Tag Archives: antiques

Every year during the last few hot days of summer,  gear heads and moto nuts from all over the world flock to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa for the world-renowned Chief Blackhawk Antique Motorcycle Swap Meet. What started with just a few motorcycle lovers some 51 years ago under a shade tree, exploded to attract thousands of people each year and has become the largest vintage motorcycle swap meet in America. Overnight, the fairgrounds are transformed into a little city with over 1000 vendors buying and selling anything related to antique motorcycles from the turn of the century to the 1970s. 

From antique & vintage motorcycles, bicycles, signage, parts and memorabilia–this swap has it all.

For All The Pickers

Mike has had his spot at the swap meet for almost 30 years and never misses the opportunity to see his old friends and score rare treasures. He has loved motorcycles since he was little but the swap meet is where he fell in love with the history of the motorcycle.

“So many of these vendors are my mentors and this swap has been a true coming of age for me as a picker,” says Wolfe. “It’s a community of like-minded people that love transportation history and anything with two wheels.”

A favorite night of the swap meet is the motorcycle races. Here you can see riders race motorcycles that age from the early 1900s to the 1960s on a flat, dirt oval track. 

Racers at the starting line, ready to hit the track and racing poster from 2018.

One of the people that help make this swap the success it is, is Wanda Schumacher. “She wears a lot of hats but what I love about her the most is that she’s everyone’s mama and she takes care of us,” says Mike.

Wanda Schumacher, Swap Meet Mama and Staff

World Known and Loved

With that family-like atmosphere and an unrivaled selection of everything vintage motorcycle, it’s no wonder that this swap brings people from all over the world, over 20 different countries to be exact (and counting).

Visit www.chiefblackhawk.org for the latest information and dates for next year’s swap meet! We can’t wait to see you out there!


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This year has given us lots of extra time to update our space. Instead of running to your favorite department store, think unique! Meet the women who are out there pickin’ for your new favorite piece of home decor.

You may recognize Emily here as Danielle’s right hand on “American Pickers” and store manager for Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa. When she isn’t following up with leads for the crew, Emily is chasing her own! As a frequent estate sale and Facebook Marketplace picker, she hunts for rusty gold in the form of post-modern pieces, 80’s inspired items, or anything unique that sparks a nostalgic memory of her childhood.

 

“My parents owned an antique business, so growing up, our house was decorated with items that didn’t look like they belonged in that era,” explains Emily. “Plenty of primitive pieces, my dad’s antique decoy collection, the copper sinks and bathtub, Mom’s rehabbed and functional gas Roper stove…I could go on. I love antiques that spark that type of creativity.”

Growing up with a trained eyed and appreciation for the unique, the items that catch Emily’s eye are anything but mainstream.

“What makes picking such a passion of mine is that the pieces I find are all one-of-a-kind and tell a story. You can’t find my Karl Springer tessellated coffee table at West Elm or my Frederick Weinberg wire and mesh mannequin head display at Target. Using antiques as decor allows me to create a happy and inspiring space.”

If your home could use a refresh — think unique! Meet the women who not only run their own vintage shops but are out there pickin’ for your new favorite piece of home decor.

 

THE BRASS QUEEN
Jamie: The Sweetest Vintage Shop

 

Inspired by her childhood love for collecting little glass animals, Jamie’s boutique of rare, and eclectic brass items are all hand-picked by her to help add some extra shine in your home — something she has been training for since grade school. 

“The principal wanted to create a showcase featuring student’s collections,” explains Jamie. “My glass animals were selected and displayed for the entire school. I was so proud to show them off! (I still have the dalmatian in my private collection!) Since then, I’ve graduated from school displays to a worldwide audience thanks to the age of Instagram.”

The social media outlet allows Jamie, to connect directly with other vintage store owners/experts as she carefully researches her inventory to make sure you get the best brass for your buck. 

We admire Jamie’s honesty in more ways than one. Not only is she open about being a solo small business owner and picker, between inventory posts, she also talks openly about how her stage four colon cancer treatment is going — a battle she has been fighting since 2014. 

“For the past three years I’ve been successfully running my antique shop on Instagram,” says Jamie. “Not only does this platform allow me to have flexibility with my health, but it also allows me to connect to new and returning customers. My favorite parts of the picking are passing down the stories attached to the item and then hearing a customer share how it has added joy to their home. Mission accomplished. “

We are saddened to share that since releasing this blog, Jamie passed away in the fall of 2021 but you can still admire her beautiful collection on her Instagram here.

THE OLD SOUL

Megan: Everthine Antiques

 

 

From a young age, Megan grew up visiting her grandma at her Hyde Park brownstone home in Chicago. Megan says being in that house surrounded by her grandma’s antique furnishings and collection of vintage clothing she learned the true value of an item.

