Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keeping promises...

You know how you promise yourself how you will "return someday?"  Those promises you make to yourself when you visit a place that either you really enjoyed so much that you just want to come back again, or that you just didn't have enough time to see it (all) and had to leave, or drive right through it?  We all make them...but do we keep them?

Our first trip through Nebraska in 2012, we were scooting back "home" in October, with little time, as the fall was upon us, and we needed to get back to Washington before it got to late.  We happened to "pass through" North Platte, and discovered that they had a unique attraction there - the Golden Spike Tower that over-looked the Bailey Train Yard.  Now, Jack and I love trains...Jack, of course is more into the mechanics of them than I am, but both of us are fascinated by them.  When we read what the Golden Spike Tower and the Bailey Train Yard was, we immediately got excited and headed our RV right towards it, hoping we could spend some time exploring this great place!  ...we got there 15 minutes before it closed...

We rushed up to the top of the Tower, and spent those 15 minutes watching all that we could, talking to the gentleman as much as possible...but all to soon, our 15 minutes was up, and we had to leave..."promising ourselves we would return...someday".

That "someday", finally came this past week.  It has taken us all these many years, but, we kept that promise, and booked ourselves 4 days in North Platte Nebraska!   ;-)

The Bailey Yard is the World's Largest Rail Yard in North America, having 2,850 acres, 8 Miles long, 2 Hump Yards and 1 Diesel Shop.  From atop the Golden Spike Tower, you can watch the action from two different observation decks (one enclosed/one not) as the crews of  the Union Pacific Railroad sort and connect over 10,000 cars a day on two classification hump yards, with nearly 120 bowl rows and 315 tracks.  Even if you are not a "train nut" it's pretty fascinating. 


Well, once we got our fill of trains, we now had time to explore North Platte and see what else there was to see...it turned out, it has several interesting things!

One, was the Grain Bin Antique Town!  Seems some folks gathered up about 20 historic wooden and octagon granaries and relocated them out in the country, along with a very large building and started filling them with antiques!  They kind of "themed" each one, linens in one, china dishes in another, tools in another, etc.  When we went out there (after quite a long, dirt road ride) we were practically the only ones out there!  The gal shared with Jack (while he waited for me) that they had just started opening on Mondays, but usually on weekends, the place is so packed they have to have people direct traffic! Yea for us!  I had a ball wandering in one building after another all by myself...and of course found some goodies I just couldn't live without!  ;-)


The other wonderful discovery we made the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park!  Seems this is where Bill Cody and his wife settled down and built a beautiful home and raised their family back in 1887.  His sister is actually the one who took charge of the design and construction while Cody was out on the rode.  It's of the "Second Empire" style with Eastlake and Italianate features and was built and furnished at a cost of $3900.  It originally had two barns, but a T-Shaped one burned down.  He had the home built with "retirement" in mind, and named it "Scout's Rest Ranch" and had that put on the barn.


When we arrived, we were greeted, much to our surprise, by Mr. Cody and his wife Louisa!  As there were no other visitors at the time, Mr. Cody spent some time with us, telling us a number of wonderful stories about the ranch and his adventures.  He was quite an enjoyable storyteller and made our tour of the home complete!  It was so nice to be able to stroll through the house and barn and then out to see the new baby buffalo.  It is a beautiful place, but seeing pictures when Cody lived there, it was sure "out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a whole lot of dirt!".  Wow...hardy people...


Well, after a time of relaxing, now we are off to Wyoming!

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Castle in the mountains...

Did you ever wonder what makes someone do what they do?  Ever come across a building, or a structure and wonder "why" or "who"?  So many times it all happened so long ago, the history is lost and one knows, or we are just "passing through", so don't have any way of finding out the story behind it...

This time we were lucky.  Our host at our campground suggested we take a nice scenic drive out to see Bishop's Castle in the nearby San Isabel Mountains.  It wasn't to far, and the drive was a nice one, with a lunch stop on the way back at The Three Sister's Cafe.  She said the owner might even be there working on the place, "you never know, and he's an interesting guy".  I read up on the place, a rock castle, built by hand over several decades...sounded fun, so off we went!

The ride was indeed delightful, and the weather cooperated nicely.  Pretty valleys that wound up into the mountains.  Then, all of a sudden, there it was, looming right in front of you, this big, bold rock monstrosity!  Cars were parked all along the roadside, so that was also a give-away.  Tall trees tried to hid the entrance, but fail, at over 160' tall, it's hard to hide.


This "Castle" is hard to describe, as it's not like any you've ever seen, I believe.  You see, it didn't start out to be one, according to Jim Bishop.  Here's his story...

When Jim was 15 (in 1959) he decided to buy (from his own money saved from mowing lawns & delivering papers) two and half acres of land for $450.  He had dropped out of high school the year before and joined his father in the family ornamental iron works business.  When he was 25, he decided it was time to start building on the property.  Since wood and rock was plentiful, he decided to build a one room stone cottage. 

To make a very long story shorter, Jim, Phoebe (his wife) and his father, would come out on weekends during the summers and work on the "cottage"...it continued to grow, and grow, and grow.  Friends would say "what are you building, a castle?"  After awhile, Jim decided that's what he was supposed to do with it, build a castle...for people to come and enjoy...so he has kept building it all these years, never stopping, with Phoebe by his side until a year ago when she passed.  He does not, and he will not charge admission; Phoebe managed to set up a non-profit so that any donations can go to financially help local families with medical expenses for young children that aren’t covered by insurance.

After walking up and down several flights of stairs, in and out of many domes, around balconies, peeking through doors, taking lots and lots of pictures, we ventured out to find Jim Bishop.  Jack found him, where else, but digging rocks out on a project site!  They had a nice long chat while I perused the gift shop, then joined them towards the end.  Jim shared with us about loosing his wife and young son and his faith in God.  He's a small man, maybe only 5'6", frail, but what a life, and a mission to keep this project up, for the people.  I asked him about ever living here, and he said, it was never intended for him and his family, it was always intended for others to enjoy, that's why he does it.


What a treat to be able to actually meet the Dreamer, to hear the Vision, to Know Why...
It made my day...Thank God for people like Jim Bishop...


...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Passing the time in Pueblo

We are hanging out west of Pueblo Colorado these days, passing a little time until we can meet up with some friends of ours.  Seeing what there is to see and do...turns out, quite a bit!

Our first venture out, was to check out their "Riverwalk".  We have been to San Antonio's in Texas, so I wanted to see if it was anything like it.  Theirs is along the Arkansas River, and is a loop of about a mile and a half.  It is mostly art sculptures and a few restaurants.  It's more open than San Antonio's (theirs is "sunken", if you haven't been).  I guess this part of the area that Zebulon Pike camped at in 1806 as it is dedicated to him and much of it is about him and his journals.  (Pike's Peak in the Rocky Mtns. is named after him)


Afterward, we went to check out the Rosemount Mansion/Museum.  It was built in 1891 for the John Thatcher family who began in the dry goods business, then started the First National Bank of Pueblo and grew from there.  This 37 room home was built for $100,00 back in 1891, from the best that Colorado, New York  and Pennsylvania had to offer.  Tiffany & Co lighting system, stained & painted glass windows, painted canvas ceilings, and plumbing brought in from a 2,000 gal. water tank that was installed in the attic for to gravity supply throughout the home.


Mrs Thatcher loved roses, so roses were planted all around the home, hence the name.  She also had numerous themed rooms with them.  No pictures were allowed inside the home (I got, so got two inside the kitchen before they told me not to).  Needless to say, the home is beautiful and well maintained.  They left almost all the furnishings to the "museum" after the last child no longer wanted to live in the home (Raymond).  He never married and decided to leave the home to the city as a museum.  He died in 1968.

From there, we drove around town and discovered some really beautiful murals.  This town has some great artists!  What surprised me was that they don't sign them.  Most places not only have their artists sign them, but they even advertise their murals.  I even checked to see if they have a web page, and nope.  To bad, they are huge too...whole building-sized, most of them.  Here's just a sample...


They also have a really cool alley...It does have a web page that I found.  Seems a single man is responsible for this, it's called "Neon Alley".  Joseph Koncija has been collecting neon signs (along with various other signs) for years and has over 41 of them displayed on two buildings downtown.  They look great, even during the daytime!  Hooray for him!  Look at these great signs...


Nearby is a wonderful 1889 Pueblo Union Depot.  They have restored it and use it for functions.  They have done a great job, it's a beauty.  ;-)


Well, that was a full day...time for lunch!

