Category Archives: Museum

Great Falls, Montana July 21, 2020

We arrived in Great Falls, Montana, (pop 59,000) for a two week stay. Great Falls is the third largest city in Montana. IMG_20200803_131659

It is located along the upper Missouri River where the Lewis and Clark Expedition had to portage around five waterfalls in June 1805 and then again during their return trip in 1806. IMG_20200802_133342L&C Portage Route MTIMG_20200803_131817Within a 15 mile stretch of the Missouri River there is an elevation change of 500 feet. This very difficult 18 mile portage around the falls took over 31 days. This portage was one of the most difficult of their journey. Great Falls gets its name from these five waterfalls. Today the city is called “The Electric City” because each of the falls has a hydroelectric dam. 

We spent time exploring the different falls and dams that make up Great Falls. The falls look much different today than they did during the time of Lewis and Clark because they were altered by the construction of the dams. The falls which at one time was seen as a great obstacle by Lewis and Clark is now seen as of great benefit to supply energy and power to the city. 

Of the five falls, one is not accessible by car and one is submerged. We were able to visit the other three. IMG_20200725_110316

Great Falls/Ryan Dam was the first we visited. When first seen by Lewis and Clark, a measurement of the height was taken by Clark using a sextant and a rod using geometry. Clark estimated the height to be 97 feet and ¾ inches which is remarkably accurate to the 96 feet shown by recent electronic measurements. Clark was only off by a foot! IMG_20200725_111308rThe Big Falls Missouri River MT 1910

To best view the dam and falls we walked across a suspension bridge across the Missouri River to Ryan Island Park. The upper part of the falls were covered by the 1,336 foot Ryan Dam. At first the dam was called Volta Dam after the Italian Alessandro Volta for whom voltage was named. It was later renamed Ryan Dam. IMG_20200725_105958IMG_20200725_110123PANO_20200725_111525.vr

Next up was Rainbow Falls/Rainbow Dam. Captain Lewis referred to this as “Beautiful Cascade”. The dam was constructed in 1910. IMG_20200726_115412IMG_20200726_105423IMG_20200726_105659MVIMG_20200726_105711

The last falls we visited was Black Eagle Falls/Black Eagle Dam. This falls is 26 feet high and 600 yards wide and was the first to be dammed in 1890.  We viewed the falls and dam from the Black Eagle Memorial Island Park which was accessed across a bridge. IMG_20200725_124239IMG_20200726_122717

On the riverfront trail along the Missouri River was a statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea. IMG_20200726_122751-EFFECTSIMG_20200726_122948IMG_20200726_123109IMG_20200726_110616

We also visited Giant Springs State Park, a beautiful state park. Clark first found this great spring in June, 1805 and called it the largest fountain or spring he ever saw. It is one of the largest freshwater springs in the United States. Over 150 million gallons of water flow from Giant Springs into the Missouri River everyday. MVIMG_20200726_111554IMG_20200726_112343IMG_20200726_112419

The springs are the source of the Roe River, which at one time was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest river in the world. Whether or not that record stands today, at only 201 feet in length it is definitely one of the shortest. The Roe River flows into the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States. IMG_20200726_111547IMG_20200726_111655IMG_20200726_112602

Next up we visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It was disappointing that both the theater and entire lower level of the Center were closed due to the pandemic. IMG_20200726_114936IMG_20200726_120309IMG_20200726_120309(1)

There were still interesting exhibits and displays here about the Expedition. Meriwether Lewis wrote that he saw more buffalo in this area than he ever witnessed before. Buffalo was a staple diet for the local Native Americans and became a favorite meal for the members of the Expedition. IMG_20200726_115758IMG_20200726_115853

We stopped by the Great Falls Visitors Center which was closed but we did see a nice statue of Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea, York a slave and Seaman the dog. We also found a geocache there. IMG_20200726_135500

We found a nice police memorial nearby. IMG_20200726_135702

On another very hot day we drove to the Upper Portage Camp Overlook. This area overlooks the site of the 1805 Lewis and Clark Upper Portage Camp on the banks of the Missouri River. Even though the landscape has changed over the centuries, it was still a place where we felt a deep sense of history.


A Reenactment Of The Boat; In the Background In the Trees Is the Campsite

While Clark directed the portage around the falls, at this site Lewis supervised the assembly of a boat they had hauled in pieces from Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Considered an experiment, the iron boat frame was designed by Lewis in 1803. The canoe shaped frame was 36 feet long and 4 ½ feet wide with nearly 200 pounds of iron strips connected with screws. It was further strengthened with willow limbs and covered with animal skins. It was designed to carry 8,000 pounds. Lewis’ crew labored for weeks preparing 28 elk and four bison hides. Unfortunately during a trial run the boat at first floated like a cork and then sank. Lewis was devastated by the failure and ordered the boat to be buried here.

They then quickly moved upstream and made two large cottonwood boats as a replacement. The iron boat and failed experiment was never mentioned in their journals. A replica of the boat experiment is located here today. 

