Archive for the ‘Tom’ Category


Bronzeville-Black Metropolis NHA

May 10, 2023

Bronzeville-Black Metropolis NHA – Chicago South-East Side

The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area contains the Black Metropolis Historic District, a Chicago landmark since 1997, consisting of eight historic buildings, and one monument, as well as the homes of entrepreneurs, Civil Rights activists, cultural, and scientific icons, and a Civil War Union Army Camp. The area runs from 17th to 71st streets.  James Gentry, a theater editor for the Chicago Bee suggested the name “Bronzeville.” He said that African Americans’ skin color was closer to bronze than black. The name was popularized by the Chicago Defender, a black newspaper with nationwide circulation. Officially became a National Heritage Area in January 2023.

5/4/2023 Th – Our first stop was the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House.  Emmett Till’s former home, now A Chicago Landmark, will become a museum. Till’s brutal death at the hands of white supremacists helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. See our Blog for January 2019, Till was abducted, tortured, and killed in Money MS in 1955 at the age of 14 for offending a white woman in her family’s store by whistling at her.   

Emmett’s mother Mamie brought the body home and insisted that there be an open casket displaying Till’s bloated, mutilated body in the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ.

Fountain of Time in Washington Park near the University of Chicago

DuSable Black History Museum and Learning Center.  Jean Baptiste Point DuSable was Chicago’s first permanent non-native settler.

Harold Washington Cultural Center – is a performance facility named after Chicago’s first African American Mayor. It was originally to be named the Lou Rawls Cultural Center, but Chicago Alderman Dorothy Tillman changed the name without telling Rawls; it opened in 2004.

The Forum – was constructed shortly after the adjacent 43rd St “L” (for elevated) stop opened in 1892.  It initially served a community of ethnic European residents. From 1930 to 1970, Chicago was considered the black business capital of the U.S. 

By 1925, The Forum had become part of the Black Metropolis – the black city within a city.

Local Nat King Cole assembled bands for Sunday dances and Muddy Waters was a regular at The Forum.  A $1 Million Grant from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation will support The Creative Complex, which will have four arts-based spaces in the building.

The Stockyard Bank Building (1925), at Halsted and Exchange Ave, was booming when Chicago ruled the meatpacking industry.  It is now in disrepair, but there are proposals for development – a Steakhouse, Museum, Banquet Hall?  The arch is for the Stockyards Industrial Park (Richard M. Daley Mayor!).

The Union Stock Yard Gate was the entrance to the famous Union Stock Yards. Though you cannot read it in the photo, above the bottom curve of the arch it states “Union – Stock – Yard – Chartered – 1865.  The gate is the only significant structural element of the stockyards to survive.


Monument to Fallen Firefighters – my father was a Chicago Fireman and later an ambulance driver and EMT for the Chicago Fire Department.  When I was a child, he was stationed at the firehouse in the Stockyards.  He ended his career at the Fire Academy.

Bronzeville Classical School Elementary School is a selective school offering a liberal arts education with an accelerated academic program.  All Chicago students can apply.  The curriculum is taught at least one level above grade and emphasizes literature, mathematics, language arts, world languages, and the humanities.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett social reformer (1862-1931) and advocate for civil rights, woman’s suffrage and economic justice, her anti-lynching campaign stirred the nation and brought international attention to racially motivated brutality.  In 1909, she founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

She lived here on Grand Boulevard, now Martin Luther King Dr, from 1919 to 1930. 

The Ida B. Wells Monument located nearby commemorates the Ida B. Wells Homes (over 1,600 units) that stood here from 1941-2002.

Victory Monument – One of the most famous landmarks of Chicago’s African American community, “Victory” was erected after a lengthy campaign led by the Chicago Defender. African American soldiers formed the 8th regiment of the Illinois National Guard, which became the 370th Infantry of the 93rd Division upon the start of World War I. The unit saw action in France as the last regiment pursuing retreating German forces in the Aisne-Marne region, just before the war ended.

Martin Luther King Dr and 35th Street – Bronze plaques on median, sidewalks, and crosswalks stretch ten blocks from the Victory Monument at 35th St. to the Monument to the Great Northern Migration at 26th Place.

There are about 100 plaques – here are some examples.

We stopped by the Bronzeville Information Center at 411 E 35th St – this is what we found

Eighth Regiment Armory (1914) – was the first armory in the U.S. built for an African American military regiment, known as the “Fighting 8th”. The armory was later used by a division of the Illinois National Guard and was incorporated into the U.S. Infantry during World War I. After closing the armory in the early 1960s, it became the South-Central Gymnasium. In 1999, following an extensive renovation, it was reopened as a public high school, the Chicago Military Academy. The restoration and conversion into a school has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The armory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1998.

Our last stop was the Monument to the Great Northern Migration.  According to Wikipedia, “In 1900–01, Chicago had a total population of 1,754,473.  By 1920, the city had added more than 1 million residents. During the second wave of the Great Migration (1940–60), the African American population in the city grew from 278,000 to 813,000.” The 15ft tall statue is located at the northern end of Bronzeville (26th Pl).  He is carrying a ragged suitcase, with suitcases as small pillars surrounding the circle. 

His clothes and the mound on which he stands appear to be made from the soles of worn shoes.

Pullman National Historical Park is also a part of Bronzeville-Black Metropolis NHA – see Blog for June 2016.


Hawaii, Saipan, Guam, and Los Angeles

January 30, 2023

1/12/2022 Th – after having our flight from Dayton to Maui canceled at 10pm yesterday, I arranged for a flight from Columbus leaving at 5am.  So, we were up at 2am to get to the airport.  Five minutes from home I hit a deer.  Fortunately, I was still able to drive the car to Columbus, only to find that our flight was canceled!  After much ado, American Airlines got us a flight on United that left at 7am.  When we got to United, that flight was canceled. We had to rebook two more times to finally get a flight to Maui.  Also, we had to change our return flights because now our car was in Columbus and not in Dayton as originally planned!  We arrived in Maui at 10:30pm, 8 hours later than planned.  I rented our car from SIXT and got to our VRBO Kihei Bay Surf Condo at 11:30pm, where Kate was waiting.  She had landed nine hours earlier.

1/13 Friday the 13th – up early to get to the “Pride of Maui” leaving out of Wailuku for our snorkeling adventure at 8am.  We took towels, reef approved sunscreen, caps, warm clothes, etc.  A light breakfast was waiting for us when we boarded at 7:30am. The water temperature was about 75 degrees, air temperature was in the low 60s, with winds about 13mph.  That prompted us to rent wet suits.

We were treated to numerous humpback whale sightings and breaches on our 45min cruise to the Molokini Crater snorkeling site.

Though cold, it was a good site and we snorkeled for about 45 minutes.

Water Camera Photos –

We had a BBQ lunch and saw more whales as we then cruised to our “Turtle Town Snorkeling” destination.

Good snorkeling but no turtles today –

Drove to Lahaina, saw the Jodo Buddhist Mission, and walked the beach.

In 1982, Helen, Stacy, Peter, Kate, and I visited four of the Hawaiian Islands.  This is a photo of Stacy near Lahaina.

Kate had her first birthday on Maui, with a Pineapple Upside Down Cake! – July 20, 1982.

Kate – 2023

We had VOG today – that is, Volcano Smog from the eruption of Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaii.  I was not feeling well after our beach walk, so we returned to the condo.  I rested and hydrated while Helen and Kate went out to Kihei Sushi Ko for dinner.

1/14 Sa – started the day at the Kahului Swap Meet.  It focused on local handicrafts, so was not of great interest, but the small bananas were excellent!