“Grandma would tell me things like, ‘Megan, you were born in 1990 — this photograph was taken in 1890. Hold it in your hand, appreciate it, and the story it has to tell. ‘To this day, that perspective still gives me chills and is the inspiration behind my vintage collection.”

Picking is in her blood. Not only did Megan’s parents run their own antique shop, but she also gained some early expierence working in the visuals department at auction houses. 

“My collection has a homey and historical touch to it. The care and research my parents put into their inventory for their store is the same effort I make to ensure you have some understanding and authentication behind your antique. That way when someone walks into your home you can discuss it.”

Did we also mention on top of running her own online vintage shop Megan is a full-time second-grade teacher? The educating never stops!

How to shop for Megan’s collection: For the best selection, browse her Etsy shop daily for her freshest finds!

Shop Everthine Antiques HERE

 

THE BOHO MAMA

Chi: Simplychi Vintage

 
 

Chi, a teacher turned online small business owner, dives into her local thrift and antique shops in search of earthy, vintage home decor. 

“As a busy mother of four boys, the oldest being 11-years-old, I enjoy picking as a creative outlet for self-expression while at the same time helping feed these growing kids! We’re always together so I try to get them interested in what I do. The boys love going out with me treasure hunt. My oldest is developing an interest in photography so occasionally he’ll help me out with images online.”

You’ll notice, right out of the gate, that Chi has a green thumb. Inspired by her childhood spent around plants, her signature move is challenging herself, and customers, to see anything as a potential flower pot for their home.

“For me, picking is a rush of anticipation wondering what is waiting out there to be found. While it’s easy to get carried away in the process, I have a rule that I only pick up items that I wouldn’t mind keeping if they don’t sell. That’s how I know my inventory is authentically Chi.”

How Shop Chi’s collection: You can browse her collection on both her Instagram and Esty accounts. Chi does also takes requests for particular pieces.

Shop Simplychi Vintage HERE

 

Now that you’ve got new ideas for refreshing your home, we challenge you not only to support female-owned vintage shops but opt out of the frequent department store run in favor of a garage sale or thrift store instead for your new favorite vintage find!

 
We have finally found the perfect vneck! This tee fits relaxed and is so soft. The custom, “Pickin’ America” design is imprinted in white and features both of our locations and “Home of the Pickers.” SHOP NOW
 
 
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Welcome To Town

Whether you have come to see us at Antique Archaeology LeClaire before or are coming to see us for the first time,  we want to say, ” Welcome!” and we’re honored to have you in town. We’ve created a LeClaire travel guide to help guarantee that you don’t miss a moment, experience, or bite of all that this town has to show you. We hope you have good walking shoes on!

LeClaire, Iowa is a treasured town for many reasons. More than a century ago, fearless river pilots helped bring LeClaire to life, establishing it as a bustling river town on the Mississippi River. It’s also the city where Mike Wolfe began to discover his passion for the preservation and community by saving LeClaire’s historic riverboat homes, finding his voice on the city council, even serving as a volunteer firefighter for a time! There’s something in their river air that puts wind into the sails of anyone looking to inspire and create.

Birds-eye view of historic downtown LeClaire, Iowa. Photo by Emilene Leone Photography 

Main Street Is On The Mississippi River

Nothing beats a walk down LeClaire’s Main Street, Cody Road. This is a five-block stretch where you’ll find many incredible small businesses and restaurants that make our town unlike any other. (We love how the historic riverboat homes have been transformed into small businesses!) 

LeClaire is one of the few places along the Mississippi River where you can walk right up to the river without interference. This also gives locals and visitors a full view of The Riverboat Twilight. Folks have been taking a sightseeing cruise aboard this triple-decker, Victorian-era 126ft steamboat for decades. It’s one of our favorite ways to learn about LeClaire’s river history, see some wildlife, and get photos of the beautifully preserved riverfront homes. (If you have the time, book tickets for the two-day cruise for an overnight experience!)

Also down on the waterline, is the levee. Not only is it the perfect spot to lay a blanket down and have a riverside picnic, but it’s also a popular location for many town events, like the Kid Pickers Flea Market. Once you’re done soaking in the view, you’re just a quick stroll to shops, restaurants, and of course, Antique Archaeology!

Mike Wolfe at the Kid Picker Flea Market and Francie Wolfe with the Twilight Riverboat

Local Pickin

If you’re on the hunt for seasonal accents, art, mirrors, furniture and more, duck into Dwellings Home Decor. We’d describe their inventory as timeless and transitional. We love that it’s located in a beautifully renovated house! If you’re looking for something a bit more historic and rusty, dive into Decades Antiques to discover what is old is new again. 

Interior of Dwellings Home Decor

Look for the large green house on the hill and you’ve found Grasshoppers! There are many levels to this shop (like a wine cellar in the basement) with home decor and jewelry throughout. One of our favorite details is that the house itself is historic! It belonged to Captain John McCaffery, a river pilot in the late 1800s. 

Grasshoppers front porch entrance to the store

Fans of American Pickers travel from every corner of the globe to visit the original Antique Archaeology in LeClaire. This is your chance to get an up-close look at popular picks from the show like Laurel and Hardy, the buried Indian, Phillip Morris, and more! Mike designed the layout so customers are able to experience the shop as equal parts, museum, and retail space. Make sure you take the time to read the tags attached to the antiques to learn more about each item’s history and where it was picked. Find a piece of history to take home or a souvenir to remember your visit. No visit is complete until you’ve taken a photo with the Nash car out front!

The Famous Nash parked outside Antique Archaeology LeClaire, Iowa

Treat Yourself To Something Sweet and Unique

Beat the summer heat with a treat from Here’s The Scoop. Newly opened in LeClaire this family-owned ice cream shop creates small-batch handcrafted gourmet treats just for you! No matter if you enjoy a scoop of Black Forest with Roasted Cherry and Brownie Bites or the White Chocolate Raspberry Wine out of a homemade waffle cone or bowl, your sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied.

All the confections at The Shameless Chocoholic are handmade by Rebecca Burns who has spent the past 20 years perfecting her recipes. Dig into her 120 varieties of delicious homemade bonbons, fudge, truffles, bark, buttercreams, and more. (This chocolate shop is located in the original LeClaire “Green Tree Grocery” dating back to the late 1800s!) Pick up some of your favorite nostalgic candy, gifts, and even ship your favorite treats to your house!

LEFT: Ice cream cone from Here’s The Scoop by @jordzila RIGHT: Exterior shot of Cody Road Coffee

When you’re in need of some caffeine, pop into Cody Road Coffee! Since LeClaire is the birthplace of Buffalo Bill, the owners are paying tribute with Wild West-inspired decor, cutout cookies, portraits of Buffalo Bill, and more. Make sure you try their signature Buffalo Bill Butterscotch Latte or a Giddy Up energy drink. These guys are walking distance from Antique Archaeology, making it a go-to coffee run for the crew!

Don’t forget to “pop” on over to Kernel Cody’s Popcorn Shoppe to sample more than twenty varieties of popcorn. Favorite flavors include Lonestar Steamer Puff, (hulless corn covered in caramel), the LeClaire mix, (cheese and caramel mixed), Tootie Fruity, and Snickers. Fill up a bag or collective tin with your favorite flavor as well as nostalgic candy and gifts.

There’s still SO much to experience. Why not make your visit an overnighter? Let’s show you how to make the best of a weekend in LeClaire in Part II of our travel guide HERE

Images courtesy of LeClaire Tourism

 

Our best-selling license plate is back with a whole new look! Represent your picker pride on your vehicle or in your man cave with this custom license plate. This metal plate has embossed lettering and a realistic rusty & aged look. SHOP NOW!

 

 

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So, you’ve decided to spend the weekend in LeClaire. Great idea! Let’s help you find a place to hang your hat, where to make a dinner reservation, and connect you to all the best locals shops. First things first — let’s get you something to drink.

Raise A Glass To History 

Enjoy some local beer, wine, and spirits on Libations Lane in LeClaire’s Historic District. If you’re in the mood for stories and a drink, you’ve come to the right part of town.

First stop is Green Tree Brewery. The “Green Tree” was a well-loved meeting spot, located under a giant Elm tree, where river workers found work and townsfolk had picnic lunches. In fact, a piece of this tree is well-preserved in the Buffalo Bill Museum! Ask for a pint of their green brew and grab a seat on their outdoor patio. The owners, Dr. Richard Day & Denise Day don’t think of it as a bar but more of a gathering place, much like their namesake, “Green Tree”. Drop by and stay awhile or order food to go!

Mississippi River Distilling Company

The crew at Mississippi River Distilling Company is an authentic grain-to-glass distillery owned and operated by brothers Ryan and Garrett Burchett. These Iowa natives have mastered gin, vodka, single barrel whiskey, liqueurs, curbside cocktails, and most recently — hand sanitizer! (We use their sanitizer at our shop to keep things clean for our customers and crew) They’re all about the story and detail behind every step of the process – like sharing the origin of their grains, and handwriting batch numbers on the neck of each bottle. Take a free tour and enjoy a drink in the cocktail house.

Wide River Winery courtyard

What all started with Dorothy O’Brien playing with a variety of grapes in her kitchen has grown into a business that sells more than 85,000 bottles a year! Wide River Winery has expanded its family-owned business to three Eastern Iowa locations. (Mike previously owned the building that houses their LeClaire location.) The winery got its name from the widest part of the Mississippi River — almost 11 miles! Grab a bottle and relax with a view of that same river via their courtyard.

Take A Bite Out Of The Midwest

When the original owner’s Steve and Nancy Rosetti first came to town, it was only as a pit stop. They had no idea they’d end up sticking around for more than 30 years and opening the restaurant, Faithful Pilot! At the time, their young dishwasher, Robert Day was an aspiring chef with big dreams to run his own kitchen. He grew up learning all he could from Steve and Nancy about the business, community relations, and cooking which inspired him to earn his culinary degree in Chicago. When Robert had a new vision for the restaurant, the couple gave him the keys to the Pilot making him the new Owner/Executive Chef. 

Street view looking into a private event a Faithful Pilot

Chef Robert freshened up the place with white table cloths, live music, and a fine wine list, but he continued their passion for Midwest hospitality. The Pilot has been a special place for the Wolfe’s — especially for Mike’s daughter, Charlie, who always gets cotton candy from Chef Robert! Locals enjoy dining on his creative spins to some classic dishes like salmon gnocchi, fried ravioli, mushroom bacon burgers, and more. (Plan accordingly dinner service only.) 

Happy Joe’s Pizza has been serving up the best pizza in the Midwest since 1972! Order the sauerkraut & Canadian bacon pizza… trust us. Big Dave and Holly’s is a no-frills burger house that’s open for lunch and dinner. Order your breaded pork tenderloin sandwich to-go, (theirs was voted best in the state!) and head to the river for an impromptu picnic. 

Local Lodging 

You have a range of options when it comes to places to hang your hat in LeClaire within walking distance of Main Street. Check out the Grasshopper Guesthouse. This rental is within walking distance from Antique Archaeology (literally across the street). It’s located in a colorful renovated 1880 Stucco home that is convenient to all the bustle and charm of downtown LeClaire. 

If you want to really treat yourself and your family, book the River View Lodge. Amenities include a whirlpool tub, flat-screen TV, — even access to a walkout balcony looking over the Mississippi River. Also, take a look at The LeClaire River Loft located above Cody Road Coffee with direct access to all the best of LeClaire’s Main Street!

There’s always something happening in LeClaire so be sure you’re following @visitleclaireiowa on Instagram. Another excellent resource for town news and events is the LeClaire Tourism calendar. We’re looking forward to your visit! 

Family walk down LeClaire’s Main Street, Cody Road.

Images courtesy of LeClaire Tourism 

 

Meet your new go-to coffee cup featuring a nostalgic road trip scene and one of our favorite sayings “Pickin’ America”. SHOP NOW

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“Through all these years, The Driskill has served as a pivot around which great men and great events revolved, the rendezvous of those who have written the glorious history of a glorious state.” — Daily Texan

The Driskill Hotel exterior

Walking through the doors of The Driskill hotel in Austin, Texas is like jumping back in time. Once you’re inside, your mind begins seeing things that aren’t there anymore — like the memories of those that lived long before you. That’s the kind of magic that occurs only when you enter a historic building with more than 130 years of American history that has survived the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and other national tragedies. You open your mind and welcome the spirits of the past to lead you across the marble lobby floor giving you a glimpse of what life was like here before Austin was the capital — back when it was a Two Lane town.

Because the hotel is more than a century old, it had become part of many stories for the community, visitors, and even presidents! You can feel the presence of Lyndon B. Johnson in and his wife, Lady Bird laughing on their first date in the hotel restaurant… You can imagine the tenacious and tactical energy brewing in the very ballroom where the Texas rangers plotted their plan to capture Bonnie and Clyde… but more on that a little later.

Let’s start at the beginning. The year is 1886.

LEFT: Downtown Austin at the turn of the century. (That’s the Driskill in the background) RIGHT: Front desk of The Driskill

Colonel Jesse Driskill, a wealthy cattle baron during the Civil War, and established businessman saw a moment to make his mark. Knowing that Austin would soon see a boom in growth after being named the capital of Texas, Driskill decided to move his family to Texas and get to work building a grand hotel.

The Colonel commissioned The Driskill to outshine the other majestic hotels of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. In fact, when it officially opened its doors in 1886, The Driskill was revered as “One of the Finest Hotels in the Whole Country.” 

Fun Fact: The Driskill is so old that it was built before the state capital! For a brief time state business was done at the hotel until the capital was completed in1888.
 

After Colonel Driskill passed away in 1890, for the next century the hotel bounced around from owner to owner with each one attempting to build on its grand reputation. Until one day, the well went dry.

The Driskill Was Almost Demolished

The Driskill before and after renovations

In 1969, the hotel was closed for necessary renovations, but the funds weren’t there. Though it was scheduled for demolition, the community wasn’t ready to see it go. So, they got to work and quickly created a plan organizing a “bake and bond” sale selling $10 bonds and treats.

The community’s efforts were matched by The Heritage Society of Austin (now called Preservation Austin) raising more than $700,000 and eventually forming the nonprofit Driskill Hotel Corporation. In 1973, The Driskill reopened with a triumphant celebration with new renovations and a new title: National Historic Landmark.

The Driskill lobby

Fun Fact: Because The Driskill was saved, it has been able to maintain its tradition of hosting every Texas governor’s inauguration party starting with Saul Ross in 1897! 
 
Ties to President Lyndon B. Johnson 

LEFT: LBJ watching the results of his Senate Campaign. RIGHT: LBJ at Driskill for event

The Driskill Hotel played a big part in the lives of president Lyndon Baines Johnson and Claudia Taylor or “Lady Bird”. Here’s are a few examples:

  • In 1934, the couple shared their first date in the hotel restaurant — Lyndon asked her to marry him that same day!
  • LBJ returned to The Driskill in 1948 to await the results of his Senate Campaign in Jim Hog Parlor Room and again in 1960 for the results of his race for Vice President with John F. Kennedy.
  • The couple even had their own TV station at the hotel called KTBC TV where it was housed from 1954-1958!

LEFT: LBJ suite bathroom RIGHT: Presidental Suite entrance

Fun Fact: The Jim Hog Parlor Room is also the room where the Texas Rangers met during the Great Depression to plot the capture of famous American criminal couple, Bonnie and Clyde.

The Johnson’s visited The Driskill so many times over the course of their marriage, that the hotel finally dedicated a 1,200 square foot presidential status room to them called the “Lyndon B. Johnson Suite” that’s available for guests to book. A special detail we love is how Lady Bird’s favorite flower, bluebonnets, are sprinkled around the room — especially in the bathroom’s stained glass windows!

Speaking of unique decor…

Decorated With History

Driskill hotel restaurant

It’s difficult to miss the western elegance influences of The Driskill. (Welcome to Texas, y’all!) Stroll through the opulent lobby with its marble floors and stained-glass dome, corridors filled with museum-quality artwork, and grand mezzanine for a glimpse into the hotel’s storied past. The hotel has time-honored decor of horns, chandeliers, tufted leather, cowhides, and cattle taxidermy as a nod to the Driskill family business. When you first walk inside you’ll be greeted by a large portrait of Colonel Jesse Driskill that has hung in the lobby since 1890!

Driskill room with a view

Of course, this place has stunning architecture both inside and out, but follow us into the room of gold known as The Maximilian Room.

Maximillion room

This room was given its name from the eight famous Austrian gold leaf framed mirrors that hang on the walls. These once belonged to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and his wife, Carlotta, a Belgian princess widely praised as the most beautiful woman in Europe. He had presented them to her as a wedding gift with her likeness adorned in each frame via a gilt medallion. The mirrors were discovered in a San Antonio antique store in 1930. They were dusted off and now hang at The Driskill in a room where folks today make their own vows of true love at the hotel.

Fun Fact: The Driskill isn’t the only place decorated with history! Check out Mike Wolfe’s vacation loft rental furnished his items found on American Pickers HERE.
 
Why This Place Matters

The Driskill at night

Even as everything grew up around the hotel, The Driskill has managed to fend off demolition and kept its character. We need to hold on to these places as a living testimony to true craftsmanship and a time we’ll never see again. The Driskill is a solid representation of our past, and how there is room for historic architecture like this in our future.

The best way to make sure places like The Driskill stay alive is by your curiosity. Spend the night surrounded by American history, and we guarantee you’ll have a better story to tell when you check out.

 
 
Photos courtesy of The Driskill Hotel
 
Our soft full canvas style hat will be the go-to accessory for any Picker and makes the perfect gift. Featuring our classic Antique Archaeology rooster logo. SHOP NOW
 
 
 
 
 
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Like the song says, “For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.”

We spend all year chasing Two Lane back road sunsets, exploring old towns, and searching for something we’ve never seen before. While on any other adventure, it would be nice to have a map to follow, the road home is one we know by heart. We all have the memory of turning our wheels onto that familiar street, our heart beats in anticipation of the family, food, gifts, and games waiting on the other side of the door. 

The bustle of the year can keep us busy, but the holidays are here to remind us to slow down, put work away, and unplug. Family and friends are gathering across the country to make memories with the ones they love, dust off cherished family heirlooms, and tell stories of the past while catching up on the present. There are many things to appreciate about this season, but here are our favorites. (Curious to know if y’all feel the same way.) 

Unpacking The Past

Keepsakes are capable of capturing decades of memories. It’s always so incredible how we unpack the pieces of our past every holiday, and they still manage to remain whole. Thinking about how we allow our minds to travel back to little happy moments of our lives when it was our job to hang that one special ornament, or thinking about the way your favorite toy felt in your hands. These heirlooms have become the tangible memories of our lives that we get to share with grandchildren, spouses, and friends.

Traditions Both Old and New

Holidays seemed so simple back when the toys we received didn’t require batteries or need to be charged. Sometimes it can feel like the holidays have gone too commercial. We crave that simplicity for playing outside all day until your shoelaces freeze instead of Instagramming our food. This is a great opportunity to show the current generation how to bond with family without cell phones, electronics, or Netflix. Get a game of jacks or pick up sticks going, grease up some sleds, go take a drive to see the lights, or just run outside all day until you can’t feel your toes.

Even more than games think about different decorations were! Real trees, real pine garland, going out and picking pinecones off the ground to paint for centerpieces. Holiday decor was less about LED candy canes and more about cranberry popcorn garland. It was more fun to be resourceful with nature than buying decor at a hardware store. 

No matter how simple or specific a tradition is, the point is that it is shared between the generations because someday it will be their duty to keep those special little moments alive for years to come.

 

Sensory Memories

It’s not just the smell of cookies that have a way of jogging our memories. Scents of family memories stick with us too! You can never forget those tight squeezes from your uncle that always smelt like pipe tobacco and cold air, or a hug from gramma that smells like old literature books and vanilla that’s spilled on her apron from being in the kitchen making that special dessert she only makes this time of year. 

Just as smells connect us to a memory, so does a song. All those years of gathering around the piano as your Aunt Susan lead the family in a never-ending round of singing “Jingle Bells”. The great thing about music memories is they don’t have to be from family sing-a-longs to be special. Maybe your dad always plays Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” while rigging up the lights Maybe your mom always played The Carpenter’s Christmas album while you decorated cookies to deliver to the neighbors. Speaking of baking…

Preparing Family Recipes

There are always those special treats and dishes that families whip up for a holiday feast: Gramma’s walnut pie, pumpkin rolls, maybe a secret recipe for the ham. Participating in the kitchen to stir, sift, mix, and measure gave you a behind-the-scenes look into your favorite dishes. Someday they’d be yours to prepare! 

A great lesson we learned in the kitchen was how it didn’t cost money to give gifts. Neighbors often exchanged homemade gifts like fudge, tea, ornaments, — gifts intended to be shared with the family. Maybe your family always made baskets filled with fruits, chocolates, and hard ribbon candy wrapped up in colored cellophane to deliver to those who were snowed in or unable to leave. It’s amazing was some sweets can do!

 If that wasn’t your style, you could always set the table, light the candlesticks, polish the silverware, or go gather pinecones for a centerpiece!

 

 
Cross Country Connections With Holiday Cards

We’ve mentioned in the past about the romanticism of writing a letter, and how that art of pen to paper is something that never goes out of style. For those of us that sent and received holiday cards, it was a chance to share with others updates on the kids as they grow, new adventures, and best wishes for the New Year. Gilded cards with delicate cursive salutations are on full display as you walk inside to the sounds of kitchen commotion, crackling fire, and the laughter of children playing. Making memories to write about in next year’s card. 

No matter if your home is large, small, bought, or rented, Traveling the Two Lanes road home means greeting the people and places that shaped our lives. While some people maybe be missing it, you know the season will still be special because traditions remain. Let us know your favorite holiday memory in the comments below.

 

Photos by Meghan Aileen

 
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Found My Animal in New York makes beautiful artisan pet accessories with a meaningful purpose and message

If you’re already following Mike Wolfe on social media, you know how much he loves sharing photos of his adopted dogs, Izzy and Francie. And how could he not? Dogs are loyal, playful, and our favorite shotgun riders on a country drive. If you’ve ever rescued an animal, you know how the experience improves the quality of life for both animal and human. 

Since the holidays are the perfect time to spoil the ones we love, we wanted to make sure our furry friends had something to unwrap, too! This season, give your dog a thoughtful gift that’s both useful and makes a difference for another pet in need by purchasing pet accessories from Mike’s American made backroad adventure brand, Two Lanes in collaboration with Found My Animal.

Assembling dog bowls. GIF via THUSS + FARRELL

Found My Animal was established in 2007 by Bethany Obrecht in Brooklyn then relocated to the Hudson Valley of New York. Since then, her and her team have been on a mission to make products that were useful to pet parents but also advocated for animal adoption.

