Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 2, 2017     THE END . . . for now

The last week of this grand journey was through southern Missouri and into Arkansas.  Beautiful country!   Nature, camping, history, art for the finale.

Kris has been wanting to see a Dale Chihuly exhibit and we knew there was a temporary one in northwestern Arkansas until November.  While it wasn't on the way home, that didn't stop us from making another detour.  We are very glad we spent a few days in the beautiful Ozards area.  We camped at Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs where our campsite was right on the lakeshore - perfect for watching Canada geese, sunsets, and sunrises.

 Bookends to September 29 - sunrise from Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri to
sunset over Beaver Lake in Arkansas

Beaver Lake from our campsite
One of the challenges of camping at this time of the year is trying to stay in bed until daylight.
We usually are up before the sun and another gorgeous sunrise was our reward on Sept. 30
If you are ever in the Bentonville, Arkansas area, we highly recommend visiting the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  We were there for the Dale Chihuly In The Forest exhibit, but were pleasantly surprised at the extensive permanent art exhibits, the Frank Lloyd Wright house, and Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome.


This piece caught my eye from across the room . . .
. . . a closer look . . .
 . . .  shoelaces
Andy Warhol
 Awesome spider sculpture in the courtyard
Chihuly chandelier
 Fly's Eye Dome - exhibited in Los Angeles decades ago, languished in storage for years, and now
on display at Crystal Bridges, one of the last Buckminster Fuller projects.


Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson House built in New Jersey in the 1950s, carefully deconstructed and shipped to Bentonville and reconstructed on Crystal Bridge's grounds in 2015.
"Chihuly in the Forest" exhibit
(Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor. His works are considered to possess outstanding artistic merit in the field of blown glass, "moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture." Wikipedia)

This piece is titled "Sole D'Oro" and contains 1,400 hand-blown pieces of glass and weighs more than 5,000 pounds.


 "Fiori Boat"

We drove into the town of Eureka Springs to attend mass and then visited "Christ of the Ozarks" statue.   A surprise - a piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

 67 feet tall

Magnificent Thorncrown Chapel:

A service was getting ready to start so we only had time for a quick look inside:


We couldn't leave Bentonville without a quick visit to the Walmart Museum:
Three more National Park Sites:  Pea Ridge National Military Park in northwestern Arkansas, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site,  and the President Clinton Birthplace Home in Hope, Arkansas.  (We visited a total of 40 NPS sites on this trip.)
Little Rock Central High School is still an active school.
And a visit to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.  There was an excellent exhibit on the life of Nelson Mandela and one on The Art of Africa (many of the pieces on display were from the Clintons' personal collection).

Note the Chihuly Art Glass piece on the upper level.
Seen while geocaching:
Tenaha, Texas


We wanted to camp one last night at Caddo Lake State Park in east Texas, but rainy conditions caused us to change our minds and press on to Houston, arriving home at 9:30 p.m.  Our son, Joel, was there to greet us with a big hug.
Another epic trip is over . . .  19,000 miles in 113 days (we camped 86 of them), 23 states and 3 provinces.  We are so very blessed to be able to travel as we do.  Traveling light without being restricted by towing a trailer or RV keeps our cost down.  Whenever possible, we camped in federal campgrounds to take advantage of half-price camping now that we have our lifetime senior pass.  Visiting National Park Service sites is a big part of our life-long learning quest and watching the ever-changing view from our vehicle's windows never stops yielding surprises.  We certainly didn't expect to go to President Jimmy Carter's Sunday School class, observe whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or see a 67-foot statue of Christ in the Ozarks.  We keep our eyes and minds open to opportunities along the way as we travel.  We never know what will be around the next bend in the road (to loosely quote Charles Kuralt).  God willing and if our health allows it, we hope to travel many more miles together. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27, 2017 Heading for Houston, sort of...

To avoid hurricanes on the East Coast, we have been traveling westward from Pennsylvania through southern Ohio and Indiana and then southward through Kentucky and are now in western Tennessee.

We have stopped for more National Park Service sites and have visited some nice state parks in Indiana. We camped in several national forests, our preferred camping venues.

Ohio Summary:

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Chillicothe, Ohio) – evidence of extensive earthen mounds built 2,000 years ago and artifacts of extended trading with other people all over North America. The intricate pottery and items made from copper and shells are quite beautiful.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Heritage Park – The Wright Brothers Cycle Shop and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field where they spent two years perfecting their flying machine and their flying skills (now part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). Two amazing and determined Americans.

 Huffman Prairie Flying Field, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton
The Wright Brothers dropped a large weight from this structure to get enough
force to propel the plane forward.

