The Berlin Wall in Rapid City, South Dakota

Original wall sections, note the tank trap in foreground

Having just seen some of the statues of US Presidents in downtown Rapid City we continued just driving around checking out the town. Sher spotted a sign in a park next to the convention center that said “The Berlin Wall”. There we found a memorial to the history of the divided city and the ultimate fall of Communism and the tearing down of the wall in November of 1989. Remember Reagan’s speech to the Soviet leader? “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

There are two sections of the original Berlin Wall displayed along with information filled plaques, signs and even old tank traps that were once used at Check Point Charlie, the only gate between East and West Berlin during the times of the divided city.

Original sign from “Check Point Charlie”

If you travel through the Rapid City area on your way to Mt. Rushmore, take a few minutes and go see this memorial. It is worth the time.

Texas Hill Country’s Jester King Brewery

This is a post that Sher wrote back in February, 2020 just before we cut short our time as Winter Texans and headed back to Indiana before COVID struck. We just found this and somehow it never got published. So…Here it is.

It was a special treat for us to visit Jester King Brewery while we were in Austin, TX because our last name is Jester.  So, of course we had to buy some beer with our name in it!

Enjoying our beer under one of the heaters

It is located at a beautiful 165 acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country.  It is so welcoming and a fun place for all ages.  Since we are retired we were able to visit when it opened at 4pm, so they weren’t super busy.  We had had a late lunch, so we weren’t hungry but their pizza looked delicious and by the looks of people ordering it I think it was a favorite.  We were there on Maj’s birthday and  we already had reservations in town with our family in Austin, or I would have suggested we have dinner there.

The kitchen/food bar

The spacious and comfortable seating area

 

 

 

 

 

They had many choices of beer, but it was easy for us to choose one we wanted try, the Jester-King one!  We, also, bought a bottle to bring home.  How we could we turn down a beer with our name on it?

Had to have it!

We had fun and it is on our recommended places to visit.  The bartenders were exceptionally nice and so friendly and helpful in answering our questions.  They have an outdoor covered area for seating with heaters, and a bonfire outside when we were there.

This is a favorite place and we’ll definitely  be going back the next time we are in Austin.  And, getting pizza!

If this old tin barn could talk


Tin roofing? Yes, of course. However you don’t often see tin siding on a barn. This old structure needs a little TLC, at least a paint job! You can see at the peak of the roof the overhang indicating that originally there was a pulley and rail for loading loose hay into the barn. This old barn has been around for a long time.

A bright blue iron bridge

Normally old iron truss bridges are painted in shades of green. Not this one, Shelby County Bridge #117 on CR 600 S. Bridgehunter.com has a 2010 photo showing a rusty green, but a 2016 shot shows a shiny bright blue paint job.

Approaching on CR 600S

The first bridge over Conn’s Creek at this location was a 16′ tall Pratt through truss built in 1892. Ironically it got a new concrete deck in 1912. The irony comes with the historic and horrific disastrous flood of 1913 which washed this bridge away. The original concrete abutments and wingwalls survived the flood and now support the replacement 7-panel, riveted Warren pony truss bridge. This bridge was built in 1925.

Looking at Conn’s Creek through truss

Truss outriggers and abutment and wing wall

Riveted hip connection

Diagonals, side rails and deck grate

You can see all 7 truss panels and deck grate

It is quite a visual as you approach this bright blue iron bridge. Like referenced above, you usually see green iron bridges, not blue. This is, however, a very nice bridge that spans a pretty little country creek.

For those of you interested in truss design details, HistoricBridges.org describes the design and structure: Concrete abutments and wingwalls support the single-span Warren pony truss. The riveted structure extends 87’6″ in seven panels. Its all-interior verticals are manufactured from pairs of angles riveted together with stay plates and reinforced with external sway bracing. Its diagonals are made from a pair of angles (doubled in the outer panel) also riveted together with stay plates. The I floor-beams are riveted to gussets and the verticals above the lower chord and carry the concrete deck. The weight and varied size of the diagonals, the placement of the floor-beams, and the integration of knee or external sway braces into the verticals indicate a late stage in the design of all-riveted Warren pony trusses.

 

Polygonal barn built in 1910 in central Indiana

In 1910 a Mr. George Rudicel constructed a rather unusual barn. It has twelve sides, thus the name polygonal. The cone shaped roof is capped with a polygonal cupola and it topped by a square smaller cupola. There is also a large dormer facing the road. This barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. It is on CR 700S in Noble Township, Shelby County.

As seen from County Road 700S.