“I want people to see how rescue dogs come in all shapes in sizes, but underneath all that fur they have the same common characteristic: loyalty,” explains Bethany. “All dogs want to do is give love to people. It’s a natural behavior they have as pack animals to want to be in the company of others. After rescuing my dog, Walter, I was inspired to create stylish, well-made, accessories not just for him, but for all dogs. That’s why every product we make is meant to raise adoption awareness and spark positive conversations.”

Today her small company continues to make a big impact by donating part of their sales to support animal welfare and rescue organizations. 

This mission statement inspired Mike to see what collaboration opportunities were possible.

Izzy and Francie Mike Wolfe’s rescue dogs

Mike’s Two Lanes brand is all about finding adventure on the backroads and supporting American made craftsmanship. Mike wanted to make sure your road dog that’s along for the journey had the best, high-quality adventure gear, too! The result of this collaboration produced two quality pet accessories including a custom brass dog tag and waxed canvas portable dog bowl. The solid brass dog tag has special engraving from Mike which reads, “Less People. More Dogs”.– a play on one of our favorite travel mottos, “Less people, more life”.

There’s a lot of work and care that goes into sewing each piece of the dark green waxed canvas dog bowls.

“Currently we have a team of fewer than 12 talented women making accessories in our studio space,” explains Bethany. “Both the waxed fabric and straps are hand-folded piece by piece.”

 

Sewings dog bowls. Photo credit THUSS + FARRELL

FUN FACT: Both the dog bowl and brass tags are made using vintage equipment: the ladies a Juki sewing machine for the bowls and stamp the tags on a 1970s leather press machine. 

The dog bowls are made out of an American sourced waxed canvas and stitched with a special metallic gold thread.

“We work with a high-end supplier to get the best quality materials for all the products we make, including the golden thred,” says Bethany. “Both these details add style and dependability to the dog bowl. It’s our way of making our product extra special.”

Vintage sewing machine used to credit dog bowls. Photo credit THUSS + FARRELL

“The essence of Found My Animal is to urge people to adopt and go into the shelters to rescue these animals,” says Bethany. “We want the products we make here to evoke a positive message that any “lost” animal can always be found.”

This holiday season, give your animal the gift of American made below:

SHOP The Two Lanes Dog Tag HERE

SHOP The Two Lanes Dog Bowl HERE 

Get Your Two Lanes Road Dog Gift Bundle which includes both the bowl, the tag and our USA made bandana HERE!

 

If you’re interested in adding a new furry member to your loving home,  browse Found My Animal’s virtual bulletin board of adoptable animals HERE

 

 

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Famous Hotel Monte Vista neon sign of the roof. Photo credit Jacob Prose via Pexel

At the intersection of Aspen Avenue and San Francisco Street in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona sits a brick hotel with a haunted history that predates the Great Depression. Just to give you an idea of how active this place is, an experience here left John Wayne, America’s favorite gritty cinema cowboy spooked. Let us show you why this place is worth the detour on your next Two Lane adventure.

If phantoms, unexplained voices, and gruesome history get your blood pumping, then follow the bright buzzing neon Monte Vista Hotel sign atop building. The sign replaced a previous emergency light once used to relay danger, but today draws in those looking to navigate its haunted halls of the oldest operating hotel in the state. Let’s get you checked-in. 

The Hotel Monte Vista lobby + cocktail lounge. Photo credit Bill Morrow via Flickr

History 

When the tourism boom struck Flagstaff during the Roaring Twenties, its residents began fundraising for a first-class hotel to host travelers. Thanks to the generous contributions of the community and novelist Zane Grey, $200,000 was raised in time to break ground in 1926. 

The four-story, 73 room hotel was originally called the Community Hotel to honor the citizens of Flagstaff who made it happen. However, a contest to rename the hotel was chosen by a 12-year-old who declared it ‘Monte Vista’ meaning “mountain view” after the hotel’s views of the San Francisco Peaks. It officially opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1927.

 

Exterior of Hotel Monte Vista. Photo credit Franck Michel via Flickr

Famous Guests

During its prime, the Hotel Monte Vista was the premiere lodging choice for many Hollywood stars. This was because of its convenient proximity to Sedona and Oak Canyon where more than 100 movies had been filmed in the 40’s and 50’s. It was during that Golden Age of Hollywood when the hotel began hosting famous stars like Bing Crosby, Jane Russell, Clark Gable, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Hope and more. The story goes that even scenes from the cinema classic “Casablanca” were filmed here during Humphrey Bogart’s stay.

