Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


National Park Road Trip to the Atlantic Ocean

June 22, 2021

6/12 Sat – Left home at 6am for a 2,000-mile road trip to the Atlantic Ocean.  Arrived at Friendship Hill NHS in SW Pennsylvania at 10am.  I had visited here in 2011 when I was on my way to Pittsburgh for Drago’s birth.  See Blog for October 2011.

This time, the house/visitor center was open for self-tours.  This was the “Wilderness Home” of Albert Gallatin (1761-1849).  He was an entrepreneur, politician, diplomat, financier, and scholar.  He was the Secretary of the Treasury for Presidents Jefferson and Madison. He arranged financing for the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  He also worked to end the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

Friendship Hill is on the Monongahela River.

Though it was not on my agenda, my next stop was the terminus of the C & O Canal in Cumberland MD, which is part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP.  In my post of April 2017 on this Blog, I described stops at Spring Gap, Oldtown, Paw Paw Tunnel, Williamsport Visitor Center, and Lock 44.

The Chesapeake (Bay) and OHIO Canal never made it to the Ohio River.  Construction stopped here in Cumberland MD in 1850 when railroads made the continuing digging of the canal a financially losing proposition.  184.5 miles of the C & O Canal were completed from Georgetown (Washington DC) to Cumberland MD.  The canal remained open until 1924.

The Cumberland C & O NHP Visitor Center is located in the Western Maryland Railway Station.  Goods were transferred from canal boats to wagons for travel on The National Road and on to railroad cars for points west and north.  Likewise, goods, especially agricultural, were shipped back east.

Fort Cumberland (built 1754) was an 18th-century frontier fort that was an important military and economic center during the French and Indian War (1754-63).  It was constructed at the confluence of Wills Creek and the Potomac River. 

This fort once marked the westernmost outpost of the British Empire in America and was the jumping-off point for General Braddock’s disastrous expedition against the French at Fort Duquesne in present day Pittsburgh. When Braddock was killed, a young officer of the Virginia militia, George Washington, led the troops back to Fort Cumberland.


As mentioned, The National Road started here and linked the east to the western part of America at the time.

I then had a 3.5hrs drive to the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in Shenandoah NP.  Skyline Drive, the parks scenic roadway, follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles.  At its southern end, it joins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues 469 more mile to Great Smoky Mountains NP.

2014 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Shenandoah Virginia Uncirculated Reverse

My first visit here was in the Fall of 1966 when I went with a group of graduate students from the U of MD.  We drove part of Skyline Drive stopping at overlooks and doing short hikes.

The next year, I was invited to go along with my friend Jay and his date to climb Old Rag Mtn.  Jay and I had just completed a 10,000-mile road trip out west that summer.  This hike/climb is classified as the toughest but most rewarding hike in the NP – some say in the entire Middle Atlantic Region.  We chose a route starting from Skyline Drive at an elevation of about 3,500 feet (Limberlost Parking Area) and then dropping about 1500 feet into Weakley Hollow via the Old Rag Fire Road and on to the Old Rag Shelter.  From there, the route went up the Saddle Trail to the Byrds Nest 1 Shelter, and then on to the summit at 3,291ft.  It was about 10 miles roundtrip with a total gain of about 2800 feet. 

Jay and I carried small packs. Jay’s date, Helen Alexis, was given the task of carrying a bottle of wine for our summit celebration.  To make it easy for her, he cut off one of his pant legs and made a sling she could put around her neck to protect the bottle and keep her arms free.  Well, when we reached the top of the mountain, she was wearing the sling BUT the wine was gone!  The bottle was lost somewhere on the trail.  How could she not know that she dropped a full bottle of wine that was hanging around her neck?  Did she drink it and discard the bottle?

We scrambled around the summit rocks and ate most or our snacks before heading back to Skyline Drive.  It was a long day.  I was impressed with the stamina and good spirit of this Serbian beauty during our challenging outing.

It was dark when we arrived back at Jay’s little red convertible, a TR3 sports car.  We were hungry, all that remained was a can or sardines and crackers that Jay had brought to impress his date.  Against my better judgement, I helped finish the remains and we started descending the narrow windy road dropping down from Skyline Drive.  I was sitting sideways on the tiny bench seat behind Jay and Helen.  I swayed to-and-fro, and lurched forward and back, as Jay tried to go as fast as he could down the steep mountain road (VA Rt 211).  By the time we got to the bottom, I was sick.  I jumped out of the car and ridded myself of those sardines and crackers.  I was not going to go back to that bench seat.  Helen, being a good sport, said she would sit in my lap on the passenger side.  I found this arrangement very agreeable for the remainder of our ride back to the U of MD. 

That was the beginning – in less than a year Helen (Baba) would be my wife!

We climbed Old Rag with Jay and other graduate assistants from the east side of the mountain in the Spring of 1968.  We took the Ridge Trail for about 1.5 miles and then set up camp along the trail.  The next morning, we summited and then returned to U of MD.  This hike/climb is about 5 miles roundtrip with a gain of 2400 feet and involves a lot of fun rock scrambling on the top third of the route.

