Sunday, June 28, 2015

In Memory and Celebration

In all our travels, I can't forget our main reason for coming to this beautiful state of Wisconsin which was to celebrate with family.  And here is my sweet baby brother who exactly one year ago today was so happy and excited on this morning of his daughter's wedding.  He reminded me so much of my dad in these pictures.

It is with a heart of deep and eternal gratitude that I thank God for his mercy in allowing this to be a wonderful day unmarked by any shadows of what was to come for it was only one week later that he made his first trip to the emergency room, which was to signal the beginning of his final walk up the mountainside to eternity. 

So this day is for them. On this, his daughter's first anniversary, may his family remember today as a day of celebration and joy, and may we all remember that every day we have on this earth with our families is a gift from God never to be squandered but to be lived and enjoyed and then treasured in our hearts.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Across the USA - The Mississippi River

We have left the great plains behind, and after passing through the farmlands of Minnesota we have arrived in La Crosse, Wisconsin beside the Mississippi River.  

 The Mighty Mississippi is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest river in the world.  It flows through ten different states as it makes it way from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico.  The 19th century American author, Mark Twain made the Mississippi famous through his stories of life along the river including, Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And who's heart isn't touch when they hear the words from the song Old Man River written for the musical Showboat and sung Here.

There is a beautiful river walk in La Crosse where we always love to stop to walk and watch the boats go by.  It was a cloudy day so my pictures are a little dark.


Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along and we will catch up 
with him again in another state later on.

~ ~ ~


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Across the USA - Travelling South Dakota

Before I get too far into this post I must confess that since I had not yet started blogging when we took this trip my photos are a combination of pictures taken last year as well as some taken when we traveled through here three years ago.  Very little has changed except for the color of my hair (chuckle). 

When I left you on my last post we were in Wall, North Dakota, gateway to Badlands National Park and home of Wall Drugs.  

Wall Drug Store has an interesting history.  Founded during the infamous "Dust Bowl" years, the owner and pharmacist, Ed Hustead, and his wife came up with the idea of offering free ice water and a place to rest for weary travelers passing through.  The story, which is a must read on how this came about can be found HereOver the years Wall Drug has grown into a a favorite roadside attraction and beloved icon in South Dakota.  It's touristy and commercial and a must see if you are traveling through the area. 

The store still boasts a pharmacy as well as numerous gift stores teeming with books, wood carvings, leather works and Black Hills Gold jewelry. The Western Art Gallery Restaurant walls are covered with art and paintings by famous Western Artists.  They offer homemade donuts (yum!), a 5 cent cup of coffee and of course they still have free ice water.  The Investigator and I did some shopping and then shared a delicious hot roast beef sandwich before  returning to our hotel and settling in for the night

In the morning we headed for our next stop in Mitchell, South Dakota where we took a look at another piece of Americana, the Mitchell Corn Palace.  First built in 1892 to showcase South Dakota's agricultural heritage it is used as a venue for sports and local festivals.  We learned that every year a new theme is chosen.  All the decorations and murals are made from different kinds and colors of corn.  This year's theme was American Pride.

Even these little figures were made from corn husks. 

Local artists design and use 13 different kinds of naturally colored corn to make the signs and murals. It's amazing to think that all this is removed at the end of every summer and a new theme is chosen and pieced together in the fall.

Our last stop in South Dakota was in the beautiful city of Sioux Falls.  We found this lovely park that overlooked the city and took a walk along the river and the falls.

At one time this area had been a rock quarry.  These beautiful red stones were cut and shipped around the country to be used for buildings and roads.  All that changed around the early 1900's when concrete became the material of choice for building.  I think something was definitely lost when that happened .  This stone with its variations of color and texture is much more interesting than any cement creation I have ever seen.

It is time to leave the beautiful and amazing state of South Dakota behind.  Next stop will be the Mississippi River.  For now, I bid you adieu until next time.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Across the USA - The Badlands of Wyoming and South Dakota

Lord willing, one of the life goals the Investigator and I have as a couple is to travel, at least once, to all 50 states in our country. We have made a pretty good start on that goal over the years and last year at exactly this time we took a road trip to Wisconsin for a family wedding encompassing eleven different states and over 5,200 road miles.  The U.S. is a vast country filled with an expansive array of geological formations, animals and plants.  I would like to share some of this amazingly beautiful and diverse land with you over the next few blogs.  

We began our journey by traveling across our state to Idaho and on into Montana before entering the states of Wyoming and South Dakota on our third day out.  These northern plains states have been made famous through old western novels,  legend and folklore, and Hollywood westerns.  This country was home to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody.  

 We had been through here before so we skipped Mount Rushmore this trip and headed straight to the Badlands.

Our first major stop was to see Devils Tower located in the Northwest corner of Wyoming.

 Declared America's First National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, you can learn more about it by clicking Here.  It is held sacred by the Lakota Nation as well as many other tribes, who hold native American ceremonies at its location.  It is also a favorite place for rock climbers. 

From here we headed to Wall, South Dakota, gateway to Badlands National Park.  After checking in to our hotel we took a drive out to have a look around.  The Park consists of over 244,000 acres of  prairie grasslands and rock formations.  Here is a bit of information from the park site.

The Lakota people were the first to call this place "mako sica" or "land bad." Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900's, French-Canadian fur trappers called it "les mauvais terres pour traverse," or "bad lands to travel through."

Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park's typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.


Here was The Investigator on the lookout for wildlife.  After a little while he was able to spot this big horned sheep.  Judging from the size of the horns, this was a female.
  A little closer view.
  Driving through the park, my photos didn't begin to capture all the variations of layers and colors all formed by a combination of erosion and volcanic action.  The oldest formations are at the bottom and the newest are at the top. Once again if you want to learn more about how they were formed you can go Here.

Everywhere we looked there were these yellow wild flowers.  After some research I found out it was sweet clover, not native to the area.  It fact, it was brought over from Europe, but as you can see it has flourished here

You may have noticed the clouds gathering as a thunderstorm approached.  By the time we got to the visitor center the sky had darkened considerably and suddenly the skies opened up.  We had to race inside to keep from getting drenched.

Once there were close to 80 million American Bison roaming these plains.  When the land was settled they were hunted to near extinction.  The park is able to support a herd of about 600 bison but we didn't see any.  I had to settle for looking at this big fellow in the visitor center.

Once the storm had passed it was time to head back to the little town of Wall and get settled for the night. 

 Of course, you can't pass through South Dakota without stopping in at the famous Wall Drug Store but that is a story for another day.