Archive for the ‘Tom’ Category


Indiana Dunes NP

October 12, 2019

9/9/2019 – Left Springfield at 2pm EST, arrived at the Visitor Center at 5:30 CST. Unfortunately, they were now on winter hours and closed at 5pm. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was elevated to National Park status in 2019. The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center now serves as the NP Visitor Center. The NP runs for about 15miles on the south shore of Lake Michigan.

I started by driving to Mt Baldy at the eastern end of the park and hiking the trail to the beach

Note the Nuclear Power Plant on the left, near Michigan City IN

I next visited the 1933 Century of Progress Homes by Dunbar Beach

Armco-Ferro House

The House of Tomorrow – “America’s First Glass House”

The Florida Tropical House

South Shore Line RR Station, you can take the commuter train from Chicago to the Dunes!

Dunes Park RR Station

This is Porter Beach, which is adjacent to the Indiana Dunes State Park (now a part of the National Park). I believe this was the beach I first visited with my family and cousins in the late 1940s!

As you can see the sun was now down. Next stop Chicago.


I have visited here at least five times. The following are photos from a 1994 visit

Kate, Damir, Chad, Helen

Tom climbing Mt Tom (192ft) in Indiana Dunes State Park



NP Unit Road Trip – SD, WY, MT, and ND

September 27, 2019

8-10 Sat – Smoky Bear’s Birthday! (75) – I’m older than the bear –

8-11 Sun – drove to Chicago, visited Mike, Cathie and Jim and then continued to Madison WI (500mi). I slept in the Sequoia (SUV) in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express

8-12 M – 725mi to Minuteman Missile National Historic Site SD, arrived at 3:30 Mountain Time

There were 3 Missile Squadrons located around Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota

Number of Nuclear Warheads represented by cylinders. Blue U.S., Orange Soviet Union; from after World War II on left to 2010 on the right.  Height of orange plastic on wall represents total.

Specific dates on which the world could have ended!!!

After the Visitor Center, I drove 5mi west on I90 to the Delta-01 control and launch site. I had hoped to take a tour, but they were booked two-months in advance. They only allow 6 people per group (2 ladders to negotiate), as a result tickets are very much in demand.


I was ahead of schedule, so I decided to re-visit two NP Units. The first was Badlands National Park, which was only a half-hour away.

My first stop was the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

Some formations look like sandcastles

Models for Dodge pickup truck hood ornaments, male Bighorn Sheep – Rams. Rams are about the same size as football players. Seems a good name for the LA football team; they even crash their heads together!

Mrs. Bighorn Sheep (Ewe)

There is nothing like seeing animals in their natural habitat

Colorful formations

Formed by Volcanoes

1969 visit

2007 visit


My second NP Unit re-visit was that evening to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills. After paying for parking ($5 Sr), I walked past the Avenue of Flags to the Grand View Terrace

It was now dark, so I returned to the car to get my headlamp in order to hike the Presidential Trail

I began by taking the Nature Trail to the Borglum View Terrace

Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to carve the memorial in 1925. He died in March 1941. His son Lincoln oversaw carving until it was finished at the end of October that same year.

The Sculptor’s Studio is right below the terrace

Carving the faces

The Presidential Trail (0.6mi) starts at the Sculptor’s Studio

It includes 422 stairs as it ascends to viewpoints right below the faces

It was a clear night, I laid on my back and viewed the night sky. It was the peak night of the Perseids meteor shower. The Perseids are produced by the comet Swift-Tuttle and radiate from the constellation Perseus. I reveled at the sight of numerous “shooting stars.” But what really amazed me where what appeared to be little red round balls that moved very fast with many quick changes of direction across the sky. I had never seen these irregular patterns before and was awestruck by the display.  But, were they meteors or UFOs?

1969 visit – Helen


Chief Liz Guz and his flower children

I slept at the Wrinkled Rock Climbing Area in the Black Elk Wilderness of Black Hills National Forest


8-13 Tu – Drove through the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park to Wind Cave National Park

Prairie Dog Town

Hiked the 1mi Rankin Ridge Loop Trail to the Lookout Tower at 5,013ft

This is an active Lookout Tower

I like this back lit photo of a lone buffalo in the forest

Ranger Nick replacing a worn sign at a turnout. It describes the formation of the Black Hills

The Visitor Center had the expected displays on Wind Cave, caving, bats, native Indians and animals

Caving – There were no tours because the elevator was out of service. Fortunately, I had done the tour in 1969

Wind Cave ceiling boxwork, one of the highlighted cave formations

Posters describing caves that are Units within the National Park System


It was only 0.75hr (32mi) to Jewel Cave National Monument, some think that Wind Cave and Jewel Cave systems may be connected

The elevator here was out-of-order as well. I was told a week earlier that it would be operational by the time I got here. Nope, fake-news, it would be “a few more days.” Like Wind Cave, I had already done the standard Scenic Cave tour in 1969. I was here this time to get some usable pictures, which did not happen back then. The good news was that I was there just in time to get the last ticket for the Historic Lantern Tour, which uses the historic entrance to the cave. I had just enough time to do a quick tour of the Visitor Center.

