Friday, June 29, 2012

in which I discuss trains, churches, famous authors, and a French musical

Note: I started this post yesterday - Thursday the 28th - so the yesterday I am talking about is actually Wednesday.

giant bellows
On Thursday of our visit in Tahoe, Tim, the girls, my FIL and I went to Virginia City. We had a blast. It was a fun combination of kitschy and historical.

of course I like the more casual shot of them visiting with Stinky than the formal posed shot
The first thing on our visit was figuring out where the train depot was. While Tim set out to discover the depot, the girls had their photo taken with Stinky and Bernadette. Stinky said that when he bought a small acreage, Bernadette was living wild on it. She was five months pregnant with her foal. He tamed her, named her foal, which was born on the Fourth of July, Independence. Now she pulls on his pants for treats and poses for tourist photos.

Keith, Tim, C and K in front of 29

After Tim found the depot, we took a ride on a steam engine and learned about the mining history of Virginia City. The mining history was fascinating and was narrated by the smooth voice and excellent delivery of our conductor.

ALL-ABOARD - our smooth-voiced conductor
Keith, Tim, the girls and two strange women

mine and tailings

As I mentioned our conductor shared lots of interesting mining history. Including the fact, that the mines in Virginia City were some of the hottest in the world due to geo-thermal activity near the surface.

one of the many ruins that decorate the desert landscape

He also shared a funny story about silver ore. The miners were originally looking for gold and didn't not recognize the silver ore when they found it so they used it to fill potholes in Virginia City. The potholes reappeared overnight when it was discovered that the blue sludge was actually silver ore.

tunnels always appear dark

We got to go through an old tunnel too - it did indeed have light at the end.

but there is always light at the end

After our train ride, we visited St. Mary's in the Mountains.

if you read the history of St. Mary's you will discover that it doesn't stand perpendicular to the world

I found a bookmark in a bookstore with a similar shot of the cathedral and the following Twain quote “One mustn't criticize other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself”. Mark Twain

If is funny how memory deceives us. It reminded me of the Cathedral of the Plains, which is a historic Catholic church that we took a field trip to when I was in school. When I look at the website I see that the two are quite different. However, I think what triggered the memory was the distinctive odor. It was a faintly musty odor but not like a basement - I attribute it to the age of the buildings and the dry climate they are in.

It had beautiful stained glass which replaced the old stained glass after the mad monks defaced the church. The lady in the gift shop told us that the windows came from Winona, MN, which is an interesting connection to our state.

In the basement of the church was a funny little museum with local history, church history, and random national history all jumbled together.

Catholic iconic art fascinates me. 

In one room there was this stereoscope and an old-fashioned phonograph.

A stunning rosary.

They had an intriguing little painted grotto in the basement too - kitschy but also very inviting. 

The last stop on our visit was a corny but cool Mark Twain museum. Samuel Clemens spent several years in Virginia City as a newspaper editor and it was in Virginia City that he first used the pen name Mark Twain.

C was so funny. She was interested in the various things in this basement museum but what she thought was the coolest was a license plate that was used to patch a hole in the floor. :)

A desk that is reported to be Twain's desk.

The Territorial Enterprise newspaper counter on which, it is supposed, Twain wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

The original toilet for the newspaper office. The sign slays me.

While relaxing in Tahoe, I read Pioneer Girl. Pioneer Girl is an unpublished manuscript by Laura Ingalls Wilder which preceded the Little House on the Prairie series and which is more historically accurate and has a great deal more personal detail than the series. I found it several years ago as the appendix to a dissertation and had downloaded the pdf but never got around to reading it. Nicole Lauren Mancino had transcribed Pioneer Girl (with full permissions) off the microfiche from the Missouri archives. However, she has taken the free pdf down and it is only available if you pay for it.

If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder buff, I would strongly recommend it; it is absolutely fascinating to compare it to the series. 

After finishing Pioneer Girl, I read The Three Musketeers. I had tried reading it more than once and had never succeeded but now I whipped through it. I really enjoyed it. I've now started The Count of Monte Cristo (I love the movie). It is even better than The Three Musketeers and the movie. Reading all this French Literature has put me in the mood to read Les Miserables again.

Last night, I was working on VBS photos. Around midnight, I stopped to check my email. I found something that Tim had forwarded to me from work (I am sure he was beginning to wonder if I would ever check my email). Talk about a seriously cool coincidence (I don't believe in coincidence but it is the easiest way to phrase it).

As you know, yesterday was our twentieth anniversary. Twenty-one years ago, I spent the summer in California with Tim and his family. That summer, Tim bought me tickets to see Les Mis for the first time. Yesterday, I told you about my obsession with Les Miserables. Now I get to share something truly exciting that Tim sent me in an email. The musical is going to be a movie!!

It looks promising. I can hardly wait until Christmas. I can't think the last time I was so excited about a movie. I think maybe the second and third Lord of the Rings movies were nearly as exciting to wait for and I know I was anxious for the last few Harry Potter movies but not this anxious.

I was already looking forward to Christmas and The Hobbit but The Hobbit won't touch this if it is any good at all!!

Yikes!! I am not a huge movie buff but I just discovered that Anna Karenina is coming out in November. I love the book.  I only hope they do the relationship of Levin and Kitty justice as it is definitely the best part of the book!!

It has been ages since I've read The Great Gatsby  (I think high school) but I really like Di Caprio!! I think I need to reread it.



  1. Love old trains, the mine looks fascinating. LOVE old churches and I too am fascinated by Catholic iconography. Few churches in Britain survived the iconoclastic era of late Tudor times, but some churches did squirrel stuff away and saved their rood screens and old icons to be brought out when the reformation had calmed down somewhat many years later. Fascinating.

  2. Isn't The Hobbit coming out at Christmas too? So much fun things to see!

  3. I was raised staunchly Catholic and now avoid churches and anything religious like the plague. Maybe it's time to revisit some of that. It's not all bad...

  4. Melissa, you did cover much ground but first of all-Happy Anniversary. I love Les Miserables too and would see the movie. C would be fascinated with our kitchen at the old house as we have holes in the floor covered with Crisco lids and all manner of things. We even have uncovered holes that scare me. I also like Catholic objects and pick up vintage rosaries at the Catholic thrift store now and again. xoxo, Olive

  5. Awesome Post!
    1. I have always wanted to see Virginia City!! I can't believe you went there. :P
    2. Your stained glass photos totally remind me of my afghan that I'm working on.
    3. I read Pioneer Girl many years ago and LOVED it! I don't own it and don't know how I had a copy of it... But when my daughter was a little girl we had read all of the series and I read it then. I was able to see her and Almanzo's home in Mansfield MO when I was a kid. I even made my self a little rag doll like the one in LHITBW. I have always been a huge fan. :)
    4. Our book club is reading Les Mes this summer and will go see the musical in Sept as it is coming to PHX.
    5. I have also been anxiously looking for to The Great Gatsby, and the Movie for Le Mes.
    6. I did NOT know about Anna Karenina being made into a movie... Now I will be totally looking forward to that too! :)

    OKAY! Long comment... sorry! Just so much to say...

    Oh! P.S. I never told you ... thank you so much for the sweet note! I love Susan Wheeler's Holly Pond Hill!!

  6. Since I could not get through the book and have not seen the play, I am excited to hear that Les Mis is going to be a movie! Enjoyed the trip to Virginia City with you!

  7. Love all your pictures! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  8. I found this post so interesting, I feel so bad that I have not even heard of Virginia City, it looks like such an interesting place to visit. Love the photos of the trains and the stained glass.
    As a huge Tolstoy fan, I too can't wait to see Anna K. {my husband is counting down the days to the Hobbit.}

  9. SOOO much to look forward to! And thanks for the reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Needed that today!

  10. First Happy Belated 20th anniversary!! Second, I can not WAIT to see Les Mis. OMG!! It is going to be so good. I read The Great Gasby in High School but it is free on kindle, I think I need to reread it!! Hope you are doing well!!