Monday, July 19, 2021

JOPLIN GREAT RACE EXPEDITION!

I recently had the wonderful experience of attending the parade of vehicles, as they passed through the finish line arch of the Great Race 2021.  According to their website, The Great Race started in 1983 by Tom McRae and Norman Miller.  McRae founded the race on the basis of honoring families, our great country, and most importantly God, for making all things possible.  McRae believed it was extremely important to say a prayer in public, in every city, to bless the participants and everyone involved.  Praising the LORD was a staple in his operation, and was his unique way of spreading the Gospel.  McCrae is no longer with us, but his traditions continue. 


An event of this size requires several corporate sponsors, with many of them having their logo on the inflatable arch that is set up in each city where the participants overnight.  In addition, there is an 18-wheeler support vehicle, sponsored by Hagerty, that can be seen along the race route.  Hagerty is an insurance company specifically developed for older, classic cars.  Hence, the phrase and graphic design painted on the side of its trailer that says, "Three pedals, no problem."  This is a reference to the fact that some of the cars they insure, were manufactured before the advent of automatic transmissions---which did away with the need for a clutch pedal.  As a side note, I want to commend Hagerty operations because recently I was with a friend who used their insurance, when she had an issue with her vintage Chevrolet.  She was a Hagerty client, and they seemed to handle the situation as well as could be expected. 

 

Since The Great Race is a precision PACE RACE, not a high speed race, the "winner" of a particular segment of the race is determined before the car passes under the arch.  Hence, there is no crowding of vehicles to cross the "finish line" arch, and instead serves as a backdrop for photo opportunities, as the announcer tells the name and details of each car as it goes under the arch. 

This red car driving down the center line of Joplin's main street is a beautiful example of the type of classic cars one will see at this event.  Notice this car has no top.  So whatever weather is happening at any given moment is the weather the driver and navigator are experiencing!  Although no top may be a disadvantage in terms of bad weather, the older a car is, the more points it is awarded on a type of handicap system that awards bonus points to older vehicles. 
 
Since some participants use this event as an occasion for family bonding, it is not uncommon to see friends/family members walk up to greet the various cars as they go under the arch.  The friends/family members often travel in a different vehicle, and are relieved to see that their loved one (and their vehicle!) made it to the end of the day!

The Great Race is no ordinary race.  It has instruction pamphlets for each day that over 20 pages long!  Modern navigational aids like GPS are prohibited in this event.  Points are awarded on the accuracy of the driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a pre-determined course.  Prizes are awarded in several categories, both daily, and at the end of the race. 

 Some of the cars are reminiscent of movies---such as the Blues Brothers.  It was amusing to see the variety of very inappropriate items, that the car had as "props" on their dashboard.  In addition, they had a mannequin passenger in their back seat!

 

I felt victorious just getting to watch the cars come through, and felt compelled to give the iconic "V for Victory" uplifted arms gesture!  This might have been the gesture the 2021 Great Race winners were giving at the end of the race in Greenville, South Carolina, because their win was historic---the first time for two women to win the race---one was the driver and one was the navigator. 




This converted school bus carried the support crew for the WTF driving team.  This group is quick to point out that the initials do not stand for any type of vulgar cliche, but rather refer to their full name---The Wondering Troubadours of Finland.  When the vintage vehicle they support drives under the arch, they march alongside, carrying the blue and white flag of Finland.  

 

 When I asked to take their photo, they said they would only agree to it, if I would also be in the photo! (Can you tell which one is me??!!)  If you want to see more photos of their hilarious stunts and old-fashioned attire (as well as the inside of their bus), go to their Facebook page, entitled simply "WTF Great Race". 


As you can see on the top of the arch, the 2021 Great Race started in San Antonio, Texas, and ended in Greenville, SC.  You can see videos of the entry into each city where they spent the night, if you go to their Facebook page, The Great Race. 
As you would expect, merchandise with the Great Race logo is available for sale.  Folks in Joplin could purchase souvenirs at the tent set up on Main Street, or folks can also go online to order merchandise from their website at www.GreatRace.com
The two ladies in this photo are the ones I was able to enjoy this event with, Kerstin from Joplin and Carrie from Lake of the Ozarks.  They are shown standing in front of a vintage produce delivery van that was a participant in The Great Race. 
 