The tour starts 1mi west at the historic cabin built by the CCC in the 1930s

Only lantern light is permitted – no headlamps or cell phones! Also, you had to choose between carrying a lantern OR a camera – I chose my camera. So, I had to walk between two people who had lanterns.

“The Historic Lantern Tour takes place through low, narrow passages by lantern light. You will stoop, duck walk, and navigate narrow wooden stairs (~600 steps) to view the cave from an unpaved, rocky trail. This strenuous ½-mile route lasts about 1 ¾ hours.”


A 4.5hr drive took me to north central WY and the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark (USFS).  The drive west through the mountains on 14A was scenic but had lots of curves. Checkout the descent going toward Lovell.  Why such a nice roadside map?  Answer, no cell phone service!

I had seen Medicine Wheel NHS in my Rand McNally book of state maps (WY) when I was planning my trip and decided to check it out if I had the time. Oral histories provided by Native Americans indicate that the Medicine Wheel extends back in time through many generations. Artifacts and other archaeological evidence indicate that the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain NHL has been visited by Native Americans for nearly 7,000 years. There was helpful information posted at the kiosk by the trail head.

As indicated on this map, the trail to the Medicine Wheel (9,643ft) is 3mi round-trip

On my spirit quest, I passed two pairs of Native Americans

This photo was taken just below and SW of the Medicine Wheel looking back SE toward the top of Medicine Mountain. As seen near the center of the photo, there is an FAA Radar Dome on top of Medicine Mountain (9,962ft) that monitors air traffic over WY and MT.

Five Springs Basin is on the right

Research suggests that the Medicine Wheel is a composite structure with the central cairn and some outer cairns constructed earlier than the rim and spokes. Native American spiritual practices prescribe traditional uses in distinct portions of the landscape, including areas for staging, approach, ceremonies, prayer and vision questing, camping, and medicinal plant gathering. Native American ethnographic accounts refer to the Medicine Wheel as the “altar” for the Medicine Mountain complex, illustrating the important central role the Wheel plays in ceremonial and spiritual functions.

According to Wikipedia, “The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.”  The Medicine Wheel is about 80ft in diameter and has 28 spokes. The longest spoke extends beyond the circle and aligns with the direction of sunrise at the start of the summer solstice.

No entrance without permit

Prayer offerings hanging from rope


I arrived at the southern end (WY) of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area at dusk

As I was driving N through the Recreation Area (RA), I happened upon some wild horses as the moon was rising in the east

This part of the RA is within the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. I took these pictures the next day –

I continued N into MT and stopped at the Devil Canyon Overlook. I took a video there right after sunset. I slept in the SUV at Barry’s Landing, a boat access to Bighorn Canyon, which is at the end of Rt 37.  Laid down on my Thermo-Rest in the SUV at 10pm with just a sheet covering me (68 degrees), got in a fleece bag at 1am (55 degrees), got in my down sleeping bag at 4am (43 degrees).


8-14 W – Good Morning!

Off with their heads!

My first stop was the Caroline Lockhart Ranch

A 0.5mi trail leads to the well-preserved ranch buildings

Note the log construction and the sod roofs

The Davis and Cottonwood Creeks provided the life force for the ranch

Lockhart began ranching at 56 years of age

On my way back south into WY, I again stopped at Devil Canyon Overlook for more videos and still shots

View North


View South – reminds me of the Grand Canyon

The Yellowtail Dam in MT creates the Bighorn Lake, which extends 70mi south through Bighorn Canyon into northern WY. The Shoshone River empties into the lower end of the lake. I did the 10am 2.5hr boat tour from Horseshoe Bend Marina in WY north to just past Devil Canyon Overlook in MT. It was worth the $45 cost.  Heading into Bighorn Canyon

Female Mountain Sheep

Devil Canyon Overlook (left center) from the Lake

1,000ft straight up

Smooth ride on the “Lake” through the canyon, no longer the rapids of the Bighorn River

The Amphitheater

The Keyhole, just left of the upper center of photo

Leaving the Bighorn Canyon NRA, OK, those are little horns, NOT bighorns

The Bighorn Canyon NRA Visitor Center is in Lovell

6.5hrs to Butte MT, an SUV cleaning, a Tom clean-up, and a sleep in a Quality Inn


8-15 Th – 6:15am start, followed by 2hrs of scenic travel along the Big Hole River, winding through mountains, over hills, and grasslands. This is cattle country, few people other than sporadic trout fisherman trying their luck. Passed through the hamlets of Divide, Wisdom and Wise to Big Hole National Battlefield.

