Plans, What Plans? (Part 1 of 3)

Well here we are at last writing about our most current travels rather than apologizing for being behind. We set out from Cape Lookout National Seashore in late March with 6 weeks to reach our Summer 2018 destination at Grand Portage National Monument in northern Minnesota. Before we even left our plans had changed several times as we tried to figure out how to get our small boat to Minnesota. Finally we realized that this purchase was not one of our brightest ideas and it was unnecessarily complicating our lives. We donated it and moved on.

As we write this edition to our blog we realize we packed a great deal into a few weeks. To make our posts more timely and easier to read we will break up our travels into three sections, all of which revolved around getting repairs done, done well and dealing with having to be out of your home in the process. This is the downside reality to all of the wonderful times we enjoy as full time travelers.

Our first stop would be at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond, Virginia. We’d been here about four years ago and realized there was much more to see and do. Since then we’d added trying to tour all of our state capitols. So that’s where we would start. As luck would have it we met up with RV friends Janice and Dave for the tour and dinner at The Village Cafe, a Triple D stop.

The Virginia Capitol March 2018

The Capitol Dome

George Washington Statue Made From A Life Mask

The Village Cafe, A Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Stop

Also while visiting the Richmond area we toured the Museum of the Confederacy and the Confederate White House. The museum has one of the most extensive collections of original artifacts and should be a stop for anyone with interest in history. Having toured the Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi and knowing his post war story, it was a great comparison to tour the Confederate White House.

On Tour At The White House of the Confederacy

Davis Children’s Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our history blitz continued with day trips to four more National Park sites: George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. While at the G. W. Birthplace we learned how the first Washington ancestor to arrive on our shores did so literally by accident. He had invested in a merchant ship that was wrecked and stayed. Just think of the alternative history potential if this hadn’t happened and George was British General! Ever hear of Thomas Stone? Can’t say we had either. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a moderate voice in the discussion. Weather was not good during our two days exploring the widespread Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania Battlefields. However the campaigns here shaped our history and are most interesting. Lastly we learned about a fascinating woman, Maggie Walker, a woman of color who rose to prominence when neither her race or her gender were given their due. I kept wondering why I’d never heard of her during either Black history month or Women’s history month.

A Barn At The Thomas Stone NHS

A home Used As A Hospital At Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania NMP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Walker Portrait

As if our brains weren’t already busting with new information, we made a trip to Jamestown, VA to see where it all started in the first permanent English settlement in the USA. The museum is extensive and very well executed as is the reconstructed village. Little did we know at the time that fellow volunteers we’d meet at Grand Portage NM live in the area and have volunteered at Jamestown for several years.

Voyage To Jamestown

A Replica Ship

Living History At Jamestown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chari Sports A New Look

 

 

 

 

 

And now it is time to move on to Pennsylvania where we will drop off our 5th wheel for repairs in Greencastle, PA and visit family in Chambersburg. We had a long list of things needing work but the most pressing was our leaky roof that despite two other attempts at getting fixed still left us with using a bucket during heavy rain. Keystone RV suggested we do a special test where air is forced through the roof and leaks not easily spotted can be found.The special test is not covered by our manufacturer’s warranty but we just want the leak fixed so agreed to the $300 cost. Also on our list was the persistent problem of the bedroom slide not closing properly. We would also finally repair our ding to the front cap from making too tight a turn. The repairs would take a week.

We visited with Steve’s mother and sister in time for Easter where we saw other family from New York. His mother had recently turned 90 and looks great. Our one week stay became two when the RV dealer had their fork lift die and couldn’t get our rig into the shop. You know the 3 day rule about fish and company having stayed too long? We all joked about it but by the end of 2 weeks we all were anxious to return to normal.

We did some local sightseeing, went to Harrisburg to see the Pennsylvania Capitol Building and toured more NPS sites (C&O Canal, Catoctin Mountain and Antietam NB). The Pennsylvania Capitol is the most elaborate one we’ve visited. That’s saying something as we’ve seen some gorgeous ones. We hope you don’t mind all of the photos but art was everywhere here. The floor tiles depicting everything from early settlement to industry cover the entire entry floor. Another excellent and free tour.

