Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dr Pepper Museum: Waco, Tx

The Dr Pepper Museum houses three floors of Texas soft-drink history.  I will say right off the bat, I liked this museum, I thought it was interesting.  There were quite a few people here on a very hot Sunday but not so many that seeing the displays became difficult.  I am not going to give away everything but here are some highlights.

The museum is in an area of town that seems fairly deserted and industrial, but in fairness, it is Sunday afternoon.

The displays begin before you even get inside with this old delivery truck.

Where can one find this Crazy Water I want to know?  Apparently it is really good for the bowel as indicated by numbers 1, 3 & 4.  There is an old fashioned soda fountain here but they don't have it.  I didn't find any in the gift shop either.

There is a Dr Pepper Club?  They have a convention?  I had to check this out online.  The club is the 10-2-4 Collector's Club (the clock should read 3:50 then right?)  The 28th annual meeting was March 8-10, 2012.  Events included a reception, seminars, a show-n-tell, auction and swap meet.  This was difficult to discover as the web-design genius of that site used a red font on a red background.

The 1st floor includes Dr. Charles Alderton, inventor of Dr Pepper.  He spoke to a small group in what looked like a replica bar about his invention.

There is an Artesian Well.  The Well as it is called, was considered the best and healthiest water available.  The well is cleared to 27 1/2 feet but the total depth is unknown.  Reading the plaques on the wall makes it seem as if they also don't know if water from this well was ever used in production.

Rounding out the first floor is a display of bottling equipment.  There are also wall displays that include photographs, old bottles and other memorabilia.

I take a quick elevator ride to the second floor to view a display of old commercials.  There are also two temporary displays on this floor.

Something I was unprepared to see...the Coca-Cola logo on anything at the Dr Pepper museum.  This display includes things like this cassette tape player and toy give-away items by various bottlers and...

Lots of information on different types of coolers.  Again with products from other companies.

The second temporary display is in honor of the anniversary of my favorite, Big Red.  Big Red was also invented here in Waco but was originally called Sun Tang Red Cream Soda.

I am challenged to open each of these boxes, take a whiff of the scent inside and decide which are used in the production of Big Red.  Since these were essentially car air fresheners, I had no idea.  The choices were:  1)Blue Cheese 2)Raspberry 3)Lemon 4)Vanilla 5)Cinnamon 6)Chocolate 7)Orange 8)Dillweed.  They use 3, 4 & 7.  

An ad aimed at women since they obviously do all of the shopping.

Holy cow!  Someone get me a hammer!  Big Red Vanilla Float is my absolute favorite.  At one time, we could get this at the gas station in our neighborhood but they haven't carried it in a long time.  I haven't seen it anywhere in years.  The sign says it was introduced at the Kentucky Derby in 2004.  See that kid in the background?  He is watching old Dr Pepper commercials. They ran one with Godzilla while I was taking this picture.  I wonder if only people who knew what a cassette tape was would know who Godzilla is?

Big Red recipes!  Break out the ice-cream freezer!

Listed in "A Handy Dandy Guide to the Dr Pepper Museum Top 10 Must See Spots" as the favorite photo op is the Bottle Cap Horse.  No one is here to take my picture and I am not sure why I would take my picture with a horse that is in a plexiglass box.  One more trip in the elevator...

The 3rd floor is dedicated to W.W. "Foots" Clements, a.k.a. Mister Dr Pepper.    He served as president, CEO and Chairman of the Board at various times after working his way up from delivery.  There is an institute here that opened in 1997 designed to teach students about the free economic system using the soft-drink industry as a model.  The institute is called, of course, The W.W. "Foots" Clements Free Enterprise Institute.

The only high-tech thing I have seen here, a holographic image that tells three different stories.  Back down the elevator and into the front stairway on the first floor.

On May 11, 1953 a tornado hit downtown Waco damaging buildings - including Dr Pepper - and killing 114.  This stairwell has photos and information about the damage and rebuilding efforts.  It is also where I learn that there is a memorial in another part of town.