View from the Visitor Center

I hiked all the trails indicated on this map

This is the site of the largest battle fought in the five-month conflict known as the Nez Perce War. I started by doing the 1.6mi (roundtrip) trail to the Indian encampment.

About 750 non-treaty Nez Perce camped here thinking the US Army, which was chasing them, was far behind

They were wrong, troops attacked their encampment at daybreak on August 10, 1877

My pre-visit reading had stated “Hikers should keep an eye out for ground squirrel dens/holes, which can easily be stepped into.” They were right, I was concentrating on taking a photo, stepped back, and down I went! This was the location of Chief Joseph’s Tipi.

There were 89 tipis set up along the North Fork of the Big Hole River

After the initial attack, the Nez Perce counter-attacked and drove the soldiers back across the river.  They dug trenches on the bluff as they were surrounded by the Indians. Meanwhile, three Nez Perce captured the Howitzer canon that was being brought up to support the troops and disabled it.

Siege Site and monument to the Americans killed. Of the 162 military and 34 volunteers, 31 were killed and 38 wounded.

View looking back across the Big Hole River toward the encampment. It is estimated that 60 to 90 men, women, and children were killed in the attack. During the night, the Nez Perce withdrew before Army reinforcements arrived.

The Nez Perce National Historic Trail – there are 38 separate locations in five different states, following the flight of the Nez Perce tribe from the U.S. Cavalry. After the battle at Bear Paw in northern MT, September 30 to October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph surrendered and stated, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” However, Chief White Bird escaped with about 300 Nez Perce into Canada (~40mi).

The following display is in the Upper Missouri River Breaks NM Interpretive Center (BLM) in Fort Benton MT

Visitor Center – The Thief Treaty

This small monument to the Nez Perce killed in the Big Hole battle was originally located on the battlefield. It was regularly vandalized. So, it is now in the Visitor Center.


2hrs (85mi) NE to Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, working ranch run by the NPS

First stop, the Visitor Center

Johnny Grant and Conrad Kohrs

Old Photos

Howdy Partner!

Brick extension (1890), original white frame ranch house (1862) on right

Did the house tour, unfortunately, no photos allowed. It had an eclectic combination of period ranch items and quality furnishings from around the globe. Both Grant and Kohrs were international travelers. View from back porch –

Bunkhouse Row

Western Trails – this ranch is in Deer Lodge MT

Garden, back of house, and chuck wagon on right

I “loved” the Chuck Wagon, even had a personal talk and cup of Cowboy Coffee with Cookie.  Water boiled in a coffee pot over a fire, coffee thrown in, settled to bottom, and then poured. I had a caffeine high for the next three hours!


“Cookie” – the most important member of the cattle drive


Blacksmith Shop

Variety of Horse Shoes

Variety of Cattle Brands

Tipis would be set up outside of the Trading Post.  The first floor of the 1862 house was the Trading Post, the second floor was the residence.


4hrs to the West entrance of Glacier National Park. I had not planned on going into the park but having arrived 5min before the Apgar Visitor Center closed, I couldn’t resist!

Glacier National Park is part of the Waterton – Glacier International Peace Park World Heritage Site.

On both of my previous visits here, I started in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Climbing Mt Crandell (7,802ft) in 1967. Prince of Wales National Historic Hotel (1927) and Middle Waterton Lake can be seen in the background. We also did the boat tour on Upper Waterton Lake into the U.S. and back.

Helen climbing Mt Crandell in 1969, Upper Waterton Lake in background

Tom on the Rocks

Pat, Helen, Tom, Cecile, Mike 1969

Two Babies

Bison Paddock in Waterton Lakes NP

In 1967, after Jay and I crossed the border into the U.S., we hiked into Glacier NP along the Belly River Trail. We laid out our sleeping bags and slept in the woods. The next day we discovered that two young women had been killed in the park the previous night by grizzly bears!

On the previous trips I drove from East to West and hiked several trails. This time, I drove West to East on the Going-to-the Sun-Road. I opened the sunroof and all the windows on the SUV and breathed in the mountain air! This sign was at the SW end of Lake McDonald (3,200ft), 3.4 miles from West Glacier, 28.6mi to Logan Pass (6,646ft) – see bottom of sign.

Lake McDonald (3,153ft)

McDonald Falls

McDonald Creek

Going – Up

Heavens Peak

Looking back at the U-shape of a glacier carved valley


Mountain Goat

Cecile Martin at Logan Pass 1969

Logan Pass 2019

Eastward descent from Logan Pass

Global Warming – Jackson Glacier

There may be NO glaciers in Glacier NP for our great-great grandchildren

Hiked the Sun Point Nature Trail to Saint Mary Lake

Famous view of Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake from Rising Sun – looking West

Attended a Dark Sky program at the Saint Mary Visitor Center

Slept in the parking lot of the Snowgoose Grille in Saint Mary


8-16 F – Took Rt 89 and then Rt 49 south to East Glacier Park Village, and from there, Rt 2 east to Marias Pass (5,216ft). A new National Monument titled Badger-Two Medicine (B2M) has been proposed on Lewis and Clark National Forest land west of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and SE (across Rt 2) from Glacier NP. This 200 square mile area is called B2M for the two rivers, the Badger River and the Two Medicine River, that begin in snowfields and rivulets along 30mi of the Continental Divide and then flow east through this area. The area is referred to as the Rocky Mountain Front, where the mountains meet the prairies. The B2M area is an important spiritual retreat and sacred to the Blackfeet people.

Montana’s Indians, the Salish, Kootenai, and Blackfeet, frequently crossed the pass to hunt buffalo and raid their neighbors. The pass was “discovered” in 1889 by John F. Stevens an engineer for the Great Northern Railroad. The RR would finish their line over the pass in 1891. The statue of Stevens was dedicated in 1925.

The obelisk is a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt and was dedicated in 1930 after the highway was completed over Marias Pass.

The Lewis Overthrust Fault is in Glacier NP

The Continental Divide Trail crosses Rt 2 at the Marias Pass Historic Interpretive Site

I had difficulty getting information on how I could access the B2M area. My first attempt was a 4WD road extension of the Pike Creek Road Forest Service Access. I had to back up for about 100 yards and turn around when I got to this point.

To be sure I had hiked in the B2M area, I did parts of three different trails. The first was a 1mi out (south) and back on the Continental Divide Trail.  I made sure I had my water, snacks, hiking stick, and was wearing my “bear bell.”

The second hike was on USFS Trail 101, which is off of a road that leads to Rising Wolf Ranch

The third hike was on the Lubec/Buffalo Lakes Trail (USFS #100) off of Rt 2

I hiked for about an hour, until I was above Lubec Ridge and Buffalo Lakes. I took a nice video from that point.


A 20min drive from the trailhead took me to Browning MT, which is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It is the location of the Museum of the Plains Indians.

Blackfeet Nation Agency

East of Browning, off Rt2, is a monument to commemorate the northernmost campsite of the Lewis and Clark expedition – Camp Disappointment. Read the sign to discover why it was a disappointment.  The obelisk monument is on the ridge just to the left of the sign.

The site is on private land within the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. That might have something to do with the graffiti.


3.5hrs (200mi) to Fort Benton MT and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Interpretive Ctr (BLM)

The monument spans 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River from Fort Benton to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge

Flags of Indian Nations

Displays on history

Geology and Paleontology

Steamboat Era

The Cow Island Incident

Fort Benton has done a great job of developing its riverfront into an attractive, informative, and welcoming area for locals and visitors. Keelboats preceded steamboats for transport up the Missouri.

The Montana Memorial

I drove a lengthy but interesting route through the National Monument. I covered about 180 miles, with over 100 miles on gravel roads where I did not encounter another car. . My first stop of note was Decision Point.

This reminded me of Helen telling me which way to go –

Nice view of the confluence of the Missouri and Marias Rivers

I then drove a circular route, first Rt87 N and then Coal Banks Landing Road south to Virgelle Ferry. I crossed the Missouri River on the quaint state ferry.

I then drove back to Decision Point on the south side of the river. That gave me a good feel for this part of the monument. The land surrounding the river is rugged “uplands,’ commonly referred to as the Missouri Breaks. In 1976, Congress designated the 149-mile segment of the Missouri River that runs through the monument as a National Wild and Scenic River.

I then drove Rt87 N again, this time to Big Sandy and then took Rt236 S to Judith Landing

Camp Cooke and Claggett Hill Trail

The “Staff of Life,” a strong wind blowing the wheat made it look like waves on the ocean

I arrived at the James Kipp Recreation Area campsite in the Charles M. Rusell National Wildlife Refuge at 10pm. Thus, I joined the Nez Perce, Lewis & Clark, and other sojourners who have passed through this wild and scenic area.


8-17 Sat – 5hrs (280mi) to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site ND

It is in ND just across the MT border

Fort Union was an American Fur Trading Outpost located on the Missouri River just west of its confluence with the Yellowstone River

Description of Lewis & Clark “Stepping Off the Map” at Fort Union

Bastion, front gate, and giant fur press on right

The window to the left of the front gate was a trading wicket

Missouri Breaks can be seen looking west through the front gate

Trade rooms adjacent to front gate

Trading wicket (window) in middle of photo

Bourgeois House (Visitor Center) from one of two stone Bastions. Golf cart was not there in 1833!


Trade Goods

Trade Furs

The Missouri River was a 1,800-mile water highway between Fort Union and St Louis

I had the pleasure of meeting the Maitlands here. They stated they were the first family to have completed all National Park Units! They were here with exchange students from Denmark and Germany.

