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Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 9: Driving, Driving, Driving

We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn last night. They do not have free breakfast. darn it. However

We found a Dunkin! Near the hotel. Life is good.
Lon got munchkins, and I got a yummy iced coffee
We were on I-40,  it was supposed to be faster.
It was bumper to bumper trucks in the right lane. And sometimes in the left lane. I was having trouble reading the signs. Lon and I were not having any fun at all.
We got gas at Brinkley, Ar
mileage: 3440.3
gallons: 10.803
Price: 35.00
We got off the interstate at Memphis.  Lon is learning about BB King and Elvis
I learned how to get to Highway 64.  All the way across the bottom of Tennessee.
One of the bonus features of not driving on the interstate is that you get to see things a bit easier.
We followed the brown signs to Shilo
An amazingly beautiful battlefield
Lon at the diorama. He still loves those!
Working hard on his Jr. Ranger badge.
He had to write a letter home as if he was a soldier on the battlefield.  He did a great job with that.
The rangers were so very impressed with Lon and all his badges.   The most they ever saw was a girl whose parents drove around the country in an RV and went to almost every park in they system. Lon said that sounds like it would be pretty fun.
But since Lon answered all the questions and was so smart and funny, they gave him a Jr. Ranger water bottle. Only available from the Rangers.  Not a for sale item. Lon was very impressed.
There is another part of the park, and you can get another Jr. Ranger badge from there. We decided to come back and see that Cornith part of it later on with Daddy.
Then it was driving. As I drove along, we noticed there were  A LOT of police out, so we did the speed limit.  Took me a few minutes before I realized where I had heard of Hardin County Tennessee. Then I passed the sign that said Buford T. Pusser Home and Museum. This is Walking Tall country. I did the speed limit.  Exactly the speed limit.
There were some interesting old buildings on the road side
We got gas in Lawrenceville, TN
Mileage 3696.8
Gallons: 9.628
price: 33.01

Talking about what to do tomorrow. We are in Chattanooga tonight, do we go to Look Out Mountain? Do we also go to Cowpens and King;s Mountain? Do we do all, some or just go straight home?  It is another almost 500 miles to home. But who wants to spend the night 100 miles from HOME?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 8: A Birthday and Battlefields

Today, I am now closer to 50 than ever before.   We had plans for today! Even if we had to do a little bit of back tracking.   The one thing I wanted to do was to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder home at  Rocky Ridge Farm, which is in Mansfield, Mo.  Which is what we did.
On  our way out to Mansfield, we passed some horse drawn wagons.  I did not take photos, I was not sure if it was rude or not to take photos of the Amish.   It was interesting to see the wagons and the horses on going down the side of the road.  Lon and I talked a little about the community and what I knew of it. Mainly, they live plainly and do not use any modern stuff.   Lon just liked the horses.
At the house. The Director of the museum was pulling in as I was walking up the hill with my cane. She stopped her car and told me I could park up in the lot up near the house. I said thank you, but I do not have a handicapped sticker. She said, you look like you are walking slow and, besides, the police are not going to bother with you up here.  So we did. It was very nice not to have to walk up the hill.
Lon at the side of the house. It was finished in 1913. Almanzo built everything that Laura wanted in the house. She was a tiny person, 4'11". The counters in the kitchen were all low, so she could easily work in there. She asked him for built ins and there were a ton. When Rose (their daughter) bought them a refrigerator, they had to build a tiny addition to house the fridge.
I would have taken pictures of every single thing I could, but they would not let you take any photos in the museum or the house. darn it.
The other side of the sign.  I got myself a t shirt and they had one silver charm left of the house. I like the 3-d charms best, not the flat kind. I was thrilled to get one.
Part of their apple orchard.
The house was wonderful. I had wanted to see the farm since I found out about it, and that was when I was  little. I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed every single minute of it.  And I could see it again.

Then it was time to get down the road, back to Wilson's Creek. I wanted to see Laura Ingalls Wilder's home first thing, even though it ment back tracking a bit.
Lon finished up as much as he could on the Jr. Ranger book we picked up right before they closed last night.

In front of the Ray Home at Wilson's Creek. The battle raged all around the house and the house was not hit at all. The family stayed in the cellar. It must have been so scary. When they came out, the dead and wounded were all around the house. The kids (all 11 of them) got water for the soldiers.
Lon and I had to take a hike, we did not realize it was over a mile, and it was hot. Very hot. 94. I talked with Lon about how the soldiers were in the same kind of heat, but with packs and there were cannons going off and they had to run places in their wool uniforms.  He said being a Civil War Soldier would have been very tough.
Goofy picture of the ranger, but Lon got his 25th Jr. Ranger badge.
The ranger told us about Pea Ridge, just down the road in Arkansas and that it was worth seeing.  She said it was about an hour down the road. I looked at the map, okay. It is close to 540, then I can get on 40 and it should be a faster road to travel on, since it is an interstate.  Um, sure. Not when you get behind slow moving cars and then everyone slows down to see the police pull someone over.  (no, it was not me)
We made it just in time! Lon got the booklet, did the things he had to do in the museum, and promised to finish as he went through the battlefield.  On that promise, they let him have his badge. Yes, he did finish up his booklet.  One of the things he had to do was count the cannons still out there, he counted 31.  Since this was Lon's third Civil Rights/Civil War National Park he also got a badge for being a Jr. Ranger Civil War Historian. He was very proud of that.
Looking at the cannon