Meanwhile at the Lower Portage Camp, Clark and the rest of the Corps of Discovery struggled around the five falls. Four times they loaded baggage into six canoes laid upon carts and then pushed and pulled the heavy loads across 18 miles of rugged terrain. They used sails to help them whenever strong winds allowed and endured brutal hail storms. At one point they documented hail as large as seven inches in diameter that bounced 12 feet and landed 30 feet away. It left them bruised and bloodied. They endured heat, rain, prickly pear cactus, and mosquitoes. Through it all Sacajawea, having recently been deathly ill, carried her four month old baby. 

The Expedition all gathered together at the Upper Portage to rest and plan the rest of their journey before leaving on July 13, 1805. They stockpiled meat, wrote lengthy journal entries, made detailed maps, and dug a cache to store items and equipment they wouldn’t need until their return trip when they camped here again from July 13-26, 1806. It was here they celebrated the nation’s 30th Independence Day on July 4, 1805 with a feast of bacon, beans, dumplings, and bison meat as well as singing and dancing. They wrote they fought off mosquitoes and grizzly bears that harassed them daily. 

We also found a geocache here after a long search in the hot sun. 

We enjoyed our time in this historic city except for the extremely hot temperatures. 

Next up: Lewistown, Montana

New Mexico, Sept 2019

Santa Fe RV Rally

We have had an enjoyable slow paced fall. In early September we attended a Family Motor Coach Association – amateur radio rally in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was an enjoyable four days with eleven couples, a few we had met before and others for the first time. 20190901_18385320190901_184054

It was fun to see all the RVs with their antennas in the campground. IMG_20190903_103553

Santa Fe is a pretty little capital city. This was our third visit to the area. 

Albuquerque and Hamfest

Next up was a month in Albuquerque. We spent the time getting some medical appointments taken care of and working on travel plans for the rest of 2019 and 2020. IMG_20190918_140903

While we were here the Albuquerque amateur radio group had a three day Hamfest which we attended. I studied hard and was able to pass a test to update my amateur radio license from Technician to General operator class. Bill already has an Extra license, the highest level available. 20190921_155647

Trinity Site

Leaving Albuquerque we traveled south to Socorro, New Mexico for a four night stay. Our main reason for stopping here was to visit the nearby Trinity Site. The site is only open twice a year, the first Saturday in April and October. IMG_5192

We have wanted to visit this historic site for several years and this is the first time we have been in New Mexico at the right time. They only open the site twice a year because the site is located on the United States Army White Sands Missile Range where they often conduct missile tests. White Sands Missile Range is one of the most sophisticated test facilities in the world. IMG_5198

Since the site is only open twice a year, it can attract quite a few visitors. I had read that the site opens at 8:00 A.M. but that cars start lining up to get in as early as 6:30 A.M. Since we had an hour drive we left at 5:45 in darkness and heavy fog. It was so foggy we could hardly see to drive.  But even with the fog we arrived at 7:00 and there were about 25 cars in line in front of us. Instead of 8:00 they didn’t open the gate until 8:30 for reasons unknown. We had to pass through security and show our driver’s licenses and confirm we had no weapons or firearms. IMG_5212

The Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested early in the morning of July 16, 1945.  The 51,500 acre area where the 19 kiloton explosion occurred was designated a national historic landmark in 1975.  Several potential sites in California, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado were considered but this site was ultimately selected because it was already controlled by the government. It was part of the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range which had been established in 1942.  The area was secluded which provided secrecy and safety and was also close to Los Alamos where the atomic bomb was designed and built. 

The Trinity Site area where the bomb was placed and exploded is called “Ground Zero”.  It is reached by walking a third of a mile from the parking lot. IMG_5213IMG_5214IMG_5216IMG_5218IMG_5228

An obelisk made of lava stone marks the actual spot. IMG_5226IMG_5229IMG_5233IMG_5225IMG_5222


This Is What Is Left Of One OF The Tower Legs


They had a replica of Fat Man, the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. This is the type of bomb tested at the Trinity Site. IMG_5234

We also took a bus from the parking lot to Schmidt/McDonald Ranch House. IMG_5208IMG_5204

This is where the plutonium core to the bomb, about the size of a briefcase, was assembled. IMG_5200

I was interested in the radiation levels at the Trinity Site. They say the radiation levels are very low with the maximum levels about ten times greater than the region’s natural background radiation. Many places on earth are naturally more radioactive than the Trinity Site. A one hour visit to the site will result in a whole body exposure of one half to one millirem. To put this in perspective, Americans receive an average of 620 millirem every year from natural and medical sources. A sequence of pictures taken that day were on display. IMG_5230IMG_5231IMG_5232

As we were leaving the Trinity Site we passed protesters from New Mexico.  They claim families in the area were affected by the testing in 1945 and never received any restitution. We were told the protesters gather every year. 

