Dateline July 9, 2013 Montana – Big Sky Country

DSC_0879After leaving Yellowstone we traveled out the southern gate of Yellowstone National Park directly into the Teton National Forest on our way to Jackson, commonly known as Jackson Hole.  At approximately 310,000 acres, the park includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole.   Teton Peaks 2We drove the beautiful John D Rockefeller Jr. Parkway along continuous beautiful lakes with the Teton Range to our west.  After about 80 miles we entered the city of Jackson.

We parked the Roadtrek on a side street and walked a few blocks to the center of town.  Being Saturday, the Farmers Market was in full swing.  We enjoyed our walk around the village, with all the various shops.  One of the wonderful parts of being older, is that we have all the trinkets and trash we need, so shopping was not at the top of our list.  It is charming and very alive with people from all walks of life.  Too busy, what we really needed was a “Ghost Town!”

There just happens to be one in Montana called Virginia City, so it was off on the road north.  We drove through part of eastern Idaho with lots of potato farms and other crops.  We called ahead and found an RV park in Virginia City.  Arriving at the RV Park it was clean and very nice.

About Virginia City:
In May 1863, a group of prospectors were headed towards the Yellowstone River and instead came upon a party of the Crow Indians and were forced to return to Bannack.  Gold was discovered on the retreat trip when Bill Fairweather stuck a pick near Alder Creek joking he may find gold to buy tobacco.

John's Great, Great Uncle Bill Fairweather

John’s Great, Great Uncle Bill Fairweather

Now for the real reason we picked Virginia City,  Bill Fairweather was John’s mother’s great uncle.  In 1958 when John was 11, the family took a trip from Settle and toured Virginia City.  It was a fun idea to see how much a “ghost town” can change over so many years!  Not much!!  Back to the story:

The prospectors could not keep the site a secret and  were followed.  A town was set up  in order to formulate rules about individual gold claims. On June 16, 1863 under the name of “Verina” the township was formed a mile south of the gold fields. The name was meant to honor Varina Howell Davis (Jefferson Davis’s wife) the first and only First Lady of the Confederacy.  Verina, although in Union territory, was founded by men whose loyalties were thoroughly Confederate. Upon registration of the name, a Connecticut judge, G. G. Bissell, objected to their choice and recorded it as Virginia City. (In full irony, since Virginia itself had seceded, only to have West Virginia secede from the state and stay in the Union, it seemed an appropriate name for a Dixie city in Yankee territory.)

Within weeks Virginia City was a boom-town of thousands in the midst of a gold rush with no law enforcement whatsoever, except for vigilantism. Most of Montana became under the rule of a Vigilance committee, the infamous Montana Vigilantes, which operated on both sides of the law.

Bill Fairweather was one of the wealthier man in town.  It was told that he slept with rattlesnakes on his chest and under his jacket.  The earlier story about the Crow Indians was documented in “Golden Gulch” The Story of Montana’s Fabulous Alder Gulch by Dick Pace.  When the Crow’s had the prospectors surrounded in camp and were touting them, Fairweather took two snakes out of his shirt and started prancing with them and thrusting them towards the Indians.  They thought he was crazy and felt that killing them would bring a bad luck, karma  or whatever to the Indians.  They were let go by the elders of the tribe the next day, however were chased later by the younger braves.  This all happened near Bozeman, Montana.  They then went farther west to where they found the gold.  Looking around at the alder trees they called the find, Alder Gulch.  Whiskey was his drink and a little of the craziness came from that.

The local hotel was named after him.  DSC_0890He threw coins to the Chinese workers in the street because he loved to watch them dive into the mud for them.  He went on to die penniless at the age of 39.  When John visited the grave in 1958 it had a fence around it like the current grave with only a stake to mark  it on Boot Hill.  tomb and signSome years ago in the 1980’s most of the graves were moved to a new cemetery up the hill from Boot Hill and a gravestone was placed in it by the historical society to mark Bill Fairweather’s burial plot.  There is also a sign that announces he discovered the gold at Alder Creek.

The State of Montana bought the historical buildings of both Virginia City and nearby Nevada City and leases them out to those that have business which are being run in the historical districts of both cities.

