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.

Out And About In Arkansas

During our stay in Hot Springs, Arkansas we needed service work done on the RV several times. This meant leaving the trailer at the repair shop. Since we had to find temporary housing it was a great opportunity for some short “vacations”.

Our first trip was to Fort Smith, AR on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. We visited the Fort Smith National Historic site. Originally built as an Army fort on the far western frontier to protect settlers from Indian attacks and outlaws in 1817, it later became a federal courthouse and prison until it closed in 1896. There are exhibits on the U.S. Marshals, outlaws,  Judge Parker and the Trail of Tears. We’d hoped to return to participate in one of the trial re-enactments they hold there but didn’t make it. Fort Smith has one of the most unique Visitor Centers we’ve seen. It is in a former brothel. We thought we’d just stop in for a moment and look around. This is a slow time of year and the docent asked if we’d like a tour. So for the next 45 minutes we were entertained by the story of  “Miss Laura”, her girls and their gentlemen callers as well as the details of the house and how it became the Visitor Center.  Last on our list of places to visit was the home and museum of General William O. Darby who formed the special WWII unit eventually called the Army Rangers. This is privately run and hours very. When we were there the docent was one of the founders. Sensing an interested audience talked for almost two hours and displayed items in their collection not normally on display. We had to graciously depart or we would have been there a lot longer. We can’t find our pictures so these are from the internet.

Fort Smith NHS

“Miss Laura’s” As The Fort Smith VCB

Renovated To Its Former Style

“Gentleman” Waiting At Miss Laura’s










General Wm. O. Darby

Boyhood Home Of General Darby

The second trip took us to the north central part of the state near Harrison and the Buffalo River National Scenic Riverway. We rented a dog friendly cabin through VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) at the same price as a motel room. We visited the Buffalo River National River, a NPS site although it was too chilly for on the water activities. We did a few short hikes and enjoyed the area. We are saying “when we come back” as it would be a fabulous place to paddle. Yes there are shuttles available if you like us have only one car. We also drove to the Mountain Home area to visit one of Steve’s uncles.

Buffalo River View

Imagine Paddling Here













Trip number three was at the end of our stay and we headed to Petit Jean SP. This was Arkansas’ first state park. Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service was consulted and you can see his influence in the lodge. It looks like a smaller version of the great park lodges of the west. The CCC did a lot of work here in the 1930s from building cabins (like the one we used), to a stone water tower, to furniture still in use at the lodge today.  For those who can do a strenuous hike there is a beautiful waterfall. We plan to return some day and use the excellent campground. The story of Petit Jean, a young woman who stole aboard ship to be near her beloved but pretended to be the cabin boy.  A favorite of the crew “he” was nicknamed Petit John. Not until “he” became ill was it discover she was a female. She died and is buried at the park overlooking the Arkansas River.

A Beautiful Place To Hike

Overlooking The Arkansas River At Petit Jean SP










Steve and Opal At PJSP


Our Cabin

Exploring A Cave











Some day trips took us to Mt. Magazine SP, the highest point in Arkansas. This park also has a beautiful lodge and some of the cabins come with hot tubs! We are very impressed by the state parks we have seen in Arkansas. On our way there we stopped at Hickory Nut Overlook for a great view of Lake Ouachita and Ouachita National Forest. Another trip took us to the Lum & Abner Museum. I don’t remember this radio program but a friend of mine does who was raised in Arkansas. They were local “class clowns” who entered a local station’s talent contest making up the characters of Lum and Abner from Pine Ridge on their way there. Like Andy Griffith they used their home town area and people they knew in the routine. They became regulars and later went on to be syndicated. The store they featured in the program is now the museum. It is full of L&A artifacts and implements from early years in the Ozarks.

Lum And Abner Store And Museum

Lum And Abner In Real Life And In Character









Museum Inside



Ozark Women Wore Corn Husk Hats To Work Outside











Heading south we visited Hope, AR, and the NPS site, boyhood home of President Bill Clinton. Arkansas loves Bill Clinton. Hot Springs is where he graduated from High School. There is a big sign letting you know it. Apparently, another claim to fame for this small town was the world’s largest watermelon. Now although surpassed several times, the sign still brags about the event. I had to stop and take a photo of a bit of roadside humor photography at a local grocery. The name of the town is Hope for a reason as it has seen better days and is hoping for a recovery.

Bill Clinton’s Birthplace

On A Ranger Led Tour











A Town Named Hope

They’re Proud Of That Melon

Make You Hungry?