The Bing Crosby Suite. Photo credit Al King via Flickr

Rockstars like Bonjovi and Freddie Mercury have also been guests of the hotel! There have been so many famous guests over the years, that the hotel has named the rooms after the person who stayed there. 

Today, the Hotel Monte Vista is recognized by the U.S. Registrar of Historic Places. People travel from all over to get a glimpse of it, but what they’re really wanting is a connection… with the other side.

 

Meet The Permanent Guests of Monte Vista

The stories and haunted happenings swirling around this hotel have been legendary for more than a century. In most cases, to have an extraordinary experience at a hotel you’d think to order room service or upgrade to a suite, but here at the Monte Vista, things are more out of the ordinary.

The haunted rocking chair in room 305. Photo credit @justinjohnsonlive via Instagram

Countless accounts of paranormal activity have occurred inside the hotel walls including apparitions, physical touches, and intelligent responses. Hotel employees are happy to prep you before check-in on what’s normal and not a normal activity for your room. (We recommended asking the housekeeping staff for the best stories from past shifts.) There are more than a dozen ghosts here, but the following accounts have caught our particular attention.

 

The Rocking Chair Inside Room 305

Walk through the door of room 305 and you’ve just entered one of the most active rooms in the hotel. This room once belonged to an elderly, long-term renter who was always seen rocking in her chair looking down into the street. While it’s unclear who she is looking for, everyone from guests to housekeepers have reported seeing the chair move on its own, even hearing knocking coming from inside the closet! We’d recommend either asking the spirit for permission to sit, or finding a different place to tie your shoes. 

 

The Women of the Night

During the 1940’s, Flagstaff’s Red Light District existed two blocks from the steps of the hotel. The story goes two prostitutes were brought to room 306 and never left. They were said to have been killed and thrown from the third-floor window and into the street below. Guests have reported feeling restlessness in the night and unable to sleep because they feel like they’re being watched. Men are warned that the spirits in this room will not be particularly fond of them. Many men have said they’ve woken up unable to breathe feeling like hands were over their throats and mouths. Proceed with caution.

Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge. Photo credit Deb Etheredge via Flickr

The Bank Robber

In 1970, three men robbed a bank near the hotel. During the event, a guard got a successful shot one of the accomplices. Despite being hurt, all three men dropped into the hotel cocktail lounge to celebrate with a drink. Unfortunately, for the wounded man, the party didn’t last long because he bled out at the bar. Since then, staff and patrons say they’ve heard a voice greet them “good morning” when there’s no one else around, barstools pushed out of place, and even glasses moving! In here, we’d say “cheers!” to another day above ground.

 

The Phantom Bellboy

This is the spirit John Wayne met during his stay in room 210. Those who have caught a glimpse of the bellboy describe him as a young male in a red coat with brass buttons. Guests report hearing a knock at the door followed by a muffled voice saying, “Room service!”, only to open the door to an empty hallway. If you see the bellboy you are not to feel threatened  — he is just doing his job. An all-new meaning to the phrase “work until you die”.  

Hotel Monte Vista elevator. Photo via Wikimedia

The Elevator Attendant

Here’s an interesting fact about the Hotel Monte Vista. It was home to one of the first self-service Otis Elevators in the state of Arizona. Even though it has been modernized since then, it’s as if the attendant is still on their shift. Guests often hear a faint voice asking, “Which floor?” What’s even more chilling is the staff has witnessed a phantom hand closing the elevator’s gate — even a reflection in the mirror upon exiting of a man standing behind them inside the elevator. Eyes down. Walk forward.

 

The Meat Man of Room 220

The most frightening active room in our opinion is 220. Hotel history says that in the 1980s the long-term renter of this room had a bizarre reputation for hanging raw meat from his chandelier. After not hearing from the man for three days, he was discovered in his room dead. Needing to prepare the room for the next renter, a maintenance man was hired to work on some repairs. Needing to run to the store to grab some supplies, the worker shut off the lights, locked the door, and left. When he returned he opened the door to discover the tv on full blast and the once made bed scattered about the room. While we will never know what happened to the renter, he continues to make himself known to anyone staying in his room. Guests report the tv having a mind of its own and feeling the touch of cold hands on them as they try to sleep. Bring bacon as a peace offering perhaps? What could it hurt.

 

Hotel Monte Vista downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. Photo credit Roderick Eime via Flickr.

When dealing with haunted spaces and places, the most important thing to do is to be smart and safe. Do not antagonize spirit, or else you may find yourself becoming one. If it sounds like your kind of haunted holiday, book a room HERE.

 

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the Hotel Monte Vista is a unique place to explore. Visit our recommendations of things to do in town and nearby on our Two Lanes blog below:

 

 

 

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