Triple the fun at the Red Power Round Up


Have you ever seen a triple tractor? Neither had I! At this year’s Red Power Round Up we met up with Buddy and Belinda Woodson and their Triple A comprised of three Farmall’s A’s all linked together to form one cool tractor. The Woodsons hail from Eagleville, Tennessee and before creating the Triple A Buddy mostly was into hi-crops.

The other half of the triple duo is Charlie Stewart a southern boy from Bogalusa, Louisiana. The original triple tractor was built by Charlie’s cousin the late Dewitt Stewart who combined three A’s. Dewitt’s Triple A is now housed at America’s Old Iron Museum in Bush, Louisiana. Buddy first saw the Triple A when Dewitt and Charlie came to a show in their hometown of Eagleville.

Buddy decided to make his version of the Triple A and Charlie saw just how much fun Buddy was having so he made a Triple Cub. The two sat up beside each other at the 2015 Red Power Round Up in Sedalia, Missouri and garnered a lot of attention. Buddy said there are about five double tractors out there, but that the triples are a new phenomenon.

We are having so much fun,” Charlie said,

He is on a high of pure adrenaline,” Belinda added about Buddy.

Keep your eyes peeled, at shows this summer. The Triple A and Triple Cub are quite a sight!

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Independence Day freedom to be


The red stands for blood that was spilled
The blue the veins that bled
The white the purity
Of the lives they led

Freedom came
at a cost
Be sure to be thankful
For what they lost

The flag that flies
The fireworks high
Celebrations for independence
In the sky

We have our parties
Sit out on our lawn
Salute a solder
All before dawn

Raise your glass
Say a prayer
Because of the sacrifice of many
We breathe free air

Independence day
Gives us freedom to be
Men and women

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Travel Insurance, yes or no? A cautionary Note

Travel Insurance? Should you or shouldn’t you? I think when traveling with airfare that it is always a good idea. I know a couple years ago when we went to Agritechnica that my husband was unable to go and the insurance was a life saver. Whether you think you should take it out or not is a personal call, but I thought it worth a mention.

This morning I received a note in my email about three events3 Global Events that Assurance Insurance was highlighting that could be dangerous to participate in for tourists. This would not be a problem for me (except possibly Oktoberfest because what is more fun than Germany?).

Anyway, below is the recommendations of Assurance’s Protect Your Bubble.

“… Assurant identified three upcoming events where tourists should consider watching from the sidelines rather than fully participating in these festivals abroad:

• Running of the Bulls: Taking place in Pamplona, Spain from the 6th-14th of July. Most people observe this Spanish tradition from the balconies of buildings but every year hundreds of locals and tourists alike test their speed and luck by running with the enormous bulls. In 2014 there were 8 goring incidents and 35 other injuries related to the event according to

• Theemithi Fire-Walking Festival: Every year in Singapore around 2,000 men dare to walk across burning hot coals in exchange for a blessing from the goddess Draupadi. This ritual begins in October and lasts through November. reveals that participants suffer severe burns to their feet and some occasionally trip and fall into the fire.

• OktoberFest: Each year in Munich, Germany in the month of October beer enthusiasts from around the world gather to take part in the alcoholic festivities. But being under the influence can lead to injury and sometimes death. According to an article on, over 450 people were injured and 638 people drank themselves unconscious and needed medical attention at last year’s festival.

Traveling with safety in mind whether in the US on the coastline, up a mountain, or just driving down the road always makes sense. The unexpected can happen at any time and it just makes sense to be prepared. Have your insurance up to date, all your information with you and a first aid kit in the back of the car. On our way down south last week, there were numerous monsoon rainstorms where luckily we were able to stop and avoid incident, but starting out with a Travel Prayer as my mom always advices and being prepared is numero Uno.

Safe travels!

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Traveling Tractors – all for a good cause!

Calvin Elder’s farm is in rural Mt. Auburn and today the farm was the site of a tractor drive. Antique tractor collectors that were mostly Ansar Shriners and Ag Corps members brought their tractors for the 27 mile drive for fun and to raise money for a good cause. The funds go to the Ansars who distribute the money to hospitals to help children.

I knew of this event but this was the first year that Keith and I were able to attend. It is a touching scene to see tractors of many colors driving down the road with flags flying behind them in front of a corn field. The rural roads came to life under the auspices of Allis Chalmer’s Persian orange, Farmall red, Minneapolis Moline Prairie gold, John Deere Green, Oliver Green and Case and Massey reds.

The clouds while heavy just served as a backdrop during the ride and the group successfully completed the drive and consumed the wonderful pork chop dinner before the rain came. “You are a lucky guy,” one collector quipped to Calvin when I was interviewing him for my Farm World story about this event.

You often think of traveling, and driving, but not always by tractor. Traveling for a good cause in a distinctive vehicle brought about a lot of smiling faces on the drivers and those that came out to witness the event. If you have a tractor and get a chance to be part of one of these drives consider doing it, you get a different view from the tractor seat!

Tractor Drive 001

Tractor Drive 035

This was the 7th year for the Ansar Shriner/Ag Corps tractor event that last year brought in around $2500. “It is all for the children,” Calvin said.

His wife Sandee agreed. The couple took the time to open up their farm and their hearts for this event. I must say though that while the couple said it was all for the children, while I agree the funds were, the fun itself was for the drivers who ran their “toys” in road gear all for a good cause.

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All Locked Up – in the Brussels calaboose – Photo by Keith ladage


Recently we headed south and took a ride on the Brussels ferry ate at the wonderful Wittmond hotel then checked out the rest of the town.

One little building caught our attention and I had to stick my head in. The building was the historic jail that originally called “the calaboose” by the locals. I had to pose in the doorway of this little jail that was built about the same time the town’s boundaries were established.

Brussels is located in an unglaciated part of the state on the tip of the peninsula formed by the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and is almost completely surrounded by water. Being located at the southern tip of the peninsula the village of Brussels was first settled by German immigrants in 1822. They were pulled to this area because the fertile land, the water supply and nearby forests.

Because there are no railroads or bridges into Calhoun County’s Brussels Illinois has always been sparsely populated and the population has never been more that several hundred. The small population helps the community retain its small town feel and yesterday aura.

The calaboose/jail had an update when they added corrugated iron was added in 1889. History says that the jail was mostly used to house men overnight for drinking too much beer. Since there is a pub right next door if someone gets rowdy they could do it again!

I don’t think there is too much danger though because the last prisoner was held there in 1952. The website said that the jail “once held 12 men who had to sleep standing up.”
Since the ferry only runs until the end of September, make plans to head south this summer and enjoy the beauty and history of Brussels. Log onto for more information.

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My brush with Irma Harding at the Red Power Round UP


This week at the Red Power Round Up I had a chance to take my picture with Irma Harding, International Harvester’s Golden Girl. The brush with the famous I.H. was only with the cardboard version, but I also had a brush with two other real-life Irma fans.

At the Round Up, held in Sedalia, Missouri, Marilyn McCray author of Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way offered a presentation about Irma. Since I had a small part in the book researching Irma collectibles, I was excited to meet her.

Then, Kevin Darst, the expert on all things Irma and IH was also at the show and many of her refrigeration/kitchen items were also on display at the show and served as a backdrop to Marilyn’s interesting presentation where she explained how IH “femineered” household equipment.

Just in case you have never heard of the lovely Irma, she was the fictional character created by International Harvester Company (IHC) to serve as their perfect spokeswoman. Based on home economists, this perfect woman was International’s trademark that helped many farmers’ wife to simplify her life on the farm with the advent of refrigeration equipment. Marilyn shared how the Harding Girls young women all posing as Irma Harding would put on presentations showing how to use the advertised packaging to freeze and can food.

Irma was a representative for a short period of time from 1947 to 1956 less than ten years, but her image and collectibles live on. Today, Irma has made a comeback with the new book and her recipes have been reworked. It was fun to meet Marilyn and reconnect with the wonderful Kevin who along with her husband Darrell has an amazing museum that many collectors visit and enjoy.

Going to the Red Power Round Up wonderful – my brush with Irma, priceless!

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Brussels, the ferry and the Wittmond Hotel


Lots of travel is coming up and we wanted a quiet day, a memory filled day for my husband’s birthday celebration. He loves backwoods roads and it was a treat to ride on the Brussels Ferry on our way to dine at the historic Wittmond hotel.
The Ferry ride is a short one, but the hilly drive is a lovely one filled with trees and twists and turns of River bottom land. The ferry is one of the quicker ways to get to this Calhoun county Location. The ferry filled with vehicles three abreast and a couple riding a motorcycle was to our right and I must say they had the best view. Bikes were everywhere in southern Illinois, it was just that kind of day.

We took the short ferry ride then arrived at the Wittmond Hotel, that serves up a meal family style. The hotel was built by German immigrants Conrad Wittmond and his wife Mary. Our waitress said, “Today the sixth generation of Wittmonds run the restaurant.”

The first portion of what would become the Wittmond Hotel was built in 1847 and operated as a trading post. The website history states, “The general store sold dry goods, furnishings, livery items, clothing and all other goods that a pioneer family might need. With the rapid growth of the riverboat trade after the Civil War, the family saw a need to provide accommodations to river travelers. In 1863 the Wittmonds constructed the two story brick house that formerly housed the Brussels post office, on the west side of the store. In 1885, they renovated the structure, adding 15 rooms for overnight guests.”
The hotel portion of the Wittmond is no more due to the cost of sprinkler systems, but the family style dinner is still traditional and there is a bar and a gift shop for visitors to enjoy as well. Keith loved it and said it was a do again.

The little town of Brussels is quite small, but it boasts a lovely Catholic Church with a statue of Jesus on the cross and the Virgin holding Baby Jesus. Our friend Jane Elliott told me, “The church actually burned a couple of years ago and they rebuilt it.”

We also stopped down the road at the former general store that now serves as the Calhoun County Illinois Visitors Center home in one section and a consignment shop open on occasional weekends on the other side. A wonderful guide provided history of the building saying this was once a general store downstairs with a saloon and dance hall above in one big open room with the residence in the other portion. She pointed out the two stairs in the saloon where during Prohibition while police came in, customers could go out!

The building was built in German style with two doors in front and two in back. Our guide said there was even a tunnel below the building that since has been blocked.

Across the road from the visitors center was a small jail and there were a few pubs that visitors could enjoy as well. We had a great time enjoying the southern Illinois hospitality and drove north winding our way back home. This birthday was a good one, these days we are going for experiences rather than things!

Note that this is a May – October type of thing, the ferry only runs until November 1st.

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Sculptures in Puerto Vallarta a story of culture, history and art

The art, the statues bring life to a city and this was so true at Puerto Vallarta. It was a Scavenger Hunt that brought a group of travel writers to Puerto Vallarta’s Los Muertos Pier. The lovely structure at the end reminds me of a sailboat. The sculpture has lights and changes colors at night. The pier was designed by architect José de Jesús Torres Vega, and was three years in the making.

The pier was part of a seven year urban renewal plan. I was in Puerto Vallarta attending the NATJA convention and we took a downtown tour where we saw the pier that while was quite beautiful to us, our guide said that the locals liked the old walkway better. Tradition and tourism doesn’t always go hand in hand.
A reference to tradition is “The Washer Woman”, a bronze statue created by artist Jim Demetro. The statue depicts a woman scrubbing her clothes on a rock, as was traditional in the Cuale River. This is something we witnessed later in the week traveling to Canyon River for dinner and entertainment. We passed along the winding river and saw children floating, women washing and men just sitting and soaking. The statue is so lifelike that Demetro even has water dripping from the “molino de agua”, water wheel.

Demetro also brought his talents to the amazing statue that of a Mexican couple in the traditional Tapatio dance. This statue is titled, “Xiutla folkloric dancers” and imbibes the culture of this beautiful city and makes me want to dress up and twirl in a swirling skirt.

Another beautiful bronze by Ramiz Barquet is the statue of Saint Paschal Baylon, the patron saint of cooks. Statues varied from fine art, to more craft art, like the burro outside of Burro’s Restaurant and Bar.
Along the ocean it makes sense to spy statues relating to a maritime theme like the Friendship Fountain or Dancing Dolphins Fountain which is located to the side of the Naval Historical Museum. This fountain was created in honor of Puerto Vallarta’s sister city Santa Barbara. James “Bud” Bottoms is the artist that created the sculpture and Octavio González Gutiérrez was in charge of the sculpting work.

The most fascinating sculpture story I heard is of the “The Boy on the Seahorse” created by Rafael Zamarripa Castaneda. The original was lost in a storm, a new one created, then the other was found, lost in a hurricane and found again!

Tying into the sea is the sculpture “In Search of Reason” by Guadalajara artist Sergio Bustamant which offers has two pillow-head figures ascending their ladder to the sky. While their interpretation is different I think the figures appear to be waving at ships in the bay. This is a favorite place to climb and have your picture taken.

Although not a sculpture per se, another great photo op is at the large outdoor amphitheater Los Arcos (the Arches). This is where entertainment and many outdoor attractions occur but for us it was a place to stand beneath the arches and have a group picture.

This is only a small section of the statues and art to be seen in downtown Puerto Vallatra. These statues share the culture, history and vibe of this truly vibrant city. Check out for more information.

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Lost at sea and back again, the story of the “Boy on the Seahorse”


There are a great many statues in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, but perhaps the most fascinating sculpture story is of the “The Boy on the Seahorse”. While in town for a conference I took a downtown tour and the guide said, “This statue embodies Puerto Vallarta’s spirit. The statue tells the story about a little boy that returns to Puerto Vallarta after many years.”

The story begins in 1960 when 18 year-old Rafael Zamarripa Castaneda won the Mexican National Sculpture award. He created the lovely seahorse statue that in the late 1960’s was originally placed at Las Pilitas, an outcropping at the south end of Los Muertos Beach.

Everyone loved the statue and it became an icon and representation of the city then it was swept away in a storm. The sculpture was found and returned to Guadalajara for repairs. While in Guadalajara they lost track of the statue and in the meantime, a replica of the statue was made and unveiled in 1976. This replicated “Boy on a Seahorse” is the statue located along the Malecon, the famous walkway in downtown Puerto Vallarta.

The original statue made in the 60’s was eventually retrieved and placed in the original location. It is hard to believe, but when Hurricane Kenna blew near town in 2002, the sculpture was once again washed away by the sea. Amazingly, the statue was again recovered and is once more on display. So what was lost is now found, replicated, and tourists and residents can now see two “Boy on the Seahorse” icons.

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Blues Land the Kentucky Headhunters new album with Johnnie Johnson is a trip down melody lane


Fred Young is a tractor collector and sometimes Keith and I find ourselves in the same places at the same time. Fred likes Farmall Red tractors, and plays the drums for the Kentucky Headhunters, a band we love. Music offers its own way of traveling, putting on a great recording sets the time and place in my mind and sometimes takes me away to somewhere else.

Yesterday I received a copy of The Kentucky Head Hunters new CD Blues Land and it takes me to Memphis or a bluesy Nashville spot where music plays with a throbbing beat that makes me want to get up and dance. This album was created with the late Johnnie Johnson, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Johnson played piano with Chuck Berry and according to his biography Berry wrote the song “Johnny B. Goode” about Johnson.

Johnson has been called “the world’s greatest living blues pianist” and it was that talent and a friendship with Kentucky Headhunters members, brothers Richard and Fred Young, Greg Martin, Doug Phelps and Anthony Kenney, that brought Johnson to Kentucky to play tracks for the then upcoming album Soul. This was in 2003 and Johnson later passed away in 2005. The session turned out so well with the Headhunters that Johnson spent three days playing music and this album is the result. The music on Blues Land is referred to as a “country-fried, blues-infused party from start to finish”.

To me it is a rock-a-billy blues album that had us tapping our feet and shaking in our chair until I got up dancing much to my daughter’s dismay.

For information on The Kentucky Headhunters and their new album log onto get your a copy and take a trip down melody lane.

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