Friday, February 15, 2019

Fun In The Sun

After spending the last few winters down south, I guess I am no longer as thrilled with the loooonnnnngggg Minnesota winters. Enough is enough. I decided that a little sun and warmth was what was needed and I hopped a plane to Tampa Florida. How wonderful to be flying into the area and seeing the green water and white beaches. Best of all, there was sun. 

There were a few things on my agenda. First up was the Bowling Ball house. This was just a regular house in a regular neighborhood where the owners really got into decorating their property. It was rather a visual treat and a nice change from snowy white Minnesota. 

My mother, who loves the ocean, could not understand why I chose to spend my time in Tampa in museums rather than go to the beach. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

The Dali Museum was absolutely amazing. This museum had the largest collection of Salvador Dali art outside of Spain, his home country. I've always liked Dali, his work is inventive, fascinating and sometimes just plain weird. What's not to like?

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
One of Dali's better know pieces

There was a virtual reality display where you could actually go into one of Dali's paintings. 

Archeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus"

You could walk across the sand, climb the towers and see the backside of the objects in his painting. When you are in the painting, you are about the size of those two figures in the front of the picture.  At one point, I saw these giant elephants walking across the sand. They were as tall as the towers with long, long skinny legs. I was totally in awe as I watched them walk by me. You only had four minutes to explore the painting. I almost got back in line to go back into the painting to experience more. Talk about really getting into the art.

I moved on to the Chihuly Collection. “A pioneer of the studio glass movement, Chihuly is credited with transforming the methods of creating glass art and thereby leading the development of complex, multi-part glass sculptures and environmental art.” If we are talking art glass, I'm all over it. While it was soul satisfying to see the various art forms, the best part was a film that was produced at a week long workshop he did at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York state.  The film showed how, each morning and each afternoon during the week, Chihuly and his team produced most of the different glass series Chihuly is known for.

Chihuly also paints

I also splurged and bought me a truck while I was in Tampa. It is a Ruby Red Chevrolet 2500HD Duramax.  It is definitely a big girl toy.

It came with a few accessories that I just couldn't pass up. And here I was thinking that I really should downsize. Go figure.

Bottom line though:  Can we say Wowzer!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Postcards Home

We have a friend who collects postcards.  These postcards are not the new-fangled scenic postcards.  These postcards are the old-fashioned, vintage type of postcards - the ones that speak of a bygone era.  When I got home, I found that he had been sending postcards to my house of many of the places I had been on this trip.  How wonderful to see these and relive my journey.  Thanks Pete.

South Dakota


More Wyoming

Last but not least - Nebraska and Montana

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Step Back In Time - Blogwise

I figured it out – I now have some Black Hills photos available to share on my blog. So, without further ado, and no more than a month after I've been there, I present my Black Hills Adventure blog.

I drove in past the Crazy Horse monument, but decided that since I could see it from the road, that was good enough. It really didn't look like a whole bunch of progress had been made since I was here back in the mid-nineties. I think what dissuaded me was that I read that the entrance fee was $30. Of course, I didn't read the fine print – that is per carload – it is only $12 per person. Oh well, I'll catch it next time.

I stayed right outside of Custer, which was centrally located for what I wanted to do. The big draw for me was the Custer State Park. Admission was $20, but that is good for 7 days. I guess I know where my price point is. There is an 18 mile Wildlife Loop that is rather picturesque. I am looking for Bison (Bison is what they really are, Buffalo was a misnomer – but now that I think about it, who cares – Buffalo just sounds better). I can tell I have found them when I see a whole bunch of cars stopped on the side of the road. There is a fairly good size herd, off in the distance. Buffalo can run up to 35 miles and hour, are extremely agile, able to turn quickly and can jump tall buildings (actually fences) in a single bound. Of course there are the idiot people who have to get really close to them. They wouldn't have a chance if the buffalo decided they did not like being intruded on. 

The next wildlife encounter were the Begging Burros. These donkeys were released into the wild when there was no more use for them as pack animals. They have quite the thriving community and earn their feed through begging from the tourists. 

This guy decided he liked my car and licked it from one end to the other.  Then he decided that my passenger side mirror was the most perfect scratching post. Let's just say that I had to make major mirror readjustments.

I didn't get too close to these guys because I didn't get the memo that today was a "wear white" day

The Needles Highway is a definite must-do in the area. It is a 14 mile long route that is named after granite “needles”. It has sharp turns, narrow roadway and two tiny, low, little tunnels. There is not a lot of traffic and there are a lot of turnouts that allow you to take a break from concentrating on the road and check out the scenery. 


And more needles

The Warning

The Tunnel

And the Tour Bus

Pretty amazing driving

No visit to the Black Hills would be complete without seeing Mount Rushmore. After each head was completed, there was a dedication ceremony which helped to keep the project in the public eye and help raise funds. Washington was done first, followed by Jefferson. One onlooker at the Jefferson dedication, evidently was a little confused about what he was looking at when he commented on the new head: Gee – I really don't think they are doing Martha Washington justice. She looks much better than that.

Flags from every state mark the Avenue of Flags

No matter where you go, George is watching

Two caves, one a National Park(with capital letters) and one a National Monument. 

Jewel Cave, the National Monument, is currently the third longest cave in the world. I got there late in the day so I could only take the short 20 minute tour called the Discovery Tour. Jewel Cave is called this because of two types of calcite crystals commonly named nailhead spar and dogtooth spar. They are all sparkly when you shine light on them. 

I found Wind Cave, the National Park, to be much more interesting. Maybe that is because the tour I took was a little bit longer and you wandered through more of the passageways. Wind Cave is the sixth largest cave in the world and is know for something called boxwork formations. Boxwork is a subtraction formation as opposed to an addition formation. Boxwork filled cracks in the rock before the cave formed. As the walls of the cave began to dissolve away, the crack fillings did not dissolve at the same rate leaving what looks like a bunch of little boxes. 

I finally got close to a real live Buffalo (in my car, of course) Yay Me!!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Nebraska Badlands

Fort Robinson, in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, is a rather historic site. It was pivotal in the Sioux Wars from 1876 to 1890. It was the home of a unit of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-black cavalry Regiment which included 2nd Lieutenant Charles Young who had graduated from West Point and was the highest-ranking African-American in the Army throughout his career. He eventually achieved the rank of colonel. It was also the place where Crazy Horse, defeater of General Custer at Little Big Horn, was fatally wounded while resisting imprisonment in 1877. Note: Crazy Horse was at Fort Robinson to surrender so it seems a little strange to me that he was resisting imprisonment.

And I walked thru these portals

About a half hour away from Fort Robinson, where I was camped is the Toadstool Geologic Park. It contains a badlands landscape and is named after its unusual rock formations. They were hard rock caps that did not erode as quickly as the underlying rock. This made them look like toadstools, hence the name. Evidently, most of the toadstools had fallen down but if you squinted you could make believe that at one time they looked like toadstools. The area was similar to the North Dakota Badlands except the NoDak Badlands have a lot of color and these badlands were just sort of gray. There was a one mile hike and a fourteen mile hike to choose from. We wimped out and went for the one mile hike which was actually a lot of fun. Lots of ups and downs and narrow ledges overlooking ravines and being directionally challenged as I am, it actually took some reconnoitering on my part.

Crumbled Toadstools

The trail goes up into the hills

Miko scouting out the way down

Now I've been to Cadillac Ranch in Texas where they sunk Cadillacs head first into the dirt and I've been to the Hillbilly Garden in Kentucky where they did the same thing with lawn mowers so I figured that I needed to go see Carhenge in Alliance Nebraska. Jim Reinders decided to create a “Stonehenge West” modeled after the original Stonehenge in England. Since he didn't have access to large stones, he decided to use cars instead. Consider me underwhelmed. It might have been better if he had not painted the cars all a depressing gray and they were still their original color but who am I to question another person's artistic intent. 


Now isn't this much more interesting?

This is a much more lovely piece of art

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Westward Ho!

Greetings from Nebraska, land of corn fields and endless flatness......NOT!!! Northwestern Nebraska was surprising in how hilly it was. Instead of the cornfields, we had acres and acres of grassland. I think this area must be every steer's idea of heaven and there were a lot of them living the dream.

I did make once last foray back into Wyoming to see Fort Laramie. Fort Laramie started out life as a trading post, but in 1849, the Army bought the post and renamed it Fort Laramie. This was the time when hordes of people were heading west, through Indian country and the Fort was where all of the trails (California, Oregon and Mormon) converged. We had gold seekers, homesteaders and people fleeing from religious persecution all coming through the Fort. There were also many treaties between the Indians and the U.S. Government signed and subsequently broken. Interesting fact: Northern Plains Indians (Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho) rarely attacked wagon trains. All those westerns I watched as a kid were, dare I say, lies. 

Built as the Commanding Officer's quarters, this building became a duplex for company-grade officers.

Calvary barracks 1874

There was a room which had copies of many of the treaties signed between the U.S. government and the native peoples.  Several of them had a clause in the treaty called the 'Bad Men Clause'

If bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to the authority of the United States, shall commit any wrong upon the person or property of the Indians, the United States will, upon proof made to the agent and forwarded to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington city procced at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States, and also reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained.

This was signed in 1868.  The first claim filed was in 1970.  

As all of these emigrants came across the endless prairie, one of the first landmarks they came across was Chimney Rock. It became a symbol that these travelers were now 1/3 of the way on their journey westward.

The next landmark, 25 miles west was Scott's Bluff, named after Hiram Scott. Hiram was with a bunch of his pals when he became sick. His buddies decided to go on without him and a year later, when his bones were found, Hiram got this large land mass named after him. There was a road built up to the top of the bluff and Miko and I found our way up there. After we got past all of the signs warning us to watch out for rattlesnakes, we followed a couple of small trails around the top of the bluff. Signs told us that as we looked west, we would be able to see the Rockies and if we looked east, we could see Chimney Rock. It was a little bit hazy, so we had to use our imaginations. 

Scotts Bluff was right out the front window of the RV

View from the top

This was a surveyor's post that was hammered into the rock in 1933.  
They say that the top of it was level with the rock and this is how much the rock has eroded in the last 90 some years

One of the stops I had to make was to the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. I wasn't too keen on the idea, I mean I had just been to the Fossil Butte National Monument in Wyoming. How many fossils can a poor girl see? Turns out that Agate Fossil Beds was quite a bit different. Fossil Butte was from an earlier time era, therefore most of the fossils were of fish or perhaps small mammals. Agate was from the Miocene era which was only about 19 million years ago. Much larger mammals roamed the earth during this time period. There were pony-sized rhinoceros creatures and a carnivore called a beardog, among others.

One of the interesting fossils were not of specific animal but of a burrow. There were Palaeocaster which was a dry land beaver. They built these corkscrew burrows which eventually filled with sand and were preserved. 

A rather amazing discovery was a bone bed. Hundreds of bones of different species were all in this bone bed. Scientists speculate that there was a small shallow watering hole. The animals would come to drink and then start eating the vegetation around the pond. As they ate more, they had to go farther and farther away from the pond until eventually they had grown too weak to make the trip to eat and get back to the water. Essentially, they think all these animals died of starvation.

While all this was interesting, the best part of the place was the James H. Cook exhibit. Cook was a rancher who in the 1870s thru the early 1900s befriended the Upper Plains Indians. They gave him many gifts over the years along with the stories about the gift. There was a war club that had been in a specific battle with Army soldiers and the story about how the club's owner had hand to hand combat with an officer and his saber. The war club won the battle. 

This is a hairbrush created from a porcupine's tail.