Continuation of Travels from June 2nd, 2015

June 2nd, 2015

Must say that we were busy on June 2. You know that we saw a couple of things earlier in the day, then just kept on going. Remember we are in Omaha, NE.

We went by several “must see” exhibits. One included the Florence Bank and Depot Museum. We did not stop as it did not appear to be open. The exterior picture is shown. Town originally named Florence was later annexed by Omaha.

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Our next stop was the Mormon Trail Center. This museum had history of the Mormon Trek from the East through the Omaha area and on into Utah. It was obviously a very hard journey and many died in the process.

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There were exhibits and reproductions of the tools and equipment that the Mormons had with them on the trail. It took extra faith in God for them to keep going despite all of their hardships, trials and tribulations. Their efforts were no different than the other pioneers who wanted freedom and room to grow, however their journey was based on religious beliefs and the goal to reach them. They felt persecuted in their home towns and wanted the freedom to worship as they choose. Not any different that the pioneers and others who followed. They stopped and settled in the area of Salt Lake City. Few others in the group went further. We were taken on our tour of the museum after seeing a 15 minute film about the history of the trek by a young lady who was on her mission for her church. The museum included dioramas, artifacts, reproductions and many exhibits. 

Part of the film and her reciting the history, tells us that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had felt persecuted for their beliefs ever since Joseph Smith founded the church in New York in 1830. In 1839, Smith hoped by moving to Nauvoo, Missouri, a provision for a permanent safe haven for the Saints would be made. However anti-Mormon prejudice there proved virulent. Angry mobs murdered Smith and his brother in June 1844 and began burning homes and threatening the citizens of Nauvoo. Convinced that the Mormons would never find peace in the United States, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, made a bold decision: the Mormons would move to the still wild territories of the Mexican-controlled Southwest. Young had little knowledge of the geography and environment of the West and no particular destination in mind, but trusting in God, he began to prepare the people of Nauvoo for a mass exodus. On February 10, 1846, Young abandoned Nauvoo and began leading 1,600 Mormons west across the frozen Mississippi in subzero temperatures to a temporary refuge at Sugar Grove, Iowa. Young planned to make the westward trek in stages, and he determined the first major stopping point would be along the Missouri River opposite Council Bluffs. He sent out a reconnaissance team to plan the route across Iowa, dig wells at camping spots, and in some cases, plant corn to provide food for the hungry emigrants. The mass of Mormons made the journey to the Missouri River, and by the fall of 1846, the Winter Quarters were home to 12,000 Mormons. After a hard journey across the western landscape, Young and his followers emerged out onto a broad valley where a giant lake shimmered in the distance. With his first glimpse of this Valley of the Great Salt Lake, Young reportedly said, “This is the place.” That year, some 1,600 Mormons arrived to begin building a new civilization in the valley. The next year, 2,500 more made the passage. By the time Young died in 1877, more than 100,000 people were living in the surrounding Great Basin, the majority of them Mormons. (The information in the paragraph above was obtained from: Mormons begin exodus to Utah, History.com Staff, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mormons-begin-exodus-to-utah, A+E Networks)

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After the tour was completed, we went on to see the exterior of the Mormon Temple that was next to the museum. It was a small Temple, compared to the one in Salt Lake City. There was also a cemetery adjacent to the Temple with several of the early settlers buried in it. (The cemetery is behind the large tree on the right.)

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Next stop for the day was Fort Omaha, NE which is now the home of the Metropolitan Community College. Deeded to the College for a permanent 70 acre campus in 1974. They have worked at maintaining the look of this Post will using most of the buildings for a progressive 2-year college.

This Fort was established in 1868, considered a cheap barracks near Omaha so troops could quell Indian uprisings in the area. The Fort was deactivated in 1896 and reactivated in 1905 with Signal Corps on site. With the reactivation a structure to house the Army’s only dirigible (balloon airship) was built. Four years later all personnel and property were transferred to Ft Leavenworth.

During WWI the Red Cross was a resident and during WWII it was a support installation for the US Army 7th Service Command. An interesting note is the Italian prisoners of war worked here during WWII. I remember the stories of the Japanese prisoners of war housed in the Puyallup Fair Grounds, but have never thought about there being other Axis ally POW’s.

General Crook House Museum

Is on the grounds of Ft Omaha with the view similar to many Army Posts. That is that the commanding general sits atop a rise or hill above the parade ground. This two story brick building (“Italianate in style”), built in 1879 at a cost of $7,716. Although the cost was reduced by the use of the troops, can you imagine trying something like that today or the related cost. The grounds have more than 110 varieties of heirloom flowers, trees and shrubs. Many of the Victorian plants were carried via wagon train or received by mail order in the 1880s. This home has been a part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1969.

More later!

Back to early June, 2015

June 1, 2015 we did laundry in the morning and just decided to veg out the rest of the day. But when you are used to sightseeing every day, it is hard to sit still. And it is darn boring. Although we have a satellite dish, we have west coast feed, which means all of our TV comes from LA stations. As we move east and change time zones, the program times become later for us to watch. (In other words when it is 6 pm here, the programing is from 4 pm. I really like to watch the nightly news, just to see what the world is up to. The next problem is all of our favorite shows have now gone into summer hiatus. Good thing most of our TV watching is in the evening.

6/2/2015

Ford’s birth place is located in a suburb of Omaha, NB. Although the original house burned, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with a large single story building at the back of the property. It appears to be a meeting place, possibly for rent. Pictures are included in this posting. There is a brick kiosk at the front of the property with a small replica model of the old Ford home and several photos depicting Ford’s early life and some of his accomplishments.

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Gerald Ford’s Birth Place and Garden at 32nd and Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, NE, was only 15 miles from our RV parking space. This was fairly easy to drive to. In fact, The exhibit and garden no longer contains the original house. We were told by a grounds keeper that the original house burned down.

Just down the hill from Ford’s birth place and gardens is a street with several large, Victorian era homes. The entire street is on the Historic Register. My neck got sore while swiveling my head to see as many of the homes as possible. They are all private residents, so no home tours were offered.

Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St, Omaha, NE, is a home we happened to chance upon, in the Ford neighborhood. Oh, the exterior is so beautiful. I would love to have one of those circle rooms, sitting at the top floor, full of light, stacked with books, a cup of tea and have the whole day to do nothing but read.

We stopped and took pictures of the exterior, from outside the fence. No idea if the building was occupied or if it was part of a park or historic exhibit. We found a parking place and met a young woman coming out of the door. She worked for the “Castle” and knew a lot about the home and it’s history. She advised that she could not take us on a tour as the Castle was closed due to a tour being taken by school children. She took us over to the office to pick up a pamphlet that explained the history of the house and its current status. We also got information about other sites in the city that is on the ‘do not miss’ list.

The brochure we received lets visitors know that the 20,000 square foot, private residence, 35 room carved out of limestone is sitting on a 5.57 acre that it was built in 1903. It is considered one of the city’s grandest private estates. It is a Scottish Baronial style home, designed by Omaha architect John McDonald.

As we were leaving, the young woman came out of the offices and said since the children were on the second floor eating lunch, she would be happy to show us the first floor. WOW, what a great offer. So in we went, through the kitchen. The kitchen had been remodeled to fit health standards for commercial food preparation. Then on to the real home. The interior has Italian marble, hand-carved exotic woods, some of which can no longer be found. Each room had a different wood with the pocket doors matching the room it faces. There is a curved, French polished, Spanish mahogany staircase. The conservatory has 14 original stained glass windows, however, it did sustain some hurricane damage a few years ago.

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The above picture is from the balcony of the entertainment room, added 2-3 years later after completion of the original home. The Joslyn’s loved to entertain and what better way to highlight the gifts of the entertainers. It also has a large stage and had a large pipe organ.

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The front parlor is on the left. The rooms in the home have both gas and electric fixture. In the day, no one was sure that electricity was here to stay.  On the right (you can also see Jack) is the dining room which is 8-sided. You can see the only piece of original furniture remaining in the home, an 8-sided dining table.

The Castle is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Omaha Landmark Historic Structure. My description cannot do this house justice. The Joslyn Castle Trust now preserves the Castle, the gardens and grounds with a goal to enrich the community. Although much of the structure remains as original, the furnishings other than the dining room were not present. I feel sad situation and truly hope that they are able to find more period furniture to make this grand home as stately as it once was.

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There is a carriage building, seen through the portico of the castle in the above picture. It is smaller than the original home. Although designed for horses and carriages, later cars, the carriage house is now occupied by three different companies who pay rent for their various spaces.

Skipping ahead to June 19, 2015

There as been so much going on and I am neglectful in not getting all of our adventures updated and posted. However, today is a special day. It is Blaine Marshall Walp’s 12th birthday. It just seems like yesterday we were at the hospital for his arrival and big sister Taylor was right there to welcome him to the world.

Then just last year we traveled with Blaine down to Lego Land and spent a month in Southern California. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Blaine. We hope you have a great day. We love you. As usual your card should get to you in the next 4-5 days. It had been ready to mail for at least a week but as we travel, post offices are not on our route.

Although this is a trip we have planned since before Judy’s retirement, it is hard to be away from family and friends for so long. Today we will see Ft Niagra, which I think might look much like Ft Nisqually in Point Defiance Park, Washington.

Going forward, I will back track to our last posting and bring the blog up to date. Judy

May 31, 2015 Activities

5/28/2015 Thursday, a visit to Father Flanagan’s Boys Town. My children’s paternal grandfather used to tell a story that he and his brother had been taken to Boys Town. I had presumed it was in Texas or Oklahoma. So while in Omaha and finding that the Boys Town here was the original location, Jack and I checked into if the paternal grandfather had ever been a resident. Sadly, there was no record of him nor his brother. However, I did get a business card, should we ever get more information about the date they were there or any other specifics.5-28-2015 A- Visit to Boys Town     5-28-2015 B- Boys Town

The Hall of History at Boys Town was a nice tour that chronicled the beginning of Father Flanagan’s work at first with men and his lack of success to keep them on the path to improvement. He then decided to work with young boys who had been abandoned as there was better results and recovery. We started the tour with a movie, then toured exhibits depicting the years of history. We drove around the campus which is large with many separate homes, clustered around the school buildings; each solidly built, but not having a cookie cutter look on the outside, well landscaped and maintained.

5/31/2015 Visitors Center Downtown Omaha. I believe, going forward, we will make every effort to stop at a visitor’s center for every state we plan to visit. The one in Kansas was beautiful, along a major Interstate and the one located on the edge of Old Town Omaha, NE, was in an old building, full of interesting things to do in the Metropolitan Omaha area.

Old Town Omaha, was where we walked for several blocks after the Visitors Center. The streets (as many are in Omaha) are paved with bricks. Old Town is 5 blocks by 4 blocks, filled with restaurants and shops.

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We walked along a ten acre park right on the northern edge of the “heart of downtown.” There was a lagoon, walking paths and a playground with two giant slides. The children were having fun going down the slide, running around to do it all over again. Trees were everywhere and it was shady with a nice breeze. The lagoon is behind this “selfie.”  5-31-2015 Downtown Omaha NEX

We had dinner at a restaurant called Spaghetti Works, which was much like the Spaghetti Factory. I especially liked the memoribilia decorating the ceiling and walls. Please note the sign about the Queen’s Tea…Tetley.

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One art work so visible in down town was The First National Sculpture Parks. Yes, it is two parks that are not adjacent. The two covering more than seven blocks of the downtown, contain bronze and stainless steel sculptures reflective and named for times of both the wilderness of Omaha and the early settlers as they began their journey westward. It was not easy to get pictures. But fortunately we could edit most of the non-sculptures out of the photos.     Buffalo through the wall Pioneer wagon 1 Pioneer wagon 6 Pioneer wagon 5

The first park, Pioneer Courage, begins at 14th and Capitol. It appears that the settlers startled a herd of buffalo, as a buffalo ran through a building and five more are visible as you drive down Capitol and 15th. The end of the parks is Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness at 16th and Dodge. In this park are over 50 Canadian geese, weighing approximately 200 lbs each!

Geese 1  Geese with buffalo

Who would have thought that Omaha had so much to see and do. We did not even get to any of their museums!

 

Pictures! from Eisenhower’s Center

Pictures from the Eisenhower Campus:

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Located in Abilene, KS.

 

 

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Childhood home above. Eisenhower’s mother raised six boys in this small four bedroom home.

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Eisenhower and his wife Mamie were stationed at Ft Lewis, in 1941. I did not know that.

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Meditation Center where Dwight D Eisenhower, Mamie Eisenhower and their son, Doud (who died at the age of 4 from scarlet fever.)

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A 105 Howitzer, similar to the one that Jack was injured on, on exhibit at the Eisenhower museum.

Wow, almost caught up….5/18-5/27/2015

5/18/2015 Early today we spent time at the Red Rocks Amphitheater and the information we found was covered in an earlier blog. Visit with Tonya and Harland Peterson at their home this afternoon. One of their granddaughters, Caitlin was also with us for the visit. She was so quiet and good at entertaining herself. Tonya (McGrath) Peterson was a room mate and class mate of mine from Tacoma General Hospital School of Nursing. We graduated together in 1967. I married at the end of 1967 and Tonya in the beginning of 1968 (I think). I moved to California and she ultimately moved to Minneapolis, MN. And she is one of those friends that you do not talk to for several months, then when you do get together, it is like you never skipped a day in the friendship.

5/19/2015 To the Bass Pro Shop to let the men look at fishing equipment and firearms. Tonya and I looked through the clothes and then sat in front of the big fish tank to chat. Lunch at TGI Fridays.

5/22/2015 From Buckley AFB in Colorado to Colby, KS. This was a very good campground. Of course, we heard the jets roar with take off. However as my friend Bill Rupp says, that is the sound of freedom, so we adapt!

5/22/2015 (46,643.3) Stayed one night at Pilot Flying J Truck Stop, Colby, KS. We usually fuel up on these stops and are able to run the generator at night for TV, my CPAP machine, to cook dinner and have coffee in the morning.

