Friday, March 28, 2008

Chicago-Why Cities Are A Fun Place To Visit

Two years ago in May we spent one day in Chicago. We spent a Friday night in an RV park in a suburb and Saturday morning drove the motorhome to the train station, parked it in a neat little space & rode the train to the city. Round trip was $5 for each of us. Pretty cheap. Certainly would have cost more than that in gas & parking fees had we driven the Jeep. We walked & oohed & aahed over all the building & people. Since we had few destinations in mind, we just wandered and explored. We weren't on a guided tour so we could spend as much time at any one place as we wanted. We examined all the stone pieces we could see in the Tribune building including a stone from the Alamo. It gave us a strange feel to see a little bit of TX in this far-off state. Then we remembered that the actual mileage from Texarkana TX to Chicago IL is less than the mileage from Texarkana to El Paso TX.

We skipped the Sears Tower tour to go up to the top of the John Hancock building. My vertigo did not kick in at all as we stood at the glass windows looking out over the city and port. Lake Michigan was beautiful.
I even posed for a photo for my moonlighting job application!
After our day of touring we rode a bus back to the train station and drove off in our little house into Michigan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter




The morning dawned with bright sunshine, cloudless skies and a light breeze. It was a perfect day to get out & see the beautiful day. We had charged the camera battery so stopped by the Wood Co. Courthouse & photographed the beautiful dogwood tree. Then we drove around part of Lake Fork and saw lots of flowers.



An old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross -- two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints -- brown with rust and stained with red -- and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quitman TX

We are enjoying clear sunny skies and mid-70's degrees temperature here in Quitman. We drove around small Lake Quitman and saw some beautiful dogwood trees blooming, a strand of blooming wisteria and blue jays flashing among the trees. Lovely and, wouldn't you know it, my camera battery said "Feed Me." I have it charging now and maybe I can get a few pictures after a while. Of course Easter Sunday is forecast to be cloudy, cool and a 30% chance of rain.

Friday, March 21, 2008

First Monday Trade Days, Canton TX

In the 1850's people of the area began gathering in Canton on the first Monday of the month. They began to use that day to trade and sell produce, goods, and livestock. From those days it has grown to be "THE biggest open-air trade days in the world." The Trade Days take place the Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday every month.

For more info visit their website: http://www.firstmondaycanton.com/

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tyler TX Azalea Trail 3/14/08 - 4/6/08

On Sunday 3/16 we drove to Tyler for the Azalea Trail. This was the first weekend of the Trail this year and we knew there was a chance the blooms would not be at their fullest. Not only they weren't at their fullest, there were very few azalea blooms at all. Most of the blooming flowers were tulips, pansies and daffodills. One yard did have some impatiens, along with several blooming rose type trees and a beautiful blooming tulip tree. There were other blooming trees but we only saw one dogwood in full bloom so it is probably a little early for them this year, too. You can check out the info on the Trail at this link: http://www.tylerazaleatrail.com/
For more photos click on this link. http://picasaweb.google.com/patjreece/EastTexasFlowersTrees



Saturday, March 8, 2008

Places We’ve Visited – Killdeer ND

We stayed in the Killdeer City Park that has electrical hookup, water & dump at the edge of the park. There are wonderfully fresh & clean restrooms with showers. The town has fewer than 800 people but is supported by the oil industry, a small high-tech manufacturing firm and agriculture. We ate at the steakhouse where I had a FLEISCHKUECHLE, a local favorite. It is a hamburger patty wrapped in piecrust and deep fried. It was good but not something that I would want often. Ron had a chicken fried steak with white gravy that was NOT the same as Texas-style. Interesting to experiment.

I expected North Dakota to be fairly flat, open prairie, something like western Kansas and Nebraska. On the eastern side, along the northern Red River it is flat delta land that is farmed in big fields like in the south. The only differences are the trees planted as wind-breaks and the crops are mostly sugar beets. Across the northern part of the state lies the Turtle Mountains, highest points about 3000 feet, and rolling plains. As we came south, we crossed the Missouri River at New Town where the river has been dammed into a very long Lake Sakakawea. The lake was named for the Indian woman with the Lewis & Clark explorers. They had camped in the New Town area.

