Friday, November 11, 2016

Troll in Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is a small town in central Texas in an area known as "The Hill Country." It was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. It is often referred to as Fritztown. The town is also notable as the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers who initially refused to learn English.

Fredericksburg is the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and is home to the exceptional National Museum of the Pacific War. It is also home to 225 places to shop for everything from antiques to wildflower seeds.

Lil Dude Troll's favorite place in Fredericksburg is Rustlin' Rob's Gourmet Texas Foods. Rustlin' Rob's features hundreds of hot sauces, jams, jellies, rubs, spreads and pickled items. And the best thing of all is you can casually amble around tasting all of these things before making up your mind which ones you just have to take back home with you! Lil Dude Troll has never been able to visit this palace of taste testing without buying at least 4 or more jars of stuff!

For a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable time, you can't do much better than a visit to Fredericksburg and while you are there, be sure to visit Rustlin' Rob's. Lil Dude Troll gives it 2 thumbs up!



Friday, October 21, 2016

Troll at Kitty Hawk

In 1900, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright began researching locations to begin their flying experiments. Kitty Hawk, a tiny coastal fishing village on the Outer Banks of North Carolina met all of their needs - steady winds, high sand dunes from which to glide, few obstructions such as trees and buildings, and relative isolation to experiment with some secrecy.

On December 17, 1903, at 10:35am, with the motor running, Orville released the restraining wire holding back their flying machine. With Wilbur running alongside, the aircraft became airborne. Orville managed to keep it in the air at an altitude of 20 feet until it hit the sand about 120 feet away. Into the 27-mph headwind, the groundspeed had been 6.8 mph, for a total airspeed of 34 mph. The flight lasted only 12 seconds, but for the first time, a manned, heavier-than-air machine left the ground by its own power, moved forward under control without losing speed, and landed on a point as high as that from which it started.

Later that same day, Wilbur piloted the airplane for a flight of 59 seconds which covered 852 feet. The Wright brothers were then masters of the air and their accomplishment changed the world forever.

A few years after those historic flights, the land where those flights took place was acquired by the government as a national memorial site. In 1933, the Kill Devil Hills National Memorial Monument was turned over to the National Park Service. After World War II, the Park Service began building a museum/visitor center, adding exhibits, and making additional improvements such as clearing brush and upgrading roads. Today, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is recognized the world over as the site of the first successful human attempt at heavier-than-air, controlled, powered flight.

In 2015, Lil Dude Troll visited Kitty Hawk and the Kill Devil Hills memorial. He found it to be a very interesting excursion and highly recommends it for history lovers and especially for folks interested in aviation. He gives it 2 little troll thumbs up!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Popeye and Lil Dude Troll in Alma, Arkansas

Remember Popeye the Sailor Man? Alma, Arkansas does and it erected a statue of everyone's favorite sailor to prove it. If you're a big Popeye fan like Lil Dude Troll is, you can also check out the spinach can water tower that proclaims Alma the spinach capital of the world.

The first Popeye statue was built in 1987 out of paper mache and fiberglass. Tourists in cars and buses would stop by to see it, laugh and leave. Residents of Alma were embarrassed that people were laughing so they decided to either get rid of the statue or make it into something to be proud of. After much discussion, paper mache Popeye was retired in 2007 and replaced with the bronze statue and fountain now in Alma's town square. The original statue is in a store called Kustom Kaps right up the street.

Why all the Popeye love in Alma? Alma is the home of Allen's Canning Company, which cans spinach. They are also home to the annual Spinach Festival held the 3rd weekend each April.

To see Popeye for yourself like Lil Dude did, take exit 12 on I-40 and go south on US 71. Go through the traffic light, bear left, then turn right onto Fayetteville Ave./Hwy 162 into downtown. The Park is near the end of town, on the right.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Troll at the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City. The statue was designed by Frederic Bartholdi and was built by Gustave Eiffel. Dedicated on October 28, 1886, it was a gift to the United States from the people of France.

Monet Troll visited the statue and found the following facts:
  • Total overall height from the base of the pedestal foundation to the tip of the torch is 305 feet, 6 inches
  • The height from her heel to the top of her head is 111 feet, 6 inches
  • She has a 35-foot waistline
  • Her weight is 450,000 pounds
  • There are seven rays on her crown, one for each of the seven continents, each measuring about 9 feet in length and weighing 150 pounds
  • Her face measures more than 8 feet tall
  • The tablet held in her left hand measures 23' 7" tall and 13' 7" wide inscribed with the date JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776)
  • At the feet of the statue lie broken shackles of oppression and tyranny
  • There are 154 steps from the pedestal to the head of the statue
  • Her exterior copper covering is only 3/32 of an inch thick and the light green color is the result of natural weathering of the copper.

Thanks for the report, Monet!

On the pier on Liberty Island.


Monday, August 8, 2016

FAO Schwartz 5th Ave.

FAO Schwarz was founded in 1862 and over the years, became known around the world for its unique high-end toys and life-sized stuffed animals. It's most famous store on Fifth Avenue in New York City became a popular tourist destination. The store is also well known for many major movie scenes which have been filmed inside and outside the store. Its famous floor piano gained iconic status when a scene in Tom Hank's 1988 movie "Big" featured Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks" on it.

