Archive for the ‘Tom’ Category


OH to FL Some NP Units in TN, NC, SC, GA, FL, and AL

January 26, 2020

1/13/2020Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area KY and TN, visited the park headquarters, also see Blog October 2009

East Rim Overlook of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River

Stopped at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in NC to add to my photo collection from October 2010 (see Blog for that month)

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Continued to Sassafras Mountain (3560ft), the highpoint of South Carolina

The new viewing platform is on the border between South Carolina (SC) and North Carolina (NC)

There is now a view from the top

Which did not exist in 1991, there was a fire tower there in 1988 (book pic)

1/15 – NP Unit stops in SC, first Ninety Six National Historic Site, this was one of many Revolutionary War Battleground sites in the Southern Colonies. We also visited in March 2016 (see Blog).

The first Revolutionary War battle in the South took place here on November 19, 1775; 1,900 loyalists attacked 600 patriots. After two days of fighting, they agreed on a truce. However, in June 1781, Nathanael Greene attacked and laid siege to the loyalists/British in the fort. He was not successful. The loyalists left the village in ruins in July and tried to destroy the star fort when they left, ending the existence of the village.

Why is it called Ninety Six? The location was at the intersection of two Indian paths, one from what is now Augusta GA to Camden SC. The other was called the Cherokee Path and it went from Charleston to the Cherokee town of Keowee. Ninety Six was 96 miles southeast of Keowee. After the Revolutionary War battle at Ninety Six,

I was disappointed that the ranger would not allow me to hold an old rifle for this photo.


Congaree National Park was our next stop. It is one of the smallest (by area) National Parks. Gateway Arch (St Louis) is ~91 acres – in my opinion it should be a National Monument or National Memorial NOT a National Park! It is a man-made structure with nothing “natural” about it! Hot Springs NP in Arkansas is the next smallest (#2) at ~5,500 acres. Number three is the National Park of American Samoa at 8,257 acres. Then #4 is Virgin Islands NP at 14,940 acres. Congaree NP is #5 at 26,539 acres.

I am going to start with our 2006 visit here – 10/13/2006Congaree NP is one of the most biodiverse in North America and protects the largest contiguous area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining the U.S. We toured the visitor center, watched a video, and then took the 4.4-mile Weston Loop Trail, at first on a boardwalk and then through the swamp. Notable sites included the bald cypress trees, cypress knobs, and moss-covered trees.

AND, we came across a five-foot long black snake that wouldn’t move off the trail. It looked as though he had recently eaten; we counted 19 bumps along his body! I took a video of the interesting water beetles on Cedar Creek. They would move together in a compact circle or long column and then, for no apparent reason, would start a wave action through the water. The rangers said they had never seen that before.

The next day, we stopped at a supermarket to buy food and then drove to Carolina Heritage Outfitters home base in Canadys SC on the Edisto River at 10am to pick up our canoe. We packed our gear and were then driven to our put-in location off US 21. The Edisto is a clear “black water” River that flows through bottomland swamp on its way to the Atlantic. On average, it was about 40 feet wide with a lot of strainers (fallen trees) near the banks. It was fairly shallow in most places and often had a very inviting sand bottom. However, we did not go in due to the unseasonably cold weather. We stopped in the sun on a sandy bank for lunch and enjoyed the tranquility of our environment.

Helen did a good job paddling (I couldn’t slow that woman down!) and we covered 13 miles with a 40-minute lunch stop in 3 hrs. 45 min.

So, we got to our “Tree House” earlier than expected. We were told it would take 5-6 hours.

