Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

We are now in Thurmont, Maryland.

Taking a short trip up into Pennsylvania, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at the Gettysburg National Military Park. Sensational! To say the very least!

The first thing we did was bought tickets to the Film, Cyclorama and Museum.

The film was narrated by Morgan Freeman (love his voice) and there was so much to see on the big curved screen, my eyes were darting everywhere trying to take it all in.

It was pure genius, a visual sensation, beautifully done by the History channel, the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The Civil War battle that took place over July1-3 of 1863.

Total casualties for the three days (killed, wounded, captured, missing) of fighting were 23,000 Union, 28,000 Confederates.Incredible numbers fought, lost and won during that 3 day campaign with Robert E. Lee as the Confederate commander and George Gordon Meade, the Union commander. 70,000 Confederates went up against a Union army of 93,000 on that 1st day in July.


Next when you exit the theatre you are taken up into the viewing room of the cyclorama. (Cycloramas – a 360deg view panoramic painting of a scene, viewed from the centre, often with music or narration, first developed in 1787 – popular in the early 19th century)

A spectacular vision of sound and light, as if you were standing behind Union lines. It is the largest oil painting in America. Painted in 1884 by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux, it came to Gettysburg in 1913.

The 377ft painting debuted in Boston 132 years ago and in 2008 restoration began for this project.


It truly is magnificent and the detail incredible. The artist has even included himself in the painting as his signature. See the picture below of the bearded officer leaning against a tree with sword over his leg,


The Museum section has many artefacts, beautifully displayed with excerpts of speeches, letters and legislation surrounding the walls. Timber plaques have also been printed or etched with pictures and text,


A number of interactive displays run through the 3 years of the war on screens of varying size throughout the museum.


It is an exceptional place full of history and if you ever get to this region it is not to be missed! A very comprehensive display. They weren't wrong when saying you would easily need a couple of hours for the Museum alone.

The weather was divine on Tuesday but turned a little overcast and on the cool side on the Wednesday.


However that did not deter us from making our way back to Gettysburg and taking the 24mile auto tour of the battlefield.


There are 16 tour stops along the way and instead of purchasing a cd at gift store we found an app that ran off the GPS and would talk to us once we reached the spot on the map. Relaying information regarding the battle for the point we were at, we could then get out and view the magnificent monuments, fields and take in the terrain that would have been encountered by so many on foot back in the day.


An extremely humbling experience.

Kat xo

Sept 28, 2016

This is only a small sampling of pictures taken. So, so much to see. Loved it.


Streaking Through Kentucky

That got your attention didn't it! Lol!

No streaking, drive on, drive on.

Springfield, KY – est. 1797, Lincoln Legacy Museum, closed Wednesday's, quick picture of the Lincoln Statue and some nice old buildings.


Perryville, KY – steeped in civil war history, we visited the Perryville Battlefield State Historical site. Great little museum and 30minute film about the battle in October of 1862. The story unfolds with Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Mississippi and Don Carlos Buell's Union Army of Ohio.


The museum is very informative and has a great collection of artefacts and uniforms. The cannon or “Six-Pound Smoothbore Field Gun” are always spectacular to look at! The ammunition case beside it was cool and now I know where the meaning of 'shrapnel' came from. The 6pound spherical case shot was invented by one Henry Shrapnel.


The soldiers on both sides suffered greatly as Kentucky experienced drought through this time. Many suffered heat stroke and died of dehydration as well as any injuries received during the battles that ensued.


When you look at the grounds surrounding Perryville, I try to imagine the some 70,000 odd troops that would have been in and around here. Great lines of men fighting each other.


The Bottom House is quite small and still it is hard to fathom hundreds of bodies littering the yard and porch as it was made a makeshift hospital. Many houses during that time were commandeered for such purposes.


Some stats from the brochure.

