The Borg Invaded Sebastian Inlet State Park

Sebastian Inlet Park is a Park Like No Other

Beauty beckons for you to return at Sebastian Inlet State Park in Florida.  It is located where the 121-mile Indian River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Any time of night or day you can see water flowing in and out of the Inlet.

The beach is more than a beach!

Sometimes flocks of white Pelicans take rides on the water that whisks them out to the Atlantic. My daily 90-minute walk included talking to hundreds of different birds, Dolphins, and people fishing up a storm. Water circles the campground!  Can anything get any better?  We were sad to leave.

Fishing?

During our first morning beach walk, we found people fishing who were not well-clothed and spoke languages that we did not recognize.  They were immigrants, but from where?  I wondered if they lived on the beach? or the jungle nearby!

The birds follow you everywhere!

Everywhere you look at Sebastian Inlet someone is fishing.  Heads and faces are bundled like women wearing the hijab.  (Are they hiding their identity?) As they walk or bike, dragging behind them are small trailers filled with paraphernalia.  They fish off the rocks, the beach, the docks, boats, the bridge walk-way, on the beach, from bicycles, and even from their cars. They use huge nets and bring in a dozen fish at a time!

My favorite bird photo!

This morning I saw a man cooking fish for breakfast on a little gas burner sitting on the back gate of his very old pickup truck.  He was not camping.  He was homeless because I saw the inside of his truck with his mattresses and belongings. If he was camping, he would have been at a regular site!

On my way back to our campsite, I passed by four male campers in a row standing at their respective picnic tables facing in the same direction, fiddling with their fishing gear. It could have been a movie!

Sanity, a place to purchase stainless steel jewelry. Very creative!

Sweet Awesome, yep that is her name, helped us!

Kayaking and More

Kayaking is grand on the Indian river.   Tom has had Dolphins swimming around him, and he actually paddled right over a shark. Yesterday, he a huge fish jump right across his kayak.  Park rangers have warned that there are alligators and harmful jellyfish just waiting to snap at a tourist.  But the kayakers don’t mind.  Adventure is the goal of the day.

The Borg

How ugly!

During our first week at Sebastian, we spied the steel dredging contraptions out in the water, but they were broken.  They did not make a sound.  One cyclops light watched us.  Then suddenly there was a loud hum, and something that sounded like thunder started the gigantic beating heart.  The steel contraptions came alive and began bringing sand through three-foot rubber hoses to somewhere south of the Inlet.  Click on this sentence to be taken to a link about the Borg.

This is the heart of the Borg!

Throughout the night the heartbeat continued and rattled our motorhome.  We did not bargain for this invasion of the Borg.  If you have watched Star Trek over the years, you know about the aliens, the Borg.  They are “cybernetic organisms, linked in a hive mind called the Collective.” They are to be feared.  I felt like these cybernetic organisms, the dredging machines, were killing the Inlet, or at least taking over its mind.  (You know the Hindus believe rivers are divine!) When I spoke with a volunteer at the park and told him about my idea that the Borg had taken over, he said, “I think you are correct.”

The sunsets were so beautiful that we stopped to watch them every night!

Sunsets on cruise ships are surreal experiences.  But, here, at Sebastian they are even more intriguing.  This evening as we walked the Indian River, watching the sun disappear, we smelled oil.  Yes, the Borg has killed the Inlet.  They have poisoned it with diesel.  We could see the oil pooling around the edge of the Inlet.  Where are the reporters!  (This might be a bit dramatic!)  Crews of men, dressed in yellow vests, swarmed to the Inlet while we slept. Poof!  The oil was gone!

Tentacles of the Borg.

Finding a Winter Home for our RV

Wintering in Florida at the Great Outdoors!

Last year we visited about 20 RV resorts in Florida to find a place that we might purchase or rent.  None of the resorts met our high expectations. Like Texas, Florida resorts jam RV’s together.  There is no room to breathe.   They choke your vision and your lungs.  Sebastian Inlet is a wonderful place to camp for only $26 a day.  We have no one camping in front or the back of us and there are at least 30-40 feet between camp sites with open space. The site next to us is so large that you could put six RV’s in it.  But you can only camp here for two weeks not three months.

Very unusual campers. They changed the placement of items at their site hourly! I wondered if they were palm readers?

We began our search again this year.  With a realtor, we visited RV pad sites with executive suites or as I call them “huts!”  They are no bigger than 10X10 feet and usually house a washer/dryer, make shift kitchen, and shower.  Many of the units we previewed were filled with mold and mildew.

Another sunset for you!

Yesterday we visited resorts where you could rent or purchase a pad.  (A pad is a cement driveway with all the utilities you need to hook up your RV.)  We don’t want to spend a winter camping near someone who has 30 years of junk sitting out in front of their RV.  (They are like the homesteaders we met in Alaska.) We like areas to be neat and clean with a little elbow room and a view.

The best place to winter an RV  (so far) is The Great Outdoors RV Resort in Titusville.  There is room between sites and when you are not camping on your site, you can rent it out.  They do the work for you.  I don’t know what we are going to do?  Will we purchase one of those sites?

Friends  are the Best!

We caught up with our friends Barb and Rick along the way.  We were so grateful to talk to people with a reasonable approach to life and politics.

They have sold their home and are moving back to Delaware. SAD!

We will be heading home soon.  I am thinking about uploading another blog entitled,  “Thongs, Blimps, Silver Alerts, and Pizza.”  It is still buzzing in my head.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

Posted in Camping, Camping in Florida, Florida, Marian Zielinski, Motorhome, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Two Drifters Off To See the World”

“There’s such a lovely world to see….”

Toad Suck and Beyond

Can you believe the name?  I thought it was a joke!

We know the route well, across Arkansas.  But, how did we miss the town of “Toad Suck?”   Yes,  and in an online poll it won the honor of being the “worst” named town in the USA.  There is even a Toad Suck Campground and motorcycle dealer!

Arkansas

Crossing Arkansas on Interstate 40 is more than dangerous with 12 trucks to one car — tooling down the road. Some of them were in caravans as far as you could see.  Our goal for the day was to land at the birthplace (so-called) of Elvis Presley. We have visited this holy site a couple of times but had missed exploring the rejuvenated town of Tupelo, Mississippi.

Oh, Elvis!  We remember you in Tupelo!

What an experience!

Tupelo will welcome you. Tupelo Hardware Store where Elvis’ mom, Gladys, bought his first guitar, was beyond charming.  Bolts, etc., were stored in old wooden boxes.  A well-coiffed and dressed public relations fan guarding the door, was full of stories and love for Elvis.

“People just don’t understand what a wonderful man he was.  He influenced so many people and came from nothing.”

Statue of Elvis in the Center of Tupelo

After our stroll through town, we stopped at a bakery, of course!  They were also selling chances to win a 6-caliber pistol.  Huh?  Is that legal?

Elvis was not at home when we arrived. 

Really? This has to be a reconstruction!

I made the holy circle around the home built (supposedly) by his father, Vernon.  More statues had been added to the landscape, and there was more “stuff” to do and view while worshipping his little home place.

There is a statue of a little boy Elvis.  According to legend, Elvis had his nose fixed early in his career.  You can find photos of him with a flat nose when he was young.  He said that his father, having a bad dream, threw him against the wall when he was a baby.  Elvis had Native American blood in his line and his great? grandmother bore many children by many men.  I always wondered if he had African-American ancestry too!

Did Elvis look like this?

 

 

 

 

 

Even a bus-load of foreign tourists, carrying hefty box-lunches, loved the museum and their moment of silence with Elvis.

The bus was so slick and the passengers were very-well dressed!

I always thought the cape-thing that Elvis wore was pretty silly. Did he think he was divine?

Elvis was a most-interesting and generous person!

(I have written a book about Elvis and a blog on Elvis issues.  If you are interested, chick on the links, and check them out.)

Sweet, Sweet Alabama

Heading toward Birmingham, the state sign, “Sweet Home Alabama” welcomed us! Remember that tune?  I don’t.  And the rendition is a little rough for me.  Click on the title to hear Lynard Skynard sing!

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you, here I come

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes they do)
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?

Next was an overnight at the very tired Queen Peach RV Resort, and then we headed for a night’s stay in Columbus, Georgia.  Arriving early, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center near Columbus was waiting for us.

National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

The architecture is stunning.  It evokes Jefferson’s Monticello and even the White House.  Inside this $110 million dollar building (Yes, $110 million dollars.) are tributes to Infantry soldiers and the tools of war.  But it is more.  The exhibits and re-creations of conflict sensationalize war and personal sacrifice.  They are so well-done that you feel like you are in the war.  The violence is unbearable! Why do they need to re-create death scenes, when we see them every day on the news?

I could not stand the sounds of bullets, bombs,  and more.

One former infantryman came up to Tom.  He was young!  He said that he was fascinated with guns but never understood about the killing and war.  He has PTSD and visits the museum often.  He is a broken man who can’t bear to live because his friend jumped on a grenade that saved him.  He visits the museum often!

This museum is like no other that we have visited.  It is a startingly effective venue to recruit young people.  While not as many infantrymen have  been killed in recent wars (like WWI and WWII),  thousands and thousands (50K or more) have come back physically maimed and emotionally destroyed!  I tried to find the data on the soldiers but every site listed different numbers of deaths and wounded.

Tom kept asking the question, “What about the young men and women who return?  Why don’t they tell their horror stories here?”  Young people need to be told the whole story before they sign up to sacrifice themselves!

Wonderful Friends!

In Macon, Georgia we visited our long-time friends Z and Frank. We talked and talked and talked!!!

Skidaway Island State Park

Savannah, new territory for us, was our final stop on this leg of the journey.  Crossing the Moon River (Yes, the Moon River), we entered an off-world experience at Skidaway Island State Park.  Batman would have loved trolling around here.  Spanish Moss reaches out and almost suffocates you.  Don’t touch it because it harbors chiggers!

Does this remind you of the counter-culture of the 1970’s?

The whole park felt like a cave.  Kudzu (that vicious killing vine from Japan), Red Cedars, Palm Trees, Oaks, and Maples created a surreal and gruesome landscape.  In the evenings, you could not see two feet in front of you.  Where were the stars? During the day the sun never flickered through the gnarled mess.  Save me quick, Wonder Woman!

A fella camper extolled the beauty of the medieval forest to us.  I told her that I felt claustrophobic.  Her husband asked us if we were from “out west.”  (Is Kansas City out west?)  They said they hear the claustrophobic thing a lot from people who live in Colorado and big sky country!  This is cocoon country, and they loved it!

This tree could be a secret weapon!

Lovely Savannah?

A lovely home bordering the well-known Forsyth Park

People rave about Savannah. It was not what we expected! Certainly, it had plenty of graceful historic buildings, but I had a great need to take a pressure hose with bleach and wash everything clean on River Street and Factor’s Walk.

The Cotton Exchange is sinking! Built in 1886.

Talking with a bartender, we both agreed that Savannah was a lot like New Orleans.  To me, it was an outdoor museum that needed a bit of upgrading.

While walking around the historic district, we did not talk to single person who had a southern accent.  We heard plenty of other languages.  Even the store owners did not speak with a southern accent.  How odd!!??

We passed by gorgeous religious buildings.  The 19th century Reform Synagogue, begun in 1733, is housed in another building now! They claim to be the oldest Reform Synagogue in the United States.  And the Cathedral of St John matched the beauty.

This is not the original building of Congregation Mikveh Israel.

St. John’s

The best part of the day was the grand and expensive dinner we shared with Tom’s colleagues at Garibaldi’s.  (Tom was teaching a short-course he had developed with researchers from around the world, at the National Mastitis Council.)  It had recently been renovated “to appear as if” it was an elegant 19th century restaurant.

How elegant!

After leaving Savannah, we headed for St. Augustine, and are now residing in sparkling Sebastian Inlet State Park where the temperatures are in the seventies.  Look it up on a map.  The sights are more than gorgeous!

Join us!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in 19th century architecture, Camping in Arkansas, Camping in Florida, Camping in Georgia, Florida, Marian Zielinski, Mississippi, Motorhome, National Infantry Museum, National Mastitis Council, Savannah, Sebastian Inlet State Park, Skidaway Island State Park, Tupelo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Paradise Broken ….

“Then war broke out in heaven ….”

Paradise

Déjà vu

In my early twenties, I was invited to visit Sierra Leone, West Africa.  After a horrendous flight and stay over in Dakar, Senegal.  I landed in Freetown.  What a historic city!   From Freetown it was an 18-hour drive in a Lorry over primitive roads (although you could not really call them roads) to our destination, deep in the jungle.  After about 10 hours on the road, we stopped at a place where there was a huge mound of “stuff” hidden under military camouflage. The guards sold us hot and no-fizzy sodas that were dug out of this big pile.  I went over to the pile.   All the boxes read “CARE United States of America.”

All of the “stuff” in that huge pile was meant to be given to the indigenous peoples.  But  it had landed in the hands of smugglers associated with those in government who stole the CARE packages and sold the contents.

What does this have to do with St. Croix? 

Trucks like these from New York were all over the island!

We talked to several locals and  industry people employed to reconstruct the island.  They told us of the government stealing money.  They told us of how the government is replacing all the telephone and electric poles and then they will replace those poles with composite poles in about a year.  Then they will put the utilities underground.  No one knew why two sets of poles had to be installed and then torn down.