 
In case you are wondering about participating in this event, you might want to know that the entry fee for a private individual is $6,000.  The Corporate/Business entry fee is $8500.  Plus, the participants pay for their own lodging along the route. 
Kerstin, Carrie,  and I had the wonderful culinary treat of getting to try a variety of popular menu items from the restaurant along Joplin's main street, known as Hackett Hot Wings.  Our hostess is shown in this photo, and it was fascinating to listen to her tell of the story of the restaurant's origin.  She said she and her husband were from Memphis, and wanted to open a restaurant.  However, they felt the Memphis restaurant market was already saturated, so they set about to find a city that would be a good fit for their signature recipe of fried chicken wings.  This led them to Joplin, and the business has continued to grow and expand throughout the years.
Our dining location at Hackett Hot Wings gave us a "front row seat" to the classic cars that were in front of their restaurant.  Hackett Hot Wings was closed down to the public that night, and served as the location to feed over 200 folks associated with The Great Race event in Joplin. 

The Great Race attracted almost 150 different vehicle entries, and each one had an assigned parking space along the Main Street of Joplin the evening of their appearance.  Many of the cars had magnetic signs attached to them, reminding cars following them not to get too close, because of the (sometimes) sudden turns and stops they made, as they tried to follow the rally driving directions.

 

The map on this car shows the route of the 2021 Great Race, starting in Texas, and ending in South Carolina.  One can visit the Great Race website to find out the route of future races.  This was actually my second time to see the vintage cars, as I was able to go to the event in 2015, when it passed through Springfield, Missouri, which is also an iconic stop along Route 66. 


It is race officials who determine the cities that a particular Great Race will pass through.  And, likewise, it is race officials who choose the official group lodging location for participants.  I was told that the Holiday Inn was chosen for the group lodging in Joplin, based almost entirely on the size of their parking lot, as it shows up on the Google Earth Map.  Besides the need to park over 100 vehicles, the parking lot needs to be able to accommodate an 18-wheeler truck's parking needs.  At the end of the race, participants give an assessment of each city they visited, which is sometimes used as a determinant of future race course locations. 

The tailgate of this colorful yellow pick up truck provided a fantastic "flagpole" location for flying the Stars and Stripes!
 

Sadly, as in most any road race, there are some cars that have mechanical issues, causing them not to be able to finish the race under their own power.  The Great Race officials expect such mishaps, and have a towing vehicle that can tow two cars at one time!  But those cars still get to drive under the arch and be a part of the festivities at the finish line!  The morning after the event, I was on the elevator with one of the drivers who had to be towed in the day before, but was going to be able to drive his car that day.  I asked him what he did about getting his older vehicle repaired during the night, and he said he found some very smart auto mechanics who were able to fix the problem!  Many of the Great Race participants are "Gear Heads", and know everything there is to know about auto repair.  Although I took a four month auto repair class at a local college, I have to look at the instruction manual, just to open up the hood of my car! Not to mention, fix anything that is wrong with it!
 

There were some car clubs that came to Joplin to participate in the festivities from Bentonville, Arkansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Kansas City, Missouri.  I am assuming this car I saw parked is one of those cars.  I can only assume the driver of said vehicle is tall enough so that his eye level is ABOVE the horizontal band of metal that goes across the windshield area!  It it were me driving it, I would be looking through metal circles to try to see the road ahead. 


I was very thankful that I was one of the people getting to stay at the Joplin Holiday Inn, which served as the official location for participants to stay.  This gave me the opportunity to go around and see the cars in the late evening, when it was cooler and there were fewer bystanders. 


I was intrigued to see this youngster carefully polising the gorgeous car shown in this photo.  He told me it was his grandfather's car, and that this was not their first time to participate in the race together.  He said they had used a different car in past races, because his grandfather owned a car museum in Detroit, Michigan.  Sounded like a good family to belong to!

A popular tourist attraction in Joplin is the Route 66 Mural Park.  This sidewalk art depicts a vinyl record from the mid-1900's, with the very popular song called "Get Your Kicks on Route 66".  The lyrics of that song actually mention the town of Joplin, Missouri.

 

The logo on this souvenir bag shows some of the nicknames that Route 66 has enjoyed over the years, such as "The Mother Road" and "America's Main Street".  However, the name my mother always called it when I was growing up, was "Bloody 66".  She was quite prone to worry, and would start expressing her concerns out loud whenever it became known that my father would be traveling on that road for business meetings in St. Louis, from our home in Arkansas.  Likewise, when our family traveled Route 66 from Arkansas to California, in the 1950's, the phrase came up often.  It was not until I googled "Bloody 66", that I found out there were more people than just my mother, who were apprehensive about traveling the route.  The Google search gave numerous references to photographs, statistics, and books about the many car crashes that occurred on the busy and often-narrow highway.  