Pennsylvania Capitol In Harrisburg Has 2 Domes

Artwork Begins Outside With Sculptures

Art Continues Inside On The Walls, Ceiling and Floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcrafted Floor Tiles

Inside One Of The Domes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The View From Above

One Of The Legislative Chambers

We visited Antietam on a rainy day so just did the drive and stopped at a few spots. If I’d only known then that my great grandfather had been in that battle, I’d have looked up his regiment. Thank goodness he survived or I wouldn’t be here! At Catoctin Mountain we did a short hike and tried to peak through the trees to see Camp David as we drove along. It is posted “Do not stop.” I do think they are serious. C&O Canal has several Visitor Centers. We visited a smaller one nearest Chambersburg. I’d love to go back to see the main center and do a bike ride on the towpath.

To Those Who Fought And Fell

Battle On The Stone Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve And Opal Along The C&O Towpath

 

 

The Three Of Us At Catoctin Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally the RV repairs were done. The bill came to $2600! Gulp! That’s after the things covered by warranty. So much for keeping the credit card under control this month. Due to the delay we’d cancelled our stay in western PA until our next visit. So off we head to Ohio thinking we were all fixed. To be continued in Part 2.

An Interesting Mix In Year Six

Wow! Can we really be coming to the end of our sixth year on the road? We don’t feel we’ve even scratched the surface of things to do and see!

From May 2017-May 2018 we covered many miles as you can see in our route map below. We almost made a spoon shape route. We went from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes while juggling health and RV repair issues. Challenges… yes. Adventure galore! Drop dead gorgeous scenery… you bet! Good eats … mmmmm.

We are starting a new composite map for years 6-10 as continuing to layer our routes would make it unreadable. However just for fun we’ll post a composite so you can see what 180,000 miles looks like.

Join us for Year Seven as we explore summer in northern Minnesota, head back to Indiana for (we hope) our last major repairs and on to a glorious winter in Arizona. See you on the road!

 

Our 6th Year On The Road

 

Composite Of Our First Six Years

A Winter On The Crystal Coast

Oceana Pier On Atlantic Beach, NC

Winter On The Outer Banks

Along The Crystal Coast

We arrived at Cape Lookout National Seashore in early November 2017. This would be our home for almost 5 months while we volunteered as Visitor Center docents for the National Park Service. The main Visitor Center is located on Harkers Island, North Carolina and the National Seashore  protects the southernmost islands of the Outer Banks: North and South Core Banks and Shakleford Banks. The  iconic landmark for the Cape Lookout is its black and white diamond painted lighthouse. The seashore is also well known as a shellers haven and for the wild horses that live on Shackleford Banks. This part of the North Carolina coast is called the Crystal Coast because of the beautiful beaches, ocean access and numerous bays and rivers. East of the town of Beaufort to Cedar Island (where you catch the state ferry to Ocracoke Island) is referred to as “Down East” with a unique culture and way of speaking due to being isolated well into the 20th century. We don’t have space enough to detail all that we did here but we hope there is enough so you’ll come visit yourself.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse And Assistant Keepers Quarters

A lot of people ask “Why do you want to go to the beach in the winter?” Our reply is because everyone else doesn’t! The pristine beaches you can walk for miles and rarely see anyone else, after a storm the shells are washed up and ready for the taking and in town you can walk in to a restaurant or find free parking without the hassle. One other reason: Steve hates heat and humidity so he’d never go in the summer! I lived in North Carolina for 20 years and had gone to the northern Outer Banks but never to this area. I couldn’t believe what I’d missed!

CALO Visitor Center In Beaufort

 

Oil Shed And Summer Kitchen Near Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we started work as volunteers both the Harkers Island and Beaufort Visitor Centers were open so we had days at both. The Beaufort VC is located in the old post office building with some city offices. The building was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project in 1937 during the Great Depression. In the lobby are four murals painted by Russian born artist Simca Simikovich representing life and history of this sea oriented area. One shows range markers used to guide ships into Beaufort harbor. Because of the shifting shoals and sandbars Cape Lookout and the Outer Banks were called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Mailboat Mural

Another mural shows a mailboat headed for Cape Lookout lighthouse. Due to rivers, bays and marshes the Down East area had no roads or bridges until the 1940s so all transportation and commerce came and went by boat. The mailboat was the link between the isolated communities and town.

Live Decoy Geese Mural

A third mural shows geese that were raised from eggs by the Ca’e Bankers of Portsmouth Village on North Core Banks. They imprinted on the villagers and stayed. The birds were used as live decoys to bring in migrating wild geese for hunters.