Stories about how FEMA money, some say $85 million, has been awarded to one company to do the electrical work.  And other multi-million-dollar contracts have been given to a variety of companies.  Does any of this money translate to help for the locals?  There are too many blue tarp roofs left to think that the locals will benefit from the millions.  There are only 55K people on the island, you’d think that some of these companies could share the money with the locals.  These stories went on and on and on!  People are livid about their governor and how he lives like a king, while they have to stand in line for everything.  Sounded like Sierra Leone to me!

Living Through a Disaster

Walk this beach.

Over a year ago Hurricane Maria flattened St. Croix and knocked the air out of most people on the island. Some lost their lives and others lost everything.  The entire electrical grid had to be replaced and some phones still don’t work.  People have left the island in droves.  Some islanders were in their apartments when the wind burst through the windows and tore everything (including cabinets) off the wall.  Some lost roofs and all lost power and water.  Many homes in St. Croix have cisterns but without power, the water was inaccessible. Our local friend went to bed hoping her condo would still be there in the morning.  (We are so thankful that we did not purchase a condo in 2016.)

Snorkel forever!

Survival

Our first Venezuelan restaurant with corn Arepas!!

We were amazed at all the progress the island has made.  Yet not all is safe.  Curvy two-lane roads are still very dangerous because tall (10 feet tall) grass hangs over rails and the sides of roads are rarely marked.  Many street lights are gone.  Few street signs remain. GPS is a godsend, sometimes!  Food (everything) is extraordinarily high.  Cereal is $6.00, Off is $10.99, canned soup is $4.00. Just take your grocery bill and double it, maybe triple it.   Every meal at a restaurant is $40 and up without ordering a drink.  It takes months to purchase household goods because everything has to be brought in by boat or plane.  People wait and wait and wait!

Kayak until your arms fall off!

Weeping for Frederiksted 

Skirting police who blocked roads for a Triathlon, we made our way to Frederiksted.  The water to the west of Frederiksted was so gorgeously blue–our eyes were glued to the horizon.  The town itself, while still standing, took the brunt of Maria. Vacant lots replaced homes.  Many buildings reach out screaming for help. Roads north of Frederiksted are almost undriveable.  We gave up looking for the mysterious monk’s bath because the road was washing away into the ocean, and the huge potholes were swallowing our rented car.  But the street facing the wharf where cruise ships dock is almost totally restored.

A Local

What a great place to “hang!”

Tom has talked to several people about their experiences during the Hurricane.  I could not ask because I was afraid of the answers.  A kind and gentle local who works at the Shack at Tamarind Reef, said that after the storm, you did not come up to people and ask them, “How did you fare?”  She said, the first thing that you asked was, “Do you have power?”  And then you ask them how they fared.

There is Hope for More Jobs!

Beautiful Christiansted

British Petroleum is rejuvenating an oil refinery, and some are coming back to work on the island.  BP has purchased hundreds of new trailers for the workers that the locals are calling the “man camp.”

This photo was taken from the car. All of those boxes are trailers and they go on and on and on ….

(People who live on the island could use them!) It reminded us of Williston, North Dakota during the fracking frenzy.  Guys were living in trailers that vented on the ground (no sewer), or in plastic boxes with air conditioners in the Walmart parking lot.

Sail one of these!

Unfortunately, Violence is Escalating

Downtown Frederiksted is all patched up. But one block East is crumbling!  Of course, this is for cruisers who will enjoy the sea view!

Two days after we arrived on the island, there were five murders. Locals told us that there have been 55 murders this year.  The average per capita murder rate in the United States is 4.9 per 100,000 citizens. The rate in St. Croix is ten times that number.

This guy is wearing dreadlocks just like the guy who broke into the car. He looked very familiar to me. Dreadlocks are a fashion statement in St. Croix.

Unfortunately for me, I could have been one of those statistics.  I was standing by our rental car waiting for Tom in Frederiksted, when a car alarm went off about 50 yards in front of me.  I looked up and there was this tall dark-skinned man carrying a pillow case full of “who knows what.”  He looked at me as he crossed the street in front of me.  He seemed too calm.   I looked at him.  There was nothing I could do to stop him.  I froze.  A few minutes later two guys ran out to the car.  I was very grateful that the burglar did not shoot me!

 

 

 

 

 

Locals say the problems begin with drugs and drug gangs from South America and Puerto Rico.  They told us that drug boats passed right by our hotel room around 2:00-4:00 a.m. every morning.  A block or so from our hotel two Coast Guard vessels were moored.  A couple of days later a huge Homeland Security boat was docked near us.  They sported four 350 horsepower outboard motors.  This was too real!  We were spooked.  So, we left five days early.

We are hoping that things will improve in a couple of years.  Rumors say that the cops are selling drugs out of the trunks of their police cars and standing by while looting takes place.  St. Croix is in a battle for its very existence!  This is another type of hurricane they have to overcome!

Yet the locals were warm and inviting and hopeful of our return.

Meditate on this!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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A Room By The Sea–Paradise is NOT Lost!

There is joy in the air.

Click on the link below! 

“I’m coming back some day, come what may to Blue Bayou….”

Flying into Miami before we hit St. Croix was a treat!

Here’s Tamarind!

Two years ago, we fell in love with the US Virgin Island, St. Croix.  We even looked at several properties with an agent. Today it is like visiting an old friend but as we become re-acquainted with the island, we realize that some of our memories have faded.

Tamarind Reef Resort is and was our home for about two weeks.  It is a small boutique hotel with an outdoor Deep End restaurant, sand beach, pool, tennis courts, spa, and marina.  Every day the Deep End offers activities for those staying in the yachts at the marina and at Tamarind.  Our number 10 hotel room is 20 feet from the waves.  It is fairly large with a small kitchen, sofa, and chairs.  On a covered porch we can sit and ponder the many moods of the ocean all day long for $120 a day (off-season).

Our porch so close to the water!!!

View from our porch!

Beauty All Around Us

They were budding everywhere.

There are budding gardenias everywhere.  White egrets follow us during our morning walks.  Mongooses tease us. Hermit crabs circle around us while Iguanas slither on our porch with the Geckos and sun themselves by the water.

Palm trees sway in rhythm to the sounds of the waves.  Even wooly worms without the wool are criss crossing in front of us signaling the beginning of winter. What winter? And the water keeps beckoning us to come back to this place.

There are several families of Iguanas that live around us.

Tom wanted me to include this wooly worm without the wool? There were hundreds.

We did not know what these were little creatures were. They crossed in front of us often–Mongooses!

Where is the Charm or Culture?

We have docked at 30 islands or more in the Caribbean, but St. Croix touched us.  It doesn’t have the glitzy undertone that some have embraced.  Islands like Dutch Curacao lost their charm to casinos.  Many islands have turned into shopping malls on the sand. Noisy guys hawk tours and jewelry and free drinks as you try to enjoy the landscape.

Hurricane Maria kept us from returning last year.  This year we wondered if enough of the island had been restored for us to enjoy it. Evidence of the hurricane is everywhere. We have seen this type of devastation along the Mississippi and Texas coasts.  But the water and sky are so blue that you can’t help but ignore St. Croix’s need of repairs and upgrades.

Other Rooms

I met a couple from Denmark who were staying at the Cottages by the Sea south of Frederiksted.  They loved it because the units have large kitchens. You can find hotels north and southeast. We prefer staying on the East end of the island.

Here is only one building of the Buccaneer.

Only a few blocks from Tamarind Reef is the high-end and expansive five-star Buccaneer Resort. Hundreds of rooms go upwards to $500 a night.  None of the properties were directly on the water but the views from the hills were stunning.  It is a gorgeous place.  Here is a quote from their website:

THE BUCCANEER’S PREMIER GROUNDS FEATURE AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE, EIGHT TENNIS COURTS, THREE BEACHES, TWO POOLS, WATER SPORTS CENTER, FULL SERVICE SPA AND SALON, 24-HOUR FITNESS CENTER, THREE RESTAURANTS, BANQUET AND MEETING SPACES, AND A SHOPPING ARCADE WITH FINE BOUTIQUES.

Re-Acquainting Ourselves

I could sit here all day in Christiansted.

The island is only 27 miles long, but it can take you an hour to go from one end to the other because of the curvy and non-direct roads.  On the East end is the National Park Site of the town of Christiansted.  Its boardwalk is strikingly beautiful.

Ft. Christiansted is a tourist draw. It weathered the hurricane–just fine!  Looks like it needs a little paint!

We aimed to retrace our steps across the island and so began with a visit to Point Udall, the furthest point East in the United States.

We happened to visit Point Udall during a squall!

The Cruzan Distillery

Yesterday we toured the Cruzan Rum Distillery.  It is a lot smaller than  the Captain Morgan distillery not far from it.  We gave our guide, Shelly at Cruzan, two thumbs up for her presentation and tour of the rum-making-process  out of molasses which they import.  St. Croix, ironically, used to be full of sugar plantations!  Remnants are across the island!

This could really burn you! Molasses boiling and fermenting into alcohol!

But we wondered about the stories.  Jim Beam had bought the 300-year-old distillery and was using it as a source for the production of many types of Rum.  The fruit-flavored ones are the best-selling.  Jim Beam?  How romantic!

We began researching Cruzan and discovered that it is now owned by a Japanese company, Suntory.  Supposedly the holding company is called “Beam-Suntory.”  Shelly did not mention the Japanese probably because most American tourists would rather hear about their local and world-famous Jim Beam rum.  We wonder how long they will keep the distillery on St. Croix?

Crab Races and Jewelry from Heaven

You win if your crab makes it across the white line first! Thanks “Farmer.”

A highlight of the trip so far has been the hermit-crab races.  You pick a crab, name it, and then pay your entry in a running contest. During the last race our crab “Farmer” won a prize for us!  There was a lot of jumping and screaming from the peanut gallery as they watched their entries battle for the prizes. (Supposedly the crabs only run races one night and then are set free?)

Here’s Sue! Anyone want to market her jewelry?

Last time we were in St. Croix, I bought jewelry from a local.  (Saw her again outside the ship in Fredriksted.)  She was at the crab races also and I traded some cash for jewelry. Sue is very young and on disability because she has had four back surgeries.  Without meds she can’t move.  As a marine biologist she feels lost and so creates interesting jewelry. But it is not her dream life!  I went back twice and traded.  I wish I could do more for her!

This is my first installment on St. Croix, more may be coming soon!

Tom checked to see about rooms available on St. Croix after we leave, all of them are booked for the foreseeable future.  Probably, this is partly due to the “First Responders” that are still rebuilding the infra-structure.  At Tamarind, we were among the few tourists.  The rest of the rooms were rented to First Responders.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

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Grocery Gridlock and a Few Alternatives!

Some …

It may not be a happy for some who are very close to you!

Some might not like turkey.  Some may not be able to indulge in ham because of their faith.  Some might be from another country so they might not understand the holiday.  Some might not be foodies.  Some might not have relatives or close friends nearby.  Some might have abusive relatives or friends they want to avoid.  Some may have to work.  Some may not be able to afford a huge meal and all the fixings.  Some might want to do other things on Thanksgiving day than socialize.  (How about sleep!)

Some might be tired of eating the same thing over and over and over again.  Some may not have the time or energy to plan a big bash! Some might live in a very small space that would not accommodate a crowd.  Some might be Native Americans who know what happened to them after they fed the new settlers.  It is a day of mourning for them.  (How about all the fires, floods, hurricanes, killings, diseases, and general verbal abuse on social media that we experience?)

If someone is thinking of escaping a traditional Thanksgiving encounter, please consider a few alternative experiences that might fill the void during that week.

St. George Eastern Orthodox Church

Dine with the Serbs!

Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving the ladies at St. George organize a Serbian festival.  Have you ever visited Serbia?  No?  Yes?  We have.  Well, this is your chance to experience American Serbian culture without purchasing an airline ticket.  You don’t have to purchase a single thing at the festival.  You can join the crowds, music, and fun for free!

Strong, masculine music fills the air!

There is singing, dancing, lots of food, Serbian jewelry, clothing, and canned food (etc.). You can buy raffle tickets for just about everything.  A roulette wheel was swirling endlessly as seated spectators bought scores of tickets. (It was like a party in the Colosseum in Rome.) How would you like to purchase/win a fifth of Scotch for a $1.00?

The names for the entre’s reminded me of Klingon (Star Trek) food;  Bahgol, Bregit Lung,  Gagh, Gladst, Pipius, and Racht.  We purchased Kobasica, Prebanac, and Glovedji Gulas.  It tasted great!

What would you order?

Some of the cookies were a dollar!

St. George Church is beyond beautiful.  I could sit in a pew and gaze at the Iconostasis (image stand) (front of the church) and striking stained glass images in the windows for hours.  It is a peaceful place to sit while the rest of the world is partying.  A sign says that only 150 people can visit at a time.  So there is room for you, if you need a break from the festivities!

 

 

A stern figure, I believe?

Beautiful design!

Children’s Dance Group in front of the Iconostasis!

Consider Free Music Venues around Kansas City

Brandon Hudspeth of Levee Town at Knuckleheads. He can sure burn up a guitar!

On Saturdays and Sundays, Knucklehead’s offers free Jam Sessions featuring local musicians.  We heard Levee Town on Sunday.  They were funny and talented.  For a few hours groups take their turns playing for an appreciative audience.  Knucklehead’s also offers its brand of religion on Wednesdays with Carl Butler’s Gospel Lounge (Free).  There won’t be an altar call, just good old- fashioned gospel singing and music!

BB’s Lawnside BBQ loves to open its doors to new people.  On Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons there is “no cover charge.”  You can just come in and sit down, order a drink (soft or hard), and enjoy the tunes (for free).

Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge

If you enjoy sunshine–take a break and head north to the Wildlife Refuge. We did on Thanksgiving day.  We packed a lunch for us and the canines and made the trek.  At a break in Platte City (The girls needed to potty.) the parking lot of McDonald’s was full and more than 20 people were working.  One cashier had been there since 3:30 a.m.

Loess Bluffs is about 100 miles north of Kansas City off I29 and near Mound City.  We had heard about this place from a Kansas City reporter.  He takes his family to the Refuge every Thanksgiving.  That sounded interesting to us! And when we arrived, we discovered scores of people doing the same thing!

The Wildlife Refuge is amazing!  There is a 10 mile circle that will lead you to the promised land!  I have been to four countries in Africa witnessing huge flocks of birds, but I have never seen anything like the Snow Geese at Loess Bluffs.  Tom took videos.   I cannot load them into WordPress but I will point you to where you can view similar videos. FACEBOOK ALLOWED ME TO ADD ONE OF TOM’S VIDEOS.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, GO TO MARLA J. SELVIDGE’S FACEBOOK PAGE AND FIND THE LAST IMAGE!!

We parked the car and looked out over the pond straight ahead of us.  There was something white in the water?  What?  As we looked closer, it was millions of birds.

We did not really know what all of this was!

Here is another view!

They were moving.  And all of a sudden the sky turned black as they began to fly!

This was beyond awesome!

Here is another photo!  The sound was deafening!

They flew from pond to pond while we hung out at the Refuge!

This is an amazing place.  We saw eagles, Blue Herons, Canadians, all sorts of ducks, and a hundred other birds that we could not name!  We also saw scores of Muskrat houses.  I have seen reproductions of ancient Native American homes that look very similar. Wonder if  they learned the technique from the Muskrats?

Aren’t they cute!

The swans were gorgeous and they lived in all of the ponds we visited!

Loess Bluffs has a website and all sorts of information for you.  When you arrive, you can pick up an auto tour guide.  It was very helpful.  All of the videos have stunning shots of the birds and wildlife.  Go to the second video to see the birds in action. Here is the link!

Here is a link to the auto tour and map!  Superb!

Maybe we will meet you there next Thanksgiving!

Last Moment!  Did they forecast a hurricane or winter storm?

The Saturday before Thanksgiving I stopped to pick up a few things at a grocery store. Upon entering the store, there was total chaos.  People clogged the aisles!  I did not have a cart and could hardly make it down the aisles.  Lots of items were sold out!  When I went to check out, there were 20 or more people in line at the self-check-out.  It was overwhelming!  Every year I am shocked at the gridlock that we experience in the stores and on the roads.  One year, up in Independence, there were so many people on the roads that not one car could move at the I70 and 291 intersection!

There was no gridlock at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge!

Tom and I are off to St. Croix soon.  I will send up smoke signals as we explore the island once again.  We are looking forward to the Christmas boat parade that happens every year!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Missouri Jewels! Friends and State Parks!

Missouri Mines Historic Site is Historic!

It was raining.  It was cold …  and the windows were steaming up, so we thought we would head for an indoor experience.  The Missouri Mines Historic Site did not look too interesting on paper!  Who wants to go to a dirty ole’ mine?  But, I thought, it would make a great photo.  We have seen ghostly rusting structures like this one the island of Hokkaido, Japan; Bulgaria, Detroit, south Chicago, Minnesota, Helena, Arkansas, and more!  The St. Joseph Mining Company donated the property to the state in the 1970’s, lead tailings and all!  Below is only one of the buildings of many!

Walking into the rusting expired giant gave you an eerie feeling.  I kept looking up and wondering if the yellow-brown buildings were safe enough to inspect?  Outside the park office, there were two guys taking photos of one of the buildings. Whatever they saw in their three-foot lens kept them busy.  Click on this link to reach the park!

St. Joe Mine is a Jewel!

Glow in the dark rocks! Awesome!

Mark Hodges, a very knowledgeable Interpretive Resource Technician with the parks, greeted us.  (His father had a career in the mines.) We paid the admission charge ($4.00 a person and a bargain!) and entered into the mineral sanctuary.

On one side of the museum were restored oily machines that were used in the mines.  On the other side was a collection of minerals that were beyond anything that we have seen in the Midwest. (Yes, there are some pretty neat Agate museums in Minnesota.)  I asked if geology classes used the space and they do, coming from around the country to study the landscape and visit the museum.  The place is a jewel!  Click on this link!

Here’s Mark!

The Hazards of Mines.

Look at how much land was taken up by the mines!

A very-well-done 1950’s movie of the processes used in the mining of lead was played for us.  Remember the issues with lead paint and lead in the water in Flint, Michigan?  It affects the brain– big time!  Mr. Hodges came back to the small theatre and answered our questions.  We asked about the carcinogenic chemicals used in the process?

We asked why people did not have their hands protected and something over their nose and mouth?  (“They did not have laws that required them to do this when the movie was made.”)  I asked how many people died in the mines?  (“Less than you would think,” was the answer.) Were there fans to bring air to the miners?  No!  Did they go into bankruptcy, so they could avoid a clean-up?  “Yes.”  The poor guy sat there and answered everything he could.

These lamps were used by the miners!

The Department of Labor keeps statistics for each state and there were as many as 900 miners who died in any one year.  That large number dwindled to 13 in 2017.  I wonder how many miners died early or were incapacitated because of diseases related to their work?

French Fries in Missouri.

Mining for lead, granite, silver, and more has been going on in Missouri since the French owned the properties.  According to several sources there are thousands of miles of shafts and railroads under Missouri.  Many of the mines are flooded with water now that is used by the locals.  (I am not sure that I would drink it.  Uh Oh!  I think I did in Park Hills!)

A new style hat!

“More than 1,000 miles of abandoned multilevel mine tunnels that underlie the region and 300 miles of underground mainline railroad tracks that connected various shafts and mills are testimony to the 108 years of persistent mining operations in this area. Today, these mines, flooded naturally with ground water, provide a water supply for Park Hills and surrounding communities,” according to the Missouri Mines Website. Here is a link to an article about the clean-up! 

And another!