I would agree with the Great Race founder, Mr. McCrae, about the need for prayer (as well as a good map) when embarking on a journey of Route 66!  In a nod to the Route 66 popularity, and "66" being the number of books in the Bible, a variety of Bible studies have been developed with the Route 66 logo.  The one I have purchased in the past is the Route 66 Bible--"Driving the Word Home", published by the Turning Point Ministry organization.  You can find it at www.DavidJeremiah.org
The murals along Main Street in Joplin make great locations for photos with groups or family or selfies. 

 This mural in this photo even has half of a Corvette, to give it a 3D effect!  Likewise, it has a complete map of Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica.  I always like to comment that the back yard of one of my California cousins, butts up against the original, historic Route 66!
Kerstin gave me permission to sit on the corvette for this photo.  As I sat there, I was reminded of a Corvette very similar to this one,  from my past, that was actually purchased in Joplin, Missouri, in the 1970's!  Fortunately, that Corvette was NOT sliced in half, and is still in the family at my son's home!
There are many more attractions in the Joplin area, related to Route 66, so I would recommend a visit there for anyone interested in that period of America's history.  In addition, there are NUMEROUS other worthwhile attractions that I visited on my June, 2021, stay in Joplin, and I will tell you more about those in future blog posts.  In the meantime, check out the website www.visitjoplinmo.com for more information.  A visit here will give you "MILES OF ROUTE 66 SMILES"!  Tricia


Thursday, July 15, 2021

WISCONSIN MARITIME MUSEUM EXPEDITION!


This  photo shows the front of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (www.wisconsinmaritime.org), with the nautical alphabet flags, spelling out the word "OPEN".  Fortunately, for those who do not have the nautical alphabet flags memorized, they also included the letters,  O P E N, to let passers-by know they are receiving visitors.  This is welcome news, since the museum did close for a period during the height of the COVID19 Pandemic.  I visited there in June, 2021, when they had re-opened, following state requirements for such institutions, which included the wearing of masks. 


This photo shows the staff member (Shane Lee -  email:  slee@wisconsinmaritime.org ) who gave us a guided tour of the museum, and told us some of the history of shipbuilding in the Manitowoc area. 


A big draw of visitors to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum is the fact that it is the permanent docking location for the USS COBIA submarine.  The ship is 312 feet long, and 27 feet wide.  It is permanently docked at the Manitowoc River's mouth, where it empties into Lake Michigan. 

Because of the construction of this submarine from the 1940's, it is not handicapped accessible.  In fact, one has to demonstrate they can crawl through the "template" of a submarine "door", before they even start the tour of the submarine.

Here is a photo of me checking to see if I can climb through the small opening: Doors like this are necessary on a submarine, so that if one compartment gets a leak, that section can be sealed off, so that the entire ship is not put out of commission.

This photo shows another one of the visitors going through the hatch, after we were actually down inside the submarine.  Notice the rubber gaskets on the door, to insure a watertight seal whenever the door is locked shut 
The control room of the submarine is "mind boggling", full of levers and switches and dials and gauges!  Plus, keep in mind, this was before the advent of computer technology, so everything was definitely "old school" operational procedures!   The submarine was powered by four diesel engines, that supplied energy for generators to provide electricity.  Theoretically, this enabled them to stay submerged for up to 48 hours.  However, the longest dive in WWII was 37 hours, 45 minutes, on a Manitowoc-built submarine, the U.S.S. Puffer.   Although the submarine Cobia, gets its name from a fish called "cobia" (nickname black salmon), a submarine cannot stay submerged forever, like its fish namesake!  During WWII, submarines would usually stay submerged during day time hours, then surface at night, when it was harder for them to be spotted by their enemies.   

 

It was encouraging to see an open Bible out on the desk of the captain's quarters.  One has to wonder which passages the captain found especially comforting and helpful, as he led the "Silent Service" sailors on this submarine, who were under his command.

With a background in institutional food service, I was interested in seeing the food preparation areas.  On a submarine, this area is called the "Galley". 

Likewise, the dining area was of interest to me---on a submarine, this is called "The Mess".  (That phrase could very literally be applied to my dining room table, as it contains piles of craft supplies, with no sign of dishes or silverware needed for dining!)

The crew sleeping quarters were above and next to the torpedoes!  Crew members slept in shifts, so there was usually more sailors on board, than there were beds.  

 

The officers  of the submarine had a private bunk, which is a luxury with such limited space.  One can contact the museum to arrange for an overnight stay in the submarine!  They call it a "SUB BnB"!  The museum advertises that the submarine can sleep up to 65 guests, and they can choose whichever of the 65 choices they want to sleep. 