We left Virginia City to meet up with a dear family friend in Big Sky.  John Bohlinger is a fascinating gentleman who was a dear friend of John’s parents, Jack and Jean, as well as the rest of the family for many years.  He and his lovely wife Bette had purchased a condo at the base of the mountain when it was first developed by old NBC anchorman Chet Huntley in 1973.  John has had an open invitation to the family to use their home for many years.  We were to spend time with he and his wife Karen, Bette died of cancer a number of years ago, on our trip back from Alaska two years ago.  John was serving as the Lt. Governor of Montana (2004-2012) and was attending a course at the JFK School at Harvard, so it was one of the main points of our trip to see them this year.

We arrive at Big Sky and checked in at the Huntley Lodge for the newer condo that John had purchased in 2001.  It is a beautiful two-story unit that looks out on Lone Peak and has great views of the Summit community and all the ski slopes.  John joined us about an hour after we arrived.  Karen was in Seattle with one of her sons, so we were going to catch up with her in Helena on Tuesday for lunch after her return.  We had a bit of Champagne at the condo and then drove out to have dinner.  Dinner was fun with each of us having bison for the meal.  A few hours of sharing family stories, catching up on all of John’s children and telling him about our children and grandchildren.  It was fun talking some politics with John.  He had been in the legislature and Senate representing the Republican Party.  In the summer of 2004 Brian Schweitzer, the potential Democratic governor nominee discussed with John running as Lt. Governor, having a bipartisan ticket that might be able to accomplish good things for the state. They ran, won and got re-elected in 2008.  John said it was a wonderful and rewarding experience. pic Johns and janice

John drove back to Helena in the morning and Janice and I took a hike on a beautiful trail to the Ousel Falls ousel river beauty2which was a wonderful walk, canyon ouselup and down for about 1 mile into a beautiful set of falls.  ousel river beautyThe trail follows the river all the way to the falls. The falls were spectacular.  It took about an hour and was just enjoyable.

We took the rest of the day to catch up on reading, laundry and planning for the rest of the trip.

ousel falls riverWe haousel river beauty2d an electrical problem with the Roadtrek and found a dealer in Kalispell, Montana that could take us in at 10:00 on Wednesday morning.

ousel fallsTuesday morning we packed up the Roadtrek and headed up to Helena to join John and Karen for lunch.  It was an easy drive and arrived at their home around 11:30.

They live in an unbelievable beautiful residential section of Helena that also includes many of the mansions built by the miners in the Helena gold rush. Helena is a vibrant beautiful city, with a magnificent history of its own.  We had a lovely lunch with John and Karen at The Montana Club, which was an old club started by the copper and gold mining kings.  It was a beautiful building and the dinning room had a bar that belonged in an old western movie with brass and mirrors.  John showed us ways we could drive up to Kalispell where we would get our RV problem resolved.  John told us to head to Flathead Lake and there would be many places to stay.

Many thanks to the Bohlinger’s or their wonderful hospitality at both Big Sky and Helena, it was such a pleasure to be with them both.

We had a beautiful drive north, Kalispell is a few miles outside Glacier National Park. We found Spruce River.Camp Ground and had a magnificent place right on the river, another great evening.  spruce riverWe got the RV problem diagnosed the next day but no part available so we ordered the part in Seattle to pick up on the way to Will and Kathy’s (John’s brother).

On to Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho!

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Dateline July 4, 2013, Yellowstone National park

Shoshone National ForestWe made an early departure from Cody, WY for the short drive to Yellowstone Park. As we have written, we enjoyed Cody and the beauty of good old American patriotism for the 4th of July weekend, although we believe that it is a daily way of life for the local populist here in Wyoming.

Driving along the highway to Yellowstone we enjoyed the beauty of the Shoshone National Park. The views as the river wound its way south towards Cody. Before we knew it we arrived at the eastern entrance to the park. Much of the drive into the park is along Yellowstone Lake. There are a number of caldrons along the side of the lake with sulfur smelling steam raising in the air. beautiful lakesOne roadside sign told of the water temperatures at the top of the lake, could cause hypothermia very quickly while at the lake bottom the temperature could be 200 degrees or higher. This was just a prelude to the thermo geography education of Yellowstone Park. We passed a group of cars along the road and stopped to see what they were viewing, it was a beautiful elk lying in the trees. elk downWe drove the next 30 miles to find our campsite a few hundred feet from Yellowstone Lake. After checking in, we decided to take the southern loop of Yellowstone. Along Yellowstone Lake, the views with the mountains in the background were stunning. The road took us to Old Faithful, we arrived just as one eruption ended, leaving us about 90 minutes to the next event. The visitor center had a short movie with a very good overview of the geology of the park. About 640 thousand years ago some of the largest volcanic eruptions on our planet occurred. During this period 3 massive eruptions occurred producing huge collapsed craters called calderas that shaped the Yellowstone Plateau and gave birth to the geothermal features in Yellowstone. rock colorshot water spot1

We then walked a loop around Old Faithful viewing the various caldrons that actually erupted as smaller geysers a number of time a day. Hot spring algae creates the colors on the rocks from the constant flow. Many of the geysers are beautiful. One we saw while walking around Old faithful  has clear blue water and magnificent colors.

Artemissa Geyser

Artemissa Geyser

Since there wasn’t a stop watch on them, we had no idea when they would erupt. Later as we took a seat waiting for the 2:12 eruption of Old Faithful, we saw some of the smaller ones erupt in the distance. This is an experience that all should enjoy at some point in their lives. As you wait, the crowd grows surrounding the center of the geyser. What is astounding is the number of foreign accents you hear, this is a world destination for many nationalities. The time of the explosion is never exact and the give a time, plus or minus 10 minutes. Old Faithful loves to play the audience and you get a lot of false starts, where everyone is waiting with cameras to record this tremendous explosion of steam from deep inside the earth. All of a sudden Old Faithful decides to give us the show we have all read about, seen pictures and videos of and learned about while studying geology in school. Here are some pictures of the explosion and a video that we took during the event. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is so true.

old faithful2

We laughed when it was over about waiting for the next eruption so we could see it other than through the camera lens! It is sensational, worth the trip to Yellowstone, but only a portion of the Yellowstone experience.

Grizzlt

Grizzly

We continued the southern circle of the park and continued to be astounded by the shear beauty of the park. We came upon a backup of cars, generally meaning “Animal Photo Op”, we continued to negotiate the vehicles to find a place to park and sure enough there was a large grizzly bear,the only one we saw during our visit to Yellowstone.

As we got back towards our campground we stopped to see a ranger and find out the best time in the morning to see the animals. Sun up is the time! We set the alarm for 5:00. God bless Janice, she let John sleep in the back while she made her way up to Hayden Valley to pull over and wait for the animals. baby buffalo

A herd of Bison made their way up the road and along the side of the Roadtrek, buffalo herdonly feet away from us. We understood that the bison babies were born a little late this year so we had great views of the babies walking with the mothers along side of us. We must admit, sitting and enjoying your coffee and tea with this view, just about tops all experiences.buffalo

Once the herds move beyond us, we took the northern circle of the park. The terrain was much more mountainous then the southern loop. We continued to look for more “Animal Photo Ops” along the way.

elk grazingThere were also great water falls such as Tower Falls along the Yellowstone River. The pictures are fun, but the short video brings Tower Falls to life.

The pictures looking back at the river after the falls gives a view of how tremendous the Yellowstone experience is. Some of the views shows the steam raising out of the valleys. Signs are posted that no hiking is allowed as a geologist slipped in the valley and suffered third degree burns. We were very fortunate to come upon a pair of black bear , black bearone on each side of the road, foraging for food. This bear was trying to cross but was a little angry since there were a few people blocking the way.

It is early Saturday morning as we leave our campsite and head to the south towards the Teton National Forest. Driving along Yellowstone Lake, it is just how amazing we were at peace. Watching the geese floating in the water and seeing an elk just grazing next to the road, female elkit was a brilliant, beautiful, peaceful morning.yellowstone river

Yellowstone is special and always will be one of the greatest destinations of all those we have visited in our travels, internationally and here in North America.

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Dateline June 29, 2013 Eisenhower Library and Museum

Eisenhower Home

Saturday afternoon we arrived at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. This is such a peaceful about beautiful smaller town about 3 hours east of Kansas City.