The “Tree House” was not built in a tree but rather on stilts among the trees. It had stairs to a platform where there was a picnic table and grill and then more stairs to a one room “cabin” in the trees. Inside there was a little table, pull out couch, and gas grill for cooking. I laid out our sleeping bags in the loft overlooking the river and we then walked around the area. There were three “Tree Houses,” (out of sight of one another) on the river. Only two were in use, ours and one occupied by five female middle school teachers. When we returned, we had chips, salsa and beer outside at the picnic table and then Helen grilled a steak for dinner. As it got dark, I lit the Tiki torches around the platform and got out the oil lamps so we could see our dinner and then play Scrabble. It was cold (40s, we had on all our layers) but fun. The only “downer” was Helen’s mood when she lost at Scrabble!

I was up early the next morning to light the lamps, start the little heater, and prepare breakfast. I used the items left for us in a cooler – starting with the sausage in a seasoned iron frying pan followed by eggs over easy in the sausage grease.

We also had OJ, rolls, jam, plums, and made some hot tea. Helen was invited out of her sleeping bag at the proper time and we enjoyed our breakfast in the trees.

The next morning, we launched the canoe into a river mist among cypress stumps at 8am for the 12-mile paddle to the Carolina Heritage home base. The river became a bit wider, but we still had to be careful as we moved around the many strainers. During our two-day paddle we were treated to the site of wild turkeys, heron, egrets, and many other birds. We were told we missed the alligators because of the cold weather.


Today, 1/5/20, we started at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center

Harry was instrumental in passing legislation to preserve the largest remnant of old growth floodplain forest in the SE U.S.

Helen watched the park video as I did as much of the boardwalk self-guided tour as I could.

The Congaree River was in flood stage. So, I was unable to complete the loop or any other trails


Two more hours took us to Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, it is on the E side of Charleston Harbor not far from Fort Moultrie, which is part of the Fort Sumter NHP.  Pinckney is not a recognizable name to most Americans but he was an important figure in his day (1757-1824).

We returned to this site (were here in March 2011 – see Blog) for additional photos, to watch the video, and to walk the Nature Trail.

Charles Pinckney – Statesman, he is in the famous “Signing of the Constitution” (1787) painting by Louis S. Glanzman.  Pinckney represented South Carolina and was one of the drafters of the document.

The Nature Trail borders a tidal wetland, mosquitoes in January!

It leads to the location of the slave community

We arrived at our friend Karen’s home in Beaufort SC about 5pm


1/16 – Beaufort SC, Reconstruction Era National Monument has now been changed to Reconstruction Era National Historical Park. It has four sites.

We visited all four sites last year – see Blog for February 2019; however, the Vis Ctr was not yet open.

So, this year, we visited again during our stay with Karen in Beaufort


1/17 – Our first stop was Fort Pulaski National Monument outside of Savannah GA

It is named for Polish (Lithuanian) Count Casmir Pulaski who was killed (age 33) during a cavalry charge on the British lines during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. Pulaski was born in 1746 in a Lithuanian Province of Poland. He arrived in America in 1777 and joined the American Revolution fight for the cause of “Liberty and Freedom from British Tyranny.”

Visitor Center


Drawbridge and Entrance

We first visited here with Kate and Chad in 1996 when we did a side-trip during the Atlanta Olympic Games.

The fort was begun in 1829, after the War of 1812, as part of a systems of forts along the East Coast.

It was completed in 1847 but was not armed or garrisoned in 1861 when the Civil War began.

Some armaments – I love cannon pics!

It was immediately occupied by the Confederates (SC Militia)

On April 10, 1862, when the Confederates refused to surrender, the Federals started to bombard the fort with new rifled cannon from Tybee Island.

The fort walls, brick masonry, were not built to withstand this weapon, today and 1996

After 30 hours of bombardment, Col. Charles H. Olmstead surrendered.

After Federal control, the fort was a magnate for escaping slaves

Cockspur Island Lighthouse


Next, 3hrs to Fort Caroline National Memorial; it is a little east of Jacksonville FL. It shares a Visitor Center with Timucuan Ecological Historic Preserve. We visited here in March 2011 – see Blog.

Map from the late 1400’s – note, NO North America!