In 1982, we drove the notorious Road to Hana, windy, gravel, and often one-lane.  I don’t know why these people were so happy!

The waterfalls at the end were worth it – Cliff jumping at Makahiku Falls

Peter and Stacy enjoyed sliding down into some of the Pools of ‘Ohe’o near Kuloa Point. These pools are also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools.”

Today we entered Haleakala NP about 11am and stopped at the 7,000ft Visitor Center

Haleakala means – “House of the Sun.”

Here is a 1982 photo of Stacy at the Leleiwi Overlook 8,840ft.

It is a 37-mile drive to the highest point on the crater rim (10,023ft) called the Pu’u’ula’ula Summit, about 30-degrees colder than at the beach!

The Haleakala Visitor Center at the 9,740ft level was not open today.

We did the short hike to the overlook on the Keonehe’ehe’e or Sliding Sands Trail

In 1982, we hiked about 2,500 ft down this trail to the Pu’u o Pele Cone in the Wilderness Area on the crater floor.  Note Helen carrying Kate.  We took turns carrying her on the 7-mile round trip hike.

Of course, we also carried food and water for lunch.  One of our funny stories is how we also carried a whole pineapple for dessert.  After cutting and eating it, we all ended up with very sticky mouths and hands.  Helen said, “No problem, just rub your hands in the black pumice and the sugar will just fall off leaving your hands clean – just like using sand on the Jersey shore.”  Well, it did not brush off and we all looked like hobos until we got back to our motel.

The Ahinahina or Silversword grows on the slopes of Haleakala and nowhere else in the world.  We were able to see some on our 1982 hike.

On our return, Kate searched Google for a place to eat and found a nice Food Truck Park with local selections near Kahului.  We returned to the condo and walked across the street to the 500-year-old Ko’ie’ie Fishpond.

We waded in to get a better look at the seven large Green Turtles that were resting on the rocks.

The Visitor Center for the Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary is nearby.    

1/15 Su – Had a great breakfast at a local place called the Tasty Crust in Kahului and then headed to the airport.  Kate’s flight to LAX was canceled and she was rescheduled, getting into LA later in the evening.  We departed at 11:20am and arrived at the Kailua-Kona airport on the Big Island of Hawaii at 11:56am.  Airplane view of Mauna Kea (left) and Mauna Loa (right).  Mauna Loa had stopped erupting.

Thrifty upgraded us to a new 4WD Jeep “Road Hawk,” which would allow us to drive to the observatories on top of Mauna Kea (13,803ft).  Our first stop today was the Pu’ukohola Heiau NHS.  This was our second visit to this site – we had previously visited all the NP Units on the island on previous trips.

We watched the video “Foundation of a Nation” that describes how Kamehameha I was destined to unite all the Hawaiian Islands.  A prophet had told Kamehameha that he would be successful if he built a Heiau or Temple to the War God Kuka’ilimaku or Ku atop Pu’ukohoa or “Whale Hill.”

It was built 1790-91 by moving stone hand over hand from the Pololu Valley over twenty miles away.  No mortar was used in the construction.

Kamehameha defeated his first cousin Chief Keoua, who controlled the south end of the island.  He then invited him to the dedication of the new temple and killed him and most of his party.  Keoua’s body was then carried to the Heiau and offered as the principal sacrifice to the War God Ku.  Kamehameha I would go on to conquer the other islands, then known to Europeans as the Sandwich Islands, to become the first King of the Hawaiian Islands.

One reason for Kamehameha’s success was his use of “modern weapons (e.g., a canon)” and techniques learned from John Young a British sailor stranded on the island in 1790.

We hiked the one-mile trail to the Heiau on the Hill of the Whale and then returned on a segment of the 175-mile Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which runs along the west coast of the island.

It was an hour drive south to Kaloko-Honokohau NHP.  We arrived at the Hale Ho’okipa Visitor Contact Station at 3:30 and had a half hour there before they closed.  We looked around the small contact station and then did the nature walk.  

The grounds remained open, so we drove to a parking area near the ocean and entered the park near the Pu’uoina Heiau and the Ai’opio Fishtrap.  It was an enjoyable walk to the ocean, past the fishtrap, and along Honokohau Beach.  High tide would bring fish into the pond for sustainable “farming.”

Had dinner at Keoni’s Point of View, a salty bar/grill in Kailua-Kona where we watched the Cincinnati Bengals defeat the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL Playoff game.  We then bought breakfast items at Target and drove to our Airbnb at an elevation of about 1,000ft up the mountain from the airport.  It was big and clean, but no AC.

1/16 MMartin Luther King Day – we were up at 6am for what would be the busiest day of our trip.  It took a bit over an hour to drive up Saddle Road (Rt 200) to the 6,632ft saddle between Mauna Kea (13,796ft) and Mauna Loa (13,677ft).  This road is now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and is a huge improvement over the dilapidated two-lane road we drove in 1993 when I climbed Mauna Kea.  See my article at describing my 50+-mile sea to summit climb on my 50th birthday.  It was the most difficult physical effort of my life!  Mauna Kea is the highpoint of Hawaii and the tallest mountain on earth when measured from the sea floor.  However, Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain on earth by volume. 

We drove up through the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area to the Onizuka Science Center at the 9,200ft level on the mountain.  Ellison Onizuka was a Hawaiian astronaut killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. 

This is the point at which State Rangers control further travel on the 4WD road.   First, we had to stay there for a half hour to see how our bodies reacted to the altitude.  They warned us of the effects of high altitude on the heart and lungs.  They then checked our 4WD vehicle and made sure we knew how to use it before allowing us on the windy gravel road to the observatories near the summit. 

It was 8-miles and an additional 4,000ft up to the observatories. And as you can see – a bit windy! The road from here to the top is paved.

There is now a sign discouraging people from continuing to the true summit of the mountain. 

It is about a quarter-mile down from the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and up a cinder cone to the true summit at 13,804ft. The elevation was 13,796ft back in 1993 when I climbed it, so I guess the mountain is “growing.”

Helen convinced me that I should not do the hike to the summit marker. Besides, I had already been there twice.

Downshift and use low gear on your descent.

Mauna Loa in background

It took about an hour to get to Hilo and a Subway where we bought foot long subs – half for lunch with the other half saved for dinner.  Another half hour took us to the Hawaii Volcanoes NP Visitor Center at 4,000ft on the rim of the Kilauea Caldera.

As mentioned, our first visit to the Big Island was in 1982 and today we repeated some of the same hikes we did back then.  To start we took a half mile hike to the Waldron Ledge where we had a view of an ongoing Kilauea eruption.  We could see a dot of red magma and fire in the crater.

The Goddess Pele

We then did a two-mile hike along the crater rim, past the steam vents, and through the sulfur banks area.

It was then on to the Kilauea Iki Crater

It was steaming and quite hot when we hiked across it in 1982.

A short hike through the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku 0.3mi loop trail) was next.

That was followed by many stops along the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road down to the Pacific Ocean.  We had walked over magma flowing under our feet here in 1993.

Today the lava was cooled into intricate formations.

We met a couple from Singapore at the Kealakomo Overlook.  She took a photo of me taking a picture of Helen and then transferred it to my iPhone.

We met them again at the Holei Sea Arch

Some splendid views here as the waves crashed against the black lava.

It took 1.5hrs to drive back to the Visitor Center and then continue on to the “potential” South Kona National Heritage Area (NHA).  Our first stop was Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park near the south end of the island.

