John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why North Platte?

No point in spending idle hours in Denver when we have many miles to go till John's next reading in Minneapolis, May 31. That's what I was thinking when I planned this trip way back in April, and I'm glad since Denver seems hot after all the cool weather and it's good to wake up in North Platte, 4 hours further down the road-in Nebraska!
John runs and I take a walk along the Platte, right by our hotel.
Walking across the bridge we disturb a giant flock of swallows. Somehow the camera can't pick them up. Can you tell it's already getting hot here, and it's windy?
We've been following the terrible tornadoes east of us in Missouri and we are impressed to find this laminated card in our hotel room:TORNADO WATCH AND WARNING PROCEDURES
The day is hot and already windy. We hear that Omaha, our destination for today, may receive the tail end of storms headed for Minnesota. We'll keep an eye out and listen to the radio if the sky turns strange.
We travel on old Rte 30 through North Platte.

This is a road whose time is past , and we are driving to the past, to visit Scout's Rest Ranch, the home of a great figure from the past, Buffalo Bill Cody.

This is where Buffalo Bill came home to when he was on the road. It's a wonderful house, perfectly maintained, with a great collection of memorabilia. I am going to give you a quick tour of the rooms.
 On the first floor, there's Bill himself in the parlor by the dining room, and the kitchen below with all the modern conveniences- for 1866.
 The wallpaper is cowboy motif (of course) and you see it here by the finial of a most beautiful wood stove.

 And of course the parlor has a piano.
Bill and his wife Louisa Federici had three daughters and one son and many visitors came to stay, so the house is big with many bedrooms.

 There is a warren of rooms filled with artifacts from Cody's great career.

This card is about the horse who belonged to Sitting Bull. Worth reading if you click on it to enlarge.
The house and 4000 acres plus barns and stables for 150 horses were assembled when Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was the rage and Cody was making money.

 How do you spell "corral"?
With John Sayles for scale, imagine the size of this buffalo when he was in his skin. The museum does present facts concerning the appalling slaughter of the buffalo.
And this wooden gadget, on a replica of a Mormon horse drawn wagon, is a kind of odometer to measure the many miles travelled.  Way easier in the Prius.
 I didn't know Annie Oakley was beautiful.
I wish I had been alive to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
The grounds are beautifully maintained.

The elderly volunteer in the barn is welcoming and informative when we ask her questions. The guide in the house is no guide at all. My hat is off to the State Parks of Nebraska for maintaining this wonderful property to such a high standard, but a great museum is interpreted and the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park is hardly interpreted at all.

 We drive back through the town of North Platte, right past silos of grain. Wheat?
 Cross the river again and we are on our way across Nebraska. Oregon Trail
 We stop for the snack we have been learning about at Runza in Kearney.

It's a stuffed sandwich of spiced meat with optional mushrooms, possibly Czech in origin. Too cheesy and salty but worth trying.
Really strong, hot wind and it takes a little muscle to keep the car on the road all the way to Omaha where we arrive in mid-afternoon.

We are glad to be out of the car and settle in happily to the Magnolia Hotel, downtown Omaha, with time to catch up. Pictures of the Magnolia to come.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Denver and then on to North Platte

We are up early to say goodbye to Barb and Tom (did I really need to drink all that wine?) and the rain that came down all night is pretty solid as we drive over the North Platte and head towards Denver.
 It's an ugly drive in bad rain and all the color has left the planet.
Till we arrive in Denver at noon to a world of sunshine, and a Clear Channel interview with Irene Rawlings. What a musical voice, and a very nice lady.
Sorry about the sun, Irene.
John and I have time to drive to nearby Tattered Cover, and I remember that when we were making SILVER CITY in Denver, I came to a Sunday market here. Yes indeed, the Fresh Market is still on and we have an expensive gyro
and sit in City Park so John can prep his chapter for the reading.
This branch of Tattered Cover is new since we were in Denver

and it is right next door to an independent theater under new management, the Denver Film Center where AMIGO will open on 9/23. How's that for synchronicity?
We are delighted that so many people show up for the reading at 2pm on a sunny Holiday weekend. John reads "Volunteers" wherein Hod and Big Ten accidentally join the Colorado Volunteers.
Tattered Cover runs a well organized reading, overseen by these ladies

We meet Rob who is a PGW rep who works with McSweeney's.
Paula Singer worked on CITY OF HOPE and lives in Denver now.
And Mimi's friend Toni and I finally meet. She'll be at Mimi's 60th and I'm sorry to miss it.

When we were with Dave Eggers in San Francisco, I remarked that we didn't see many under-50's at the readings. Where are the McSweeney's regulars? Well here are two, who came to Tattered Cover.
Thanks for coming.

 We are finished with our work in Denver by 4pm so we get back on the road for the 4 hour drive to North Platte. Nebraska!
And the fog settles in so we could be on the moon. We lose an hour to Central Pacific Time and arrive in time to have dinner and go to bed.
We have recrossed the Continental Divide. We are no longer in the West.

Casper Wyoming

Today is a day off. We rise late and exercise. John shoots hoops in Pioneer Park with homeless men as an audience. I paddle in the hotel pool and then the jacuzzi. We are both getting soft and I can't kid myself that this is exercise.
Which miserable admission does not keep me from taking from the big Hampton breakfast one biscuit and sausage patty sandwich for the road.
We say goodbye to those snow covered mountains as we head East to the Wyoming border.
 Those massive cliffs of colored rock begin.
 If Tom Rea were with us he could tell us where the chartreuse green comes from.
Little America has spiffed up since we crossed the country in the 70's and 80's. Now they advertise 24 marble bathrooms. Truckers have spiffed up too, I guess.
 It's surprising what kind of photos the driver can take going 80 on an interstate.

 Wind breaks appear, as well as signs indicating that sometimes this major interstate will just be closed for weather. What do you do then?
 Trains, long and often and I feel compelled to try to document every one.

 If the sun was out it might be more beautiful than we could bear.

 This buckled formation looked scalloped at the bottom
 and sometimes you can hear the groan of when it all shifted.

 We are following the Mormon Trail, in reverse. Picture those wagons.
 Not that you can see the sun to know where you are headed, but we turn North from Rawlins. Galia and Alan and I were here years ago to visit the prison which has become a museum.
All of a sudden, flashing lights? We are pulled over for speeding. John passed a car going 82 in a 65 zone. I am resigned. John is pissed off, at himself of course. Officer Davis ambles back after the usual interval and let's us go. I'm sure John hasn't had a speeding ticket in 25 years. Thank you Officer Davis.
And look at the North Platte River, filling up its banks.

These are out pals Tom and Barb Rea and this is their really great house. You would be surprised how many rooms are in this house. Don and Edith have driven down from Sheridan. Tom and John are friends from Williams College. Barba and I met when she and Tom were dating, and she and I fell in love in Jeremiah Johnson Hot Springs on the Idaho-Montana border. Was that 1977?