5/23/2015 (46,872.7) A full day of driving from Colby, KS, to Minneapolis, KS, and drove to Nelson’s RV Park. Holy Cow! Just because it was cheap does not mean that we were meant to be there! Going for least expensive may land you in the wrong environment. Felt like we had dropped into the Deliverance movie. As we drove into the driveway (mud with some gravel) and lots of unmowed grass. There was no way to turn around and we saw three travel trailers and a 5th wheel. One of the travel trailers was a junk yard, all sorts of metal things around it (old mowers, bikes, rolling chairs.) One of the guys who came out from that rig was shirtless and covered with tattoos, many appeared to be self applied. Tattoos that I would hate to see on anyone I personally knew. And the piercings! Oh my heavens, a giant fish hook along with a stud in each ear lobe. Oh he must have thought he was God’s gift to women, as he offered to help me park the motor home. I was driving and Jack in the passenger seat. This yahoo obviously did not see that I was not by myself. Then Jack got out of the motor home to disconnect the Jeep. (We planned to disconnect the Jeep and move it away, backing the motor home out and getting out of there.) But once again we had another oops moment. The problem with the Jeep was an almost dead battery. The motor would not turn over. (I must have left something on when we last hooked up.) So we parked, plugged in electric, left the slides in and nothing else hooked up. We slept rather poorly. I just knew that yahoo would be trying to steal something from either the Jeep or motor home!

5/24/2015 (47,091.3) The next morning, Jack thought he would try to get a jump start, just in case that would work. He had some assistance from an older gentleman from the 5th wheel. (He also advised us that we should not stay there, but last night we were stuck.) YAHOO, IT WORKED!!!! We ran out of the campground, well what ever you call it with a motor home.

Now at the Covered Wagon RV Park in Abilene, KS. We are in the hometown of President Dwight D Eisenhower. About three blocks from the RV park was the Eisenhower ‘Campus’ that included the visitor center, library, museum, meditation center and Eisenhower’s boyhood home. There was a fee, but it was well worth it.

5/25/2015 What better place to spend Memorial Day than at a Presidential library of a man who was a leader in World War II.

The boyhood home was very interesting, small compared to other homes in the town. It was considered the “other side of the tracks” with larger homes across the railroad tracks. It was furnished with most of the items that were original. The docent really knew her stuff. Such as how much bread the mother, Ida, had to bake to keep her husband and six boys in bread, nine loaves every other day for her family! The Eisenhower’s lived in this home from 1898 until mother Ida Eisenhower passed away in 1946.

The Visitor’s Center, where we started the tour, had a brief orientation film on Eisenhower’s life. The Center was the last building to be added to the complex. It also has a large auditorium and gift shop.

Our next stop in the complex was the meditation center. It is where Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower along with son Doud (their first-born son who died at age four from scarlet fever) are buried. This chapel has beautiful stained glass windows. Along the walls are some of Eisenhower’s famous quotes. The one that moved me most was: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Another of his quotes is: I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. Dwight D. Eisenhower

(Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dwight_d_eisenhower.html#XSfjhkDoY0oauf7C.99 )

We next walked to the library. It is a working research library with lobby and second floor gallery changing exhibits. When viewing the exhibit in the lobby we noted that Ike was quite the fellow with a BBQ grill. This exhibit showed various pictures of his outdoor cooking skills. One included a picture of his home while stationed at Ft Lewis, Washington, at 2013 Clark Street, Officers Housing in the spring of 1941. I never knew he was stationed in the Pacific Northwest.
On the second floor gallery was an exhibit of the countries involved in World War II with the price they paid in the loss of life. Many lost their lives at the hands of occupation forces and during the course of the fighting.
I did not know all the history involved in World War II nor how many countries were part of the pact with Germany or occupied by the Axis countries. And even more interesting was that the USA occupied Tunisia and Great Britain occupied Iceland. Granted that is no where near what the Axis countries occupied, a total of 24 countries. The loss of life was a staggering number, in the millions. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 3% of the 1939 world population (est. 2 billion).“ according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

There is a statue of General Eisenhower in the middle of the campus. Very familiar posture that he takes, standing with his hands on his hips.

And last but by no means least was the museum. There were so many exhibits from firearms to a staff car, to Mamie’s inauguration ball gown and the list goes on. Again, if you have the opportunity, please take the time, at least ½ of a day to visit this Presidential Campus.

If we get a chance we will try to see other Presidential Libraries on our travels.

Planned to do nothing in the afternoon, but did go to Salina, KS. Many of my maternal grandmother’s family is from Kansas and since I have two dishes from Salina, I wanted to see the town. I even found the building that is depicted on one of the dishes. (I am looking at the pictures now and realize I need to check the dishes at home, because the building I saw is in Beloit, not Salina.) Frankly it looks just the same and I believe that the two dishes are from my grandmother’s days…late 1800’s. We also checked out the cemetery but no Williamson’s (Grandma’s maiden name) were buried there.

