Saturday, July 28, 2018

Swinging through South Dakota!

First stop on our way through South Dakota, Sioux Falls!  With a quick read in our trusty AAA Book, I learned that the best place to start was at the Falls Park Visitor Center because they had a two-story viewing tower that looked out over the falls!  No matter how big or small those were, that sounded like the best place to get some good pictures and find out what, if anything, there was to see in this small town in our short stay here, so off we went!

Beautiful little park, and great tower!  The falls weren't tall, but spread out, so seeing them via the tower was really the best way to go.  They reminded me a lot of the falls in downtown Idaho Falls ID, only I think these are actually a lot longer.  Either way, their beautiful and have a lovely park surrounding them.

That done, we headed downtown.  They have what's called "SculptureWalk", an extensive outdoor exhibit, consisting of sculptures displayed throughout their downtown area year-round.  Each May, new sculptures are placed on display and observers may vote for their favorite sculpture during summer.  I don't know if they have a winner or not, nothing said so.  We had a lot of fun walking up and down the streets looking (and taking lots of pictures) at the various  ones.  All different, some whimsical, some serious.  Here are a few of my favorite ones...
"Amelia always had an adventuresome spirit and motherhood wasn't going to slow her down.  Most jet packs have just two jets.  With a little barn yard engineering she determined that more lift was required.  She settled on five heavy thrust Harley Davidson jets."by Dale Lewis
"Red Legged Frog" - "I love the challenge of depicting the correct anatomical details of these endangered animals in my unique style by giving them human characteristics that bring them to life in an engaging, playful manner." By Pokey Park
"This sculpture of a stylized Mourning Dove in flight was originally commissioned by my Alma mater.  The College of William and Mary in 2010, where it is the centerpiece in their Memorial Grove." By David Turner
"Dignity" of Earth and Sky by Dale Claude Lamphere
As we were driving, we stopped at a unique Rest Stop  in Chamberlain - it paid homage to Lewis and Clark (as we were about to cross the Missouri River as well as the indigenous people.  A beautiful, 50' statue of an Native woman gracefully wears a quilt featuring 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes designed to flutter in the wind.   During the day, her star quilt-a representation of respect, honor and admiration in Native American culture-glitters in the sun with pieces that change color depending on the amount of light.  At night, LED lights cause the diamonds to glow in the night sky, casting a peaceful presence easily visible from the Interstate.

"Standing at a crossroads, Dignity echoes the interaction of earth, sky and people. She brings to light the beauty and promise of the indigenous peoples and cultures that still thrive on this land. My intent is to have the sculpture stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred, and in a sacred place"

Then, alongside was a building that had Lewis and Clark exhibits with a 55' replica of their keel boat and supplies with tents etc.  Nice. 

After leaving Sioux Falls, we headed to the Capitol of South Dakota, Pierre to add to my every growing list.  That gives us 25, so we are half way there!  Boy, if we had started doing this when we first started out, we would probably be (almost) done by now...but, then what would I have to collect?  ;-)  I've already completed all the state signs (some day I'm going to create a poster of all of them, won't that be cool?).

Pierre and Ft. Pierre are tiny towns, with not much going for them except for the Capitol!  It's a nice one, but no guide this time, but a good booklet with detailed information, thank goodness!

We started off our day early at their Capitol Farmer's Market...that took all of three minutes to peruse and see that it didn't really have much, so we tootled across the street for breakfast.  We were just about the only ones venturing into the Capitol it seemed today, no surprise there, so we took our time.

Outside were a couple of nice monuments as well...

 This monument depicts the images of Washington, Franklin, Madison and Hamilton signing the Constitution of the US.  What I liked about this was they also stated below..."It is our hope that this monument will not just honor the past but endeavor to give inspiration to the youth who come to visit our capitol, as it is the youth of today who will determine the future and destiny of tomorrow..."

South Dakota WWII Warriors Memorial on Capitol Lake
...and then a peek at the Governor's Residence...

As we were cruising through town, we saw statues of
"gentlemen" on just about every corner! All a little different, it finally peeked my curiosity enough to finally get out of the car and go read the small plaque next to a turned out that they were all past governors!  Cute! 

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A nice visit to Nebraska!

We've traveled to all the states now, so of course we've been through Nebraska...but, somehow we missed going through Lincoln, and that's where the State Capitol is!  Since I have a "thing" about seeing all our State's Capitols, we needed to venture into Lincoln this trip!  ;-)

...and I'm so glad we did!  What a beautiful State Capitol is is too!  Matt, our guide gave a great tour.  He loves the Capitol, and it really showed.  He was extremely knowledgeable and really took the time to explain all the wonderful details from floor to ceiling.  The architects were from New York, but had a local history professor assist them so that they incorporated finite details to everything.  Almost all of it was done in mosaic and done as a story so it flowed from one room to another.  It took 10 years and was done as a "pay as you go" so no debt was made.  Nice.  Nebraska also is the only state that has a Unicameral legislative (single branch).  Back in 1937 one of their Senators fought for it and convinced the people that it would save them tax money, etc. so they voted it in.  The 49 Senators are part-time and only earn $12,000 per year for 2 years and can only be re-elected once again.  I'd say Nebraska could teach Washington a thing or two!

