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CA to OH National Park Units

June 16, 2022

4/14 Th – I arrived in LA last night after a 4500-mile road trip from OH – see previous post for May 2022.  Today, our friends Ron & Pat from Mercer Island WA visited.  They are Kate’s godparents and Ron was my best friend growing up in Chicago.

4/15 F – outing to Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Our last visit was October 2015 – see Blog.  

“Nature in Los Angeles?”

We started at the Visitor Center, which was formerly the horse stable for the King Gillette Ranch. 

The Urban Wild

Thriving in the Suburbs

 The 588-acre King Gillette Ranch is managed by the Mountains, Recreation, and Conservation Authority (MRCA).

We hiked to Inspiration Point for an overview of the property and Santa Monica Mountains

And then walked around the Gillette Mansion grounds.  The Spanish Colonial Revival style mansion and other structures were built in the 1920’s for razor magnate King C. Gillette.  They were all part of a landscape plan including tree lined entry, pond, formal courtyard, terraces, bridges, and lawns.

4/15 F – Photo of Channel Islands from Hot Springs Canyon Trail in Los Padres National Forest (north of Santa Barbara)

Took us about 1.5 hours to get from Silver Lake to the Robert J. Lagomarsino Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center at Ventura Harbor.  Helen and I had visited here in August 2008 before we did a three-day kayak trip to four of the eight Channel Islands – see Blog.  Note the viewing area on top of the Visitor Center.  They have scheduled Ranger Dives from the islands that can be viewed live at the Visitor Center.  Like an underwater campfire program!

Nice model showing the eight Channel Islands.  The islands were never part of the mainland – they are the easternmost islands in the Pacific Island group.  “Today, five of the islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara), their submerged lands, and the waters within one nautical mile of each island are protected as Channel Islands National Park.”  The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary extends six miles from the shore of each island.  This land/water area is “. . . home to over 2,000 species of animals and plants – 145 are found nowhere else on Earth.”

After IN-N-OUT Burgers, Kate directed us to the trailhead for the Hot Springs Canyon Trail in the Ynez Mountains near Montecito CA.  

It was a 3.7-mile rt hike (1,177ft gain) to a series of small pools fed by a hot mineral spring

The water temperature went from very hot in the top pools to moderately hot in the lower pools

Dinner at Bacari in Silver Lake

4/16 Sa – shopping, games, preparing for Easter.  Also, oil change – discovered I had a leaking axle seal that had damaged the brakes, arranged to have repairs done at garage around the corner from Kate on Monday.  Kate now has a second dog – Greta

4/17/ Su Easter – returning from Easter Mass at St Francis of Assisi RCC, note Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory in background

Heather had treated Peter to a So-Cal Holiday for his birthday and they joined us for a wonderful lamb Easter dinner at Kate’s

Followed by the traditional Cracking of Eggs

After meal walk in Echo Park

“Lady of the Lake”

Celebrated Peter’s 49th birthday – Kate gave him 49 scratch-off lottery tickets!

4/18/ M – with Kate. $2,300 for brake and axel seal repairs on Sequoia, got it back at sundown.  This was great because it allowed me to continue my trip on schedule. 

4/19 Tu – Dropped Helen off at the Burbank airport for her flight home and started my drive to UT.  Found this flying saucer cloud outside of Las Vegas. Don’t text and drive – note, I am in the middle lane with no one around me!

It was a 535-mile drive to Bryce Canyon NP.  Note the location of Bryce Canyon on the lower left of this map, and its relation to other protected areas in Southern Utah.

I arrived late afternoon.  My first stop was the Visitor Center –

Getting oriented

The Grand Canyon is at the bottom and Bryce Canyon is at the top of the “Grand Staircase.”  This region is my favorite part of the contiguous 48-states.

Fairyland Point Overlook

I decided to do the “Hike the Hoodoos” challenge.  There are nine benchmarks located along eight different hiking trails in the park.  A minimum of three miles of hiking is needed to get an “award.”  In order to “prove” you completed this task, you need to take photos or rubbings of three of the nine medallion benchmarks.  I started with a hike to Mossy Cave, which is off Rt 12 in the northern part of the park.

Along the way I took a side trail to a waterfall on the “Tropic Ditch,” a 1892 Mormon irrigation canal that brought water to the town of Tropic

I then backtracked and did the trail to Mossy Cave, where some ice remained in the “cave”

Returned on Rt 12, again entered the park on Rt 63, and drove to Sunset Point – 7:30pm

View from the Rim Trail

Hikers ascending on the Navajo Loop Trail

Slept in the Bryce Canyon Lodge parking lot

4/20 W – arrived at Sunset Point before sunrise (6am), twenty-nine degrees, – note the moon

View of Bryce Canyon from the Rim Trail before sunrise

Walked to Sunrise Point and started on the combined Queen’s/Navajo Loop Trails in order to earn my “Hike the Hoodoos” reward.  This was my fourth visit to Bryce, and my third time doing this loop.  I will be adding photos from previous trips. 


1982 hike with Helen, Stacy, Peter, and Kate – photos from the Queen’s Loop

Helen, Kate, and Queen Elizabeth

1967 hike with Jay – PH era (Pre-Helen)

I found the Navajo Loop Medallion Benchmark 2022

Start of the 600ft climb out of Bryce Canyon

Wall Street section of trail

Almost there

Top – back at Sunset Point

I successfully “Hiked the Hoodoos” covering about five miles over three trails – I took my photos to the ranger at the Visitor Center and received my award – a decal – made in the USA!

Photo from Inspiration Point in 1967

Photo from Bryce Point in 1982

Peter (11) and Stacy (12) – 1982  

Drove Rt 12 from Bryce Canyon NP to Torrey UT before turning east to Capitol Reef NP.  Rt 12 is said to be one of the most scenic roads in the US.  A good part of this road passes through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, administered by the BLM.  The monument was drastically reduced by the Trump administration in 2017 but reinstated by the Biden administration in 2021. 

In March 2009, Helen and I hiked the “Toadstools” Trail, in the Paria Rocks area off US 89 in the southeastern or Kaiparowits Plateau Unit of the monument – see Blog.

On February 8, 2018, we stopped briefly at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Center on US 89 – see Blog.

In April 2006, we did some wonderful hikes in the northern part of the Kaiparowits Plateau Unit.  That was before the start of this Blog, so I am including some information and photos here.  That year we drove Rt 12 from Torrey to Bryce Canyon NP (opposite of this trip). 

When we reached Cannonville, we turned south on the unpaved Cottonwood Canyon Road to a point where we had access to Cottonwood Canyon.

We hiked into, down about a mile, and then back up through this beautiful slot canyon

I have no idea who put these handprints here –

Do not do this hike if there is rain anywhere in the vicinity!  Debris in the water is responsible for carving out these alcoves.

Rock – Face

Scree traverse to get into and out of the canyon

Our next stop was Grosvenor Arch, named for Gilbert H. Grosvenor, who was President of the National Geographic Society. 

It is a double sandstone arch

View from the bottom 

After deliberating for a while, we decided to climb it – back side of arch

View from top

After we descended, we met a couple who had taken photos of us on top.  They later mailed them to us.

View north from bottom of arch

Our next stop was Kodachrome Basin State Park, which is in Grand Staircase Escalante NM.  Rock formations on the Nature Trail

We hiked the Angels Palace Trail to a point called the “End of the World”

Photo of park cabins from Angels Palace Trail

Ranch scene along Rt 12

OK, now I am back to 2022, after leaving Bryce NP – entering Grand Staircase Escalante NM on Rt 12   

Mormon – Hole in the Rock Trail

Rt 12 Overlook – here is one of three informative markers

I really enjoy hiking on slickrock

Escalante Canyons Unit of Grand Staircase Escalante NM, these are the canyons related to the Escalante River

Did a hike to the Escalante River

Colorful formations

View of Escalante River Canyon

I arrived at Capitol Reef NP today (April 20, 2022) at about 1pm.    

On April 27, 2006, our first visit to the park, Helen and I arrived at sunset

That night we stayed at the Torrey Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast.  It was built in 1914 (same year as our house) and was the center for community activities.  The Butch Cassidy gang frequented its weekend dances. 

We drove back into the park the next morning – Visitor Center 

Map showing Fruita locations as well as the Rim Overlook and Hickman Bridge Trails

Our first hike that day was the 4-mile Rim Overlook Trail.  It was a wonderful hike, gaining about a thousand feet in elevation, through beautiful multicolor rock formations.

Visitor Center from Rim Trail

On the way up we passed an outlook for Hickman Natural Bridge but couldn’t see it.  On the way back we met some other hikers who said we had to look harder – it was there.  Well, I tried and still couldn’t see it – then Helen said, “There it is.”  We were standing on a cliff right across from it but because it had a rock background from our high vantage point, we at first were unable to pick it out!  The following photos are from our 2-mile hike to the Hickman Bridge.  You can “see” the Bridge in these two photos. 

