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Double Trouble

Quilt Shops Across America
Road Trip -2016

There are a few differences this year. The first half I'm travelling alone - Texas to visit my sister, Nashville to visit Franny and DJ, Indiana to visit Bill and Becky, and finally Ontario to meet up with Carol. At that point the we start 3,000 miles of quilt shops.

Now that sounds like a lot of fun but this is Carol's maiden run on a long road trip, As much as she's excited about hitting stores like Kansas Troubles and Missouri Star, she has no idea if she will enjoy day after day of driving. Karen has already filled her in. Carol is the navigation, food and entertainment director and there are several specific duties she has to perform. The most important is to make sure we are on the right road. Secondary duties involve cleaning the windshield, emptying the garbage, and most important - making sure the driver is well fed and watered! Entertainment - do not bring out a deck of cards and definitely - no Frank Sinatra!

I told Carol if she really hated it, not to worry. Home is only as far as the nearest airport. That triggered a whole bunch of visuals from our fellow quilters - like a spaghetti western train scene, toss her out the door at about 80 miles an hour; drive away while she is in the roadside potty; and the most humane idea - sneak out of the hotel before she wakes up. Whether she likes it or not - there are going to be some pretty good stories to tell.

2016 - Double Trouble Photo Album

Quilt Shops

Saturday, July 2 - Calgary to Helena, Montana
Highways today were hwy 2 south, hwy 3 east, hwy 4 south to the Border then I-15 to Helena. Google Map
I got out of town in good time this morning but ran into a snag just before Nanton. The "low tire pressure" warning sign came on. I stopped at the truck stop and a kind trucker helped me check the tires and fill the low one. That fixed everything until just before Parkland. I drove another 27 kms to Claresholm with the low pressure sign blinking and my fingers crossed!
Fortunately Tirecraft was open. Off came the tire and surprise - not only a nail but also a screw. Two different holes. $40.00 and three quarters of an hour later, I was back on the road. The good news, he checked all my tires and made sure they all had good air pressure.

Border Crossing

The traffic was surprisingly light considering that this is a holiday weekend in both Canada and the States. Once I was past Lethbridge, I basically had the road to myself. There was virtually no lineup at the border. When I drove up to the booth, I was greeted with "hello Jumpy" which made me laugh. When I was finished he said - have a good day Jumpy. I've had border patrol ask me before what my plate means but I've never had one actually call me Jumpy.

The Creative Needle - Shelby, Montana

I've decided to collect polka dot fabric fat quarters on this trip - all different colours. I managed to get to the shop before closing and was able to have a nice visit with the owner. I picked up their Row by Row pattern and a licence plate. They have two different designs - one vertical and one horizontal. The shop was easy to find. It is right on main street with lots of parking.

Helena, Montana

I arrived in Helena just before 8:00, registered at the Holiday Inn then went to Safeway to pick up some lunchables and fruit for the road tomorrow.

Sunday, July 3 - Helena to Pinedale, Wyoming
Highways today were south on US 287 MT, SR 87 MT, US 20 ID to Sugar City, SR 33 WY to Jackson and US 191 to Pinedale, WY. With the change in my eyes, I'm having a heck of a time reading the maps. I'm going to have to stop at a truck stop and try to find some large print maps. Either that or I'm going to have to stay on the interstates. US 287 actually goes all the way from Montana to Texas. It might be an option. Google Map

Ennis, Montana

I stopped in Ennis for lunch and wandered through the shops. There are so many unique shops it would take a whole afternoon to take it all in. The July 4th celebrations in Ennis were well under way. There were tourists everywhere. The celebrations include a rodeo event and and parade.

Pinedale, Wyoming

Traffic was very heavy and very slow especially through the recreational areas. I was planning on stopping at Rock Springs but when I got to Pinedale and saw the Hampton Inn I decided to stop. I was tired and really didn't want to go the extra 110 miles

Monday, July 4 - Pinedale to Montrose, Colorado
Highways today were US 191 WY south to Rock Springs, I-80 east to Creston, State 789 WY / State 13 CO south to Rifle CO, I-70 west, south on State 65 and State 92 to Delta, CO and finally US 50 to Montrose. Google Map

I stopped at a truck stop and found a big print atlas so I'm back in business map-wise. The thought of travelling only on interstates was enough to make me turn around and go home.

Traffic was light but there were still a lot of trailers to pass. The drive down highway 191 was quite boring but once I passed into Colorado, I was in the mountains again and the rest of the drive was really very pretty.

Grand Mesa Scenic Byway - Highway 65 Colorado

When I turned onto hwy 65, I instantly knew I was in for a treat. The winding road through the valley leading to the Grand Mesa was beautiful but the views at the top of the Grand Mesa were breathtaking. Most of the drop offs were on my side. My heart was pounding in my throat and I tried hard not to look.

The spectacular 63-mile State Route 65 was designated for its historical qualities. The highway along with a road to Lands End Overlook were designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway in 1996. It travels through the canyon up to the top of the mesa at 11,000' above sea level.

Grand Mesa, Colorado

The Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It has an area of about 500 square miles and stretches for about 40 miles east of Grand Junction between the Colorado River and the Gunnison River. The mesa rises about 6,000 feet above the surrounding river valleys, including the Grand Valley to the west reaching an elevation of about 11,333 feet at Crater Peak. Grand Mesa

Montrose, Colorado

I stopped about 7:00 and got a room at the Hampton Inn. Once I was settled I headed to Walmart to look for a pair of sunglasses. I left Walmart an hour later with a whole bunch of clothes. Tonight was one of those nights when everything fit. It wasn't until I was back at the hotel, I realized I forgot to look for glasses. I'll have to do it in the morning as my prescription sunglasses are no longer any good.

Leaving Walmart, I was treated to a fireworks display. I sat in the parking lot for a half hour watching them. The fireworks display ran between 9–11 p.m. at Riverbottom Park. I wish I knew how to get to the Park so I could see the ground displays too.

Tuesday, July 5 - Montrose to Socorro, New Mexico
Only two highways today - US 550 through Colorado and New Mexico and I-25 to Socorro. Google Map

The Eyesight Dilemma

Before I left town this morning, I headed to Walgreens to pick up a pair of sunglasses - just plain ones with no prescription. Yesterday was crazy with my eyes. I could see well enough as long as I wasn't in a town or needed to pass. I had to take off my sunglasses to see. I seem to have perfect vision now for distance. Reading glasses, not so much. I'm going to have to buy some other glasses or get a magnifying glass.

So now with new sunglasses and a large print atlas, I'm a happy camper. At least I don't have to stay on the interstates or worse yet make a U-turn and head home.

Ladybugz Quilt and Company, Montrose, Colorado

Originally opened in 2011, Ladybugz Quilt & Co. changed ownership in 2013 to continue providing the Montrose, CO, community with a distinctive selection of the industry's finest fabrics, notions, and other sewing essentials.

This lovely shop is in a quaint house right on the main street. What a great shop. There are five rooms each with it's own theme - Kansas Troubles, Batik, Baby, 30's and the Colors. The main entrance room has a mixture. I visited with Sue, the owner, picked up my fat quarter, the row by row kit, and license plate. Ladybugz
Kansas Troubles Room
Children's Room

Highway 550 - Colorado and New Mexico

US Highway 550 runs from Montrose, Colorado to Bernalillo, New Mexico. The section from Silverton to Ouray is called the Million Dollar Highway. It is one of the roads on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.

We've travelled this road a few times but only the south end from I-40 to Farmington at which point we would head west to Utah. The southern part of the highway is buttes, hills, badlands, and desert and while quite enjoyable what lies north is a total surprise. I couldn't believe that after all these years of travelling, we have missed this road. Without a doubt, it is one of the most spectacular roads I've ever driven on. Parts of it were similar to Glacier National Park and parts were similar to Zion National Park. But in reality, it is a road unto it's own. It really was an amazing drive.

The Million Dollar Highway

Though the entire stretch has been called the Million Dollar Highway, it is really the twelve miles south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. This stretch through the gorge is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive. It is characterized by steep cliffs, narrow lanes, no shoulders, and a lack of guardrails.

U.S. Route 550 at the Uncompahgre Gorge

The ascent of Red Mountain Pass is marked with a number of hairpin curves used to gain elevation, and again, narrow lanes for traffic - many cut directly into the sides of mountains. During this ascent, the remains of the Idarado Mine are visible.

Northern travel allows drivers to hug the inside of curves; southern travel perches drivers on the vertiginous outside edge of the highway. Large RVs travel in both directions, which adds a degree of excitement (or danger) to people in cars. (Copied from Wikipedia - but I couldn't have said it better myself. Of course, I was south bound!)

Stitch - Durango, Colorado

Lots of choices for my polka dot fat quarter at this shop. I picked up their row by row pattern and license plate. I also bough a plastic zip pouch to keep all the fat quarters together. Stitch

This shop was just off the highway and quite easy to find. Getting back onto the highway was a bit tricky and I ended up having to head north to get turned around - which I ended up doing by going the wrong way on a one way street. The locals didn't seem to care; they just waited for me to get the heck out of their way.