Commander Jean Ribault explored the area in 1562. He returned in 1564 and built a village and fort called La Caroline (land of Charles) to honor King Charles IX of France. Fort Caroline was constructed on the River of May (now St. Johns River).

River of May

In 1565, Admiral Pedro Menendez attacked Fort Caroline from his base in St Augustine. The Spanish slaughtered the inhabitants only sparing women, children, those that professed to be Catholic, and a few artisans that were needed in St Augustine.

The French exacted their revenge in 1568. They attacked and destroyed the fort, killing all that did not escape, and then sailed back home. However, France would no longer challenge the Spanish in the “New World.”

French Memorial Trail

Fort Caroline today

Timucuan “Friends”

Early drawings of Timucuan Indians

The local Timucuan Indians numbered in the tens of thousands when the Europeans arrived. They were ravaged by disease and by attacks from Spanish and British raids. There were only about 100 left when they emigrated out of the area in 1763.


The Ribault Monument, on the St Johns River, is also within the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.  Photo from 2011.


It was now time for a hike. I started at the Spanish Pond and hiked the Spanish Pond Trail, the Timucuan Trail, and the Willie Brown Trail – about 3 miles.

This was a one-way hike.  Helen met me at the Theodore Roosevelt Parking Area

The 600-acre Theodore Roosevelt Area of the Preserve was donated to the Nature Conservancy by Willie Brown who grew up, lived, and died on the property. Willie was offered millions by developers but instead donated the land to protect it for future generations! The NPS acquired the property in 1990.

One of my objectives was the Viewing Tower at Round Marsh

This was the site of Willie Brown’s Cabin


We stopped briefly at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine for a photo. We have visited here several times in the past, most recently March 2011 (see Blog)

Had fish tacos in St Augustine and then drove an hour south to Fort Matanzas National Monument. We took a boat to the fort in March 2011 – see Blog. The fort was built here in 1740 to protect St Augustine.

This is also the area where in 1564 Adm. Pedro Menendez de Aviles slaughtered about 115 Frenchmen who were trying to get back to Fort Caroline after their fleet was shipwrecked on Cape Canaveral during a hurricane.

We stayed at a Fairfield Inn in Palm Coast FL


1/18 – “Holed-Up” entering Canaveral/Merritt Island National Seashore

We were at the Apollo Beach Vis Ctr at 9am when it opened. We were disappointed to learn the rocket launch scheduled for today at the Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) had been canceled. This was the second time this had happened to us – see Blog March 2011, at the National Seashore.

Toured the Vis Ctr and watched the video

Turtle Mound

Ocean View from top of Turtle Mound 2011

Afterward, dropped Helen off at the parking lot for Beach #3. She walked north along the seashore searching for shells and picking up trash.

Meanwhile, I did the Eldora Hammock Loop starting with a short walk to the Eldora State House.

I then did the 0.5-mile Eldora Hammock Nature Trail

I continued to the end of the road and headed to the water

And walked about a half mile through the surf

Portuguese Man of War – Jelly Fish

Next, hiked the 0.5-mile Castle Windy Nature Trail to Mosquito Lagoon

Mosquito Lagoon

Picked up a tired Helen at the Parking Lot for Beach #2


Mistake, I drove through Miami trying to avoid the Florida State Tollway on our way to Key Largo. My bad, that resulted in a seven-hour drive to Key Largo instead of five! We arrived at our Airbnb condo in the Kawama Village HOA at 7pm.


1/19 Sun – settled into the condo and toured the grounds. They are still repairing units damaged by Hurricane Irma last year.


My dream SUV was parked by the wharf. A Ford EarthRoamer XV-LTS F-550 Off-Road RV, carbon fiber, marine grade, solar, with 41” tires, etc. – about 650K. The 2017 HD F-750 Super Duty, 46” tire model I saw online was 1.5 million!

Each afternoon, Helen swam laps in the 90-degree pool. Today, we went to the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge after her swim.

Very much enjoyed the “Butterfly Garden.”


We then did a hike in the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock. Ate dinner at “The Catch” restaurant.  We chose the “Fish of the Day.” You then select among 20 different ways you would like it prepared. Helen chose blackened and I chose grilled. We played games every evening at the condo – Aces to Kings, Skip-Bo, and/or Farkle.


1/20 M – MLK Day, 15min to John Pennekamp Coral Reef SP. We did the 9am 2.5hr Snorkel Trip to Molasses Reef

It is part of the NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Good snorkeling, would have been better if it were sunny

Did some sunbathing on Cannon Beach

Then returned to the condo and rode bikes to Key Largo Fisheries for take-out shrimp and blackened Mahi-Mahi, plus Key Lime Pie!


1/21 Tu – very windy today, low 60s in the morning, cold front coming in. Drove south 1.5hrs on FL State Rt A1A, the “Overseas Highway,” to the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key, only a half hour from Key West.

How do you tell an Alligator from a Crocodile?

After a picnic lunch, we did the short Blue Hole Nature Trail

And then the Watson and Manillo Trails

As can be seen, they did a controlled burn here last year

Did not see any miniature Key Deer. However, there is a photo of some later in this post when I describe our stop in Everglades NP.  The smallest deer in the U.S. are in FL.  The further north you go, the larger they get – e.g. for a very long time the record for largest deer in the U.S. was a deer shot in Ohio.

It was too windy to sunbathe in Bahia Honda SP, so we drove to Boot Key for a walk on Sombrero Beach. It was a nice, no fee, substitute.

We stopped briefly at the Dolphin Research Center

And this tourist trap on our way back to the condo

As we drove North, stopped for a short walk at the new, very nice, Anne’s Beach on the south end of Lower Matecumbe Key. It would be fun to spend the day at one of their eight single table picnic pavilions right above the beach.

Had a rotisserie chicken for dinner in the condo and played games


1/22 W – 41 degrees, wind 35mph, Wind Chill 31 degrees. It was raining Iguanas – literally! They fall from the trees and then are comatose until the temperature rises.

We had planned on using the condo kayaks today – no way. Had a lazy day; Helen did laundry and swam in the heated pool. We visited Captain Slate (SCUBA Adventures) on Islamorada Key. For years the Wittenberg SCUBA class would do its checkout dives with him. Splurged for our last night in the Keys by first enjoying the sunset on the Morada Bay Beach

And then having dinner at Morada Bay Beach Café. Calamari and fish tacos.


1/23 – 2hrs to the Shark Valley entrance to Everglades National Park

Entrance at Shark Valley, we have visited all major parts in the Everglades. Also, see Blog April 2009

Love those birds –

We visited here in 1976 with Stacy and Peter, this pic is on the Boardwalk trail near the Visitor Center

Now you must walk, bike, or take the tram along the route on the right to get to the Observation Tower

In 1976, you could drive the route. A nice hike is to take the tram to the Observation Tower and walk back along the Shark Valley Trail. That is were I took the pic of the miniature Key Deer

Of course, alligators are all over the place

On that same trip, we did a ranger boat tour from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center by Everglades City

And we camped in the Flamingo campground

In 2004, we did the Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail

It was great fun paddling through the mangrove tunnels and marshes

You look for and follow the white poles, so you don’t get lost!

You never know what you may find –

I sunk about 1.5ft into the muck to take this photo


The Big Cypress National Preserve was only about ten minutes west on the Tamiami Trail (Rt 41). We have visited the Preserve many times as the Tamiami Trail, runs right through it. We have done the Loop Road (gravel) through the Preserve twice (2004 and 2009) – see Blog for April 2009, later in this posting for 2004

What is the difference between a National Park and a National Preserve?

Oasis Visitor Center posting of Birds, Mammals, Snakes/Lizards, Fish, Reptiles/Amphibians, Turtles, Flowers, Butterflies, and Dragon Flies seen here.

Keepers of the Swamp – Alligators

Be careful, alligators can run up to 15mph – can you?



We made a brief stop in Ochopee, which has the smallest Post Office in the U.S. Of course, we had to send the kids (grandkids) postcards from here.

Our next stop was the new Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center near the west end of the preserve. The Halfway Creek Canoe Trail starts near there. I would like to paddle it to the Gulf Coast Vis Ctr someday.

Welcome Center

Alligator nest

The cold weather in the Gulf drove the manatees inland – lucky for us!


In 2004, we did the 10-mile Loop Road (gravel) through the Preserve and highly recommend that route. We stopped many times to view wildlife.

My favorite part was the Muck Walk over hammocks and through the swamp. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes covering your ankles or higher because the rough limestone underneath is potted and sharp. Also, watch out for snakes and alligators, tremendous biodiversity.

Helen’s favorited parts were the 1950s gas station and dumpster diving


Had dinner with Bev and Mike in Ft Myers and then stayed in a nice Fairfield Inn near the Tampa airport


1/24 F – Off at 7am, 4hrs to Fort St Marks National Historic Site, approved by Congress (1952) but FL did not donate the land. Therefore, currently, it is not a National Park Unit. It is now San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, however, it was known as Fort St. Marks by the English and Americans. Note the Spanish, English, American and Confederate flags.

The Spanish first built wooden buildings and a stockade in the late 17th and early 18th centuries here, which were destroyed by a hurricane. The stone fort was built beginning in 1753. It came under successive control by Great Britain, Spain, the United States and, lastly, the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederate Army built a Marine hospital from the materials of the fort. The US took control of the site again in 1865, and the fort site was abandoned. There is a $2 Museum admission.

In 1818, after Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated the British (War of 1812) in the Battle of New Orleans (1815), he took Fort San Marcos from the Spanish.

After two Seminole Wars and FL statehood in 1845, a hurricane destroyed the fort in 1851

The Union lands at St Marks – The Battle of Natural Bridge, March 6, 1865

We did the Historical Trail

We also visited the nearby St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf coast, south of Tallahassee


3.5hrs to Andersonville National Historic Site GA, stopped for a few more pics since it was on our way home. We did an extensive tour here in February 2017 – see Blog

Andersonville was a Confederate Prisoner of War Camp during the Civil War

Atrocious conditions

Deaths in Civil War Prisoner of War Camps – Confederate and Union, 58,000 men died in captivity!

This is also the location of the National Prisoner of War Museum.

The museum tells the story of the suffering of American soldiers over the past two centuries


Stayed in a Fairfield Inn in Warner Robins GA


1/25 Sat – Arrived at Ocmulgee National Historical Park 10min east of Macon GA at 8:45, 15min before the Vis Ctr opened

This site is one of many Mound Group sites around the Midwest

Artifacts found at this site go back over 10,000 years

Getting ready for a hike around the site

Start of hike, Great Temple Mound in distance

17,000 Years of Continuous Human Habitation!

First stop, the Earth Lodge

Iron Horse Desecration of the Mounds (1843 and 1873)

Great Temple Mound

View from top of Great Temple Mound looking NW toward Funeral Mound, Lesser Temple Mound, and the Trading Post Site

Descending the Great Temple Mound, Ocmulgee River below


3.5hrs to Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Late summer 1863 the Confederates abandoned Chattanooga TN to the advancing Federals, the Confederates withdrew 26 miles to the SE, the Chickamauga battlefield (GA). The Union forces (~70,000), led by Maj. Gen William S. Rosecrans, followed. On September 19, 1863, the Confederates (~66,000), led by Gen. Braxton Bragg, attacked the Federals at Chickamauga and pushed them back into Chattanooga. They then occupied Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, thereby preventing most Federal supplies from entering the city.

This was the first National Military Park authorized by Congress (1890). It was dedicated in 1895. In 1933, all the National Military Parks, administered by the War Department, were transferred to the National Park Service.

Chickamauga was a Confederate victory (September 1863). Chattanooga, which included the Battle for Lookout Mountain (a diversionary attack) and the attack on Missionary Ridge (November), was a Union victory and opened the Union route into GA.

Electronic depiction of the Battle of Chickamauga

Battery Wagon sponsored by the Chicago Board of Trade

There is an interesting 7-mile driving tour of the Chickamauga battlefield

Chickamauga Confederate Monument

Brotherton cabin, where Confederates broke through Union defenses

Wilder Brigade Monument, “Union Col John T. Wilder’s brigade of mounted infantry, armed with Spencer repeating rifles, halted a portion of the attacking Confederates. The “Lightning Brigade had the only Union success on this part of the field.”

Snodgrass House on Horseshoe Ridge

Defense of Snodgrass Hill

After the Union defeat at Chicamauga, Lincoln sent reinforcements including Maj. Gen Joseph Hooker, Maj. Gen William T. Sherman, and replaced Rosecrans with Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The Battle of Lookout Mountain, also called the “Battle Above the Clouds,” took place on November 24, 1863. Maj. Gen Joseph Hooker’s troops, partially protected by heavy fog, took the Confederate fortifications on Lookout Mountain.

Lookout Mountain (2,389 ft) overlooks the Moccasin Bend (~680 ft) of the Tennessee River. Hooker’s attack was a diversionary tactic and the main Union force attacked Missionary Ridge to the east of Chattanooga.

Point Park is located on top of Lookout Mountain.

A little cold today but hey, it’s January!

1996 photo

New York Peace Memorial

Great views west, north, and east from Ochs Memorial Observatory

There was an interesting display on Civil War Signaling there

Moccasin Bend National Archeological District is directly across the Tennessee River

View of Missionary Ridge

Lots of good trails

The Craven House was at the epicenter of Hooker’s attack on Lookout Mountain

View east toward Missionary Ridge from Craven House

Nearby monuments


Today’s schedule was highly structured so we could get to and in each of four Visitor Centers. The fourth was at Russell Cave National Monument in NE Alabama. We left the Craven House on Lookout Mountain at 4pm EST for the one-hour drive to the Russell Cave Vis Ctr, which closes at 4:30. We arrived at 4pm CST!

Toured the Visitor Center

A 0.2-mile boardwalk trail takes you to the cave shelter

Excavations in Russell Cave trace human history from recent activity (e.g. bottle caps, tent pegs at the surface),

To the Mississippian era 500-1000 years ago (e.g. bone needles, shell ornaments just below surface),

To the Woodland era 1,000-3,200 years ago (e.g. pottery, baskets 6 inches down),

To the Archaic era 3,200-11,450 years ago (e.g. bone hairpins, bone awl 4 feet down). About 7,000 years ago, the roof of the cave collapsed and raised the floor above stream level, thereby permitting habitation. Though the cave could only accommodate 15-30 people, it was used for generations by different bands of people. These people lived relatively comfortable lives in the Tennessee River Valley, harvesting food and hunting by season. According to archeologists, they were able to fully use their environment without destroying what sustained them.

The Paleo era was 10,000-14,500 years ago (e.g. animal scraper, stone points 6 to 43 feet down), which is the level of the water table.

Returning from the cave in 1996, there was a paved trail at that time, no boardwalk

1.5hrs to Fairfield Inn in Chattanooga TN


1/26/20 Sun – Helen’s B-Day – Left Chattanooga at 7:30am, arrived home at 3:15pm to a surprise Birthday Pizza Party organized by Peter, Heather, Stacy, and Brad.






James A. Garfield and First Ladies National Historic Sites, OH

December 13, 2019

12/10/2019 – James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor OH; our 20th President served only 6.5 months in office. He was shot at a DC railroad station by a disgruntled office seeker on July 2, 1881. He died at age 49 on September 19th from infections caused by his doctors! Chester A. Arthur became our 21st President.

Garfield rose from poverty through hard work. He attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, now Hiram College, where he met his future wife Lucretia. He was a teacher, minister, OH legislator, U.S. congressman, and President. He was the first presidential contender to “campaign” for office. He ran a “front porch” campaign where thousands came to his home, which the press called Lawnfield, to hear him speak.

After the assassination, Lucretia ran the farm and made many improvements. The public supported the family with substantial contributions. She was responsible for the windmill system that can be seen today.

The former Carriage House now serves as the Visitor Center

This was the “Gasholder” building. A natural gas well provided for heating, lighting and cooking.  No wonder “fracking” is so popular in OH!!!

Garfield was the first and still the only sitting U.S. Congressman to be elected President.

“Lawnfield” became a stop on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad during the 1880 presidential campaign.

Garfield is buried in an impressive mausoleum in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, see Blog for September 2017 for more photos


12/11/2019 – We started our First Ladies National Historic Site tour at the Visitor Center, which is in the former City National Bank Building in Canton OH.

The Education and Research Center houses over 3,500 books and other material related to “First Ladies.” This historic site examines the various roles of first ladies as well as the influence they had on their husbands. For example, Director of Social Affairs (e.g. Martha Washington), Presidential Liaison (e.g. Abigail Adams), Policy Advocate (e.g. Lou Hoover), Political Reformer (e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt), Keeper of “the People’s House (e.g. Lucy Hayes), and Helpmate and Confidant (e.g. Bess Truman).

The display items on the first floor were well done but limited. No photographs permitted of loaned items.

I liked the thought-provoking questions asked on this ranger flow chart –

Our next stop was the Saxton McKinley House, which is one block away. First pic 2010, second 2019.


Our ranger guide did a nice job describing the history of the home and family

Ida Saxton was the eldest daughter of a prominent Canton banker – James Saxton. This elegant four-story building was the family home

James Saxton’s portrait is on the left. The home was decorated for the Christmas holidays.

There were many portraits/photos of Ida throughout the house

I need to mention William McKinley, after all he was our 25th President, serving from 1897 until 1901 when he was assassinated 6 months into his second term of office. He was shot by an anarchist at the Buffalo NY Pan-American Exposition on September 6, 1901. He was taken to the Milburn House, improved, but then quickly deteriorated and died on September 14th. Teddy Roosevelt (VP) was informed of his death upon returning from a climb of Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks (highpoint of NY). He hurried back to Buffalo and took the oath of office in the Wilcox House that afternoon, becoming the 26th President of the U.S. The Wilcox House is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

This was McKinley’s office when he lived in the Saxton McKinley House.

The McKinley National Memorial (tomb) is located in Canton OH as well, 2001 photo.

The McKinley Birthplace Memorial is in Niles OH where he was born in 1843, 2010 photos.

The focus of the tour was Ida McKinley, which is what you would expect for a “First Ladies NHS.” William and Ida had two daughters. Katherine was born on Christmas Day 1871. Ida was born in 1873 but died the same year. Katherine died in 1875 of typhoid fever, her portrait is above the fireplace.

Mrs. McKinley descended into a deep depression, her health deteriorated, with William caring for her medical and emotional needs for the remainder of his life.

“Although an invalid the rest of her life, she kept busy with her hobby, crocheting slippers, making gifts of literally thousands of pairs to friends, acquaintances and charities, which would auction pairs for large sums.” (Wikipedia)


Trivia – Seven U.S. Presidents have been born in Ohio, more than any other state, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding. An eighth, William Henry Harrison, was born in VA but lived most of his life in OH. As mentioned in this posting, both Garfield and McKinley were assassinated. William Harrison and Warren Harding died while in office. Therefore, of the 8 Presidents that died in office, four were from OH.


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