National Radio Astronomy Observatory – Very Large Array

After stopping home for lunch we decided to make a full day of sightseeing and drove up to see the Very Large Array. IMG_5236IMG_5239

They were having free admission since it was the first Saturday in October. The Very Large Array is one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories. It features 27 radio antennas in a Y shaped configuration. Each antenna is 82 feet in diameter and weighs 230 tons. Bill took a 50 minute guided tour of the facility and really enjoyed learning about these radio antennas. IMG_5238IMG_5243IMG_5244IMG_5237

The individual signals are merged to one picture and then colored to add perspective. Here is an example of one picture made from radio wave emissions from outer space. dwarf galaxy UGC5288 gas_large-1006x1024

Here is what radio waves are transmitted when pointed at Saturn. IMG_5240

The Next Generation Very Large Array is underway and will start construction of two hundred plus radio antennas to improve the sensitivity ten times. IMG_5248IMG_5245IMG_5246

We have just a couple more stops in New Mexico. 

Canyons of the Ancients NM, CO July 20, 2019

During our time at McPhee Reservoir Recreation Area, along with visiting Mesa Verde National Park, we also visited other nearby Pueblo dwellings. Down the road from our campground was the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitors Center. We stopped there and watched a movie and picked up a map of Pueblo dwellings within driving distance. IMG_20190716_141257IMG_20190716_14021820190720_122133

The next morning we set out for a day of exploring along part of the 116 mile road named Trail of the Ancients, the only National Scenic Byway in America dedicated solely to archaeology. The first place we visited was Lowry Pueblo, an ancient pueblo site with forty rooms and eight circular kivas. IMG_4540IMG_4541IMG_4551IMG_4555IMG_4557

A roof has been placed over the main dwelling to preserve it. We were able to walk inside for a close up view. IMG_4543IMG_4544IMG_4548IMG_4549

Next we drove to Hovenweep National Monument which lies in both Colorado and Utah.  Hovenweep is a Ute Indian word meaning “deserted valley” which adequately describes the area. There are many multi room dwellings, small cliff dwellings and towers scattered over the canyon slopes. These were constructed by Ancestral Puebloans more than 700 years ago, around the same time as Mesa Verde. Like at Mesa Verde, extended droughts forced the people to abandon the area around 1300 A.D. IMG_455920190720_115011IMG_4562IMG_456020190720_130335

We first stopped at the Visitors Center and watched a movie before taking the Little Ruin Trail to see some of the dwellings and towers. They believe the towers could have been used as storage silos for crops, defensive forts or for ceremonies. IMG_4575IMG_4573IMG_4572IMG_4582IMG_4584IMG_4591IMG_4589IMG_4590IMG_4595IMG_4597IMG_4598

When we returned from our hike we saw a very interesting talk on coyotes by a Ranger. 20190720_122255

We certainly enjoyed our time in southwestern Colorado. IMG_4602IMG_4603IMG_4605IMG_4610

Next up: Rico, CO and cooler temperatures at last

Colorado Tidbits:

  • There are 58 peaks in Colorado 14,000 feet above sea level, more than any other state.
  • Colorado’s nickname is the Centennial State because Colorado was admitted into the union in 1876, the centennial anniversary of the United States.

Mesa Verde NP, CO July 16, 2019

We left Monument Valley and headed to Colorado and hopefully cooler temperatures. It was a beautiful drive with more rock formations and occasional farmland with horses and cattle. We were surprised to see some working oil pumps. 20190714_12572320190714_130203

Our destination was the McPhee Reservoir Recreation Area in the San Juan National Forest for a seven night stay. We had a lovely, private campsite with electric only located at an elevation of 7,200 feet. In the distance we saw snow capped mountains. IMG_20190715_155701

Near our campsite is an overlook of the reservoir.  Where you see water now is where at one time the lumber company town of McPhee stood. In the late 1920’s McPhee was Colorado’s largest lumber mill town with a population of 1,400 and produced over half of the state’s lumber output. In 1948 after a second major fire in a decade destroyed the sawmill, it was not rebuilt. Today the former lumber town is submerged by reservoir waters. 20190719_201653

One day we drove over to Mesa Verde National Park. As we were leaving our campground early in the morning we saw a very large herd of cattle being led down the road to another pasture. It was hard to get a good picture of the large herd because we were facing into the sun. IMG_20190716_070819

We were last at Mesa Verde National Park in 2015 (see link: Mesa Verde National Park, CO).  The 52,000 acre park is one of the country’s major archeological preserves with almost 5,000 archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, was the home of Ancestral Pueblo people for more than 750 years. IMG_20150517_110223 IMG_4506

They lived in the area from around 500 A.D. to 1276 A.D. It was approximately around 1200 when they began to build the cliff dwellings that Mesa Verde is best known for today. When a drought struck that lasted for twenty-four years, it eventually forced the people to leave the area and migrate to New Mexico and Arizona in search of water and better living conditions. IMG_4509

Last time we were here we drove the loop road where some of the larger cliff dwellings are viewed from a distance. In order to see the cliff dwellings up close you have to go on a park ranger led tour for the very reasonable fee of $5.00. IMG_20190716_095017IMG_20190716_095042IMG_20190716_100143IMG_20190716_094632IMG_4516