Baba and I returned in 1970 and did the same route again.  It snowed on our campsite that evening.

Christmas break 1969-70, we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Mexico City in our new (used) VW camper. 

In the Fall of 1970, Baba was coaching the U of MD women’s swim team.  Most of the team joined us for another trek up the mountain by way of the Ridge Trail route.

After 50 years, I returned to Shenandoah NP ten day ago.  I wanted to do a couple of new trails in the park.  My first stop was the Dickey Hill Visitor Center with good views of the Shenandoah Valley and Shenandoah River.

The Many Moods of an Overlook

Marys Rock Tunnel (1932) at Mile Marker 32.4 of Skyline Drive, 700ft long, 12’ 8” clearance

Skyline Drive reaches its highest point (3,680ft) at Skyland.  The Historic Massanutten Lodge (1911) is located here.

Mile Marker 45.5 – did the Lower Hawksbill Trail, 1.7 miles roundtrip, gain of 690ft, to the summit viewing platform (4,051ft).  Hawksbill Mtn is the highest peak in the park.  Park literature states that “The viewing platform on top of Hawksbill offers a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Virginia Piedmont.”  Not so, when you are in the clouds!

It was getting dark as I did the 1.4-mile roundtrip Dark Hollow Falls Trail.  It has a 440ft gain on the return.

Deer at Sunset

6/13 Sun – arrived at the Richmond NBP Cold Harbor Unit at about 6am.  I visited the Richmond Unit at the Tredegar Iron Works in April 2017 (see Blog).  On this trip I wanted to see the other four Units.  All of these Units are related to the Battle for Richmond during the Civil War.  However, I am starting this description of my visit with the Glendale Malvern Hill Unit in order to present the information chronologically.

The first Union attempt to take Richmond (Confederate Capital) and defeat the Southern rebellion took place at Bull Run in VA at the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861 (see Blog for June 2019).  The Federal forces were defeated.  The second attempt to take Richmond started in March 1862 under General George McClellan and was referred to as the Peninsula Campaign.  His forces reached the east side of Richmond, but they were beaten back by General Robert E. Lee in the Seven Days Battles.

Glendale/Malvern Hill Unit – represents one battle during the 1862 Confederate defense of Richmond.  Glendale National Cemetery

The Methodist Parsonage overlooked Malvern Hill.

Malvern Hill – Union successful defense of their position against General Lee’s attacks.  General McClellan decided to withdraw after this battle and lost his advantage related to the goal of taking Richmond.  Historians believe that this encouraged the Confederates and greatly extended the Civil War.

General Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign (see Blog for April 2017) began with the Battle of the Wilderness May 5-6, followed by the Battle of Spotsylvania May 8-21, and reached the outskirts of Richmond at the end of May.  At Cold Harbor, 6,000 Federals were killed or wounded during massive, ill-conceived, assaults on Confederate entrenchments.  Most of the casualties took place in one hour!  The Civil War in the East was changed from a war of maneuver to one of siege.     

Battle of Cold Harbor Unit

Garthright House – Union Field Hospital

Chimborazo Unit Medical Museum – Confederate Hospital, now Park Headquarters.

Powhatan Stone in Chimborazo Park, which overlooks the James River and Richmond

Fort Harrison Unit – including Fort Gilmore, Fort Johnson, and Fort Hoke were part of Confederate Defenses on the East side of the James River protecting Richmond.  First Fort Gilmore

Fort Johnson

Fort Harrison

Fort Hoke

My next three stops were part of Colonial National Historical Park in southeast VA.  I will start with the Cape Henry Memorial, which is located on the Fort Story Military Base, where the Chesapeake Bay opens to the Atlantic Ocean.  You must provide photo ID and go through security in order board a shuttle that takes you to the memorial area and lighthouses.  You are restricted to this area.

The first permanent English settlers landed here on April 26, 1607.  A memorial cross has been placed here by the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists. 

After taking measure of the Cape, they established the first permanent English settlement in North America on May 13, 1607, on an island in the James River.  They called the settlement Jamestown, in honor of the then king of England, King James I of England and Ireland.  Cape Henry and Cape Charles were named after his sons.

There is also a monument here to French Admiral Comte de Grasse, who defeated the English fleet on September 5, 1781, in the “Battle of the Capes.”  This prevented reinforcements from reaching Lord Cornwallis in Yorktown, leading to his surrender on October 19th.  Britain recognized American Independence in January 1783.

In 1791, President George Washington reviewed, and Alexander Hamilton signed the contract for the first public works project of the U.S. Government – the construction of the Cape Henry Lighthouse (107ft).  I paid $9 for a senior ticket to climb to the top.

The “New” (current) Lighthouse was lit in 1883.

View of the Cape Henry Memorial Area from the Old Lighthouse (middle of photo)

1883 and 1792 Lighthouses

But wait – we were not through with the British yet!  During the War of 1812 they blockaded the Chesapeake Bay and attacked Washington DC, burning the White House. 