Socorro, New Mexico

I wanted to get past Albuquerque so I'm staying in Socorro tonight at the Holiday Inn. I want to visit Lincoln again so I'm trying to retrace our 2011 route - kind of hard when I can't read a map! Tomorrow morning I'll try to find a better pair of reading glasses or a magnifying glass. Certainly some challenges on this trip!

Wednesday, July 6 - Socorro to Big Spring, Texas
Highways today were I-25 south, east on US 380 NM to Capitan, then down State 48 to Ruidoso and back to Capitan, continuing east on US 380 to Brownfield, TX, then State 137 south to Lamesa and US 87 to Big Spring, Texas. Google Map,
I was jolted out of bed this morning with my phone ringing and Karen merrily singing Happy Birthday on the other end - all before my eyes were open. I thought she was calling me in the middle of the night. As it turned out, it was 9:00 am. It was after 10:00 before I was on the road.

Trinity Site

I stopped at the Trinity Site Historical Marker. The road is still there - still telling you how far it is - and still not allowing you to see it.

Interesting to note that on the radio today, they reported that there is contaminated soil in northern New Mexico that is a result of the nuclear bomb from Trinity. They aren't divulging where in northern New Mexico but only that it is being investigated and the contaminated soil will be removed.

Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945. The test was conducted in the desert about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico. The test site was declared a National Historic Landmark district in 1965, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year.

Valley of Fires - Malpais Lava Flow

We've visited this site before but I stopped for a few minutes to eat lunch and read the exhibits.

Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 square miles. Valley of Fires - BLM

Capitan, NM - Home of Smokey the Bear - Zip Code 20252

Yes, there really was a Smokey the Bear and it's a heart warming story. I don't know why we didn't see this Park the first time we drove through this area, but it was well worth the extra hour to take in the exhibits and the tour. They have a 10 minute video, a huge area of exhibits and two acres of park and gardens, the highlight of which is the grave of Smokey.

Smokey Bear Historical Park
Gravesite of Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear

The living symbol of Smokey Bear was an American black bear cub who in the spring of 1950 was caught in the Capitan Gap fire in the Lincoln National Forest. Smokey had climbed a tree to escape the blaze, but his paws and hind legs had been burned. According to the New Mexico State Forestry Division, a group of soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas, who had come to help fight the fire, discovered the bear cub and brought him back to the camp.

New Mexico Ranger Ray Bell took him to Santa Fe, where he, his wife Ruth, and their children Don and Judy cared for the cub. The story was picked up by the national news services and Smokey became a celebrity. Soon after, Smokey was flown to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Smokey Bear at the National Zoo - Circa 1950s

Smokey Bear lived at the National Zoo for 26 years. During that time he received millions of visitors as well as so many letters addressed to him (up to 13,000 a week) that in 1964 the United States Postal Service gave him his own zip code (20252).

Upon his death on November 9, 1976, Smokey's remains were returned by the government to Capitan, New Mexico, and buried at what is now the Smokey Bear Historical Park.

Martha's Fabric Store, Ruidoso, NM

I drove the 15 miles south from Capitan to go to this shop. The scenery along hwy 48 was quite a change from today's desert drive. Ruidoso is a ski area with a booming town to go with it - apparently both summer and winter.

This store, along with another one in Artesia has been in existence for over 45 years. The shop is an "everything" shop - not just quilting. They have home decor, furniture, gifts, and everything sewing. I bought my fat quarter and their licence plate. Martha, at the age of 87, still continues to work in her store at Ruidoso. Martha's Fabrics

Old Lincoln County Courthouse and Jail

Lincoln New Mexico Historic Site

Other than the museum and an antique store, everything was closed. I'm not sure why. Perhaps their busy time is weekends so they close mid week. I didn't go through the museum area again.

I wandered around the town for about a half hour reading the exhibits. There are signs in front of every building explaining its history and significance.

Lincoln State Monument

Lincoln State Monument was established in 1937 as a New Mexico State Monument, and is a part of a historic district in the tiny hamlet of Lincoln, New Mexico. Seventeen of the forty-eight structures in town are protected as part of the monument. Properties comprising the monument include Wright House, Dr. Wood's Office, Watson House, Curry Saloon, Wortley Hotel, Penfield Shop and Home, Tunstall Store, Old Mill, Ellis Store, Old Courthouse, Montano Store.

The entire town (including the remaining privately-owned structures) is part of the Lincoln National Historic District that extends along U.S. Route 380 for 10 miles. The district was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Calico Cow Quilt Shop, Roswell, New Mexico

With a name that I just had to check it out. The store was right on main street about one block north of the Alien Museum. I found it with no trouble at all. I bought my fat quarter, an Alien quilt pattern and the licence plate. I also bought the kit. I thought it looked pretty unique. Calico Cow Quilt Shop

Massive Dust Storm

I was heading down US 87 when ahead of me there was a pink glow all across the sky and down to the ground. Everything around me looked "sepia". At first I though it was a reflection of the sun setting. Then I wondered if it was a Tornado. As I got closer, the pink glow got darker and suddenly I was in the heart of a huge dust storm. It was like driving through a blizzard except the road wasn't slippery and it wasn't snow hitting the windshield - it was dust and weeds. The pink glow was because the ground in this area is red. There were times I could hardly see in front of me. The I-20 must have been a nightmare. Thankfully, 20 miles later I was stopped for the night with the storm still raging on.

Big Spring, Texas

I decided to put some extra miles on this evening since I had spent so much time sight seeing today. By the time I left Roswell, I had only gone 197 miles. I called for a hotel in Stockton and they were full, so I reserved the Holiday Inn at Big Spring.

Thursday, July 7 - Big Spring to Fredericksburg, Texas
Only one highway today - US 87. It was a good day on the road - very little traffic and the scenery was lovely. Google Map

The Continuing Eyesight Saga

By last night I couldn't even read the big print map without stretching it out at arms length in front of me and the computer was totally impossible. I had to depend on spell check to correct any mistakes I made and even with that I couldn't read what spell check suggested. I increased my resolution to 125% and found out that spell check changed nuclear to nucleolus. OK - whatever - that might be an atomic bomb! Oops. No. It has something to do with a human cell.

So, once again, I headed to Walgreens to pick up a pair of stronger reading glasses. I might be perfect now with distance but my reading is down the drain - now at 2.50. But Yeah! I can finally read the maps. I now have 5 prescription glasses in my glove box - my first prescription sunglasses and plain glasses (for distance) just in case I broke my new ones - and the second prescription sunglasses and plain glasses (for distance) and the new prescription for reading glasses.

Texas Hill Country

This area is in "Hill Country" where beautiful ranches dot the highway surrounded by rolling hills and lush valleys. The Texas Hill Country is also home to several native types of vegetation, such as various yucca, prickly pear cactus, cedar scrub, and the dry Southwestern tree known as the Texas live oak. All in all, a relaxing drive. Texas Hill Country

Serenity Quilts of Many Colors, Brady, Texas

This shop is right on hwy 87 (Bridge Street through the town). I found not only my one fat quarter - but a few more - depending on what you define as "few".

Their row by row is truly unique. You have to hand color the four pictures. I bought the license plate and the kit but they also gave me a copy of the pattern to give to a friend. Serenity Quilts of Many Colors

Fredericksburg, Texas

I wanted to visit Tea Rose Quilts - a shop that sells quilts - but I can't find it. I was going to look for a new quilt for my bed. I'll check again in the morning before I go in case I missed it - otherwise I guess I'll just have to make my own.

What a wonderful little town. It would take days to take in all the shops, historical exhibits and museums. Tourism and shopping are the mail attraction. Quaint and unique shops stretch for nearly two miles along Main Street. Next time I'm in this area, I'm going to spend an extra day.

I drove around town and found the three quilt shops so I know where to go in the morning. Driving in Fredericksburg is like going back a 150 years. Most of the old buildings are made of stone and extremely well kept. It is really a pretty City.

Pioneer Memorial Library - Circa 1882
Fredericksburg Historic District
Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. The architectural structures of old Fredericksburg are unique to the Texas Hill Country, and are historical edifices of the German immigrants who settled the area. Many of the structures have historic designations on a state or national level. On October 14, 1970, the Fredericksburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Texas.

Friday, July 8 - Fredericksburg to The Woodlands & Crockett, Texas
Highways today were US 290 east to FM 1376 to Luckenbach and back to US 290. At Hempstead I connected with FM 1488 which brought me in the west side of The Woodlands. After dinner we drove to the lake house in Crockett to spend the night. Google Map
Before leaving Fredericksburg I went to the three quilts stores listed in the needle travel book. The three stores were totally different.

Fredericksburg Pie Company and Quilts

The main theme of this store was really a tea house. The quilt portion was a extensive collection of vintage quilts, doilies, hankies and other hand stitched treasures. They did have one small shelf with one yard fabric for sale but none of it matched my theme for this trip. Fredericksburg Pie Company and Quilts

Sandy Jenkins Designs

This is a unique shop. Sandy is a nationally known teacher and designer. The shop was filled with kits and she also has displays of her finished quilts. There are four rooms of stitched designs. Sandy Jenkins

One Quilt Place

This beautiful shop is located on one of the original 10 acre homesteads a couple of miles southwest of main street Fredericksburg. The original log cabin built in 1883 is still on the property. They had a wonderful selection of fabric and I found my fat quarter - and then some. Their row by row is vertical and features a stone cottage. I also purchased their license plate. One Quilt Place

Luckenbach, Texas

I've been to Luckenbach before but decided to take the few minutes to visit again. There were only a few people there so it was easy to park. There have been a few changes and additions since we were there but the dance hall and pub were the same.