Additionally they had beautiful art pieces throughout the Capitol, Venetian glass murals, paintings depicting Nebraska life, past, present & future.  On the 14th floor observation area, they had murals dedicated to public service in the Memorial Chamber.

One last beauty, as we left, was this hand carved door.  It was to the Senate Room that is no longer used (as a Senate) since they are Unicameral.  It took the artist 10 years to complete.  Even the lock to the door (the flower) was thought out.  Even after all these years, that door is impeccable.  I have to say, this Capitol is one of the finest we've visited so far.

We camped in the small town of York, and just down the road from us was a delightful place, called Wessels Living History Farm.  Jack's been absolutely fascinated with those very large agricultural watering systems that we've been seeing as we drive by these miles and miles of farms.  We figured we could learn about them off we went!

Wessels is a 1920's prosperous farm, complete with a functioning corn field, barn, small church and school house.  Mr. Wessel willed it to the city so that children would learn what it was to farm during the turn of the century.  They hold classes there, teaching children how to plant, churn butter, make flour, etc.  Very cool.  We had a great chat with one of the docents and Jack got all his answers about the Reinke Agriculture Watering System!  Nebraska has a vast aquifer just under the land that they only have to dig down about 160' or so, and link these systems up to go along their crops for almost a mile.  They can use electric, gas, battery or water power.

They had a sign there that was quite enlightening:  In 2011, Nebraska was:

1st in Red meat production
2nd in Pinto bean production
3rd in Corn production
4th All dried bean production
5th Soybean production
6th Winter wheat production
7th All hay production
10th Table egg layers 9,455,000

Nebraska utilizes 45.5 million acres, or 93% of the states total land area.  99% of Nebraska farms and ranches are Family Owned.

Wow.  I thought that said a lot.  I can tell you that driving through the state, it showed!  I think that since 2011, though, they flipped their numbers with Red meat and Corn, because we sure saw a LOT of corn and almost no cows!!!

Well, we are off to South Dakota from here, so, back on the road we go...Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Short trips, Big visits...

We've been skipping through several towns, cities and states as we slowly head in a north westerly direction towards Washington state.  We've tried to hit some areas that we've missed in prior trips, traveling State Roads mostly, staying in different towns & cities, each for a few days. since we are on a time schedule.  It's not a tight one, but one none the less.

Here are some fun highlights...

In Oklahoma we stayed in a couple of fun places, one, in Ardmore where we met up with a fellow who was selling some of his Mom's things, I bought a nice old oak dining chair from him.  We are shopping for some as we travel, to have with our table back home as we sold off all our previous dining furniture except for this small table that Jack refinished.  We now want miss-matched antique chairs to go around it and thought it would be fun to search them out along the way.  This was our first!  As we traveled out in the country to find him, we came across a beautiful homestead with quite a lovely collection of old trucks, windmill and other things decorating his yard.  I couldn't help but stop and take some pictures!

We then stayed in a lovely COE park in Skiatook Lake and used it as our base to visit Tulsa.  The first place on Jack's list to go see was the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum,  in nearby Claremore, OK!  Mr. Davis collected over 14,000 arms and 50,000 other collectibles!  As you can imagine, it took us quite awhile to go through all of it...well, it took Jack quite awhile, I wasn't as enthralled with all the arms as he was!  ;-)  I will admit, as I always do, there were some interesting ones tho...

Downtown Tulsa has a tiny Art Deco Museum that I wanted to go see, so that's where we headed next.  It was small, but absolutely marvelous.  The buildings in that area of town were also from that era, so it was quite nice to just walk & drive around and see the beautiful architecture.

The following day we came back into town and visited their Museum of World Treasures, which was very interesting.  It had a number of unusual pieces that I kept asking myself if they were really real, or replicas???  My most favorite pieces, I must confess were a small display of first editions with biographies and photos of famous authors like Edgar Allen Poe, and Shakespeare, and Robert Frost (even his cape).  Very unique...

Afterward we did one of my favorite things to do in a city, which is to photograph wonderful murals, Tulsa had some fun ones including a great door and a large chicken on a rooftop (I know that's not a mural...but hey, how could you not take a picture?)

We left Oklahoma, headed to Wichita to stay overnight, then headed right back out again and drove right into Nebraska!  I had to "cross another state capitol off my list" so we headed to Lincoln!  We'll save that one for the next update! 

...on the road in Nebraska,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Side trip to Waco!

As many times as we've come through Texas, we've never driven to Waco to "see and shop" the popular Magnolia Market owned by the HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Not that I haven't wanted to, mind just didn't work out in our plans.  This time, it did (sort of), so off we went for a quick visit!  I think Jack felt kind of sorry for me, actually, so made it happen.