This time Bill decided he wanted to take the hour long tour of the largest cliff dwelling in the United States, Cliff Palace. He had a reservation for 9:30 A.M. in order to avoid the hottest part of the day. Even though we were now in southwestern Colorado we were still having afternoon temperatures in the upper 80’s. The tour was labeled as strenuous with steep, uneven stone stairs both going and coming and you had to climb four steep ten foot wooden ladders to access the cliff dwelling. I decided not to go and waited in a shady seating area while he was gone. It was the idea of the four steep ten foot wooden ladders that got to me. IMG_20190716_094517IMG_20190716_103253IMG_20190716_103247

Bill had a great time but he did say the walk out was pretty strenuous. He said the ranger did a nice job describing what everyday life was like at the Cliff Palace over 800 years ago. Cliff Palace consisted of about 150 rooms made of sandstone and mortar made of sand, clay and ash. Water had to be hauled in to make the mortar. It is almost inconceivable to imagine how they accomplished this herculean effort in twenty years. In addition to the 150 rooms they had 75 open spaces and 21 kivas, below ground circular rooms used for ceremonies and gatherings. IMG_20190716_101341IMG_20190716_101239


Kiva – Round Room Without Roof


Picture Taken From Window Of Three Story Tower – Shows Floor Logs


After Bill’s tour we stopped at the archeological museum to see a movie about the park and view exhibits and artifacts on the Ancestral Puebloans. IMG_4524
We stopped by the Far View Sites where homes were built on the top of mesas.


Far View House


Far View House Walls


Kiva at Far View House


Unique Stone In Outer Wall Of Pipe Shrine House

After a late lunch it was starting to get quite hot and we were very glad we had gotten an early start.

Mesa Verde National Park is an amazing place!

Next up: more exploring in southwestern Colorado

Boulder City, NV APR 12, 2019

Leaving Lake Havasu City we drove to Boulder City, Utah for a six night stay. Boulder City (pop 15,600) is a lovely city which was built in 1931 to house workers contracted to build Hoover Dam, formerly called Boulder Dam. 20190413_150655Previously, men who hoped to work on the Dam were living with their families in tents and shacks on land chosen as the site of the Dam. The town was built by the Bureau of Reclamation as the “Boulder Canyon Project Federal Reservation”.  Federal rangers maintained law and order on the “reservation”. Boulder City is very rare in that it was fully planned under government supervision. The town was designed to house around 5,000 workers and the status of the workers was reflected by the size and location of their house. Commercial development was restricted and severely limited by a stern, iron fisted city manager. There was no provision for schools at first because it was assumed only single men would be working on the Dam. No hospital was built for years with injured workers taken to nearby Las Vegas. When a hospital was eventually built, it was a number of years before females were allowed to be admitted.  Visitors to Boulder City had to go through a gatehouse, and gambling was prohibited. Today, Boulder City is one of only two Nevada cities which prohibit gambling. Alcohol was prohibited until 1969. Las Vegas had campaigned to have the workers housed in Las Vegas but because of its rowdy, risqué reputation, it was passed over in favor of Boulder City. Today Boulder City is very proud of its nickname “Home of Hoover Dam”. The federal government gave up control of Boulder City in 1959 when it was incorporated.

We visited the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum located inside the historic Boulder Dam Hotel. The hotel, built in 1933, is on the National Register of Historic Places. 20190413_150536

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the hotel was the accommodation for Shirley Temple, Betts Davis, Howard Hughes, Will Rogers, Boris Karloff and other celebrities who came to see the Dam being built. The museum had an excellent movie and exhibits on life in Boulder City in the 1930’s as well as the construction of the Dam.  Working conditions were hard and treacherous to say the least. Because of a fine of $3,000 for every day the construction ran over deadline, the men were pushed to the limit and often competitions were used to push the men even harder. 20190413_13514720190413_135544Occurring in the days immediately after the Great Depression, men were afraid to complain of unbearable heat and working conditions for fear of being fired. Only American citizens could work on the Dam which essentially meant whites only. In 1932 only a few African Americans were hired but were not allowed to live in Boulder City. This changed after Franklin Roosevelt was elected.20190413_13512820190413_13502320190413_135556IMG_20190413_14030020190413_134902

We enjoyed walking around the town doing some geocaching. Evidence of the town’s history was everywhere. 20190413_150356


34 Ton Water Runner Converts Water Power To One Generator

One day we drove to the nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This is the nation’s first national recreation area and the largest reservoir in the country. It was formed by the Hoover Dam in 1935 and provides water to twenty million people and farmland in Arizona, California and Nevada as well as some to Mexico. The Lake has not reached full capacity since 1983 due to water demands and drought. In August, 2017 it was only at 40%.

