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PG Butler on the Road - ROCKY MOUNTAIN TOUR
ROCKY MOUNTAIN TOUR
Nov. 1-8, 2009
The “Rocky Mountain Tour” in the past has been a road trip, which involved a bit of sightseeing. This year the “tour” was mostly by air. Rocky Mountain District VPG Perkins Patton met us with the members of the ASSSAR when we arrived in Tucson, AZ, and remained with us until we departed Albuquerque.
Nov. 1-3, 2009
One of the highest honors that has been given us since become the First Family of SAR was the huge reception we received at the Tucson Airport. Ten members of the society were there to greet us as we came down the escalator into the baggage reclaim area. Al Niemeyer, AZSSAR President, led the group, smiling all the way. All but one, who was the airport director traveled with us to lunch. I met my aide d’camp, Lee Lovorn, an outstanding young SAR member.
We had a beautiful lunch in a private room overlooking a lovely courtyard at the Arizona Inn, Tucson’s oldest and finest Inn. This historic inn dates from 1930. The food was superb. Mike and Martha Jones and Dr. Dan Heller joined us for lunch. Afterwards we were driven to our lovely Hampton Inn Hotel where we had a few hours to unpack and rest before dinner. We left the hotel at 5:30 for a beautiful ride up the sandy mountain overlooking the city. We arrived in time for the NMSSAR Board of Managers meeting at the beautiful Skyline Country Club.
The dining room had floor to ceiling windows across the full breadth of this very wide room. From the dining room one could see the who valley in which lies greater Tucson. The sunset brought out lovely rose and rust colors in the mountain. At full dark the twinkling lights of the city were very romantic. After dinner I presented Lee Lovorn with an Aide d’Camp badge and presented a SAR National Meritorious Service Medal to Dick Zeilman, who has been a loyal member for many years.
I had left home without my blood pressure medicine. Dr. Rudy called in a prescription for me, and I was back in business.
That evening I was the featured speaker and I brought the group up to date on the library construction, Remnant Trust, the agreement with Frazier Museum to provide us with video monitoring, and the prospect of becoming a Smithsonian Museum affiliate. There were about 35 members and wives in attendance.
After dinner Al Niemeyer presented me with a beautiful bolo tie with a large turquoise bolo tie, and Nancy Alter gave Robin a beautiful silver necklace with a large turquoise stone. Also, Charles E. E. Harrar presented me with copies of two old SAR books: National Register of the Society Sons of the American Revolution, by Louis H. Cornish, 1902, New York, and Year Book of the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 1896, Chicago. On the way home we saw some wild pigs on the road.
Monday was a full day of activities. After breakfast at the hotel, our first stop was the recently restored Tucson Presideo. Presideo Trust President Rick Collins gave us a detailed tour, which included the history surrounding the Presideo. From the Presideo we drove out of town to visit the Mission San Xavier del Bosque. From a distance it appeared as a stunning white pearl in the midst of a sandy desert. The Mission is on the land of the Tohono O’odham Indians. The architecture was a mixture of Spanish Colonial and Rococo. It was more beautiful inside than out, and the exterior was simply beautiful. While there we had a talk about the mission by a young scholar.
There were about 20 of us in all on the tour. We all stopped for a nice Mexican lunch at Guillermo’s, which had lots of Mexican charm and good food too. The Arizona State Historical Society was our next stop. There we had a private tour led by Loraine Jones, who led us back in the storage area. There we were able to hold Wyatt Earp’ pistol and shotgun. I had my photo taken holding General Santa Anna’s sword, while Ms. Jones held his coat beside me. It was a very interesting afternoon.
That evening Warren and Nancy Alter hosted a fabulous dinner in a private dining room at Flemmings Prime Steakhouse Restaurant. It was a five course, 5 star meal, with appropriate toasts. Warren and Nancy had even provided a personalized menu with our names included. It was a wonderful evening to conclude a fantastic visit.
We left for the airport a bit early on Tuesday so that we would have time to drive through the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. We stopped at the movie set “Old Tucson”, where we posed for some great photos with ancient cactus. We loved our visit to Tucson, and hated to leave, but they would be waiting on us in Denver. Perkins was on the flight with us from Tucson to Denver.
Nov. 3 – 5, 2009
Ed Karr, COSSAR President and Bob Gordon, COSSAR Trustee met us at the airport and stayed with us for our entire visit. Ed’s wife rode with us from the airport to the Embassy Suites, which would be our comfortable home for the next two nights. Ed and Bob offered to take us to an early dinner, but since we had enjoyed a late lunch at the Tucson airport, we declined. Later we got small hamburgers from the bar and ate them in the room.
When we were preparing to leave for Chicago, Denver received a large snowfall. We lugged heavy coats to Chicago. The weather was mild for our entire trip, and we never needed the heavy coats.
