Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pony Express Museum - October 24, 2012

The Kansas City Power & Light Power Partners retirement club visited the Pony Express Museum on our monthly outing in October.  The museum is located just south of the downtown area of St Joseph, Missouri.  I believe that around 40 people participated in the tour.  Here are a few photos from the visit.

 The horse shoes are mostly from supporters of the museum.  However, one of the shoes is an original from the Pony Express days.

 The Pony Express route stretched from St Joseph to Sacramento, CA.  Typical times fro delivered mail from the East Coast to the West Coast had been about 4 weeks.  The Pony Express cut that time down to 10 days.

The service used 400 horses and 184 stations along the route.  Stations were 10 to 20 miles apart depending on the terrain.  Riders switched to a fresh horse at the stations as quickly as possible.  They blew a bugle to announce their pending arrival so the station manager could have the new horse ready to go.  The rider grabbed the mochila (mail pouch) from one horse and put it on the new horse as he mounted it.  Riders would work 10-12 hour shifts without stopping.  Occasionally, they had to do a back-to-back and would ride for 20 hours about saddle sores.  Riders averaged about 10 miles per hour across the entire route.

Riders were paid $25/week which was big money in those days.  The average worker only got paid $1/week at that time.  A letter cost $5 at the beginning of operations and then dropped to $1 after operations settled in.  That was still too expensive for most people to afford in the day.  In today's dollars, that $1 letter would cost $24.  William Cody (Buffalo Bill) was the most famous of all the riders.

Riders were only allowed to weight about 125 lbs so a 40 lb load of mail and other necessities like water and rifles would not be too much for the horse to carry.

The Express operated from April 3, 1860 to October 1861.  At that time, telegraph communications were established eliminating the need for the Pony Express.  The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and opened up communications with the west for greater volumes of mail.

 A recreated transfer station.

 A Pony Express saddle with the mochila mail pouch.

 A nice Louisiana style lunch at Boudreaux's followed the tour.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Schmid's Visit From Germany - August 23, 2012

I am finally getting caught up on blog postings going back to August.  Those that follow us on Facebook already know that we had a wonderful visit from our German friends, the Schmid's.

Georg, Gisela, and Lars flew into Kansas City on the evening of August 23.  They arrived about 8:00pm after traveling for the better part of 14 hours.  They were tired and hungry.  We ate at Granite City Food & Brewery in Zona Rosa since it stayed open late and was close to the airport.  We had a pretty extensive plan for their visit, but getting some rest was the main priority after we got home.

The next morning, we got a leisurely start at home before taking a driving tour of Lee's Summit and the KC Metro area.  In KC, we started at the City Market and then slowly moved south.  We stopped at the old river front landing, drove though downtown KC and saw the Sprint Center and the Kauffman Performing Arts Center.  We walked though Union Station and then enjoyed the view of KC from Liberty Memorial.  From there, we moved to Westport and  spent a little time in Pryde's Old Westport Hardware.  Sigrid loves that place and knew that Gisela would as well.  We did a drive though of the Country Club Plaza and looked at the old homes on Ward Parkway.  We then headed for the Cheesecake Factory on 119th Street in Overland Park for a meal that lasted us the rest of the day.  Here are a few photos we took along the way.

 Georg, Lars, Gisela, and me at the old river front landing in KC.

 Lars, Gisela, and Georg at the memorial statue of Lewis and Clark at Case Park in KC.

 Georg and my son, Scott, enjoy the Cheesecake Factory ambiance.

 Even though our friends had visited the US several times before, their trips were mostly to our National Parks out west.  They rented an RV and stayed at camp grounds while here so they didn't really get to experience everyday living in the US.  It was our goal to immerse them in US culture on this trip.

So many little things are different between the US and Europe that it was fun to watch them experience them.  For instance, unlimited free refills on drinks at most US restaurants.  In Europe, you pay for each one.  Knives and forks are always used when eating meals in such thing as "finger foods" there.  It was a challenge for us, but we fixed that with heavy doses of BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, and other things that really require fingers for efficient consumption.