The Hickman Bridge is 133 feet wide and 125 feet high – when you can see it from below, with the sky above, it is obvious!  A “Bridge” is formed by water running underneath it.  An “Arch” is formed by other erosion forces.

I call this the “Rock Wall Mountain”

Afterward, we drove the 10-mile scenic drive to Capitol Gorge

We did the 2-mile trail into the gorge walking along a narrow wash bottom with sheer canyon walls. 

I found it fascinating how rocks and pebbles created coves in the sandstone walls of the gorge

There was a “Pioneer Register” in Capitol Gorge where people signed their names on the rock wall over a hundred years ago and water pockets that are called “tanks.”

Spring flowers added to the beauty of this April visit to the park.  Are you ready?  Name these flowers –







Answers: 52 -Purple Locoweed;  54 -Claret Cup;  56 – Firecracker Penstemon;  58 – Fringed Gromwell;  64 – Indian Paintbrush; and  66 – Sego Lily.

Today, 4/20/2022, I entered Capitol Reef NP from the west.  The park protects the Waterpocket Fold (about 90 miles long), which is the longest exposed monocline in North America.

Chimney Rock

I then did a short hike to the Goosenecks Overlook

Sulfur Creek flows through the Goosenecks – this photo from 2006

Afterward, I did the same 1-mile rt hike from the parking lot to Sunset Point that Helen and I did in 2006

Castle Rock

Visitor Center

Fruita Schoolhouse

I was hoping that, if I arrived at Arches NP before the close of the Visitor Center at 5pm, a ranger would allow me into the park.  This is the first year you must have a timed entry reservation to enter the park. I had a paid ($2) reservation for the following morning for the first entrance time slot of 6-7am.  After 2.5-hours, I arrived at 4:30pm – made it! – and convinced the ranger that I would leave the park by sunset if she permitted me to enter. 

This was my fourth visit to Arches NP and my main objective was to get a photo of Landscape Arch, which has the longest span in the park, 290 feet.  It is the fifth longest natural arch in the world.  There are four in China that are longer.  There are over 2,000 cataloged arches in the park.  The minimum opening to be cataloged as an arch is three feet.  This is my first Blog entry for Arches NP.  So, I will present photos in the order you would see the formations driving the road into the park.  I will also state the year each photo was taken – the Moab Fault, Visitor Center in the background 2022.

Approaching Courthouse Towers – on left 2022

The Three Gossips and Sheep Rock (center) 2022

The Three Gossips and Sheep Rock 1968

One mile trail – Park Ave Balanced Rock 1968

Rock Pinnacles 2022

Pinnacles and Balanced Rock 2022, 1982, 1968


Half mile hike to Double Arch 112 feet High 1998

Turret Arch Thru North Window – One mile Loop Trail 1968

Chad and Turret Arch 1998 (15-year-old bonding trip with Dad)

How Arches Form

Half mile hike to Upper Viewpoint of Delicate Arch 1982, note VW Camper.  We drove to LA and then flew to Hawaii on this family trip.

Stacy at Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint 1982

Delicate Arch across Valley Wash

Map of North part of park

Helen at Wolfe Ranch for start of 3-mile rt summer hike to Delicate Arch 1968.  We were married in June and were doing a NP road trip on our way to Seattle.

Tom at Delicate Arch 1998

Delicate Arch 1968

2014 Utah National Parks Quarter

2014 America The Beautiful Quarters Coin Arches Utah Uncirculated Reverse

Approaching Devils Garden 2022

Skyline Arch, 71 x 33 feet 2022

Sign describes how Skyline Arch increased in size in 1941

One mile hike to my objective – Landscape Arch 2022

Looking Northwest through Devils Garden 2022

2022, I continued on the Primitive Loop northwest through the fins of Devils Garden in search of two arches Helen and I had climbed to in 1968

Southeast view from top of small fin 2022

Southeast view from top of large fin – note small fin (previous pic) to the left – this photo 1968

The route through the fins was now in the shade and difficult to follow.  These deer advised me to turn around before I injured myself 2022

1968 – Helen at Partition Arch

1968 – Navajo Arch

Sunset from our Devils Garden Campground tent site in 1968.  The first time Helen washed her hair and then dried it over a campfire.  How could she not like the campfire scent in the car for the next two days?  Something a newly wed male was about to learn.

Slept in a hotel parking lot in Moab UT

4/21 Th – 1.5hrs to McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (MCNCA – BLM) in West Central CO on the UT border.  It was previously called Colorado Canyons NCA and has the second highest concentration of naturally occurring arches in the world – behind Arches NP.   Its 193 square miles includes a 24-mile section of the Colorado River.  “View the fossils of 140-million-year-old dinosaurs at a working fossil quarry.” It has been proposed that this NCA become a National Monument.

The 1.6-mile Rabbit Valley Trail Through Time is just off Interstate 70

Paleontologists have found eight species of dinosaurs in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry and continue to do field work here.

Kiosk at the start of the trail

Camarasaurus Skeleton – Note disk marker on rock

Rabbit Valley Overlook

Diplodocus Skeleton

Mining Claim Marker

Balanced Rock

It only took a half hour to get to the west entrance to Colorado National Monument near Fruita CO.  

Lots of great views as you drive up switchbacks to the top of the Colorado Plateau, 2,000ft above the Colorado River Valley

The formation of a Balanced Rock

Sign describing construction of the road by the CCC from 1931 to 1950. 

Note Balanced Rock in the upper right part of the photo at the Fruita Canyon View

John Otto arrived in this area in 1906 and worked tirelessly for it to become a national park.  When President Taft declared it a National Monument in 1911, Otto became the park caretaker at a salary of $1 a month!

Otto’s Trail, I did lots of short trails to overlooks

Overlooking Wedding Canyon to Independence Monument

Independence Monument – 450 feet tall 2022


Climbing Independence Monument to Raise Flag on July 4th – the Tradition Continues


This was my third visit to this park – Independence Monument – took this photo in 1968 with Helen


Independence Monument 1998 with Chad

Grand View 2022

Grand View – 1998


Grand View – 1968


Grand View – 2022


Grand View Flowers 2022

Juniper – 1968


Sandstone Detail – 1968

Coke Ovens – 2022

Highland View – 1968


Upper Ute Canyon Overlook – 2022


Bats –

Fallen Rock Overlook – 2022

Ute Canyon View – 1968 with Helen


Red Canyon Overlook – 2022

Cold Shivers Point – 2022

Stayed with cousin Nick and wife Linda in Arvada outside of Denver, dinner at German restaurant with Nick, Linda, cousin Cathy, and Lisa (Nick & Linda’s daughter)

4/22 F – 4hrs to Camp Amache NHS near Granada in southeast CO.  This is the newest National Park Unit (#424) – bill signed by President Biden in 2022.

Old Museum in Granada foreground, new Museum and Amache NHS Visitor Center background with green awning

Santa Fe Trail and Santa Fe Railroad

The Visitor Center was to be closed today but John Hopper (APS) had opened it for me for a noon visit.  A gentleman from Great Britain happened by as well.

Granada Relocation Center, also known as Amache, was one of ten Japanese internment camps operated by the U.S. government during World War II (1943-1945).  At its peak, it housed 7,500 persons of Japanese descent, most American citizens. In retrospect, this was a black mark on the Roosevelt administration.  Japanese arriving by rail car – does that remind you of anything?

Relocation Center, Internment Camp, Concentration Camp?

Despite the difficult conditions, the residents worked to maintain their community.

That included Japanese as well as American traditions

Amache was located on the Arkansas River so that residents could produce agricultural products for the war effort.

The Relocation Center Central Area is located off U.S. 50 just west of town

This was another “Red Flag Day.”  High winds with blowing sand/dust made it unpleasant to be outside.  The following are representative of many informative markers. 

Poor visibility due to blowing sand/dust

Water Tank and Annual Pilgrimage

Guard Tower and rebuilt barracks


5.5hrs on U.S. 50 to get to Tallgrass Prairie N PRES in KS.  Slept in parking lot.

4/23 SaTallgrass Prairie N PRES

Spring Hill Farm and Z Bar Stock Ranch (11,000 acres) represents a ranching legacy from 1878 to 1986.  The Nature Conservancy owns most of the land and manages the Preserve with the NPS.


This photo of the 110ft x 60ft Limestone Barn is from my 2007 visit

The Ranch House Mansion was built in 1881

I did the 1.75-mile Southwind Nature Trail

The scenic one-room Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse was built in 1882 and closed in 1930

Tallgrass Prairie – 2022, Bison herds once roamed this land.  Today you can see some bison in the Windmill and/or West Traps Pastures.  However, I did not see any today when hiking through the West Traps Pasture.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with Larry – 2007

View from Overlook – 2022

Limestone Barn with Flint Hills in background

This old gas pump is by the 1882 limestone Chicken House

The Ranch House Mansion currently serves as the Visitor Center – Ice House on hill to left

Spring Hill Ranch House Office

Sitting Room


Ice House from second floor window

2020 Kansas Quarter – part of National Park series, one NP site from each state – Tallgrass Prairie

11hr (745mi) drive to Springfield – slept in my own bed!