"Luckenbach Texas" became a massive hit for Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, bringing Luckenbach to its ultimate worldwide fame. Tour buses and tourists from around the world began to make Luckenbach a regular stop when visiting Fredericksburg area attractions. Willie Nelson returns to Luckenbach annually for his 4th of July Picnic with thousands of his closest friends.

Johnson City, Texas

I stopped in Johnson City and wandered through a shop called Rustic By Choice. They had a lot of lovely items - but a bit too big to fit in my car.

Around the corner from the store was the boyhood home of Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson City was founded by James Polk Johnson, nephew of Samuel Ealy Johnson, Sr. and uncle to Lyndon B. Johnson. James Polk Johnson donated a 320 acre site on the Pedernales River for the founding of the town in 1879. The county seat of Blanco County was moved to Johnson City in 1890.

Valli and Kim Quilt Shop, Dripping, Texas

This shop was right on highway 290 so totally easy to find. What a great shop. I'm glad I didn't miss it. I found my fat quarter and picked the " Stitchn N Dripn" license plate.

The Woodlands/Crockett, Texas

Time was running short so it was time to quit stopping and get myself to The Woodlands. I had to phone Bruce when I got to Hempstead so he could direct me to their house. We had dinner at Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant then headed to Crockett. We are spending the night and tomorrow in Crockett then Bruce and Lois are heading home and I'm heading north.

Saturday, July 9 - Crockett to The Woodlands

Lois and I didn't get to bed until 3:00. Consequently we didn't even get up until noon. So much for the Farmer's Market in the morning. We didn't have much time to shop and visit with Bruce so plans changed. We are all going back to The Woodlands tonight. I'll leave from there tomorrow morning.

Lois and I headed into town. We visited Bella Gifts from the Heart - a really nice gift shop in the Crockett town square. I purchased a rooster and Lois bought me a hen. I named them Davy & Crockette.

Coloring Books

Lois started me with coloring books. We went to Walmart in Crockett and Michaels in the Woodlands and I bought all my supplies. I bought two books - Uplifting Inspirations and Birds and Blooms. Both books are good for a beginner. When I get one finished I'm going to see if I can print it on fabric and use it as a quilt block. Key word here is "when". They take a long time so it could be months (if ever) before I have some results.

Lois gave me a quick lesson before we went to bed. I spent about an hour but I had a hard time seeing well enough to "keep it between the lines". I will have to buy a magnifying light when I get back home. I did, however, start to get a feel for the technique and I'm really looking forward to working on them. We were in bed by midnight. Lois had to be up early to catch a flight to Florida and I wanted to put on some miles on the interstates tomorrow. (See tomorrow. That idea bombed.)

While we were in Walmart and Michaels, I managed to find some fat quarters, so I have Crockett and The Woodlands to add to my travel quilt.

Sunday, July 10 - The Woodlands to Memphis, Tennessee
Highways today were so convoluted I don't even have the energy to try to figure where I was and how I got to this hotel. I basically followed hwy 59 north in Texas, hwy 79 to Shreveport, hwy 167 to Little Rock (via a bypass) and I-40 to Memphis. There were a lot of other roads, connectors, double numbered roads (a few back tracks) and interstates in-between. Then, just west of Memphis - all hell broke loose. From there, other than the I-55 south, I have no idea where I was. Google Map

Shreveport, Louisiana

I stopped in Shreveport to eat at the IHOP and gas up. There was a Walmart in the same parking lot so I picked up a fat quarter ($1.09 - must be really good fabric!) Oh well, it added Louisiana to my list. I saw another Walmart in Arkansas but I didn't want to waste the time. A lot of good that did me.

Memphis, Tennessee

I had a hotel booked in Memphis but when I got to West Memphis I hit four lanes of dead stopped traffic. The I-40 bridge between Arkansas to Memphis was closed and all traffic (including me) was being routed south on I-55. At least 20 police cars were heading the other way so I knew something really big was happening. When I crossed the bridge that said "Welcome to Mississippi" and the mileage to Vicksburg I knew I was in big trouble. I was jammed tight between trucks barely moving and no idea where I was or how to get out of the situation. A few miles and an hour later - and in the dark, I was finally able to pull off the highway down a side road into a gas station to get directions.

There was a lot of excitement in the gas station and when I asked for directions they just stared at me with a "you've got to be kidding look". The man at the till just pointed back the way I came. I was shaking pretty bad inside - getting the feeling I was in the wrong place at a very wrong time. I didn't feel threatened - just very out of place. A young man came up to me and basically ushered me outside. He told me relax - that he was a fireman and he would help me. Obviously, everyone knew what was going on but me. He told me there was a Black Lives Matter Protest and it was out of hand. Apparently the protest blocked I-40 bridge. He said he would help me get around the City and back on the 1-40. He gave me is his phone number so I could talk to him while he led me out of the area and to the road (even the lane) I needed to be on. I don't know what I would have done without him. His name was Phil and Phil, wherever you are, I am so very grateful for your help. I still have his phone number so I will call him when I get home and thank him again.

The saga didn't quite end there. I finally reached the entrance to the I 40 on the east side of Memphis along with miles and miles of trucks and cars jammed in one lane all trying to get on the I-40. There was no where else to go - at least I wasn't going to try anywhere else. We just had to crawl. Four hours later I was on the I-40 - miles past the exit to my hotel. There was absolutely no way I wanted to get in the traffic jam heading west so I kept going east until I got to an exist with hotels. I managed to get a room in the Mariott. I called the Hampton Inn but it was too late to cancel my reservation and they were unsympathetic with my situation.

Now, as I'm writing this the power in the hotel has gone off. Looking out the window I can see that the whole area is in a blackout - and the battery to my computer is just about dead.

I've had enough. I'm going to bed and saying goodbye to this disastrous day. I'll post in the morning!

Monday, July 11 - Memphis to Hartford City, Indiana
Only a couple of highways today. I-40 to Nashville, I-69 north, past Indianapolis and hwy 26 to Hartford City. Both the I-40 and I-69 were heavy with trucks and the I-69 had a lot of construction and 55 mph. I was pushing to get to Hartford City. Google Map
I was originally going to stop at Nashville and visit Franny but I slept until 11:00 and was too late getting on the road. Plus I was still reeling from being lost in Memphis and didn't want to try to navigate Nashville too.
I didn't try to stop at any quilt shops - just kept moving. I arrived in Hartford City about 8:30 just as the sun was setting. We had a good visit before heading to bed.

Tuesday, July 12 - Hartford City, Indiana
Becky was up at 6:00 for go visit her dad at the hospital. She came home, went back to bed, and we all slept until noon. That didn't stop Becky from making biscuits and gravy for lunch. Of course, I had no objection.

Cotton Candy Quilt Shoppe, Muncie, Indiana - Day One

Becky and I headed to Muncie to visit this shop. I picked up two fat quarters, the licence plate, and their Row by Row. Becky had never visited this store and now she wants to go back and pick up her own. I suggested she take the classes. Another quilter in the works. Cotton Candy Quilt Shoppe

Sew Biz - Marion, Indiana

We dragged Bill with us to this shop. Getting him out of the car didn't happen. Becky and I promised we wouldn't take too long - but that didn't happen either. What a wonderful shop. I found three fat quarters, bought their Row by Row and a licence plate. It's the best I've seen so far - "Fabric Floozy". We left the store, got in the car, started to drive away and Becky stopped, turned around, went back into the shop and bought their row by row kit. We waited and waited and finally I had to go into the store and drag her out. Yep, another quilter is born. Sew Biz

Hobby Lobby, Marion, Indiana

The next shop we hit was Hobby Lobby. They are not on Row by Row so I only bought the polka dot fabric. This store is fantastic. It has everything from furniture to craft supplies. It had Certified International roosters but I ended up buying two adorable hens. I've named them Marion after the town of Marion & Franny after both Becky's mom and Bill and Becky's daughter.

We went to supper at the Sirloin Stockade in Marion, then stopped at Upland to visit Becky's mom. She is just out of the hospital but doing OK.

Before calling it a night, Bill drove us around town on his souped-up hot rod. Buddy sat in the front with me and Becky brought up the rear as we zoomed up and down the streets and alleys at a record-breaking speed of 5 mph. A great time was had by all.

Becky and I mapped my route for tomorrow and then identified the quilt shops along the way. I'm all set. We then went through her Row by Row kit and I explained it as good as I could - appliqué of all things. Becky's aunt is a quilter, so she is going to recruit her to help with her project.

We all got to bed early as Becky wants to visit her dad in the morning - and surprise - she wants to go back to the quilt store before I leave town.