  • 55,396 Union and 16,800 Confederate soldiers.
  • 203 cannons located in Perryville, 90 were used in the battle
  • At least 21 states were represented in the Battle of Perryville – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisianna, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • 1,431 soldiers were killed (890 Union, 532 Confederate)
  • 5,618 were wounded (2,966 Union, 2,652 Confederate)
  • 669 missing or captured (433 Union, 236 Confederate)

So in fact looking at those figures for total casualties 7,718 (4,298 Union, 3,420 Confederate) that's 1/5th of the Confederate force and only 1/12th of the Union. Like most of the Civil War period Union forces definitely outnumbered the Confederates.

All things considered, that's a huge victory for the Confederates.

Winchester, KY – est. 1792, didn't see much through here as we sort of bypassed the historic downtown, oh well.

Onward through rolling hills and the green trees of Kentucky. Fall is starting to show her signs of change, as reds and yellows creep through the forest.

We have now entered into West Virginia! A new state for us, staying somewhere around Charleston tonight, then a dash to the very northern section of the state to Berkeley Springs tomorrow.


Signing off with a bit of John Denver ……almost heaven, West Virginia….blue ridge mountains…..

Kat xo


Las Vegas, NM

Said our final goodbyes to Rooster and Trooper (aka Constable Nelson) this morning with a hearty breakfast at Lisa's Truck Centre in Moriarty.

We are on the road to Las Vegas, NM where we will spend the night and visit the Rough Riders Museum tomorrow. (It's always closed on a Monday when we travel through)

We did a quick trip up the road through Lamey but like most, the history and Railroad Museum are closed today.


On through Eldorado and Pecos with much of the housing around here of adobe structure. They are nestled into the surrounding environment and at times it is hard to pick out the houses until you concentrate and find them, realising their is a ton of them secreted away.


Going into Pecos we did actually see this roadside marker for the 'Gettysburg of the West'. That was worth the side trip off the highway just to see that and learn something new.

These are all small towns so back onto the I25 we went, heading North.

Into Las Vegas we arrived and wandered around the old town plaza. We actually went into the Plaza Hotel this time for a look. They have been renovating and are still working on it. Some of the press tinned ceilings are still there. It is beautiful and they have taken advantage of some of the space for housing beautiful New Mexico artworks.


Also this old travelling trunk was on display and the original safe from the hotel so beautifully ornate in its own right.


Some of the buildings to the left of the hotel were still being restored when we were here last in 2013 so it was nice to see the square almost completely renovated now.

We found a room for the night and headed further North to Watrous, to visit the Fort Union National Monument.

Wow! Fort Union was a military post from 1851 – 1891. It was the largest fort in the southwest frontier. I guess the best way to describe Fort Union is that back in the day it was a huge distribution centre. Not only did they have supplies come in for them but they distributed to other states and smaller fort's from the one area.

The Fort was actually built 3 times in different spots on the same land. The buildings were of Adobe construction but they did have a kiln not too far where they would make some of their bricks. Others for the fire boxes were highly aluminised and were brought in from St Louis, Missouri.


The hospital was run with 2 doctors, a few nurses a few matrons and many untrained civilians. On the video we watched (before doing the 1 mile walk) it was mentioned that in the whole time the fort hospital operated only 17 patients died. I think that's pretty sensational odds for that time period!


The decline of the Fort occurred with the coming of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

This leads me to one of the more romantic sides of the west and I explored this before when doing the CASS Bulletin in Australia. With the AT&SF's arrival came the Harvey Houses. An entertaining idea of Fred Harvey's to serve travellers at train stop hotels (1870's to mid 1940's) with style and class unknown in the past to most coach stops.

Briefly, the Harvey girls were all single, dormed together usually above or with or within the establishment, had strict rules and curfews and wore a suitably black and white uniform, although at one point the New Mexico Harvey girls wore the traditional colourful dress of the culture. The Fred Harvey standards were not to be taken lightly. For many of these girls, it was a way out of their struggling existence. Travelling across the country to new places they may never have gotten to see.

Las Vegas was no different. The Castenada was the Harvey House stop opposite the railway depot. Still standing in its faded glory today. Was I disappointed? Hell yes!. Soon remedied with a visit to the Rough Riders Antique store across the road!


The Castenada Hotel is apparently being refurbished by the same guy that did the Winslow Harvey House. A couple of years and it should be open. During The Cowboy Reunion, held every August, it will be open for tours and some functions.

Whilst in the Rough Riders antique store what should I find but some beautiful La Mode Illustree fashion plates framed. Now if I had a sewing room getting set up then these were to die for. At $220 per pic (and there were 4 of them) they had to stay BUT actual Fred Harvey silver ware and memorabilia?! That I could not pass up and managed to acquire a knife and some registration cards. All from the Castenada Hotel. Thank you very much!!


That concludes a busy day in what we always saw as a very small town that we had always just passed through.


Kat xo


Guerilla? Or Just an Outlaw

Jesse James was one of the most famous or infamous outlaws of the American west – robbing stage coaches, banks, trains, and leader of the James-Younger gang.

Why am I talking about Jesse James you might ask? And where does the guerilla bit come into it?

Well, once upon a time, in a land far far away….lol, no simple really. Jesse and his brother Frank James were confederate guerrilla's (also known as bushwackers). Road Runner, fellow Okie when we are there, requested a Jesse James guerrilla shirt.

With eyebrows slightly raised, of course I accepted the challenge and had him send me a picture. (As seen below)


Not hard really, finally found fabric that would drape nicely in the required grey, a simple black bias binding should work and found some studs that could replicate the trim.

It came time in the book to get onto this one and so I fiddled around with a pattern and created the very simple oversized guerilla shirt with slanted rounded pockets. Ta dah! Road Runner's guerilla shirt.

(Hmm they could actually have had more slant on the pockets now seeing it on the mannequin, noticeable when it's laying flat)

These shirts with their pockets shaped like that apparently made for ease of carrying extra ammo and accessibility to it. (so I've heard)

Personally I'm thinking that if you are galloping around on a horse at break neck speed you might lose it but then I thought about the drape of the fabric and figured it might well stay put due to the weight of the ammo.

The guerrilla shirts were often made by wives or sweethearts, some were elaborately embroidered, some plain, some with a placket and collar, made from various fabrics and patterns. According to civil war websites the shirts originated in Missouri but were similarly worn down through Texas.

Here are some more examples worn by the Duvall brothers and Bloody Bill Anderson.


All very different indeed!

And the whole guerrilla story with William C Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson is a tale for another day.


Kat xo


On To Lynchburg

Slept through the alarm this morning which puts us slightly behind but anyway, a glorious start to the day with sunshine and clear blue skies.

There are some very soggy looking crop paddocks this morning on the way out of Arkansas.

Heading into Memphis area, I thought we may have been in Egypt for a minute! (What is that pyramid building?) Welcome to Tennessee as we come onto the bridge. Normally we have come across the twin bridges down the Mississippi River as we've headed South, can you see them in the distance?

We're taking the 64 he says, despite being slower speeds, this is beautiful – green, green as far as the eye can see. Fields of corn and not sure, but may be cotton, it's wet enough for it. (Cotton or soybeans)

These towns are beautiful, very patriotic and church going communities through here. Bolivar, Adamsville, Crump and Savannah to name but a few, if we'd have had more time it would have been nice to stop in Savannah and check out the Tennessee River Museum and the Savannah River Trail. There were a couple of gorgeous old homes as we came in and a monument of canon balls that said US Grant Headquarters.

A bit of research tells me that Savannah was the site of the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War where US Grant commandeered the 'Cherry Mansion' for his headquarters during this battle. (Also known as 'Battle of Pittsburg Landing') ohhhh that means the first gorgeous house that I missed getting a pic of was Cherry Mansion.

On the eastern outskirts are large logging and quarry industries. This is a big place.

Near Waynesboro they are making some new road, call me crazy, but the site of Moxy's, excavators and a 'blast zone' sign still excites me a little, just a tiny bit.

That's it, done, a temporary moment of weakness, I love my life!

Pressing on we travelled through Lawrenceburg and Fayetteville.


