Mike’s technical training job takes us all over the country to a variety of Harley-Davidson dealerships. He recently wrapped up a gig in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Myers-Duren. It’s one of the oldest H-D dealerships, opened in 1914.
The custom-designed, art deco shop at 48th & Peoria has something unusual out front: a Biker Penguin. The penguin sculptures scattered around town were a part of a 2002 fundraiser by the Tulsa Zoo, designed to draw attention to its Black-Footed Penguin exhibit. The giant penguins were purchased for $3,500 or adopted for $2,500. The original 100+ penguins have dwindled to around 50, and some are hidden away inside local shops to avoid vandalism. So it’s a special treat to able to enjoy the Biker Penguin up close and personal.
Hanging with a one-of-a-kind, seven-foot Biker Penguin: just another day at the office for Mike!
A few years ago, Downtown Las Vegas was so rundown and scary that people wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, never mind wander around down there. But with the Downtown Project and other revitalization efforts, the area has been transformed into a quirky, happening destination for couples, kids, art lovers, and hip bar hoppers.
Jenn and I doing our best cranky model impersonations under the “Life is Beautiful” mural on the wall of the El Cortez hotel
The inaugural two-day “Life is Beautiful” festival took place in late October, drawing celebrity chefs and popular bands, the likes of which you’d normally only find at the mega casino-resorts of the Strip. The event brought 40,000 tourists and locals to experience the new “neighborhoody” feel of Downtown. Designed to reflect the festival’s inspirational message, giant murals were painted on a dozen walls, mostly abandoned motels and hotels, the Container Park and a few businesses like the El Cortez. These shots represent just a few of the fantastic several-story-high works of art.
Even though the festival is long over, most the murals remain, which was the hope of festival organizers. Their goal was to foster pride in the community, beginning with what we see as we walk by. Although Mike and I no longer live in Vegas, I was delighted to see these enhancements. I’ve always had great affection for Downtown. I worked in the area for a number of years. I met Mike at a Downtown bar, and I lots of great meetings at restaurants and coffee shops there. These gorgeous, colorful murals made me want to move back all the more.
Lemon Curd Pancakes
There’s something decidedly decadent about brunch. The late hour, the combination of breakfast and lunch dishes, the leisurely pace. If you count it as two meals in one, you can forgive yourself for eating too much, especially if you’ve gotten some exercise beforehand. That’s why I was able to nosh without guilt when we brunched at Phillips Avenue Diner in Sioux Falls’ historic downtown after our chilly walk in Falls Park.
Of course, I helped things along by thoughtful ordering. A spinach and tomato eggwhite omelet was accompanied by a side of fresh fruit in place of toast or potatoes. I simply had to try the lemon curd pancakes, though. Normally, they come in stacks of three, but that would’ve been over the top. So, I asked if I could have just one, and our waitress happily obliged, charging me an extra buck for the privilege. The pancake was infused with lemon essence. Juice, I think, not extract. Instead of syrup, it was crisscrossed with glaze, a dollop of lemon curd and some raspberries to add color and a flavorful contrast. Nummy! The omelet was good, too.
The neat thing about downtown Sioux Falls, besides its history, is the SculptureWalk.
SculptureWalk is an exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures displayed year-round in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Artists place their sculptures in the program for one year, and all sculptures are aggressively promoted to the public for sale. Artists are eligible to win any one or more of the 14 awards in the Best of Show, People’s Choice voting and the random drawings. Awards total to $15,000.
Two impressive pieces are on the corner near the diner. My favorite? ‘Look and You Will Find It’ by artist Kate Christopher. It’s so simple but so striking. The group of standing men, all with heads downcast except one, has a compelling message: the path to discovery reveals itself when we lift our eyes. I learn the truth of that every day on this amazing journey.
Look and You Will Find It
Butterfly by Jaque Frazee
Mike and I are transitioning to a full-time RV lifestyle. Yup…we’re moving out of the stick house and into a hallway on wheels! No, we’re not retiring. Quite the opposite. We will be motorhoming to Mike’s gigs across the country, and we’re going to share our journey with you.
Mike is a technical trainer, and he travels the nation, training on-site at Harley-Davidson’s service school in Milwaukee and various HD dealerships. Basically, he’s gone every week for work and only home on the weekends. He’s been doing this since we started dating. As glamorous as constant travel sounds, it really isn’t. It’s taken a toll on him physically, and he’s missed me and our pet babies terribly. Although it’s been easier for me, I’ve missed him terribly, too. So, we’ve made the decision to adopt a full-time motorhoming lifestyle for at least the next year and see where it takes us.
We picked up our new-to-us RV in Tucson. It’s a 2000 Holiday Rambler Endeavor that had one owner before us. It’s in great shape, but we are doing some remodeling. I’m funkifying it!
We had to drive it back to Vegas, and about five hours into the trip, around 9 p.m., we decided we needed to catch some Zs. So, we pulled into Hidden Oasis in Wikieup, Arizona, and had our first park stay. It was a terrific experience! Brenda guided us into our spot when we arrived, which was a huge help considering Mike had never navigated an RV in the dark. (In fact, he’d never even driven an RV before that day!) The next morning, Brenda made us breakfast in the little restaurant/gift shop/convenience store that fronts the park. We didn’t have much time to enjoy the surroundings because we had to get back to Vegas. But it didn’t matter because there was plenty to enjoy in the park itself. There were several large-scale metal sculptures of cactus and flowering plants; there was a whole row of huge Mariachi singers with a giant cobra coiled in their midst. There was even a metal moose guarding the sign for the park. After browsing the artwork, you could sit a spell in the chairs and benches scattered among the landscaped flower garden and rocks with gentle waterfalls. If this any indication of the parks we’ll be staying at in the future, our adventure is going to be great!