Note the face of the dormer matches the polygonal angled panels

Christmas Star on top

Round barns were designed for dairy farming, and were not useful for general farming use. By the late 1920’s round barns had fallen out of favor: there was an ag depression after WWI, and easy  to construct prefabricated barn packages were now available. There were 226 round barns in Indiana but 100 of these have vanished from the Hoosier countryside. Many round barns have been restored and are well maintained. The Rudicel barn, aka locally as the Montgomery round barn, is in need of maintenance and a good coat of paint.

 

Statues of the Presidents in Rapid City, South Dakota

It was in 2000 when a furniture maker and businessman in Rapid City,  South Dakota brainstormed an idea that resulted in yet another attraction in this historic South Dakota city of 70,000. Don Purdue envisioned a City of Presidents with life sized bronze statues of each President of the United States located on street corners along two main streets.

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

Calvin Coolidge

Ronald Reagan

Dwight Eisenhower

JFK and his son

These statues have very different poses, all of which relate to things common to that president with the goal of humanizing the statue, not dwelling on any political themes. They are all at street level and visitors have great photo ops. Go ahead, sit on Lincoln’s lap or stand next to FDR as he gives the “date which will live in infamy” speech. Trump’s statue has been commissioned, but has not yet been finished nor final location determined.

New viewing deck overlooks Blue River

Craftsmen just yesterday put the finishing touches on the new viewing deck overlooking Blue River in Shelbyville, Indiana.

This nice observation deck is just across the Blue River Trail pavement at the end of the new A to Z Storybook Trail. We just published a post about that trail feature here. Shelbyville and Shelby County are in central Indiana, and are continuing to expand the popular Blue River Trail. These additions add to the enjoyment of trail users.

Mission San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert

About 10 miles south of Tucson, Arizona you will find the “White Dove of the Desert” also known as the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This magnificent Spanish mission was completed in 1797. The first Spanish missionary, Father Eusebio Kino, arrived at the site in 1692. Throughout the years the location has been part of New Spain, Mexico, and finally a part of the U.S. after the Gadsen Purchase of 1854.


When you enter the church you cannot help but be amazed by the incredible amount of 18th century statuary and murals. The impact varies for everyone who walks the interior of this powerfully spiritual place. Candles are always lit and displayed. A shrine to St Francis is a prominent feature and one of solemn devotion.

The sanctuary

The edifice is still a functioning Catholic Church that primarily serves the Tohono O’odham tribe, formerly known as the Papago. There is a museum the shows the history of the church however it ws under construction during our visit so we missed much of the displays. There is also a gift shop.

Prayer chapel and garden

Striking statuary

 

 

 

 

 

Being one of the most popular tourist stops in Tucson, we were fortunate to visit when there were very few people there. It was almost as if we had the place to ourselves. This is a site that is filled with history as well as a sacred place for contemplation, meditation and prayer. Do not miss a chance to visit San Xavier. You will be moved.

The San Xavier website is packed with info for your assistance in visit planning .

A Bison-tennial statue in Shelby County

Before each county got theirs to decorate

Indiana’s Statehood Bicentennial was celebrated in 2016. The remnants of that celebration can be seen all over the state in the form of 5 feet tall fiberglass bison. The in.gov website states: “Indiana Association of United Ways was the proud sponsor of the statewide Bison-tennial Public Art Project. This legacy project helped celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday by decorating and displaying 5-foot-tall fiberglass bison with an end goal of at least one – if not a herd – of bison on display in each of Indiana’s 92 counties.” We’d seen a few around the state, and just last week we saw a newly placed one in Shelbyville.

Balsar the Bison in front of the old Porter Pool Bath House

Lots of local landmarks, businesses

Recognize that Kennedy Covered Bridge?

 

 

 

 

 

The bison is named Balsar after the main character in The Bears Of Blue River by Shelbyville resident author Charles Major. Not sure where Balsar has been since 2016, but now the Shelby County bison grazes in front of the old Porter Pool Bath House which was built in 1930. (Read about the current use of the Porter building here.)

 

 

An A to Z Storybook Trail

A new short trail showcasing highlights and history of Shelby County has been completed along the Blue River Trail in Shelbyville, Indiana. The 13 signs are placed at intervals with two “letters” each on the signs.

One of the 13 signs on the trail

Shot of the trail

Note the limestone benches

Sign showing local attraction and bit of history

The whole trail and sign placements are very nicely landscaped with trees and flowers. Scattered around are large limestone “benches”. These have been quarried from a Shelby County quarry that has has been in operation for decades.

The main Blue River Trail along the tree line

In the far background you can see the Blue River-Wind, Rain and Water public art (here is a link to our post about the sculpture). Shelbyville and Shelby County have done a great job constructing and maintaining the Blue River Trail complex across the city and through at least three parks.