After touring the fort, I hiked to the Bodmer Overlook. The sign states that it is 1-mile roundtrip and takes about one hour. I agree with the one hour, however, I think it is closer to 2-miles roundtrip. Afterwards, I returned to the fort and suggested that the ranger re-examine the length of the trail.

View from the overlook

1833 painting of the fort

The Missouri River can be seen behind Fort Union

A 5min drive took me to Fort Burton State Historic Park. It is located right at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Lewis & Clark camped near here in 1805.

It was the site of Fort Burton, which was a U.S. military post from 1866 to 1895. This was the site of Lakota Chief Sitting Bull’s surrender in 1881.

It was time for another oil change, so I headed to a new Jiffy Lube in Williston ND. Afterwards, I asked for the best place in town for a steak. I was directed to the Williston Brewing Company. I had a 12oz prime rib dinner and an Oil Bust beer to wash it down! This was one of two big dinner “splurges” I had on this trip.

Prime Rib Dinner Williston NDb


1.25hrs (70mi) to Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND, I had visited the South Unit in 1991

On this trip, I explored the North Unit

There are more National Park Units associated with Theodore Roosevelt than any other person

Bentonite, a fine-grained blue-gray clay, defines the badlands’ landscape

Resident Buffalo Herd

Don’t Mess with the Buffalo!

I did the 28-mile Scenic Drive to the end of the road at the Oxbow Overlook of the Little Missouri River

From there, as the sun was setting, I did the 1.2mi trail to Sperati Point

Interesting “brain” stones

View south from Sperati Point

I slept in the Juniper campground


8-18 Sun – I was up early, which is a good time to view wildlife

River Bend Overlook – “The View that Launched a Park.” Note the 1937 CCC shelter on the right

I started on the Caprock Coulee Trail; however, it was way too muddy. I was carrying an extra three pounds of mud on each shoe! So, I moved on to the Cannonball Concretions area.

West side of butte

Fascinating formations – called concretions.  NOT carried here, but formed within the sediment layers of the badlands

East side of butte

Did the Little Mo Trail, 1.1mi rt, to get a close-up view of the Little Missouri River

Formation of a “Slump Block”


I drove east on Rt200 through new “fracking fields.” This previously sparsely inhabited area is now booming with construction. I was surprised to find new “roundabouts” out in the middle of nowhere! On the other hand, ND has done little to improve their road signs – they are terrible!


The 110-mile trip to Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site on the Knife and Missouri Rivers took 2hrs.

The park encompasses the sites of three Indian Villages

There were many Indian Villages along the Missouri River

Many informative displays in the Visitor Center


How the Indians used all parts of the buffalo

Re-creation of an earth-lodge at the Awatixa Xi’e Village (lower Hidatsa Site) near the Visitor Center

I then walked to the Awatixa Village (Sakakawea Site) on the Knife River

Lewis & Clark arrived here (confluence of Knife and Missouri Rivers) in October 1804 after a 1,600-mile trip up-river from St Louis. They built Fort Mandan where they spent the winter of 1805. They hired Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sakakawea (Sacagewea) to serve as their interpreters for their western exploration. Sakakawea gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste at the fort. Clark nicknamed him “Pomp.” Pompeys Pillar National Monument in MT (BLM) is named after him. Lewis & Clark stopped here on there return trip in August 1806. Charbonneau, Sakakawea, and Pomp resumed their lives in the village.

I then drove a short distance north to do the trail to the Big Hidatsa Village Site, the third village site in the park


2.5hr drive to Rugby ND and the Geographical Center of North America

A half-hour north is Dunseith ND, where they have this large turtle – made from wheel rims

Fifteen minutes further north is the U.S.-Canadian border and the International Peace Garden, which is an Affiliated National Park Unit. Half of it is in the U.S. and half in Canada. CAUTION, if you plan to visit, be sure you take your passport or your driver’s license and birth certificate to get back in the U.S.! Standing in Manitoba Canada, looking back into the U.S. and the Duty-Free shop where I bought a liter of Jameson Irish Whiskey for Chad.

U.S.-Candian Border

Looking east, back at the entrance ($20 per vehicle). The grand opening marker cairn (July 14, 1932) can be seen in center of photo.

I drove all the roads, making several stops. There is a 3.1-mile loop in the U.S. (left). There is a 1.5-mile loop in the center, the Formal Garden (green) – The U.S.-Canadian border goes right down the center. There is a 3.5-mile loop in Canada (right).

Promise of Peace Sculpture dedicated 2016

A waterway runs from the Peace Chapel on the west end to the entrance on the east end

9/11 Memorial Site containing steel girders from the Twin Towers in NYC, Carillion Bell Tower in background

The 9/11 Memorial was constructed by the government of Manitoba

Floral Clock, 18ft high


9.5hrs to Hixton WI, where I slept in the Sequoia at a gas station on I94


8-19 M – 3hrs to the Martins in Milwaukee


8-20 Tu – 2hrs to Chicago, spent the day with my brother Mike


5.5hrs to Springfield, drove 5,400 miles.  Arrived home 3:30am 8/21 W – much to Helen’s surprise!