Shackleford Ponies Mural

Of course there is one of the Shackleford ponies. At an average of 44-48″ at the withers they are between pony and horse so both terms are used. DNA tests link these horses to Spanish horses but no one knows just how they got here.

The last mural depicts the famous wreck of the Chrissie Wright. It is placed over a doorway. When this ship foundered on the shoals  off Shackleford Island during a winter storm all but one of the crew froze to death while islanders watched helplessly from shore. This tragedy led to the establishment of a lifesaving station on Cape Lookout two years later. Even today locals will refer to a cold stormy day as a “Chrissie Wright Day”.

Chrissie Wright Mural

The town of Beaufort was the third town established in North Carolina and dates to 1713. History abounds all through the area and we took full advantage of learning as much as we could from tours, special events and lectures. 2018 is the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s capture and the sinking of his ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, nearby. One of the most interesting locations was the Ann Street Cemetery. If you love old cemeteries this is one you need to see. The self guided tour brochure details many stories from the unmarked graves of settlers killed in the Tuscaroran War in the early 1700s to the little girl buried in a cask of rum when she died at sea to area privateer turned statesman Ottway Burns.

Chari At The Veterans Day Parade

Shortly after we arrived Cape Lookout was represented in the Morehead City Veterans Day parade. So we rode in one of the NPS boats and showered the kids with candy. We learned that because of the area being home to several military bases this parade is one of the longest in the country. We also did the Down East Christmas parade and served as Santa’s sleigh!

Have You Been Naughty Or Nice?

Another holiday event was the Beaufort Candlelight Home Tour through private homes and buildings in the historic district. The Beaufort office was open that night. We worked a few hours and also had time to tour. On Christmas Eve we attended services at the Ann Street Methodist Church built in the 1750s and still in use.

 

Christmas On Harkers Island

 

 

Crab Trap Christmas Tree At Core Sound Museum

We enjoyed touring Harkers Island to see the holiday lights. Several of the homes displayed the area’s symbolic anchor outlined in lights. We decorated the interior of our Visitor Center and strung lights on the anchor from the Olive Thurlow, a shipwreck near cape Lookout, that greets visitors to the Harkers Island location. The Cape Lookout lighthouse is normally open for climbing mid May to mid September. So we were very excited when a New Years Day climb was scheduled and we were to be working. In preparation, we learned the history of the lighthouse, interpretive points and climbed it – all 207 steps! The view is fantastic! Unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t cooperate and the climb was cancelled.

Hackers Island Visitors Center

 

View From The Top Of The Cape Lookout Lighthouse

For Thanksgiving we took a harbor cruise aboard The Crystal Lady around Beaufort Harbor and had Thanksgiving dinner. A great way to spend the holiday when you are in a new area. A special holiday celebration was our trip to New Bern, NC to take the city tram tour and visit Tryon Palace. We highly recommend the tram tour. Our guide was excellent and gave us insight into this historical city. It is said that houses have moved more in this city than anywhere else as the city expanded and developed. As we observed several times when the guide would say “This house used to be over there.”  One house has been moved 5 times! The original Tryon Palace burned down and the current structure is a replica built from the original plans. New Bern was the capitol of the colony of North Carolina and Tryon Palace served as the Governor’s palace. Each December for two weekends they hold a candlelight tour of the palace with living history skits done in several locations. Outside on the grounds are tents with period entertainment and in front of the palace black Americans perform the traditional song and dance of enslaved people called Jonkonnu.

Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tryon Palace Living History Dancers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonkonnu Singer

 

 

 

Jonkonnu Dancers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performer Signora Bella Does A Comedy Juggling Routine

During the winter the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort holds monthly lectures on Wednesdays. Since we were off the lectures became a highlight of our time here. We attended four lectures on topics from Native people of the area and the Tuscaroran War, whaling on Shackleford Island, the story behind the sperm whale skeleton and heart on display at the museum and Churchill’s Pirates (a British fleet sent to the USA to patrol the Outer Banks against German U-boats). There are three NC Maritime Museums but the Beaufort location is the largest. It houses displays and relics from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, about the Civil Air Patrol in WWII, the Menhaden fishing industry and sea chanteys, and boating/recreation in the area.  After the lecture about the sperm whale Steve and I got to hold the plastinated heart which weighed in at 55 lbs. This museum is a must see if you visit.

That’s A Whale Of A Heart!

Speaking of must see brings us to another wonderful museum, the Core Sound Waterfowl and Culture Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and folkways of the Down East communities. The Core Sound is the body of water between the mainland and the Outer Banks. Each November the CSM and the Decoy Carvers Guild sponsor the Core Sound Decoy Festival. Thousands of folks attend. We worked one day at a NPS table with a kids fishing activity and one day in the VC but we did have time to see the festival for a few hours. I never realized there were so many types of decoys! Decoy carving is still active and the best carvers are true artists. The second floor of the museum is dedicated to telling the story of the independent and hardworking people who lived on the islands and mainland Down East communities. They were a self reliant, closely knit and religious people whose way of life is but a memory. Don’t miss this either.

Jellyfish Dancing

The Aquarium Dive Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other great places to visit are the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knolls Shores and Fort Macon State Park. Fort Macon has a wonderful beach area and provided a place for us to go when the ferries weren’t running. The Fort itself has a lengthy history from the mid 1800s thru WWII. Rooms are set up with interactive audio and displays of the various historical periods. The Pine Knolls Shores Aquarium features fish and reptiles of the NC coast. It is one of three NC aquariums. Both Fort Macon and the Aquarium have extensive programing so be sure to check the website before your visit.

Fort Macon

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the great restaurants in the area. Seafood lovers rejoice! Not only in the restaurants but we found fish markets galore. We ate our fill and then some of red and black drum, sea trout, shrimp, scallops and oysters. However once in a while we took a break and pigged out at Grumpy’s in Morehead City. Known for the in house cured corned beef, we highly recommend the corned beef hash and reuben sandwiches. Another seafood break spot was the Seaside restaurant at the Citgo station on Harkers Island for the best fried chicken. We toured areas up to two hours away. When we went to Kinston, NC to see a Civil War era ironclad we also dined at The Farmer and The Chef of Food Network fame. A higher class restaurant than we normally frequent, it was a superb meal. Another trip took us south to see Moore’s Creek National Battlefield. They were renovating the Visitor Center and we had postponed the trip hoping it would reopen before we left. That didn’t happen but we did walk the trail and read interpretive signs. That gave us an appetite (doesn’t everything?). We looked on the GPS and picked a spot called Something Fishy just based on its name. When we walked in we saw Guy Fieri’s poster on the wall. This was a DDD spot he’d been too just 3 weeks prior. The evening I am writing this blog we saw the episode including Something Fishy. Let’s just say we never had a bad meal!

Dinner At The Farmer And The Chef

Moore’s Creek National Battlefield

January and February are the slow months for the national seashore and we worked 2-3 days a week. This, according to locals, was the coldest winter they had had in 30 years. We had not one but two snowstorms albeit not more than four inches of snow. However for this area that was a lot and we got “snow days” off from work. There were several days when winds would be too high and the ferries to the islands wouldn’t run. On the days they did run we took advantage and enjoyed combing the beach without crowds. A home school group came and the equine biologist did her Horse Sense tour for them to Shackleford Island. Did we want to go along and take photos for the park? How fast do you think we said yes? Dr. Sue is so informative and gave a great tour. This tour is given monthly in the summer and fall. We highly recommend it. You need to sign up for it as space is limited. During our workdays Steve and I enjoyed doing research and read extensively. We were able to develop some outlines for Shade Shelter talks to be given by staff during the summer. Topics we learned about were the history of lighthouses, types of sailing ships, WWII along the Outer Banks, the Menhaden fisheries, the Winter of 1918 when Core Sound froze over and stories of Down East plus a great book called The Paper Canoe.

The Welcoming Committee

Banker Horse

Snow At The Seashore

That’s Not Sand!

When we arrived five months seemed a long time but oh, it went so quickly. We had a wonderful time and best of all the staff said we were welcome back anytime. OK, twist our arms! We take with us wonderful memories! So long Cape Lookout! So long Crystal Coast!

Worth Getting up Early To See

Steve At The Top Of Cape Lookout Lighthouse

South Core Banks Pier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave Only Footprints

 

Heading East Again Part Two: Wisconsin and Illinois And Points East

I sat down to write about our winter in NC only to find that I’d never completed this post! All the potential for another blog coma like what happened in 2015 (and I still haven’t made up for that)! Guess that’s what happens when you’d rather be out seeing and doing than writing. Here goes a quick catchup post then on to more current times.

Steve and I drove straight across South Dakota with one night at Vermillion Lake SP and on to a Corps of Engineers CG on the Mississippi River just south of LaCrosse, Blackhawk CG. We were here to spend a few days with his brother Mike and family. Little did we know what would happen here would change the rest of the trip. Long story short, while working in an awkward position at the front of the trailer Steve hurt his back and had severe pain running down his thigh. He tried to tough it out for a day then we started a series of Urgent Care and doctor visits both here and in Illinois. I guess I’d always known that at some point accident or illness would sideline us. In the back of my mind I was worried about being stranded as I’d never driven this RV. Now it was time for me to rise to the challenge. Scared? That’s an understatement! However, it is amazing what you can do when you have to step up and confront your fears. 

I drove from Wisconsin through Dubuque, Iowa to Panther Creek CG about 30 miles north of Springfield, Illinois. After doctor visits and tests and medication it was just a matter of time to heal. We decided to stay in Springfield until Steve could travel so we moved to a very nice RV park, Double J, south of Springfield. Our version of resort living!

As Steve improved we began to see the sights. If Illinois is the Land of Lincoln then Springfield is the epicenter. Everywhere you go there is Abe. We started with the Lincoln Presidential Museum and quickly decided it was one of the best we’ve visited.  

Posing With The Lincoln Family

From there we toured the old railroad station which is now a museum and had an exhibit of costumes and set design used in the movie “Lincoln”. On to the National Park site that includes a section of town preserved as it was when Lincoln lived there including the Lincoln home. We toured the home with a ranger. One of the people on the tour was a 6’8″ college student. That gave you an idea of how Abe might have looked moving about the home (yes, Lincoln was 6’6″). The old state Capitol also a museum was where he gave his “A House Divided” speech. Lastly, there is the Lincoln tomb. It came as a surprise to us to learn that his body is encased some 10 feet below the tomb because of an attempted robbery in the 1880s. His statue in front of the tomb is rubbed for good luck and the nose is shiny as a result.

Movie Set From “Lincoln”

The Lincoln Home NPS Site

Chari Rubbing Abe’s Nose

Our last and only non Lincoln sightseeing stop was at the present state Capitol. We are trying to visit all state Capitol buildings. This is number 5 for us. It is decorated in the Italian Renaissance style and the most elaborate one we have toured. The free tour was excellent.

Illinois State Capitol

Finally we were able to continue our journey east with stops of 2-3 days along the way but little sightseeing. Chari continued to drive the RV and became comfortable on the road. However Steve still had to back it in to the campsite. We did get to Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield, a NPS site before arriving a week later than planned at Cape Lookout National Seashore on Harkers Island, NC. We settled in for a winter of volunteering. See you at the beach!

 

Where Next? #12

When we arrived at Cape Lookout National Seashore in early November 2017 we thought that staying in one place for almost 5 months sounded awfully long. It would be our longest stay to date. Yet here we are with only two weeks left. Time has flown and we’ll be on the road soon. Our feet are beginning to itch with the travel bug.

Our plans have changed several times but (We hope) this is our route from the seashore of eastern North Carolina to the shores of Lake Superior and our summer volunteer job at Grand Portage National Monument. We’ll travel for about 5.5 weeks seeing family and friends, adding 2 new states and seeing several National Park sites. Our arrival in Minnesota will be the second week in May.

Here’s the Google Map of our route.

 

Heading East Again: Part 1 – Wyoming And South Dakota

After very little rain in August 2017, we left Salmon, Idaho in a downpour and much cooler temperatures in mid September. Our final checking routine includes signal lights. Oops! Nothing on the trailer but the truck is fine. Then we check trailer brakes. Mmmm… not working either. So we creep two miles over to the Chevy dealer. A mechanic comes out and finds a loose connection between the truck and trailer electrical connection. We probably knocked something loose with all of our bouncing around on backroads. He gives it a push in the right direction and Voila! It’s fixed. He wishes us well and doesn’t even charge us. Oh, how I love small town America!

We are headed to an overnight stop at Jefferson County Lake CG just north of Rigby, Idaho. Before we get there we must drive over Gilmore Pass at 8,000 feet. This is where the rain turns to wet snow but thankfully isn’t sticking to the road. The park is good for a one night stop but not much else to recommend it. We push on to Cody ignoring our GPS who thinks we are a truck and tries to detour us around Yellowstone NP. We never get enough of this park! Yesterday’s snow has left the first white blanket of the upcoming winter. Typical Yellowstone wildlife jams allow a bit of fun as buffalo march on past us. A few more high passes to cross then down into Cody for our stay at Buffalo Bill Reservoir State Park. We had a busy schedule planned even if it looked like we picked monsoon season for our visit!

Wyoming, state park, RV, campground

Winter Comes Early To BB Cody Reservoir SP

The first 2 days of our stay were predicting good weather so we planned some outdoor activities. Then the rains would move back in and we had plans for inside attractions. When we were in the area visiting Yellowstone in 2009 (pre RV days and our honeymoon) the drive along the Chief Joseph Highway was a favorite. This leads from just north of Cody toward Cook City and the East gate of Yellowstone. With a fresh coat of snow, the Rockies and vast western scenery we had a great day touring and hopping out to snap pictures.

sculpture, scenic byway, Chief Joseph Highway

Sculpture On The Chief Joseph Highway

Reminds Me Of Yosemite

SNOW? But It’s Only September!

The following day we headed north and east to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. We wanted to make a day trip to check the feasibility of bringing the DreamChaser 2 here in the future. Some of the roads on the map looked rather curvy and steep. We found the route to be fine and look forward to coming back. A great spot for kayaking and fishing.

Big Horn Canyon NRA

Big Horn Sheep At Bighorn Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Desert Landscape at Bighorn Canyon

We stopped at the Visitor Center and watched 3 short films. One was about the wild horses of the adjacent Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Area. That name sounded so familiar. Ah yes, now I remembered watching a show named Cloud of the Pryor Mountains. We were told to keep our eyes open for the horses at certain points along the scenic drive. We were stopped at an overlook when another visitor told us there were horses right along the road about 2 miles up the road. We jumped into the truck and found them easily. There was even a large pull off nearby. We spent the next hour watching and merrily clicking away as the Pryor Mountain horses moved from spot to spot. At one point Steve was up on a hill while I stayed at road level. The horses decided it was time to cross the road. I ran out to get shots as they came toward me. They kept coming closer and closer until at about 50 feet away I jumped to the roadside out of the way. I think they are used to being photographed as they didn’t seem a bit concerned. Another time one stallion had left and reappeared at the top of a ridge. He whinnied and tossed his head looking like a scene from a 50s western.

Black Stallion of the Pryor Mountain Herd

Brown Horse With Distinctive Markings of the Herd

Pryor Mountain Horse and the Landscape

We’d heard from several other folks that the Buffalo Bill Museum of the West was a “Do not miss” stop and that we should allow 2 days there. All we can say is “Ditto”. This is really 5 museums in 1: natural history, Buffalo Bill Cody, western art, Plains Indians and firearms. Just in case you don’t have enough to see there is the raptor show at 1 PM and the western music show at 6:30 PM. Each section of the museum has it’s own curator who ranks among the top in their field. This was the Centennial year for the museum and they had a few special exhibits such as the one about one of the early directors and his adventures in Alaska in the 1920s. The taxidermy in the natural history section was so well done you really expected them to move. At the Buffalo Bill section you are greeted by a hologram of BB Cody. We saw his jacket and photos of him wearing it, Annie Oakley’s guns and costumes, artifacts belonging to Sitting Bull when he performed with the Wild West Show and a map showing hundreds of locations where the show performed. Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient? The art museum is fantastic and Chari could have spent a whole day there. One of my favorites was a sculpture by Solon Borglum, lesser known brother of Gustav Borglum, the creator of  Mount Rushmore. The Plains Indians section was especially interesting to us after having worked at the Sacajawea Center this past summer. Of special note was the buffalo skin tipi on loan from the Smithsonian and one of only three known to exist. Steve could have spent his entire visit in the Firearms section. It is the world’s largest collection of firearms, some dating from the 1200s. Of special note were the guns from TV shows, a whole gallery of decorated guns and air guns from the same manufacturer that made the one used by Lewis and Clark. We had talked to visitors about the air gun just a week earlier in Idaho. There are only 4 known to exist and this museum has 2 of them. During our first visit we watched the raptor show with a red tailed hawk and owl. On our second visit we passed on the buffet but attended the music show. This museum is worth a trip to Cody by itself!