In 1982, we visited a black sand beach with Peter and Stacy

We ate the second half of our Subway sandwiches as we drove to Ka Lae “The Point.” Along the coastline of the “potential” South Kona National Heritage Area – there is Honomalino Bay, Kapua Bay, Pōhue Bay and Ka Lae, otherwise known as South Point.  Pōhue Bay is one of the few untouched places in Hawaiʻi.  This area is home to a number of historic trails, heiau – or sacred sites and temples, petroglyphs and other cultural features, and Pōhue Bay is also a prime nesting point, an area for the endangered hawksbill sea turtle.  In the north, Honomalino, is a black sand beach and is one of the most picturesque sites on the island of Hawaiʻi.   

The sun was setting in a cloudy sky as I got to the Light Station at South Point – it is the Southernmost Point of the U.S., January 16, 2023.

I was at the Easternmost Point of the U.S. – West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in ME on July 21, 2022.

And I was at the Northernmost Point of the U.S. on the Arctic Ocean – Point Barrow AK (note whale vertebrae) on September 8, 2022.

The Westernmost Point of the U.S. is on the west shore of Attu Island, which is the last island in the Aleutian Chain of islands stretching from Alaska into the north Pacific Ocean.  The Japanese invaded Attu and Kiska islands in 1942, six months after Pearl Harbor.  In a major offensive, the U.S. and Canada retook the islands in 1943.  Attu is only 208 miles from the Commander Islands of Russia.  Attu is the largest uninhabited island in the U.S.  In fact, the International Date Line does a jog so that it passes west of Attu so that all of Alaska can be on the same day.   It is now next to impossible to get to the Westernmost Point of the U.S.

The closest I got was on September 5-6, 2022, when I was in Unalaska (Dutch Harbor) AK visiting the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area – See Blog for September 2022.

Peter and Stacy at the Southernmost Point of the U.S. in 1982

Looking back at the Light Station from “The Point,” 2023

The drive back to our Airbnb in the dark and rain seemed longer than the two hours that it took.  We arrived at 9pm, it was a 15-hour day.

1/17 Tu – we had an easy morning driving south down the west coast of the island.  This was Helen’s morning, so I followed her directions to five Thrift Stores – nothing purchased, can you believe it!?  We did buy some oranges along the way.

We arrived at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau NHP at about 11am.  This is another Hawaiian Historical Park that explains the societal structure, culture, and everyday life of early Hawaiians.   You can see the Royal village nestled on the coast in the following photo.

Good photo of Konane -a Hawaiian strategy game played with black and white pebbles; Keone’ele Cove where only ali’i (royals) could land their canoes; and the Hale o Keawe or royal mausoleum housing bones of at least 26 ali’I, including Kamehameha’s great-grandfather.  Note the Great Wall extending to the left of the Keawe.  The ocean side of the 12 foot tall, 18 foot wide, and 950 foot long wall was the Pu’uhonua or “Place of Refuge.”  If a person was guilty of breaking rules or perhaps an enemy, he/she could try to get to the Place of Refuge for safety.  They would have to swim in from the ocean side over the jagged lava rocks.  If they succeeded, after a few days, priests could absolve them of their “sins” and then they were free to go. 

2023 photo of me with the Hale o Keawe in background.

1982 Photo looking back at the Royal Grounds with me holding a coconut.  Peter and I worked for over a half hour to break it open so we could drink the juice and snack on the meat.

Two Ki’i – wooden images of Hawaiian gods

Photo from the Pu’uhonua side of the Heiau

Note gold colored fish –

This Halau or house now serves to protect canoes and other artifacts.

Stacy built this model on the beach at this site in 1982.

After Hawaiian BBQ Bowels for lunch, we drove to Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark (Kamehameha’s home) and the related beach that is next to the Kailua Pier.

Helen snorkeling in the Bay

In 1993 we used Jack’s Diving Locker, which is located at the Pier, for both SCUBA and Snorkeling – Helen sitting.

We watched young male and female paddlers leave the harbor for evening practice.

They cheered as numerous dolphins displayed their jumping skills.

1/18 W – lazy morning, caught 12:40pm flight to Oahu.  There was at least a one hour wait at Thrifty rent a car.  So, I confirmed a Mustang convertible rental at Budget and then canceled the Thrifty rental.  Had to do that to make our 3:30pm reservation ($1 each for reservation fee at for our Navy boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor N MEM.  Stacy, Peter and I were able to visit the memorial in 1982 but Kate was one-year-old and was not allowed on the boat. Helen stayed with her at the Visitor Center; so, this was her first visit to the remains of the battleship.  This photo shows the memorial on the left and the USS Worden guided missile cruiser in 1982.  The Worden was launched in 1962 and then scuttled in 2000 off Hawaii during Navy target practice.

It was the last 45-min tour of the day.  Arizona Memorial in 1982 and 2023 –

After World War I, the Japanese expanded its territory (by force) to provide for its growing population.  It saw the U.S. as a threat to that expansion.  So, on December 7, 1941, it launched the infamous surprise attack on our western fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor.

The greatest loss of life occurred on the USS Arizona when a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb slammed through its deck and ignited its forward ammunition magazine, 1,177 of its crew perished in less than 9 minutes.

A total of twelve ships were sunk and nine others were damaged.  U.S. losses were ~2,400 killed, ~1,200 injured, 164 aircraft destroyed and an additional 159 damaged.  All ships, with the exception of the Arizona and Oklahoma were salvaged and later saw action in the War. The museum and outdoor signage describe the prelude, attack, and aftermath.  Age of the Battleship –

Six Japanese aircraft carriers took part in the operation.

How the Nakajima “Kate” carrier torpedo bombers attacked the ships at Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese attack code was “Tora, Tora, Tora.”

The USS Missouri, on which the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, can now be toured at Ford Island (Battleship Row) near the Arizona Memorial.  We toured the ship in 1969 when it was part of the “Mothball Fleet” at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard on the Olympic Peninsula, across Puget Sound from Seattle.  Photos from 1969 –

The USS Missouri was re-activated in 1984 and recommissioned in San Francisco in 1986.  She served in the Gulf War (1991), was decommissioned in 1992, and eventually returned to Bremerton WA.  In 1998 she was towed to Pearl Harbor to be docked within 500 yards of the USS Arizona.  Here she is in 2023 –

We had a four-night stay at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham a couple of blocks from Waikiki Beach.  It was reasonable and proved to be a good location for our visit to Honolulu and the island of Oahu.  Dinner was from a Mexican food truck about a half mile from the hotel.

1/19 Th – splurged and shared the Sirloin Tips breakfast at IHOP around the corner.  However, we never returned as it took 1.5hrs to get out of there because of a lack of cooks.   Still, it was not a problem because the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i ($10 adult) did not open until 9am. 

They are the temporary Visitor Center for Hono’uli’uli National Historic Site a new (2015) NP unit that has yet to be developed.  The foyer of the museum has a large display devoted to this Japanese Internment Camp, which also housed German and Italian Internees as well as Japanese Prisoners of War.

Hono’uli’uli opened in 1943, covered 160 acres, and became the largest and longest-used confinement site in the Hawaiian Islands for US citizens and residents of Japanese and European ancestry arbitrarily suspected of disloyalty following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

A total of about 400 civilians were incarcerated in Hono‘uli‘uli throughout the course of the war.

Approximately 4,000 prisoners of war were confined at Hono‘uli‘uli in five compounds, and were divided into separate quarters by military rank (officer vs enlisted men), function (combat troops vs labor conscripts), and in some cases, country of origin. 

We visited the actual Hono’uli’uli site in a ravine about a half hour from Honolulu.  An aqueduct separated prisoners of war from incarcerates. The aqueduct provided water for both internment and prisoners of war camps.  The camp closed in 1946.

1/20 FSnorkeling Day – When planning this trip I spent hours trying to get entrance tickets for Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, State Park.  I continued trying to use their web site while in Hawaii but to no avail.  So, this morning I was up at 6am to drive a half hour to the park to get two of the limited “walk-in reservations” when they opened at 6:45am.  I then drove back to Honolulu to pick up Helen and our McD’s breakfast and headed back to the park.  We arrived just before our scheduled 9:30 entrance time. Parking is only $3 but space is limited. They permit thirty walk-ins every 15 minutes until 1:15pm. If you are not there on time, you lose your tickets!  The beach is open 6:45am-3:15pm W-Sun.  It is a marine life conservation area and underwater park.  There are many employees, and they work hard to protect and preserve the reef. 

We paid the entrance fee ($25 each), watched their 9min video, listened to their safety and rules lecture, and then walked down to the Bay

We picked up our snorkel equipment ($30 each) and opted for the wet suit top instead of the PFD.  Morning view of the Bay and Koko Head.

When we arrived it was close to Low Tide, so there were only a couple of feet between you and the reef all the way out to the break water.  Helen followed an octopus for about 20min until it went in a hole to get away from an eel.  

In the afternoon, she followed a multi-brown colored “Flying Gurnard” bottom feeder.  It had a large rectangular head, little fins to stir up sand for feeding, and large well-developed wings to maneuver.  At one point it lifted an antenna from its head.  The rangers said that no one had seen that fish here before.

Took another evening walk and ate at the Sura Hawaii Korean BBQ.  We found it interesting that we were not permitted to take leftovers with us.  It might be a food safety thing.

1/21 Sa – The National Heritage Area Act (12/22/2022) – established the National Heritage Area System (Community-Led Conservation and Development) in the Department of Interior.  As of 2023, 62 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) have been designated.  A new goal for me is to visit all these areas.  Fortunately, I have already visited most of them.  I try to stay “ahead of the game” by visiting areas that have been proposed for inclusion in the system.  Such was the case here in Hawaii for Ka’ena Point, the western most point on the island of Oahu.  So, today I traded our Mustang convertible for a 4WD Jeep to access this area.

Kaʻena Point, from Makua to Waialua, is the site of the last intact sand dune ecosystem in Hawaiʻi and is said to be named after a sibling of the Hawaiian goddess Pele. Kaʻena Point also includes a leina ka ‘uhane, an important cultural site that, according to some Hawaiian traditions, is where the souls of the deceased leap into the next plane of existence and are reunited with their ancestors.  Ka‘ena is also home to various protected species including laysan albatrosses, wedge-tailed shearwaters, monk seals and fragile native plants.  Today was the first cloudy day of our trip and it started to rain as we entered the park.

At the end of the paved road, I put the Jeep into 4WD and we bounced and splashed over a rough one lane track for about a half mile until we reached a closed gate.

We sat there for half an hour deciding whether or not to hike further along the coast toward the point.  While waiting, a Hawaiian carrying a heavy ball on his shoulder passed by our Jeep. 

The weather forecast was rain for the next two hours.  So, we decided to head back toward Honolulu.  When we got to the paved road, we were stopped by police who said they were looking for the man that passed by our vehicle.  Continuing, we drove by a Space Force Station

And then stopped at Kaneana Cave (Makua Cave).  It is named for the Hawaiian god Kane, who represents the god of creation. For Hawaiians, this cave is believed to be the beginning of human creation.  

We had to be careful because Nanaue – Shark Man lives in the cave and is known to eat humans.  Our headlamps illuminated floral offerings left for Nanaue.

After returning to Honolulu, we walked Waikiki Beach and then had pizza while watching the Cincinnati Bengals defeat the Buffalo Bills in another NFL playoff game.


Photos from 1982 – >40 years ago!

Polynesian Cultural Center 1982

Coconut Dance

Dole Pineapple Factory

1/22 Su – Travel Day, dropped Helen off for her 8am flight to LA, returned to the hotel and prepared for my 3:15pm flight to Guam.  Arrived in Guam (8 hour flight) at 7:15pm local time 1/23/23 – I had crossed the International Date Line.  Took a taxi to the Guam Airport Hotel and crashed.

1/24 Tu – I was up early to catch my 8am (45min) flight to Saipan.  It is the main island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).  Landing on Saipan – Mt Tapotchao (1,545ft) in background.

My objective was to visit the American Memorial Park, which is an Affiliated NP Unit, as well as other sites on the island related to the Battle for Saipan during World War II.  It took place June 15-July 9, 1944, to unseat the Japanese occupiers.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. mobilized and started planning its strategy for the invasion of Japan. In order to do that, it needed “stepping stones” (islands) to move its forces and supplies closer to the objective.  The Mariana Island campaign was part of that strategy.  Our forces started with Saipan, then took Tinian followed by Guam.  My first stop was at the Japanese air raid shelters near the airport.

Some of the Japanese structures have been re-purposed.

Nearby is the Japanese Memorial of the Dead

Our forces attacked along the southwest coast of the island.  This is a coral reef area with beautiful sandy beaches.

Some armaments remain – an American tank that did not make it.

Japanese tank

The American Memorial Park is in Garapan, the capital of the CNMI. 

The Court of Honor and Flag Circle – The American Flag is displayed at the center of the Flag Circle and is surrounded by the flags of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard, the armed services divisions that participated in the campaign.

The Marianas Memorial is nearby – it is dedicated to Indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians of the Northern Mariana Islands who died during World War II. Caught in a war not of their making, the people of the Northern Marianas, like many civilians throughout the Pacific, became victims of war. The Marianas Memorial honors Chamorros and Carolinians who lost their lives as a result of war-related causes from the beginning of American aerial bombardment in Saipan on June 11, 1944, to the closure of civilian camps on July 4, 1946.

Ranger Kaneshi mailed me helpful information before my visit.

Watched the video, toured the museum, bought postcards and a park T-shirt

Drove to the North of the island, which was the last to fall to American forces. Last Japanese Command Post

Korean Memorial

Okinawa Memorial

Japanese Peace Memorial

As American forces progressed across the island, Japanese propaganda leaflets were distributed that stated the soldiers would kill all males and take the women and children away in their boats.  As a result, many individuals and families committed suicide.  This is Banzai Cliff, one of the places families came to die.  They would line up by age with the second youngest pushing the youngest over the cliff.  This would continue until the eldest jumped to his/her death.

Additional Memorials across the street

Another suicide location was “Suicide Cliff” in background.

The taking of the Japanese airstrip, which was renamed Isley Field, allowed our CBs to expand the runways to accommodate our long-range B-29 bombers.  

The subsequent taking of Tinian and Guam resulted in additional runways, which then permitted the U.S. to use its long-range bombers to bomb Japan.  August 5, 1945, the B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” took off from Tinian carrying the atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy,” which was dropped over Hiroshima.  Three days later, the B-29 “Bockscar” (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton OH) left Tinian and dropped a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” on Nagasaki, Japan.  The devastating results of these bombs led to the surrender of Japan, September 2, 1945, on the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.

I got settled in the Saipan Beach Hotel, and then went to the Naked Fish Restaurant across from the American Memorial Park for some delicious Fish Tacos.  I brought a roll of CNMI Quarters with the American Memorial Park on them for distribution while on the island.  These locals, building a traditional canoe at the beach, were happy to receive them.

1/25 W – Left Saipan at 9:50am and arrived in Guam at 10:35am.  Payless car rental upgraded me to a new BMW SUV, and I started driving south on Rt 1 along the west coast of the island.  This was my second visit here – see Blog for April 2015.  I passed through Hagatna (capital) and stopped at the Asan Beach Unit of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park.  This was one of two locations where U.S. forces came ashore on July 21,1944.