After a full breakfast we went to the restored home of “the unsinkable” Molly Brown. She was a vocal survivor of the Titanic, who had led an interesting life. While there a transformer in the alley behind the house went out with a large explosion. Later we finished our tour by flashlight. A few blocks away was the University Club, site of the COSSAR luncheon in our honor. To his credit, Norm Kronvall, former Colorado State President, former VPG and former Trustee, drove from Grand Junction, CO for this meeting – a drive of 4 ½ hours each way. That is true dedication, for which I expressed my deep appreciation. There were about 30 members and wives in attendance, including Colorado DAR Regent, Charlotte Hubbs.
After I updated the members about events on the national level, I was asked a series of questions about why we were headquarted in Louisville, KY. My response was that 30 years ago when we moved, Louisville was the population center of the US, and it made visits to headquarters easier for our members in the Midwest and Western US. Also, our building is within the “close” of Fort Nelson, headquarters of General George Rogers Clark, who won the lands north of the Ohio for the US, In a subsequent letter from Ed Karr, he told me that I had changed the members mind about our location.
Ed presented Robin with a beautiful gold Aspen tree leaf which she could wear as either a pin or on a necklace. He gave me a lovely hand carved Aspen wood candle holder.
That afternoon we visited the Colorado History Museum. We went to the private room where the COSSAR Archives are stored. While there we received a short talk from one of the directors.
That evening about 20 members and wives joined us for a delightful dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant. I had eaten at the Buckhorn many years ago. Their specialty is wild game – venison, elk, bear, etc. The Victorian era eatery is decorated with heads and skins of wild life from both the Rocky Mountain area and Africa, as well as Indian and western artifacts. While upstairs for cocktails, we were serenaded by cowboy singing old west songs. Downstairs we sat at a long table in the back. Both the food and service were excellent. It was a memorable evening.
On our way to the airport Ed and Bob drove us up past Golden, Col, to the tomb of Wild Bill Cody. I had passed this area scores of times going to and coming from the ski slopes, but never had time to stop. There was an interesting museum and gift shop, but the highlight was the magnificent view from Lookout Mountain, the site of his tomb. Ed and Bob treated us to a final meal in Golden at a Mexican Restaruant.
It had been gorgeous weather for both days, even through there was still piles of snow along the way. Perkins had a later flight than us at a different terminal, so we bid him adeau for a few hours. We were on our way to Albuquerque.
Nov. 5 – 8, 2009
Jim Thornton, NMSSAR President and his wife, Maryanne met us at the airport and drove us to the beautiful high Hotel Albuquerque, where they provide a corner junior suite. It was very spacious and afforded us two different views of the surrounding mountains. From our balcony, the sunset was stunning with the desert colors being reflected off the mountains.
SANTA FE, NM
The following morning we drove with Jim and Maryanne to Santa Fe, NM for a chapter meeting. NMSSAR was celebrating its 100th anniversary while we were there. The luncheon meeting was conducted at the Osteria D’Assisi Restaurant. Before we arrived Jim gave us a driving tour of Santa Fe and surroundings. I had been there over 20 years ago for a skiing trip just before Christmas. Robin had also spent time there before. I had the pleasure of installing Ken Scroggins as a new member, after which I spoke about current national events.
BACK TO ALBUQUERQUE
Before returning to Albuquerque, we walked a few blocks to the historic Palace of Governors, where we took a tour, followed by a tour of the New Mexico History Museum. On the way back I noticed two huge casinos, both on Indian lands. That evening we drove to the edge of town where we dined at the famous El Pinto Restaurant. Although the service was lacking, the food was good, and we all enjoyed the comradery.
Our first event the following day was a tour of the National Hispanic Culture Center. The Center is an art gallery, library and gift shop. We enjoyed a private tour through the art gallery, where there were several exceptional sculpture exhibits. Before leaving, we ate lunch. Since we had just had breakfast 2 ½ hours before, we ate very light.
Following lunch we headed to the New Mexico Memorial Veterans Memorial Park, which at one time was part of the adjacent Kirkland Air Force Base. This was a beautiful facility, with a large museum, several walks with small monuments and plaques. Teddy Adams had scheduled a Wounded Warrior Program at the covered outdoor pavillion. He enlisted the Civil Air Patrol Color Guard and had young lady sing the national anthem. He even had a program printed for the event. I presented SAR medallions to two recipients of the Purple Heart. I thanked them for their service and sacrifice. Later a specialized SAR Certificate of Appreciation will be mailed to them and a notice sent to their respective home town newspapers.
Mid afternoon found us at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for a look at the DAR Madonna of the Trail Monument downtown. We arrived at the hotel with time to relax for about an hour before the NMSSAR Centennial Dinner. About 35 members and wives were in attendance at a private dining room at the hotel.
After I brought greeting from national and updated the members present, I congratulated them on their 100th birthday. VPG Patton presented me with a book on Spanish Involvement in the American Revolution. Jim gave Robin a fancy clay warming tray, and presented me with a copy of Judge Thonhoff’s book on the Texas Connection to the American Revolution.
The NMSSAR made us feel welcome. It had been a great trip, and the weather held for us. Both of us began symptoms of a cold, which later sent me to the doctor and kept Robin out of action for about a week. We flew home via DFW. Although we had enjoyed our travels, it was good to get home. I had only a few days before leaving for California.