Further south is the Little Missouri River, which starts in South Dakota and runs north to the MO River. The Little MO River has cut through the landscape to form the North Dakota Badlands. The Badlands are so named because of the difficulty to travel through. General Custer named them when he was on his way to the Little Big Horn. Along the river is the Little Missouri National Grasslands and the north and south units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We drove to the north unit but did not tour it since we wanted to drive through the grasslands to the south unit and tour it.

The village of Grassy Butte has a 1914 log post office building that was covered with adobe. It has been turned into a museum with lots of old settler artifacts. By the post office is a wooden frame church from the 1920’s, St. Peter Canisius Church.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Places We’ve Visited – Hoh Rain Forest, WA


We set up camp in the Willoughby Creek campground beside the Hoh River. There are no hookups & only 3 campsites. The river was just a few yards away, down a slope beside us & the spruce & black cottonwoods towered over us. We drove along the Hoh River to the Hoh Rainforest trailheads. The Hoh is a glacier-melt river. that is colder, and often higher, in the summer from ice melt, and warmed in the winter when it is fed only by winter rainfall. The Hoh is the premier temperate rain forest in the United States because of the warming trend of the Japanese Current. While the forest is dominated by the Sitka spruce, it is the big leaf maple whose arching limbs provide the framework to support the mosses which give the forest its mellow feeling. One of the finest examples of a temperate rain forest left in North America, the Hoh has been named the third best hike in the world. A rain forest is defined by a lot of rain - an average of 150 inches a year - which makes this the wettest spot in the United States outside of Hawaii, where Mount Waialeale has an annual rainfall of 460 inches. In 1997 a new record of 190.42 inches was set. Protected by the mountains: to the east, the mild temperature seldom drops to below freezing in the winter or rises above 80 degrees in the summer. The Hoh Rain Forest, which contains more than 3,000 species of plant life, abounds in Sitka spruce and western hemlock, some reaching 3OO feet in height and 23 feet in circumference. Douglas fir, western red cedar, big leaf maple and black cottonwood are also found throughout the forest. The forest floor is carpeted with ferns. Nearly every bit of space within the forest is taken up with a living plant, and its biomass may be the greatest in the world. In some areas of the forest the vegetation is so thick that snow cannot reach the ground. We walked the Spruce Trail 1-1/4 mile 1-1/2 hour hike only we took more than 2 1/2 hours to do it. So much to see. We experienced everything this quote says, "As you walk through the forest, green draperies soften the outlines of the forest. you experience damp smells which are a mix of decay and fresh new growth, and hear sounds of water from streams and dripping leaves. You see the different textures of a variety of plants, and feel a cool breath of fog against your cheek."
We were visiting with our neighbors at our campfire as it grew dark when we heard splashing in the river. We couldn't see thru the brush & trees in the dark to see the elk that must have been making the splashes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Places We've Visited - Greenville MS

The Delta of Arkansas, northern Louisiana and Mississippi is flat land with large field after field only separated by trees in the drainage areas. It is pond after pond of catfish farms and occasional processing plants for the fish. It is a port in every little community on the river for shipping. It is antebellum homes, modern mansions, houses from the turn-of-the-twentieth- century, ordinary houses and shacks. There are so many areas of poverty and a few areas of wealth. The Delta is not just the river, it goes away from the river quite a distance and may have hills and forests along the many creeks and rivers. There are lots of pecan and fruit orchards. There are many lakes formed by the Mississippi River when it has changed courses. The lakes are shaped like commas from the curves the river had cut.

Warfield Point Park, Greenville, MS is a very nice county park on the Mississippi River side of the levee just south of Greenville, MS. The park has electric & water hookups and a dump station. There are nice shower/restroom buildings. Warfield Point was named by Thomas B Warfield in 1831. He was traveling down the Mississippi River from Kentucky and came upon this high spot along the river. Mr Warfield settled here and named this point Warfield Point. Since that time the Point has been a ferry landing. Today a marine company (tugboat service to the port) operates next to the county park. It is fun to watch the boats and barges and speculate where they came from, where they are going and what the load is.

East of Greenville is the community of Leland. It is the home of a Blues music museum and festival. There are murals depicting blues greats. Deer Creek goes through Leland on its way to the Yazoo River. The creek is as large as many rivers in west Texas! The land around the creek is said to be the most fertile in all of the US. The Leland Welcome Center houses the Jim Henson Muppets museum. Nearby is the Belmont Plantation. The house was built in 1857. It is a private residence and the gate is kept locked but what we could see looked very interesting.