This is a photo of the toilet in the submarine, which on a boat is called The Head.  Our guide told us there were several different steps involved in getting rid of the waste, so knowing the proper procedures was very important.  It is important to note that guests who purchase the SUB BnB overnight experience do not have to use this complicated contraption.  Instead, the clean and modern restrooms of the museum are left open for that purpose. 


The top of the museum is a great event space.  It looks out over the Manitowoc River, with a newly-opened entertainment district occupying the opposite shore  In the distance, Lake Michigan is visible. 


Our guide told us that this rooftop of the museum is a great place to enjoy the music, whenever a live band is playing on the entertainment stage across the river .


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is full of exhibits that commemorate the maritime heritage of the Manitowoc/Two Rivers cities.  These two cities are famous for being where submarines were built during World War II.  The museum has over 60,000 square feet of space.  This photo shows the room with model ships in it.


Another room is a gallery for Wisconsin-built boats. That is where one can read about some historic vessels, as well as marine engines. 

One section of the museum  tells the story of the many shipwrecks that have occurred off the coast of Lake Michigan.  The Bible on display here references the sinking of the SS Phoenix in 1847.  It is significant because many of the passengers on board were immigrants from Holland, who were traveling to the Midwest, seeking religious freedom.  


The SS Phoenix was a wooden steamship, and the theory of its demise states that the boilers overheated, causing the wooden beams above the boilers to catch on fire.  The painting on the right depicts the fact that the ship burned down to the waterline.  This would explain how a Bible could have been saved from the fire. 


The museum likes to provide interactive exhibits that students can actually touch, and experiment with.  The items shown in this exhibit enable the visitor to choose what they could fit into a trunk, knowing that whatever was in that trunk, are the only things they would have when they arrived at their destination.  There would be no "Walmart" at their destination, where anything they wanted could easily be purchased.

I have a wooden trunk that belonged to my grandparents, and is similar in size to the one shown in this photo.  I imagine they had it in the back of their horse-drawn covered wagon, when they relocated from Arkansas to Oklahoma, during the early 1900's, when my mother was just a toddler.  My imagination goes on a trip down memory lane, as I try to conjure up what they might have put in that trunk, for their arduous journey to a land that was very strange to them---known then, as "Indian Territory". 


Of course, like most museums, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum has a fantastic gift shop.  It is full of items related to boats, ships, maritime history, nautical decor, and tee shirts to remind you of your visit.  They also sell an updated version of "Torpedo Juice", which is a non-alcohol-containing beverage, that gives a nod to the concoction that some sailors made to "lift their spirits" as they endured the many hours of being confined to the small, cramped  space, required for submarine service.  When the American slang phrase was coined during World War II, it referred to the mixture of pineapple juice and the 180-proof grain alcohol fuel, used in U.S. Navy torpedo motors. 
 

This cut-a-way exhibit showing the insides of a torpedo is what I am using as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is just one of MANY attractions of interest for visitors to the Manitowoc/Two Rivers area of Wisconsin.  Their motto is "Coast for a While", and you can get more ideas, if you surf on over to their website at www.manitowoc.info

A visit to this fascinating area gave me "MILES OF MARITIME SMILES"!  Tricia
 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

BRYANT CREEK EXPEDITION!

Although access to Bryant Creek in southern Missouri was adversely affected by the historic spring floods of 2017, progress has been slowly, but steadily made, so that folks can once again enjoy all the outdoor recreation possibilities afforded on this stream in the Ozark Mountains.  
I am very thankful for this photo taken by Cindy M., of our group of adventurers, on the Bryant Creek, May 26, 2021, kayaking trip.  Counting Cindy who is not pictured, there were fourteen of us ladies who gathered very early on the day of the float, hoping to be off the water before the rain and thunderstorms hit, that were predicted for later that day.

We put in just below the 181 highway bridge in front of the iconic Hodgson Mill (more history on the Hodgson Mill, is mentioned at the end of this blog).   I walked up behind the mill, and saw the entrance to the spring that supplied water to the white-spoked, waterwheel, shown below the porch.
 