Our main reason for going there was to hike the Historic Railroad Trail. IMG_20190415_122735This trail is a portion of the former railroad route that carried supplies from Boulder City to Hoover Dam during construction of the Dam. The trail is no longer a railroad but has been replaced with crushed rock. Along the trail are panoramic views of Lake Mead. 20190415_123839Hikers pass through five tunnels approximately 300 feet in length and 25 feet in diameter. The trail can take you all the way to Hoover Dam but on this day we had to stop at tunnel three because the tunnel was closed due to unstable conditions. Since it was a hot sunny day with no shade on the trail, we were okay with turning around at that point. We had walked 10,000 steps by the time we returned to the car. 20190415_12590020190415_123435IMG_20190415_123702

We then drove to Hoover Dam. Back in Jan, 2015 we visited Hoover Dam and took a tour of the facility. This time we wanted to stop at the visitor area at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which is the first concrete-steel composite bridge in the United States and the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. IMG_20190415_141507At 880 feet above the Colorado River it is the second highest bridge in the United States and the world’s highest concrete arch bridge. IMG_20190415_142635IMG_20190415_143317IMG_20190415_143255The bridge connects Arizona and Nevada.  The visitor’s area, in Nevada was super busy with limited parking. I did the musical chairs game with all the other cars trying to find a parking spot. In the meantime Bill walked up the steep trail to the top of the Bridge. It was a very windy day and when he walked out onto the bridge he took his sunglasses off because he was afraid they would blow off his face! IMG_20190415_142510IMG_20190415_142145He took some great shots of Hoover Dam from the top of the bridge. IMG_20190415_142156

We then drove from Nevada over the dam to the Arizona side to have another look at this marvelous structure.


Hoover Dam from the Arizona Side With Memorial Bridge in the Distance

Another day we hiked around the Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden. We loved the beautiful rocks, desert flora and giant statues of desert animals. Plaques gave interesting facts about the animals and flora. Did you know jackrabbits can run up to forty miles an hour or that the roadrunner can survive its entire life without drinking water but receives moisture from its prey? 20190413_15225920190413_15273720190413_15262620190413_153051

We finished the day by finding a geocache at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. We not only found a geocache but some great old trains too. IMG_20190413_155028

Railway Post Offices (RPO) were used to transport and sort mail using the hanging mail bag system. RPO were started in the 1830’s and ended in 1950’s. IMG_20190413_160306IMG_20190413_160526IMG_20190413_160534

We had a wonderful time in Boulder City.

Here is the link to our previous visit to Hoover Dam where we took the inside tour January 27, 2015 Boulder City, Nevada

Next up : Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Los Angeles, CA, Part 1, Nov 5, 2018

We just finished a two week stay at an RV park in Acton, California where the winds and threat of wildfires were a constant worry. Acton is located about forty miles northeast of Los Angeles.  The Santa Ana winds were fierce, blowing dust and dirt which left us with itchy eyes and everything covered in dust. We kept a very close eye on the California wildfires and thankfully we remained safe. We had an emergency plan and stayed ready to leave quickly if we got the word. My dear friend in Paradise lost her home and everything they owned in the fire. Sara and I taught together in Charlottesville many years ago. Bill and I visited Sara and her sweet family in Paradise just seven months ago. Now the entire town is gone and the citizens are trying to pick up the pieces. The fires in Paradise and Malibu made us nervous, watchful and diligent.

In spite of all this we did manage to get into Los Angeles for some fun. One day we drove in to see a taping of the TV show “Last Man Standing” at CBS Studios in Studio City. (Even though it is shown on Fox television, it is filmed at CBS Studios). During the drive we could see smoke from the Malibu fires in the distance. 


Smoke that is 25 Miles Away

Since the taping wasn’t until 6:00 P.M. we had time to first go by Forest Lawn Cemetery at Hollywood Hills. The cemetery is huge with different sections, including an area with a statue of George Washington and a replica of the Old North Church in Boston. IMG_20181109_142517IMG_20181109_151807

We found the plaque describing the statue particularly interesting. It said, “Washington wears the uniform of the army he had led through six bitter years of war. In the midst of battle his fearless example inspired his men.  When hunger stalked his weary troops he shared their lot. When his own officers betrayed him he fought on so that generals from nations across the sea came one by one to serve him proudly.  And at last God granted his prayers for victory and peace. The seated figures represent the forces that shaped his life: oppression, revolution, victory and the return to peace symbolized by Cincinnatus, the citizen soldier. The portrait busts are those of Washington’s finest generals: The Marquis De Lafayette, Benjamin Lincoln, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox.”

A large mural of historical events along a back wall said “God Gave Us Liberty. People Who Forsake God Lose Their Liberty”. IMG_20181109_144104a

Many famous people are buried there but we had limited time so we only had time to find a few headstones. Among them was Gene Autry, Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher who are buried together, Stan Laurel, Liberace, John Ritter and Telly Savalas. If you are interested in what any of these grave markers look like we are posting those pictures at the end of this blog. 

