Archive for the ‘Tom’ Category


NYC Area National Park Units

August 31, 2018

8/23 ThGloria Dei Church National Historic Site is in South Philadelphia only a few blocks from the Walt Whitman Bridge. We were on our way to NJ for Helen’s 55th HS Reunion.

It is also known as the Old Swedes’ Church. It was built 1678-1700 in an area that was known as New Sweden along the Delaware River

It began as a Lutheran Church, but the colony was brought under Dutch and then British control. In 1845 it became part of the Episcopal Church

Interesting early 1700’s grave stones

Flag and plaque identify the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier

Gloria Dei is the oldest church in PA

The Swedish colonists arrived in 1643 on two ships, the Fogel Grip and the Kalmar Nyckel. It was the second voyage for the Kalmar Nyckel, which landed in what is now Wilmington DE in 1638. Models of these ships hang from the ceiling.

The angel Gabriel, common in Swedish churches, also hangs from the ceiling

Rear of church, Gloria Dei may have been the first church in America where an organ was used ~1703

Betsy Ross was married in this church in 1777


8/24 F – started the day preparing for a boat ride on the Great Egg Harbor River in Mays Landing NJ. Alex, Helen’s brother, visited for a couple of hours in the morning.

Unfortunately, Carol dislocated her ankle stepping into the boat. I was able to reset it and we got ice on it right away, however, the injury put her out of commission for the weekend.   We went to lunch with Tom and Loretta at the Tuckahoe Inn while Carol went for X-Rays.


8/25 Sat – spent the day with Carol and Dave and then attended Helen’s 55th HS Reunion.  Cheerleaders doing the HS Fight Song with potato chip bags for pom poms.


8/26 Sun – visited Diane and Pete in Ocean Grove NJ and then drove to West Orange NJ to visit Helen’s cousin Alisa, who prepared a great dinner for us.


8/27 M – Alisa drove us to the Harrison station for the PATH train that takes you into the Oculus below the World Trade Center in NYC. The Oculus is a glass and steel structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrave to look like a dove in flight.

We walked around the impressive 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial

One World Observatory (1WTC), also known as “Freedom Tower,” is America’s tallest building (1,776 feet). It was opened in 2015 and is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, and the sixth tallest in the world.

Walking down Broadway –

Walked about a mile to the African Burial Mound National Monument

Unfortunately, it was not open on Mondays. So, we were only able to tour the outside memorial. Also, as you can see, it was under renovation.


Our next stop was Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall National Memorial. I had been here three times before but never inside. Note Helen under George’s right hand.

New Amsterdam’s first City Hall was built by the Dutch in the 17th century. The second City Hall opened in 1703 on Wall and Nassau Streets and housed the British royal governor’s council and the assembly of New York. It was also the New York City Hall.

The building was renamed Federal Hall when New York became the first official capital of the U.S. after the Revolutionary War. It was the meeting place for the Congress of the Confederation. In 1788, the building was enlarged and remodeled. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capitol of the newly created United States in 1789 and hosted the 1st United States Congress. It was demolished in 1812.

George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States on the balcony of this building on April 30, 1789

The current building was built as a Customs House in 1842


Good summary of this site as well as some early history of the U.S.


We had to hustle to the tip of Manhattan to catch the noon ferry to Governors Island National Monument. It can be seen in the distance. The orange ferry is on its’ way to Staten Island.

Part of the current New York Harbor security force

The Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 was the first and the largest battle of the Revolutionary War. It was a British victory and they held New York for the remainder of the War. After the War, it was determined that New York Harbor needed to be fortified for future defense. The first fort built was Fort Jay on Governors Island in 1794.

Over the next fifteen years four additional forts were built to protect New York Harbor, Fort Gibson on Ellis Island, Castle Williams on Governors Island, Castle Clinton on Manhattan, and Fort Wood on Liberty Island, which became the base for the Statue of Liberty.  These forts prevented the British from taking New York in the War of 1812.

Castle Williams can be seen in the left center of this photo on Governors Island.

Leaving the Battery Maritime Ferry Building, Brooklyn Bridge on right – $1 round trip for seniors!

Governors Island

Fort Jay

Castle Williams

History of Castle Williams – “change is constant”

Returning to Manhattan


Bought a grilled chicken Gyro from a street vender as we walked the short distance from the ferry terminal to Battery Park and Castle Clinton National Monument. Also bought some water, the first vender we saw wanted $2 a bottle, I told him no way! The second vender, 25 feet away, charged us $1 a bottle!

The next three photos show how the city has grown around Castle Clinton

More walking, this time from Castle Clinton, through Battery Park, to the Subway. This is a World War II Memorial.

This is a Korean War Memorial. It states that 54,246 Americans and 58,127 South Koreans were killed from 1950-1953.

Serbian immigrant at Immigrant Statue

Another view of “Freedom Tower”


Took the Subway (Red Line) to Stonewall National Monument

This is the first National Park Unit (2016) devoted to the story of the LGBTQ community and its efforts for civil rights

The monument commemorates the Gay Uprising of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn and in Christopher Park across the street. In the 1960’s, NYC laws, rules, and policies were anti-homosexual. A police raid on the Stonewall Inn precipitated a “riot” where people fought back. It led to several nights of demonstrations in Christopher Park and was a pivotal point for social change across America. Each year on this date there is a Christopher Street Gay Liberation March that begins in Christopher Park and ends in Central Park.


The next 1.6-mile walk was work – the heat index was >100 degrees! Helen cooling off in Washington Square Park as we walked through Greenwich Village

We had to rush to get to our 4:15 tour at the Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site. This is an Affiliated National Park Unit, which includes a small museum.

There are 7 apartment tours, each telling a different immigrant story. There is also a recreated German beer saloon and several neighborhood tours. We chose the “Irish Outsiders” ($20 seniors) tour on the fourth floor of the tenement – no elevator or AC but they did give us hand fans! The outhouses and water pump (only source of water) was in a small courtyard. So, there were many up and down trips every day.

The tour guide did an excellent job describing the lives of an Irish family who lived here in 1869. Photos were not permitted inside.

Afterward, we watched a 20 min video in the museum and then took the J Train to the Fulton St station and walked to the World Trade Center to catch the PATH train back to NJ.

This was a big day for us in NYC with lots of walking. I had planned to do these National Park Units and other NYC sites over a two-day period. This morning we decided to try and do them all in one day and we did!


8/28 Tu – Visited the graves of Helen’s paternal grandparents (Alexa and Jelena) in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark and some of her other relatives in Hollywood Memorial Park in Union NJ. Went to Panevino Ristorante in Livingston NJ to celebrate Alisa’s birthday.


8/29 W – Drove into NYC and parked near 135th St and Nicholas Ave in Harlem where Helen’s grandparents lived in 1909. We walked through Saint Nicholas Park to the Hamilton Grange National Memorial at 141st St and arrived at 8:30 to be sure that we were first in line for the 10am tour that is limited to ten people.

This was Alexander Hamilton’s home from 1802 until he was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in 1804 at the age of 46. He called his 13-acre estate the Grange. The house was moved in 1889 and again in 2008 to its present location.

We toured the visitor center and watched a video from 9am until the start of our tour.

Prominent events in the life of Alexander Hamilton

The Constitution

The Duel

Tour of the second floor of the home


Walked 1.3 miles to the General Grant National Memorial on Riverside Dr above the Hudson River

General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the U.S. Army, at Appomattox Court House Virginia in 1865 ending the Civil War. Grant was elected the 18th President of the U.S. in 1868 and served for two terms during “Reconstruction.” He died in 1885 at the age of 63 and is entombed here with his wife Julia.

This is the largest mausoleum in North America and the second largest in the Western Hemisphere. It was the most popular tourist attraction in NYC until World War I.

The Visitor Center is located across West Riverside Dr

Groucho Marx is often noted for the question “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” During his hosting of the TV quiz show “You Bet Your Life” during the 1940s and 50s, he would sometimes ask an easy question so that a contestant could win some money or a prize. Technically, some people argue that no one is buried there because both Grant and his wife are above ground – like this guy.


It was another scorcher of a day, so I walked back for the car while Helen waited in the Visitor Center.  I picked her up at 2pm and we were able to make the 3:30 tour of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on Long Island. Flag at half-staff for the death of Senator John McCain.

Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, from 1885 until his death in 1919. Our tour guide was outstanding. Unfortunately, no photos were permitted in the house.

Some information from signage on the grounds

Roosevelt’s son Ted Jr built a home on the property in 1937. It now serves as the Theodore Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard.

TR is noted for his statement “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

He is also one of my favorite Presidents because of his support and protection of the natural environment

Had lobster and fried clams at a marina in Bayville and then drove to the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale where we stayed for two nights


8/30 Th – 45min to the Queensborough Public Library Archives in Jamaica Queens Long Island to search for information on Helen’s grandfather who owned the American Tire Repair Co in Far Rockaway, (Queens) NY from about 1910 until 1920. In 1920 he returned to Serbia with his family to open the first Ford dealership in Yugoslavia. We were unable to find any new information. We also drove to Far Rockaway and went to the addresses of two houses where he lived as well as his business address. All had been razed and new buildings were at these sites.

After lunch, we drove to the Fire Island National Seashore Lighthouse and Visitor Center

Though hot, it was a nice 1-mile hike (round trip) on a boardwalk to the lighthouse

Fire Island Light Station, Fresnel Lens Building

Lighthouse and Museum

Lighthouse and Life Saving Stations on Long Island

I climbed the 182 steps to the top of the lighthouse

View East, Atlantic Ocean on right, Great South Bay on left

View West toward Robert Moses State Park and Causeway

Humpback whale bones

We drove another hour East to the Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center. I dropped Helen off and went looking for parking. The only free parking I found was a half mile away.

On my walk back to the Visitor Center, I stopped at the TWA Memorial at Smith Point Beach

Fire Island National Seashore – magnify map for a better view

We expected to do a 3-mile hike on the beach, however, the flies and mosquitoes were SO BAD that I just walked briefly on the beach and then walked back to get the car to then pick-up Helen and head back to the Long Island Marriott.


8/31 F – left at 7am and arrived at Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon north of NYC at eight. That gave us an hour to tour the cemetery before the Visitor Center opened.

Here Lays the Body Cap’ Will Pinkney, Deceased 11th day of March 1751, Aged about 75 Years

Caleb Morgan grave 1803 Aged 84 – “Oh mortal man as you pass by, Are you one now so once was I, Your glass has run and still is running, Remember death and judgements coming.”

Abigail Morgan grave – The wife of Caleb Morgan who departed this Life the 17th day of August in the year of our Lord 1782 Aged 54 Year 9 Months and 25 Days. Cherub on stone represents the soul in heaven

Jeremiah Fowler died in 1724. The farm community of Eastchester was so small that only his initials JF appear on the tombstone

Fowler family tomb, the son fought for the Patriots, whereas the father, a judge, fled to Nova Scotia during the Revolution because he was a Loyalist

American Revolutionary Soldiers

“This marks the site of the sand pit in which are buried those Hessian Soldiers who died in the Church when used as a hospital 1776”

Model of church when used as hospital

“In Memory of Thomas, a Servant of Philip and Deborah Rhinelander, who departed this Life, September 2nd 1819, Aged 21 Years – Well done thou good and faithful Servant; enter thou into the Joy of My Reward”

Entering St. Paul’s Church

My congregation of one –

Ten Commandments +

Back of church

Visitor Center adjacent to church, 15min video

Election of 1733 on Eastchester’s Village Green, that raised the issues of freedom of religion and the origins of an independent press

Washington reading the Declaration of Independence to troops on the Village Common NYC – July 9, 1776

We were to stop and see friends in NY and OH on the way home, however, Helen came down with a cold. As a result, we drove home arriving at 9:30pm.



Manhattan Project National Historical Park Oak Ridge TN

July 1, 2018

Jun 27 W – drove to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge TN on a rainy day.

Should FDR approve development of the Atomic Bomb?

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park consists of 3 principal locations, Oak Ridge TN, Hanford WA, and Los Alamos NM. We visited Hanford WA in September 2016 and Los Alamos NM in February 2018 – see blog for those dates

Oak Ridge 1942-1945

Should President Truman drop the Atomic Bomb?

Oak Ridge Journal

Leaving the West side of Oak Ridge. This is the Turnpike Gatehouse on Route 95 to control access to K-25


Jun 28 Th – Peter and Heather’s home, Franklin TN

Celebrated my birthday (75)

Jun 29 F – My real birthday.  Also, Peter and Heather’s 16th Wedding Anniversary!  They had plans, so we drove back to Springfield.


IL, MN, and WI National Park Units

June 7, 2018

May 24 Th – did a Story Corp recording session in Chicago titled “Iran 2 – Untold Reason for the Taking of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran on November 4, 1979 and the Hostage Crisis.” On our walk to Pizzeria Uno with Mike, we stopped at the corner of Wacker Dr and Michigan Ave to view the historical information at the Fort Dearborn Chicago Landmark.

Fort Dearborn was built in 1803 on the Chicago River to protect the “Chicago Portage.” It was destroyed during the War of 1812.

This engraving describes how regulars, women and children were massacred (by Potawatomi Indians) while attempting to evacuate the fort

Stayed with Cathie and Jim for two nights


May 25 F – Jim and I visited the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, it is administered by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Impressive sculpture representing Fr. Marquette and Joliet passing through here on their discovery (1673) of this Native American connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River System

Sign describing this gateway for exploration and pioneer expansion. Many frontiersmen, missionaries, soldiers, and traders passed through this portage.

We walked the trails around the site

Think about it – one could travel by boat from the Atlantic Ocean, down the St Lawrence Seaway, through the Great Lakes to this site, portage (or paddle through a 7.5-mile marsh at high water) to the Mississippi River System, and continue by boat down the river, through the Gulf of Mexico, and back to the Atlantic Ocean! In 1848 the Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed eliminating the need to portage. This is the reason Chicago grew and prospered at this location. The next series of photos describes the history of this location.

Connections Through Time


May 26 Sa – 2hrs to Milwaukee and visit with Chad, Liz, Drago, Seamus, and Lena. They surprised us by preparing a display and dinner for Helen’s Slava. A Slava is a Serbian family Saint’s Day – Helen’s is Saint George.


May 27 Su – Lighting candles for deceased relatives

Breakfast at North Ave Grill


May 28 M – Memorial Day, 5.5hrs to our Airbnb apt in Minneapolis


May 29 TuAmerican College of Sports Medicine Convention, gave a presentation titled ”Exercise is Medicine: Rx Your National Parks”

Also, had a chance to have a brief visit with Stacy

And visit the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden


May 30 W – Started the day with a drive to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, which is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Walked across the dam in a light rain and then returned to go through the Visitors Center

Drove River Rd back into Minneapolis to Saint Anthony Falls

Did the short trail around Hennepin Island

Horseshoe Falls

Saint Anthony Falls looking south across the Mississippi River

Took West River Pkwy to Lock and Dam #1, where there was a nice observation deck

Continued to Minnehaha Regional Park where we walked around Minnehaha Falls

Toured the Stevens House and had some excellent clam chowder at the Sea Salt Eatery in the Park

Continued downstream two miles to Fort Snelling State Park

This is where the Minnesota River enter the Mississippi

Fort Snelling was established here in 1820 to protect the fur trade

Enslaved people were held at the fort until after the Civil War, including Dred Scott of the famous “Dred Scott Decision.” Scott was a slave who had been taken to this territory by his owner in 1857. He sued for his freedom. The Supreme Court ruled that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves”, whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court; and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. In so doing, it ruled that an Act of Congress was unconstitutional. This is considered by many to be the worst Supreme Court decision in American history! It was one of many events that led to the Civil War. It was functionally superseded by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1868, which gave African Americans full citizenship.

Another black mark on the U.S. was the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862

Our next stop was the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Visitor Center in St Paul. It is located in the Science Museum of Minnesota

It was small but very well done – note the map on the floor

Carver’s Cave

Indian Mounds Park


May 31 Th – It took an hour to drive to the St Croix National Scenic River Vis Ctr in St. Croix Falls WI

Put-in point

Pointing to the point on the river where we will put in our canoe below the dam. The take-out was at Osceola Landing after the bridge in the lower right of the photo

We rented our canoe from Eric’s just south of St. Croix Falls and were told that the 6-mile trip would take 3 hours, more if we chose to paddle through the lakes adjacent to the river

We did paddle through Peaslee Lake and Lower Lake – it took us 1.5 hours to complete the trip

We rewarded ourselves with an “old-fashion” Root Beer Floats at the 1950’s Taylors Falls Drive-In Diner. They still have car-hops, though we sat at an “old-fashion” table for oldies! Afterward, we hiked the Pothole Trail in the Wisconsin Interstate State Park just south of St. Croix Falls. This is Wisconsin’s oldest State Park (1900).

The Ice Age National Scenic Reserve is an Affiliated National Park Unit.  It was established along the entire length of the moraines marking the edge of the last glacier in WI and has nine sites. We hiked at the Devil’s Lake State Park site several years ago.

The Pothole Trail

It leads to the Northern Terminus of the 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail, that links together six of the Ice Age National Scenic Reserve’s nine sites

Toured the Wisconsin Interstate State Park Interpretive Center after our hike. It was then a scenic 3.5hr drive through north central WI to Lucy’s Place B & B in Bayfield WI. There we met my old friend Clark from my first year of graduate school at the U of Maryland and his wife Donna. We went to the Bayfield Inn for dinner.


June 1 F – we were expecting to do a morning cruise through the Apostle Islands, however, there were small craft warnings and the cruise was canceled. So, we started at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Vis Ctr in Bayfield.

There are 8 lighthouses on the various islands to provide for safe boat traffic in the area

Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day

Map – we couldn’t get to the islands, so we decided to do the Lakeshore Trail that starts at Meyers Beach

Starting on the trail

We hiked 5 miles round-trip

Be Careful!

Some Cliff Views

The steep cliff walls of sandstone bedrock can rise over 50 feet above Lake Superior

One of the few caves we could see from the top of the cliffs. I hope to come back here, kayak along the cliffs and into the caves and also get out to some of the islands.

Donna and Clark

Had lunch at Little Nicki’s in Cornucopia and then stopped for a Treasure Search just north of Bayfield

We bought “Wine Bread” and a homemade pie for Vera and Bill, said our good-byes and drove 5.5hrs to Madison WI


June 2 Sa – day with Vera and Bill


June 3 Su – 7.5hrs to Springfield, also lost an hour going from the Central time zone to Eastern time zone

Helen’s cross-stitch project completed during our trip



Northern CA and Southern ID National Park Units

May 15, 2018

5/1 Tu – left Dayton 6:20a, left Chicago 8:20a, left San Francisco, 11:40a, and arrived Salt Lake City at 2:41p. That’s what you get for using frequent flyer miles! It took 5.5hrs to drive to Winnemucca NV, a long day.

I stopped at the California Trail Interpretive Center (BLM) on I80 outside of Elko NV

5/2 W – it took 7hrs to drive to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument (BLM and USFS), which is in Mendocino National Forest NW of Sacramento CA. I took Hwy 20 W through Grizzly Canyon and into the NM.

The Cache Creek Wilderness is in the new (2015) National Monument

Starting the Red Bud Trail to Baton Flat and Cache Creek, 5 miles round trip, 1000-foot total gain

The spirts were with me –

Hiked through a beautiful meadow before the trail ascended to a ridge

I was surprised by the number and variety of wild flowers at this time of year

Top of ridge, which way?

View down to Cache Creek

Hiking down to Cache Creek

Baton Flat on Cache Creek

Cache Creek

It’s OK, the little guy can regrow it –

Stayed in an Airbnb in Redding CA


5/3 Th – just W of Redding, I entered the Whiskeytown Unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area

I started by driving on the east side of the lake to the Camden Water Ditch Trail

I did the 1.1mi loop trail

Camden House

Tower grave site in the Tower House Historic District

El Dorado Mine

Early national park education, the children were really excited – we need more of this!

I next did the short drive and hike to Crystal Creek Falls, it was worth it

Afterward I drove back to the Visitor Center at the SE corner of Whiskeytown Lake

I hiked the Shasta Divide Nature Trail to the lake, 0.5-mile loop

President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Whiskeytown Dam in 1963

It is one of a series of dams and canals that harness the waters of the Sacramento River and its tributaries

However, this development came at a cost

Mt Shasta from an I5 overlook

At one time, this mountain was on my to do list

Mt Shasta from the west

View of Mt Shasta from the North, off US 97, the second pic (sign) shows the location

Read the signs for more information – you can tell I like mountains!

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, just south of the OR border, lots of birds

Arrived at the Butte Valley Fairgrounds Visitor Center and Museum in Tulelake CA at 2:30. The NM Visitor Center here is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day but this museum is open year round.

Some displays in the Museum

I met National Park Ranger Angela here at the museum. Her normal post at this time of year is at Lava Beds National Monument nearby. I had arranged for her to give me a tour of the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. We examined this display of the Tule Lake Japanese Segregation camp at the museum and then drove to the location of the Segregation Center.

There were 10 Japanese Relocation Centers, “Concentration Camps,” spread mainly across the western U.S. They were in operation during World War II, from 1942 to 1945. I have already visited one of them – Manzanar National Monument, outside of Lone Pine CA (see this blog for May 2016). I will be visiting another on this trip – Minidoka National Monument in ID. There is also a new (not yet open) National Monument in Hawaii – Honouliuli National Monument, that will tell the history of internment, martial law, and the experience of prisoners of war in Hawaii during World War II. These camps were a black mark against the U.S. during this period and it is important that their story be told.

Ranger Angela giving an over view of the Relocation Story from the back of her SUV

The Japanese population at this camp was 18,789 in 1944

The tour here centered around the jail, which was very well constructed by the inmates. As a result, it is still here to help tell the story of this camp.

Legacy of Toshio Kawano

After two hours at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, Ranger Angela agreed to give me an additional tour of Camp Tulelake on the other side of town


Note – Italian and German Prisoners of War were held here from 1944-46

Some of the buildings that are undergoing restoration

It was a 4.5hr drive up US 395 in southern OR to my Airbnb in Hines OR. After 2hrs it turned dark. There is next to nothing on the section of this road from the tiny town of Valley Falls to Riley, 90 miles.  Though traveling at a good clip, I did not pass anyone for an hour and there were fewer than 10 vehicles going the other way.


5/4 F – it took 3hrs to drive to Meridian ID, which is on I84 20 miles S of Boise. From there I turned South to some interesting sites. This sign gives a snapshot of some of the sites – however, be careful, South is to the left on the sign.

My main objective was the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA), which is managed by the BLM

The Kuna Visitor Center was my starting point for a 56-mile drive through the NCA. My first stop is called the Initial Point, because it is the geographic reference point from which the entire state of ID was surveyed (1867). It is a prominent lava butte a mile east of the Swan Falls Road.

It is a short hike up to a small concrete observation platform

New USGS benchmark

Old USGS benchmark on a rock nearby

These guys, prairie dogs, are all over the place

My next stop was Celebration Park on the Snake River, “Idaho’s Only Archaeological Park.” Note the Petroglyphs on the rock on the left –

I did a short hike on the Petroglyphs Trail and then headed for the Guffey Railroad Bridge

It was built in 1897 to carry trains loaded with gold and silver ore from Silver City. However, by the time it was completed the mines had played out and the RR ended up carrying sheep and cattle.

My next stop was the Dedication Point (1971) overlook on the Snake River. I only saw a few birds today and was unable to get any good photos.

View looking West down the Snake River Canyon

View looking East up the Snake River Canyon

These signs describe the formation of the Snake River Canyon – it was formed by the “Bonneville Flood” some 15,000 year ago. It has been categorized as one of the largest floods on Earth and lasted 8 weeks! It is estimated that the wall of water was up to 300 feet high and traveled at 70-100mph! It deposited large rounded boulders on the rim, now called “melon gravel.” Many of the petroglyphs in this area were made on these boulders.

My last stop was at the Swan Falls Dam and Historic District

The dam was completed in 1901 and was the first dam on the Snake River. This sign describes the four phases of construction from 1901 to 1913.

Boarding House and Village, far removed from “civilization”

Dam from downstream

I attempted to drive the 4WD road from the dam South, however, I almost got stuck “in the middle of no-where” with my rental car. So, I turned around, went back to I84 and stayed the night in the Mountain Home Inn.


5/5 Sat – 1hr to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

On Bell Rapids Road (Oregon Trail) headed for the Snake River Overlook

Signs at Snake River Overlook

The park road follows the Oregon Trail route from the Snake River Overlook to the Oregon Trail Overlook. The Emigrant Trail was a three-mile parallel trail that permitted more traffic going up (600 feet) the difficult stretch from the Snake River to the Desert Plateau. This was one of the most difficult segments of the Oregon Trail.

View east down to the Snake River from the Oregon Trail Overlook. The Oregon Trail came up the same way the road does. The Emigrant Trail can be seen on the right.

This photo is looking west to the Oregon Trail Overlook. You can see the final steep stretch of the Oregon Trail in the middle of the picture going up to the Overlook. You can see the wheel ruts.

Magnify to read about The Great Westward Migration

I hiked the 0.5-mile trail to a prominent overlook and then hiked about 1.5 miles on the Emigrant Trail. Afterward, I headed back to the town of Hagerman to see the Hagerman Fossil Beds NM Visitor Center.

Horses here BEFORE the Spanish

How about Camels –

Small but nice Visitor Center, watched an interesting video

It was only an hour drive to get to Minidoka National Historic Site, it was also known as Hunt Camp ID

Camp Entrance

Remains of Reception Building on the Twin Falls North Side Canal of Clover Creek

I had planned my trip so that I would get there for a two-hour ranger tour at 12:30. I arrived a bit early, so was able to complete my own tour in less time, therefore making it possible for me to visit Craters of the Moon before it got dark. I did this 1.6-mile trail.

Visitor Center

To understand the story, read the next four displays

Map Describing Camp


Minidoka NHS became a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience in 2015

I averaged under 18mph driving the 21-mile gravel road to Bear Trap Cave in Craters of the Moon National Monument. I visited the original NPS monument in 1966 and this time was going into the newer (2000) National Preserve part of the monument that is managed by the BLM. The area is called the Great Rift. With limited information, I didn’t know if I could get to or find Bear Trap Cave, or what I would do when I got there.  Whiskey Butte –

Entering the National Preserve, from the map I have, it looks like the NPS manages the lava flows and the BLM manages everything around the lava flows.

I found it – Bear Trap Cave!

It is an opening into a Lave Tube. The ceiling fell in creating this opening.  It has been traced for 15 miles.

It was a rock scramble getting down to the “cave” entrance – watch out for snakes! The sign was an Eagle Scout project of Sheldon Wright. Being alone, I felt I was on a real adventure. At the same time it impressed on me that I had to be careful

I put on my head lamp and was able to carefully work my way a quarter mile into the tube  There was graffiti in there – If I remember right, a boy had spray painted in big letters “Angel, will you go to the prom with me?” A real “downer” when I saw it in the light of my head lamp.

Working my way back out of the cave


Desert marker

I believe this is a Sand Hill Crane. I also saw a large elk but was unable to get a photo

I stayed off the beaten path in an Airbnb in Burley ID (2 nights)


5/6 Sun – I started at the City of Rocks National Reserve Visitor Center in Almo ID at 8am when they opened

Excellent reference for my day’s activities. This was the most enjoyable day of my trip – this place is amazing! With all my stops and hikes, it took me all day to cover the 25-mile loop road.

My first stop was the Circle Creek Overlook, where I did the 1.2-mile Geological Interpretive Trail


All kinds of interesting geological features and flowers as well!

The near vertical cracks are called “Joints” and a great for climbing

Climbed a rock to get a photo of the Circle Creek Basin

“Veins” – in this case, quartz intrusions into cracks

Yes, it’s called a Window

A Pickelhaube


Circle Creek Ranch

Chicken Rock on the north side of the road

Camp Rock on the south side of the road – emigrants wrote their names and dates using axle grease

Profile of man’s face with the words “wife wanted”

Nests on Camp Rock

View west from Camp Rock on the California Trail, a 2,000-mile trail from Kansas City to Sacramento. “Ho for California” Free Land/Gold – many routes, cut-offs and branches, a major route was through the City of Rocks. It is estimated that 250,000 migrants followed this route. At first, 1843-1882, they were after land. Then, in 1849, the motivation was GOLD. There were few wagon trains on the trail after 1869 (transcontinental railroad).

Kaiser’s Helmet – Picklehaube on top

Treasure Rock – stage coach robbery loot buried here in 1878, I didn’t find any

Looking north into Circle Creek Basin, many emigrants camped here

Devil’s Bedstead

Register Rock, more emigrant signatures

Nice profile

Pinnacle Pass

Twin Sisters in center, left sister made up of rock from the Green Creek Complex, right sister made up of Almo Pluton, at 638 feet, they are the most prominent features in the reserve.

View of Twin Sisters from the south

Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company stagecoach line on the Kelton Road, which was on the Salt Lake Alternate Trail to the City of Rocks

Granite Pass, 6 miles away, was the next obstacle on the California Trail. If you were standing here in 1848, you would be standing in Oregon looking into Mexico!


Quenched my thirst at the Emery Pass Picnic Area

This is an amazing rock-climbing area

Bath Rock Climbing Area – there are panholes full of water on top

Climbers on the west side of Bath Rock

Climbers on Creekside Towers

On the extended 1.7-mile Creekside Towers Trail

Climber topping out on the Anteater

Everywhere you look, excellent rock climbing

The Incisor, also known as Morning Glory Spire

I love ravens, “Once upon a midnight dreary . . . “

Backside (eastside) of Creekside Towers

What a wonderful hike this was –

I would reserve campsite, #37 or #38 near Window Arch

Window Arch is one of the most popular features of the Reserve

Alright, I’m not done yet. I still have to hike around Elephant Rock

Base of Elephant Rock – these are called a Tafoni, weathering creates small hollows on joint surfaces.  The hollows gradually enlarge through the creation of a sheltered micro-climate that facilitates the accumulation of salt.  Salt is a corrosive agent that expands when dry and breaks apart the granitic minerals.  The salt is transported by wind and rain from the Great Salt Lake basin 30 miles away.