Historic Jamestown is one hour by car from Cape Henry.  The site is administered by Preservation Virginia in conjunction with the NPS and a fee is charged for entrance.  My reduced rate was $10 because I have a NP lifetime Senior Pass.

Helen and I visited in the Fall of 1969; some photos are from that trip.  All tours start at the Tercentennial Monument, which was built in 1907 to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

63, 65, 68, 71

The Memorial Church was built in 1907 as well.

This sign gives and introduction to the “Old Towne.”  Note the statue in the bottom center – John Smith.

Replicas of the three wooden ships that carried the 104 Englishmen were floating at the dock in 1969, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.  They were not there in 2021.

2000 50 State Quarters Coin Virginia Uncirculated Reverse

The James River has eroded some of the bank where the fort was located –

The real story of Pocahontas, plus two interesting characters – Me 2021 and Helen 1969.  She has said that I like Pocahontas better, because she did not talk balk!

Remembering Our Slave Heritage

Re-creation of the Virginia Company Military Outpost, 1610-14 – when Helen and I visited in 1969.

The Colonial Parkway is a leisurely (40min) and scenic way of traveling between the Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Battlefield of the Revolutionary War.

This sign, a short distance from the NP Visitor Center is close to Yorktown and is the first stop on a 7-mile loop road that takes you through the British inner Defense Line and the Allied (American and French) siege lines.

Photos from 1969, the first photo shows the van I bought for us to move from Seattle back to the U of MD.

Grand French Battery on the first siege line – 2021

A second 9-mile loop road takes you through the American and French Encampment areas.  First the American Artillery Park and Washington’s Headquarters.

Then the French Cemetery and Artillery Park

On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis’s army surrendered.  In this John Trumbull painting, Maj. Gen Benjamin Lincoln accepts the surrender of the British arm from Brig. Gen Charles O’Hara, Cornwallis’s second in command.

Following my Battlefield tour, I toured Yorktown. 

It was fun walking through and visiting the period buildings.  This is the Dudley Diggs House (1760), now the Mobjack Petite Café, where I had a great turkey sandwich.  The Customhouse (1721) is located across the Main Street.

General Thomas Nelson Jr house

Grace Episcopal Church (1697) is still in service.

General Thomas Nelson, commander of the Virginia militia, governor of Virginia, and signer of the Declaration of Independence is buried in the church graveyard.

Helen at the Yorktown Victory Monument in 1969

Yorktown was under siege again during the Civil War

After a 3.5hr drive, I arrived at Cape Hatteras National Seashore at dusk.  This NP Unit is one of ten NPS National Seashores.

It was almost dark as I took a video of the rotating beacon of the Bodie Island Lighthouse

Atlantic Ocean, next stop Europe?  Slept in the Oregon Inlet campground.

6/14 M – I was up early and drove on to Pea Island as it became light.

My first stop, and walk, was at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

It was about 7am as I drove onto Hatteras Island.

The first photo of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was taken from the beach in 1969 when Helen and I visited the Seashore.  The second was taken today (6/14/2021).

It was not open, so I was unable to climb to the top.

You need a permit for your vehicle (only 4WDs) to drive on the beach.

There is a tiny cemetery on the island honoring British seaman lost off this cost during WW II when their ship was sunk by a Nazi U-boat (submarine).

I then stopped at Frisco Beach, which is one of the few that have lifeguards.

6hr drive to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in NC – during my school history lessons, I learned a good deal about the northern battles of the Revolutionary War but relatively little about the southern battles.  For example, there are three National Park Units in South Carolina devoted to the Revolutionary War – Ninety Six NHS, Cowpens NB, and Kings Mountain NMP.  There are two in North Caroling – Moores Creek NB and Guilford Courthouse NMP.

Our first visit to this Unit was in 2011, (Blog March 2011).  As stated in that blog post – Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is located just north of Greensboro NC.  On March 15, 1781, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene and about 4,400 men contested the invasion of NC by 1,900 redcoats commanded by Cornwallis.  Fierce fighting resulted in about 250 rebels and 500 redcoats dying before Greene withdrew resulting in a British victory.  However, the battle left Cornwallis’s troops weak and unable to fulfill their role as an occupying force.  Seven months later he would surrender at Yorktown.  Guilford Courthouse –

The Continentals, under General Nathaniel Greene, set up three defensive lines in this area (see map).  The British, under General Charles Cornwallis, progressively attacked all three.  The First Line Defense –

Second Line Defense

Cavalry Monument

Third Line Defense

British Perspective

General Nathaniel Greene Monument – largest in the park

Helen 2011


It took about 2hrs to get to Rt 80, a VERY windy/steep road up to Buck Creek Gap of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  From there, I turned south on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  After a few miles, I passed through Twin Tunnels at Marker 344.5 of the Parkway.

2015 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina Uncirculated Reverse

The very first United States Forest Service (USFS) tract of land established in 1911 by President Taft is to the east.

At 8pm, I arrived at Mount Mitchell State Park and the 5-mile road that takes you to a parking lot near the top.

