Saturday, June 9, 2012


I had intended to publish this post on Thursday, but when I tried to load the photos onto the server where I keep them, it was down for some reason. Please be aware I don't normally use Picasa, Blogger's storage facility, to store my photos. To make matters worse, before I could resolve the server issue, I was unable to access my internet for about a day and a half. Very frustrating, especially for someone who normally posts every day.

And because these computer problems shook me to the core, causing me to feel helpless, I was unable to make any art. So of course, I turned on the TV (always a last resort) and watched reruns of shows I had previously taped. I finally got tired of TV and my inability to get online, and called Ma Bell, who promptly told me the problem was on their end, not mine. One of Ma's underlings helped me with the problem and here I am back online!

But let's put all that aside, because it's time to see my first day trip this year, a new feature I will show at least twice a month for two months. I call it my stay-cation.

The self imposed rules:

1. Round trip must be less than or equal to 80 miles.

2. Must be achievable in a single day.

3. No more than $15.00 can be spent (does NOT include fuel).

I'm getting ready to leave and have my list ready. Map and directions (check), glasses needed for driving purposes only (check), coffee (with lots of 1/2 and 1/2, check), purse with attached keys (check), fresh batteries for camera (check). Looks like I'm ready to go!!

My first day trip was relatively close to home: 36 miles. I was headed for Newton, Kansas, due north of Wichita. Visit the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau's site here, or the City of Newton's site here.

Instead of taking the Interstate, I chose the back roads. I'm glad I did, because it was a lovely and leisurely trip, which included a photo of a combine in a freshly cut wheat field, something really unique for June. This photo should be from July, but everything has been early this year.

My first stop was as I was entering town. I started my journey at the Newton Medical Center, where I was able to find the paintings of Phil Epp. You can see six of the 8 panels from his web site in the Rotunda where I stood as I took these photos. Unfortunately, my camera only took two photos at once, but I actually preferred that.

The first painting on the left shows cloud to ground lightening (or possibly a tornado) in the distance of a cloudy sky. The horizon is low (as is most of his work) and shows a wheat field. This is a typical summer day. To the right, Epp has drawn a typical Kansas highway. Flatlands are everywhere and the road is desolate. Note also, there are no shoulders on the road. This is also typical.

And of course no Botts Dots. As an aside, I'm not sure if that is what they are called, but that is the term I learned the first time I visited California in the 80s. The reflective dots that separate lanes were supposedly designed by a man named Botts. I'm not sure how many states now use them, but Kansas definitely isn't one of them.

The next painting (on the left) depicts a spring day in the Flint Hills. No, I didn't have any kind of map or way to identify this scene, but having lived in Kansas most of my life, I can definitely identify the Flint Hills that are lush green with a purple tinge in springtime. Another road scene in the right painting depicts a rainbow. You can see how Epps is obsessed with the sky and low, flat horizons.

The painting on the left is definitely a late fall day, where everything has been harvested, the grass is brown, and the trees show the wind has started to blow furiously. It reveals that winter will soon arrive.

And soon it does, as the right photo shows. Yes, this is quite typical with blowing wind and snow. No wind breaks (trees built on the north side of a road) to hold the snow from drifting, either. There's a joke about Kansas that asks what the state tree is. The answer is the telephone pole.

Tornadoes are all too common in Kansas. I believe this one is called a down spout tornado.

Another common sight is the railroad track. We have tons of them, many of which we are now trying to turn into Rails to Trails, a non-profit program that takes a former rail line or corridor and turns it into a biking/hiking trail. Their goal is to create a nationwide network of these trails. The rail in the painting looks well kept and well used, though. The glow of the late afternoon sun shows how everything turns a lovely gold as evening arrives.

And yes, I am back at the beginning, so it was now time to find my next destination.

Ah! The water tower Newton is so proud of. Of course, with my camera, I couldn't get close enough to actually see the sky scenes Epp had painted.

Even after I turned off the beaten path, I still couldn't tell what I was photographing.

However, ahead was the main object of my destination, while the Medical Center Rotunda and water tower had definitely been mere foreplay.

This time I was able to get a glimpse of the grain elevator, too. Grain elevators are some of my favorite images.

However, I was now here!

Three city blocks or so were needed to climb the gently raised (sloping) terrain from the parking lot to the Blue Sky Sculpture. This 20 ft by 30 ft sculpture was a collaborative project by Epps along with ceramists Terry Corbett and Conrad Snider.

According to the Chamber's web site:
"The Blue Sky Sculpture requires a patient and contemplative viewer. The cloud motif, the passageway, the stoneware figures, the arced shape and the fluid reflective tiles are intended to blend with the natural sky. The ever-changing sky seems to stir the mysteries and memories of our past with the beauty of today and the hope of tomorrow."
(See bottom of above highlighted page)

As I got closer, the sculpture was harder to keep completely in view.

The left side from the middle was easy to see through my camera's viewer, while

the right side from the middle also showing the figures,

was hard to get in view due to the already blazing sun.

You can see how the sun bounced off the tiles.

Of course I was curious about the back, and almost

missed the sun high above my normal viewing range.

Had it not been for a student driver trying to parallel park ahead of me, I would have missed this display, which was not even on my list.

With my camera it was hard to get it all

in one shot.

And it was also impossible to get a good photo of the name of the train, although I managed to make out the words "Santa Fe" in the sign.

It was ironic that I found the train, because it was nowhere near the train station. This is Main Street and the trains cross it many times a day. Trains no longer run in Wichita, so this is the hub for all trains going in every direction from south-central Kansas.

Of course, the architecture

was stunning, both outside and

in. Majestic high ceilings and lovely wood were present everywhere.

Next I looked for the Leaf Tea Lounge. I finally found it (it has the two cabinets in the window above), because it had moved. However, I wondered why it was so easy to find a spot to park on the street.

I quickly learned it was because

none of the stores opened until noon. It looked like a deserted street in this photo.

Since the sun was already blazing and the car I was driving had no AC, I decided to forgo the visit to the Leaf Tea Lounge.

Instead I headed toward breakfast, which ended at 10:30, and I didn't want to miss it. However, I had to wait on a train. I could not live in Newton if I ever planned to do anything or go anywhere, because there were tracks running everywhere in the town. It was hot and without any air moving, became nearly unbearable in that car. I was glad when I finally got to

The Breadbasket, where I chose the all you can eat breakfast. This meal was $8.65 (which included tax) and my $2.00 tip, after which I headed home, full and very satisfied.

To recap the self-imposed rules:

1. Round trip must be less than or equal to 80 miles. (I logged 77 miles and got lost twice)

2. Must be achievable in a single day. (I left at 7ish am and was home by 2:50 pm)

3. No more than $15.00 can be spent (does NOT include fuel).
(I spent $10.65, not including the 1/4 tank of gas I consumed)

I believe I had a very successful first day trip. I hope you had as much fun reading about it, as I had taking it.

And please don't ask why some of my posts are so short and others take an hour to read (grin). It's just who I am!


16 thoughtful remarks:

voodoo vixen said...

Bott dots... well I'll be darned! I never knew they were called that... they were just the white marking down the centre of the road... now, the glass reflectors down the centre I know are cat's eyes... and I presume you have them in the States? The poor man that invented cat's eyes died a pauper... :( What a fabby day out you out, the photos are lovely and you really managed to find some wonderful pieces of art on your trip!!

Marilyn Rock said...

Great "stay-cation". Thanks for sharing. Love those painting panels in the rotunda. Looking forward to your next one. :) xxoo

kay said...

thanks for the insight into your world,liked your rules for the trips,good idea,x

Halle said...

Fun! It's always nice to discover new things right in your own neck of the woods...err...neck of the fields. :)

Anonymous said...

Nice first outing. Enjoyd all the art you got to see.

XX Rachel XX

Lynn said...

fun going with you...I never left my chair = 0 miles
didn't cost me a dime...
did not get lost...
and enjoyed all the art and scenery!
thanks again.

~*~Patty S said...

fun going along on your mostly "sky cation" ;)
I spend lots of each day enjoying the sky/clouds
great murals in the rotunda and that tiled sculpture is quite nice and a bit unexpected out in the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed)

I guess the shoppes being closed helped keep you within your budget guideline :)

staycations are a great idea!

Rita said...

What a great idea! Thanks for taking us with you, too! ;)

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

What a fun stay-cation day! That's what we're planning to do this summer too! That cloud sculpture was incredible- thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Corrine at said...

Cut town, I love it when you find amazing art tucked in the most unlikely places. Great stay-cation tour Elizabeth. Looking forward to more....xox

sandee said...

Love the concept of your stay-cation, what fun! I'm now wondering what I could do that's within 40 miles? My favorite were Epps paintings and the picture of the train, how interesting to be nowhere near the station? Glad you're back online and waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Anonymous said...

So happy you had a good road trip and glad you shared. Phil Epp is an incredible artist!
Stay inspired!

KatzElbows said...

What a great day! You've reminded me that it's time for a tourist day, where I act like a tourist where I live! Thank you for the inspiration.

Dianne said...

what an awesome trip! I have not heard of that artist, but really like those impressive landscapes and gorgeous clouds. Looks like you had a beautiful day for an outing...thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Terrie Purkey said...

I loved reading about your day trip - sometimes it's really fun to be a tourist in your own area - there's almost always new stuff to see/do. Thanks for sharing about the artist - I'm unfamiliar with him but that's some amazing sky artistry! I love his unusual perspective. I've been through Kansas and my memory is totally of all that straight, flat, boring highways so I look forward to you sharing the more interesting parts of Kansas that I didn't take the time to see!

And you commented on my dining table - I'm sorry to have to disappoint you, but it's not's just an inspiration photo of a room I love. My table is very modern and boring....not nearly the character of that other one. When I went back and read my post I can see why you were confused - I wasn't very clear. Anyway, it is a cool table and room - even if it's not mine :)

Craftymoose Crafts said...

What a fun way to explore what is nearly in your "own backyard"! I just returned from a 2 week vacation and am keeping a low profile as we ready our daughter to leave for Oxford. I hope to catch up with all of your posts and most definitely my AB. I hope you didn't think I abandoned it!