5/26/2015 Rechecking our proposed route, we realized it would be easier to take a day trip to Beloit, KS, rather than try to stay in Concordia, KS. So we drove to Beloit, KS. Found Elmwood Cemetery but there was no guide nor a person to help find a grave site. A call to City Hall and I got the name of the caretaker. A call to him, Robert Thompson, and he met us at the cemetery office. The official records of the cemetery had burned in 1937 and I thought I would be unable to find any gravestones with Williamson on them. But there happened to be two books salvaged or found in someone’s home with the listing of all who had been buried from the original days, where and when they were laid to rest. He showed us the location of Enoch B and Frances C’s headstone. Most of the plots were 24 ft by 24 ft. From indentations in the ground, he was able to determine that Enoch and Frances only had ½ of the plot. At the foot of Frances’ remains was a stone engraved Lydia M Stalcup, Oct 17, 1876, Mar 22, 1954. It is impossible to tell from the stone if she happened to be one of Enoch & Frances’ children. That mystery remains to be solved another day. I must say that this cemetery had peonies everywhere which were beautiful.

Due south of Beloit is Lincoln, KS. Enoch B Williamson’s father, William Burk Williamson and his mother Prudence Royal are supposed to be buried in Prairie Grove Cemetery, Lincoln County, KS. But the cemetery in Lincoln is not the Prairie Grove Cemetery. Another cemetery to find another day just not this trip.

5/27/2015 (47,138.4) Drive to Offutt Air Force base, Strategic Air Command, just south of Bellevue, NE which is just south of Omaha, NE. The Fam Camp is located on Offutt Lake, off base, but you can stay here only if you fit the criteria as in other Fam Camps or military campgrounds. We have a nice pull through. Humidity is high and temperature is running in the 70’s so it feels warmer. Jack says the mosquitos are out in the millions, good thing we have our Bounce Fabric Softener sheets, from our Alaska trip.

Need to back track to May 17th, 2015

I need to do some backtracking for things that we did while in Denver before we went to the Red Rocks Amphitheater on Monday, May 18th. I guess I was so jazzed by the size and beauty of the Amphitheater, that I forgot to include two stops we made on Sunday, May 17th.

Celestial Seasonings Tea was our 1st stop on Sunday. Although the plant was not working, it was still a nice tour, seeing the large quantities of tea and spices ready to be blended into their special brews. We started out with a movie about the beginnings of the company. The tour included a peppermint room, where all the peppermint is kept in one enclosed room. Peppermint is very aromatic and can permeate other ingredients if not kept separate. We had gotten to the factory just as the tour started so were unable to sample any teas at that time. Once the tour was complete, we went back to the tasting room and tried about 3-4 different brews. There were about 8 other teas to be tried, but they did not tweak our interest. I also did a bit of shopping for Christmas….hope I do not forget that I have them! There were all sorts of teas and tins, cups and spoon rests and tea kettles.

The picture below, from the Celestial Seasonings web site, shows where many of the herbs and teas are obtained. Some of the mint comes from the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest.

Tea Map Illustration

Per the web site (http://www.celestialseasonings.com/about) in 1969, a group of passionate young entrepreneurs founded Celestial Seasonings upon the belief that their flavorful, all-natural herbal teas could help people live healthier lives. “They harvested fresh herbs from the Rocky Mountains by hand, and then dried, blended and packaged them in hand-sewn muslin bags to be sold at local health food stores.” The cottage industry became an almost overnight success. Celestial Seasonings is one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America. They serve more than 1.6 billion cups of tea every year, and source more than 100 different ingredients from over 35 countries to create our delicious, all-natural herbal, green, red, white, chai and wellness teas. Some of the tea farm tea plants are as old as 100 years was the response I got when asking how often the plants need to be replaced! If hope if anyone is in the area, that they take the time to tour and taste the various teas. 

About a mile or so down the road from Celestial Seasonings Tea, we traveled to the Leanin’ Tree Museum with western-themed sculptures & paintings from the private collection of Ed Trumble (admission is free). There were many art works and all beautiful to look at. This is a company that is known for their greeting cards, that are as colorful as many of the original art works in the museum.

I enjoy the cards, especially for the cowboy humor in some of the more ‘colorful’ cards. There were also many sculptures in the entry yard. Since we were there on a Sunday, there were no tours to watch the cards being made.

I worked hard with the last blog entry to make sure that there were photos to show what I was referencing or what we were seeing. Unfortunately they did not move from the original document to the blog posting itself. I will eventually get it “fixed.”