...kicking back in Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Sunday, May 26, 2019

As we headed out of town, we took a side trip to Trinidad Co.  We had been here several years ago,  so this was a quick trip through this time just to see it again, and what changes there might be, or what we might have missed.


One of the things we did want to go see this time was just out of town, in Ludlow.  It was the site of the Ludlow Massacre.  It was the Ludlow Tent Colony Site National Historic Landmark.  Jack had to enlighten me, as it was something I had not heard of before.  The coal miners called a strike in September of 1913.  The coal companies evicted thousands of miners and their families from their homes in company towns.  In January of 1914 the United Mine Workers Assoc organized a rally in Trinidad to protest poor working and living conditions.  Governor Ammons called out the Colorado National Guard to help keep the peace and by April 1914, membership in the local militia units consisted mostly of company employees, who sided against the miners.  On April 20th hostilities came to a head, which resulted in the Ludlow Massacre.  Lives were lost on both sides.  The tent colony burned and two women and eleven children suffocated in a cellar dug beneath their tent, know as the Death Pit.  The Death Pit and the monument serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the battle.


John Lewis officially became UMWA president in 1920 and remained at the helm for 40 years.  Lewis built the UMWA into a formidable union, raising the living standards of mine workers throughout North America and transforming health care in Appalachia.  His work in creating the Congress of Industrial Organizations (the CIO) in the 1930s brought millions of unorganized industrial workers into unions and led to an increase in living standards for millions of American families.

All this happened long before many of us were even born, and if it were not for memorials like this, we wouldn't know of the bravery of those before us.  That's why I believe it's important that statues, and memorials are important, least we forget...and therefore repeat our mistakes.

We are now in a new area of Colorado for us!  Alamosa!  It's home to a National Park...so, we got to go to another one yesterday!  This one said it was one that is "a least visited park"...well, I had to laugh as we waited in line for an hour just to get into the park!  ;-)  It is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Colorado!  Well, it was worth every minute of the wait!  After all, we don't have little ones asking "are we there yet?", or anything barking, we had food and beverages, and nothing else on our agenda, so, we were just fine with the delay...The sun was shining and as we inched along, I got out from time to time and snapped pictures!  All was good!

Line ahead of us...line behind us...as far as the eye can see!
Once we arrived, Jack's "parking karma" worked and we got a parking spot at the Visitor's Center, went in and checked things out, saw the video, purchased our postcards, etc. then drove on down to the dunes, and once again found another parking spot, had our lunch then walked on over to see the dunes.  Well, what a site!

First of all, coming from California, I'm used to seeing people experiencing dunes via "dune buggies" - right off the road.  Big white hills, with people driving all around, here and there, up, down, around and around.  So, I guess, that's kind of what I expected.  Nope, not here.


Here, it's treated more like the beach, only...up hill, a 700' hill.  First, you walk, play in a creek, a very cold creek (well, cold to me, not so much to the locals, they thought it was just fine).  Then, after crossing this creek (Medano Creek) you walk along the sand for quite a bit, this you hike up the hill as far as you want (the dunes go up 700') and you slide down on however you want...people bring wooden boards, snowboards, rubber tubes, or just tumble down!  Some just like to climb to the top to sit and look out at the mountains.
People come for the day, bring chairs, tents, buckets, coolers, beach stuff!  It's amazing!


We made it as far as the base of the hills, but by then I was out of steam, no way could I make it up those hills.  By then the winds were really blowing, stinging and I had, had enough.  It was beautiful, amazing, fun, and I was ready to leave.  Leave the "sliding" to the young ones.  Maybe 20 years ago I would have done it, but not today...but I had fun anyway!  Glad we came!  Interesting place, I must say!


...on the road in Colorado, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A trip down a small piece of The Santa Fe Trail

We decided to take a day trip from Raton NM to Cimarron NM, which is a small part of the Santa Fe Trail.  They are not far apart, but for about 40 minutes, all you see between them is wide open land, with a few herd of cattle here and there, interspersed with some deer grazing.  Unlike the desert, it was all green though, so not bad to look at, I guess.  A few houses from time to time (always amazes me how people live “out in the middle of nowhere”?).  Anyway…our first stop, was Philmont Scout Ranch!