Fayetteville, looks like another town steeped in history, established in 1810 and part of civil war history – in 1815 the County Courthouse was built and was used to house Union troops during the Civil War. Beautiful plantation style homes with well kept grounds through here.

We are only 15 miles from Lynchburg now and the Jack Daniels Distillery!


Kat xo

PS. The pyramid in Memphis? Is an arena, a 60% replica of the The Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. At 32 stories tall is the third largest pyramid in the world and is clad in stainless steel. So there you go!,_Tennessee,_Tennessee



St Joseph, Missouri

Heading into Missouri now and for St Joseph where we will be exploring places like The Pony Express Museum, Patee House and Jesse James House.

Skirting the city limits of Kansas City, some old buildings amongst the new skyline, an interesting bridge and a casino taking on the appearance of an old steamboat.

Lots of trees in this part, thick groves of them.

St Joseph is just over an hour away from where we were staying in Overland Park, Kansas – so for those who live close by in the north east quarter of Kansas you could do this as a day trip or a weekend. The St Joseph website even has a couple of guided tours listed and gives you an estimate of time in order for you to plan a short trip.

We got into the older part of St Joseph and found our way to the Visitor Centre/Library in the newer business district. Not open Sundays but self serve on any of the brochure’s and maps required.

Heading back to old town we stopped at the Pony Express Monument. Oh, I’m sorry, you mean you don’t know what the Pony Express was? Well here’s a little bit of info to get you up to speed.

The Pony Express was an idea for getting mail, overland from St Joseph, MIssouri to Sacremento, California. Mail could possibly take weeks to go by sea and now it could go by horse rider and be there in 10 days! Wow, what a breakthrough. Horses were positioned along the route, so the rider could change horses and would have another rider to hand off to if need be.

The first ride of the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860 at 7.15pm. One lonely rider with monchila (mo-chee-la) loaded with mail heading out across, plains, desert and high country to get the mail through. The first Pony Express rider to set out on that day is said to be “Johnny Fry”.

Enjoy a couple of pics here, rest on Facebook and check out the website link below for more about the Museum.


Then it was on to Patee House Museum, used to be a hotel 3 times, a girls college twice and a shirt factory for 80 years prior to being turned into a museum. It is huge, 4 floors of heritage, well 3 they aren’t restoring the top floor and you can see in the stair wells winding up to the other floors – the original staircases, banisters, the timber batons and horse hair plaster detail.

There is so much to see in here it is mind blowing, two and a half hours easily spent there.

Travelling and arriving……

….and going out in style.

Or maybe you just want to take a train?

Or pretend you are still in your childhood riding the unique “Wild Things” carousel. (I’m betting put a kid on the mako shark and they will have nightmares!! I didn’t take a pic of it!)

Patee House was opened by John Patee as a luxurious hotel in 1858 to serve travellers. It is most famously recognised for being the Pony Express Headquarters where Russell, Majors and Waddell had their office starting April 3, 1860. It was also the US Provost marshal’s office and the Union recruiting office during the Civil War era, holding grand balls and court in the ballroom as well.


The Jesse James Home is situated on the neighbouring grounds of Patee House, the home Jesse bought for his wife and children and where he was shot whilst straightening the hanging needlework picture.

The bullet hole in the wall has been covered with glass but before this could be done there were many that would enter the house and chip out toothpick sized pieces of timber both from the wall and from the blood stained floor.

There are some original pieces of furniture from the house still there. An exhibit of the exhumation that took place in 1995 holds pieces from Jesse’s casket – handles, scripted plate/plaque, the broken viewing glass, his tie pin etc.

Well all done and dusted, a full day of museum history, pretty much done what we came to see, so cancelled motel and headed back for Oklahoma.

Good day. Over and out.

Kat xo























On To Lenexa, Kansas

Breakfast was had and we were heading back through the Main Street of Miami and through the gate of Oklahoma.

Made a short stop at the Vintage Iron Museum which houses many of the old ‘iron horses’. Found my all time favourite Harley Davidson Soft Tail, check out the price tag!! I love the colour too, I could live with that.

They had Indian, Harley and Triumph bikes and a an exhibit of Evel Knievel here.

The Evel Kneivel plus many more pics are on the phone so they will be on Facebook later


Quapaw – O-Gah-Pah – a small town that was heavily hit by a tornado last month, site incredible. We sat in the car waiting for a builder to find some one and give us directions to the Indian Museum, looking at a half destroyed building. (Pieces of 4×2, like pins in a pin cushion) Gentleman we spoke to where they were doing rebuilding said thankfully no one was killed.

At the Museum we spoke with a lady about many of the artefacts and photos there. She explained the allotment roll with the Indian names of those moved into the Oklahoma Territory who were then issued land lots.

She told us the difference between ‘pure’ blood and ‘full’ blood and went on to say about Jean Ann Quapaw Blue and her husband were the last of the pure bloods. She also said Jean Ann Blue was her Aunt, before we left I asked her name, she is also Jean Ann (Lambert) and I commented then to the connection I made with some of the pieces in the first cabinets I had seen that she had of her Aunts.

Very interesting, in it’s early stages and will be expanding soon.


Baxter Springs, Kansas – again where tornadoes hit and yet everywhere you look there are people out repairing and rebuilding.

Found a sign for their Historic Museum and decided to stop. Glad we did, spent about 2 hours there, lots of original pieces from Civil War and through their mining history etc. lots of display cases with pieces donated or dug up out of the ground. Very nicely laid out.

I also spied a picture of a late 1800’s gown, the woman sporting a pocket watch (I’ve been reading about them in the hopes of including a pocket for one in a bodice at some point) tucked into her bodice worn on a brooche chain I think, can’t quite tell if it’s a necklace one.

Downstairs is the town like set up showcasing different professions and then the mining area. Very much steeped in history their were so many mines in this area or Picher (a sink hole waiting to happen), the water table is so high that during the mining days they had to continuously pump out but when they were finished in each shaft would then turn the pumps off and let it fill up with water.

Back in the car and we are back on Hwy 69 now and heading up to Pittsburg, Fort Scott – every now and then you just have to Sonic! Hot dog and Oreo Cheesecake Shake for me and Strawberry Shake for Jack. Yum!

Didn’t have to leave the car which is a good thing, see?! Nothing like giving yourself a pedicure on the road.

Okay so we weren’t going to deviate off the path but we saw the sign for the National Monutment Site for Fort Scott and decided to go check it out, and are we glad we did!

Some archaeology works had been undertaken and the National Parks have had the Fort re established as it was in the Civil War, a then functioning barracks, hospital, dragoon stables and barracks, post headquarters, officers headquarters, a carriage house, powder magazine, quartermaster storehouse and guardhouse – all situated within walking distance of the old town Main Street with it’s many ornate buildings.

Some of the buildings have been done in period furniture etc, the hospital with its ward of rope based beds, the stables are just gorgeous for the timber work alone! The dragoon barrack, shows the dormitory bunks which we thought were quite spacious to start with until we realised there were two names on the foot of the beds which means they slept two soldiers in each (I assume top and tail) so they really didn’t have much room at all and would not have been particularly comfortable.

The quartermasters storehouse has all the barrels of salted pork, bins for rice and beans and down in the cellar there are some very old kegs. I felt a little uneasy coming up out of the cellar, maybe there were other ‘visitors’ in that area, was glad to breathe the outside air again.

The guardhouse our final stop before heading off, had an interesting slanted board built into one side of the room which turns out to be the guards sleeping rack, that’s about all you could call it. No bedding, they took a kip on there during there 2hr on, 4hr off 24hr shift. Four confined jail cells in back for the long termers and a group cell.

While I’m busy taking a pic of the cell door to my height and the next cell door for comparison Jack says, “There’s three girls on the floor in there” and I’m like, “What??”. Of course he just wanders out and when I get to the cell door I started laughing, I will pay that one! Can you see it in the pic below?

It’s warm, that Shake is not sitting too well now, glutton! 🙂

Back in the car and let’s get to Lenexa!


Cheers Kat xo

June 12th