Update to include May 14th through May 17th, 2015

On Thursday May 14th, (46,369.5 miles) when we were told that our windshield was done at 2 p.m., we couldn’t wait to get out of town. The folks we dealt with in Grand Junction, CO, were great, however, it was not our intent to spend as much time as we did.
On the road at 2 pm with plans to drive as far as possible. According to Magellon (the GPS device for the motor home), we are within 150 miles of Denver. The I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver is such a wonder, that it is hard to put it in words. No wonder the folks who live in Colorado are proud of their state. We have a camera that has quit working, so our phone is our next choice. Not the best, but better than nothing.
As we left Grand Junction on I-70 and passed Parachute, CO, along the Colorado River, the canyon walls were narrow and it was hard to believe anyone could build a roadway, much less a railroad line and share it with the Colorado River!
The Colorado River is what you see at the base of the mountain.
As we traveled we saw a number of what I would have called tank farms along both sides of the Interstate. Most were painted tan to match the terrain and several had solar panels, I presume for the electricity to run the ‘tank farms’. When we stopped for a map of Colorado, I asked what those tanks were all about and was told that they are “compression stations for natural gas.” From Wikipedia they are defined as follows: “A compressor station is a facility which helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another. Natural gas, while being transported through a gas pipeline, needs to be constantly pressurized at intervals of 40 to 100 miles. The compressor station, also called a pumping station, is the “engine” that powers an interstate natural gas pipeline. As the name implies, the compressor station compresses the natural gas (increasing its pressure) thereby providing energy to move the gas through the pipeline. Pipeline companies install compressor stations along a pipeline route. The size of the station and the number of compressors (pumps) varies, based on the diameter of the pipe and the volume of gas to be moved. Nevertheless, the basic components of a station are similar.” I have lived in Washington State almost my whole life with natural gas lines everywhere, yet have never seen any of these type of stations. Once again, we learned something.
The road we are on will go through several canyons and tunnels with beautiful tree covered mountains on the sides and in some cases a lot of snow. We are lucky that there was no snow on the roads, but it was cold.
Over the summit, we hit 10,662 ft altitude. On the city signs, rather than population, they post altitude. This height was attained at Vail. Vail and adjacent cities seem to be nothing but condos. I am sure it is the way to put the most living space in small mountain areas. If any of the rich and famous live in these areas as we often hear in the news, they must be far out with drivers to ferry them into town, especially in the snow.

As you can see from the pictures, spring has not arrived as all the deciduous trees have not budded or leafed out. (see preceding pictures)

Closer to Denver you can see more green. We also saw a bike path or hiking trail along the river and it went for miles. Something, if we were much younger, would be fun to follow.
Dry camping again, along a lake with a snow capped mountain in the back ground, outside Frisco, CO. Just beautiful!
Friday, May 15th (46,554.5 miles), up at 6:30 am and on the road. Coming down the road from the heights of the Colorado Mountains is not easy on the brakes….stopped once when the brakes overheated. No fire, but I did get the fire extinguisher out to be prepared. The smell is yuk!!
We pushed on, through early work day traffic and got to Buckley AFB, Aurora, CO, east of Denver. Drove to the FamCamp and it is nice, only three years old, so limited trees, but full hook ups. And lots of room with level cement pads for the campers. Buckley AFB has something to do with missile detection, with several geodisic domes on the sight and they are huge. They also had several small ones, looked like the rabbits on the grounds, making more domes.
Our stop on Saturday morning will be with the phone company to get help in putting our pictures in the blog. We just need to share the beauty that we saw.
Saturday, May 16th, 2015. We stopped at the phone store, found out about down loading pictures and bought a ‘selfie stick’. This allows us to take pictures with us in them, without having to ask others to take our pictures. Couldn’t use it immediately because the stick had to be charged first. But tomorrow is another day.
Lots of hours left in Saturday and we moved to our plans for the day. Our first stop was the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, CO. It is a beautiful campus. Settled in the midst of hills/mountains filled with pine trees. The visitors center had some nice exhibits, documenting the first six weeks of ‘training’ and the next four years of training and education. When we left Aurora, it was warm with lots of sunshine. As we drove further south towards the Academy, we saw more and more dark, then black clouds on the horizon. By the time we got to the Academy, it was cold and raining. Nothing I expected or dressed for, so jumping out of the car to take pictures was not on my plan!!
I wanted to see the informational video that was shown in the visitor center, Jack was not so excited. He said, ‘see one basic training, seen them all’. However, I am glad that we stayed to see it. It was inspiring to see these young people learn basic military skills along with leadership and an education. The cadets are offered many degree choices and not everyone is exclusive to the Air Force.
From the Academy we drove further south to see Garden of the Gods. At the visitor center there was museum exhibits and a multimedia show. We choose to drive the course of the Gardens. I am beginning to have trouble finding enough adjectives to share the amazing rock formations, colors and magnitude of the “garden”. “The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and the Pikes Peak formations. The Ice Age erosion and geologic process of the rock, created the present rock formations. Evidence of past ages can be read in the rocks: ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_the_Gods)

Balanced Rock, is now cemented in place. Three Graces formation.