Wednesday, July 13 - Hartford City to Davison, Michigan
I decided to stop somewhere in Michigan so I would have lots of time to take backroads and avoid trucks and traffic. Highways today were SR 3 north, SR 281 Indiana and 707 Ohio, US 127 north and I- 69 east to Davison, Michigan. With the exception of I-69 it was 55 mph most the day weaving in and out of the small towns - a very relaxing drive. Google Maps

Cotton Candy Quilt Shoppe - Day Two

Before I left town, Becky wanted to head back to Muncie and visit Cotton Candy Quilt Shoppe again to buy their Row by Row. There's no stopping her now - she's hooked and she hasn't even started. I was glad to go back too as I wanted to get a picture.

Berne, Indiana

This whole area was absolutely beautiful. The large corn and bean farms along the road were immaculate. The town's main street has many old buildings still in very good condition. Berne is known as the furniture capital of Indiana with a large quality furniture manufacturer and several furniture stores. Berne was settled in 1852 by Mennonite immigrants who came directly from Switzerland, and named the community for the capital of Switzerland.

Engine House Quilt Shop, Berne, Indiana

This shop was first on my list and the last shop before leaving Indiana. It is in the old fire station building right on Main Street - therefore the name, Engine House. This is a small shop packed full of wonderful things. I managed to find my fat quarters just fine, bought their Row by Row and license plate. Engine House Quilt Shop

The Quilt Shoppe, Bryan, Ohio

This shop is located in the town square. It amazes my how many small towns still have a legitimate "town square" and this is one of them. They remind me of the Dukes of Hazard. This is a fantastic shop. I ended up buying some unique polka dots and some matching fabric. I can see another one hour basket happening soon. I bought their Row by Row kit and license plate.

Ann Arbor and US 23 - I Don't Know Why!

I had another problem with the Hampton Inn. I called, told her I was heading east on I-69 and asked if they had a hotel in Flint. Yes they did. I made the reservation and she told me it was was at exit 127 - less than 10 miles down the road. Great! Well, exit 127 didn't exist. I pulled over at exit 129 and phoned them back to ask where the hotel was only to find out I was booked in a hotel on US 23 near Ann Arbor - 60 miles south. I speak perfectly good English so how she got "US 23 and Ann Arbor" out of the words "Interstate 69 and Flint" is beyond me.

The next blow was "sorry its too late to cancel your reservation". I blasted the poor gentleman on the line but between the fiasco at Memphis where I couldn't even get to the hotel and now their error in booking I've had enough of the Hampton Inns and their "too late" attitude. They wont be the first number I call anymore - at least not on this trip.

Davison, Michigan

I managed to get a room at the Best Western in Davison. I was shut down early enough to get my laundry done and add up my purchases in preparation for the border crossing tomorrow.

Thursday, July 14 - Davison to Owen Sound
Highways today were I-69, a jog off on hwy 24 to Lapeer and Imlay City Road to three quilt shops, then back on the I-69 to the Canadian Border. In Canada hwy 402, hwy 21, hwy 9 to Hanover and finally hwy 6 to Owen Sound. It actually sounds more complicated that it was. At least I didn't have to deal with the Kitchener and Toronto traffic. Google Map

Sew Crazy, Lapeer, Michigan

I had to call to get directions to the shop but I wanted to see Lapeer because my great grandmother was from there. I purchased my fat quarter and picked up their Row by Row kit. They didn't have license plates this year. They had a great selection of polka dot fabric. Of course I left with more than one. The owner directed me to two more shops in the area - even drew me a map. Sew Crazy

The Pincushion, Imlay City, Michigan

I had a bit of difficulty getting to this shop as there was a complete detour of Almont Avenue and I wasn't sure where it was going to lead me. Fortunately, it brought me to the exact street I needed to find. They have two Row by Row patterns. I bought their kit - Hive Sweet Home and their license plate. The Pincushion

Stitchin' at the Barn, Michigan

This large shop is more than just quilting. There were all kinds of fabric plus machines and accessories. They have a whole rack of polka dots so picking out a couple was easy. I picked up their Row by Row pattern but they don't have license plates. Stitchin' at the Barn

Hanover, Ontario

I stopped in Hanover to visit Karen's mom. I called her from Walkerton and told her to put the kettle on - but I had the feeling she was expecting me. Jim came home just as I was leaving but Sherry was in Guelph for the day. She phoned later to tell me she has some boxes that she wanted me to take home for Karen. We are going to stop in on the way south to pick them up.

Owen Sound, Ontario

I arrived in Owen Sound around 6:00 and got myself booked into the hotel. I'm in the Best Western - a really nice hotel. I'm here for two nights. Carol is staying with her mom until we leave. Carol and I went out to supper at Shorty's Bar & Grill then headed to visit with her mom.

Friday, July 15 - Owen Sound, Ontario
We set out this morning to visit quilt shops. Carol had mapped out a route but plans got messed up when we decided to include the shop in Mount Forest. We left about 11:00 am but Carol and I decided to deal with our banking before leaving town. It was well after noon when we reached Port Elgin. By the time we finished at the quilt shop it was time for lunch. Bellies full, we headed south (I think it was south) towards Markdale when we changed the route to go to Mount Forest instead. We never did get to the Markdale quilt shop. We got back in Owen Sound about 6:00 and had supper at Rockford Family Restaurant. Apparently, it has schnitzel to die for - but Norma and I opted for the sinful Sour Cream Raspberry Pie. Now that was to die for.

Shoreline Quilts, Ontario

This shop was right on main street, packed full of goodies just waiting for us. I found more fat quarters but also bought some Kansas Troubles fabric for a class I'm taking in the fall. Why would I buy Kansas Trouble fabric in Port Elgin when we plan to visit the actual Kansas Trouble shop in Kansas? Damned if I know - but I did. We all got their Row by Row pattern and I bought their licence plate. Shoreline Quilts

Carol is buying blue material to add to some fabric she brought from home. The pattern for this quilt is "Cabin Fever" by Judy Niemeyer. She is also buying red fat quarters for Deb's Tucker's "Northern Neighbours" pattern. This quilt features maple leaves and flying geese. Northern Neighbours - Studio 180 Designs

Scribble Script

Carol bought a half metre of fabric with writing on it for her Guild Challenge. The fabric is "Head of the Class - Scribble Script". The challenge is to make anything quilted with material with writing or words on it. She is going to add some navy fabric. She is going to make the Go and Grow Bag by Laura Ann Coia - Sew Very Easy. Go and Grow Bag Pattern

Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop, Mount Forest, Ontario

Karen and I visited this shop last year. It is such a unique shop that I suggested we go there today. We had to call them to get directions and Carol managed to get us there with no difficulty. Her words as we turned into the farm were something like "O ye, of little faith". Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop

I picked up two kits - one for both Karen and I. Their Row by Row has a bird house with birds and flowers in the middle and two stars on each end. We asked what the name of the star block was but she wasn't really sure. She thought it might be on they designed themselves. In addition to the fat quarters, I also purchased a kit with purple, white and lime green fabrics. It is really a pretty quilt. Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop

Tom Thomson - Historic Leith Church

After dinner Carol and I went sight seeing and she took me to the graveyard where Tom Thomson is buried. Leith Church was erected in 1865 and closed in 1969. Leith Church

Thomas John "Tom" Thomson was born near Claremont, Ontario on August 5, 1877 and grew up in Leith, Ontario, near Owen Sound. He directly influenced a group of Canadian painters that would come to be known as the Group of Seven, and though he died before they formally formed, he is sometimes incorrectly credited as being a member of the group itself. Thomson died on July 8, 1917. He drowned in Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park.

Saturday - July 16 - Owen Sound to Flint, Michigan
Navigation was a bit tricky today trying to incorporate a south western direction including finding some quilt shops. Highways were (with a few extra jogs here and there) hwy 21, Grey-Bruce Line, CR 10 to Hanover, CR 4 to Walkerton, hwy 9, CR 12 to Seaforth, hwy 4 to Exeter, CR 5, CR 18, and CR 9 to the 402. Once in Michigan we were on I-69 and US 23. Google Map

Hanover, Ontario

We had to stop at Hanover to pick up a box to be delivered to Karen - as if we had room! With some inventive rearranging, we managed to get another box in the back and we still have a few cubby holes for our fat quarters. We spent only a few minutes visiting with her mom and sister before heading on our way.

Cotton Harvest Quilt Shop, Seaforth, Ontario

This shop was right on main street. A lady at the Dollar Store gave us good directions. The store had a large selection of coordinated fabrics along with hand stitching supplies and patterns. I found my polka dots. Carol added a new color (lime green) to go with her Cabin Fever quilt and she picked up a red fat quarter to add to her Northern Neighbours quilt. She also bought a guide of Crazy Quilt Stitches. I bought their Row by Row kit and a licence plate. Cotton Harvest Quilt Shop

Kaleidoscope of Quilts, Exeter, Ontario

Once again the shop was right on main street. She was just closing when we got there but she stayed open long enough for us to find our fat quarters. I bought their licence plate and Row by Row kit. It is a mixture of stitching and wool appliqué. Kaleidoscope of Quilts

We stopped at Flint, Michigan for the night. We want to head into Indiana tomorrow to find the Quilt Gardens in Amish Country. With it being Sunday, though, we doubt there will be any quilt stores open.