My next stop was the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center.  It was closed today but an employee kindly let me in.   

Agat Bay was the second location where US Marines and Army troops stormed the beach.

I had two objectives for this visit to Guam.  The first was an attempt to climb Mt LamLam (1,332ft) the highpoint of the island. 

I found the trailhead across from the Cetti Bay Vista Point.

I brought water and snacks and was ready to go at 2pm.  I carried my camera on a tripod in one hand and had my hiking stick in the other.  Mt LamLam on the left, Mt Jumullong Manglo (1,263ft), with a cross on top, is on the right.

The path (unkept trail) is steep and slippery in spots and passes religious altars and crosses along the ridgeline.  Locals carry big wooden crosses on their backs to the summit of Mt Jumullong Manglo early on the morning of Good Friday.

Umatac Bay from trail

Long story short, it was 90 degrees with high humidity and insects on a steep, rough, slippery trail through razor grass and thick vegetation growing over lava rock.  I made it about two-thirds up the mountain and decided that, for safety, I needed to turn around.  In fact, near the bottom, I slipped on some loose dirt and ended up with a few bruises on my left side and a swollen hand.  Thankfully, I protected my camera.  Here is a photo of the Cetti Bay Overlook taken from a point close to the bottom of the trail.

You will recall that I stated that Mauna Kea, the highpoint of HI, was the tallest mountain on earth, when measured from the sea floor – 33,000 feet.  Well, the greatest vertical distance between two adjacent points on earth is between the bottom of the Mariana Trench and the top of Mt LamLam – 37,533 feet.  Mount Everest is 29,032 feet.

An Oreo McFlurry seemed like a good option for a snack on this hot day.  I dropped my bags off at the Harmon Loop Hotel and proceeded to my second Guam objective – the Ritidian Unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge.  It was one of the highlights of our Guam trip when Helen and I visited in 2015.  I arrived at 5pm – check the hours on the sign.


Since I could not enter, I started searching a primitive back road for some other access to the beach.  After about a half hour I found the Ritidian Beach Eco Camp.  I took the steep descent to a structure just above the beach.  There was a small group there enjoying the beach and drinks in a pavilion.  I spoke with a photographer who was setting up his camera.  He stated that he photographed tourists as they did two ATV tours of the area.  The “Jungle Tour” was in the morning and the “Beach and Star” tour was in the afternoon and evening.   He was preparing for the latter.    

I noticed that my car was the only one down there, all the people had come in large ATVs.  I looked back at my descent route and saw why – a steep decline with a couple of sharp turns.  I carefully backed up and tried to go up – no luck, wheels spinning.  Fortunately, my BMW had 4WD.  After I locked into low, I was able to slowly make it out of there.  The photographer had suggested that I stay around until dusk to see him photograph the Korean tourists against a starry sky with the reflection of the moon over the ocean.  So, I parked at a spot I could exit from and walked back to the beach for a stroll.  The day tourists had left, and those that remained for star gazing and photos were off eating a prepared dinner.  So, I had the beach, all the way to the cliffs where the Wildlife Refuge was located, to myself.

It was one of those special times you have during your life – walking through small waves along a pristine beach while the sun set, and the moon and stars rose in the darkening sky.

I listened to the astrological lecture from the Korean tour guide (in Korean!) and then watched with interest as some of the clients posed for and paid for their photos.  You can get some idea of the kinds of photos taken from the pics that follow, but they cannot compare to the classy professional ones taken by the photographer.

As I was leaving, I had to be careful not to hit feral pigs crossing the road.

Got back to the hotel late, had a beer and snacks while I wrote my diary.

1/26 Th – Helen’s Birthday! 1pm 4-hour flight to Tokyo, 2-hour layover in the United Lounge, and then a 10-hour flight to LAX. The plane left Japan at 6pm and landed in LA at 11am on the same day I left (again crossed the International Date Line). The long flights on this trip had irritated my back, so I splurged and at the last minute bought a Business Class upgrade for $999 – very unlike me, I got my flight on rewards points.  BUT I was able to write in my diary, read, AND stretch out in a horizontal position and sleep!

Landing in LA – can you see the Hollywood sign?

Kate picked me up; we stopped at the bank to buy quarters – limit of $100 each.  I was searching for D mint marks on select National Park quarters to complete sets for our grandchildren.  That was followed by a stop at Vons grocery store.  Not surprisingly, we found Helen working with plants on Kate’s patio.  Kate prepared dinner and an apricot tort for Helen’s 78th birthday.

1/27 F – Goodwill shopping, exchanged quarters at the bank, and then foot peddled a Swan boat at Echo Lake.

We had a very enjoyable and delicious dinner at the Perch Rooftop restaurant overlooking LA.  This was a Christmas present (2022) from Kate.  She reserved the best (corner) table on the rooftop.  Not only that, the bartender knew how to make an excellent Manhattan!

1/28 Sa – Had our traditional large Mexican breakfast (brunch) at Millie’s and then drove downtown to the La Brea Tar Pits.

The tar, really asphalt, has been trapping animals for thousands of years, and is continuing to do so.

On-going excavations –

You can bring up holograms on your phone of some of the animals discovered here – great fun for kids like me.

We then drove to the Olvera Historical District and Mexican Market in central LA by Union Station. The Avila Adobe, part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, is the oldest building in LA (1818).  Had dinner at the El Paseo Inn; waitress made delicious fresh Guacamole at our table. Kate bought new sandals and a yellow woven blanket.  I thought they both deserved a serenade before we departed.

1/29 Su –Our flight departed LAX at 11am, we had a 3-hour layover in the United Lounge in Denver, arrived in Columbus at 10:30pm, and were home about midnight. 

It was an enjoyable trip with many concomitant learning experiences.


Lincoln Home NHS – IL

November 1, 2022

10/13/2022 Th – drove to Chicago, cards with Cathie and Jim

10/14 F – breakfast with Mike, then drove to Milwaukee to help the Martin family move into their new/old (1911) home.  House on move in day – before Baba and Gummy yard work –

10/16 Tu – House after Baba and Gummy yard work –

Seamus, Drago, Lena, Helen

Beautiful Stain Glass Windows

10/19/2022 W – 4.5hr drive from Milwaukee to Lincoln Home NHS in Springfield IL.

Illinois is known as the “Land of Lincoln.”  Lincoln was born in KY in 1809 (Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP).  When he was seven (1816), his family moved to IN (Lincoln Boyhood Home N MEM), where his mother died (1818).  His father remarried (1819) and in 1830, when the family was preparing to move to IL, Abe (21) struck out on his own and moved to New Salem IL, 20 miles from Springfield.  This is where Lincoln became a lawyer and started his law practice and from which he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly (1834).  He moved to Springfield in 1837, married Mary Todd in 1842 and purchased what is now known as the Lincoln Home NHS in 1844.  He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1847-1849.  He was active in the Republican Party and became the 16th President of the U.S. in 1861.  Lincoln was assassinated in Washington DC (Ford’s Theater NHS) on April 15, 1865.

2003 50 State Quarters Coin Illinois Uncirculated Reverse

Helen and I visited here in 1968 and we visited again in 1994 with Kate, Chad, and Helen’s cousin Damir.

On each of those trips we also visited Historic New Salem State Park in IL

Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield IL.  It is good luck to rub Lincoln’s nose!

Our first stop this year was at the Visitor Center

And then did the ranger house tour –

Some inside photos of the home – Sitting Room

Front Parlor

Dining Room


Lincoln’s Bedroom

Mary’s Bedroom

Boy’s Room

Mary Todd Lincoln

Campaign Wagon

Lincoln’s route to Springfield IL and Washington DC

The Dean and Rosenwald Houses

The Dean House contains models of the Lincoln home when purchased and through two upgrades

Boyhood home of Julius Rosenwald who would go on to become a partner in Sears, Roebuck & Company.  With the guidance of Booker T. Washington, he provided grants to establish more than 5,000 “Rosenwald Schools” in rural African American communities throughout fifteen southern states after the Civil War.  There is a proposal pending to establish a Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park.

Photo Spot – Lincoln’s House Becomes a Shrine


Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site – IN

August 31, 2022

9/3 F – drove to Indianapolis to spend the weekend with Peter and Heather as their guests (Christmas present), We walked the dogs, had pizza, and played cards.

9/4 Sa – stopped at the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site in Indianapolis.  Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis TN.  Robert Kennedy, who was in Indy and running for President, gave an impromptu speech speaking to a mostly African American crowd.  Authorities advised Kennedy not to speak fearing a riot.  Riots were breaking out all over the U.S.

Kennedy announced the assassination and spoke of how MLK devoted his life to love, peace, and justice.  He stated that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was also killed (1963) by a white man and that Americans must work at understanding why these things happen and rise above these tragedies. 

His improvised speech is credited with preventing a riot in the city.  The Black community felt genuine empathy in his words.  They heard a powerful speech emphasizing the need for healing in this country.

Next on our agenda was a one-hour boat tour through Bluespring Caverns in southern IN.

It is the longest known subterranean river cave in the U.S.  It is a karst (limestone) cave with about 21-miles of surveyed passages.

Continued to the West Baden Springs Resort Hotel outside of French Lick IN.

Built in 1902, with a 200-foot free-span atrium dome (largest in the world at the time) and extensive grounds, it was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Had dinner and breakfast the next morning in the impressive atrium

Helen turned $1 into $41.84 at the slot machines in the French Lick Casino!

Dinner in the Atrium

Ceiling Reflection off Glass Table

Evening of Pool, OSU Game (beat Notre Dame), and Euchre

9/4 Su – late breakfast at the resort with Peter and Heather and then a casual 3hr drive to the Cincinnati Airport.  My Alaska Air flight to Seattle left at 6pm, the next flight at 9pm, and I arrived in Anchorage at midnight. 


OH to CA National Park Units

May 31, 2022

4/6/2022 – Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Moccasin Bend National Archeological District of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Chattanooga TN.  This is one small segment of a route used to forcefully remove Cherokee and other Native Americans from their homelands to “Indian Territory” (now Oklahoma) from 1830 to 1850.

Brown’s Ferry, a part of the Federal Road connecting Chattanooga to points west, was on a route used to force Cherokee from their homes in GA after gold was discovered there in 1838. 

The Trail of Tears was a series of forced displacements of about 60,000 Native Americans as part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  The relocated peoples suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation – thousands died while on the trail.  Some have labeled this “American Genocide or Ethnic Cleansing.” How different is this from the forced relocation of Ukrainians from Ukraine?  This question could result in some interesting moral discourse.  Does it relate to Critical Race Theory?  

As mentioned, this unit is part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP – the marker describes how Federal troops crossed the Tennessee River on pontoon boats (October 27,1863) here and attacked the sleeping Confederates thereby opening a much-needed supply line to Union forces.  See this Blog for our January 2020 visit to this Civil War Military Park. 

On this trip, I started at Orchard Knob in Chattanooga where General Grant had his headquarters and a 360-degree view of the battlefield – including Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

The Illinois Monument

The view of Missionary Ridge

I then drove to the Sherman Reservation on Missionary Ridge and followed the ridge (some beautiful houses on this route) to the Chickamauga Battlefield in GA

Delong Reservation

Ohio Reservation – Lookout Mountain in distance

Bragg Reservation

There were many Medals of Honor awarded to individuals during this battle.  One was Arthur MacArthur; his grandson General Douglas MacArthur, Army Commander in the Far East during World War II, was also awarded the Medal of Honor.  He officially accepted the surrender of Japan aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  

I stopped briefly at the Chickamauga Visitor Center and then drove to Washington GA. It was now dark, and the Washington Historical Museum was closed.  The town square proved to be a good place to spend the night.

4/7/2022 – I was up early and drove about 7 miles to the Battle of Kettle Creek NMP, which is an Affiliated National Park Unit. I left my tripod in Chattanooga, so now I was using the end of my hiking stick, which has a screw to support my camera, for self-photos.  Of course, I had to search for a good spot to stick it in the ground so it would not fall over!

In early 1779, Patriot Colonels Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and Elijah Clarke joined forces (~380 militia) to overtake Colonel Boyd and his British Loyalists (~650 militia). On February 14, 1779, Boyd halted his troops for breakfast in a flat area between a steep hill and Kettle Creek. Pickens attacked. Boyd led a counterattack and was mortally wounded.

The Battle of Kettle Creek was the first major victory for the Patriots in the back country of GA during the American Revolutionary War.

My next stop was Freedom Riders NM in Anniston AL – Helen and I were here in March 2017 – see Blog.  Today I visited the NM Visitor Center, which is in the Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center.

“The Other Bus” – there was also another bus that was attacked the same day, May 14, 1961, in Anniston – a Trailways bus.

I then re-visited the Greyhound bus site in Anniston and drove to the location where it was burned.

Note how the sign describing the incident has been damaged.  I have found this to be a common occurrence in relation to Civil Rights historical signs in the South.

Also note the Confederate flag flying across the street!

I continued west to the Birmingham Civil Rights NM, just as we did in 2017.  The following are pics of related places that I did not cover in our March 2017 Blog post.  The first is the A.G. Gaston Motel, which served as the headquarters for the civil rights campaign in 1963. It is being refurbished as the NMs Visitor Center.

St Paul United Methodist Church was established in 1869 to allow newly freed African American slaves an opportunity to gather and worship.  It hosted mass meetings and was involved in nonviolent civil rights training including the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, established in 1992, provides a history of Civil Rights in Birmingham as well as cultural, educational, and research services related to the international struggle for universal human rights.

Additional photos from Kelly Ingram Park where, on May 3, 1963, police, canine units, and fireman attacked hundreds of peaceful student demonstrators.  Images of the use of brutal police force shocked the nation and world.

Drove SE and re-visited Horseshoe Bend NMP – see Blog for March 2017.  This is where, in 1814, Gen. Andrew Jackson’s forces killed more Native Americans than in any other battle in the history of the U.S.  I took additional photos in the Visitor Center.  Replica of the Upper Creek Indian Village –

This band of Creek Indians were called the “Red Sticks.”  They built an 8-foot barricade to protect their village.

I also did a video from this battlefield Overlook

I then drove to the Loachapoka AL Museum, which was closed.  Loachapoka was one of the larger settlements of the Upper Creeks before and after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  The Creeks that remained in this area were removed 1835-1837 (Trail of Tears) to Oklahoma (Indian Territory).  

There were also other historical markers outside the museum – Dr. Alexander Nunn

Loachapoka “Boom and Change”

Across the highway from the museum was the site of the First Rosenwald School.  There is currently an effort to establish a Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park.  

Julius Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, was a prominent philanthropist and businessman from Chicago. Driven by the Jewish concept of “tzedakah” — righteousness and charity — Rosenwald partnered with African American communities across the South to partially fund and build thousands of schoolhouses.

Constructed between 1912 and 1932, these “Rosenwald Schools” were some of the first permanent educational facilities for Black people in rural areas. Check out this map of the schools that the fund supported –

I then drove a short distance to Notasulga AL and visited the Shiloh-Rosenwald School, which still stands.  It was renovated in 2010.

The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church was one of the recruitment sites for the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.  Blacks were purposely infected with Syphilis – many are buried in the nearby cemetery!

I then drove to Selma AL, entering the city –

There were a series of events that took place in March 1965 that brought Selma to the International stage.  An old cotton port, Selma Blacks had half the voting-age-population in 1950.  However, due to literacy tests, poll taxes, and intimidation only 156 of about 15,000 African Americans were registered to vote.  In the early 1960s, a push for voter registration gained steam.  In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) joined forces with local leaders to organize “marches” for voter registration.  On March 7, 1965, John Lewis and Hosea Williams led a group of about 600 marchers over the Edmund Pettus (who was an AL Senator and a Grand Master of the KKK) Bridge.  The marchers were attacked by state troopers and local law enforcement, some on horseback, first with nightsticks, whips, and rubber tubes.  The attackers then donned facemasks and fired tear gas while continuing their assault.  John Lewis was badly beaten and almost killed in this attack.  This day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  Another larger march was then planned for March 21st to March 25th culminating in Montgomery AL, the state capitol.

The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, commemorating that march, begins in downtown Selma at the Interpretive Center

It then crosses the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge

The major purpose of the March was to demand the right of Blacks to vote.  It was a 54-mile march along US 80, the Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy) Highway! 

In 2019, Helen and I drove the March route, but it was too dark for photos.  Though I did get this one when I illuminated this sign for Campsite 1 with my headlights.

The Lowndes Interpretive Center for the NHT is near the Rosie Steele Farm, which was the location of the second of four march campsites.

After the S-M March, whites retaliated by forcing Black people off their land.  With no place to go, they set up a “Tent City” at this location.

On August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed the “Voting Rights Act,” which suspended literacy tests, called for the appointment of federal election monitors, and directed the US Attorney General to challenge the use of poll taxes by states.

Slept in Meridian MS

4/8 F – arrived at the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home NM in Jackson MS at 7:30am.  Minnie Watson of Tougaloo College had given us a personal tour here in January 2019 – see Blog.  Today, I stopped for some additional photos.  Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his home on June 12, 1963.

Visited John in Beaumont TX

4/9 Sa – 7hr drive to Palo Alto Battlefield in Brownsville TX. Visited here in May 2014 – see Blog.  The 2014 blog entry describes this first battle of the Mexican American War (1846-48).  The Mexican Army laid siege to Fort Texas on the Rio Grande River in May 1846.  Mexican General Mariano Arista then set 4,000 of his troops on the plain at Palo Alto.  General Zachary Taylor, who had just re-supplied at Port Isabel, attacked on May 8, 1846.

The Mexicans suffered heavy losses and moved south during the night.  They set up a defensive position at Resaca de la Palma.  Taylor attacked the next day.

The Mexicans were routed and withdrew across the Rio Grande River to Matamoros Mexico.

Cannon Memorial

The siege of Fort Texas on a bend in the Rio Grande River, was lifted.  Gen. Taylor had left 550 men here when he went to Point Isabel for supplies. Arista then retreated further to Monterrey. US losses were about 54 killed and 114 wounded. Mexican losses were 260 killed, 353 wounded, and 159 missing.  Zachary Taylor would go on to become the 12th President of the U.S. in 1849.  Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown for Maj. Brown who was killed during the siege. The fort was controlled by the Confederates during the Civil War.  The site eventually became the Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course and Texas Southwest College. 

The area near the river is now protected by the U.S. Army to prevent illegal immigration.  I spoke with some of the guards and was permitted to tour the Fort Brown site.

Cannon on former Golf Course

“After negotiations, Mexico accepted the Rio Grande as the Texas boundary and ceded the land between Texas and the Pacific to the US for $15 million.”

The Civil War Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHL is just east of Brownsville TX on Rt 4

The Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHS is nearby in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFS). This was the last battle of the Civil War (5/13-14/1865) and took place a month after Lee surrendered at Appomattox (4/9/1865). It was a Confederate victory!

Private John J. Williams of the Indiana Infantry, one of 118 U.S. soldiers killed, wounded, or missing at Palmito Ranch, was the last soldier killed in a Civil War battle.

Slept on the road –

4/10 Su – Gassed up in Marathon TX – note the old rolling digit pumps

Map – I entered Big Bend NP at Persimmon Gap

Helen and I were here for three days in 2006.  On March 5th, we drove to the East end of the park and took a short hike to the Boquillas Canyon overlook.  Mexicans had walked across the river and placed handicrafts for sale on the US side.  You could yell across the river and bargain, but we did not buy anything. We then did a nature trail at the campground and went to the mineral Hot Springs (where they empty into the Rio Grande River) for a dip in the 105-degree water.

We then drove into the central mountain area where we set up camp in the Chisos Valley and then went to the Lodge for soup and salad.

March 6, 2006 – we packed up camp, had some dry cereal and cranberry juice for breakfast and then drove to the Lost Mine trailhead.  We took a beautiful early morning 4-mile hike up along a mountain ridge with some great views. 

We then drove out of the park to Study Butte for lunch and continued on route 170 along the Rio Grande to the border town of Presidio.  There wasn’t much there (not even a pawn shop!) and we headed back on the same road.  We stopped at a sign that said Closed Canyon where Helen read in the car while I hiked about a half mile down a slot canyon toward the river.  There were places where I could reach out and touch both walls (50-60 feet high) of the canyon.

We then drove about 20 miles north of Study Butte to the outfitter (Deadriver Canoe Rental) where we were renting a canoe the next day.  No one was there but we found the owners in a nearby restaurant and were able to go back and set up our tent next to their business in the middle of the desert (outhouse but no water).  Thank goodness for the double air mattress because there was nothing but rocks.  We then drove back to Terlingua where we went to another authentic Mexican restaurant – Los Paisanos.  The women could not speak English, but her husband could, and he recommended one green and one red enchilada dinner.  We were the only ones there, sitting at one of their six small tables – the food was delicious!

March 7, 2006 – we again had our dry cereal and cranberry juice breakfast and then loaded the canoe on to the car.  It was about 25 miles back to Big Bend National Park and then another 40 miles through the park, stopping at viewpoints and taking short hikes, before getting to the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.  Hiked the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook Trail (1.6-miles) to scout the river. 

We then packed tuna fish sandwiches, snacks, light gear, and water in our dry bag and unloaded the canoe.  One of the outfitters there allowed us to use his dolly to roll the canoe about a quarter mile to the river. 

The water was low, and I had to drag the canoe to a point where we could start paddling.

But, because it was low, we were able to paddle about 2.5-miles upstream into Santa Elena Canyon.  This used to be a whitewater rafting river but dams in Mexico and New Mexico have limited the river flow.  We had to pull our canoe around some chutes and through some low water areas as we worked our way up through shear rock wall canyon. 

We stopped at a side canyon (Fern Canyon) in Mexico to eat lunch and relax before heading back.

I dropped Helen off at the put-in spot so she could drive the car about a half mile downstream where she could pull up right next to the river.  I paddled that stretch alone but it made it easy putting the canoe back up on the car.  We drove back to the outfitter, dropped off the canoe, packed up our tent, and drove to Alpine TX where we got a room (with meager continental breakfast) in the old Bien Venido motel ($40).  We again went to a Mexican restaurant and again had green enchiladas (the authentic ones are round) for dinner – before we left on this trip, we decided to maximize our Tex-Mex meals!     

Now fast forward to April 10, 2022 – my first stop in Big Bend NP on this trip was at the Fossil Discovery Exhibit.

Did the short hike for a view of the Chisos Mountains

Then toured the Fossil Discovery Exhibit

A Pterosaur hangs above the main hall.  It is thought to be the world’s largest flying creature of all time!



Volcanic Highland Environment

Floodplain Environment – note mural at bottom

Marine Environment

Big Bend NP Topo model at Panther Junction Visitor Center

Drove 7-miles down a rough gravel road to get to the trailhead for the Grapevine Hills (Balanced Rock) Trail.

It is a 2.2-mile out and back trail.  You start in a sandy wash and then move up through a boulder field.

You gain about 200ft in the last quarter mile.  Watch out for snakes –

The Reward – A Big Balanced Rock

Steep descent

After returning to Rt 118, I took a short hike into the desert to get this shot of Croton Peak with a flowering Ocotillo cactus in the foreground

Hike to Maverick Badlands Hoodoo

Presidio – Oldest Town in America

West TX windmill – an Aeromotor, made in Chicago

Stopped in Marfa TX for lunch (Tacos) and to visit the Blackwell “Mexican School” NHS, which has been proposed as a NP Unit

In 1889, the Methodist Church was converted to a school in the Mexican community.  The children were required to speak and write only English.  The school closed in 1965.

The Blackwell School Museum tells the story of de-facto segregation in TX – 1910 photo

It was a “Red Flag” day, meaning very high winds.  Winds were 25-35mph with gusts up to 60mph. When I placed my camera on a tripod and set the timer to get in a picture, the wind blew it over breaking the camera!    I took this photo with my phone.

Purchased a camera at Walmart in El Paso TX, then drove into New Mexico where I slept in the SUV off I25, somewhere around Truth or Consequences NM.

4/11 M – drove North along I25 to Fort Craig NHS (BLM).  I25 follows the Rio Grande Valley, which was the route of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior Lands)– the Spanish Road/Trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe (1,600-miles long).  It is a NPS National Historic Trail. 

This is a New Mexico State Monument titled “Road of Dreams” by the sculptor – commemorating the El Camino Real.

This sign is at Fort Craig

After the Mexican American War (1848), the U.S. acquired the lands north of El Paso and established forts to protect trade in the new Territory of New Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.  The Socorro Garrison was established in Socorro in 1849.  It was replaced by Fort Conrad in 1851, and then by Fort Craig in 1854.

This is a BLM National Historic Site

Fort Craig was at the center of the largest U.S. Civil War battle in the Southwest – the Battle of Valverde. Texas Confederate General H.H. Sibley captured military installations in El Paso and started moving up the Rio Grande Valley.  The goal was to capture Fort Union in northeastern NM, the Colorado gold fields, and then the ports of CA.  Sibley moved past Fort Craig because he did no want to risk a frontal attack on the well protected fort.  On February 21, 1862, Colonel E.R.S. Canby led Union troops, and a contingent of New Mexico volunteers commanded by Kit Carson, out of the fort and attacked the Confederates at the Valverde crossing of the Rio Grande River.  The Confederates prevailed and the Union troops retreated to the fort.  However, half of the Confederate supply wagons were destroyed. Sibley continued north and Fort Craig was never taken.   The loss of the remaining Confederate supplies at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, east of Santa Fe near Fort Union, on March 28, 1862, forced the Confederates to retreat to Texas and ended Southern aspirations for military conquest in the West.

After the Civil War, troops stationed at the fort resumed their attempts to control Indian raiding. 

Troops from Fort Craig included Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and 38th and 125th Infantry, pursued Geronimo, Victorio, and other hostile Native Americans.


I continued north to re-visit El Morro NM. This sandstone promontory, with a pool of water at its base, has been a stopping place for thousands of years.  It is on a main east-west trail used by Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and Anglo-Americans. 

The Zuni call this rock formation Atsinna, which means “place of writings on rock.”  The Spaniards called it El Morro, which means “The Headland.”  Those that followed called it “Inscription Rock.”

Today I did the Inscription Rock Loop Trail.

My first stop was the pool at the base of the rock wall –

The sandstone provided a ready surface for petroglyphs, names, dates, and short descriptions left by those who passed this way. 

Most of the inscriptions are now hard to read.  This is the oldest Spanish inscription, made in 1605.

Another example of what inscriptions look like today and a clear one from 1849.

In 1998, Chad and I did the 2-mile Headland Loop Trail to the top of the mesa

I took his photo of Chad from the Astinna Village Site atop El Morro.

This display in the Visitor Center shows the location of the Zuni Pueblo (green) west of El Morro. 

In 1982, after visiting El Morro, Helen, Stacy (10), Peter (9), Kate (1), and I where able to climb a ladder to a balcony overlooking the internal courtyard of the Zuni Pueblo at dusk and watch a REAL “Rain Dance.”  This was not for tourists; we were the only Anglos there – no speaking and no photos.  It was incredible to watch and listen as the dancers, mostly male elders, emerged from the kiva and danced about the courtyard.  They were dressed in their Zuni regalia (think Kachina Dolls), chanted, and danced to the sound of drums.  One of my favorites were the “Mudhead Clowns,” who act as disciplinarians and jokers.  They had red clay painted bodies and their masks were formed by mud balls with human-like features.   

The rock wall had protected me from the wind at El Morro, but as soon as I started driving west my gas mileage dropped!  When I arrived at Petrified Forest NP in AZ, I again had to deal with high winds.  I was afraid to set up my new tripod and camera, so I took a selfie. Because of vandalism and poaching (petrified wood/rocks), you must enter the park before 5pm.  If you are in the park, you must be headed for an exit at 5pm.

This was my third visit to this NP.  We had visited as a family in 1982 (Stacy 10, Peter 9, Kate 1, no Chad yet).  In 1992, the visitors were Tom, Helen, Kate, Chad, and Manuel our student from the Canary Islands.  Photos taken on the Painted Desert Rim Trail in the northern part of the park (off Interstate 40) – Peter (1982)

Manuel (1992)

Tom (2022)

Old Route 66, now Interstate 40 passes through the park – that is a 1932 Studebaker

Puerco Pueblo occupied 1250-1380 CE

Newspaper Rock

The Tepees

Hiked the 3.5-mile Blue Mesa Trail in 1982 and 1992

Stacy 1982

Kate, Manuel, and Chad 1992

Kate 1992

Giant Logs 0.4-mile Trail

In 1992, we combined the Long Logs Trail and the Agate House Trail for a 2.6-mile hike

Kate in the Rainbow Forest Museum, 1982 and 1992


I had to rush to get to Canyon de Chelly NM before dark.  Ancestral Pueblo Groups in the Four-Corners Region – #16 is Canyon de Chelly.

I did three stops on the South Rim Drive.  First the Tunnel Overlook

Second, Tsegi Overlook

Third, Junction Overlook where I met Samuel Thomas, a Navajo selling carvings from cottonwood trees in the canyon and one of his wife’s paintings.

Canyon de Chelly NM was one of our first stops when Stacy (15) and I did our 1987 road trip together.

We started our day by doing the short (0.4-mile) Spider Rock Trail

Spider Rock is 800ft tall.  According to legend, Spider Woman lives at Spider Rock, and taught the Navajo how to weave.

We then did the White House Ruin Trail (2.7-mile), which descends 600ft into the canyon.

It is named for the long white plaster wall in the upper dwelling

Hogan – the Navajo are still farming the canyon floor

Slept in Winslow AZ

4/12 Tu – I texted family, “I was just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona,” from the song titled Take it Easy by the Eagles 1972.  On my way to Lake Mead NRA – See Blog April 2021 for other visits.

I stopped at Katherine Landing on South Lake Mojave just upstream from the Davis Dam on the Colorado River

Colorado River Dams