This "teardrop" memorial also lists the names of those killed on the other side.  It is at the location of the original soda shop.

The only problem with this museum was a typographical error.  Those outside of Texas may not have noticed but there is no period after the doctor in Dr Pepper.  Look at the logo.  

Apparently the person who typed up a great deal of the display cards didn't know this.

This was my third venue where a Scavenger Hunt was available.

And once again, I didn't find all of the clues.  I think you really need someone between the ages of 6 -10 to be successful at these.

Time to move on down the road.  I drank me about 15 Dr Peppers, just like Forrest Gump.  How far is Georgetown again?

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Week-Long Tour of Texas, Southbound

A normal trip would involve me leaving on Monday to visit one customer Tuesday - Thursday and return either Thursday night or Friday morning, depending on my ability to get back at a reasonable hour and not cut class short on Thursday.  Usually, this means I return Friday morning.

Every so often, I make a round to multiple people who are geographically near each other.  This time they are also reasonably near me as my trip will take me from my home in the Dallas area down to the Gulf of Mexico in Corpus Christi, TX.  Along the way I will stop in Georgetown, San Antonio and Victoria.  This trip also requires me to leave on Sunday as I am expected in Georgetown on Monday morning.

Here's an overview of the full route

I normally don't fly Southwest because the airport is much further from my house than if I fly one of the other major airlines.  Also, as I have mentioned in the past, you cannot fly Southwest out of Dallas non-stop unless the state touches Texas.  My original plan for this trip was to rent a car and drive it one-way to Corpus and fly back from there. 

When David and I drove to Baltimore in March, we did a one-way rental and were not charged a "drop fee", the fee charged for taking the car from one place and leaving it in another.  However, the drop fee to go from Dallas to Corpus is, in my opinion, cost prohibitive.  My next idea was to fly so, enter Southwest.  I could fly to San Antonio, drive back to Georgetown, finish in Corpus and then drive back to San Antonio to fly home.  No drop fee.

I purchase my ticket, or so I think.  I never receive my email confirmation.  When I return home to do laundry and repack for this trip, I go to the Southwest website and try to locate my ticket by name and credit card number (it has now been 4 days since I purchased the ticket) but they tell me there is no ticket for that card.  I email my office to see if they can check my bill.  I don't hear back that day (Friday).  What to do?

Because I would be renting a car anyway and I assume I just didn't complete the transaction on Southwest, I rent a car here to drive the entire trip.  The cost is not much more than it would have been to pick it up in San Antonio and go from there and I don't want to buy another airline ticket at this point.  I know, I know...some of you are thinking, just buy the ticket already.  We will discuss this in a future post but I have personal issues that prevent this.

On Sunday, I start leg 1 - Dallas to Georgetown, 184 miles.  I don't really want to leave early but if I have to go on Sunday, I might as well try to see something on the way.

This route will take me through Waco, home to the Dr Pepper Museum and...

The Branch Davidian compound.

On February 28, 1993 a siege of this compound was started when the ATF attempted to execute a search warrant.  A gunfight ensued and 4 agents and 6 men living at compound were killed.  The FBI waited, attempting to force them out by "sleep and peace disruption" like blaring Achy-Breaky Heart over loud speakers.  On day 51, the siege ended after a fire broke out killing 76 people inside, including leader David Koresh. 

There is a memorial behind the stone above that lists the names of residents of the compound that were killed (not the ATF Agents).

Reading some of the names makes it very clear how the people creating this memorial felt.  There are 2 blocks with "Aborted Fetus" listed on them as two of the women killed were pregnant. 

Today, there isn't much out here.  The property is about 9 miles outside of town and part of the road the compound is on isn't paved (I missed it the first time I went by).

Next time, I will talk about my trip to the Dr Pepper Museum.  A much less depressing and embarrassing part of Waco's history.