Helen and I had been to the top in 1969 on our trip to Mexico from MD.  I again took the short trail to the top in 1988, and this is a photo of Peter ready for the 285yd trek to the summit in 1992.

In this 1988 photo, I am standing on the observation platform surrounding the old 25-foot stone tower that was built on the summit in 1959.

Here I am again in 2021 at the new 10-foot-high viewing platform that was erected on the summit in 2009. 

Mount Mitchell History

The current circular observation platform is the fifth structure to crown the summit of Mount Mitchell.  The first was an obelisk erected next to the grave of geographer Professor Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857) in 1888.  He died in a fall on the mountain while attempting to prove that the Black Mountains were the highest peaks in the region and the eastern U.S.  He proved, with measurement taken in 1838 and 1844, that Black Dome, the highest peak in the Black Mountains, was higher than Mount Washington (6,288ft) in NH.  Black Dome was re-named Mount Mitchell (6,684ft), by the U.S. Geological Survey, in his honor in 1881-82.   

In 1915, high winds destroyed the obelisk and a 15-foot ladder, supported by three poles was placed on the summit.  When Mount Mitchell State Park was created in 1916, a 15-foot covered wooden platform was constructed.  In 1926, NC replaced the platform with a medieval looking stone tower.  In 1928, a funeral cairn and plaque was placed on Mitchell’s grave.  The word “University” is misspelled on the plaque!  In 1959, a viewing platform was constructed on the 25-foot stone tower.

In 2009, a 10-foot-high, 36.5-foot diameter circular viewing platform replaced the stone tower.  It provides a 360- degree view of the Black Mountains.  Mount Mitchell is sometimes referred to as “The Island in the Sky” because it acts like an island above a sea of warmer land.  Most plants and animals on top of Mount Mitchell cannot live farther down the mountain.

Glassmine Falls – center of photo

Craggy Gardens

Looking East from around Mile Marker 370 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.


6/15 Tu – arrived at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Visitor Center about 6:30am and immediately took the road to the Pinnacle Overlook.  This was my fourth visit to the park.  On this trip, my objective was the Pinnacle Overlook, where there is a great view of the Gap and information related to the strategic importance of this location during the Civil War.

This was a popular tourist spot long before the establishment of the NHP in 1955.

This is the 2016 KY state quarter – three states come together in the Gap – KY, TN, and VA.  It was not until 1803 that the tri-state point was made official.

2016 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Cumberland Gap Kentucky Uncirculated Reverse

Kate is standing on the tri-state point in this photo from 1984, which was a short hike from Rt 25E when it ran directly through the Gap.   In 1996 a tunnel was completed to bypass the Gap and the Gap was returned to a walking path – the original Wilderness Road.

As you can imagine, the Gap was a very strategic location during the Civil War.  The first photo is from 1984.

The site of Fort Lyon is on the loop trail near the Pinnacle Overlook.

On my last visit, I hiked through the Gap on a rainy day in April 2016 – see Blog.  This is where I finished my hike that day.

A 6hr drive brought me back to Springfield.


CA to OH NP Unit Sites

April 19, 2021

4/2 F – did a 2-mile hike from the Switzer Picnic Area in San Gabriel Mountains NM (USFS)

4/4 Sun – Easter Sunday

4/5 M – dropped Helen off at the Burbank Airport at 7:15am and drove about five hours to Lake Mead NRA.  See Blog for March 2009.  This was America’s first NRA.

Visitor Center

You can start the Historic Railroad Trail from the Visitor Center or from the Hoover Dam Lodge and Casino, which is on the upper right in this photo.   Many people do the trail from here (flat) on bikes.

I started from a 0.3-mile connector trail that descends from the Lodge.  It is 0.6-mile shorter, but you have to gain about 250 feet on the return.  I hiked about 4 miles total.

This sign shows the connection of the two trails.

There are 5 tunnels that were built for the transport of workers and supplies to the Hoover Dam construction site on the Colorado River.  Tunnel 1 –

Tunnel 2 –

Lake Mead

Tunnel 3 –

Inside Tunnel 4 –

Tunnel 5 –

After the hike I drove north on Lakeshore drive.  This is Boulder Beach.  There are many access points for beach and water recreation on Lake Mead.

Looking SE over Lake Mead from a point near the Fish Hatchery

I had a 5-hour drive to Great Basin NP – sunset in NV.  Slept in Baker NV just outside the park.

 4/6 TuGreat Basin NP is located in East-Central Nevada near the Utah border.


Helen and I toured Lehman Caves NM in 1968.  It was incorporated into the new Great Basin NP in 1986.


We visited again in 1992 with Kate, Chad, and Manuel, our exchange student from the Canary Islands.    

Kate and Chad doing their Junior Ranger activities.

Great Basin NP entrance 6:45am – 24 degrees!

I did a short hike from the Upper Lehman Creek Campground

I then did the Nature Trail behind the Lehman Caves Visitor Center – view looking east.

“Discovery or Natural Entrance” – with bat-compatible gate.   A new entrance tunnel was blasted into the cave in 1939.

Clarence and Bea Rhodes cabin (1928), they were custodians of the cave.

Ab Lehman discovered the caves in 1885

On the way out of town I visited the Baker Archeological Site administered by the BLM.

Pronghorns are the only animals in the world that have forked horns that shed each year.

This is open range country – watch out!

I had not planned on stopping in Zion NP on this trip.  However, I was passing the Kolob Canyons section of the park, which I had not been to before, and could not resist seeing another part of the park.  Helen and I tried to visit here in 2009 but the road was closed because of snow.  So, we went to the main entrance and, among other things, climbed to Angels Landing – see Blog for March 2009.

I stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove to the end of the Kolob Canyons Road.

Photos from the parking lot at the end of the road – Kolob Canyons Viewpoint

I then hiked the Timber Creek Overlook Trail for a view from a higher perspective.

It took only an hour to get to Pipe Springs NM in the northern Arizona strip. Helen and I visited in 2009 and did the ranger tour – see Blog for March 2009.  I had only one photo from that visit, so I stopped here again today.

This has been a notable “watering place” for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.  The Kaibab Tribe of the Paiute Nation is an active partner with the monument.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) came here in the mid-1800s, conflict over water and land use began.  In 1868, a small stone cabin was built here to defend against Navajo raids.  Two sandstone-block buildings, with a central courtyard and strong wooden gates, were constructed in 1870.

Winsor Castle

Some Winsor Castle rooms –

First occupants

Next experience – Grand Canyon-Parashant NM (BLM).  In March 2009 Helen and I drove through a small eastern section of this monument on our way to the Toroweap Overlook of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River– see Blog.  On this trip, I drove the same gravel road (Rt 109) to Rt 5 and then turned west to go further into the monument.  I wanted to drive a loop from the west but the rangers in St. George told me it was too early for the 4WD road to be passable.

I had to hustle to complete the Nampaweap Petroglph Trail (about 1.5mi roundtrip) before it was dark.

I then continued west into the Mount Trumbull Wilderness and the trailhead for Mt Trumbull (8,028ft).

I used my headlights to take this photo of a marker for the Historic Sawmill Site (1870s-1940s) that was used to provide the lumber for the Mormon Temple in St. George.  Teams of oxen hauled the wood 80 miles over what became known as the Mormon Temple Road.

It was now dark, so I drove a bit off the road into the forest for the night.  The night sky was amazing.  I opened the sunroof and enjoyed the dazzling display of stars as I lay in the SUV.  It was a cold night at 6,500 feet with the temperature dropping into the teens.  So cold in fact, that because I had not brought my cold weather sleeping bag, I got up at 3am and started driving to my next location! I only saw one other vehicle while I was in the monument.

4/7 W – started driving at 3am from Grand Canyon-Parashant NM.  It was a long drive (12hrs) on back roads to Capulin Volcano NM in NE New Mexico.  I was here in 1990 and did the Crater Rim Trail as well as the Crater Vent Trail.

On this trip, I only had a half hour to drive to the rim parking lot and do part of the rim trail before they closed the road for the night.

Looking West from rim parking lot

After closing I hiked the Lava Flow Trail and Boca Trail

4/8 Th – arrived at Chickasaw NRA around 11am.  The springs area was purchased from the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations in 1906 and designated Platt National Park after a CT senator who had sponsored the legislation.  In 1976 it was combined with Arbuckle Recreation Area to become Chickasaw NRA.  This was one of the few times that a National Park was subsumed under another park designation.

My first stop was Little Niagara Falls of Travertine Creek

Helen gave Kate a bath in the Creek in 1982 –

I stopped by the Travertine Nature Center and then hiked to Antelope Springs

Then Buffalo Springs

There are many natural springs in the park, the CCC built several pavilions for the springs in the 1930s.  This is Pavilion Spring

Hillside Springs

Black Sulfur Springs

Rock Creek

Famous Lincoln Bridge over Travertine Creek

Bromide Pavilion

Vendome Well

The Buckhorn area of Arbuckle Recreation Area and Lake of the Arbuckles.

I arrived at Fort Smith NHS in AR in the early evening.  The first Fort Smith was constructed at Belle Point where the Poteau River empties into the Arkansas River in 1817.

The U.S. government attempted to keep peace among settlers, Osage Indians, and Cherokee Indians in this area.

The first photo is 2021, the second was taken in 1998 when I visited this site with Chad.

The second Fort Smith was built in 1838, primarily to defend against possible Indian attack from Indian Territory on the opposite side of the Arkansas River (today Oklahoma).  It was a major installation.

The Commissary

Barracks-Courthouse-Jail-Visitor Center

The Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas was established here in 1872 and operated until 1896.  In addition to Arkansas, it had jurisdiction over Indian Territory as well.  Judge Isaac Parker came to be known as the “hanging judge.”  Of 160 he sentenced to be hanged, 79 met their fate at the Gallows.

Drove into the night and slept in Missouri.

4/9 F – I arrived at the Harry S. Truman NHS Farm Unit just S of Kansas City MO at 8am.  Helen and I had visited the Harry S. Truman NHS home and Presidential Library in Independence MO in 2018 – See Blog for February.