We made several day trips to Little Rock to visit Heifer International Headquarters, The McArthur Museum, eat at Cotham’s Mercantile, tour the Arkansas Capitol and return to Central High NHS since we’d missed the ranger led tour when we were there in 2014. Steve’s Mom has been donating to Heifer International in lieu of giving Christmas gifts for the past several years. We were very impressed with both the philosophy of the organization and its totally green headquarters. For history buffs the Mc Arthur Museum is a treasure. This is where General Douglas McArthur was born. Right next door is the Arkansas Art Museum where we viewed early works by Ansel Adams. If you are going for lunch at the original Cotham’s Mercantile (there is a new one in town), do get there early. It gets busy by noon. They’re famous for the Hubcap Hamburger. Free tours of the Capitol give you an overview of state history and government. It is the only state that let’s you enter the vault and hold on to a big pile of cash. They do insist you give it back though! For anyone wanting to have an “in the moment” experience of what Civil Rights in the 1960s was all about should take the ranger led tour at Central High NHS. Since Central High is still used as a high school the tours  inside are available only when school is in session and very restricted hours. You need to call ahead and claim a spot but the tour is free.

Heifer International Museum

Heifer International Green Headquarters










Mc Arthur Museum

Korean War Memorial










Arkansas State Capitol

Stained Glass At The Capitol

Show Me The Money!












Inside Cotham’s Mercantile












Would You Eat Here?

We had a wonderful and busy three months in Arkansas and still didn’t see everything we wanted to see or do. So as we like to say… “When we come back…”

All Packed Up and No where To Go

Steve At A Restaurant In Redding

Steve At A Restaurant In Redding

Talk with any full time RVer and they will soon tell you of some mishap or breakdown. It happens to all of us. We’d been going along just fine. However since we had done a lot of mountain driving Steve thought it would be a good idea if we had our trailer brakes checked and wheel bearings packed. So we pulled into an RV dealer in Redding, CA for what we thought would be a quick top. Not so. When the tech pulled the wheel off and did an inspection he found we’d been driving around with a broken leaf spring. we could have had a collapse of our suspension. Thinking about the steep descent into Death Valley made us thankful for our Guardian Angel. He (She) certainly works overtime on our behalf! The RV was already up on jacks. We were allowed in one at a time to retrieve belongings and head to a motel. Our quick stop turned into a five day stay thus canceling plans to head for the redwoods. All of this happened only one month before our extended warranty plan expired. I bet they were really glad to get rid of us! After eating out for almost a week we were glad to stay home and cook.

Redding, CA is in the heart of wine country east of San Francisco. We spent time just driving the area in between frequent checks on repair progress. One side trip was to drive to the outskirts of SF to visit the Rosie the Riveter NHS. Both Steve and I grew up in families where our parents had been in WWII. We remember sitting around the dinner table listening to their stories. the Rosie the Riveter site is located in an industrial area where the Kaiser shipyards were located during WWII. Unlike most WWII museums it focuses on life on the homefront during this time. With able bodied men overseas women and those who couldn’t serve came into the workforce as never before. Race relations also came to the forefront. This would set up events for the 60s and 70s as Civil rights and Women’s Rights took center stage. We were treated to a talk by the oldest working NPS Ranger (88) who had worked in clerical duties during WWII later becoming an activist in Civil Rights. As one of the newer NPS sites it is still developing but offered us insights and information we did not know before even though we thought we knew quite a bit. If you are in the SF area, do make a visit.

Rosie The Riveter NHS

Rosie The Riveter NHS

Kaiser Shipyards near SF During WWII

Kaiser Shipyards near SF During WWII

Everyone chipped In

Everyone chipped In


















A WWII Recruiting Poster

A WWII Recruiting Poster

Women Go To Work

Women Go To Work

Photo Of Shipyard Workers

Photo Of Shipyard Workers


















Lunch Break










The most famous of all WWII posters is the namesake Rosie The Riveter poster  by Norman Rockwell for the May 1943 Saturday Evening Post. The name came from a pop song of the day. Rockwell used the image of Michelangelo’s Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel to depict a strong, capable woman.

Saturday Evening Post Cover

Saturday Evening Post Cover



A Day In The Life Of A Volunteer At San Juan Island National Historical Park

off to work 1Many of you know that Steve and I have spent summer 2015 working with the National Park Service as volunteers on San Juan Island in Washington. There are two locations where volunteers work: American Camp and English Camp. We are assigned at English Camp. Our duties run from simple greetings to more detailed explanations of the park’s history, selling bookstore items, working with children on the Junior Ranger program and performing in the weekly Living History. As we became more knowledgeable about the Pig War, Steve developed an in depth talk for interested visitors. To his own surprise, he has found he enjoys public speaking. Chari has found, to her surprise, that she enjoys working with children far more than she would ever have imagined. Volunteers give their time but get so much back in return.

We took our small video camera down to the English Camp Visitor Center with the intention of filming Steve giving his presentation to a small group for our own use. As luck would have it, that day a group of 20 high school students from OMSI camp (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) were visiting and interested in hearing his talk. Then another ten or so visitors came in who also wanted to attend. We set up the camera and Steve talked about one of our country’s lesser known conflicts. Just this past weekend Steve had given his talk to a gentleman who said he wished his grandson could have heard the talk. His grandson is a real history buff and they have visited many Civil War Era battlefields together. Steve offered to e-mail him this video but alas it was too many gigabytes. So we are posting this for him and hope some of our other followers enjoy hearing it too.

The blockhouse At English Camp

The blockhouse At English Camp

A quick note to correct something in the talk. Since filming this we realized we had a name wrong. To set things straight, when Steve talks about one person having kept their cool in thirteen years as Admiral Baynes, it should be Captain Hornsby of the Royal Navy. The learning curve goes on… Also after the introduction which was recorded with a microphone later you may need to turn up the volume on your computer.

And now… Here’s Steve……………..

A Skip Over To The Snake River Area

On to Lewiston, Idaho at the western edge of Idaho where the Snake River divides it from Washington state. Here the Clearwater River meets with the Snake River. We’d planned only two nights here and when we saw the beautiful Hells Gate State Park we wished we’d planned a few days more. Our trip over was uneventful until just before reaching Lewiston. We had ignored the route the GPS gave us as it routed us through Washington and added over an hour to the trip. When we reached the mountain pass north of Lewiston we understood. Having no choice we started down the seven mile 6% grade using our lowest gear. A tense period but we landed unharmed. Little did we know that more challenging hills awaited!

Idaho, river, landscape

The Clearwater River Valley

Rolling Hills Of Northwest Idaho

Rolling Hills Of Northwest Idaho












historic trails

Crossing Of Nez Pearce Trail And Lewis And Clark Trail

Big Hole NB

Action At Big Hole NB

Nez Pearce, American Indian, history

Flight Path Of The Nez Pearce



Our primary reason for coming here was to visit the Nez Pearce National Historic Site. We’d been to Big Hole National Battlefield while in Montana. This area of Washington and Idaho had been the traditional homeland of the Nez Pearce but after gold was discovered miners and settlers flooded the area following the philosophy of Manifest Destiny. Previous treaties were revoked and gradually land granted to them shrunk and shrunk. In 1877 some renegades sought revenge and killed settlers. The Army responded and “the war no one wanted” was on. Chief Joseph led his people on a long, long march through Idaho and Montana trying to avoid further conflict. The Battle of Big Hole on August 9-10, 1877 where both soldiers (31) and Nez Pearce (90) were killed is a sad reminder of the clash of cultures. The Nez Pearce continued their flight hoping to reach Canada but were stopped just shy of the border. After capture the leaders were incarcerated in Oklahoma. They finally returned to the homeland after five years. The entire Nez Pearce Trail has 38 historic stops spread over four states. One we found earlier near Lemhi Pass shows where the Nez Pearce Trail crosses the Lewis and Clark Trail. Lewis and Clark met and traded with the Nez Pearce. The museum at Nez Pearce NHP has many interesting exhibits. One that caught our eye was the only remaining silk ribbon from one of the Peace medal carried by the Corps of Discovery given by Lewis to Chief Cut Nose. Also in the museum were several photographs, paintings and drawings of Nez Pearce life and tribal members. One of the rangers, a current member of the Nez Pearce, showed us two photos of her family members. (To see detail in pictures or maps just click on picture to bring to full screen.)

Manifest Destiny, history,

Philosophy Of Manifest Destiny

Quote From General Howard, Army General At Battle Of Big Hole

Quote From General Howard, Army General At Battle Of Big Hole












Chief Joseph, Nez Pearce

Quote From Chief Joseph

painting, art, Lewis and Clark

Painting In Nez Pearce NHP Showing Lewis And Clark With Nez Pearce

Silk Ribbon From Lewis and Clark Peace Medal

Silk Ribbon From Lewis and Clark Peace Medal











Relative Of Ranger At Nez Pearce NHP

Relative Of Ranger At Nez Pearce NHP












Don't You Just Love This Face?

Don’t You Just Love This Face?













So Serious And So Young

So Serious And So Young

Following our visit to Nez Pearce NHP we did what we do so often just driving backroads to see what we can find. Besides the beautiful scenery shown above we found this “dead bug” with a tree growing through it. Then we found wild plum trees just loaded with ripe fruit. There were yellow ones, red ones and purple ones. After sampling a few we picked a quart bag full of yellow plums. They were soooo sweet! We had them in our salads for four nights and wished we’d had gallon bags with us.

VW Bug, photography

Bugs Live On Forever

We made one more stop at Dworshak Dam on the Clearwater River. I’d seen announcements for volunteer positions for this site and wanted to check it out. We spoke with current volunteers and the head ranger about volunteering here in the future. Before leaving we viewed one of several movies they have about the area. This film was about the last log run on the Clearwater River before the dam was built in the mid 70s. Talk about cold, wet and hard work! The volunteer position looks very interesting combining Visitor Center work and leading tours of the Dam. Right now Steve doesn’t want to commit to more than three months and this requires four and a half months service. So we’ll put it in the to be consider pile. Whether as volunteers or just on our own we will definitely be back.