Jul 13, 2014

Powell's Mansion

Certainly not horse related but since my blog is a diary of sorts, I thought I would save this story here so I can remember it when I am old and gray.   You might or might not find it of interest or you may have a similar "place" that you remember from your childhood.

Powell's Mansion was an old deserted home south of Hardy, Nebraska - just across the river into Kansas.  Anyone who had grown up in the Superior/Hardy area in the 70's knows the house I am talking about.  And from recent Facebook posts, it seems the legend continued in the 80's and 90's.  These pictures were shared by an underclassman who did a story for our school newspaper, The Flashlight, most likely in 1980 or 1981.  

The story as I remember was this spectacular home was built by a man named George Powell. Shortly after moving in, the house burned to the ground.  Mr. Powell rebuilt the house and tragedy struck again!  After moving into the home, his wife died unexpectedly and her death was unexplained.  Believing the house was cursed, he quickly abandoned it, leaving dishes, clothes and possessions behind.

The fact that there was a cemetery right next to this house made it all the more convincing that it was a haunted house. Or so we believed. Many times we cruised over to Powell's Mansion, leaving the car in the cemetery drive and sneaking through the trees to gain access though the back door.  

The kitchen

 Upstairs windows

Using a flashlight to stumble our way through the rooms of the mansion, the story certainly held up.  I recall seeing books and clothing strewn around the house.   There was still pans and dishes in the kitchen however, looking at these pictures, it doesn't appear to be a life interrupted as much as we wanted to believe it was at the time.

I remember going up these stairs in the dark, no doubt hanging on to the arm of whoever was in front or behind me, waiting for someone to scream and then we would all scream and run out the door into the night.  As we prowled though this old homestead, we had to be careful not to wake up the neighbor in the farmhouse nearby as it was said he would shoot salt pellets at the trespassers. We did get caught once but we weren't shot - just told to leave.  I wonder now how many times this farmer was awakened in the night to hear kids running down the road.  

This picture was taken in the turret along the side of the house.  On Facebook, someone mentioned it was called the "devil's tower".  I don't recall that but most likely added to the haunted elements as the years past.

It is interesting that back in the 30's or 40's when this house was built, it had both an upstairs and downstairs bathroom.  I recall my grandparent's house of the same era still had an outhouse.

Years later, John and I asked permission from whom I assume was that same neighboring farmer to tour the house in the daytime. Walking through it and finding holes in the floors - I am surprised none of us were hurt when we would run through it at night. We found what was an elegant home in its day, rotting from the top down. I remember a beautiful cement porch and lovely woodwork. I wish that was in the day of cell phone cameras because I would have had my own pictures. 

With renewed interest following the Facebook post, many commented what they remember as "the story", most similar to mine.  One person posted this following which had the most ring of truth to it:  

"George and Alice Mae Powell moved to Arizona because Alice Mae had severe asthma. Her parents had lived in the home for a short time and a hired man and his family were the last occupants ( I believe). I think the Powell family always intended to come back but as years passed they would visit but never moved back."

My sister, Ann, spoke with another former resident of the area who is now well into her 90's. She remembered the house in detail, having helped Mrs. Powell cook for the hired hands - even double dating with George and his second wife. Yes, there was a fire which burned the original home and yes, the first Mrs. Powell died, but had been sickly and it was not suspect. Mr. Powell remarried the person mentioned in the post above. Later, as they grew older, they moved as mentioned and their hired help took over the house and eventually, they moved on and no one else took residence.

Ann and her husband drove by the old place the other day and took this picture with her cell phone.  She said you could still see the turret but it won't be there for long.   I think the next time I go "home", I will visit this house one more time.

Thanks to my fellow Superior High classmates for sharing pictures and the story.  If anyone Googles Powell's Mansion in the future, perhaps they will find this page and learn "the rest of the story."  


Jul 5, 2014

4th of July

Ooops!  In my hurry to unhook ol' HiHo Silver from my trailer and hook up the new truck, the power cord got hooked around the end of the tailgate of the old truck.  I am so careful about this and even when I think it is okay, just goes to show sh!t happens.  So just when I get the gooseneck hitch put in the new truck, John is pretty apprehensive about hooking it up until he gets a new junction box put on the trailer.

The 4th of July has a lot more meaning now that I am a Marine mom.  There is a price for our freedom.  We had the annual Independence Day party with the Vasa family and friends.  McCain asked that I Facebook him so he could "see" everyone.  He "joined" us for the fireworks show.  It was already July 5th in Okinawa, so he got to celebrate the day twice.  Isn't technology amazing?

I planned to camp the rest of the weekend but canceled at the last minute.  The wiring on the trailer, Windy has a loose shoe, Fancy has a lost shoe, humidity....  and I am just plain tired.

We leased Butter out for a few weeks this spring/summer.  A gal who was having her own horse trained needed something to ride during that time.  The updates I received during her time away were accolades such as; "she's a pro", "Butter is wonderful",  "alert, inquisitive and playful."  And what Butter probably most enjoyed, "she is quite the pampered princess."  Her horse is now ready so Butter is coming home this weekend.   Sounds to me like Butter may not be too keen on coming home!


Jun 27, 2014

Ram 3500 6.7 Cummins

We were planning to go camping this weekend.  No competing, just pleasure riding.  I miss my camping buddies!  We had food planned, ETAs figured out, even talked about which dogs would make the trip.  And in all of our excitement, we forgot to check the weather.  I woke up to rain, lightning and thunder, a flooding pasture again and two to four inches of rain in the area.  The camp closed the trails.  So much for best made plans.

Pulling with HiHo Silver

I picked up my (our) new truck yesterday.  The gooseneck hitch will not be in until next week so we were going to have to hook up to Ol' HiHo Silver this weekend for our camping trip.  That gives me shivers just thinking about all the "fun" I had with that old truck.   Look how far the bed of the truck drops with the trailer attached!

I really didn't "need" a new truck.  I just bought a new Ram in 2011.  After all the trouble we had with HiHo Silver, I had sworn off Chevys and diesel motors and bought a Ram 3/4 ton with a hemi.  I got a good deal buying what was on the lot.  I'm sure it had some sort of sexy color name but to us it was UPS brown.  At the time I was pulling a two horse trailer and while the mileage wasn't like driving a Honda, it was okay.  Best of all, I could go from Point A to Point B and back to A again without having to call a tow truck or unload Windy and ride her home!  It never caught fire or severed a brake line ever, unlike it's predecessor.

I'm at the age where you start saying things like "you can't take it with you" or "spend it while you have it" and last fall we decided to upgrade trailers.  We knew we might not have enough truck to pull the new Maverick which weighed in twice as heavy as our two horse Sundowner and even made the comment that "the worst that can happen is we have to buy another truck".   Fully loaded, we were at or above our GCWR and averaging about 7.7 mpg.  Once with a headwind, we dropped to 5.5 mpg.  It was then I decided we most likely needed another truck.

I called the dealer where I purchased the "UPS" Ram,  just feel them out and see what's out there.  I said I was looking for a 3/4 ton, 4x4, long box with a diesel engine and preferably no carpet.  When he asked "what color",  I said I wasn't really picky.  I had a list of those colors that I didn't want like yellow, but not so much what I liked.   When he called me back with a dark gray option - Granite Something or Other -  I looked up the color online and it was too dark.  I had a dark truck and I hate how dirty they look with just a coat of dust.  I decided if I was going to buy one, I was going to get picky.  I told him if I could have my pick of colors, it would be Prairie Pearl.  Second runner up would be Bright Silver Metallic.

The UPS Ram does not have a map light.  It has a dome light but it is not handy like a map light.  And if you are a passenger, you are at the mercy of the driver to turn it on and off for you.  As silly as this sounds, my new truck must have a map light.  My dealer was excited to call when he found the "perfect" Prairie Pearl truck.  But we stopped short of shipping it when I found there was no map light.  I'm a tough customer.

Meanwhile, John and I stopped at a Dodge dealership before a wedding and we didn't find Prairie Pearl but found almost every truck in that row had a map light.  Then we realized we were in the one ton row, not the 2500s.  When we went back to the maplightless 2500s, we didn't see a huge difference in price to their big brother and they seemed to be quite a bit more truck!

So when my dealer called me on Monday saying he found a 2500 in Prairie Pearl WITH a map light, I told him to shift gears.  We now wanted that in a 3500, not 2500.   He was a true professional and didn't cuss at me but said he would see what he could find.  Moments later, he came back with a Bright Silver Metallic one ton with a map light; my second choice.

I called John and asked what he thought.  Should we get the one ton Silver or the 3/4 ton Prairie Pearl?  He said we should get a "dually" and that was not an option.  He said we should get the biggest truck we could afford.  I polled my Facebook friends on the color and the majority liked the silver.  Yes, it did match my trailer, but it wasn't Prairie Pearl.  A friend at work reminded me that they can get "any color you want" - that I am the customer.  So when the dealer called me back to see what we had decided, I told him Prairie Pearl but in a 3500.  He must continue his search.

My new truck is a 2014 Ram 3500 with the 6.7 Cummins diesel engine in Prairie Pearl.  I love both the color and the name of the color.  A Facebook friend said it would be a good name for a horse and I agree.

With the "pimp" lights on

While it has the coveted map lights, I wasn't keen on were the clearance lights above the windshield.  I told the dealer it kind of pimped it out a little more than I wanted and asked him if they could be removed?  He never really answered me if they could or couldn't but took the opportunity to try to convince me that they really are a nice option.  I decided to let it go.  I guess when I am in the truck, I don't have to see them when they are on.

And speaking of lights, here are those pesky map lights or console lights that made my dealer have to work for his commission.  Now why wouldn't they put these in all trucks?

And this is a fun little feature - there is a camera in the back of my truck and when I put it in reverse, the display on the radio shows what is behind me and those green/yellow/red lines change as I steer.  It also gives me the beep, beep, beep sound when I get close to hitting something in our cluttered up shed.

It's got a nice armrest and console in the middle which raises up to a bench seat.  The truck will easily fit six passengers.  Or in our case, two adults and three dogs.

I was happy the truck he found did not have carpet.  I was turned on to this "lack of" feature with the UPS truck.  It is simply a rubber floor which I can sweep out and scrub.  It shines up great with Amour All and I never have to worry about stained or smelly, damp carpet.  This truck is used for hauling horses and dogs.  My boots are never clean and I never have to worry about it.  I do have some floor mats to dress it up a bit that can be easily shaken off or hosed down.  (Admit it, I got you all thinking about that, didn't I?)  In the back of the cab, there are floor boxes that can be used for coolers or just storing items out of sight.

It had been raining when I took this picture; the truck bed is not stained.  

The truck has the power supply to the trailer inside the box of the truck.  Per my request, it has a spray in bed liner.  The new Rams are equipped with a gooseneck and fifth wheel "prep".  The actual gooseneck ball set-up will be installed next week.

Prairie Pearl is a bit of a chameleon.  In some light it appears gold, in others it looks much darker.  And when driving it, it looks like the hood is black!   I haven't had the opportunity to pull the trailer yet until the ball is installed but did position the trailer under the truck for pictures.

When the hitch gets installed, it will also be equipped with mud flaps.  I am also ordering a running board of some sort because it is very tall to climb into.  The ones at the dealership were about three times the price of what I can get online.

So far, I like everything about it.  From the bigger tires to the hum of a diesel motor.   Case took his girlfriend out to see it tonight, so it must have passed the teenager test, too.  I am so anxious to get moving down the highway with the horses and trailer behind us.

While researching new trucks, I creeped on lots of forums trying to find what folks were getting for MPG with this particular model or the 2013 model, same truck.  No one is talking.  So I will review its performance in the coming months, including MPG.  The good, the bad and the ugly.