Recent rain assured that Bryant Creek was flowing well, as evidenced by this photo by Rhonda P., as we started down the stream (I am the one in the orange/yellowish kayak in front of her, with a broad-brim red hat on).  Needless to say, none of our kayaks were dragging bottom, as we skimmed swiftly through the waters of the fast moving stream.   We floated about 7.4 river miles, in less than 3 hours, which included an hour-long lunch stop.  A "rule of thumb" for float trips is about 2 river miles per hour, so we had estimated the trip would be about four hours, including stops.  Most of us were surprised to see we got off the water about noon!  Note to would-be floaters:  Estimates on length of time for an outing can be greatly affected by unexpected occurrences along your journey, such as the kayak rolling over and having to be retrieved.  Another factor affecting the length of a trip is coming upon other paddlers in distress that need assistance.  Fortunately, Bryant Creek is much less crowded that the Buffalo National River and similar well-known streams of Missouri's National River Waterways.  In fact, we did not see another human being during our entire time on the river!  It was just us, the turtles, eagles, kingfishers, hawks, and fish!

Cindy M., took this photo of me as a "happy kayaker", giving the "all is well" paddle salute: (Each kayaker in our group is required to wear a life jacket, and I am especially thankful for the one my son and his wife gave me, because it has enough pockets to hold a day's worth of easily-accessed snacks! His awareness of the need for pockets, dates back to an all-day paddling trip my son and I took on the White River years ago.  We ate all the food we had, long before the trip was over, and both of us were getting very hungry and cranky, by the time we reached our destination at sundown!)




  Our group has some astute river co-ordinators (R.C.'s), such that the fourteen of us were able to make this trip happen, without the use of an outfitter.  There were four trucks, stuffed full of kayaks.  Then, my little SUV was the "shuttle vehicle."  The four trucks went to the Sycamore Access where we put in, quickly unloaded all the kayaks, and then I followed the four trucks in my SUV, to the takeout location.  Then the four truck drivers parked their trucks,  got in my SUV, and we drove back to those gals waiting with the kayaks at the put-in location.  At the end of the float, after all the kayaks and gear were loaded into the trucks, one of the truck drivers (Thank you, Penny M!) took me back to where my SUV was parked, at the put-in location.  All participants work together, carrying kayaks and gear to get the trucks unloaded and loaded as quickly as possible.  Rhonda P. took this photo as the last four kayaks were loaded into the awaiting pickup truck.  Our take-out location was the Warren Bridge, located on County Road 328, between Highways FF and HH in southern Missouri. 



The 2021 trip was just the second time I have floated Bryant Creek, even though I have lived close to it for several years.  I only have one photo from the paddling trip I took down Bryant Creek over a decade ago, and I feel fortunate to even have it!



I mentioned in a June, 2010, blog post about the canoe trip that took place on the second day of the annual meeting of the Ozark Regional Land Trust. And, thanks to the above photo by Abigail Lambert, I have a "visual aid" to go along with the description of the expedition. In the photo, I am the one with the long-sleeved shirt, who is waving to the camera. The three guys in the photo had driven down from the Saint Louis area, which is about 4 hours northeast of Bryant Creek. ( It is not everyday that you can have your photo taken by someone with as rich a family heritage as that of Abigail Lambert. In her position as River Stewardship Project Coordinator for the ORLT, she can pursue her passion for protecting our area rivers. It was a passion for all things related to aviation, that resulted in the major airport in St. Louis, Missouri, being named "Lambert Field" in recognition of her family's contributions to the field of aviation.)
 When I first learned about the canoe trip planned for Bryant Creek, I went to the website www.southwestpaddler.com to see what they said about the stream. Most of the following information is from their website: Bryant Creek is formed in Douglas County, Missouri, and flows south about 43 miles to Norfork Lake on the Arkansas border. It is normally a gentle stream, with Class I to Class II rapids, willow jungles, rock shoals, and a nearly perpetual flow, though it may run low during periods of drought. The surrounding area is a wilderness of bluffs and farmlands in the Ozark Mountain foothills. It has a moderate gradient averaging about 5.8 feet per mile, which maintains a gentle current that makes paddling easy. For the ORLT event, our group put in at the low water bridge on Missouri SH 95, and got out at ORLT's Elixir Farm, but if you continued on to Hodgson Mill, you would be at the site where Ewell Gibbons filmed those Grape Nuts commercials back in the 80's.  However, even with such a famous endorsement, Bryant Creek is unknown to most paddlers and is seldom enjoyed because of its remoteness. And, just as the Southwest Paddler website promised, we found that it was a "pristine place to enjoy the magical beauty of the Missouri Ozark Foothills and surrounding wilderness of Mark Twain National Forest." 
  Bryant Creek could almost fit the description written by King David in Psalm 46:4 that says "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." We can all be thankful for the work that groups like the Ozark Regional Land Trust are doing to preserve the natural beauty of our incredibly blessed, United States of America. And with the special day of July 4 on the horizon, it would be appropriate to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!   MILES OF SMILES! Tricia 
 
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