Cathedral Valley. You can see some of the hiking trails in this picture. This was such a nice drive. Cloudy, just as it had been at USAFA, however no rain. But well worth the drive.
And guess what. It seems that everyone everywhere are just alike…just have to slow down to see what is going on, on the highway, looking for dead bodies or some such thing. Highway back ups with fender benders. And traffic, even on the week ends!
Today, Monday, May 18 we decided to head for Red Rocks Amphitheater. It is a cloudy day and many of the surrounding mountains are in the fog/clouds. However, no matter the weather, this amphitheater is just unbelievably beautiful and amazing.
The smudge on the picture on the right is a raindrop.
Red Rocks Amphitheater is a rock structure near Morrison, Colorado, 10 miles west of Denver, where concerts are given in the open-air amphitheatre. There is a large, tilted, disc-shaped rock behind the stage, a huge vertical rock angled outwards from stage right, several large outcrops angled outwards from stage left and a seating area for up to 9,450 people in between. The amphitheatre is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, CO and is located in Red Rocks Park, part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. Once again we find that the Civilian Conservation Corps set up by President F. D. Roosevelt was instrumental in work on this amphitheater. The Indians in the 1800s had also used this for their ceremonies.
There is a museum at the Visitors Center that notes everyone who had performed since the first performance in 1910.

Our favorite performers through all the years. It was outstanding. But for our contemporaries, here is who played in 1964:

This information and much more is available at the Red Rocks Amphitheater Museum. It is well worth the time and energy to visit. There is no charge for the museum or viewing the amphitheater.
We have been busy but no internet connection that would allow for updating our blog. More to come from us and our traveling gnomes!

More lemonade, May 1, 2015 to May 14, 2015

We planned that Friday, May 1, 2015 our drive would be from Provo UT to Grand Junction CO, about 5 hours. The best laid plans do go awry. We got to Fruita, CO, just east of the UT/CO border, filled the MH with diesel and started up the mountain passes to Vail, CO. Planned to go through Grand Junction, CO and travel another hour or two. We started up the pass and the MH just would not pick up speed. After a couple of 18-wheelers passed us and our speed could not get faster than 15 miles per hour, we knew we had a problem. We could get up to 60 miles per hour going down hill, but that did not help going up hill! At Parachute, CO we pulled off and parked in front of a Shell Station. A call was placed to our insurance company and two hours later we were picked up by a flat bed equipment hauler and taken back to Grand Junction. Watching this truck driver put the motor home on his trailer gave me a whole new respect for truck driver skills.

We had disconnected the Jeep and drove behind our trailered rig to get to a business named Bear Automotive. Do not break down on a Friday night, anywhere!! The owner was still on sight (thank heavens) and allowed us to park in his lot, gravel and within 10 feet of a train yard….an active rail line with Amtrack at least twice a day and several freight trains also. He made sure that we had a 120 power line to the MH. Monday May 4th was the first time they could look at the rig and that was in the afternoon. Due to the symptoms that the MH presented it was thought that we may have gotten bad diesel. Bear Automotive changed the fuel filter but did not find any water in it. We stayed another night and after paying the repair bill, we headed to the local Cummins Dealer. They took one look, found that some bolts had come apart under the engine, bolts that kept the air in the system to allow turboboost to get more umph to the engine. Do you like my mechanical terms? Four hours with them and all was well. We decided to spend one more night in Grand Junction, but in an RV Park to have full hook ups.

In the process of getting to a RV Park, one more incident on the trails resulted in the windshield breaking and the refrigerator popping out of it’s upper placement. We got into a new park, Moon Dance RV Park, which had full hook ups, was clean and not to close to either the railroad tracks or I-70. The next morning Wednesday the 6th we called a mobile RV repair person. He looked at the frig, popped it back in place and recommended that we have it checked out for leaks and secured into place. He would not be able to work on it until Tuesday, May 12th. We had also been working with Glass Brokerage and the insurance company for windshield replacement. They had to order the glass and it would not arrive until Wednesday the 13th. We decided to spend a week at Moon Dance RV and we got a discounted rate. Nice people, had laundry facilities and a good place to stay.

We spent the next few days trying to burn time. Thank heavens for McDonald’s free wi-fi. Mother’s day was celebrated with both of us getting pedicures and a nice dinner out. A few days earlier Jack got a new pair of glasses and .is now seeing much better.

The refrigerator was fixed as planned on the 12th. We then traveled to the Glass Brokerage where they allowed us to dry camp in their parking lot. While Glass Brokerage waited for the windshield to arrive we decided to go see one of the sights in the area.

May 13th we visited the Colorado National Monument, a National Park since 1911, established by John Otto, before the Park Service. The roads and tunnels were build, primarily by hand with pick and shovel by the CCCs in the 1930’s. The borders along the road look much like the ones on the way up to Mt Rainier. I am guessing if we looked at other roads built by the CCCs that the guard stones would be much the same. This Park is part of the “greater Colorado Plateau” which covers parts of four states and includes the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Arches national parks. The area is semi-desert and as we drove through, it reminded both of us of the Northeast Arizona landscape. The formations in these canyons are like “sky-scrapers-in-stone.” The views are breathe taking and pictures do not do the Park justice.

When you are driving through the park, it is amazing. We recommend, if you are in this area, stop by. It is well work the time.

While all this manipulation and repairs were going on, I was in communication with Tonya, my friend from nurses training. She lives in the Denver area. We worried together about snow and getting across the pass and expected us to have finished our visit before they headed out to a long weekend in Minnesota. That is not happening. They left this morning and we are still here in Grand Junction. The plan is that the windshield will get put in this am, be done about 1 pm and we can get on the road.

We will fill with diesel on our way out of Grand Junction and go as far as we can. Our reservations for Buckley AFB in Aurora, CO begin Friday the 15th and we will be there a week. Tonya gave me a list of things to do and I also some some additional things on line.

Thursday May 7, 2015 Lemons to lemonade

Thursday May 7, 2015

Good afternoon to all. I have not posted for a few days. We have had more than our fair share of adventures, but not the camping kind.

Last Friday April 30th we were driving on I-70 with plans to reach Denver by Saturday morning. We stopped in Fruita to fuel up before hitting the mountains. Fruita, Grand Junction and several other small communities sit in a valley with beautiful plateaus around it. Going east, up some hills, alongside the Colorado River, we noticed that we seemed to be slowing down, rather than speeding up. Jack had the petal to the metal and could not get going much faster than 15 MPH. But on the bright side, going down hill we could get up to 60 MPH! After 1-2 miles of the slow speed with 18-wheelers passing us as if we were standing still and we pulled off in a community called Parachute. We made a call to the insurance company we made arrangements for a low-boy hauler (normally hauls mining size equipment) to pick up the motor home and deliver it back to Grand Junction at a repair place. At first we thought it might be water in the fuel line. After sitting in the RV repair dirt parking lot that backed into a major train rail, Friday night and the rest of the week end, someone finally got to look at the fuel pump on Monday afternoon. They changed it out, but other than a little bit of dirt, could not find any water. Tuesday morning, we settled the bill and the RV Repair Service recommended we might try one of the Cummins dealers in the area to hook up via the diagnostic equipment that they have that goes to our engine. We did and Cummins diagnosed the problem, repaired it in about 4 hours and had us on our way.

By now it is late in the day and we decided to spend the night and get going early on Wednesday. Well in the process of locating a RV Park, we missed a driveway with the motor home. The tilt it made, dislodged the refrigerator and torqued the windshield, besides spewing the contents of the shelves all over the floor. Long story short….the RV refrigerator is up and running, but needs some rebuild of the case (to be done on Tuesday May 12) and the windshield is on its way from Eugene OR with install hopefully on Wednesday May 13.

Can I tell you about the weather of the last two days. The sky is blue with fluffy white clouds, the next thing you know, the clouds turn BLACK, winds pick up and it pours. And we both get flash flood warnings on our phones! Then a few minutes later, the clouds have moved over the plateau on the East, dumping rain over that area. In Washington we can usually tell what is coming. And I have no idea which direction the weather moves around here.

The whole goal of this leg of our trip was to see my friend from nurses training who now lives in the Denver area. I have been keeping her up to date on our “projected date of arrival”. This a.m. She let me know that they are leaving on May 14th for a trip, returning on May 18th. The two of us have been trying to get together for at least the last 5 years. Well, dang it, I am not going to miss her this time. Jack and I will find an RV Park in the Denver area, do some sightseeing and wait for their return on the 18th.

While here in Grand Junction (population just shy of 60,000) we will see some of the National/State Parks and other sights. On line the recommendations are: a taste of something local, because the city is nestled in Colorado’s fertile Grand Valley. The summer and fall include a bounty of fresh local produce, including the famous Palisade peaches. Unfortunately the peach crop is not ready until August. There are several fruit orchards going east from Grand Junction. The area is also known as Colorado’s wine country, and as the home to some of Colorado’s best wineries and vineyards. Tours and tastings are available seasonally. For the beer devotee there are two brewpubs which serve up a selection of their own special beers. Neither Jack or I imbibe (health reasons) but love the names of many of the alcoholic beverages.