Sunday, July 17 - Flint to Middlebury, Indiana
We knew we didn't have too far to go today so we were able to take backroads, passing through all the little towns. We were pleasantly surprised to find a couple of quilt shops in Michigan that were open on a Sunday. Highways today were US 23, SR 59 to Brighton and back to US 23, US 12, SR 86, SR 66 MI and SR 9 IN and finally US 20 to Middlebury. Hard day on the road - 192 miles! Google Map

Creative Quilts Kits, Brighton, Michigan

We phoned ahead to get directions to this shop. They had several versions of their Row by Row. They all had the word "home" with the Great Lakes in the center but different finishing kits to chose from. Carol and I bought the border that had quilt blocks on it. They also had several license plates. I bought the one that said "Sew Unstabilized". We pasted it on the back window of our car. Creative Quilt Kits

Carol started a new color - orange - to add to her Cabin Fever quilt. She also purchased two more greens. They also had the same fabric line as her Christmas Placemats so she was able to buy enough fabric for the binding.

I bought a a black metal hanger that said Row by Row 2016 on it for a small vertical hanging quilt. Carol suggested this would be a great hanger for the licence plates.

We saw a sample of the Tarnished Windmill quilt by Judy Niemeyer. It was black and white with a touch of red and absolutely gorgeous. Tarnished Windmill

The Quilting Season, Saline, Michigan

This shop is definitely warm and friendly. Mary, the owner, greeted us at the door and the shopping was on. I picked up 4 polka dot fat quarters, their license plate, and I bought the pattern "Braggin Pole #2" by Patch Abilities Inc.

We also bought the "Fat Quarter Pop-Up" kit. Carol bought another teal fat quarter for the Cabin Fever quilt. She also bought a mini pattern kit.

Middlebury, Indiana

We arrived in Middlebury about 6:00 and registered in the Hampton Inn. We decided to stay an extra night so we could do the circle route to the Quilt Gardens. We will be staying at the Essenhaus Inn & Conference Center tomorrow night. While I'm posting this, Carol is mapping out our route - at least I hope that's what she's doing over there! We need to get to bed early. Our alarm is set for 8:00 am. Yikes! Quilt Gardens

Monday, July 18 - Middlebury, Indiana
Our good intentions to get up and out early flew out the window at 9:00 this morning. My phone alarm just about flew out the window too. We did manage to get going by 11:00. The tour information says that the Heritage Trail is 90 miles to do the full circle. We only did half. 9 hours, five quilt stores, eight quilt gardens and 36 miles later, we were back in Middlebury. Google Map

Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail is an innovative, creative, one-of-its-kind experience designed to interest a wide-range of audiences and promote the area as a premier visitor destination. The project was initiated in early 2006 and tested in 2007 with 2 pilot locations. 2016 is the ninth year featuring 19 quilt gardens and 21 quilt murals presented in seven communities.

The Quilt Gardens draw significant audience interest from three of the largest hobby groups in the nation – gardeners, quilters and photographers. The Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail joins quilting, gardening and art into a one-of-a-kind event. The colorful patchwork of quilt inspired gardens and quilt murals are linked by the roads that form the Heritage Trail.

Every quilt garden and quilt mural has its own intricate pattern, many are original designs and each has its own unique story. Each of the seven unique communities that host quilt gardens & murals has its own special character and fun finds to explore.

2016 Quilt Gardens Tour Guide

Ace Hardware - 1981 Indian Sunburst

This is one of the more modern designs among the Quilt Garden sites. The 1981 pattern is classed as a non-square block - regular, geometrically shaped units, made up of more than one piece of fabric. Harvest Sun, from Jonathan Holstein, is very similar. Holstein published three pattern books in the early 1970s. It came from Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts, a periodical which started publishing in 1973.

1981 Indian Sunburst

Dutch Country Market - 1841 Hearts & Flowers

This pattern is a complicated pattern with many curves. The original pattern called for only four hearts. Attractive foliage plants in the garden add a lot of texture and consistent color. The supertunia Vista Bubblegum is in the four pink hearts and a rich deep red supertunia in the center adds more interest to that section of the garden.

1841 Hearts & Flowers

Weaver Furniture Sales - 1930 Indiana Puzzle

There are actually three Indiana Puzzle quilt patterns. This particular version, is attributed to renowned quilt designer Ruby McKim. Ruby McKim was one of the 20th century’s most innovative American quilt designers. The Indiana Puzzle is an equal nine-patch. The center block is surrounded by the popular half-square triangle pieces.

1930 Indiana Puzzle

Glory Gardens - 1930 Nine Patch Star

New in this garden and to the tour is Bada Bing begonia and growers are touting it as the most sun-tolerant begonia available. It’s described as a heavy bloomer from spring to first fall frost. Proven Winners Indigo Charm supertunia and Durango Yellow marigold make lovely companions in terms of color and form providing interesting height variation in this attractive garden.

1930 Nine Patch Star

Elkhart County 4H Fairgrounds - 1933 Friendship Circle

Elkhart County usually pick designs with four components or parts to represent the four groups involved and always include the color green to represent “life and agriculture.” Dusty miller is used in generous proportions in this garden. While no plant can be considered really deer-proof, luckily Dusty Miller doesn't’t seem to be a popular choice on their menu.

1933 Friendship Circle

Elkhart County Courthouse - 1906 Goshen

Selected for its name, the Goshen quilt pattern was originally published in 1906. The pattern is filled with sturdy annuals that are well suited to a downtown setting. The winning combination for this garden is petunia, begonia and dusty miller.

1906 Goshen

Old Bag Factory - 1930 Old Windmill

The 1930 Old Windmill is classified as a four-patch and features half square triangles, but with a twist - one-half square triangle is actually split. Obviously the quilter would complete these first and then make the quick pieced blocks or the blocks could be assembled individually.

1930 Old Windmill

Das Dutchman Essenhaus - 1937 Indian Star

The Middlebury hills (as the locals call them) are the perfect place to display this bold geometric design. Published in 1937, this pattern is indeed striking and works well in flowers. Petunias and geraniums have been a gardener’s favorite for well over a century. Helping the blue petunias and red geraniums to “pop” in this garden is the hale-and hearty Polka Dot vinca.

1937 Indian Star

Elkhart County Historical Museum - 1914 Duck Paddle

The Goose Tracks pattern appeared in their 1897 catalog, but like most quilting patterns from our rich heritage, it can also be found under many other names including Duck Paddle. The particular pattern utilized for this quilt block was published in 1914. It is a traditional pieced block and a variation of a nine-patch. It is referred to as an unequal nine patch

1914 Duck Paddle

Downtown Elkhart - Premier Arts
Back Home Again in Indiana Inspired by 1920 Dogwood

The Dogwood pattern, as a quilt, would be appliquéd. As with appliquéd quilts in general, the quilter (or quilt gardener) uses a pattern as an inspiration for the final design interpretation. Premier Arts is taking a 1920s era quilt, the Dogwood, and adapting it, using colors and stars from Indiana’s state flag and a sculptured torch.

1920 Dogwood

Ruthmere Museum, Elkhart - 1895 Crossed Canoes

It is fitting that Ruthmere chose the Crossed Canoes pattern as the historic mansion looks over the confluence of the Elkhart and St. Joe Rivers. This pattern dates back to 1895, when it was sold by the Ladies Art Company catalog. It is known by several names: Crossed Canoes, Santa Fe Quilt, Indian Canoes, The Dragon Fly, Twinkling Star and Tippecanoe.

1895 Crossed Canoes

Downtown Wakarusa - 1895 Star Puzzle

The Star Puzzle design fits Wakarusa’s tradition of using bold, geometric patterns for its Quilt Garden. The pattern is filled with many standards in the world of annuals. All are heavy bloomers with good heat tolerance and a spring-to-first-frost longevity. Petunia, dusty miller and salvia grow well here.

1895 Star Puzzle
There were seven other gardens that we were not able to get to. We simply ran out of time. Some were in the larger cities and to find them would be more difficult and requiring another day to complete. We did ask at the Essenhaus if they had a room the next day but they were booked solid.

Yoder Department Store, Shipshewana, Indiana

First on our list this morning was Shipshewana. We decided to do Middlebury once we got back. This store is like a mercantile including food, bakery, deli, household goods toys, and fabric. It was full of various types of fabrics and all gadgets sewing. Yoder Department Store

Spector's Dry Goods Store, Shipshewana, Indiana

Spector's was right across the street from Yoder. It just had the basics and appeared to cater to the Amish clientele. It also had some pre-made clothing. They did not have a lot of fabric selection but what they did have all matched.