The National Scouting Museum at Philmont Scout Ranch is 140,177 acres (or 219 square miles).  It is the Boy Scouts of America’s largest national High Adventure Base.  Since 1939 more than one million Scouts and leaders have explored the rugged trails, high peaks and incredible landscape.  All of the land has been donated to the Scouts, starting with Mr & Mrs Philmont, in 1938.  The museum was quite impressive, as was all the beautiful buildings surrounding it.  We have family that have been in scouting for many years, and hold it in high regard, as well as Jack was a scout in his youth!


On our way into the town of Cimarron, we saw an old cemetery, so of course I had to stop!  Mountain View Cemetery had gravestones dating back to the 1870’s, maybe even earlier, as many were wearing off.


Time for lunch, so we headed into to town, and having done my homework, knew to go to the St. James Hotel!  It didn’t disappoint!  You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but inside, this sweet 1800’s hotel was “done up right”!  The Lambert Restaurant was fully decked out in all it’s “cowboy finery” with steerheads above the large fireplaces and photographs of Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, along with a beautiful old safe that had been used at the “Unofficial Bank” - since Cimarron didn’t have one in the 1800’s!


After our delicious lunch, we strolled through the lobby and the lower floor of the hotel to see the rooms set aside that Jesse James, Bat Masterson and Pancho Griego used when they were frequent guests.  Quite nice, even for today, let alone back in 1872!


Afterward, we went to check out the Aztec Mill down the road, but it was closed.  Cool looking Mill, to bad…


As we drove out of town, we made one last stop at the  NRA Whittington Center.  Boy, did they have an entrance!  One very long drive, with every state flag, blowing in the wind (and was the wind blowing that day too!).  Super nice folks there, and quite a nice little museum and gift shop.  They had quite a collection of antique guns and rifles, including one of Annie Oakley’s.


All in all, it was a fun day, and I’m glad we went!  Tomorrow we are off to Colorado!

...On the road to Colorado,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Thursday, May 16, 2019

...and we are off!

We are finally off on our 2019 Summer trip!  It's taken weeks of  s l o w l y  getting ready to depart.  It's different now, having a house and an RV.  Having moved a lot of our belongings into the house, now having to move them back into the RV...remembering what to bring, what we don't have to now, etc.  It's all good...just different.  With a shorter trip, and with the weather doing it's wild and crazy things, we changed our plans (several times) too.  I had really wanted to do the eastern seaboard this year, traveling all along the coastline, all the way up to Maine...but after seeing what Mother Nature has been up to, we decided it was best we stay away from that area...so, we will first head out to New Mexico, then over to Colorado to visit some friends, on to Nebraska, then in June we have a Tiffin Rally in Wyoming, then we plan on heading into Canada.  All this depends on the weather of course!  The only "reservations" we have is the one in Albuqueque because of the appointment for the RV and the rally...the rest is "go with the flow"! 


First stop turned out to be a bit more interesting than planned.  We just wanted an "over-night, no-frills" stop.  I found what I thought was a cheap, albeit, perhaps interesting, pull over, called the Crystal Forest Gift Shop in Holbrook AZ.  It was just outside of Winslow, which was about halfway to Albuqueque.  The write up said you could park for free, or it had electric for $10. It also said it had pull-thrus.  We thought for $10, the electric was worth it.  So off we went.  It was confusing.  On one side of the road was the boondocking, pull-thrus; on the other side was the electric, all back-ins.  Ugh.  Oh well.  The parking lot was surrounded by large petrified logs...different! 


We also  ended up visiting  Gray's Petrified Wood Company down the road, which was interesting. 


One thing about traveling to places you've been (a number of times), is a feeling of "coming home again", and finding your favorite places!  We have a mechanic in Albuqueque that we have gone to a number of times that knows our baby well, and we trust, so we come here every couple of years for an oil change and tune-up.  It's Advantage Automotive, and they are great!  While we are here, we always have dinner and breakfast at our two favorite spots too!  Range Cafe in Bernalillo for dinner, and Wecks for the best breakfast ever! 

We left there as soon as possible, as the KOA (right next door to the mechanic) was way to expensive! and headed out of town!  Best place we could find was another KOA, in Raton, on the boarder to Colorado.  Nothing much here, just a place to stay en route to our friends. 