Reagan Boyhood Home NHS in IL, Keweenaw NHP and Father Marquette NMEM in the UP of MI

August 22, 2019

7/24 W – 6hrs to Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site, Dixon IL (Authorized) $8 adult, CST. Statue of Reagan has kernels of corn in his hand – signifying that he was a product of IL. Reagan was our 40th President and served two terms (1981-1989).

This modest 1891 Queen Anne style house was rented by the Reagan family from 1920 to 1923 (when Reagan was roughly 9 to 12 years old). Though the family moved from the house they remained in Dixon throughout the former president’s formative years; Visitor Center on left.

Born in Tampico, Illinois, on February 6, 1911, Ronald Reagan and his family moved many times during his childhood.  This is the site of his earliest childhood memories, and a place he recalled with great fondness. The gable roofed, two-­story white frame house is a typical late 19th­century small ­town American home.

Our tour guide explained that Reagan hid his pennies under a tile in front of the fireplace

Downtown Dixon IL, monument on the Rock River

The Lincoln Highway – The nation’s first coast-to-coast Highway! U.S. 40 and now Interstate 70 carry Americans from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Towed a U-Haul trailer with cast iron patio furniture, a bed for Lena, etc. to the Martins in Milwaukee WI and spent the night


7/25 Th – 5hrs to Baraga Lakeside Inn, in Baraga, MI for the Highpointers Club annual convention


7/26 F – Convention activities


7/27 Sat – 8am breakfast and then 0.75hr to Keweenaw National Historical Park, Quincy Unit. From 7,000 years ago to the 1900s people mined Keweenaw copper. Native peoples made copper into tools and trade items. Investors and immigrants arrived in the 1800s in a great mineral rush, developing thriving industries and cosmopolitan communities. Though the mines have since closed, their mark is still visible on the land and people.

Quincy Mine from the Quincy Dry House Ruins

Arrived 15 minutes before the Information Desk opened in order to be on the first mine tour, $22 Sr for 2hr tour

Walked around the grounds before the tour. The tall building is the No2. Shaft-Rock House (1908), the stone building in the foreground is the Old No.2 Hoist House that operated from 1882 until 1894

Railroads were extremely important in order to bring in supplies and ship out the ore

The Old No. 2 Hoist House that operated between 1894 and 1920 is on the left and the Old No. 2 Hoist House (Nordberg) that operated from 1920 to 1931 is on the right

The tour started in the Old No. 2 Hoist House (1894) Museum

Had some time to go through a few displays in the museum before the tour

Ready to start the tour

Cog Rail Tram (built for tours in 1996) descending to early mine opening. Our guide was excellent – knowledgeable and articulate

Entering mine

Copper ore

Sledgehammers and handheld chisels gave way to two-man drills, and then one-man drills that used air compressors. Each time technology advanced, fewer miners were needed. Strikes were called because of job cuts and low wages.

We returned to the Nordberg Hoist House to get an explanation of its operation. See the gigantic spool on the right.  It connected by steel cables to Shaft-Rock House elevators

When the mine opened in 1840, miners used hand tools and primitive dynamite

This was Manual Labor


Nice schematic of Shaft-Rock House on left and the Nordberg Mine Hoist on the right

Shaft-Rock House – Ore cars on left, man-cars on right

Men were moved up and down by man-cars, while water was pumped out of the mine, and ore was brought up to start processing

Final shaft length was 9,260ft. Final shaft depth was 6,225ft, over a mile underground!

From the mine, I drove 15min NE to Calumet MI, this is the entrance to downtown off Rt41. The Park Headquarters is across the street.

That is almost 5 tons of copper! The building in the background is the Keweenaw History Center

The former St Anne’s (Roman Catholic-French Canadian) church is now the Keweenaw Heritage Center. The Keweenaw NHP Visitor Center is located in the Union Building on the right, a former lodge hall for various fraternal organizations.

It contains many interesting exhibits

Copper Timeline (see the bottom of the photos) up to 1917; copper production on the peninsula ceased in 1968 with the closing of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company

MI copper in the Statue of Liberty

This exhibit describes the Miners’ strike of 1913-1914

Woody Guthrie wrote a song titled the “1913 Massacre” about a fire that killed over 70, mostly children, that was suspected to have been set by company hires during the strike.

Together with nearby Isle Royale, Keweenaw is the site of the world’s largest deposit of nearly pure copper. At this time, it is not cost effective to mine. Chili is currently the #1 producer of copper, followed by Peru, China, and the U.S.


