Virtual Travel – Alabama

I was born with ‘that travelling bone’, and since I was very small I wanted to see every place in the world. Since my family rarely went very far from home, I did most of my travel via maps and charts. Since that time I have always enjoyed maps and charts, eventually amassing a fairly large collection.

Now that we are all hanging around our respective homes it seems like a good time to check out the maps, and do some virtual travelling.

Each state in the U.S. has a Department of Transportation, who has traditionally published a new road map every year or two. While this is waning, the maps that they created often were works of art – promoting tourism and commerce in their state.

This posting series will features those maps, one posting for each state, along with some highlights of my photographs of travels to those states. Since there is no good way to prioritize them, we will go alphabetically starting with… Alabama.

 

 

The oldest map from Alabama in my collection is from 1946. The cover of this map features the State Capitol. Dating from 1850 this building has some infamous history – serving as the location for the swearing in of Jefferson Davis when the southern states seceded from the union in 1861.

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The rear cover is more innocuous – an unnamed waterfalls.

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The map itself is reflective of the times; a network of national and state highways. The interstates system was still 12 years from starting, so if you were making a trip through Alabama (or any state) it was a slow trip punctuated by numerous little towns.

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Contrasting that with the newest Alabama map in my collection from 2018. Between the interstates, and numerous 4 lane roads and bypasses, the trips are much faster.

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A look at the Alabama State Highway Maps over the years.

We jump ahead almost three decades to 1974. In an unusual move the cover is actually just part of the overall backside of the road map, so the state name is truncated. The family’s outfits however make this map classic – nothing like plaid to say ‘1974’.

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The late 1970s were fairly boring for the artwork. The state seal was on the 1977-1978 map, and just photo and text graced the 1979-1980 map. This map is the only one I have out of thousands that has just text for the cover. The rear is even more plain – HELP written across it in 40 point font.

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By the 1980s the State Capitol has made a return to the map.

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Alabama is unusual in that most of the maps issued covered two years. The one below for 1985-1986 features the State of Alabama Highway Department building in Montgomery. It is also unusual in that the maps orientation is horizontal, a theme they continue on the next map as well.

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The Mobile Bay I-10 Bridge is featured on the 1993-1994 map.

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The following year the map returns to the traditional vertical orientation. It also features a new governor (Fob James) and transportation director. The 1995-1996 map (left) features Lookout Mountain Parkway in DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne. The next map in the series from 1997-1998 (right) has the U.S. 431 Bridge over Guntersville Lake on the cover.

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Another governor, another style. Governor Don Siegelman was elected in 1999 and served one term. The first map we have from his administration is also from 1999 and features two happy couples hanging out on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. The second, and last in my collection from this era features a golf course.

Alabama has for many years done heavy advertising for their ‘Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’. Jones was famous for his golf course designs, having completed over 500 in his lifetime. The ‘Golf Trail’ in Alabama covers 468 holes at 11 locations, with the theory being you spent however much time you need golfing them all to come up with a cumulative score.

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The next administration of Bob Riley covers 4 maps in the collection. All features happy people in happy places starting with Cheaha State Park on the 2003 map. This park contains the highest point in Alabama, the 2413 foot high Cheaha Mountain.

In 2004 the Alabama Renaissance Festival was featured. This festival takes place each year in Florence, Alabama.

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In 2005 they went back to the biennial approach, with the map covering 2005-2006. This map continues the happy people approach with the family at Orange Beach in Gulf Shores. The 2007-2008 featured a non identified park full of wildflowers with a couple of bicycle riders.

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We jump ahead a few years to the 2011-2012 map. This map ironically is back at Orange Beach on the Gulf Coast. The following map for 2013-2014 features a place called Gorham’s Bluff. Located on top of Sand Mountain in far northeast Alabama, it is the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains. Both maps feature the ‘dual Adirondack Chairs’ look that is most famous throughout Canada.

This map is also the first to use ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, from the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same name.

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The last two Alabama State Highway maps in my collection feature yet another Gulf Coast park for the 2015-2016 edition. The newest (for now) returns to the historic buildings, this time with the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham. This church was home to Dr Rev Martin Luther King from 1954-1960.

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I have only been in Alabama a few times, but the most recent one was easily the best. During the summer 2019 road trip we passed through Huntsville and Birmingham.

Highlights of this trip include Cathedral Caverns….

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The U.S. Space and Rocket Center and NASA Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville….2019 05 15 162 Huntsville AL US Space and Rocket Center.jpg

 

 

And my favorite, the Barber Motorsports Museum near Birmingham.

Alabama – our first virtual visit.

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Buenos Aires – March 2020 – Cool and Funky Vehicles of Argentina

While we have returned to the USA to ride out this challenging time, there are some interesting topics that have yet to be covered on our time in Argentina. One of those are the funky vehicles of the country.

