Recently I was assigned by a client to look into the creation of a SmugMug website. I had to do some testing on it, but in the process I created my own SmugMug site. This site has hundreds of photographs that I’ve taken on my travels around the country, in Canada, in Japan, and in the Philippines.
I have not always focused on just the unique and offbeat, but I also have visited many national parks, many scenic wonderlands, have focused on animal life, flowers and trees, and other unique and interesting places and things. My new SmugMug site will feature a great variety of all of these photographs.
I hope you’ll give it a visit and Enjoy the Ride!!
We had to really fly from a late afternoon arrival in Chillicothe to get to Larry’s place on 13178 Highway T in Centralia. But we did get there just at dusk and I got to meet Larry and learn more about his work. He has been doing these sculptures for a number of years and really loves the attention he gets. When we arrived and got out for a look see, the jovial Larry strolled out of his small farmhouse to greet me (along with his barking dog). Larry suffered a disastrous car accident in the early 1990s. He got a broken back that forced him to retire from his traveling construction work. He walked out with a cane and a nice smile.
If you look at Google Maps, it actually provides you a nice quick shot as can be seen below:
Fortunately, we arrived just at dusk so I could clearly see all of Larry’s pieces, but, it got dark quickly, so most of the photos below are done with a flash and I tried to edit in some brightness….
Vennard’s “Highway ‘T’ Rex” is about 20 feet tall and is by far his biggest project. You can’t miss it either as you drive east on Highway T coming from Centralia. He looks like he is ready to reach out an grab you!! Following are a few other pieces I was able to capture…
Larry has a number of other goodies on the grounds. His is one of those “MUST SEE” places on the back roads of America. He is a nice, humble man doing what he loves and loving how his work impacts others in a positive way. I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet Larry Vennard and I hope many of my readers will get the same opportunity!!
After two days of hard driving with three children, we were ready for a brief break. Marissa’s friends live near Nebraska City, so we stayed here for a couple of nights. After a good night’s rest, I took them over to the Arbor Day Farm so that they could enjoy each others company. Nebraska City is also the home of Arbor Day, which is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City United States by J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska on April 10, 1872.
I didn’t attend the Arbor Day Farm with Marissa and her friends, but would have liked to. Here are a couple of photos from Marissa’s visit…very kid friendly indeed!! The 260 acre of Arbor Day Farmis full of natural beauty and is also a National Historic Landmark.
While they spent a couple of hours at the farm, I spent my time driving around and enjoying the nice atmosphere of Nebraska City. The farm not only has trees, but also fruit bearing trees and lots of flowers. I snapped a couple of shots before I headed into town.
For me, there were actually two interesting highlights of the visit to Nebraska City. The first was the “Enchanted Arboretum,” which began in the fall of 2012. Professional artists from around the country submitted 12-inch maquettes of suggested designs that were then juried by area arts experts for project inclusion. Of the 55 submissions, only 21 could be chosen. The artists of the winning designs received their blank sculpture along with a materials stipend in January 2013 and set to work on their creations. This kind of fund raising and art event seems to have become a popular trend in recent years. I have noted the “Horsemania” event held in my hometown of Lexington, KY in a previous post. And just a couple of weeks ago Lexington rolled out another one called “Town Branch Bourbon Barrel Project” which features painted bourbon barrels (I will have a post about that in a week or so). I have seen others, such as painted buffaloes, painted cows (see Cow Parade), Moose in the City (in Toronto), and many more. I have, on occasion, run into some and have photographed them.
We were very fortunate (the kids saw a few as well) to have seen these as they all went on the auction block on September 28, just about two weeks after our visit on September 11.
The other delightful surprise for me were the newly painted Old Fashioned product Wall Advertisements that covered the walls of many of the downtown buildings. Following are a few photos of the Enchanted Arboretum and the Wall Art of Nebraska City….
By far my favorite is the “Spirits of the Wind”, as seen above. Very detailed and intricate. Following is a detail of this nice piece of art….
I plan on doing another blog post about this kind of art work as seen from my travels. Hopefully I can include much more.
As I mentioned above, I also got a kick out of the numerous wall advertisements painted on buildings in the downtown area. These works have all been painstakingly recreated and painted by local artist Kent Schwartz thanks to a charitable donation from the Paul John Anton and Doris Wirth Foundation of Nebraska City (which was also one of the organizations providing grant assistance for the Enchanted Arboretum). Most of these are from products in the 1950s-1970s (and maybe earlier). I remember some of them from when I was younger. Here are some samples
We visited Nebraska City on September 11 and the town was decked out in flags in remembrance of all those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks. Many small towns across America do the same thing.
Nebraska City is also home to the Kregel Windmill Company, which manufactures the famous ELI windmills used on farms across the midwest.
The Kregel Windmill Company operated as a commercial enterprise in the same building in Nebraska City, Nebraska from 1903 to 1991. Even though they have not been mass produced since the early 1940s, Kregel Windmill Company “Eli” brand windmills are still found in service pumping life-giving water for both humans and livestock. They demonstrate clearly how wind power without polluting the environment can serve the needs of humans now and in the future to improve their lives.
Little Nebraska City offered a few other things to see as I drove around the quiet, seemingly All-American town…here are a few more shots:
The Otoe County Courthouse is currently on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the oldest public building in the state of Nebraska.
Every town seems to have that one odd house with a collection of junk or perhaps their version of folk art. I found Nebraska City’s house on one of the neighborhood roads…..
Whenever I travel I am always watching for animals…I found the following “animal” – but I am not sure what to call it….
Naturally, when I am on the road I am always looking for interesting animal shots as well. Here I found a red-tail squirrel scampering for nuts….
And how about a couple more shots of Nebraska City
I really got a kick out of this sign and their website. Their Motto: Lawn Order – Do Your Lawn Justice!
And perhaps the best thing in town?? How about a park with an old Merry Go Round. I don’t see these much anymore. Too many parks are concerned about safety I suppose. My grandkids and my daughter loved it!!