After grabbing a quick early dinner we headed to the studio. Four years ago we went to a taping of “Last Man Standing” and a high school friend of mine was a writer on the show. She was able to get us VIP tickets with great seats, and even though she is no longer a writer on the show, I contacted her and once again she got us VIP tickets. Even though it is only a thirty minute show, the taping took two and a half hours since each scene was shot at least twice. In recognition of the very early dinner we had before the show, halfway through the taping they served everyone in the audience a slice of pizza! Unfortunately they do not allow cell phones or cameras in the studio so we have no pictures to share. It was a fun experience and since it was 9:00 P.M. by the time we got on the road toward home, the worst of the rush hour had passed!

Another day we drove back into Los Angeles and visited the Autry Museum of the American West. IMG_20181113_141141IMG_20181113_141257

The museum explores the history of the American West. It has more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts including the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant in the United States. 20181113_151811IMG_20181113_151802

Admission to the museum is free the second Tuesday of each month and we were lucky to visit on that day. Of particular interest to Bill was the extensive gun collection, though not as extensive as the one at the Cody Museum in Cody, Wyoming. IMG_20181113_143957a20181113_14443620181113_144535IMG_20181113_145804IMG_20181113_145959a


1837 Colt Pocket Model Single Action Revolver – Featured a hidden trigger that appeared when cocked


1873 Colt Single Action Army Revolver


Gene Autry Revolver

Many Colt revolvers were especially engraved for presidents. The pistol below was made for President Reagan. 


We really liked a mural called “Spirits of the West” with famous people such as Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Marshall Dillon, Teddy Roosevelt, Gene Autry, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne to name just a few. IMG_20181113_152228IMG_20181113_152256IMG_20181113_152341IMG_20181113_152249


John Wayne and Gene Autry


Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

We also visited Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, a small cemetery tucked into a corner of a busy urban area. The cemetery is so hidden from view it is hard to find and we actually had to ask a local where the entrance was located. There we found the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Don Knotts, Eddie Albert, Eva Gabor, Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, Carroll O’Connor, Walter Matthau, Burt Lancaster, Bob Crane, Peter Falk, Florence Henderson, Jim Backus and Brian Keith. We were really struck by the simplicity of most of these graves of very famous people. We especially loved Don Knotts headstone! IMG_20181113_122258

Once again the pictures are at the bottom of the blog. IMG_20181101_182408

Next up: more sightseeing fun in the LA area

Forest Lawn Cemetery at Hollywood Hills:


Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park:


Day Trip to Santa Barbara, OCT 31, 2018

Continuing our stay at the Ventura County beach park, on Wednesday we drove to Santa Barbara to look around the town. Our first stop was at the Reagan Ranch Center. 20181031_12420820181031_124232

The Center, called the “schoolhouse for Reaganism, is a Young America’s Foundation Center dedicated to Ronald Reagan.  20181031_124814 

There are exhibits about Reagan as well as rooms for lectures, conferences, events related to the conservative movement  and a replica of his library at the ranch. 20181031_13252320181031_132542

The Center is free and we were given a tour by a Center docent. We saw a movie about President Reagan’s presidency, policies and life at his nearby ranch. The Reagan ranch, Rancho del Cielo (Ranch of Heaven) is not open to the public. IMG_20181031_13335820181031_132932

During his presidency the ranch became the Western White House.  He loved spending time there chopping wood, clearing brush, chopping up telephone poles for fences, riding horses and reading in the evenings by the hearth. Reagan loved the ranch, the land and all it represented. IMG_20181031_13190920181031_132805

The Center has a chapel room with President Reagan’s favorite verse printed on the wall. This was was his mother’s favorite verse, the verse he mentioned during his inaugural address in 1981, and the family Bible was open to this verse when he took his oath of office. His mother, Nelle, had written in the Bible beside the verse, ‘A wonderful verse for the healing of a nation”. 20181031_125706

We saw Reagan’s riding boots, a piece of the Berlin Wall, his jeep given by Mrs. Reagan for his birthday in 1983 and one of his saddles.20181031_12483320181031_13283620181031_13234820181031_132357

It was hard to get pictures at the Center because of glare from the museum lights. (An example is the picture of his boots where it looks like the top of one boot is missing due to bad glare). 20181031_12463520181031_13004320181031_12494020181031_125955

Next up was the Moreton Bay Fig tree, the largest fig tree in the United States. A seaman visiting Santa Barbara in 1876 gave an Australian Moreton Bay fig tree seedling to a local girl who planted it. IMG_20181031_134017IMG_20181031_134144

Last we toured the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, without a doubt the most beautiful courthouse we have ever visited. It was completed in 1929 after the first courthouse was destroyed by an earthquake. It is a Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture and the Spanish influence is everywhere. IMG_4460

The courthouse is composed of four buildings with red tile roofs, a four faced clock tower, beautiful arches and a sunken garden. On the grounds are plants and trees from 25 countries. You enter the main building and see wrought iron chandeliers and railings and colorfully tiled floors.  Even the walls around the water fountains are tiled as well as the elevator doors. 20181031_14433120181031_144750

Our favorite room was the mural room with hand-painted murals. IMG_20181031_14551420181031_14550520181031_14545120181031_145439

Bill did a panoramic shot of the room. If you click on the image and then again the arrow and move the picture (up/down/left/right) with your fingers, hopefully you can see around the room.  Click this link to see panorama interactive image

In the clock tower we had gorgeous views of Santa Barbara. At each of the four corners was a display showing us what we were looking at. 20181031_150418IMG_446620181031_15060620181031_150640

On the way back down the stairs we passed the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery where we could see the mechanism of the huge clock installed in 1929 and still keeping time on the four faces outside. IMG_4469

What a great day, and we were pleased that none of the places we visited today charged a fee and Santa Barbara provides plenty of free parking. The only annoying part of the day was the rush hour traffic jam we got in on US 101 on the way home.

