Nantucket is a tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod Massachusetts. It takes about two hours by ferry to get to the island. While we were living in New Jersey for four years we visited the island because my wife, who is an avid basket collector” insisted that she HAD to have a Nantucket basket. 🥴 When I got online to try and make a reservation for two nights I found that everything was booked up for two months. Being the Spring of the year I guess that Nantucket is the “go to” place. I finally found a small garage converted into a maid’s quarters, converted into a guest room. It was only $200/night (1997 prices).

Since I have been to Mackinac Island in upper Michigan several times before this visit I couldn’t help comparing Nantucket to it. The most glaring difference is that autos are not allowed on Mackinac whereas cars sometimes overwhelmed the scenery at Nantucket. The other comparison is that Mackinac, while it is also somewhat expensive, it is really more of a middle-class place to go. Nantucket on the other hand is where some of the nation’s wealthiest have summer homes, including Google’s Eric Schmidt (net worth: $13.8 billion) to former GE CEO Jack Welch. Many of the year round locals, who primarily are service people and shop owners, admit that the island very expensive, very exclusive, and very preppy, some say snobby.

Click to see the official guide

Nantucket is known for whaling during the 19th century. Scallops, foggy weather, lighthouses and endless boutique shops are the main interests today. Main Street which is packed with high-end boutique shops. Most importantly to my wife was the “Basket Shop” which was a short distance out of the main town. There she learned how the island’s baskets are made. The original lightship baskets which were used on the whaling ships are very expensive today, but recently made ones can be purchased from $150 to $750. Fortunately, my wife chose one in the middle of that range.

If you are interested you can download an official travel guide by clicking the picture here. Below is a gallery of pictures I took on the island about twenty years ago. I don’t imagine much has changed since then.

In closing, our two days at Nantucket provided a much-needed respite from the last hectic year of my corporate life. Since I chose to retire back in the Midwest where my roots are I likely will never visit the island again, but it was an interesting experience to rub elbows with the upper-crust.

Antonito Colorado – Cano’s Castle

Golden Nugget Nite Club – Antonito Colorado

Let me say up front that Colorado and New Mexico are two of my favorite States to visit. They have so much history including Santa Fe, Fort Bent’s Historic site, Ouray, and Mesa Verde National park. I have been to those several times and hope to get in at least one more visit. In both States are thousands of small towns with very little population but quite a bit of history, if you dig deep enough to find it. It’s amazing that they have survived as long as they have. Some have a population of zero, but most have at least a hundred or two citizens.

For this travelogue entry I will be concentrating on Antonito Colorado history which in some ways is typical of many. The town was formed, like many other Colorado towns, by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. The town currently has about 600 residents, although we only saw four of them during our visit. It has several abandoned buildings and a couple still open including the Golden Nugget Nite Club shown above. I suspect that is a very active place on most Saturday nights. 🥴

Antonito has without any doubt one of the most eclectic residences I have ever been. When we stopped in front of the Golden Nugget to take pictures we chatted with a couple of locals who told us about a house “we just have to see”.

We followed their directions and came up Cano’s Castle. We never saw anyone around, but later discovered that the builder/resident was a very private man who seldom talked to any visitors, announced or unannounced.

Later we found out that Cano’s Castle is well known throughout the country. It was built by Dominic “Cano” Espinoza. He is a very private man to says God built the castle, not him. He has been living in this off-the-grid abode since 1987. If you are interested in more of the story click here. He certainly is quite a character

Click on any picture below to see a larger slideshow view.

Bishop Hill – IL

Bishop Hill, IL – A Lutheran Community

Bishop Hill, which is located in central Illinois between Peoria IL and Davenport IA. It is a small community of about 200 people but has well preserved history as a once thriving Lutheran community. Its early citizens were almost entirely Lutherans who were escaping persecution in Sweden because they dared to believe differently than the norms of the day.  In my travels across this country I have found that escaping religious persecution is very much at the heart of America history. We don’t, except for a few incidents, persecute someone for their religious beliefs.

The community was formed in 1846 by a group of 400 religious dissenters led by Eric Janson who were escaping persecution from the State Religion of Sweden which was Lutheranism. They arrived in the winter of 1846 at Chicago and then walked the 160 miles to Bishop Hill! About 100 of them died from that trip and the winter weather. The community would expand to 1,000 over the next 15 years.

The primary reason for the sect’s persecution was that Eric Janson claimed to have direct inspiration of God to form his teachings and many were contrary to the State’s version. Among other things he demanded education and self-expression and that opinions should be formed by reason rather than revelation or authority.

Janson led the community for the first ten years before was killed by a dissident in 1855, it was then lead by a committee of trustees for another six years until it eventually dissolved and all the assets were distributed to its current inhabitants. During that fifteen years of shared community existence, they built a dozen very impressive structures. In 1962 restoration began on many of those structures. Most are displayed in the gallery below.

There are a lot of interesting places to see in central Illinois. While Bishop Hill is not a worthy day-long trip, when you add it to Springfield and Peoria it makes a nice stop over that will take a couple of hours to see.

On a personal note, I have developed a fascination with utopian communities and continue to study them. One of the most famous communities, New Harmony, is less than 100 miles from my homestead. Sometime in the not too distant future I will be writing a collection of posts about that topic. It’s amazing how people are willing to give up everything to obtain the “perfect” utopian life. Many are based on religious things, but many are also base of general philosophical matters. As I repopulate the “new” RJsTravels Travelogue, special emphasis to be placed on helping those who are also interested in this topic.

Take a look at the gallery below for some pictures of the restored buildings: