Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Holiday Music Motel

I ran across the Holiday Music Motel a couple of years ago after we started exploring more unique lodging, but we didn't get a chance to stay there until this month.
Located in Door County's Sturgeon Bay, WI, the motel was built in the 1950s and underwent renovation in 2008.
As we checked in, we were greeted by a wall of Route 66 photos and a cheerful front desk clerk who told us our room featured original 50s furniture.
The beds were upgraded and comfy, but the desk, nightstand and chair were indeed vintage and quite attractive with their green and white motif.
The bathroom had what appeared to be original tile and an appropriate-era wall sink, but everything was tidy and clean.
The main floor rooms were pet friendly and the second floor was for pet free guests. Being on the main floor with our dog, we did occasionally hear footsteps above, but not so much that it was bothersome.
I got a kick out of the counter style continental breakfast room with the low vinyl-topped stools. The breakfast room housed serve yourself coffee, cereals, pastries and fruit.
The motel even features live entertainment on the lawn, which we unfortunately were not on site for.

Holiday Motel
30 N. 1st Ave
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Christmas Story House & Museum

I knew my husband was a huge fan of A Christmas Story, having experienced year after year of him wanting to watch it all day during the holidays.
Planning our honeymoon in 2007, our travels were going to take us across Ohio on the way home. My husband demanded that we must make a stop off in Cleveland at A Christmas Story House & Museum.
Even though the movie was released in 1983, A Christmas Story has that retro feel due to it's 1940s setting.
The Christmas Story House is open year round, one of several sites where scenes for the movie were filmed. It has been remodeled to appear just like it did in the holiday classic.
On the last leg of our honeymoon, we rolled up to the house, bought our tickets at the museum across the street (where naturally the movie was playing) and headed in to take a look.

We posed for a photo next to the leg lamp in the front window. We checked out the tinsel covered Christmas tree. We took a gander at the turkey waiting in the white enamel oven, at any moment expecting Bumpus's hounds to barge in and knock us down in a mad attempt to get to the bird. We even saw Ralphie's glasses resting on his notebook next to his neatly penned Christmas list.
In 2008, my husband made a fruitless plea for family and friends to bid to win him a stay at A Christmas Story House, an auction that has been held several times since. Last year the winning bid was $3,200. A little steep for our Christmas spending, but hey, we've all got our dreams! Considering that it's a package for four complete with Chinese turkey and a major prize, I'm sure it is quite the experience.

A Christmas Story House
3159 W 11th St
Cleveland, OH 44109

Monday, October 17, 2011

West Baden Springs Hotel

If you enjoy great architecture, the West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana is a sight to behold.
The hotel features an enormous domed atrium that was the largest free-spanning dome in the U.S. until 1955. It was the largest dome in the world from 1902-1913.
From the hotel's web site I learned that George Rogers Clark discovered the area's mineral springs and salt licks in 1778. Due to the beauty of the land and the belief in curative powers of the springs, the area was ripe for resort development.
In 1832, the French Lick Springs Hotel was built. In 1855, a hotel was built in the town of Mile Lick, which later became known as West Baden.
By the late 19th century, seven rail lines brought guests from all over the U.S. to the area.
In 1901, the entire hotel was destroyed by fire. Then owner Lee W. Sinclair took the opportunity to build the hotel of his dreams, complete with the world's largest dome, decorated like the grandest spas of Europe. The architect was Harrison Albright.
In 1902 the hotel opened for business and advertisements touted it as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The grounds included golf courses, bowling, a pony and bike track, swimming and more and attracted the likes of Al Capone and professional baseball teams.
The hotel was used for other purposes from the 1960s-1980s and was in fairly good shape then but eventually fell into disrepair. In 1991 a portion of the exterior wall collapsed.
The West Baden Springs Hotel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974 and was reopened as a hotel in 2007 at a cost of almost $100 million in restoration.
Even if you do not plan to stay at one of the hotels guest rooms, you can tour the hotel or dine in the on-site restaurant.
I visited this fall, as some of my grandfather's family had settled in the Martin County, Indiana area.
Stepping in to the beautiful domed atrium with the floor lined with millions of tiny mosaic tiles and seeing how tall the dome was, I would have expected the room to carry a lot of noise, but it was as serene as a library and quite peaceful.
We toured the grounds and walked along sweeping porches lined with rocking chairs where people enjoyed a cup of coffee or a good book.
Walking the circular halls we took in all of the historic photographs and soaked up some of the history of what this hotel has been and what it has been through to emerge once again as a beautiful example of architecture.
I hope to spend a night at the hotel in the next year or two.