Wondering what happened with my ticket on Southwest?  It was on my credit card bill.  I called them once I returned home not expecting to have a positive outcome even though their Cheif Marketing Officer spoke at our conference this year and made it seem like they are different than their peers.  

Turns out, they are.  The woman found the information, sent me the receipt (apparently I put the wrong email address) and told me I have a credit for the full amount of the ticket I can use anytime in the next 6 months.  She never put me on hold and never transferred me.  I might have to start flying them more often.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wind Power Museum: Lubbock, TX

On my last day in Lubbock we finished a little early.  I can't get an earlier flight so I decide to run by the American Window Power Center and Museum before I go to the airport.  I have seen it from the outside, when I visited Prairie Dog Town, and I think it is worth a look inside.

If the name didn't give it away, this is a museum dedicated to windmills.

Normal windmills.

Unusual windmills.

Conjoined twin windmills.

And modern ones.  This one actually provides 100% of the power used by the museum according to their brochure.

I am drawn to the sound of this one turning.  There isn't a busy road nearby and not a lot of other noises so the sound of this turning dominates the parking lot.  And the windmills don't stop here...for $5 you can tour the display inside which promises 100 more.

I won't be fighting a crowd in there.  One of those 3 cars belongs to me.

From the outside, it is a little hard to imagine that there will be 100 windmills inside.  
Now I believe it.

They spice up the displays with a variety of additions.

Tiny dinosaurs and windmills, makes sense to me.


There is a section dedicated to tornado damage.  I was in a tornado not too far down the road in Floydada, Texas when I was 14.  Having lived in Tornado Alley my whole life and having seen the movie Twister, I can tell you this...
I don't want to be anywhere NEAR this building if a tornado comes.

In addition to the windmills, there is a large room attached where you can host an event.  Apparently this is a favorite for weddings and wedding receptions.  There is a very large mural and a special stained glass window.

I could totally make this after my class earlier this week.

The mural titled Legacy of the Wind painted in acrylic by LaGina Fairbetter is 34 feet by 172 feet according to the website but:

The plaque says something different.  Either way, it's big.

The woman working the cash register and gift shop tells me about one of the windmills outside and says to be sure and go out to it.  This windmill is The Flowerdew Hundred Postmill.  This windmill commemorates the first windmill built in North America.

That was in 1621, "The year I was born," the woman tells me.

This stop was worth the $5 and hour of my life I spent here.  In fact, I only have one complaint about the American Wind Power Center and Museum:  no air-conditioning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art & Accents: Lubbock, TX

On a schedule of events for Lubbock, I found an art class at the Municipal Garden & Art Center.  The class is beginning stained glass.  It is a 2 hour class for $25 and you don't need any supplies or equipment.  Giddyup.

Class starts at 6:30 so by the time I leave my customer's site, go to the hotel to change and check email and voicemail, I only have time for fast food on the way.

They have a surprisingly reasonable variety and schedule of classes here.

They are also part of the First Friday Art Trail, not that I will be here on 
the first, or any, Friday.

There is a garden behind the building, as the name implies,
but it is padlocked when I get here.

I am not late but I am the last to arrive.  There are supposed to be 5 people participating but only 4 of us show.  The regular instructor isn't here, we have a man replacing her and two women assisting.  One of these assistants is a girl I estimate to be about 20 who admits she took this exact class only a month ago.  The ratio of instructors to students seems high but in light of this confession, my expectations are significantly lowered.

The participants include two other women and one man who are all around my age.  The man and one of the women are here together.  He has an accent.  The young assistant is intrigued and asks him where he is from.  "I live over off 77th," he says.  "Here we go," says his companion.

The girl doesn't hear the tone in his voice.  The tone that says he doesn't like people asking about his accent.  She is undeterred.  "No, I mean where does your accent come from?" she asks.  "Australia," he answers without looking up.

We have been given a choice of 5 patterns and are to select one and to pick glass from these buckets of glass leftovers on the table.  No instruction about what will happen or how to best select your glass is given.  The options are Texas, a butterfly, a bird, a heart or an apple.  