The Cotton Corner, Shipshewana, Indiana

This shop had a really nice Judy Niemeyer Tarnished Windmill. It was done in black and white with a touch of red, creating a stunning quilt. Unfortunately they were sold out of the pattern. Carol managed to find the fabric to bind her cardinal placemats. The Cotton Corner

Lolly's Fabrics & Quilts, Shipshewana, Indiana

This is a huge shop with virtually every line of fabric available interspaced with gift items. We ran into a groups of ladies from Michigan on a guild outing. We chatted quilt stores, had a few laughs, and bid them safe travels. Lolly's Fabrics & Quilts

The Quilt Shop @ Essenhaus, Middlebury, Indiana

We arrived back in Middlebury with enough time to wander through the gift store. The Quilt Shop in Essenhaus is small but makes up for it in a great inventory to chose from. I bought a gold Christmas Panel. We both bought our fat quarters and picked up the Row by Row. The Quilt Shop

Das Dutchman Essenhaus Inn

We are staying tonight at the Das Dutchman Essenhaus Inn and Conference Center. What a charming hotel. There are quilts, cross stitching, traditional rug hooking, and embroidery, on the walls everywhere - some framed some hanging. Everything is around the theme of "hand made". Even the upholstery on the furniture in the lobby is a guilt design. The rugs in the halls are double wedding ring pattern. The laundry room has Amish clothes and small placemats as decoration on the wall. Every room, nook and cranny is just what you would want in your home. It is really beyond explaining so we will let the pictures do the talking. Das Dutchman Essenhaus

The Navigational Director

Carol had maps spread all over the room covering the beds, the table and even the floor. She has the huge opened maps connecting the next days drive through three States - Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. She was having a bit of difficulty matching the highways until she realized she had skipped over Illinois. She is talking this very seriously! :)

Tuesday, July 19 - Middlebury to LaFayette, Indiana
Highways today (simplified) were SR 120 through Bristol to Elkhart, SR 29 south to Mentone, SR 25 to Lafayette. As we headed south we continued our tour of the Quilt Gardens and visiting quilt shops. Tomorrow we can make time up on the interstate. Google Map

Pumpkinvine Quilting, Middlebury, Indiana

This shop is a hop and a skip west of Essenhaus. It was a nice modern store. We quite enjoyed the variety available. I found a metal 2016 Row by Row metal hanger for vertical Row by Row patterns. Pumpkinvine Quilting

Lavender Patch Fabric & Quilts, Bristol, Indiana

This shop was right on the highway. By the time we left, I had purchased a miniature Stitchwell sewing machine in it's original box. The Stitchwell Toy Sewing Machine by the National Sewing Machine Co. in Belvedere, Illinois dates from the 1920's. It is cast iron and a nice looking as well as nicely designed machine. It pretty much marks the end of an era. After this most cast iron toy sewing machines disappeared as manufacturers turned to less expensive materials like sheet steel. It was manufactured by National Sewing Company in Belvidere, Illinois. We also bought tiny crocheted flowers to take home to our "Riper Group". Lavender Patch Fabric and Quilts

National Sewing Machine Company

The original factory was located in Boston, Massachusetts from 1880-1887. The company was then moved to Chicago, Illinois and finally to Belvidere, Illinois by 1886. In an effort to keep workers employed during the Great Depression, National expanded their product line to include home workshop machinery and cast iron toys. National was unable to compete with the low cost imported sewing machines and closed in 1957. National Sewing Machine Company

Sew Creative Threads - Elkhart, Indiana

We were greeted by Zeke, the official shop dog. They are expanding their shop and had just received their new cabinets so everything was shoved to the side to make room for the boxes. It was like an obstacle course. That didn't deter us though. We still managed to find our treasures. Carol found some fabric with road trip sayings. Apparently, they have one rule - you can't get out the door without your picture being taken. They also gave us a letter opener. Sew Creative

The Thread Shed - Rochester, Indiana

This small shop is right on main street so we found it right away. It was just before closing but the owner was kind enough to let us in. She was waiting for a sewing group to arrive anyway. We picked up pre-quilted fabric to make one hour baskets. I picked a red and white. Carol got a black and white. The Thread Shed

LaFayette, Indiana

We tried to book a hotel along the I-70 or I-72 but everything was already booked so we stopped in LaFayette - expensive and not really worth it but at least we have a hotel for the night. We had dinner at Grindstone Charley's Restaurant & Pub. It was a great restaurant with lots on their menu. I tried fried green tomatoes for the very first time.

Wednesday, July 20 - LaFayette to Columbia, Missouri
Highways today were south on US 231, west on I-74 and I-72, south on US 54, north on SR 79 to Hannibal, south on US 61, SR 19, SR J, US 54, and west in I-70 to Columbia. Google Map

Threads of Time, Danville, Illinois

This is everyone's quilt store dream. The in-store retreat center accommodates 36 people. There are huge sewing and classroom areas and three kitchens. This retreat is like a hotel. You can stay one night, a weekend or all week. Come alone or come with friends, park yourself at a table and quilt to your hearts content. They provide large cutting tables, ironing boards, irons, and of course, whatever you need for supplies right there in the store.

We met and chatted with several of the ladies. One group of friends said they go there two or three times every month. We had a hard time leaving and briefly tossed around the idea of staying the night but in the end said goodbye to our new quilting friends and headed back to the highway.

Carol bought five fat quarters and a yard of black and white fabric. I bought enough fabric to make a whole quilt. The pattern is Woodland Forest by Blank Quilting. It seems like I am transgressing because I'm going to make an Irish Chain - back to "quilting first class". I also bought a bag but Carol snapped it up to use for her fabric purchases for the rest of the trip. Threads of Time

We arrived at Louisiana, Missouri about 5:00 pm. Highway 79 north looked interesting so we decided to secure a hotel at Columbia and take the time to drive this road and see what it brings. Well it brought us Ilasco Ghost Town, Lover's Leap, and Hannibal, Missouri. Carol made the fatal mistake of drawing the anticipated route on the map "before" we had actually driven it. Lesson learned - don't fall in love with a plan - it will backfire around the next curve!

Ilasco Ghost Town, Missouri

The only things remaining in the townsite are two active churches (Methodist and Catholic), the non-operating grocery store and the old cement jail. The Methodist Church had beautiful stained glass windows. By 1909 there were 3000 residents and 8 saloons which led to heavy drinking, disagreement, violence and fights. Of necessity, a escape proof cement jail was built. Historic Ilasco Village

Ilasco was created in 1903. Large numbers of Romanian, Slovak, Italian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Polish Croatian and other immigrants joined native-born residents drawn here by jobs at the Atlas Portland Cement Plant. Ilasco through its churches, schools, folklore, languages, fraternal societies, cuisines and daily life, left a rich working-class cultural heritage that made it unique in Missouri. The community's name is an acronym for some of the cement manufacturing ingredients (Iron, Lime, Aluminum, Silica, Calcium and Oxygen). Ilasco was converted into a company town in 1921 and dissolved in 1963. Ilasco Historical Marker - Dedicated October 1999
Lover's Leap - Hannibal, Missouri

Lover's Leap - Hannibal, Missouri

There are at least eight geological formations in Missouri known as Lover's Leap. One is located on the southeast edge of Hannibal high above the Mississippi River. Local Legend is that an Indian maiden committed suicide with her lover. There are several possible sources for Hannibal's local legend including one that claims it was the work of the imagination of Hannibal newspaperman Orion Clemens, Mark Twain's older brother. The Legend of Lover's Leap

Craig Dowell, Joey Hoag & Billy Hoag

At the Lover's Leap overlook almost hidden in the trees and overgrowth, there is a small monument to honor the memory of three boys Craig Dowell, Joey Hoag and Billy Hoag lost near Hannibal in May 1967. It reads:

"On May 10, 1967, three adventurous boys explored these hills in the footprints of Huckleberry Flinn and Tom Sawyer only to never be seen again. Craig, Joey and Billy will be remembered by rescue teams who came from coast to coast to solve the disappearance. These boys are dearly missed and loved by their families and friends, but will never be forgotten by all. This historical monument also reflects the love of the community and a nation who helped in the search".

The New York Times reported on May 28th that "The 18-day search for three boys believed lost in one of the hundreds of caves that honeycomb this Mississippi River town was called off today."

Boyhood Home of Mark Twain

Hannibal, Missouri
Mark Twain (Nov 30, 1835 – Apr 21, 1910)

Hannibal, Missouri is best known as the boyhood home of author Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and as the setting of his The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with numerous historical sites related to Mark Twain and sites depicted in his fiction. Hannibal Missouri

We spent a bit of time in Hannibal wandering around the Historic Main Street and reading the information signs. Unfortunately the tour and museum were closed for the day but we were still able to see the buildings and gardens. The main street where Mark Twain grew up only a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River so it's not hard to imagine where he got the ideas for his writings.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. It is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived.

Hannibal was Missouri's third largest city when the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad was organized in 1846 in the offices of John M. Clemens (Mark Twain's father). It connected to St. Joseph, Missouri, was the furthest west railroad, and was used to deliver mail to the Pony Express.

Columbia Missouri

We are staying at the Hampton Inn at Columbia, Missouri. We plan to visit Missouri Star and Kansas Troubles tomorrow. We will be on the backroads for most of the day so travel will be slow.