The NPS now owns 10 acres of the 600-acre farm.  Workers were repairing the front porch roof of the farmhouse when I was there.

Harry worked on his grandmothers farm from 1906-17, between the ages of 22 and 33.  He stated that, “. . .riding one of these plows all day, day after day, gives one time to think.  I’ve settled all the ills of mankind in one way and another while riding along seeing that each animal pulled his part of the load.”

Back of house

It was a half hour drive into Kansas City MO and the National World War I Museum and Memorial.  I parked at Union Station across Pershing Road from the Memorial.

It is the largest and most notable World War I Museum and Memorial in the country.  The Allied Commanders dedicated the site in 1921 and President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the completed Liberty Memorial in 1926.  It was paid for by the citizens of Kansas City.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, the same year the National World War I Museum was opened.  [The National Park World War I National Memorial is in Pershing Park in Washington DC, close to the White House.  It has recently been renovated – see Blog for October 2018 and December 2020.]

The museum and memorial are run by a non-profit organization.  “The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.” 

It has been supported by the U.S. government and I believe it should become an Affiliated National Park Unit.  View of Union Station and downtown Kansas City from the Liberty Memorial.

I arrived at Gateway Arch NP, formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis at 2pm.

We have visited the “Arch” many times.  As you drive west on I70 and cross the Mississippi River from IL, Gateway Arch is the first thing you see as you enter St. Louis.  The next photo is from 1982, the following photos are from 1992 when we rode the elevator to the top. Tram cars can carry up to five.

Today, I revisited the museum.

Elevator Entrance

One Day, Three Nations

Gateway Arch is the tallest in the world at 630 feet high and is based on an equilateral triangle – base is 630 feet wide.

Old Courthouse

Old Cathedral

In 2018, the Trump administration renamed and upgraded Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to Gateway Arch National Park.  I disagree with the new designation.  There is no way that this small man-made park is on par with any of the other major National Parks.  Every other NP, among other notable characteristics, preserves a part of the natural environment.  Think Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, Acadia, etc., etc., etc.  There is no comparison!  In my opinion, the Arch should be designated a National Monument or a National Historic Site.

2003 50 State Quarters Coin Missouri Uncirculated Reverse

Six more hours of driving and I was home at 10:30pm – after having covered 8,400 miles.


Winter Get-Away and J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR – FL

March 20, 2021

Dick and Jan invited us to share their rented house in Port Charlotte for a week in March.  We had a 2.25hr direct flight from Dayton to Punta Gorda, checked out the house, and were on Englewood Beach on Manasota Key that afternoon.

The next day we attended the All Florida Rodeo Championships in Arcadia and then set our sights on the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.  The 80 degree weather, EVERDAY, was wonderful!

We did a 4-mile loop starting on Wildlife Drive and then returning on the Cross Dike and Indigo Trails.  Jan and I hiked, while Helen and Dick biked.

Wildlife Drive

Osprey Nest

Mangrove Boardwalk

Horseshoe Crabs

Biker Chick




Sanibel Islands Lighthouse

St Patty’s Day

2.2-Mile Punta Gorda Harbor Walk – followed by a quart of Hershey’s Cold-Brewed Caramocha Ice Cream!

Cincinnati OH and Ohio River on return flight


National Park Road Trip Part 2 – DC, VA, WV

December 1, 2020

Continuation of National Park Road Trip Part 1 – posted November 2020

11/8 Sun – I was up early and drove from the NJ Rest Area to Greenbelt Park outside of Washington DC – a busy day.  I had been to most of these sites before but wanted pictures of myself at those locations for my records.  Sorry about all the pics of ME!

I then went to three NPS sites in DC I had not been to before. The first was Battlefield National Cemetery

This is the burial site for 40 Union soldiers that were killed when Confederates, Under Gen. Jubal Early, attacked nearby Fort Stevens on July 11-12, 1864.  The only attack on Washington DC during the Civil War.

A short distance S is Fort Stevens

President Lincoln rode over, from his summer cottage at the US Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home, to observe the battle. He is the only sitting President to come under direct enemy fire during a time of war.

My next stop was Meridian Hill Park, center right side of this map

The W Street NW entrance has a beautiful cascading waterfall – when the water is flowing!

Not many people are aware of this 12-acre park. Thomas Jefferson wanted to establish an American Meridian (Longitude 0” 0’), through both poles and the White House, from which all U.S. land would be surveyed – to reenforce Americas independence from Britain. He reasoned it would also aid American map making and navigation. Today, there are many meridians running through different continents, but the Prime Meridian is still located in Greenwich England.

Nearby is a monument to the 15th President of the US (1857-61) – James Buchanan who preceded Lincoln. He was our only bachelor president.

This inscription lets you know that he was James Buchanan of Pennsylvania

At the top of the double staircase is a statue of JEANNE D’ARC, LIBERATRICE, 1412-1431 (19 years old!)

Just east of Joan, is a statue of Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, dedicated on his 600th birthday – December 1, 1921.