Our friends stayed with us for three weeks, so I have lots of other posts on their visit coming.  I didn't take many photos while in the KC area since we already have so many from here.  We did take an eight day driving trip, so you will see those post soon.  With their three week stay and our preparations for their arrival, you can see how I got behind and have been so slow in getting the post on the blog.  Not complaining though.....we enjoyed their visit very much and will pay a visit to them in 2013.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Anheuser-Busch Warm Springs Ranch - September 22, 2012

Sigrid and I toured the Anheuser-Busch Warm Springs Ranch on September 22, 2012.  We had tried several times before to get reservation for a tour without success.  I guess demand eased up after school started so we finally made more thing off Sigrid's Bucket List.

Before the Ranch tour, we had lunch at the Blufftop Bistro near Rocheport, MO.  Rocheport is about two hours east of Lee's Summit on I-70.  The Bistro is part of the Bourgeois family winery operation.  We posted our tour of the winery on October 19, 2011.  The Bistro has a sophisticated and somewhat expensive menu.  We were impressed on our first visit last year, but not so much this time.  They ran out of meat for the signature dish at 1:00pm and I didn't care much for the alternatives.

They were set up for a wedding later in the afternoon.  It was a beautiful day with very comfortable temperatures.  As you can see from the photos, the view is spectacular.  The Bistro sits on the limestone bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.

 We enjoyed eating outdoors.

 The wedding party started to gather for the ceremony.

 The Warm Springs Ranch was only 10 minutes from the restaurant.

The Ranch was put into operation in 2008.  It is the exclusive breeding location for the Budweiser Clydesdales.  It covers more than 300 acres and has 10 pastures for the horses as well as a 25,000 square foot breeding barn and laboratory.  Around 100 of Budweiser's 200 Clydesdales live on the Ranch when not traveling to shows.  Tours cost $10/person with kids under 2 free.  They can host up to 55 people on a tour.  Reservations must be made at least 24 hours before the tour.

 The horses are huge, 6 feet tall at the saddle and over eight feet tall at the ears.  The horses are selected based on their disposition and coloring so they all match.

 The Budweiser wagon first went into service on April 7, 1933 when prohibition was repealed.

 Each harness weighs 130 pounds.

 Here we view the inspection stalls in the breeding barn.  The horses health is constantly monitored.  The mares usually have one foal after another until they are retired.  A mare can give birth to as many as 12 foals in a lifetime.  Once their breeding life is over, they are kept as long as they live to graze and enjoy life.  The normal gestation period for a Clydesdale is 13 months.  In 2012, the Ranch saw 18 foals born...18 fillies and 10 colts.  Excess foals are sold to other farms.

 The horses really have it made.  They are pampered in every way.  This one enjoys the exercise paddock.  They consume 20 quarts of whole grain feed, 60 pounds of hay, and 30 gallons of water each day.

Clydesdales were first breed in Scotland as draft horses.

 I don't know this ones name, but I call him "Joe".

 This is the grooming area.  The horses are bathed once per week.  Their feet are bathed every day to maintain the white color.  Heaters are available in cold weather.  Hooves are trimmed as needed.  The horses are not shod until it is part of a team at an event.  The shoes weight 5 pounds each and have special soles for traction on city streets where the horses perform.

 There are two hitch teams that operate out of the Ranch.  There are strict rules for travel such as the number of miles/hours per day that they can travel, they are housed in a stable each night, and they can only be driven for two hours at a stretch without a break and exercise.  While the horses are exercised, the stalls on the truck are cleaned.  The trailers themselves have padded floors for the comfort of the horses and forced ventilation systems.

 This foal is four months old....pretty darn big.

As always, we had a great time.  This was most likely our last semi-long trip in the 350Z.  It will be on Craig's List shortly.  With bad knees and an arthritic back, it is just getting too hard to get in and out.