“Dwight David Eisenhower was born the year the US census pronounced the frontier closed and died the year man walked on the moon. In between those milestones he planned and led the greatest amphibious military assault in history and waged eight years of peace and prosperity as President. Yet on reflection of this eventful life declared: “The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”” From the Library

After our 34th President of the United States was born October 14th, 1890, the family Eisenhowermoved to Abilene Kansas.  His parents, Ida and David Eisenhower.  were hard working  parents.  The family home is on the grounds of the Library and fun to tour. He was an excellent student with a love for the history of the “Old West” and world history, a good athlete who went on to West Point in 1911 graduating inn 1915.

His military  career started at Ft Sam Houston with several domestic assignments in 1922 he went to Panama and met General Fox Connor who took him under his wing, helping hm to get into the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Eisenhower graduated first in the 1926 class of 245 officers.  After assignments in the War Department (1929-35), he accompanied Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines as an assistant military advisor; his principal duty was helping MacArthur and his staff develop a viable Filipino Army.

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Eisenhower was Ike D Dayagain called to the War Department where Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall placed him in charge of plans for the Pacific War. Two months later, Marshall promoted him to chief of the War Plans Division where he received his second general’s star. In June 1942, Marshall sent him to England on a special mission to build cooperation among the Allies as Commanding General, U.S. Army, European Theater. He went on to plan the June 6, 1944 D – Day Invasion as he continued to command all Allied Forces until the final defeat of Germany, who unconditionally surrendered on VE-Day May 8th, 1945.statue

General Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from November 1945 until February 1948. He resigned from the to serve as president of Columbia University. In 1950, at President Truman’s request Eisenhower took a leave of absence from Columbia to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As Supreme Allied Commander, Europe until June 1, 1952 when he returned home.

It took a strong political ability to work with all the various political and military individuals during the European portion of World War Two and those first years of NATO, which was highly noted by both the Democratic and Republican parties looking forward to the coming 1952 presidential election, both parties wanted Eisenhower. He picked the Republican party and went on to defeat Adlai I Like IkeStevenson along with Richard Nixon as his Vice Presidential Candidate. With the Cold War in progress, his depth handling of various crisis during his eight years as president, left the country with a peaceful eight years and allowed our “Greatest Generation”, those a fought in World War Two to begin the growth in US economy that led to so much business success over the next two decades. Under his presidency:

1. He Kept America at Peace.
Eisenhower was confronted with major Cold War crises every year he was in office: Korea, Vietnam, Formosa, Suez, Hungary, Berlin, and the U-2. While more than once America seemed on the brink of war and those around him clamored to drop the Bomb, Eisenhower always kept a level head. He dealt calmly and rationally with each situation, always finding a solution that avoided war without diminishing America’s prestige.

2. He Ended the Korean War.
He alone had the prestige to persuade Americans to accept a negotiated peace and convince the Chinese that failure to reach an agreement would lead to dire consequences. Eisenhower considered this to be his greatest presidential accomplishment.

3. He Balanced the Budget, Not Just Once, But Three Times.
Despite much pressure to do otherwise, he also refused to cut taxes and raise defense spending. His fiscal policy contributed to the prosperity of the 1950’s.

4. He Sponsored and Signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.
This gave birth to America’s interstate highway system. Eisenhower worked hard to get the bill passed and it was his favorite piece of legislation.

5. He Sponsored and Signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1957.
This was the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction. Much to Eisenhower’s dismay, Congress amended the bill and critically weakened its effectiveness.

Benefit Tournament, Merion GC

He set a relaxed lifestyle for the country.  He enjoyed an ocassional round of golf, some 800 while in the White House – averaging 2 rounds a week.  You have to smile about the change in times with complaints about the current president playing golf.

After leaving office, Eisenhower retired to his home and farm in Gettysburg, PA. He spent the winter months in Palm Springs California and a few months a year at the Eisenhower Cottage at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

Ike is warmly remembered for his ability to get cooperation between the two parties in Washington.  As we walked through the library gift shop after the visit we were reminded of the longing for those old days of cooperation when there was a shirt with the slogin on it” Truman and Eisenhower 2012″.

Another interesting and educational afternoon.