We had tried to make it to the "First Monday Trade Days" in Canton the week before ...only to find out that what they really mean is "the Thures. through Sunday ONLY days BEFORE the first Monday" - NOT ON - first Monday (anymore).  We made the mistake of going on that Monday, only to find it empty...and that they "still use the name...but no longer have it on THAT DAY, just the days BEFORE IT!  Ugh.  Very disappointing, I must say (especially when you drive an hour and a half to get there).  It was awful seeing so many things just sitting on the side of the buildings, waiting for the next month, closed, and I couldn't get near them....;-(  So, when Jack offered to drive south to Waco, before heading north, I jumped right on it!  It's not the same as Canton, but I'll take it!  ;-)

Since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum as it would only take a couple of hours, and save Magnolia Market for the next day.  I was quite surprised at how large the museum actually was.  They really did quite a nice job, going back to it's beginnings, all the way to it's present day, and paying homage to all their heroes.

They explained all the various facets of the job too, from surveying to investigation.  They had quite a large collection of weapons, many of which were custom decorated.  They even had some that were the "standard" pistols that were in a display box for us to pick up so we would see how heavy they were (about 5 lbs each), and oh my goodness, I don't know how they did it, I could hardly pick it up, let alone aim and shoot it!  They carried that thing, pulled it out of a holster, then aimed it and fired it from a moving horse?  They were tough guys!

They told the story of how the FBI brought a Texas Ranger out of retirement to help track down Bonnie & Clyde and how he did it successfully, ambushing them on a back road.

They even had a cute section showing the various movie collections like The Lone Ranger.

The next morning we decided to start our day off by having breakfast at the Magnolia Table.  We had read that they served a lovely meal, but the wait could be long, so we were prepared.  From the very beginning, you get treated with "Southern charm".  They take your phone number and update you every 5 minutes as to how your wait is going.  The outdoor waiting area is nicely shaded and you can order coffees, etc.  "Hostesses" play Q & A games to make the time pass a little faster and walk around with menus and chat with people.  Our wait was about 45 min.  There is also a small gift shop inside you can go into as well (with more coffee & muffin options to purchase).

Once we were notified that our table was ready, we were whisked inside to our table.  They have private tables, community tables and bar stools.  We happen to get a private table for two.  Our wait, once we ordered was almost as long as our wait outside!  It wasn't the waitstaff, as there was plenty, with many just milling around, so it had to be the kitchen.  Once we got our meal though, all was good.  It was wonderful, and plentiful!

With very full bellies, we left there and drove over to the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which is about a 10 minute drive away.  The outside is actually much larger than the inside, which I was surprised.  I thought the shopping would actually be bigger, with more things to see.  It was very nice, don't get me wrong, plenty of pretty things, very "Joanna", but I guess I just thought it would be more rooms with larger "stuff"...

The outside is fabulous.  Lots of play areas for the kids and seating ares for them and their parents.  Picnic tables under the shade of the silos.  It's really quite lovely.  Their Seed and Supply Garden and Store is super cute and very "uncrowded", which I loved.

Once we were done there, we headed downtown to roam around.  We wandered into their "other" main shopping place called the Spice Village which was also fun and full of ideas.

We ended our day with Waco's local handmade ice cream place, Heritage Creamery.  Very yummy.

Now...we head north!  ;-)

...on the road to Oklahoma,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Family Time, Texas Style...

Our visit to my son's, as always was short and sweet.  My grandson's are growing up fast!  A one and four year old keep Mom and Dad busy, busy busy!  I had to laugh at how much the youngest reminded me of my son, always into things, climbing and undoing things faster than Mom or Dad can "do" them or get him down again!  He even has curls just like his Dad did.  The oldest looks and acts a lot like Mom, and the youngest looks and acts like Dad, so cute.

We played in Lake Lavon, which their home is right on the edge of, had a wonderful night of fireworks on the 4th with friends, took the little ones to the park to play in the water and each day checked to see if their dog Sadie was going to have her pups (she waited until I left, and had them that day!).

We introduced them to Freddy's Frozen Custard, Yum, and we enjoyed many hours of playtime and stories together.

Jack and I did escape one afternoon to go visit the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville TX and then take in a movie afterward.  The museum was quite nice and very informative.  It's always fun to learn about things you don't grow up around like cotton farming.  It was a booming business for many years for Greenville.  Audie Murphy was also quite a hero.  I had heard of his name before, but never really thought much about him.  I knew he did western movies, but didn't really know that he was such a war hero.  Reading about his military career, and how he won every metal there was, was quite impressive, especially for someone so young and so small (barely 5'8" and 110 lbs).

While we were at my son's I received some sad news.  My middle sister passed away.  She had been battling leukemia for the past year and we knew she was on borrowed time, but we thought she had a few more months.  Our plans were to see her one last time in just a couple of weeks, as we knew things were getting worse.  Now all that's changed.  She didn't want a funeral, but her daughters do want to have a Celebration of Life, but later, in a month or so.

So, we've adjusted our route, once again.  We won't be heading to Louisiana after all, but making a slow loop northward toward Washington via Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and Montana...maybe.  "Flexibility" is our middle name...;-)  Follow along and see where we end up, your guess is as good as ours right now...

...on the road in Texas,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: