Tag Archives: Frank Lloyd Wright

A little something extra from Rocky Mtn Natl Park

Snow still on the ground June 9!

Debbie and I each, separately at different times, lived in Estes Park apartments in Chapel Hill in the ’70s. And we hardly thought about this yesterday when we came over the Rocky Mountains, through Rocky Mountain National Park, to Estes Park, Colorado.

Western entrance to RMNP

Our entrance to the RMNP on the western slope was unremarkable except for the terrible conditions. The gate booths were unattended and the pavement was missing. Road construction signs warned of heavy trucks and road damage in the Park. One hundred yards after clearing the park entrance gate the pavement resumed and we thought, “That was easy.”

We traveled a couple of miles and started seeing some wildlife observers parked roadside, peering intently through their binoculars and scopes. It was after 9:30 a.m. but at this altitude the outdoor temperature was still under 60F, so the elk were enjoying their breakfast in the meadows just below the road. We’ve watched elk grazing at dusk in Cataloochee in the Smoky Mountains National Park. They weren’t nearly so close to our watching station as these Colorado elk are.

Continental Divide in the Rockies

The road destruction started up again soon after we left the elk. We were last in a queue held by a flagman. He let us go after a short wait and we followed the procession up four or five switchbacks as we climbed Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the USA.

Road destruction was very much evident in the Park

We cleared a switchback and suddenly no one was in front of us but the road was blocked by another flagman and heavy equipment in both lanes. The flagman asked us, “Did you lose your pilot car?” We can only guess the flagmen don’t use very good radios, or aren’t using theirs well enough. Could have been touchy if they had released the downhill traffic to head into us.

Great views from top of RMNP

Onward after a short delay and we finally make it to the peak. Great views, lots of snow on the ground still, and unfortunately we were one half hour early for the peak Visitor Center. Lots more road construction for a few miles and we finally made it to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

buiding design influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright

This visitor center on the eastern slope and near Estes Park is designed by Taliesin Associates, the architectural group founded by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building has the long and low roofline of Wright’s designs, as well as use of lots of glass and local stone. The stone was quarried in the 1800s in an old federal quarry nearby. Lichen and a natural aging provided just the look the designers wanted when the building process started in the mid-1960s. We enjoyed seeing this notable design, functional and really attractive, on our way out of the RMNP.

We cruised through Estes Park slowly. Jim tried to imagine the small town he visited last in 1976 as he hitchhiked across the US on his way to San Diego. The small town grew up a lot in thirty-four years, the watering hole he had enjoyed and the motel he suffered were not apparent yesterday. So it goes with sweet memories — best keep them in your head — memories stay fresher than the real thing sometimes.

Our truck has towed the trailer and carried us in comfort for over 5,000 miles since we left North Carolina early April. We found a Discount Tire to rotate our tires in Loveland, filled up with gas and had a great time visiting King Soopers grocery (a relative of Kroger). Thinking we had taken care of all our business before we head into wild Wyoming, we retired to our nice campground at Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland.

But this morning we found we missed something. Or rather, caught something. Upon starting our journey northward this morning, our tire pressure monitor started alarming immediately. The trailer’s left rear tire was low by over ten psi. We pulled into the next parking lot on our way out of the campground, filled the trailer’s tires all to 65 psi with our portable compressor.

Our tire pressure monitor showed the same tire losing one psi per hour on our drive up to Glendow State Park, a little north of Cheyenne, WY. We jacked up the trailer to remove the leaky tire. Our inspection of the tread showed no nails or screws or obvious leaks. Debbie mixed up a cupful of dish detergent and water, and slowly poured it over the tire while Jim rolled the tire on the ground. We were watching intently for any sign of a leak.

Suddenly we had lots of soap bubbles showing the leak location. The puncture was caused by a piece of wire like used for tying rebar. We used our handy-dandy plugging tool to repair it, moved the spare tire to the trailer’s right rear, refilled the repaired tire, and put it away as a temporary spare. The plug, unfortunately, is too near the tread edge to be reliable. It may work okay as a low-speed spare if we have a blowout before we arrive in Gillette. We’ll replace this plugged tire while we’re in Gillette.