We really enjoyed our time on the beach in Ventura watching the surfers, viewing the amazing sunsets and going to sleep each night to the sound of crashing waves.

Next up: lots of fun things in the Los Angeles area

Chimacum, WA July 19, 2018

When we left Birch Bay, which was our northernmost point in Washington this year, we planned to go to a campground near Port Townsend, Washington. We had a decision to make.  We could either drive over four and a half hours down to and around the Seattle /Tacoma area and fight horrendous traffic, or we could drive 90 minutes to Oak Harbor and take a thirty minute ferry over to Port Townsend. Hmmm. Even with the cost of gas, the ferry was the more expensive way to go. So, take the much longer way through terrible traffic and spend less money or shorten the trip by more than half, enjoy a leisurely scenic trip on the ferry but spend more money. What would you do? Yep, we took the ferry! 20180719_114616

From the ferry we had a short ten mile drive to our campground in Chimacum, just outside of Port Townsend, where we had a very nice campsite.

On Sunday we drove down to Bremerton.  On the way we stopped in the charming little town of Poulsbo and on the advice of our friends Peter and Beth we stopped at Sluys Bakery.  We waited in a line stretching out the door and had the best donuts we had ever eaten in this little family owned bakery. The very picturesque town of Poulsbo, overlooking Liberty Bay, has a strong Scandinavian heritage which is evident throughout the town.  In the 1880’s ninety per cent of the town’s population was Norwegian. 20180722_10381420180722_103915IMG_20180722_104808IMG_3205

After finding a couple geocaches we stopped at the nearby U.S. Naval Undersea Museum, an official naval museum which talked about the ocean environment, submarine technology, undersea weapons as well as diving and salvage.  IMG_3206IMG_3209IMG_3210

This is one of ten Navy museums operated by the Naval History & Heritage Command whose purpose is to preserve and collect Naval undersea history and science. Exhibits included U.S. torpedoes including the Howell torpedo IMG_3207IMG_20180722_120201

and a simulated control room from the USS Greenling. IMG_3211

Other exhibits show the NOMOADS underwater suit. IMG_3214IMG_3215

How the US Navy uses marine life to augment searches. IMG_3213

Next we continued on to Bremerton, home of the Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard established in 1891, the city’s largest industry.

Bill took a tour of the USS TURNER JOY, a former U.S. Navy destroyer 1959 to 1982. IMG_3216IMG_3217IMG_3218

The vessel was named after Admiral Charles Turner Joy and constructed here a Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

The USS TURNER JOY has been restored to her Vietnam War configuration and most of the rooms and facilities are open and appear to be operational. 


Medical Bay


Engine Room


Every fifteen years stationary ships must have their keel cleaned. Last year the USS TURNER JOY was moved to a shipyard to have the barnacles removed. IMG_3228IMG_3230IMG_3232

On Tuesday we did some geocaching in Port Townsend, including at Fort Worden State Park where the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed.   20180724_145125IMG_3235IMG_3237

On the way home we came across a doe and her two fawns. The fawns were happily prancing along the side of the road. IMG_3242IMG_3243

Next up we continue west to Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles, WA.                                                                                                                                    

Woodland, WA June 3, 2018

After two wonderful weeks at Seaside, Oregon we headed northeast and crossed over Columbia River into Washington state.  20180603_16050120180603_16053420180603_160621We settled into a private campground in the town of Woodland. We loved our campsite with a front row view of the Columbia River.  During our week-long stay we really enjoyed watching the ships, boats and tugs sailing between Portland and the Pacific Ocean. 


This boat is being towed by four togs.


This is an auto carrier that was coming from San Francisco to Portland


This Navy ship is on the way to Fleet Week at Portland


Unfortunately the day after our arrival Bill came down with a very bad stomach virus so several days there were spent recovering.


Mount Hood in Oregon

Later in the week we took a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway where we passed back into Oregon and visited two waterfalls.  

First up was the popular Multnomah Falls, which at 620 feet is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. IMG_20180606_114214IMG_20180606_113934IMG_20180606_115255

We last visited here in 2014. We had hoped to hike to the bridge you see in the picture.  We were very disappointed to learn the trail to the bridge has been closed due to severe damage from wildfires last year. The wildfires that did millions of dollars in damage was caused by a child playing with firecrackers.  We asked a couple people when the trail and bridge would be reopened. One person said a couple weeks and another said a few years!

From there we drove to Latourell Falls.  We hiked up a short but very steep trail to a view of this lovely 250 foot waterfall. IMG_20180606_132306IMG_20180606_131340-EFFECTSIMG_20180606_131718


Mount Adams in Washington

On the way home we stopped at The Crown Point Vista House with a fabulous view 733 feet above the Columbia River.  The Vista House is a museum of the Columbia River area and a memorial to Oregon pioneers. IMG_20180606_133817IMG_20180606_135744

Next stop:  Chehalis, WA

Lodi & Sacramento, CA APR 12, 2018

Leaving the Hollister area we drove to the town of Lodi for a stay at the Elks Lodge. Lodi is a major wine producing region with more than 80 wineries located in the area. The town has nicknamed itself the “Zinfandel Capital of the World”. We enjoyed doing some geocaching and found the people to be very friendly.


Beside the road was this exchange library where we found a geocache hide

Next up was the town of Nicolaus about thirty miles from Sacramento, the capital of California. Even though we drove on major highways, the roads were really rough in some places.  California really needs to spend some money repairing their roads!

On Saturday we drove into Sacramento to visit the state capitol building. It is our quest to visit every capitol building in the country. I will start with the bad comments first.  You may have heard on the news that California has an alarming number of homeless people living on the streets. That fact was very evident in Sacramento. I am not usually frightened by this, but in Sacramento wherever we were there seemed to be several people arguing loudly, cursing, and in one instance approached me for money. It is common to see people wandering the streets with suitcases or carts with all their belongings or sleeping along the roads and in parks. In and around the city, bathrooms in restaurants and stores are locked and you must ask to use the facilities. Their situation is very sad, very disturbing and a little frightening.

California has a lovely state capitol building and we took their tour with an exceptional tour guide. IMG_20180421_111813IMG_20180421_111851IMG_20180421_111919IMG_20180421_115036

He clearly loves his job. California became the 31st state in 1850 and construction on the capitol building began in 1860 and concluded in 1874.  Sacramento was chosen as the capital during the gold rush era because it was located near the highly populated gold rush areas. The capitol is modeled after the U. S. capitol building and has a beautiful 120 foot high rotunda. IMG_20180421_124646


A page boy, Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus

We loved the statue of Ronald Reagan and seeing the legislative chambers. 20180421_11403620180421_121909


George Washington portrait overlooking the State Senators

We heard an interesting story about the portrait of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had the portrait commissioned by an artist in Austria, his birth country. The artist chose not to give it an ornate frame or nameplate like the portraits of other past governors and it was hung that way. Not having a nameplate may not be a problem now, but 100 years from now will people recognize the governor without a nameplate? IMG_20180421_121410IMG_20180421_121433

We went into the gift shop and this bumper sticker caught my eye. 20180421_114419

The capitol building is located on a 40 acre park. We always look for the Liberty Bell located at all state capitals. IMG_20180421_130037IMG_20180421_130100

Next we visited nearby Old Sacramento, a four block area that was the city’s commercial district during the gold rush era and pony express.

The area has cobblestone streets and wooden walkways which give it a feeling of yesteryear. It is very much a tourist area today with restaurants, souvenir shops, carriage rides, paddle boat tours and train rides. We visited the Wells Fargo History Museum. IMG_20180421_143245IMG_20180421_143226IMG_20180421_144242IMG_20180421_144304IMG_20180421_145749IMG_20180421_150506


The Sacramento River is crossed by this yellow bridge

Watch their train here: 

We finished the day at Sutter Fort State Historic Park, site of the first European outpost in California. IMG_20180421_155124IMG_20180421_162517

It was established by Swiss immigrant John Sutter with a land grant from the Mexican government and was known as New Switzerland. IMG_20180421_161401

After the discovery of gold the land were taken from Sutter by prospectors. We were surprised to find that the original structures were made by men from Hawaii. IMG_20180421_160405IMG_20180421_160411IMG_20180421_160716

On Monday we made the long drive from Nicolaus to visit Donner Memorial State Park. In order to get there we had to drive over Donner Pass using I-80 and the Lincoln Highway, elevation 7,227. IMG_20180423_12121120180423_143220  

The snow was beautiful on this bright sunny day. IMG_20180423_115410IMG_20180423_122257IMG_20180423_122441

The state park had a very nice visitors center with displays and a movie about the Donner party, a group of pioneers who set out from Missouri for California in May 1846 in a wagon train. 20180423_135733IMG_20180423_135926

The trip usually took four to six months, but due to mishaps and bad decisions they found themselves snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter of 1846-1947, a record breaking snowy winter.

Of the original 87 pioneers, only 48 survived. It is one of the most famous and tragic tales of pioneer journeys, which included cannibalism to survive. 20180423_135816

On the state park grounds is a monument to the Donner party. IMG_20180423_144029

Next stop: Paradise, CA to see a former co-worker from my teaching days