We had planned on spending Memorial Day/week with our friends, but found out yesterday that plans have changed, and now we won't be seeing them until June.  So, I spent all afternoon trying to find us a place for the holiday!  After about 30 calls...FINALLY I got us a place that seems nice, and new to us, in Alamosa CO, so should be interesting.  Phew!

...on the road in New Mexico,  Marie

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Memories...

For the past month or so, my older sister Bette has been staying with us.  She's my last sibling, and I treasure our time together.  She practically raised me while I was young, and I spent many a summers with her and her family.  When we were older, we also had some great adventures together...the kind only sisters know how to get into!  ha ha

Most of our years have been in San Diego CA, and she has a young son buried there.  My brother's children still live there and we try to get together with them and their families as often as we can.  This last week, before she needed to return to Tacoma, we decided to rent a car (our little truck only comfortably holds two) and take a short trip to San Diego and visit the family, check on the mortuary to discuss future details, etc. and to see all the changes in the city since she had last been (many, many years ago).

What a wonderful visit we had!  After first checking into our hotel, Jack and I met up for drinks with my favorite work colleague who took over from me after I left.  It's always fun to catch up with James to see whats going on with the Zoo and everyone and get the "inside skinny".  No matter how long one is gone from work, you still miss it...

The following day, we took my sister to the Zoo, I bet she hadn't been in over 15 years!  Well, it's "Spring Break", Saturday, and a sun-filled day...so, you can imagine the crowd!  Just the kind of day my old boss loves to see!!  ha ha  The parking lot was full, full, full and it wasn't even 10am yet!  That was OK, we weren't in any hurry, and didn't need to see every square inch.  The Zoo was prepared and the lines weren't long.  We took the bus tour first, then just took our time wandering around until she was tired.

From there we just started to drive around the city.  What fun!  She used to live in Pt. Loma, right across and up the hill from the Naval Training Center.  You could look right into the Center itself and watch the sailors drill.  (I used to wave at them while I washed my sister's car when I was 14).  So, I couldn't wait to show her Liberty Station!  To say she was amazed, is an understatement!  So was I, the first time I saw what they had done to it!


Driving along the downtown area, along the Embarcadero, seeing the old Anthony's Fish Grotto gone always hurts my heart.  If you have ever lived in San Diego, you know that it was an icon here...one that it was here forever, and now it's gone.  Sad.  We went to the "Unconditional Surrender" statue and stopped to see the National Salute to Bob Hope (which I hadn't seen before) - such a cool memorial.


The other big change, is Old Town.  Another place she had lived was right above it, and she knew that area well.  I explained to her how the Bazaar Del Mundo lost it's lease and that they decided to change it's look to what it might have looked between 1821-1872.


By then we were hungry and decided to call it a day and stop for an early dinner.  Our favorite fish place is Kings Fish House in Mission Valley, and thank goodness, it is still there!  ;-) 

The next day we were meeting the family for lunch in the valley at the Wood Ranch BBQ.  My niece surprised us and was able to get the whole gang there!!  All 20!  Wow.  It sure was great to be able to see everyone.  The only ones missing were a couple of great nieces and a great nephews who were either out of town/state working.  Such a lovely family we have.


Afterward we made a run out to Carlsbad to see the Ranunculus Flower Fields.  My sister had never seen them before, and I remembered that they should be in bloom this time of year.  I thought she would enjoy the sight.  Jack and I used to come up here often when we lived here.  We were amazed though, how much the area had built up around the fields!  "Progress", don't you just love it?


We then took the leisurely drive back down all along the ocean side.  We swung by Belmont Park too, as Bette's first husband used to own the roller-coaster there at one time.  When I was a little girl, she used to take me on it.  I sure thought I was special, since my brother-in-law owned the roller-coaster and I could ride it all I wanted!  ;-) 

Monday morning we had an early breakfast at our most favorite breakfast spot, the Hob Nob Hill (another icon) then drove out to Cypress View Mausoleum.  We were able to meet with a very nice lady and get everything settled quickly and then be on our way back to Arizona.

We flew my sister back home yesterday.  I'll miss her sunny disposition, her wonderful cooking, her sweetness and most of all her loving company.  As I've shared before, sisters are special people, and I've been blessed with two.  I never forget to thank Spirit each day for that (and for the brother that I had).

Memories can be wonderful things when shared with loved ones...I'm glad I had the chance to do this with mine....thanks for coming along with us!

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie


If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/