I continued NE on the Copper Country Trail National Scenic Byway (Rt 41) to Copper Harbor near the end of the Peninsula

Copper Harbor Lighthouse (1848)

The building and wreck of the John Jacob Astor

Fort Wilkins – 1846-1870

Start (End!) of the Road – US 41

Returned to the motel, cleaned-up, and attended the 33rd Highpointers Club Konvention banquet in L’Anse.  There was a presentation by three of the 5 or 6 men who attended the 1st Highpointers Club meeting here in 1986.  I became a member in 1987.


7/28 Sun – 4hrs to Father Marquette National Memorial in Straits SP, St Ignace MI, immediately N of the Mackinac Bridge

This is an Affiliated NP Unit – inside of Memorial

Lots of information here, on the wall, and in the floor!  The travels of Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet

I especially liked Father Marquette’s account of his exploration of the Mississippi River with Jolliet – on the wall

I hiked the loop trail

Nice views of the Mackinac Bridge – the Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron


I have always been interested in canals and locks that provide connections between bodies of water. In that vein, I have wanted to see the Soo Locks that are on the U.S.-Canadian border and that allow ship traffic between Lake Superior and Lake Huron and onward to the Atlantic Ocean. I had been in St Ignace twice but did not do the 45min drive to the end of Interstate 75 and the Canadian border. Well, this time I did.

The US Army Corp of Engineers has an award-winning Visitor Center and viewing platforms at the locks. They are left center in this photo. St Marys Falls can be seen on the right side and Sault Ste. Marie Canada is on the far right.

Ship traffic from Duluth MN to the Atlantic Ocean and vice-versa

Informative cross-section showing depth of the water course

1845, before the first lock was constructed, they had to move the ships around St Mary Falls by hand

The “old” locks

Ding-Ding, or is it Ding Dong?

Dates of improvements/expansions

I watched the passage of two ships “downbound” – toward the Atlantic Ocean

The Alpena, note how the lock operation lowers the ship

Road construction on I75 slowed my drive (7.5hrs) to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta OH. It is a privately-owned unit in the Dayton Aviation Heritage Area.

July 20, 2019 was the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing. Neil Armstrong, of Wapakoneta OH, was the first human to set foot on the moon. He stated, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin of the Apollo 11 mission also walked on the moon. Together, Armstrong and Aldrin spent a little over 2.5hrs on the moon, while Michael Collins piloted the moon orbiter.

Arrived home at 11pm, this was a 1,200-mile road trip around Lake Michigan


I am going to publish this entry as August 2019, so my blog entries are sequential. However, I am submitting it today (9/22/19) as President Trump is visiting the new Pratt Industries plant in Wapakoneta. Anthony Pratt, the richest man in Australia, a Trump supporter, is welcoming the President.



NP Unit Road Trip OH, KY, MO, NM, CO, UT, and NE

July 5, 2019

The following describes a 6,400 mile National Park Unit road trip to sites in OH, KY, MO, NM, CO, UT, and NE

6/11 TuWilliam Howard Taft National Historic Site. Helen and I did the house tour on one of our trips to Cincy, however, I did not have any photos. So, I felt I had to return.

27th U.S. President, 1909-1913

He was the only President to have also served as chief justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930)


3hrs to Mill Spring Battlefield National Monument KY. This was the site of the Union’s first decisive Civil War victory on January 19,1862; 4,400 Union troops turned back about 5,900 Confederates. It became a National Monument in 2019.

I began my tour by walking through the adjacent National Cemetery. Union casualties amounted to 40 killed, 207 wounded, and 15 missing; Confederate losses were 125 killed, 309 wounded, and 95 missing.


I did auto tour stops 1-8 (15mi) driving from the Visitors Center south to the Cumberland River

There was an interesting 0.5mi trail at Zollicoffer Park where the fiercest fighting took place

Confederate Cemetery

Zollicoffer monument

Ferry Landing on Cumberland River


4.5hrs to Parker’s Cross Roads National Battlefield Park TN (Affiliated Park Unit).

In late 1862, Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry campaign (1800 men) in Western TN had been successful in harassing Union forces, destroying railroads, and disrupting communications. When Forest reached Parker’s Cross Roads on December 31st, a part of Brig. Gen Jeremiah C. Sullivan’s (3000 men) Union forces under Col. Cyrus Dunham tried to cut Forest off from retreating back across the Tennessee River. Forest successfully attacked Dunham and demanded an unconditional surrender, Dunham refused.

Forest was then attacked from the north by the other part of Sullivan’s forces under Col. John Fuller. Forest ordered attacks on both fronts and then retreated across the Tennessee River to Lexington TN.

The Confederates had about 500 casualties and the Union 237. Because Forest had been successful in his Western TN campaign up to this point, and was able to escape, Confederates called this a victory. However, Union forcess claimed victory as well. A Confederate bias can be noted in this description.

In April 1864, troops under Forrest’s command massacred Union troops who had surrendered, most of them black soldiers along with some white fighting for the Union, at the Battle of Fort Pillow. Forest joined the Ku Klux Klan in 1867 and was elected its first Grand Wizard.

Drove to Dyersburg TN where I had soup and salad at a Chick-Fil-A. Afterward, the Sequoia would not start. I tried to jump the battery; that didn’t work. Then I replaced the battery (Advance Auto Parts) and it still would not start! Slept in Chick-Fil-A parking lot. Bright lights, but I had the foresight to bring eye blinders; so, I didn’t have a problem sleeping.


6/12 W – had Sequoia towed to Toyota dealer. A part in the shifting column had broken and they could not get it until the next day. I walked downtown, toured the county courthouse, and had lunch (5mi round-trip). Note the Confederate Monument.

I picked up about 35 aluminum cans for recycling on my way back to the dealership. They pushed the Toyota to the outside parking lot so I could sleep in it that night.


6/13 Th – Unlucky 13? – parts came in but no new bolts. I told them to put it together anyway. I learned how I could start the vehicle manually, even if the gear connection broke again. I was on the road by noon.

7hrs to George Washington Carver National Monument MO. We had visited here in 1982 on our way to HI.

Though closed, I was able to do the 1-mile loop trail

This was the first park to honor an African American scientist, educator, and humanitarian. He is perhaps most famous for his discovery of various ways to use peanuts.

The “Boy Carver” (tripod moved when shutter clicked)

Moses Carver Home

I stayed in a Fairfield Inn (free with points) in Oklahoma City. We have always had good experiences with them but this one was a dive.


I had planned to return to Fort Smith NHS AR and Chickasaw NRA OK (formerly Platt NP) for pictures but had to cancel this part of my trip due to the loss of 1.5 days


6/14 F – 8hrs to Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque NM. This stop was not in my plans but added when I was able to get here before the Visitor Center closed. Chad and I did the NM in 1998 on his 15-year old Road Trip.

Let’s see, at 1 park a day – that would only be 50 days; a nice two-month vacation!

Those who value National Parks –

After touring the Visitor Center, I drove a few miles north and hiked the Mesa Point Trail in Boca Negra Canyon

Those who do not value National Parks –


It took 1.5hrs to drive to the El Malpais NM Vis Ctr off of I40. The black areas are lava flows.

This was my third time visiting the monument. Today I concentrated on the National Conservation and Wilderness areas and started by visiting the BLM Ranger Station.

Sandstone Bluffs Overlook – where sharp lava meets smooth sandstone, elevation 6000-7000 ft

Did the hike to La Ventana Natural Arch

1hr to Airbnb in Cochiti Lake, NM; I traveled 870 miles today!


6/15 Sat – I was the first one at the entrance gate to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (BLM) at 7am. There is limited parking in the monument. Only 96 vehicles are allowed in at a time. After that, you must wait for someone to leave before you can get in. Wait times may range from 30 to 90 minutes.

The hikes here were some of the best of my trip

Formation of Tent Rocks

I started with the 3mi rt Slot Canyon Trail, gain 630ft


Hiking through the slot canyon was great fun

More here than rocks

Start of climb to overlook


Descending to the 1.2mi Cave Loop Trail


1.5hrs to Bandelier National Monument – As I was passing Santa Fe, I saw signs for Bandelier NM, which was right on my route. So, I decided to go. This was my second visit; first visit was 1982. I discovered I had to take a 20min shuttle into the monument from White Rock. Well, I just missed one, so had to wait 20min for the next one. As soon as I arrived at the Visitor Center, I picked up the monument brochure and stamped it with today’s date.

Frijoles Canyon

Because of limited time, I only did the 1.2mi Main Cliff Dwellings and Long House ruins trails.

Oval shaped Tyuonyi Ruins

1982 photo


Close-up of kiva


We were told there would be a shuttle returning at 2:30, so I hustled to make it and was there on time. However, there was no shuttle until 2:50. This snafu put me an hour behind and I was afraid I would not get to Valles Caldera National Preserve before it closed.


I took Rt4 W from White Rock and arrived at the Valles Caldera Visitor Contact Station at 4pm.

That gave me 1hr to enjoy the Preserve. About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.

There were hundreds of Elk but the herds could only be seen with binoculars

I got directions from the volunteer ranger to my next stop – Chaco Culture NHP. I took back roads and 4WD tracts that had recently opened after enough snow melt. I took a 4WD Rd off Rt 126 into the Santa Fe National Forest and slept in the SUV.


6/16 Sun – It went down to 31 degrees! I got up at 4am (full moon) and made it to a 24/7 truck stop to get warm!  It was Father’s Day; every member of the family called at some point (when I had cell service)

3.5hrs to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Rt7950 that enters the park from the NE and is poorly maintained. It is a terrible “washboard” road; so, you bump your way into the park!  Canyon was central to thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D.  It was good to tour in the morning before it got too hot.

This location was the Center of Chacoan Culture for the entire region

It is a World Heritage Site

I hiked to several of the “Great Houses”