Write Memorial

Cincinnati – William Howard Taft National Historic Site. His childhood home and great exhibits about the contributions of several generations of the Taft Family. We were two miles from the World Peace Bell in Newport, Kentucky so we made a quick trip across the Ohio River to see it. It is supposed to be the world's largest free-swinging bell in the world. We were disappointed when it didn't ring at noon as expected – we were waiting for it.,_Kentucky)

William Howard Taft's home in Cincinnati

 World Peace Bell, Newport KY

In honor of firefighters, World Peace Bell Plaza


Big Bone Lick State Park, the “Birthplace of American Vertebrate Paleontology” where William Clark collected mastadon and mammoth bones and sent them to Thomas Jefferson in early 19th century.  We camped here 10 years ago with our son, Phillip.

 Outdoor diorama depicting prehistoric animals in quicksand.


While driving into Vincennes to see George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, we saw an advertisement along the highway for Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy and were very glad we made the visit. Of course, we are of the age that we grew up watching Red Skelton's comedy show TV. We also learned about his early radio and movie performances as well as his humanitarian activities. He was born in Vincennes.

The George Rogers Clark National Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana is an impressive building as were his military contributions to our new country in 1778-79. He and his men helped to remove British control over the western territory of Illinois and Indiana.

 Friendly NPS ranger posing for us.

 George Rogers Clark
 one of the murals inside the rotunda
view of the bridge to Illinois over the Wabash River taken from the GRC Memorial

From Vincennes, we traveled south to the town of New Harmony, a utopian community of the early 19th century. We visited the Harmonists Labyrinth and the Roofless Church. We enjoyed a few days at nearby Harmonie State Park on the Wabash River where we hiked quite a bit and found some nice geocaches, including a night cache (hiked a trail in the dark using flashlights to spot reflectors on trees that guided us to the ammo can).

 Harmonists Labyrinth
 Can you see me?

 Roofless Church in New Harmony, Indiana

Passing through Evansville, Indiana, we spent some time at Willard Library that is supposed to be haunted. It has three webcams set up to try to capture the images of ghosts. One of them did get a glimpse of this guy:

We enjoyed camping at Lincoln State Park and visiting Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southern Indiana. The area is where Abraham Lincoln lived from age 7 to 21 and acquired the character traits he is known for. We saw the gravesites of his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and his sister, Sarah. Bronze castings were made of the hearthstones and foundation sills of the Lincoln Cabin. A very nice Bicentennial Memorial was erected by the state in 2009 in a quiet area of the park.

 Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

 Reconstructed cabin similar to those built in 1820s.

Bronze castings of hearthstones and foundation sills of the Lincoln cabin.

gravesite of A. Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Bicentennial Memorial 1809 - 2009

In this blog, I try not to go into much detail about geocaching, but here is an example of how it enriches our traveling experiences. In Dubois County, Tennessee we were browsing for a cache to find and learned of a place “Geode Grotto.” An outdoor shrine was constructed by Father Philip Ottavi  and residents of Providence Home. The surfaces are covered with geodes, most of them whole but some with the interiors exposed. It is a unique site we would never have discovered and visited were it not for our geocaching hobby.

We are now in western Tennessee waiting for cooler weather to arrive in a day or two. It has been very warm (low 90s in the afternoons) and sunny. We have been getting campsites with electricity so we can run our fan in the truck camper at night. At least it has been dry. The corn and soybean fields are very brown now and are being harvested...memories of living in Illinois as a kid and watching the combines at work in the field behind our house.  We stumbled upon the Todd County 'Bale Trail' - here are the ones we saw:

 Nothing runs like a Deere
 Needle in a haystack

We drove through Paris, Tennessee

 Lake Barkley (historic Cumberland River) from Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Dover, TN

Seen while geocaching:

near Xenia, Ohio

                                                            Jackson County, Ohio

 mural in downtown Dayton
 The owner of this BBQ place in downtown Dayton is from Texas.
 Hueston Woods State Park, Ohio - covered bridge built in 2012
 "Rain" was falling on this stature in Hamilton, Ohio - we did not find the cache nearby.

 We love spotting barn quilts - they are becoming more common.
 Eastern Box Turtle, Harmonie State Park, Indiana

 We were looking for the last stage of a multi-stage geocache and had come up this hill, so...
... what goes up, must come down - on all fours, backwards, using tree roots for
hand and foot holds.  Part of the 6 miles of hiking we did that day.

 near Dyersburg, Tennessee

 Bear Springs Iron Furnace, Tennessee

Examples from the National Civil War Quilt Trail, Stewart County, Tennessee - not just on barns.

 This one was at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge.