Sunday, April 25, 2010

Texas Tenderfoot

It wasn't my foot that was tender! But I have to say that my ride at Wildcatter Ranch near Graham, Texas, was the best. First of all, I'm a big wuss and horses know it. So I asked Jay, the director of all the equine activities at the ranch, for a horse that was "sure-footed, half-dead and not hungry."

He chose Precious for me -- a chestnut gelding -- definitely sure-footed, not half-dead but very calm and exceedingly nice about not trying to snack on the trail. We rode for almost an hour and a half through meadows with lush grass, up rocky trails, through thick brush and shady junipers and on a bluff overlooking the meandering Brazos River.

The scenery was stunning with lots of wildflowers: bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, prickly poppies, poppy mallow, prairie verbena and a variety of little yellow blossoms. Jay led the group and Bryan baby-sat me at the back of the bunch. They were both great -- wonderfully patient and soooo cowboy polite with their drawled "yes ma'ams."

I must admit I wasn't looking forward to the ride -- just doing it in the line of duty. I'm so glad I went. It was lots of fun; I didn't fall off and it only took a few minutes to make my legs work right again.

I'm having an awful time trying to get my videos to go anywhere. I did manage to get a short one up on YouTube. To see a view of the trail from between Precious's ears, go to .

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Architectural Independence

Visitors to the Kansas City area do themselves a disservice if they don't make a trip a few miles east of town to Independence. This little town has a lot of historical importance -- home of Harry Truman and site of his Presidential Museum, beginning of the Santa Fe -- and subsequently the Oregon and California -- Trail, and important to Latter Day Saints and their religious off-shoots.

And it presents an interesting variety of architectural styles from its traditional square with its Liberty Hall-influenced Court House to the space-age spiral of the Temple of the Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Latter Day Saints). We could see the spire in the distance as we approached the town.

Jack and I had toured the Truman Presidential Museum on a previous visit. Of all the presidential museums I've visited (Ford, Reagan, Clinton, Eisenhower, Johnson, Bush, Carter and Clinton) this is my favorite. This time we took a walking tour past the home where Harry and Bess lived from the time of their marriage in 1919. It was the official Summer White House from 1945 to 1953.

The Waggoner-Bingham House was built in 1852 with later expansions. The artist George Caleb Bingham and his wife lived here from 1864 to 1870. This is the "Pink Parlor" -- the furnishings, many original, are turn-of-the-last-century.

We slipped into a prayer service in the Community of Christ Temple and got to hear a hymn played on that impressive organ, a 102-rank Casavante Freres pipe organ. Notice the nautilus-like swirl of the ceiling.

The Second Empire Victorian Vaile Mansion is a real jewel. The painting on the ceiling of this bedroom caused a local scandal.