16th Street entrance to Meridian Hill Park


It was a ten-minute drive to Carter G. Woodson Home NHS on 9th St NW

There is a small triangular park with statue of Woodson around the corner. I am pretending to take a book off the shelf

Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History”


Ten more minutes and I was at Ford’s Theater NHS. It was Sunday morning, and the country was in the middle of a pandemic. So, it was easy to drive around DC and park.

House across the street, where Lincoln died


I then walked to the World War I Memorial, which is east of the White House and was under construction. We were here in October 2018 as well – see that month on Blog for additional pics. The location is also known as Pershing Park – for General John J. Pershing.

This Sherman statue is located across 15th St NW, from the World War I Memorial

As I continued, I walked past the Department of the Treasury

and a statue of Col. Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish military engineer, who constructed outstanding military fortification for the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War

I then continued walking around the White House.  A new security fence had expanded the area around the White House and was covered with Anti President Trump, Black Lives Matter, Count Every Vote, Equality, Justice for George Floyd, Not My President, etc. posters. President Trump was refusing to concede former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Pics of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and White House from the south


One of my main objectives today was to tour the new Dwight D. Eisenhower N MEM – the newest National Park Unit.  The first view is of the NE corner. The Memorial is on Independence Ave in front of the Department of Education, this was my 421st National Park Unit.

This view is from the NW corner – Eisenhower “The Boy”

Homecoming speech in Abilene KS, 1945

There is a “Normandy Coastline Curtain Façade” on the Education Building – it is best seen at night

Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II (1941-1945)

34th President of the U.S. (1953-1961), quote from Ike’s second inaugural address


The Ike Memorial visit was followed by three quick stops, see Blog for October 2018 for additional photos – World War II Memorial


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, FDR, our 32nd President, contracted polio in 1921 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Bread Line during 1930s depression


Vietnam Veterans Memorial – notice everyone wearing masks because of the pandemic


I then drove across the Potomac River to the U.S. Air Force Memorial in VA, which is between the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery


It was dedicated in 2006 – “The three memorial spires range from 201 feet (61 m) to 270 feet (82 m) high and appear to be soaring; its array of stainless steel arcs against the sky evoke the image of ‘contrails’ of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision ‘bomb burst’ maneuver.’ Only three of the four contrails are depicted, at 120 degrees from each other, as the absent fourth suggests the missing man formation traditionally used at Air Force funeral fly-overs.”


Next stop, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial). The first photo is from June 7, 1968. Helen and I were married on June 8th. My brother Mike is on the left and brother Pat is on the right.

Flag at half-mast for the death of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on June 6, 1968 in LA.  Martin Luther King had been assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis TN!

The memorial depicts the raising of the American Flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 during World War II. Almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, and soldiers were killed or missing during this one battle and almost 20,000 were wounded.


The Netherlands Carillon, a gift from the people of the Netherlands (1954), is in the process of renovation. It originally had 49 bells but then in 1995 a 50th bell was added on May 5th to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.




It took me awhile to get to Arlington National Cemetery, because Google Maps kept giving me directions that did not work! Many roads and access points had been closed and I had to figure out how to get there from my maps.  This photo was taken from cemetery looking across the Arlington Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial.  The Washington Monument is in the center.

“Our Nations Most Sacred Shrine”

There were tight COVID-19 restrictions and I had to wait in line (six feet apart with mask) for about a half hour before they took my temperature and allowed me entrance

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Eternal flame at grave of John F. Kennedy, 35th President, assassinated in Dallas TX on November 22, 1963

Grave of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, when he was running for President

View of DC from Arlington House

Most Americans are familiar with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, but few know about this monument near the Arlington House where 2,111 Unknown Civil War soldiers are buried


The second “main” objective of the day was to visit Arlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial) in Arlington Cemetery – my 422nd National Park Unit, of 423

Newly renovated but not yet opened because of the pandemic

Construction started in 1802; built by slaves, free blacks, and indentured servants

Lithograph shows Arlington Plantation in 1838

Parked along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and took the footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

This island nature preserve, in the middle of the Potomac River, is a fitting memorial to the 26th President (1901-1909). Theodore Roosevelt established national parks, monuments, forests, bird reserves, and game preserves.

There are more National Park Units devoted to Theodore Roosevelt than any other person – his Birthplace in NYC, his summer home on Long Island (Sagamore Hill), Elkhorn Ranch in ND (part of Theodore Roosevelt NP), and his inaugural site in Buffalo NY.

I made a brief stop at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts as I began my drive west to the Shenandoah Valley. I slept in the parking lot of a Nursing Memory Care facility in Staunton VA, which seemed appropriate.