West Baden Springs Hotel
8538 West Baden Avenue

French Lick, IN 47469

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kansas City Workhouse

We were on our way to find some BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri, when we caught sight of what appeared to be a castle at 21st and Vine. We veered off to have a look.
As luck would have it, it was a beautiful specimen, and was for sale! I just know my husband is working on acquiring the building for his queen. Or, more likely, so that he can host haunted houses there.
The building was built as a workhouse, or prison, in the late 1800s. Prisoners built the building using stone from a nearby quarry.
From about 1918-1970 the impressive stone structure was used as city office space, after which it was abandoned.
It looks like vandals have had their way with it in recent years, but the structure still looks good.

Kansas City Workhouse (Brant’s Castle)
2001 Vine Street
Kansas City, MO 64108

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Arcadia, OK

We detoured into Arcadia, Oklahoma once we saw that part of Route 66 passed through the town, mainly to check out the giant soda bottle.
Unfortunately we were not bowled over by it. It looked to be pretty new and modern, but years from now I'm sure it will be a big hit.
The bonus was that we decided to drive further and ended up stopping at the Arcadia Round Barn. What a beautiful specimen!
The round barn, now beautifully restored, was built in 1898. Inside we found an impressive collection of round barn history from all over the U.S. and a charming older man named Sam, dressed in cowboy attire. There were pictures of the upstairs loft and the ceiling looked stunning. The loft is available for rentals.
Inside the barn was also a small selection of gift items for sale.

Leaving the barn, we explored some of the beautiful historic buildings nearby, and then headed on to try to find OK Country 66, where one man has build replicas of many classic roadside attractions. We drove past a couple of times without seeing it, but once we did we thought it was even better than we expected, but, alas, the gates were closed and there was no sign on when they would be open.

We didn't have to go away empty-handed, however. While at the round barn, I had noticed some information on the ruins of a 1920s filling station nearby, and I spotted it in our search for OK Country 66. We got out and admired the stone pillars and walls that remain, and on our way back to the Interstate my husband stopped at the round barn once more and ended up finding out that Sam, the man holding down the fort at the barn that day was also the owner of the filling station.

The detour into the Arcadia area to check out Route 66 turned out to be one of the highlights of our vacation for me.

Arcadia Round Barn
11250 E. Highway 66
Arcadia, OK 73007

Old Filling Station
E Danforth Rd near Oklahoma 66
Arcadia, OK 73007

Friday, August 26, 2011

Old Country Store

When I decided that the Old Country Store in Lorman, Mississippi would make a nice stop for lunch on our summer vacation, I did not remember that this was THE place that Alton Brown said had the best fried chicken he's ever had during an episode of Feasting on Asphalt.
We rolled up to the restaurant run by Mr. D, housed in, what else, an old country general store, well over 100 years old. Inside we found well-worn hardwood floors and rolling ladders along a wall covered with wooden shelves of wares.
We were greeted and took a seat at one of the white cloth covered tables. After placing an order for iced tea, we headed to the next room to fill our plates.
We found bread, mac and cheese, salad, black eyed peas and more, but no fried chicken. We took our first round of food back to the table and decided to wait for the next batch of bird, and soon I noticed everyone else in the dining room seemed to be perched on the edge of their seats waiting, too. I thought we might have to fight someone off to get some chicken!
Soon a few people got up and made their way to the buffet room, hovering near the door. After declaring the potato salad very good, my husband headed in to wait with the others, and within minutes the hot fried chicken was on our table.
The chicken breast I had was huge, juicy and crispy, and in my haste to eat it I actually burned my fingers a bit.
This was really only my second "famous" fried chicken sampling, and out of the two I will say this one was much better. I will have to get a few more samplings under my belt before I can declare it the best ever.
As we were finishing up our lunch, Mr. D made his way into the room and started talking with some of the diners.
The atmosphere was fun, service was good and if you are looking for a comfort food stop along Highway 61, the Old Country Store has got you covered.

Old Country Store
18801 Hwy 61
Lorman, MS 39096

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beer Can House

Zipping through Texas we needed a diversion, and what could be better than taking a gander at a beer can house?
John Milkovisch started working on the Beer Can House, located in Houston, Texas, in 1968. According to the house's web site, Ripley's Believe It or Not estimated that over 50,000 cans adorn this monument to recycling.
After the death of John and his wife, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art took over the house.
Admission to the grounds or a guided tour can be purchased for a small fee on Saturdays and Sundays.

Beer Can House
222 Malone Street
Houston, TX 77007