Fox

Grizzly

Sage Grouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western Art 1

Western Art 2

Bronco Buster by Solon Borglum

Hologram of Buffalo Bill

Annie Oakley’s Guns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Of Cody Wearing Jacket Seen At Museum

 

Cody’s Embroidered Jacket

Buffalo Skin Tipi

Elk Tooth Child’s Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Several Chief’s Headdresses On Display

 

Little Joe’s Gun From Bonanza

Other sights around town were the Irma Hotel, the Buffalo Bill Dam and  huge breakfast at Granny’s Diner. The Irma Hotel was built by Buffalo Bill Cody and named after one of his daughters. The present day restaurant was originally the gambling hall but the ornate bar is original. He might have been a great guide and showman but he wasn’t great at marriage. I felt very sorry for his wife who was left to raise the kids alone while he galavanted all over. The Buffalo Bill Dam was built between 1905-1910 and was the tallest dam until surpassed by Boulder Dam. The view of the Shoshone River Canyon from here is great.

Shoshone Canyon From Buffalo Bill Dam

Buffalo Bill Cody Reservoir

Next stop is Belle Fouche, SD and our third visit to the Black Hills area. Belle Fouche is pronounced as if there is an r in it, like Forshe. We stayed at the state park there in a large site with a water view. Knowing we would be back in SD next year to renew our driver’s licenses we purchased a yearly pass. SD like several western states charge a daily entrance fee on top of the camping fee. You break even at 6 nights so we are already ahead of the game! On previous visits we’d stayed at Custer State Park and Angostura State Park. We’d already seen the big tourist sites of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse so this time we concentrated on the city of Spearfish and the Belle Fouche area.

We have volunteer friends who had worked at the DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery in Spearfish so we thought we’d visit and see if we might enjoy volunteering there sometime in the future. It was one of the first fish hatcheries in the west and much of the science and fish culture processes used today were developed here. One of the most interesting displays is the replica train car used to transport fish to release sites prior to using truck transport. A few years ago this site was almost closed and the historical artifacts were to be moved to West Virginia. The community and advocates were able to mount a “Save DC Booth” movement and the historic structures were preserved, at least for now. We spoke with one of the volunteers and the director. We look forward to returning here.

Touring The D. C. Booth Home

 

A Salute To The Early Days of the Fish Hatchery

While talking to the volunteer, he mentioned a local art gallery called Termesphere. Although we’d never heard of him, the artist is well known for his unusual medium of using globes. The process he uses involves taking his original artwork and through digital means turns it into 3D spheres. I liked the graphic patterns but some of it was just too weird for my taste. His wife is a well known puppeteer and has a small display there as well.

The Thermosphere Galley

The weather improved for one day and we had a lovely day driving along Spearfish Canyon including lunch at the Spearfish Lodge. We drove passed a site used in the film Dances With Wolves. We’ve been to several movie locations in our travels and I wish I’d kept a list of them. The Canyon is only 35 miles long but when you add exploring some backroads it is an all day trip. Early Fall colors gave the area a special charm.

Waterfall In Spearfish Canyon

Driving The Backroads of Spearfish Canyon

Autumn In Spearfish Canyon

On our last day we toured the Center of the Nation Museum and Monument. The geographical center of the USA used to be in Kansas until Alaska and Hawaii were added. Now the actual center is a few miles outside of Belle Fouche in a farmer’s field. We spoke with a museum docent about going there. She said “It is down dirt roads and with the rain it is very muddy AND there are a lot of rattlesnakes.” WHOA! You know how I am about snakes. Staying in town at the monument is just fine with me! The local historical museum was fun as well. I always find some bit of local interest that amuses me or where I learn about the local culture. Here it was about a few of the “houses of ill repute” from the 1870s-1890s and a few amazing women who made history on the rodeo circuit (the two topics are not related!)

At The Center of The Nation Monument

Then we made a straight through drive across I 90 with a one night stop at Vermillion Lake SP. Next stops: Wisconsin and Illinois.

Morehead City, NC Celebrates Veterans Day 2017

Just a quick post so that we are more timely than our usual posts. We have just begun a 5 month volunteer position at Cape Lookout National Seashore. As our first activity we participated with two park rangers and other volunteers in the Morehead City Veterans Day Parade. Some communities have big parades for July 4th or Christmas but in Morehead City the big parade is on Veterans Day. It is the type of parade where you are either in it or watching it. We were entry number 152 and I don’t know how many more there were behind us.

Yes, of course we took pictures! Steve made a short (4 minute) video of the event. We are both veterans and proud to have served even if we were not in combat situations. Thanks to all who have served.