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 – 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.






Chicago – February 2020 – Cool and Quirky Cars of the Klermont

Larry Klermont is a 90 year old who made a fortune in real estate in Chicago. With this money Larry started collecting cars, but not until he was in his 70s. His collection is housed in a 100,000 square foot former printing facility (that at one time printed Playboy!).

The collection includes many of the classic, but also a number of cool and quirky cars. As noted on the previous posting this is day 1 with a new point and click camera, so it gave the chance to have many more low angle photos.













































































































Buenos Aires – January 2020 – Palacio Barolo

The Palacio Barolo is actually a misnomer, it is not a palace in the sense of the others in the city, it is an office building.

Not just any office building, the structure was built in reference to the Divine Comedy by Dante. The building is 100 meters high, one for each canto.




Our tour guide Isabella was helpful in provided many of the design details of the building.




The building’s 22 floors are divided into three sections. The basement and ground floor are ‘hell’, floors 1-14 are ‘purgatory’, and finally 15-22 are ‘heaven’.





It is truly a unique design throughout.





















In addition there is a plethora of representation throughout the building, such as the letter A in the Ascensor (elevator) being the Mason’s symbol.

































There are great views of Buenos Aires from the upper floors.

























The Palacio Barolo – one unique building.











La Leona, Argentina – January 2020 – Three for the Price of One

In our travels across North America we have visited the Badlands in South Dakota, seen fossils in Arizona, and dinosaur bones in Colorado. In Southern Patagonia we had the chance to do this all in one place, La Leona.

And because it happens to be on a 30,000 acre ranch owned by one person, it is very restricted as to who can go there. We arranged a tour through one of the agencies in El Calafate, and were very pleased the next morning to see a mini van come to pick us up. Our group had 7 people, a driver and the guide!

The area is about 1.5 hours north of El Calafate – the scenery was fantastic along the way.











After a long drive up a bumpy dirt road, we got out and took off through the badlands.









It wasn’t long before we came upon the first dinosaur bone. They have been removing nearly full dinosaur skeletons from here for more than 20 years, so what is left are the ‘scraps’.

Still very impressive, they welcome you to touch them, hold them, and examine them – just leave them. They even gave us instructions on how to tell bone from rock – lick them. Or rather, lick your finger and press it against the object. If it sticks it is bone, otherwise it is rock.













There is even interesting vegetation throughout.





Our hike through the badlands continued with our guide Roci, until we reached the ‘petrified forest’. Roci was very knowledgeable and gave an excellent overview of what we were seeing, and how it got to be that way.





It is amazing how heavy small fragments of the petrified wood weighs.





We spent about 3 hours wandering around the badlands, finding plenty of petrified wood, and the occasional dinosaur bone.

What an amazing place, and fantastic day. To be able to see and touch these wonders of nature was great – and with such a small group at that.







































































Buenos Aires – January 2020 – Station to Station Spanish History Tour in Art on the Subway

The Subway Art Tours of Buenos Aires continues with the C Line. This line runs between the two major train stations, Retiro and Constitucion.

We start at Retiro.





There is a direct passage to the Subte from the Retiro concourse.





The first artwork that is seen is by Fernando Allievi. It depicts the harshness and lonliness of living in the big city.










Along the platform are mosaics celebrates diversity in Buenos Aires.





The first stop is Plaza San Martin. The artist Marcela Moujan brought the green space of the plaza into the subway station with this work.





This Neo-expressionist work by Luis Felipe Noe represents the geographical diversity of Argentina: The Mountains, The Pampa and the Jungle.





A collection of eight friezes by Rodolfo Medina celebrate the liberation campaigns that General San Martin lead to free Chile and Peru.









This piece is entitled El Sur, by Luis Fernando Benedit.




When you reach Lavalle Station you begin to get the Spanish history lesson. In this station the landscapes of the Alicante, Valencia, Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza regions of Spain are celebrated.

















In addition to the murals in the stations the accompanying tile work is unique to each. The overall atmosphere of Diagonal Norte station is of hues of blue.








In this station the regions of Avila, Toledo, Soria, Burgos, Madrid and Aranjuez – with some of the more famous buildings of each city are depicted.





















The Avenida de Mayo station has this mural entitled ‘Spain and Argentina’, with images representing ideas. On the right Argentina is young and promising, on the left is the old establishment of Spain. The female figure in the center represents the strong relationship of the two countries, with the subway construction underneath showing the work to join the two.





The supports in the center of the platform make a perfect picture frame for this Ignacio Zuloaga Zableta mural showing the massive aqueduct.





As we continue to the Moreno station we are greeted with more Spanish landscapes: Bilbao, Santander, Alava, Navarra, Santiago, Lugo and Asturias are all represented on the murals on both sides of the platform.













Again the tile work leading to the platforms is amazing.









Independencia Station – Landscapes here include Seville, Granada, Cordoba and others.














San Juan Station – The Levante region, where the sun rises.








The history lesson is over, we have reached Constitucion – you are now fully in Argentina. The painter and cartoonist Florencio Molina Campos was famous for the characters of the Pampa region.












Welcome to Constitucion Station.






Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Club Atletico River Plate

One of the two most popular soccer teams in Buenos Aires is River Plate. It’s name comes from the era of the construction of the Port of Buenos Aires, when the workers disappeared to play soccer, the boxes they were unloading said the English name for Rio de La Plata – River Plate – and the name stuck.

Their stadium, and museum, is located in the Nunez section of the city.




The team’s logo has been fairly consistent in the 115 years of their existence.





As has their jersey’s.












They are one of the most successful teams, including a recent Libertadores Cup winner.

























The museum has a list of all of the players who ever played for the team listed on the walls.





The museum also has replicas of their stadiums over the years, including the current one.









We went outside with a group for a tour of the real thing.





Including more trophies.





The initials stand for Club Atletico River Plate – CARP!





The stadium is officially known as Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, or El Monumental. At 70,000 seats it is the largest in Argentina, and home to the Argentina national team as well as River.













While Argentina has banned visiting fans from stadiums, the section they used to use is penned off in the upper deck.




It is very close to Aeroparque Jorge Newberry, giving it a ‘Shea Stadium’ feel.





Outside is a massive statue of a soccer player.





The tour guide was informative to most, and helpful to us translating some of the Spanish to English as we walked from stop to stop. Some though were apparently there to keep their husbands happy.





River Plate – In Buenos Aires they are either loved or hated, nothing in between.