We’ve had really good luck with our trailer over 40,000 miles and truck over 60,000 miles. And we love re-discovering places we visited before, as well as finding new places throughout North America. We’re enjoying this trip tremendously, even with the loss of a tire. No guts, no glory? Our truck and trailer showed a lot of guts yesterday, climbing easily over the pass at almost 12,000 feet elevation.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

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Another iHouse message?

Yes, friends, yet another message about the Clayton Homes iHouse. We’ve talked about it a couple of times previously. We can’t resist one more post, except it probably isn’t the last time we’ll talk about this.

We can try to tell you how impressed we are with how it looks, and why we like it. The open floorplan, economical use of space (1,023 sf iHouse, 199 sf Flex), and durable finishes inside and out all appeal to us. The notions of Usonian design we feel in the sensible and appealing floorplan remind us of our tours at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West.

We may not buy an iHouse but it has, at least, started us thinking about what we expect from any house we might build. The Andersen Low-E windows, no VOC coatings, the complete collection of rainwater from roof systems, great use of natural light, these things all appeal to us. And we like the small footprint.

Words fail in describing the fine job Clayton Homes has done staging these model homes. So we thought we’d share this link to pictures we’ve taken. We hope you like these pictures as much as we do. And no, we still aren’t planning to quit full-timing.

This iHouse is so nice we’re tempted, but we just haven’t found yet where we want to stay more than six weeks. We’re full-timing North America, visiting all the places we can. How can we decide before we have checked all the places?

Another message about iHouse, yes. And we’ll offer another, perhaps, down the road as we consider full-timing and its alternative(s).

[Disclaimer — Jim and Debbie are not connected to, nor compensated in any way from, Clayton Homes nor any division related to them nor to their advertisers or agents.]

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2010 Dreamstreamr

We’re on Holiday, we’ll write when we return

Yeah, we’ve been on vacation for weeks — can’t you tell? Upon arriving at Towerpoint Resort in Mesa, AZ, our life suddenly took a busy turn. So busy, in fact, we quickly resorted to Google Calendar to organize and track our plans. We still get Sundays off after church service, although it’s fun to play ping-pong Sunday evenings at the resort pavilion. The other eight days a week we are playing tennis, hiking, walking, touring the area — almost anything except sitting around.

We’re sightseeing more than we anticipated in our short visit to this area. We thought a month would pass so quickly we would just get a little orientation to Mesa and not really spread our wings at all. Close to true but we’ve done more than we expected. First, we extended our stay from four weeks to six weeks. Second, Jim’s brother, Chuck, flew in from North Carolina and invited us to join him and our nephew, Tom, for our first visit to Taliesen. I’ll talk more about this in a minute.

Same day we joined Chuck and Tom for a visit to In-N-Out Burger, a sort of southwest hamburger chain with maybe two hundred locations. We are proud of them, they only do hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, pop, and shakes. No extended menus here — way to go! A big however, however, we were disappointed they don’t even talk chili (did you ask for chili peppers, ma’am?) and slaw (slaw? what?). Okay, we’re still from back east or, as they say around here, “out east”.

Los Olivos Restaurant

Debbie outside Los Olivos Restaurant

We next toured downtown old Scottsdale. Old is a funny term for something invented in the 1950’s, don’t you think? I know, I know, Scottsdale was supposedly founded by Hohokam as early as 800 AD. They left around 600 years later, and Frank Lloyd Wright next showed up in the nearby McDowell Mountains almost 530 years later. And still Scottsdale was almost nothing before the 1950s.

The Sugar Bowl

The Sugar Bowl

One “early” institution of Scottsdale is The Sugar Bowl. We had scarcely exhausted our burgers and fries but had to treat ourselves to a visit to The Sugar Bowl. If you’re like us you’ve been introduced to The Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale without realizing it. Bil Keane somewhat regularly includes it in his comic strip, Family Circus. We enjoyed sundaes and a great cup of coffee before striking out again for our walking tour of “old Scottsdale”. But we could have spent this time writing on our blog, eh?

Canyon Lakes hike

Canyon Lakes hike

We’ve had two great hikes in the Superstition Mountains area with another planned for this weekend. Towerpoint Resort has several hiking clubs and it’s easy to hook up with a group for one day or another of hikes. We appreciate Bill and Diana leading the hikes on Saturdays, we wouldn’t know where to go without them. The hikes have been approximately seven miles at a fairly easy pace, and the weather has been fabulous.

FLLW's office

FLLW's office

Our visit to Taliesen was so nice we decided to go again a few days ago. We took a longer tour, for three hours, for more details on the campus, the architectural school, and the history. This was fabulous for us. Some of the information was a repeat of our “Insights” 90 minute tour. The “Behind The Scenes” tour was better all around. We like our tour leader’s presentation better. She seemed to understand her information and deliver it better. And we enjoyed sitting in the Taliesen dining room for tea and pastries as we listened to a Taliesen Senior Fellow, Polly, describe life and work under Frank Lloyd Wright’s direction.

When we’re sitting around, not reading, we’re playing home designer. Our second visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West included a fun and lengthy visit to the bookstore. We pored for two hours over the large array of books and awarded ourselves an early Christmas present of the Frank Lloyd Wright Companion in cd format. This is perfect for us in several ways.

The book is a collection of a huge number of FLLW’s works. His works are described in text, portrayed in pictures, and defined in graphic floorplan. We sit for hours sifting through many of his house plans.
“What do you like about this one?” ”
Could we build this one, and with what changes?”
“Do you like anything about this one?”
“Is this one too large?”

We’re enjoying pretending we’re designing our home, and enjoying the amazing possibilities for a 1,000 SF home. But we could have spent this time writing on our blog, eh?

The Sprites

The Sprites

Who knew George Vanderbilt had a hotel in Arizona? Actually he didn’t, but it is named the Biltmore nonetheless. We had a nice time visiting one evening on our own. Pretty nice place, even if you aren’t spending any money. Frank Lloyd Wright was the consulting architect on this project, and his influence shines through delightfully. It was fun to learn of his use of Sprites in some projects, and we enjoyed a relaxing evening walking the grounds and the lobbies.

iHouse interior

iHouse interior

Clayton Homes has recently added an iHouse model in Mesa, AZ. You may remember we wrote two months ago about our first visit to an iHouse, in Everett, Washington. We could have described it as “the house we’re looking for, if we’re looking for one.” But we’re not ready to buy a house since we don’t know where to put it. Shopping is all the fun anyway, and we had a lot of fun visiting the iHouse in Mesa a few weeks ago and again yesterday.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

What else have we been up to? We had a great Thanksgiving with Jim’s brother’s brother-in-law. David put on a huge spread for family and friends and we are fortunate we could celebrate Thanksgiving with them. We left David’s to drive back to our home and couldn’t find a single game on television. You already know this but we didn’t realize Monday night football (and Thanksgiving football too, it seemed) aren’t on network broadcast television any longer. Is this correct? And if it is, why is it right? Okay, I’m done ranting.

Finally, we’re catching up on our periodicals, a little, in between visits to the tennis courts. You can never really get ahead of them. Hundreds of people are at work all day and night, somewhere, putting together and publishing magazines full of junk. We pay to have almost a dozen magazines sent to us every month. Read one every two days and we’re staying even. But it takes us each a day or two, at least, to get through them because we don’t read magazines for more than a couple of hours a day. Every week we read the entire Sunday newspaper after church and don’t even get to a magazine. And we were behind to start with — so we’re packing a couple dozen magazines at all times around here.

As Barry pointed out in a comment yesterday, we’ve obviously not been putting the needed time into writing. And not because there is a dearth of material here. We could write two times a day, there’s so much to tell. We could write about the variety of Christmas decorations going up on the little park models (mobile homes) throughout the Resort. We can write about the sharp increase in population in the resort as December starts. Or we could write about our resistance to the holiday music starting already at the Resort’s pavilion since Thanksgiving.

Better, we could write about the sweet sights and sounds of life in Paradise. The sun is setting and from our house we can see pink clouds and skies all around us, punctuated with fifty feet tall palm trees softly swaying in the breeze. We have an almost constant symphony of small aircraft softly humming their distinctive notes overhead enroute to or from Falcon Field nearby. Throughout every day we have the clearly sensible temperature rise, peak, and decline as the temperature follows closely the sun’s effect on our little neighborhood.

No promises about any writing. Although we greatly enjoy writing and have a lot of fun reading your comments, we’ve hit a temporary new Mesa mode. We’re thoroughly sucked into the Resort’s tennis club and enjoying every minute of it. We’re enjoying fantastic (if very dry — can you spell dewpoint of 7 degrees F?) weather and new friends, and a very different place. We’re tasting some new foods, or perhaps just old foods much hotter than we’ve experienced before. And we’re making the most of this before we head back east for Christmas and then down to south Florida for Q1 2010.

Sunny greetings from Mesa — We’re on Holiday, and will write when we return. Thanks for waiting patiently as we think about (and experience) what to write. Or, maybe we’re just on the tennis courts . . .

See you down the blog!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr

Madison, Like Peeling an Onion

Three weeks ago we arrived in Madison, Wi, for the 52nd International Rally of Wally Byam Caravan Club. Tomorrow we depart Madison for the La Crosse, Wi, area to explore and tour awhile. As long as we’ve been here we still haven’t explored everything. Our best effort has been these past several days, after the end of the Airstream rally.

Standing outside Taliesen

Standing outside Taliesen

Our time in the previous two weeks included several days of touring, and we’re glad we could add a couple more tour days. The rally provided little time for sightseeing. We took advantage of a couple of off-days before the rally to tour House on the Rock (skip the warehouse/museum buildings, just see the house) and Taliesen, Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in Spring Green. The Capitol Building tour was a high point, seeing the building and its history through an excellent tour guide’s interpretation.

Standing outside Puempels Tavern

Standing outside Puempels Tavern

Friends Beth and Matt Hackney drove with us to New Glarus, Wi. We all sampled New Glarus Brewery’s best brews and purchased a few bottles of our favorites to go. We ate at a very old pub, Puemplers Olde Tavern, where we looked at the 100 year old paintings on the wall while sipping Belgian Red and eating brats and kraut.

Rallies, like caravans, are interesting and fun but demanding, too. We’re always a little relieved at the end, like after a tough but rewarding course in school or a tough hike. You’re glad you did it but not necessarily ready to repeat it right away. The time after the rally is nice for us. We enjoy the change of pace and, after a day off, look forward to a new agenda.

We did a few chores after the rally and mostly explored Madison. The first day we walked all about downtown Madison, circling the Capitol building, locating (and enjoying) the farmers market, and walking State Street from the Capitol Building into the edge of the old section of the UW campus.

We ate a bite at a local sub shop near campus and, re-energized, retraced our steps up State Street, around the Capitol square, and to the farmers market. Lunch was walked off so we each ate a fresh cookie and bought a few fresh groceries.

Loaded with a backpack full from the farmers market, a guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace, near the Wisconsin State Capitol, provided us an in-depth introduction to this great civic center and convention building. The building was built thirty-five years after Wright’s death but faithfully followed his exterior plans. The building’s approval was difficult but finally provides the community vision and service envisioned by Wright.

We scoured downtown and the University of Wisconsin campus. The day started at The Unitarian Church, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The church provides daily tours May through October. We were fortunate to have an excellent tour guide but unfortunately the new meeting hall was closed for resanding the painted floors.

The sanctuary's design is inspired and inspiring

The sanctuary's design is inspired and inspiring

The original sanctuary became too small many years ago. The membership was 175 in the 1950s when the church building was new. Now membership numbers over 1,500, so the church has added a new and much larger meeting hall. Our tour included all parts of the original building. It is graceful, comfortable, and it has aged beautifully.

The building carries many of Wright’s trademark Prairie design features including, among others, the dark red color, plywood built-in furniture, 60 and 120 degree angles, single plane transition of ceilings and floors from inside to outside, and mitred glass joints without frames at corners.

Unusually nice student union looks out on Lake Mendota

The Babcock Dairy Bar provided a great place for tour of the dairy demonstration classroom/production area, a tasty lunch. We walked next through the Physics Museum, stopping to play with most of the hands-on displays. Next we walked to the incredible Memorial Union building, a great place to sample Babcock Dairy ice cream cones while gazing out over Lake Mendota. The Union’s terraces provide several hundred chairs, all full with people enjoying the fine weather. This was a great end to our walking tours of Madison.

Madison has been great, and our tours at the end completed our visit wonderfully. As always, we feel we have left a few things undone or unvisited. Perhaps if we stayed four weeks we could exhaust the opportunities, but I’m pretty sure this is a false assumption. It is like peeling the layers from an onion — there are so many and the onion gets sweeter the further you go.