Initially I select Texas thinking I will send it to my son who is in the Navy.  The Australian selects this as well and we both begin looking for red, white and blue glass.  The woman he is with doesn't understand why we must have these specific colors.  "The flag," he says.  She giggles about how bad she is at matching colors (she picked the heart) but he assures her she isn't because, after all, she picked all of the colors in their house.

Red and white or clear are easy to find but neither of us are finding blue big enough to work with.  Because his partner is helping him dig, I decide to abandon Texas and go on to the butterfly.

When I take an art class, I like to be different if possible.  The other woman doing the butterfly is picking colorful wings.  I do the opposite and pick browns.  I also pick glass that is patterned and/or textured.  

The next step is to trace the piece from the pattern on the glass.  They do not have a light-table so you have to hold it against the window.  Next, using a tool that scores glass, we cut the excess off as close to the line as possible.  
I will grind the rest down using a glass grinder.

My cream-colored piece broke so I had to get a different piece and try again.  This puts me behind the others in class.

I will remain behind the rest of the time.  There are only three sets of everything...three cutters, three grinders (that is what the other students are doing here), three soldering irons, three instructors.  I am the odd woman out.

While I am grinding, the others are soldering their pieces together.  During this time the Australian is talking.  The girl is still fascinated and still undeterred. "I could listen to you talk all day," she says.  When he doesn't reply she asks, "Do you get tired of people saying that to you?"  

"Yes" he says, quite rudely in my opinion.  

I just want to take the girl by the hand and say honey, just STOP.  What I REALLY want to do is to tell the man that if you are an Australian living in Lubbock TEXAS it is going to come up so don't be such an ASS.  When I go to other states, they are going to say something about my accent.  All I have to do is order Iced Tea and it starts.  You be nice and get over it.

But the issue surrounding accents isn't over.  His companion says something about them being on vacation recently and it coming up a lot.  Then he starts complaining about a certain race "in the south" and how HE can't understand anything THEY say!  Then the man instructing the class agrees with him and they have a whole conversation about this.  I am looking at the Australian man and I realize he doesn't see either the inappropriateness or the irony of this at all.  I make myself focus on my butterfly.  At least he can't talk and say something stupid.

After grinding I get the copper tape on and pin my guy down.  I have to constantly ask for help.  No instruction is given and everyone else is on the next task.  No explanation is ever offered (to anyone) about what to do next or why you do anything at all.

Next the pieces are soldered together and cleaned.  This isn't my piece and you can see the lady ending up doing a blue body like mine.  Copycat.

My finished piece.  I am ready to leave.  Besides the fact that McDonald's is sitting on me like a rock, the couple is still here though they finished quite a while ago.  They are talking to the instructor about the advanced class.  "I don't know honey, I think they do a landscape...should we DO a landscape?"

Each time I asked for help, the instructor ended up annoyed with me.  I hold things wrong, I wanted to pull the cutter rather than push it, he wanted me to turn the piece "over" (I was holding it like in the image...over could be a lot of things). When I didn't understand what that meant I finally had to hand it to him and ask him to demonstrate.  The older woman helper was annoyed by me when I didn't understand how she wanted me to attach the antennae (apparently it is shocking to her that I am not an expert solderer-er after 10 minutes of practice and no instruction).  I didn't like the loop she made to put on the wing for hanging - it was sloppy - but by now I am not going to question it.  

None of the other people were friendly enough to talk though I did try with everyone at some point.  I gave up and ended up glad that I did.  

But for $25 and an hour and a half of my life, it was worth learning/teaching myself the little bit that I did (about how to do this, not about the stupidity of some people). I brought my butterfly home where he happily resides in the kitchen window where David put him without making fun of his numerous flaws at all.  

On the way out I let him get a drink from the lantana bushes in front of the building.  
He told me he was thirsty.  He speaks english but with an accent.  I kind of like it.