OH to CA National Park Units

May 31, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

The Illinois Monument

The view of Missionary Ridge

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

Delong Reservation

Ohio Reservation – Lookout Mountain in distance

Bragg Reservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also note the Confederate flag flying across the street!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also did a video from this battlefield Overlook

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

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

Loachapoka “Boom and Change”

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

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

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

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

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

I then drove to Selma AL, entering the city –

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

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

It then crosses the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

Slept in Meridian MS

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

Visited John in Beaumont TX

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

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

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

Cannon Memorial

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

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

Cannon on former Golf Course

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

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

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

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

Slept on the road –

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

Map – I entered Big Bend NP at Persimmon Gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did the short hike for a view of the Chisos Mountains

Then toured the Fossil Discovery Exhibit

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



Volcanic Highland Environment

Floodplain Environment – note mural at bottom

Marine Environment

Big Bend NP Topo model at Panther Junction Visitor Center

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

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

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

The Reward – A Big Balanced Rock

Steep descent

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

Hike to Maverick Badlands Hoodoo

Presidio – Oldest Town in America

West TX windmill – an Aeromotor, made in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This sign is at Fort Craig

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

This is a BLM National Historic Site

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

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

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


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

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

Today I did the Inscription Rock Loop Trail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manuel (1992)

Tom (2022)

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

Puerco Pueblo occupied 1250-1380 CE

Newspaper Rock

The Tepees

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

Stacy 1982

Kate, Manuel, and Chad 1992

Kate 1992

Giant Logs 0.4-mile Trail

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

Kate in the Rainbow Forest Museum, 1982 and 1992


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

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

Second, Tsegi Overlook

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hogan – the Navajo are still farming the canyon floor

Slept in Winslow AZ

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

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

Colorado River Dams

My objective today was to see and experience the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument that is located in the southern tip of Nevada.  Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave Tribe name for Spirit Mountain.

I drove the 15-mile Christmas Tree Pass gravel road from Rt 163 just west of Laughlin NV to U.S. 95

My first stop was at Grapevine Canyon where there is a trail to some petroglyphs and beyond

Photo progression to some of the petroglyphs

The trail, and then scramble, continued up Grapevine Canyon following an almost dry spring bed

I was able to climb up to a view of a balanced rock and a bit further.  But I got to a point where I felt the granite rock was too slick for me to climb higher – wish I were younger!

It was a gorgeous day with a temperature of about eighty degrees.  Because I was on the leeward side of the Newberry Mountains, there was little wind at this location on this “Red Flag” day.  On one side of the road was the Bridge Canyon Wilderness and on the other the Spirit Mountain Wilderness.

I bush wacked up a slope for some photos of the desert vegetation and rock formations

Bottom line, Avi Kwa Ame is worthy of National Monument status.

Next stop LA (Silver Lake) and dinner with Kate and Helen –


Hopewell Culture NHP in OH

November 15, 2021

11/9/2021 Tu – arrived at the Mound City Group Unit of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (NHP) outside of Chillicothe OH at about 8:30am on a beautiful fall day.  This was my third visit to this site, which is the only fully restored Hopewell earthwork unit of the historical park.  See Blog for June 2012.

These mounds were built from A.D. 1 to 400.

Mound 7

Elliptical Mound

The Hopeton Earthwork Unit is on the east side of the Scioto River

After going through the Visitor Center, I drove to the undeveloped Hopeton Earthwork Unit and walked for two miles on the paths that were mowed through the field to simulate the location of the earthworks there.

After consuming a Philly Cheesesteak from Charley’s in Chillicothe, I visited the Hopewell Mound Group Unit.

I hiked an additional two miles here, both through the mounds area

Mound 25 – the largest Hopewell mound ever discovered, 500 feet long and 30 feet high

and along the Tri-County Triangle Bike Trail

It took about 15 minutes to drive to the Seip Earthworks Unit of the NHP on U.S. 50

This is the third largest burial mound that the Hopewell are known to have built

Stopped briefly at Fort Hill Earthworks, which is part of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System and the Ohio History Connection

My last stop was Serpent Mound, which is also a part of the Ohio History Connection.  I have wanted to visit here for a few decades and finally made it!  There is an $8 parking fee.

There are several burial mounds here as well as a Village Site

But the highlight is Serpent Mound

The next photo is from the viewing tower and shows the tail of the serpent

The following photo show the serpentine body with the mouth in the distance

Looking back toward the viewing tower, right center of photo

It was a two hour drive back to Springfield


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.