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Lets start with the city buses. Unlike most cities in the US, the buses in Buenos Aires are privately owned, and are known as Colectivos. They are very colorful, and run what seems like illogical routes.

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Note this line’s name – Nueva Chicago. Based in the south end of the city, the neighborhood was home to the stockyards. These stockyard came after the famed Chicago stockyards, so of course the neighborhood became known as ‘New Chicago’. Today the neighborhood is more commonly known as Matadoros, but the bus line retains the original name.

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This photo transitions us from the buses to the quirky trucks that haul all sorts of stuff around the city.

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I didn’t get enough of these trucks as they would just appear randomly.

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A stop of the Subte….  Buenos Aires has 6 different subway lines and it seems each has it’s own style car, including two lines that have cars with no air conditioning so the windows open.

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A trip to the country gives a good example of the number of huge old Mercedes Benz trucks that troll the roads of Argentina.

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Also in this area was this – an Argentina El Camino perhaps. So much with this scene, a funky truck/car, a gaucho and the drivers door open with no driver to be seen, and they were parked nowhere close to anything else.

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A jeep with some interesting replacement bodywork.

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A few beer trucks…Always very cool.

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A 1970s Ford LTD as a taxi way down in Patagonia.

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This guys mom must not have told him never to play in traffic. In reality we saw numerous street performers doing their act in traffic stopped at lights.

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To me it appears Buenos Aires has more motorcycles and scooters than any city in the Western Hemisphere.

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There are also a stunning number of nicely restored VW Buses.

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But in the end the cars are the best..

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The red streamer hanging off the back is supposed to bring you good luck and keep you safe.

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With the strong Italian culture in Buenos Aires you must have a cool old Fiat.

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A ubiquitous Buenos Aires taxi – low fares, a strange collection of vehicles all painted the same color scheme, and drivers who are even more interesting. I read horror stories of the taxi’s but we took them all the time with no problems. My favorite taxi ride was to go to a commuter train station, but the street to get us next to the station was one way the wrong way – no problem, pull onto the street one block up and BACK DOWN the block to get us there. At least we were pointed in the correct direction the entire time!

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And we end this posting with this stylish Cadillac that belonged to the one and only Juan and Eva Peron.

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Buenos Aires – March 2020 – San Telmo Tunnels

The oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires is San Telmo. Underneath the neighborhood is a labyrinth of almost 2 kilometers of tunnels. The first of these were built as escape routes for Jesuits in the late 1700s.

Later in the 1800s they were expanded and used to reroute a creek. In the early 1900s they were abandoned and stayed that way until someone purchased one of the old large houses and started to restore it – accidentally finding the tunnels.

Today a number of them serve as an events center and art museum.

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Buenos Aires – March 2020 – The Colorful Characters of La Boca

Our visit to La Boca continued with a stop in the Caminito, a small street full of colorful houses and buildings.

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La Boca has the reputation of being a bit rough around the edges, but in this area it is completely touristy.

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While originally there was a stretch of colorful houses that reputed became that way because they used spare paint from the ships, it is now full blown style of the entire area.

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Busloads of tourists pile off, wander the streets a bit, and pile back on. But it provides lots of income to the neighborhood so I guess it works.

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Throughout the neighborhood are a number of fiberglass statues. With the current Pope being from Buenos Aires he is a favorite subject.

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Apparently his twin with a soccer player.

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The shops have taken over old buildings and are amusing to wander through them.

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Most of the restaurants have a small dance floor where local dancers work hard for tips.

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La Boca – sort of a funky Times Square for Buenos Aires. You have to see it when you are in town.

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Buenos Aires – March 2020 – San Patricio/St Patrick’s Day Parade

Only in Buenos Aires can you go from a Carnaval 5 days too late to a St Patrick’s Day parade 7 days later (or 10 days too early)! But who cares, it was a colorful event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buenos Aires – March 2020 – Presidential Museum

The Argentina Presidential Palace known as Casa Rosada is currently located almost a kilometer from the edge of the Rio De La Plata. It wasn’t always this way, when the first structure that was built on the property was completed it included a pier into the river, as this painting below illustrates.




This structure was the Fort Buenos Aires, completed in the early 1800s. Today portions of the walls of this fort are still used in the recently completed Museo Casa Rosada.

The museum features over 10,000 historical items, many belonging to the various presidents of the country.




The original arches of the fort frame many of the exhibit areas, while overlooking the main hall. Within the floors of the main hall are some of the original foundations.




Currently an exhibit of railways of the country are on exhibit.




The museum features several works of art, including this portrait of Juan Peron, and his wife Eva (Evita). According to legend this is the only official portrait of Juan where he is smiling. It was completed in 1948 by the French painter Numa Ayrinhac.




Or perhaps he was smiling because his very stylish 1952 Cadillac is nearby.




Other transportation include 1800s Presidential carriages.




The Presidential Guards man the museum.




Presidential sashes are very important in Argentina history.




A historic Presidential desk.




Symbolic keys given to presidents.




General President Agustin Justo’s hat.




There were a number of sets of china on display., this belonged to President Nicolas Avellaneda in the nineteenth century.




The reform era from 1890 until 1916.




More sashes.




Items associated with President Bartolome Mitre. in the 1920s.




The museum does a very nice job of combining old with new, history with the present. All countries have their good history and bad, and Argentina has more than their share – however they deal with their entire history in a sensitive, well thought out approach at this museum.






Buenos Aires – March 2020 – Argentina Cartoon Character Statues

One of things we have noticed are a number of statues of cartoon characters scattered around town. It turns out there are currently 16 of them.

Armed with a list and a map we set out on a cartoon character scavenger hunt.

We start in front of the Museum of Humor with a work by Guillermo Mordillo called La Girafa (the Giraffe). Mordillo was a famous cartoonist who works featured mostly long necked characters, hence the giraffe.




This guy is known as Don Nicola, a friendly landlord in the Italian immigrant neighborhood of La Boca. The character was created by Hector Torino in 1937.




Meet Indoro Pereyra with Mendieta, a talking dog, both enjoying a mate. Sadly, and true with a number of them, people have graffitied the art. This cartoon started in the 1970s.





Dating from 1945 this is Prawn (Langostino in Spanish) and his trusty, but very small ship Corina. The cartoonist was Eduardo Ferro.





This is Diogenes ( a ‘mutt’) and the Linyera (a vagrant). It has been published since 1977 in the newspaper Clarin, originally by an Uruguayan cartoonist named Tabare. After he passed away others have continued the strip.




These two characters also date originally from the 1970s. They are Negrazon and Chavella, who hail from the Argentine city of Cordoba. They are riding a locally made Puma motorbike. Meant the represent the challenges and life of middle class life in Cordoba, they were the work of the artist Cognigni. Sadly they too have graffiti on them, including an A with a circle around it – a symbol for Anarchy.




This nice lady is Aunt Vicenta, by the famed artist Landru’ – whose real name was Juan Carlos Colombres. He portrayed political and social life of Argentina for 60 years.




When we first arrived in Argentina I thought I kept seeing a Garfield the cat who had gone crazy. It turns out it is from 1993 and is called Gaturro, by Cristian Dwzonik. He has been accused of plagiarism numerous times with content, as well as the obvious look.




These too are Patoruzito and Isidorito. While graffiti free, they are in rough shape, hanging out under the trees in a park.

They are the work of Dante Quinterno, starting in the 1940s. Patoruzito is the childhood representation of the Chief Patoruzu – the last of the Tehuelches, whom Spanish conquerors saw as giants with amazing strenght. Living in the world of today he and Isidorito, a true Porteno, find adventures; but in this world Isidorito is the one with the stength.




Evoking the look of the 1950s, by Guillermo Divito, these two are simply known as The Divito Girls. Women of the 1950s took to mimicking the style shown in this weekly comic magainze ‘Rico Tipo’. Not represented, but equally influential were the male characters, with their double breasted suits.




Our friend below is Clemente. Without wings, but with very cool horizontal stripes, he became an interesting character during the military dictatorship.

The 1978 World Cup was held in Argentina during this period. One of the rules that they implemented was ‘no confetti’, in an effort to present a ‘good’ image of Argentina to the world. The artist (Caloni) had Clemente warn Argentinians of the real intentions of rules like this, and launched a ‘paper rain campaign’.

This became so popular that Clemente became the unofficial mascot of the Argentine National team. So I guess the anarchy symbol here might actually be appropriate, as in the final, broadcast around the world, confetti rained down as they won.

The cartoon from 1978, from a very interesting website detailing that period in Argentina. http://papelitos.com.ar/home




This is Don Fulgencio, dating originally from 1938. He is the man who had no childhood. This left him as a very ‘correct’ gentleman, but with childish customs. He was created by Lino Palacio.

In addition to the comics, in the 1950s he made it to the big screen.





Matis has been on the back cover of the newspaper Clarin for many years. He is the ‘boys boy’. The writer is known as ‘Sendra’.





These two characters are Laguirucho and Super Hijitus (on the right). Hijitus is a poor boy who, when putting on his hat becomes a super hero.





Another character from the 1930s is Isidoro Canones, a typical Argentine little rich playboy. He too was created by Dante Quinterno.




Meet Susanita – friend of Mafalda. She is the gossip specialist of the neighborhood.




And finally we meet Manolito and Mafalda. Easily the most recognized face throughout Argentina is Mafalda. This little girl is everywhere.

Somewhat backwards of most U.S. comic characters, Mafalda started out strictly as an advertising character who became so popular she was made into a comic strip. She represents the views of the educated middle class of Argentina.