Unfortunately, the store became a victim of rising rental rates and the costs of running the business in New York City's hottest shopping district. It was closed July 15, 2015, but shortly before it closed, Monet Troll was able to visit. It was a trip to remember as these pictures are some of the last taken in the store.

LEGO Trooper

Yes, Monet is in there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Paisano Hotel

Earth Troll at the El Paisano Hotel
In October, 1929, ground was broken in Marfa, Texas for the construction of the Hotel Paisano. It was going to be "the most elegant hotel between El Paso and San Antonio." A few days later came the stock market crash which began The Great Depression. An army of workers continued the construction though and in June, 1930, the hotel opened for business.

The main customers of the Hotel Paisano during those early years were area cattle ranchers who came to Marfa to buy and sell their herds and tourists who came to West Texas for the benefits of the dry desert air. The Hotel Paisano became the social hub for the area and continued to serve this function all the way through the 1960’s.

T-shirts and other Giant memorabilia for sale
in the hotel's Giant Room.
In June, 1955, Warner Brothers came to Marfa and made the Hotel Paisano its headquarters for the filming of the soon to be classic movie Giant. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean plus 150 other cast members and crew made the Hotel Paisano their gathering place for six weeks of the summer, dining at the hotel, socializing in the lobby and lounge, and meeting to watch dailies from a projector that director George Stevens sets up in the ballroom.

Over the next 46 years, the hotel was sold to several new owners, each of whom let the elegant building deteriorate more and more. Finally, in early 2001, the group of real estate investors in Houston who had purchased the property decided to abandon it rather than go to the expense of restoration. The building sat empty and forlorn with daylight coming through ceilings and plywood covering several doors and windows.

After the city foreclosed on the property and sold it for back taxes, the new owners began restoration in late 2001. Today, the Hotel Paisano has been completely renovated with 41 rooms for rent, including a number of original historic rooms. There is also a seasonally heated pool, 3,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space, a 3,000 sq. ft. ballroom and conference space, fitness center, a Giant memorabilia room, and a restaurant and lounge with courtyard seating.

The comfortable lobby where Elizabeth Taylor,
Rock Hudson, James Dean and
Earth Troll relaxed.
With the luxurious restoration, the Hotel El Paisano has once again become a destination in West Texas. Earth Troll visited in the summer of 2016 and he gives it 2 thumbs up for luxury in West Texas!

Patio for relaxing while listening to the
calming water fountain.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Troll & The World's 2nd Largest Roadrunner

On a rainy spring afternoon, Earth Troll found himself in Fort Stockton, Texas. Naturally he had to stop to say "Howdy" to Paisano Pete.

Built in 1979, Paisano Pete was for 23 years the World's Largest Roadrunner. He held the title until a larger one was built in New Mexico in 2002. At 22 feet long and 11 feet tall, he now holds the distinction of being the world's 2nd largest roadrunner.

The good folks of Fort Stockton don't care though. They still proudly claim Paisano Pete as the town's mascot and just recently gave the bird a new coat of paint.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Troll in Big Bend National Park

Entrance sign to the park.
In far southwest Texas on the Mexican border in a bend in the Rio Grande River is a land of contrasts - desert, mountains & lush river bottoms. Big Bend National Park, encompassing over 800,000 acres, is home to a desert amphibian, the Couch spadefoot toad, which lives nowhere else and an even rarer fish that lives in just one pond inside the park. Big Bend is the most ecologically diverse park in the entire national parks system with more species of birds, plants, butterflies, bats, reptiles, and even ants than any other U.S. national park.

From the lowest point in the park at Rio Grande Village (1,850' elevation) to Emory Peak at 7,825', it's not uncommon for the temperature to be 20 F degrees different. There are many recreational opportunities and if you seek solitude, there are numerous hiking trails that are long, rugged, remote and rarely traveled. Over 118 miles of the Rio Grande River borders the park and provides unforgettable river trips by canoe and kayak through dramatic 1,500' canyon walls.

Monk Troll totally enjoyed his visit to Big Bend National Park in the spring of 2016. What he found most enjoyable was the awesome setting for nature to display the splendor and wonders humans have been blessed to have and enjoy if only we would slow down. There were numerous moments of solitude to just sit and feel ever so small as you attempt to take it all in and contemplate your place in the grand picture. John Muir said, Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pry in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  Big Bend is just such a place.

The mountains known as "Mule Ears"
in the background.

At the remote Castolon Ranger Station
in the park.
Sitting on an old wagon near
Castolon Station.

Overlooking Santa Elena Canyon.
Start of the Santa Elena Canyon Trail.

Mouth of the Santa Elena Canyon
with 1,500' cliffs.
The western park entrance/exit.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Troll & Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly, one of rock 'n roll's most famous musicians, a member of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, influencer of such luminaries as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John, is buried next to his parents in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. Over 50 years after his death, thousands of tourists and fans from around the world still visit Buddy's grave, leaving sunglasses, guitar picks, and coins to honor him.

In tribute to its most famous son, Lubbock has established a well-regarded museum, The Buddy Holly Center. The city also established the West Texas Walk of Fame to honor various West Texans. It consists of a series of plaques which surround a memorial statue of Buddy. He was unanimously chosen by civic leaders as the first inductee.

(For an interesting, more complete write-up about Buddy Holly, the musicians with him on his last tour and his passing, please see our sister site by clicking here.)