I call this Frog (or Toad) Rock

Here are a couple of colorful pictures, before I head back to my Airbnb (but NO breakfast) in Burley ID


5/7 M – 3hrs to Salt Lake City airport, left at 11:58am, left Denver at 5:50pm, arrived home at midnight



Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, Dayton OH

April 29, 2018

4/27 FPaul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Brad joined me this morning and we arrived a half hour before the home opened for tours. I had previously visited all of the other areas of the park in and around Dayton – Wright Cycle Company, Wright Company Factory, Wright Brothers Aviation Center, Hawthorn Hill, and Huffman Prairie Flying Field and Interpretive Center. So, now I’ve completed the whole enchilada. Of course, if you are in the area, you should visit the U.S. Air Force Museum as well.

Increase the size of this pic to read

Some information from the Visitor Center

Dunbar went to Central HS with Orville and was friends with the Wright Brothers

We had an interesting tour of the Dunbar home. Unfortunately for us, Dunbar died of TB at age 34.

It was a short drive over to the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center

The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is located on the second floor of the Aviation Trail Visitor Center

Right next door is the Wright Cycle Company – part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park



Belize – Sun/Sand/Dive/Snorkel/Kayak

March 16, 2018

2/27 Tu – Delta to Belize City stayed at the D’Nest Inn B&B

Manatee in canal


2/28 W – Taxi to downtown dock by Ramada Princess Casino

Walked a couple of miles along the waterfront and then returned to the dock. We were told we would be leaving at 1pm, however, not surprisingly, we didn’t leave until 2:30.

Boarding “Evita” Captain Reves boat that took us to Long Caye. Reves in stern, Nidia (cook) on left, Helen in hat, and LeRoy (worker) in bow. Reves added 4 people to our boat who were workers at another resort on the island. It was a rough ride as we bounced across the open “Blues.”

After 1.5hrs our outboard motor went kaput and we were stranded about 20min from Long Caye. Luckily, there was one more boat going to Long Caye and it was a half hour behind us. They towed us in to the dock.


Calypso Beach Retreat

Our room, we were the only guests for the week, Wednesday to Wednesday

Helen cleaning the kitchen – it was a mess!

Getting to know LeRoy and Nidia, a game of Aces to Kings. Rum and Coke, cards, and Farkle every night.

Our Island, Long Caye, is on Lighthouse Reef Atoll, which is on the most Eastern (outer) section of the Belize Reef System. Note on the map the nearby location of Half Moon Caye and the “Blue Hole”

3/1 Th – Breakfast, first morning, Nidia prepared three excellent Belizian meals a day

Since our boat broke down, we joined an Itza dive trip to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument ($20 fee) with Captain Elvis

Helen dove while I snorkeled

We then stopped on Half Moon Caye for a picnic lunch

While others went on an afternoon dive, Maurio from Itza diving, walked with us to the rookery on the west side of the island

This is the nesting ground for the rare red-footed booby bird – there are about 4,000 on the island!

Red-footed Booby chicks

View from the top of a viewing tower

Frigate birds have a characteristic split tail

Male Frigate, about half way into blowing up it’s gular sac – hey girls, here I am

Close to full gular sac – takes almost 2 minutes

When we returned to our dock on Long Caye, we found some local fishermen cleaning their fish and conch


3/2 F – We went out with Elvis from Itza for a morning dive at the famous Blue Hole Natural Monument ($80 fee), it was only 20 minutes away.

I had seen pictures from the air and thought that the rim of the Hole was above water (Belize Tourism photo). It was not, the rim (1000 feet diameter) was about 3 feet underwater.  Was it high tide?  Have sea levels increased due to Global Warming?

Jacques Cousteau brought his ship the Calypso here in 1971 to chart its depths. He used dynamite to increase the size of the natural entrance so his ship could get in – can you imagine doing that today?! Cousteau rated the Blue Hole as one of the top five SCUBA diving sites in the world.

Helen had trouble descending yesterday, so she asked for more weight today. The divers left the boat first and started on what was to be a deep (~132 feet) dive to the stalactites. Shortly afterward, I began to snorkel. When I looked back at the boat twenty minutes later, I was surprised that Helen was back on board. I went back to see what had happened. I found that she had not filled her BC with air before she started to descend (too rapidly). She thought one of the crew had done it like they had the previous day. As she quickly descended (recall she had also asked for more weight!), she could not clear her ears and started to go into panic mode. Maurio noticed what was happening and brought her back up to the surface. She then joined us on our snorkel. On the way back to the dock she mentioned that her ear was really bothering her.

After lunch, LeRoy, Nidia, Helen and I went line fishing off a small dock on the west side of the island. LeRoy caught a small Grout but that was it –

But we did see several “rays” off the dock

We had to leave because Helen’s ear was bothering her. She took a nap, but it didn’t help. After dinner (pork chops), I gave her an Aleve and we taught LeRoy and Nidia how to play Farkle. There was a beautiful full moon that evening.


3/3 Sa – discovered blood on Helen’s pillow this morning. So, there is some damage to her ear. We canceled her dive to the “Aquarium” for today. After breakfast, LeRoy walked us to the empty “Crocodile House,” so named because one lives there!

There was a kayak there; which I was able to take out and paddle to the south end of the island. Helen returned to the Calypso to rest. We had taco salad for lunch and then walked the beach areas nearby. We decided that Helen would not do any more diving/snorkeling on this trip; she had damaged her inner ear. It was a big disappointment since this trip was specifically planned so she could do those activities.