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Dateline July 3-4 in Cody, Wyoming as in “Buffalo Bill” Cody

buffalo-bill-wild-west-show-posterAfter the great day of witnessing the many wonders of Wyoming on the way to Cody, we arrived in the late afternoon. There were a few things we needed to do immediately, fuel for the Roadtrek and fuel for the body, as in great local meat. We had googled meat markets and went through town to a local butcher. The meats were sensational, they said, later we found out it was true. They also had a loaf of Black Rye, the best rye we have ever had. On the way back to the KOA campsite we stopped by the Cody Visitor Center. We found out the events we did not know about, such as the Stampede Parade the morning of the 3rd and some of the events that surrounded the Stampede Rodeo that was taking place over the week, ending up on the night of the 4th of July.

We went to the KOA and set up camp. This is involved! We make sure the vehicle is balanced using an 8 inch level, checking front to back and side to side. Good news it only required a little balancing front to back using orange level pieces that John’s sister Carol bought us when we first got the RV. Next we hook up the hose for water and plugged in the electric. After that is done, we have to adjust the satellite so we can get out favorite stations. My god, it is tough, but you have to make it as perfect as you can! It was warm so the air conditioner made the night a comfortable sleep.

Still on literally eastern time, we woke up at 5:30 and were ready for the day. Since the last thing you care about is how we got ready for the day, we will not tell you. The Visitor’s Bureau told us the best way to prepare for the parade was to park a few blocks of the parade around 7:30 and place your chairs on the main street. We laughed because one of the traditions at the Masters Golf Tournament is that you can place your chair anywhere on the course and no one will sit in it or move it! Well guess what that is the same at the Cody Stampede Parade! The next recommendation was breakfast at Pete’s Cafe. A terrific shop that reminds you of the soda fountain at the local drug store back when you were young. This could have been a Norman Rockwell drawing. The backed goods were nothing short of perfect and the breakfast came out great. We enjoyed breakfast and then decided to check out some of the local stores on Main Street. John loves western belts and we found a great one, he also needed a new buckle for an older belt and we found a good one to replace the broken one.

We continued to walk around, the parade was to begin at 9:30 then headed back to our seats. All of us remember the wonderful local 4th of July Parades of our youth, God, Country and Honor to our flag. Below is the lead color guard. The ONLY active mounted Marine Color Guard.

Only Active Marine mounted Color Guard

Only Active Marine mounted Color Guard

Unfortunately, that is not politically correct in many parts of the country. Cody, never got the memo! We watch marching bands play songs like “God Bless America”, “The Marine Hymn”, “I’m Proud to be an American”, “This is a Great Country” On to the rest of the parade in pictures:

lead parade

wilderness man

us forest service

wild bill

2013 US Rodeo Queen

2013 US Rodeo Queen

uncle sam

People from all walks of life participated in the parade, military, US forest Service, Rodeo riders and clowns. What made this so special it was all about the way the people here in Cody live their lives. This was a true celebration of the 4th of July, freedom for all,  independence for our country!!

After the parade it was time to travel about 20 miles out-of-town to see the wild mustangs. The McCullough Peaks Horse Management Areathese is pubic land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). DSC_0537This area is about 100,000 acres.  The herd is managed to stay at around 100 head of  McCullough Peak horses. To control the size of the herd, wild horses go up for adoption every year. The BLM has an application process to adopt.  We kept looking for the entrance to drive up the dirt road to look for the herd. We had gone to far and stopped and a gentleman told us to head back towards Cody and keep an eye out to the right side of the road for the horses. Our first stop we found a barbed wire gate with a note about the wild horses. We opened the gate and went in about a quarter-mile and looked out over the valley, no horses and the road was getting a little tricky so we turned around and headed back to the road.

DAH!!

DAH!!

We went back, pulled the Roadtrek through the gate, John then proceeded to lock himself inside, oh well, he can be a little slow at times!!

We drove farther towards town and saw another entrance. A much better road and drove in about a mile, off to the right we saw herd of wild horses.

Part of Mustang Herd

Part of Mustang Herd

Our surprise was that if they had just been a few hundred yards over the ridge, we would not have ever seen them. What an unbelievable experience!!!