Thursday, July 21 - Columbia, Missouri to St. Joseph, Missouri
We managed to get on the road by 9:30 this morning but after all our stops we only travelled 246 miles. So much to reaching Kansas Troubles by today. Highways were I-70 east, US 54 north to Mexico, SR 22 north, US 24 west, US 63 north, and finally US 36 to St. Joseph. Google Map

Homestead Hearth, Mexico, Missouri

We had to back track to get to this shop but it was one that was recommended highly so we figured the 20 or so miles would be worth it and we could proceed north from there. From the outside, we were wondering if we had the right store but once inside we were surprised to find a good variety of fabrics. We picked up our fat quarters and Row by Row. Carol found a grab bag of wool scraps. Homestead Hearth

Material Girl Quilt Shop, Centralia, Missouri

This shop was right after Mexico housed in a quaint store just off main street so we stopped for a short time. Carol added to her stash - a yard of blue fabric. I bought some gun material for backing, a pink polka dot fat quarter, and their Row by Row. Their license plate says "Must Stash". I also bought some patterns that were designed by the owner. Material Girl Quilt Shop

Sew Sweet Quilt Shop, Brunswick, Missouri

Karen and I went to this shop last year and since it was on our way, we decided to stop and shop. It is absolutely one of the nicest stores along the way and well worth taking the time to visit. When we finally exited with our goodies, it was well after noon. In addition to the Row by Row, I bought a birdie quilt kit. Carol bought the other half of my navy and teal fat quarter and continued to add to her Splendid Sampler. Sew Sweet Quilt Shop

Country Chick

Somewhere between Brunswick and Hamilton we were greeted by this lovely Country Chick. We couldn't resist screeching to halt, pulling into their driveway, and snapping a picture.

Missouri Star, Hamilton, Missouri

Carol found it tough at Missouri Star as we hit it on a day with 109° temperature and 100% humidity. Couple that with the fact that we had to go outside and walk the street to get to different stores, Carol's energy (and enthusiasm) dropped drastically.

We did however, manage to visit all fourteen shops and Carol found the two rulers she was searching for. She also bought some charms packs and found some material to repair Rebecca's purse. I bought the license plate and more polka dot fat quarters.

When I was at this shop last year, they had six separate stores and that was overwhelming. Now they have fourteen stores and it is beyond overwhelming. It's totally mind-boggling. It is like no other quilt shop you will ever find. Each store is separate. You cannot take bolts from one store to the other to build up a stack for a pattern. You have to pay for each cut before leaving the store. It's like buying a dress in a dress shop, then going to five more stores to get a jacket, shoes, hosiery, jewelry and a hat to match. I can't build a quilt that way. I need to see it all at once - then start cutting. Missouri Star

Missouri Star was on my bucket list, Carol's bucket list and just about every quilter's bucket list. It is worth driving the extra miles to take in the Missouri Star Experience. Been There Done That!

The fourteen stores include:  
  • Main Shop
  • Penney's Quilt Shop (colors & solids)
  • Seasonal
  • Mercantile (1930's and Civil War)
  • Batik Boutique
  • Licenced to Sew (sports, cartoons, movies)
  • Machine Shed (sewing machines & notions)
  • Kids & Baby
  • Modern
  • Backing & Trims
  • Primitives & Wool
  • Florals
  • Sewing Center (retreats & gatherings)
  • Man's Land (pool tables, recliners & TV's)

James Cash Penney

Interesting to note is that Penney's Quilt Shop is located in the old J.C. Penney building. James Cash Penney was born in Hamilton, Missouri. Just off the main street is the childhood home of J.C. Penney that was moved from the farm to display in Hamilton. After graduating from high school Penney worked for Thomas Callahan and Guy Johnson, who owned dry goods stores called Golden Rule. He participated in the creation of three more stores, and purchased full interest in all three locations in 1907.

By 1912, Penney had 34 stores and in 1913, the company was incorporated under the name, J. C. Penney Company. The company opened its 500th store in 1924 in Hamilton, Missouri.

Friday, July 22 - St. Joseph to Wakeeney, Kansas
We knew today was also going to be long on the time and short on the miles. Destination Kansas Troubles - and anything else that pops up in between. Highways were (after a short navigational enforced detour in and out of Missouri) south on US 59, SR 4, I-70 to Salina, US 81 and SR 18 to Bennington and back to 1-70 west to Wakeeney. Google Map

Heat Wave (external)

Last night the weatherman reported simply "the temperature is ridiculous and the humidity is off the charts". Carol is suffering with the heat but we are heading out of the humidity now so it will start to get better. I'm going to put a piece of masking tape over the temperature on the dash. She just about passed out when it hit 109°. I did remind her that we were in a comfortable 70° air conditioned car. Didn't help. She questioned the sanity of organizing a trip here in the summer.

Material Girls Quilt Shop, Abilene, Kansas

We were really impressed with this shop and especially the embroidered patterns she sells for another lady. I found a couple of unique panels, a polka fat quarter, the Row by Row with a crocheted butterfly and their license plate. Carol bought three fat quarters to go with her Cabin Fever quilt and a grey one just because. Material Girls Quilt Shop

Yarns Sold and Told, Salina, Kansas

Carol spotted a billboard sign YARNS on the highway and she had to check it out. Stepping into the store her eyes feasted on the colours and types of yarns available. The whole store was full of samples of different items made from the yarn available. Because of our time crunch, Carol snapped up two patterns, one for a gift and one for herself. Regretfully, we had to leave but Carol could have spend hours in this shop. Yarns Sold and Told

Welcoming Committee - Robert

Kansas Troubles Quilters, Bennington, Kansas

Today one of our bucket list items was fulfilled. Heading to this store has to be every quilter's dream. Well, maybe not everyone, but it certainly is ours. Our experience started with Jackie laughing with us on the phone on being lost and how she is not that good with directions but Robert is.

Robert was just as nice and directed us via roads and landmarks (red barn), ending with him standing on the corner waiting for us. Now is that not going above and beyond since the temperature was 104° degrees outside?

Once inside a nice cool store we beheld an interior full of Kansas Troubles eye candy. This small store was full of every Kansas Troubles lover's dreams. Everywhere you looked were vignettes of quilts or articles surrounded by their patterns or books, kits, precuts and accessories. Shopping was easy and the staff fun to work with. You had everything needed at your fingertips. Robert and Jackie cashed us out and even put up with our quirks of having things organized for the upcoming border crossing into Canada. Robert even checked on us after we had been sitting in our car for about 20 minutes after we had left. We assured him we were fine, just trying to find a hotel on the route he suggested we take. Kansas Troubles can be proud of their staff and their product. No wonder it is our favourite line of fabric. Kansas Troubles Quilters

An added note. Once we got home and unloaded our purchases, we found several gifts tucked into the shopping bags. They gave us books, patterns, some fat quarters and fridge magents. Thankyou Kansas Troubles for a wonderful time in your store..

Prairie Cactus

I bought a kit for a wall hanging and matching layer cakes and charms from the new line Prairie Cactus some fat eights, a pattern and their Row by Row. Carol bought seven fat eights, four long quarters, one long eighth, one half yard and two patterns.

"Prairie Cactus was inspired by the spikey little cactus with bright red blooms that poke through the snowy fields each winter in Kansas. The Fabric line includes 31 prints - 10 tans, 4 golds, 6 reds, 6 greens, and 5 blacks." I think I was drooling.

Wakeeney, Kansas

We had some difficulty finding a hotel tonight - probably because it's a Friday. After calling four different chains, we managed to get one through Best Western at Wakeeney. We would have preferred to go a bit further but the next availability was Denver - 6 hours past Wakeeney.

Saturday, July 23 - Wakeeney to Douglas, Wyoming
Highways today were I-70 west, US 385 north to Julesburg, SR 27 to Oshkosh, US 26 to Bridgeport and SR 92 to Scottsbluff, US 26 and I-25 to Douglas Wyoming. Google Map

Quilt Cabin, Colby, Kansas

This store was housed in it's own log cabin. On the front carved in wood were evergreen trees and a bear statue. I bought a chicken panel to make placemats and a flannel Halloween panel for my quilt hanger. Carol bought four fat quarters for her Cabin Fever quilt. Their Row by Row had chickens on it. Quilt Cabin

You Keep Me In Stitches, Wray, Colorado

This was a nice bright store with lots of samples. Carol bought two mini charm packs. I found more polka dot fabric and bought the license plate. I also found a small wooden plaque that says "my Longarm is my Friend and my Enemy". I can certainly relate to that. You Keep Me In Stitches

Country Rooster

We seem to be plagued with chickens this year. Four are in the back of the car. I've bought chicken material. We were greeted by the Country Chick on the highway yesterday and now the Country Rooster on a back road through a small town today. He was the official greeter at a small Bed and Breakfast.

Chimney Rock, Nebraska

Chimney Rock peak is 4,226 feet above sea level. During the middle 19th century it served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, which ran along the north side of the rock.

The Visitor's Center was just closing when we got there but we could still read the information and take some pictures.

Based on sketches, paintings, written accounts, and the 1897 photograph by Darton, Chimney Rock was taller when it was first seen by settlers, but has been reduced in height since then by erosion and lightning.

Chimney Rock was designated a National Historic Site on August 9, 1956 and is a National Park Service affiliated area. Chimney Rock - NPS

Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wyoming

We passed by the sign to this historic site but turned around. We went first to the bridge and then continued two miles down the road to the actual Fort area.

Fort Laramie Bridge

The 400 foot Fort Laramie Bridge was constructed between August 1875 and February 1876. The bridge was used during the gold rush to the Black Hills. The military used the bridge to move troops and supplies. At the dawn of the new century, motor vehicles rapidly replaced wagons and stagecoaches. The bridge continued to be used until 1959 and was donated to the National Park Service in 1961.

Water wasn't the only thing under the bridge. Both Carol and I snapped pictures of these flowers. We had seen them along the highway all day. Carol says they are sunflowers - I think they are just thistles. Either way, they have brightened the way. (Mystery Solved - See Below)

Fort Laramie

The park was just about closing when we got there but the park official visited with us for a few minutes and gave us a pamphlet with information. He offered to keep the gate open if we wanted to do a tour of the buildings. We decided to skip the tour as we still had two more hours travel before we shut down for the night.

Fort Laramie was a significant 19th century trading post and diplomatic site. Founded in the 1830s to service the overland fur trade, it was a primary stopping point on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. In June 1849 the Fort was purchased from the American Fur Company for $4,000.00 and its operations were taken over by the United States Army to protect the many wagon trains of migrant travelers on the Trails. Three companies of cavalry arrived at the Fort that same month, and the post’s permanent garrison for many years, arrived on August 12, 1849.

Today, the remaining structures are preserved as the Fort Laramie National Historic Site by the National Park Service. The site was added to the National Register of Historical Places on October 15, 1966. Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wikipedia

Heading west the sun was so bright that there were times I really couldn't see the road. Just as it dipped below the horizon, Carol captured this picture. It was a strange sunset. At the same time the sun was setting in the west, this was the view looking south. It was like two different sunsets.

Douglas, Wyoming

We stopped at Douglas for the night. We had done our grocery shopping earlier so just headed straight to the hotel. We are in the Hampton Inn. Yes, I forgave them.

Sunday, July 24 - Douglas to Gardiner, Montana
Highways today were north on I-25, west on US 26/US 287, US 191 through Grand Teton National Park. In Yellowstone National Park we followed the route to West Thumb, Old Faithful, Madison, Canyon Village, Tower-Roosevelt, Mammoth Hot Springs then US 89 to Gardiner. Google Map

Sunflower Dispute Settled

Today we stopped to get a closer look at the flowers along the road - and the winner is (drum roll) Carol! These appear to be wild sunflowers. One thing is certain - they are not thistles. There isn't a prickly leaf on them. Carol did a "na-na-na-na-na" dance!

To add to my defeat, Google confirmed Carol's side.

Distinguishing Features: The species is considered a weedy plant because it is commonly seen growing along roads, fences, fields and in waste areas. The flowers resemble the daisy and have a central disk of florets that have yellow ray florets surrounding them.

Habitat: The wild sunflower habitat is primarily the prairies as well as dry, open areas. It grows along roadsides, in fields, along desert washes, and in grassy areas. It thrives in alkaline soil and is somewhat drought resistant.

Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming

We just about missed this site along the road but a quick u-turn solved that problem. There used to be a roadside restaurant and motel/campground sitting atop the ravine but it closed in December 2005. The abandoned buildings have since been torn down. The area is fenced off and there is no public access to the cliff edge nor the valley itself.

Hell's Half Acre is a large scarp located about 40 miles west of Casper. Encompassing 320 acres this geologic oddity is composed of deep ravines, caves, rock formations and hard-packed eroded earth. Native American tribes used the ravines to drive bison to their death during their hunts. Hell's Half Acre - Wikipedia


We started to notice a smoky haze ahead of us on hwy 26 and it wasn't long before we were at the fire area. It appeared to be a controlled burn. There were fire trucks, rescue vehicles and half ton trucks parked along the road for a couple of miles but they were only watching and there was no active fire-fighting going on. We could see the flames but the burn areas were spaced well apart.

Geological Wonders

Carol was quite impressed with the rock formations and buttes. There was a short area of red rock among all the hoodoo looking cliffs. The small portion of red rock was short lived and seemed quite out of place among the grey and yellow bluffs. She kept clicking photos on the fly so finally we stopped and managed to get her into one of the photos.

Grand Teton National Park

We entered the park from the south east so didn't pass through Jackson. The drive from Grand Teton to Yellowstone was very scenic but we didn't stop along the way except to get a picture at the sign and a few scenic pictures. Grand Teton National Park - Wikipedia

Yellowstone NP

I wasn't very happy when we entered Yellowstone National Park. They confiscated the newly acquired "Senior Lifetime Pass" that both Karen and I purchased in May. We told the park warden in May we were not American Citizens and he said it didn't matter - that they would allow Canadians to get the pass. Well, Mr. Park Warden in Yellowstone told us we did not qualify and took my pass away. Since we had just passed through Grand Teton National Park with the pass, it was all very confusing. In the end we had to pay $80.00 for an Annual Pass. To say the least - I was a tad upset with the whole fiasco!

Carol had not been to Yellowstone so it was fun to stop at all the pullouts along the way and read the all the exhibit details.

Yellowstone was created on March 1, 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. The name was taken from the Yellowstone River, which flows through the park. Yellowstone was the first National Park in the U.S. and widely held to be the first national park in the world.

Yellowstone is the site of a huge ancient volcano, whose remains are called the Yellowstone Caldera. The caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America. It is still a geologically active volcano which means that an eruption is expected in future. It is monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey. There is ground movement, geysers and small earthquakes. The floor of the caldera has been rising, but experts say there is no immediate danger of eruption.

Seismic activity in Yellowstone National Park continues and is reported hourly by the Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1985, 3,000 minor earthquakes occurred. In 2007, 16 small earthquakes with magnitudes up to 2.7 occurred for several days. In January 2010, more than 250 earthquakes were detected over a two day period. Yellowstone National Park - Wikipedia

Old Faithful

Luckily, we arrived just before Old Faithful was about to blow. It was about 15 minutes late and kept teasing us with small spurts. We and about five hundred other people, sat patiently with cameras ready. Finally, it blew and continued for a spectacular couple of minutes. It was well worth the wait.

Old Faithful is quite predictable erupting every 35 to 120 minutes. Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. More than 137,000 eruptions have been recorded. The geyser, as well as the nearby Old Faithful Inn, is part of the Old Faithful Historic District. Old Faithful - Wikipedia

Mama Chipmunk

At one of the overlooks we watched a baby chipmunk playing on the rock wall. He was going in and out between the rocks and seemed quite pleased to show off for us. It wasn't long before mom came scooting after him. She ran straight toward us - we assumed looking for some food. We didn't have anything to feed to her so she went into the grass and ignored us. Baby kept playing on the rock wall.

Beryl Spring

Under proper lighting this spring shines like the blue-green gemstone, beryl. It's activity and that of adjacent springs, was greatly altered by the 1959 earthquake. The violent agitation of the water is due to volcanic gases, mostly stem. The temperature of the water is usually a few degrees below boiling. It generally oscillates between 188.5° and 192° and is one of the hottest springs in Yellowstone.

Gardiner, Montana

We booked ourselves into the Best Western in Gardiner. Unfortunately, we had to haul our bags up to the second floor but one of the staff helped us. That wasn't the only problem. The bathroom floor was dirty, Carol's sheet was on inside out and the security lock on the entrance was broken. This hotel is well past it's prime. All that for more than double the amount we've been paying for much better hotels. They only have one thing going for them - proximity to Yellowstone National Park.

We originally planned to go through the car and compile our purchases in preparation for the border crossing. In the end, we said the heck with it. We were just too tired. We've kept track of our spendings and really don't have anything to hide so if they want to rip the car apart - let them.

Monday, July 25 - Gardiner to Calgary
Highways today were US 89 north to Livingston, I-90 west, US 287 north to Helena, and I-15 to the border then hwy 4 and hwy 2 to Calgary. Google Map

Creative Closet, Townsend, Montana

We were happy today was Monday and that meant shops would be open again. We had a bit of difficulty finding this store. It was tucked in a strip mall just off the main road. The store was bright and had a great selection of fabrics. We picked up their Row by Row and I bought a license plate. and of course - more polka dots.

The Quilt-A-Way, Great Falls Montana

I've been to this shop so many times, I thought I could drive right to it but so much for my memory. We had to look up the address and then found it with no problem. The Quilt-A-Way is responsible for me quilting. This was one of the first quilts shops I ever went into. I stayed in Great Falls on one of my trips and went there actually looking to buy a quilt.

It was this store that told me that there were quilt classes offered by most stores and that gave me the idea to learn how. I went home and registered in Quilting First Class at My Sewing Room - and the rest is history. We spent more time than we planned but it was hard to leave. There are different sections dedicated to different themes - so much to look at. We finally left with our treasures and headed on the home stretch to Calgary. The Quilt-A-Way
Calgary, Alberta

We fueled up in Shelby then braced ourselves for the border crossing. There was a bit of a line up but once they opened the second station we moved through fast. Fortunately he didn't charge me duty but more importantly he didn't ask to go through our car. That would have been a disaster! Not that we had anything to hide but we did have every nook, cranny and cubby hole filled. There was absolutely no way we could get all that back in the car if they ripped it apart. We would have had to toss it all in, block my rear view, and sort it all out when we got home.

Once in Canada I just had to stop at Timmies in Lethbridge for coffee. We arrived home just after 10:00 pm.


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