spent two days with Jim Leuenberger and his wife, Irene, who put together this array of barn quilts, and could have spent three more!

Here is Hands All Around--is that a picture perfect barn or what?
 These guys posed nicely for us, and Jim and I had a fun time with our photo shoot! I think we both forgot that we had stopped to see the barn quilt!
 A great example of colorful work on this Cross design.
I could show you a dozen more, but I have to save some for my archives--and for the new book, of course! Here I am with Jim in their painting studio--with their latest creations in the background.
The painting crew created a sort of sculpture our of all of the tape pulled form their paintings--looks like they love what they do!
I picked up some 2-year cheddar at the local market, and when I got back to the bus, I mentioned to Glen that there was a 9-year on the shelf as well.  Curiosity got the best of us, and we made the 20 mile round trip to grab a block of the aged variety.

SO--we left Wisconsin with both and had a taste test on the road. Boy, do I wish we had bought some more of that 9-year!  I don't think you can buy it elsewhere. I do have some Wisconsin friends who might be persuaded to send some our way, though!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Yep, when we saw this sign, Glen and I were taken aback for just a moment.  For those of you who have never visited Atlanta, this sign is pretty common there, as 75 north runs right through town!  Of course, it does continue north from there.
We spent a few days in Michigan last year on our way to Canada, but this time we were in for a longer stay.  We like it when we can take some time in between moves, but this time that meant a couple of weeks in motels---not fun for any of us!

After visiting with a couple of quilt guilds in the southern part of the state, we headed north to Mt. Pleasant, where I was scheduled to give a talk.The timing was pretty darned good though, as Vince Gill was in town the same week--are we lucky or what?  I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and when Bob Seger appeared on stage for the encore--well, it just doesn't get any better than that!  It took only one night of fun to erase the irritation of motel living.

In Clare, the quilt trail is quite different, as their blocks are printed rather than painted.  You just gotta love Cops-n-Doughnuts!  The story here is sweet (pun intended). The local bakery was going out of business, and the cops--all nine of them--on the local force pitched in to buy the place.  Now it's something of a tourist destination, and we can report that the doughnuts are first rate.
I had to head up to Osceola County--Elsie Vredenburg, who headed up the quilt trail there, has been an online friend for years.  I finally got to spend a day with her, and though the weather wasn't great, the barn quilts were lovely.  This one has a tree for each member in the family, who have a total of four farms with four barn quilts. 
After a visit to a quilt guild in Lansing, we headed to Vicksburg to visit with Hugh and Kitch, who took us in last year when Ruby caught on fire. After a couple of weeks in motels, we were more than ready for another stay in their lovely lakefront home.  And I rode a wave runner for the first time--woo hoo!  It was fun. 
Glen and I have been trying to ride our bikes more often--it's a great way to see things up close, like this gorgeous patch of trillium along the roadside.

Kitch and I headed to Holland, MI on a sunny day to visit the windmill. This is an actual working windmill that was brought over from Holland (the other Holland) and assembled in working order!
Tulip festival had been celebrated the week before our visit, and thousands of blooms filled every inch of the park.

When we returned to Vicksburg, Kitch and I stopped by to see the Wedding Ring quilt block created to honor four couples--including our hosts, of course.  Really a lovely quilt for some special folks.

After a wonderful couple of days' relaxation, we left our friends behind and headed back to Indiana to pick up Ruby and head on down the road.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Playing Catchup

Darn it--I was doing so well!  I am a couple of weeks behind--life on the quilt trail will do that to you!  I just couldn't resist a dip into Iowa--one, because there are so many barn quilts, and I just knew I would find a few treasures.  And two, even a bit farther south, it was a tiny bit warmer!

On our way, here is Glen with a great view out the window!  There are three quilt blocks on this farm.

The town of Strawberry Plains is all about--yep--strawberries!  I don't quite get it, as they don't grow here.  But yes, a large strawberry greets visitors on their way into town, and local businesses incorporate the theme into their names.

Of course, I was there to see barn quilts, and I wasn't disappointed.  Delaware County has both
 lovely barns and very brightly colored quilt blocks.  I love it when the colors just pop!

I had never seen a cupola up close, but this one was sitting next to a barn where it had been removed. Looks kind of like yard art, I think.

Riding in the bus is great fun, but there are still those "glad Glen was driving" moments--like these:

We headed back to Indiana, where we had to drop Ruby the bus off for repairs.  One of the new air conditioners that was installed last fall went kaput--actually the heat quit right in the midst of all of that snow--and since we were kind of in the neighborhood, we took the bus to Indiana where the work was done.
If you look closely, you can tell the difference just in the photo--yep, we are at car level now.  I missed the "Welcome to Ohio" sign, but these Bicentennial Barns are even better.  If you didn't know, the same artist - Scott Hagan -  painted all of these barns and went on to paint two entire quilt trails' worth of quilts directly on the barns.  If you are ever in the area, both Monroe and Belmont Counties are worth a visit.

Ohio was just a detour, as we were heading for southern Michigan.  Yep--four states in two days!
As always, please leave a comment or question to let me know you stopped by. And check out some additional photos from Iowa on the barn quilts Facebook page.