Back to the camp for a little rest and clean up before going to the rodeo.

The camp supplied a bus service to the Stampede Rodeo that would leave at 7pm. The Cody Stampede Rodeo has been held since 1919 every July 1-4. It is considered one of the best outdoor rodeos in the United States and is held each summer We arrived and went to our seats which faced directly at the shoots for the events. Of course the battery died in the camera so we were left with our iPhones. We had a fabulous time. To start the event the Marine mounted color guard, that had been in the parade,  entered the ring, then the local veterans came in with the flag, and a young girl sang our national anthem. Wonderful! flag

The next thing was an all female drill team, they were great.drill team

We watched both individual calf roping and team roping followed by steer wrestling, saddle and bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing.  The rodeo clowns were fun to watch, but a tough job! rodeo clownsit was brilliant and we had a fantastic time. As the sun set behind the arena it was absolutely beautiful..WOW..

sunset

Cody is a great town to visit, it is all American.  If you can make it to Cody you will enjoy the true history of the old west and a friendly welcoming populist.  We look forward to returning sometime in the future.

It is time for the visit to Yellowstone!

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Dateline July 3, 2013..Traveling from Missouri to Cody Wyoming

We left our stay in Missouri and did not play golf, there was a Missouri Golf Associatioan tournament at the course we were to play so we changed plans and headed to the Truman Library. We will under separate post tell what we learned at the Truman Library  and Eisenhower Library, fantastic stops and we already have plans (reservations) for the Reagan Library later in our trip. While heading towards the Eisenhower Library John could not pass close to Manhattan Kansas without visiting Kansas State. we drop by two of his old haunts!

Image

Fraternity House

Kites, Best of the Best!

Kites, Best of the Best!

Leaving the Eisenhower Library we headed toward Cody, Wyoming. It was time to stop for the evening and in the middle of the Kansas wheat fields John spotted a State Park on Lake Waconda.Waconda is the third largest lake in Kansas, surrounded by wheat fields.

Kansas camping in the Wheat!

Kansas camping in the Wheat!

It was a wonderful place with full services so we had a nice evening of drinks and dinner.

The next morning we headed down the road to see the Largest Ball of Twine created by a community. ball of twineFrank Stoeber, a resident of  Cawker City  Kansas, decided to create a ball after reading about a man in Minnesota and had 1.6 million feet of twine on his 11-foot-diameter ball when he died in 1974. Cawker City built an open-air gazebo over Stoeber’s ball where every August a “Twine-a-thon” is held and more twine is added to the ball and last statistic in 2006, the twine ball had reached 17,886 pounds, a circumference of 40 feet.

Leaving Cawker City we continued heading towards Cody, driving through Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado we finally reached Ft. Collins where we stopped for the night. The next morning we played the Ft. Collins Golf Course.

On the links

On the links

We played with a very nice young man living there, who grew up in Wyoming and was a brand new father and elementary teacher for computers. He pointed out some sites not to miss on route to Cody.

We packed up the clubs and continued towards Cody. We headed towards Cheyenne expecting we would find a place to camp before we went through Medicine Bow National Forest. In Cheyenne, we had some lights replaced on the RoadTrek and headed out towards Laramie. Not finding a place to stay we headed out towards the National Forest to find find a place for the night. The National Forest included the Snowy and Medicine Bow mountain ranges. One of the history points mentioned by our golfer friend was off the road, so south on a dirt road to the Ames Monument which was designed and built by Henry Richardson in Sherman Wyoming.

Ames Monumnet

Ames Monument

The Ames brothers garnered credit for connecting the nation by rail upon completion of the United States’ First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The Ames Monument marked the highest point on the transcontinental railroad at 8,247 feet. Since then the Union Pacific Railroad twice relocated the tracks further south, causing Sherman that to become a ghost town.  But, The monument still stands!

We arrived in Centennial, Wyoming which was created as a base camp for logging in the Snowy and Medicine Bow mountains when the Union Pacific Railroad was meeting up with the Central Pacific Railroad as part of the transcontinental railroad. Later gold was discovered just southwest and a train was added from Laramie.  We stopped at the local bar to find out where we might camp.  Good god, a bar owner should know local places to sleep it off!  He sent us across to the street saying that Jenny might let us park right there. Jenny had no room, but gave us a map and sent us up the road an old RV site, currently not in use.  We found the place and parked the RV, the views were breathtaking!