Mark Hodges next to St. Joe State Park

St. Joe State Park sits next to the Mining Museum with thousands of ATV enthusiasts hitting the lead dusty trails.  There has been a multi-million-dollar clean-up of the tailings or lead dust, but it is not complete.  You wonder why Missouri allows people to use the park? Could it relate to $$$$?   And I wondered after I left the museum if Mark Hodges himself was “infected” with the lead dust?  Did he not see the danger of working in that old mine office?  The entire area around the old mines has very little population. I need to read more about Missouri’s history.

Rain, Rain go Away!

Our hiking was nixed by the cold rain for the last couple of days in south-central Missouri.  We have decided to make Shut-Ins an annual trek when the leaves turn every year.  Next, we aimed the RV toward St. Louis to find Edward Babler State Historic Park. The park was almost empty when we arrived.  What a relief!  But, then,  they turned the water off and closed down the shower house.  Huh?  Twenty-four hours later scores and scores of trailers made their way into the park. How could they turn off the water and know all of these people would be camping for the weekend?  No heart or …?

Walking the lonely campground at Babler State Historic Park before the scores arrived!

St. Louis and Chuck Berry, here we come!

What a handsome family!

Memory lane kept us going in St. Louis.  We drove by the house on Howdershell where I lived when I was in graduate school at St. Louis University.

On the way to the Basilica Cathedral of St. Louis on Lindell, we veered toward Washington University where Tom spent a winter term.  Before we met our friends, we had to take a photo of the arch!

Pablo and Ines were close friends years and years ago.  We all lived in Kansas City and ate a lot of pizza together.  While they were here they had two children and Ines finished her Ph.D. in an area of Neuro-Science while Pablo worked with Tom.  They left us to work in China and New Zealand where we caught up with them occasionally.  Now they are back in Chicago with four lovely children and life keeps going on and on and on.  It was a grand reunion and the very intelligent children were perfectly behaved!!!

Sugarfire Smoke House, a down and dirty place, ran out of food!

We dined with them at two very unusual restaurants.  One of them Guidos, was on the Hill, a predominately Italian neighborhood!

 

 

It used to be the best place for Italian food, on the hill!

Boring but NOT to US!

I suppose this blog is a little mundane, with no exciting excerpts of grand vistas.  Yet, it was a great week and Missouri was beyond beautiful this time of year.  Life is good!  Get Thee to Missouri!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

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Get Thee to Missouri! 

Did you phone while we were gone?

We missed it all!  We were camping and there was little or no signal for most of the time! No robo calls from politicians, pseudo-social security police, or computer guys who tell us our PC is broken.  We missed the fifteen political “mean” commercials between the local and national news on CBS!  How lucky we were!

 

Roller-Coasting Across Missouri

The little Beetle was right behind the giant!

We are road-testing our new RV.  (Yes, you have to do this.) So, we brought the Beetle with us just in case we ran into trouble.  It followed the black and blue Newmar giant everywhere it went.  We broke up the ride to our Shut-Ins destination to a couple of days because the roads were so questionable.  A 3.5-hour drive from Lake of the Ozarks State Campground in Osage Beach took us all day.

It reminded me of the 12-15 hour rides we took as a child from Michigan to Holly Hill, Kentucky on old US 25.  We were up and down and around and to the left and to the right on the road.   This topsy-turvy drive kept me motion sick. 

On today’s trip the roads went in every direction and the motion sickness came back. The sun kept creeping around us.  Many times, I saw Tom and the RV go down a hill and I wondered if I was going to find them, especially at Dillard Mill. He crept down a 90-degree sand and gravel road.  What? How will he ever turn around?

Here’s a good one for you! This is a trailer and two guys were camping in it!

St. James,  but it did not have the Infirmary Blues!

I am worn out — just looking at these!

By the by, we passed through a small town just off I44, St. James.  We want to explore this little town with a winery and a Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory!  Ft. Leonard Wood is nearby! Next time

Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a Hallelujah Shout-Out!

Today we settled in at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park Campground.  It is one of the best campgrounds in the state!!!  There is a lot of space between sites, very little smoke, and we can’t see a single person camping around our neat full-hookup concrete pad!  We want to return but when?  The Shut-Ins are south of Interstate 44 and the territory hasn’t been claimed by anyone yet! Just kidding!

The Shut-In’s and Black River

These are the boulders called “Shut-Ins.”

This afternoon we hiked the Shut-Ins!  (There are several other well-marked hikes in the area.) What a funny geological name but the sight was to behold.  There are paved paths and wooden stairs that lead you to a great viewing place.  Anyone can enjoy the Shut-Ins.  (They spent a lot of time and money on planning this park.) Then, if you want to continue around the ravine, you must climb straight up to the sky on rocks close to the edge of the ravine.  We kept going but our bodies are complaining now.

Do you see Tom at the top? I am following!

Who would have believed that Missouri had a gorge with teal blue glimmering water and loads of huge fish! If you have the courage you can climb on the boulders in the middle of the East Fork Black River and swim? for a foot or so! We saw many people doing it!  This is a fantastic place to visit!

Here is the gorge and Black River!

This was taken with a long lens high above the water. These fish are huge!

Dillard Mill State Historic Site Offers a Peaceful Respite to All Who Visit!

What a beautiful park!

Yesterday on the way to the Shut-Ins we stopped at Dillard Mill State Historic Site.

Months ago, we attended a lecture by Brent Frazee, a retired nature reporter, from the Kansas City Star.  We found his descriptions of the south-central Missouri intriguing, so we followed his lead for this trip.  You won’t find a more calming and beautiful setting in Missouri than Dillard Mill with the pond and waterfall calling out to you.  Be warned, the road to Dillard is a killer!  Tom says that if you ride motorcycles or ATV’s, this would be a great dusty adventure!

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Ironton, and Lesterville

What is this in Lesterville? Do you suppose they sell gas?

Visiting Lesterville was a “must” because my dad’s name was Lester.  Lesterville’s greatness faded a century ago.  The area near Lesterville was mined for almost 300 years. The names of the towns betray the thousands of miles of underground caverns and railroads; Steelville, Irondale, Leadville, Chloride, Mineral Point, Mine La Motte, Vulcan, and of course, Ironton.

Here’s the courthouse!

Ironton is stuck somewhere in time. The Iron County Courthouse display recognizes battles from the Civil War.  One of the best buildings in town was the Masonic Temple (again!).  We searched for a restaurant and found a great Checo’s (They spelled incorrectly.) which seemed really out of place.  Tom commented that we only lived a few hundred miles away, but it seemed as if we were visiting another country!

Masons are in almost every town we visit. What an influence they must have been on our history!

Then there was Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri at over 1700 feet above sea level. People have raved about this park to us for years!  The best thing about the park was the lovely autumn trees whose branches (arms) reached across the road to touch their friends–stunningly beautiful!

Tom is standing on the highest point in Missouri!

Who lives in this trunk?

Today we visited the Missouri Mines State Historical Site!  In the heart of Missouri, it merits national and regional attention! More on this later!  It is raining too hard to adventure out the rest of the day! Tomorrow we head for St. Louis!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Gasp! It’s Butte, Montana!

We thought we had traveled back in time!

Oh Butte!

Butte, Montana is a jewel.   The U.S. government is so impressed with Butte that it has been awarded the designation of “National Historical Landmark.”  It should be a National Park.

Heading west on I 90, driving at lightning speed, we came around a corner after crossing the Continental Divide, to a stunning, puzzling, and overwhelming view of the Berkley Pit and a strip-mined mountain!  Gasp!  Follow this video for about five minutes until you reach Butte, keep watching for what appears to be a yellow mountain.  Here is the link.

I found this photo on line. It shows the pit in relationship to Butte sitting right above it! No lie!

The Berkley Pit. Beautiful but oh so dangerous!

Tom parked the motorhome at a Walmart and we headed straight toward the yellow mountain in our rented vehicle.  We really did not know what it was.  Tooling up Harrison Street to Main Street and then to the top of the mountain can not be described.  We passed at least eight mining rigs spouting their ironware throughout the neighborhoods.  Who builds a mine in the middle of a bunch of houses?  Now I know that there are 40 mining rigs still standing in Butte.

Here is one of the rigs. It is located in the back yard of several homes.

Butte used to be the proud owner of the largest copper mine in the world, Anaconda Mining Company.  Both silver and copper made many rich and brought people from all over the world to work and live in this community.  One local told us about the Chinese who ran opium smuggling underground in the more than 10,000 miles of shafts below our feet.  Really?

William Clark’s home, the Copper King of Butte.

Having passed through ghost towns, ranches, and crumbling infra-structures of other western towns, we were shocked at the beauty and architectural wonder of Butte.  We could have been in Ghent, Belgium! or any other smaller European city.  All of the late 19th century buildings in the main part of town were built out of stone and brick.  They were gorgeous!  (There was a fire in the 19th century and the town decided to build everything out of stone or brick.) And we could see Asian influence in the designs!

Here is Clark’s son’s home! The finest in Butte and,  maybe even, Montana.

Yet, only steps away was the Berkley Pit, the largest superfund site in the United States. Measuring 1.5 miles wide, and 1780 feet in depth, it contains carcinogenic chemicals including arsenic and sulfuric acid.  By 2020 the liquid in the pit will begin polluting ground water in the whole area.  At the moment they are draining off millions of gallons from the pit, but it is not enough.  For $2.00 admission you can stand and stare at the Berkley Copper pit!

The long hallway to the Berkley Pit!  We could have used a drone!

And while I would recommend that everyone visit Butte, how could I recommend living there?  Only about 30K residents live south of the pit and a few downtown!  Mining operations have resumed and I presume that this has brought people back into the area!

New life for this church as a theatre in Butte!  We could not believe the beauty of the Masonic and Knights of Columbus buildings.  In fact, we found Masons in every town we visited!

Masonic Temple

Post card of Butte High School!

Reflections on Our Trek Toward Glacier National Park!

Gorgeous Montana blue skies reflect valleys surrounded by dark and snow-capped mountains. It is everything that you see in photographs, but, it is more.  In the process of preparing for our recent adventure, I read several guide books on Montana.  Their romantic descriptions beckoned to me.  The poetry dripped of adventure, historical reconstruction, and the wilderness.  It reminded me of the books written by Christian missionaries (Jesuits) that lured thousands of  people to a mind-altering adventure to the WEST!

Here is one of the books that captured me! The photo on the cover is from Glacier National Park!!!!!

Now that I have visited Montana, I know that I was duped.  Those books painted a rosy and idealistic picture of a very harsh landscape. Montana is rugged and mostly wild, even in sophisticated towns.  Gravel is the mainstay of every campground and parking lot.  Not only did we have to contend with smoke from burning forests (They happen every year!), we were covered in dust all day long.  Nothing could be kept clean.  It crept into the motorhome (on the walls, dishes, floors)  and car and rested on every surface. Our white canines turned gray (grey).

Virginia City, however loved, was just a pile of old dusty wood! We thought we might follow the Ghost Town trails but they were too much for us!

Tonight we are staying in a hyped state campground that needs a lot of scrubbing.  (The description must have been  written when the writer was in an altered state.) There is no telephone signal.  We drove 10 miles just to check our emails.  We are planning the next few days but cannot do it without WIFI. It is like we are isolated from the rest of the world in a place where the earth ends.

I listen to NPR whenever we are traveling.  I found NPR on the radio until we reached Bozeman.  After Bozeman, the airwaves could not find NPR.  Most of the stations were religious and when I did find a public station, it was playing classical music. Huh?

Guidebooks do not mention that the largest “big” business in Montana is religion.  There are signs in yards, fields, on fence posts, on counters in restaurants, on maps, in restrooms, and flying in the sky. Just outside of Hungry Horse (Glacier National Park) there is one entire acre of billboards about religion.  I was going to take a photo, but I thought, how do I capture this? Who would want to see this?  Why is this here?  Have I been transported to another planet or captured by aliens?

Here is one stretch of Billboards I found on line!

The largest and best-built buildings in towns and prairies were religious structures.  Sometimes out in the middle of nowhere there would be four structures in the same area representing different religions. (Where are the people who attend these services?)   It made sense to me that there were so many religious organizations after I realized that the strongest radio stations in the area were religious.  And it reminded me of Buddhist and Hindu temples that are laced with gold in Cambodia, Vietnam, and India, while the people live in grass huts or worse!!! just outside the walls of the temples!

So rugged and so few people live here!

A couple of guidebooks invited us to visit the Bitterroot Valley.  We bought the tale and toured the missions, mansions, and the towns of Hamilton and Stevensville.  There were a few good moments but the trek was long and difficult.  Along the way, we saw yard after yard with old not-wanted and forgotten stuff that was piled up all around the houses.  (But many of the homes did  not really look like houses. I call them dwellings!) Most people had at least one rusting car and RV somewhere on their property.  These homes reminded us of homesteaders in Alaska who save everything because they just might need it.  Old rusty pickup trucks were the norm!  My Uncle Homer was a sort-of-homesteader in Kentucky.  He saved everything and even had a toilet to greet you in his front yard.

When you tire of the flora and fauna its time to take a break.  Many people gamble.  If you want to gamble, Montana is the place to visit.  Casinos can be found in the most unlikely places.  Want to get a haircut?  You can gamble while you wait.  Need some gas?  You can gamble while you fill your tank.  Are you hungry, just pull up to a restaurant that will show you to the casino first.   Bring some cash to lose and the business owners will love you!

I don’t often write such critical notes of places we visit.  We are both city-folks who like adventure but are really not built for the wild west.  While I spent my summers on a farm in Kentucky, which I thought was a pretty wild place, it does not measure up to the challenges of living in Montana.

But, still, visit Montana.  You will never forget it!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

This is the cover for the color version of the book.

 

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Resources for “RVing Across Alaska” Class

Great Alaskan Holidays (Motorhome Rentals)

https://www.greatalaskanholidays.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3can8Zjh3QIVAg1pCh2jGwRVEAAYAiAAEgJqpvD_BwE

Northern Alaska Tour Company — To Artic Circle

http://www.northernalaska.com

North Star Golf Club

https://northstargolf.com

Alaska Marine Highway

https://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

Cruise Ships on Glacier Bay

https://www.nps.gov/glba/planyourvisit/cruise.htm

Check out Tesoro Gas Station in Alaska, where you can dump!

Anchorage

https://www.anchorage.net

Denali National Park

https://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm

 

Northern Alaska Tour Company

http://www.northernalaska.com/arctic-circle-fly-drive/

The Milepost

https://www.themilepost.com

Fairbanks

https://www.explorefairbanks.com

 

 

 

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From Tom’s Dashboard: Appreciating the Good Life!

White Girl at the Wheel!

Tom’s Top Twenty

Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska

In no particular order!

  1.  Buildings and Architecture in historic downtowns: Sheridan, Bozeman, Butte, Sheridan…. Amazing buildings built in the early 1900’s based on wealth from coal, copper, oil, and cattle. The wealth from that time period is not apparent in most towns today.

    Night life in Sheridan, Wyoming

    Not in my backyard! Everyone in Butte lives in the shadow of this gigantic pit!

  2. Berkeley Copper Pit, and mining history; Butte Montana. You can see it from miles away, but stop at the Visitors center and get the history. Some copper mining continues but the area is still dealing with the environmental impact.

    It brought prosperity and much more that people did not want!

  3. Wildlife.  Bears, Moose, Prawn Deer, Prairie dogs. The prawn deer are everywhere. The bears and moose are more elusive.

    Smarter than your average bear!

  4. Jagged Mountains and Wild River. Shoshone National Forest east of Yellowstone in Wyoming. Unexpected fantastic scenery.

    On the road to Yellowstone the morning it snowed!

  5. Petroglyphs at legend Rock State Petroglyph outside of Thermopolis, Wyoming. We have seen lots of petroglyphs over the years but these are the best! No one knows what they are or what they mean (could simply be graffiti) but it is worth the journey down the small roads to see these.

    True Blue! at Yellowstone!

  6. Dinosaurs. For some strange reason I always think the dinosaur discoveries must have been in Africa, or Asia, but many of the most significant finds were in Wyoming and Montana. Fantastic exhibits of mostly local discoveries are at the Tate Geological Museum in Casper and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

    Sharing the Road

  7. Sinclair Dinosaur Logo. As a kid I also thought the logo at the gas station was cute. I never realized that Sinclair was from Wyoming, and the oil is processed in the heart of dinosaur country. Sinclair still processes oil in Casper Wyoming.

    She was smiling at Glacier! Who are these people?

  8. Glacier National Park. In spite of the fire, in spite of the smoke, in spite of being stuck above the back wheel well, the scenery was fantastic!

    A coffee table that would be a good addition to our music room.

  9. Music Villa guitar store in Bozeman. In a day when brick and mortar guitar stores are struggling to survive, this place is a gem: hundreds of electric and acoustic guitars, including a nice collection of resonator guitars, tables in the image of guitars, door handles from guitar parts…. There is even a Gibson acoustic guitar factory in town and a couple of individual guitar luthiers.
  10. Huckleberry Pie is widely advertised around northwestern Montana, and it lives up to its reputation. Huckleberry ice cream is not bad either.

    Yellowstone Beauty!

  11. Ennis Montana on Festival Day.   “A small drinking town with a fishing problem.”  Situated on the Madison River, north of Yellowstone, this small town is a mecca for fly fishing, and Californians with millions to spend on vacation homes. Lots of small restaurants, a brewery, a distillery and a famous butcher shop (try the jerky). Nice scenery in the valley surrounded by small mountains.

    Wild Woman!

  12. Missouri Headwaters State Park Hike. The muddy MO has to start somewhere and it is near Three Forks Montana, at the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. Nice State park for hiking, picnicking or just taking in the views.

    Where the dear and antelope play!

  13. Wheat Montana Bakery. Cinnamon rolls to die for (or because of). Don’t stop here if you are diabetic or gluten intolerant. Everyone else simply enjoy the calories. After driving past hundreds of miles of “amber waves of grain” it is nice to sample some of the product. We made 4 visits. (Three Forks Montana and other locations)

    To die for!

  14. RV Vacation. Doing 3000 miles in 4 weeks across 3.5 states means a lot of driving, but, you see a lot of diverse scenery, you can stop and take a break any time you want, you sleep in your own bed on your own sheets, you can make your own meals, you can bring the dogs along (the white girls).

    Logan’s Pass for our Canadian Friends

  15. Pony Express.  Museum (St. Joseph) and Pony Express Station & Museum (Gothenburg, NE). In St. Joe you get the full history of this short-lived delivery system and the complexity of the logistics are fully explained. Gothenburg is an example of one of the stations along the way from St. Joe to Sacramento California.
  16. Downtown Walking, Biking Trails. Missoula and elsewhere: I was surprised that almost any town of substance in Montana, and Wyoming has developed trails, similar to the trails available in Kansas City and Johnson County, as well as sophisticated places like Minneapolis.

    We’re not in Kentucky!

  17. Wyoming Whiskey.   Small Batch Bourbon. Wyoming’s 1stdistillery is found in Kirby.  44% alcohol because Wyoming is the 44th Drink responsibly.
  18. Mountain Meadow Campground Showers.  Showers in motorhomes are small and water pressure is usually minimal, so I use the public showers. If you have camped you know these may be marginal. These were fantastic, 5*: large, very clean and plenty of hot water. (The author has received no compensation for this message.)

    Premium golf course with black copper tailings for sand!

  19. Golfing 4X.   With the RV we have room for the clubs and the pull carts. Even the smallest of towns in the wild west has a 9- or 18-hole course. In Three Forks we played with a local couple who invited us to a 3-day Calcutta golf event in West Glacier. That event overlapped our visit to Glacier, so we chose to visit Glacier NP and Hungry Head Reservoir instead of the high stakes golf event.

    Who is that blocking the scenery?

  20. Gratitude: Having the time and resources to enjoy a 4-week trip in the RV. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are, but we are fortunate to be in the position we are, and to live in a country and at a time in history were trips like this are possible.  This post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and Thomas C. Hemling

    Mountain Majesty

  21. My apologies on the numbering.  Tom used them in Word and I could barely control them in WordPress!
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