We walked to the west side of the island for sunset and then returned for a Belizian fried chicken dinner. We met Miles and Alyssa and their 3 children from Winston Salem NC (Wake Forest U) at Itza this evening. Helen taught the kids how to play solitaire and Farkle.


3/4 Su – A student/faculty group from Wake Forest came in last night and this morning we learned that Miles had organized a Spring Break course for the students. He invited us to join them on their large boat as they dove and explored Light House Reef Atoll. We said, perhaps tomorrow. Note their boat at the end of the dock.

Reves motor was now fixed, so we decided to request a short fishing trip to give him some business. We were asked if Nidia and LeRoy could come along, of course, we said yes.

We went out to the “Aquarium” about a half mile from the dock.  Everyone caught lots of fish

We felt guilty catching many of these beautiful reef fish and Helen insisted that they throw back three large Queen Trigger fish. After about an hour, we were ready to come in.  Reves, LeRoy, and Nidia wanted to continue fishing.  Being agreeable people, that is what we did and continued fishing for another three hours!  Though I must admit that after the first three hours it was quite uncomfortable, we were out four!  I caught 9 fish, Helen caught 7 and the five of us combined caught about 50!  That evening, we each ate one of the Dogfish and the rest of our fish were given to Reves. He gives them to family and sells them for additional income.


3/5 M – Went out to the “Aquarium” with the Wake Forest group this morning. I was able to snorkel for about an hour. Usually, I’m the one who is taking the pictures!

Meanwhile, Helen hob-knobbed on the boat

After Barracuda tacos for lunch, we had a lazy afternoon. I enjoyed sitting on the top of the tower in front of our building, writing notes, reading from the New Age of Adventure book by National Geographic that I had recently purchased on Amazon, and sipping a cold beer. The Calypso Beach Retreat tower is the highest point on the island.

I sat on my thatch covered perch reading or looking out at the activity on the dock or out on the water. It was fascinating to watch the frigates, pelicans, and osprey soar on the air currents and then drop almost vertically into the Ocean, often coming up with a fish. When we walked the beach in the evening, we discovered some large pieces of bamboo which we brought back and asked LeRoy to cut into nine-foot lengths.


3/6 Tu – Went out with the Wake Forest group again today. We returned to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

While the students toured the island and snorkeled, we expanded on the exploration we did on our first visit

We did join the class lecture on the Loggerhead, Green, and Hawksbill Turtles, all endangered species, that nest on the south side of the island.

After a BBQ chicken lunch, we toured the Belize Audubon Visitor Center

The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The one on the right is the Red-footed Booby, note the sand floor

Local aquatic life

Blue Hole

In the afternoon, we walked the north side of the island

Then examined the remains of a lighthouse that Tropical Storm Matthew toppled into the sea in 2010. The steel tower on the left now has the operational beacon.

I then snorkeled around the dock and Helen searched for shells until the students returned from their afternoon dive

After we returned to Long Caye, I went to see Jim (owner of Itza) and Elvis to discuss the problem that occurred during Helen’s Blue Hole dive. It was agreed that there were some irregularities on their part but in the last analysis it was Helen’s responsibility as a certified diver to check all her equipment and follow all safety procedures. They did not charge us for her dive that day.

LeRoy did a nice job cutting and smoothing the bamboo poles we gave him. We took them down to the sand area in front of the Itza resort to teach Miles and Alyssa’s children – Nora, Wren and John how to do Tinikling. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine stick dance. After awhile the college students joined in and it was a fun time.


3/7 W – Our last morning on Long Caye

We had Helen’s scones and coffee for breakfast, packed, tipped all the helpers, and were in Reves boat at 7am. The ocean was calm this morning, so the two-hour boat ride to Belize City went smoothly. LeRoy, Reves, and Nidia with the fish they caught. They will sell the bigger ones and share the rest with family.

Mark from D’Nest picked us up for the trip to the airport. Our Delta flight left at 1pm, we had a 4hr lay-over in Atlanta, and were home at midnight.


Winter Trip, CA to Home – Part 2

February 28, 2018

2/1 Th – Breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant – San Diego’s Oldest Tavern.

Ferry to Coronado Island, note the seal on the buoy

We rented bikes and rode to the Hotel del Coronado

Returning to San Diego, aircraft carrier USS Midway, now a Museum

Helen at National Salute to Bob Hope and Military

Lunch at Fish Market Restaurant across from USS Midway

I was able to tour the new USS Omaha, two days before it was officially commissioned

It is a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), #12

It is a multi-purpose, fast (40 knots), shallow water, trimaran

Possible uses – interdiction of pirates and drug smugglers in addition to transport of special forces

Santa Fe Railroad Station

Statue made up of letters/figures from different languages

Went back to Balboa Park for the evening, started with drinks at Panama 66, toured the Sculpture Garden and then walked the El Prado – Plaza de Panama

“Supermoon” (also a Blue Moon) above Helen’s head!

Saw the “Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde at the Old Globe Theater


2/2 F – Again, had breakfast at the Waterfront, bought one for a homeless woman as well, and then drove to the Cabrillo National Monument – see other pics from May 2015

Nice model of San Diego area showing location of monument

Monument with Old Point Loma Lighthouse in background

Model of lighthouse and pics from inside