11/9 M – took Rt-250 E to the Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap and started driving S

The Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Southern End of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP

Rockfish Valley

Appalachian Scenic Trail markers at Humpback Rocks; it crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway there

I hiked the Humpback Rocks Loop, which includes about four miles of the AT

Blue Ridge Fall Color

Twenty Minute Cliff, I drove 30 miles of the parkway, exiting at Whetstone Ridge


I then drove west, taking I-64 to the Sandstone Visitor Center for the New River Gorge National River in WV

Sandstone Falls of the New River

New River Gorge National River

One lane Bluestone River Road to former village of Lilly on the Bluestone National Scenic River

“Ye Ole Swimin Hole” – with rope swing

Bluestone National Scenic River

Foot in river – see, I’ve been there

Little Bluestone River (left) flowing into Bluestone River

I hiked a short distance on the Bluestone Turnpike Trail

Another beautiful day


Next stop, the Canyon Rim Visitor Center for New River Gorge National River WV

We did a fun family rafting trip on the New River in June 2000


Last stop, Gauley River National Recreation Area WV

Summersville Dam on this trip

Dam in October 2000, when they were doing a release for world class white water rafting, note the snow on the trees

Gauley River Overlook, rafters starting their adventure

Carnifex Ferry Civil War Battlefield is located nearby

How West Virginia became a state – On September 10, 1861, the Federals prevailed, and the Confederates retreated from western Virginia. In 1863, West Virginia became a Union state, Virginia remained in the Confederacy

In 2000, we did the trail to Pillow Rock Rapids, you can see how it got its name

Rafters knocked out – Rescuers on rock

Woods Ferry access

My Sleep Machine


5hr drive to Springfield, arrived home at 11pm


CA Trip including Sloan Canyon NM (NV), Walnut Canyon NM (AZ) and Hohokam Pima NM (AZ)

March 27, 2019

3/7 Th – Up at 4am to catch our 6:25am flight in Dayton. Arrived at LAX at 1:15, 2.5hrs late because of a mechanical problem in Detroit. As a result, they canceled my rental car and I had to get another, which cost me an additional $165! Anyway, made it to Kate’s, Beef Brisket at We Have Noodles, and then an Uber to the Hotel Café in Hollywood to hear a performance by Griffin House. He is from Springfield and we had heard him many times before, but this was his best performance in memory. By the time we got to bed it was 3am OH time – a 23-hour day!

3/8 F – Recover from previous day! Thrift shops and playing games – Farkle, Aces to Kings, Dominoes, Skip Bo, and Yahtzee. Kate made and excellent Asian Chicken and Rice dinner.

3/9 Sat – It took 1.5hrs to drop off Bennett and get to Long Beach to catch the 9:30am Catalina Express Ferry to Santa Catalina Island. It is one of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of southern CA.

Passing the Queen Mary as we departed the harbor


The ~24mile crossing took an hour and ten minutes and we landed in the resort town of Avalon

In 1919 the entire island was purchase by William Wrigley Jr (chewing-gum magnate). Wrigley proceeded to develop Avalon into a resort. He also brought his Chicago Cubs baseball team here for Spring training until 1951. Looking across the harbor, the landmark circular building is the Avalon Casino, the Chimes Tower can also be seen center left.

We started by walking through town to the Casino

Wrigley started Catalina Pottery and Catalina Tile here in 1927

We decided to take the 1.5hr tour

Wrigley built the art deco Avalon Casino 1928-29 for 2 million dollars. Casinos have become known as gambling establishments. However, casino is defined as a building or large room used for meetings, entertainment, dancing, etc. – it is the Italian word for a gathering place. This casino was built with no intention of gambling and that has remained true to this day.

The ground floor theater was designed for excellent acoustics to accommodate the first “talkie” movies. The first shown here was “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson.

The top floor contains the world’s largest circular ballroom and hosted all the Big Bands of day

Our guide Frankie, self-acclaimed professional dancer, danced with Helen and Kate

The dance floor was built for 2,000 dancers, though we were told that there were at times 4,000 on the floor

View of Avalon from Casino

View of Casino from Descanso Beach. It was too cold to swim or kayak today.

We had a fish & chips lunch and then rented a golf cart to tour the outskirts of Avalon. This is a nice view from part way up Mt Ada.

The Wrigley home on Mt Ada

Kate was our driver – they should have issued us helmets! We drove to and toured the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden



Three-fourths of the island is now run by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Lovers Cove Marine Reserve can be seen on the opposite side of the Ferry Dock.

The Ferry had a mechanical problem on the way back to Long Beach and we did not pick-up Bennett at the sitter until after 9pm.


3/10 Sun – Church, breakfast at Millie’s, walked Bennett in Echo Park, and ate corn, grilled in a shopping cart covered with butter, salt, mayo and sprinkled Mexican cheese. H and K also had some red pepper put on top. Helen prepared pork cutlets for dinner and we then played more games until ready for bed.


3/11 M – 4.5hrs from Silver Lake to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area (NV) ~15 miles S of Las Vegas (I15 to Exit 25). It was difficult to find the access road because there was construction taking place for a very large housing development. When we arrived at the trailer Visitor Contact Station, we found it closed, though it was supposed to be open.

We did Option 3, the loop trail combination of the 100 and 200 trails for 4.25 miles and 400 ft elevation gain

Trail register entering the North McCullough Wilderness Area

Climbing the first waterfall

Entering canyon