Camping Snowy Mountains

Camping Snowy Mountains

Sunrise Snowy Montains

Sunrise Snowy Range

We woke to a wonderful sunrise and continued our drive through the park.

The Medicine Bow Mountains are a range in the Rocky Mountains.  The northern extent of this range is the sub-range the Snowy Range.  Driving through the Snowy Range in the Rockies was one of the most beautiful drives so far but much more to go, this was  unbelievable beautiful.

Snowy Mountains Medicine Bow National Park

Snowy Mountains Medicine Bow National Park

Janice looked to the left and saw what seemed to be an antelope. As we later learned it was a Pronghorn the only surviving member of a species from 11,000 to 2.5 million years ago, what a find!

Pronghorn

Pronghorn

We continued viewing many sites of history. The next was split rock, a landmark for the Oregon Trail and Pony Express.

Split rock

Split rock

split rock

On to Saratoga, famous for their hot springs. We followed the signs along the road and found the public hot springs back by the town pool. hot springsThere were locals in the river soaking up the heat of the water with their dogs so we decided to pass on partaking in the springs. John saw a strange phone on the wall of the town building and tried to figure it out!!john phone

One very interesting stop was at an active Archeological dig for dinosaur bones in Thermopolis Wyoming. This place was incredible. While we did not visit the actual dig we did go to the museum. They are well know for one of  only 11 specimens of Archaeopteryx exist in the world today and “The Thermopolis Specimen”

Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx

is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull that for the first time gives scientists a “top view” of the head of Archaeopteryx.

Dinosaur Lab

Dinosaur lab

We then watched through the windows at the lab as they worked on specimens from the dig.

The dinosaur museum is spectacular!

                                                                     On to Cody and our next adventure!

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Dateline June 28, 2013: Truman Library

iindepc001p4Our stop by the Truman Library was such a pleasant and educational experience.  We all had both our World and United States History courses in college and high school, but unfortunately unless you were a history and political history buff many of us did not learn the details of our various president’s tenure in office.

Our 33rd President of the United States Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 4th running mate of Franklyn Roosevelt in 1944, succeeding him as president upon Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945.  World War II in Europe was coming to a close, however the war in the Pacific with Japan  was causing many deaths for both the allies and the Japanese.  It was the worst possible insult for a Japanese person in uniform to not battle to the death for his country and emperor.  An ultimatum was issued to Japan to surrender which was rejected.  Knowing that a land invasion would mean the Peace in Japanloss of many allied forces nd last for a long period of time, Truman made the decision to use the first atomic  bombs, the only two ever

American Flag made by American POW's in Japan

American Flag made by American POW’s in Japan

used in wartime.  Hiroshima was bombed on August 6th, 1945 followed by Nagasaki on August 9th, causing the complete surrender of Japan.  This was one of the hardest decisions made by any president.  The headline to the right is the largest headline ever printed to that date.  The flag was made by US POW’s waiting to be liberated after the war had ended, it was made from the parachutes  used to drop supplies into the camp.  It proudly hangs in the library.

As Truman ended the two wars, there were problems in the world to deal with, looking at the failed League of Nations, the United Nations was put together.  Confronting the aggressive tactics of the Soviet Union on March 12, 1947 he gave a speech that became the “Truman Doctrine” asking Congress to support Turkey and Greece against the Soviet Union.  This was the start of the “Cold War” and became the basis for containing the Soviets expansion designs.  Europe needed help to rebuild from the devastation of war.  In what may be the largest and kindest gift in world history, 13 billion dollars were set aside for the Marshall Plan which helped to lift Europe back up on its feet.

What is interesting as time has gone by, history has been rewritten in many quarters to make the United States a bully and taker in the world.  The only land taken by the United States in World War Two was ground to bury our brave dead that fought to save the world from the likes of Hitler.  The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe, the United States received good trading partners out of the effort, but that was all.

International recognition of Israel took place at the United Nations in May of 1947.

Gifts from Israel for Truman support

Gifts from Israel for Truman support

Truman was advised by all his senior advisor’s including George Marshall to not recognize Israel because of our Arab allies that supplied us oil.  They said it took Truman 11 minutes to make the decision in favor of Israel.

Truman was responsible for the Berlin Airlift in 1948 when  the Soviets were not allowing any supplies in from Western Europe to help feed the starving people.  In 1949 NATO was founded to reinforce Europe against the Soviet Union.  In 1950 North Korea  then invades South Korea and the issue is taken to the United Nations.  The Soviet Union decided to boycott the UN for a period of time and the Security Consul was able to pass a “Police Action” to help South Korea re-establish its border with North Korea.  Our military felt that China would stay neutral however they invaded and supported North Korea, pushing any UN advances back.  This brings another Harry Truman “moment” when our famous WWII General Douglas MacArthur wanted to expand the war to China.  Truman fired MacArthur and bought the “Police Action” to its conclusion.

Leadership and decisions by any President of the United States are essential to our republic form of government.  Truman epitomized that, if you agreed with hi or not.

Harry Truman believed that the “Buck Stops Here” as the sign that adorned his desk attested to.

Leadership!!!

Leadership!!!

There is so much more to the Truman story, his politics, his military activity in World War One, his loving relationship with his family and so many more aspects of his life.  The visit to the Truman Library bought so much of this to life for both of us.

There was one small exhibit in the World War II section.  A small silver piano, the size you may find in a doll house was given to Truman after WWII by a holocaust survivor with a letter of gratitude to the people of the United States for what we did.  It was all she had left in the world.

Silver PianoWhat a wonderful country we have.

We hope you have enjoyed this as much as we did.

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Dateline June 29, 2013: Leaving Flagler Beach – Going West

This year our travel plans are taking us out to the western states to visit some of our National Parks and see family and friends along the way. The first leg is driving from Florida out to Cody WY for the Stampede 4th of July weekend. We have tickets for the rodeo on July 3rd. Then on to Yellowstone.

As we leave our wonderful community of Flagler Beach we head out for our first stop in Orlando to get the glow plug sensor changed on the Roadtrek, can’t leave home with a faulty glow plug can you. A few hours of waiting we finally get on the road and head up toward Tallahassee. About 6:00 we stop in the little town of Perry. FL and find a KOA for the night. Since golf plays an important part of our travels golf clubs always in the vehicle, we have scheduled the next stop for Alabama Golf

Last May we had the pleasure of playing golf on the Alabama, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail with Pete and Bunny Warinski. One of the few that we did not play was in Opelika Alabama not far from Auburn University. grand national sign 2The Grand National Robert Trent Jones course was as spectacular as all the others that we enjoyed last yer with Pete and Bunny.

Beautiful Course

Bit of rain

We played pretty well and dodged some rain, but got the round in.

Beautiful Course

Beautiful Course

One of the great features of traveling through Alabama are the state parks. We left the golf course for a 45 minute drive up to Alexander City and stayed at the Wind Creek Park on Lake Martin. It was a beautiful site right off the water with sensational views of the lake.DSC_0313

This park would be a great vacation getaway for families. Our next golf stop is in Missouri, so there is a two day drive through the countryside of Alabama up to Memphis and on to Jonesboro, Arkansas for the night. We found the local Jonesboro Craighead Forest Park located on a beautiful lake by the same name.The sites, which overlook the lake are first come, no reservations. Doris, the manager met us at the site, took a license and came back with the paperwork, $10.00 for the night, including all the services. We made a drink and went down to the lake and enjoyed the ducks a geese swimming in the lake. Another good night.

Morning put us on the road through Arkansas up to Missouri. One of the observations that always amazes us is how open and beautiful all these different parts of the country are. The amount of open space that have small farms or just forest is nothing short of stimulating. When we think how crowed we seem to be in the cities, we lose our understanding of how large our country is and uninhabited in many areas.

We arrived near Jefferson City, MO. To spend the night at Cooper’s Landing. It sounded great in reviews, but looked like it had just been flooded out by the Missouri River. We went back into Jefferson City and stayed at Binder Park for $15.00. Another fantastic find, clean and nestled in beautiful trees. In the morning we are off to Independence MO and the Harry S. Truman Library.

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