Learning more about the Battle of Pea Ridge
We did not have to do any hiking at Pea Ridge. The park itself is open till 9, just the visitor's center closed at 4:30.  We drove through the park and looked at the stations. We had the windows down and the radio off. It seemed somehow disrespectful to have the radio playing.  We listened to the forest around us. There was almost no one else there.
I looked over and saw the deer. He just kept doing what he was doing. We watched him for a while.   It was amazing to see him up so close. This was not zoomed in, this is how far he really was from the car! Lon was quiet the entire time watching the deer do deer things.
The Elkhorn tavern. Part of the battle.
It was time to move on down the road.
We got gas in Lowell, Ar
Mileage: 3172.9
gallons: 9.843
price: 36.02
I was shooting for Little Rock to spend the night, we did not quite make it. We stopped in Conway.  The traffic was terrible on the way down 540, we did not make good time at all.
We stopped at a Hilton Garden Hotel. Lon told them it was my birthday, so they brought this out for me. I thought it was very sweet.
Lon built me a tower for cupcakes for my birthday and he wanted everyone to see it.
He was being very nice to me today.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 7: A President and Peanut Butter

I did some research on President Truman's museum and library. Seems there are two sites in Independence. One is the Presidential Library and they other one is his home. The home is run by the Parks Service! That was the one we were going to go to!
We could not take any photos past the gate.  The house is an amazing time capsule. President Truman died in 1972, and Mrs. Truman did not die until the 80s. She kept everything just as it was in his closet, and bathroom. His iconic hat was still on the hat rack in the hall.  Mrs. Truman donated the house, the entire kit and kaboodle to the Parks Service. They have left it as much as they could just the same. The photos of the grandchildren on the mantle, the mismatched couches, the little kitchen.  It was so worth seeing.  You have to get tickets with a time stamp at the visitor's center. Then go up to the house.  While we were waiting to go into the house, Lon finished up his Jr. Ranger badge booklet.

There was a mule team and wagon parked in front of the Visitor's Center.  They were selling rides, Lon and I agreed that riding in a wagon was not something that sounded fun on such a hot day.  The mule's noses were so soft.
Lon now has his Jr. Ranger Badge from  President Truman's Home.
Driving south on Highway 71.  We love all the old barns along the road.
I read about the George Washington Carver National Monument on line. They did not list a Jr. Ranger program.  So I called. They did have a Jr. Ranger program!  I wanted Lon to learn about him!  A boy born into slavery, who wanted to learn everything he could and he did. He was an amazing man !  Peanut Butter is all because of him!
The park was beautiful. Very well maintained grounds.  Black Walnut trees all over. There were black walnuts there during George W. Carver's boyhood.
We had to take a 3/4 mile walk into the woods to see the cabin.  There were plaques about his life and this statue.
I did not get a picture of the cabin. It was hot and we wanted to get back into the woods where it was slightly cooler
There was a spring in the woods. They had a plaque that said George would play in the creek and also carry back water to the cabin. However, by today's standard, the water is not potable.
The woods were noisy. There were many bugs making noise, birds, and some creatures too. We did not hear a bobcat which was something they said lived in the woods. I was fairly happy about that.  Lon would have liked to have seen one, from a distance.
Another Jr. Ranger badge for Lon !  I really liked this badge.  Lon learned alot and so did I.
We had another Park to visit, but we only stopped in and got the booklet and Lon is working on it tonight. The time spent at George Washington Carver's Monument was time well spent.
 It was an early night, we went to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner and spent time in the pool. They have a wild pool here. Indoor/outdoor pool! Half the pool is inside, there is a flap to swim under and you are outside. Lon was having a blast going in and out.
The hot tub was good for Mommy.
We got gas:
Mileage: 2942.5
gallons: 11.698
Price: 41.52

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 6: Getting out of Dodge

We spent the night in Dodge City. It sounded like it could be fun to see somethings. around town. The feedback I got from the front desk, was pretty much we could go look at the feedlots or the cemetery, neither of those are high on Lon's list of fun things to see.
So we got out of Dodge!
Lon saw this airplane on the side of the road and we had to take it's picture.
Our National Park this morning was Fort Larned. A stop on the Santa Fe Trail. It was also a working Fort.

When Lon walked in with all his badges, one of the rangers told him that if they were ever short of rangers they would be calling him since he has all the badges.
He is doing the scavenger hunt through the park.  Learning a little bit about life out on the prairie.
The ranger put on her hat so she would look as official as Lon.
Santa Fe Trail fun!
We got gas in Larned.
Mileage: 2397.4
Gallons: 11.275
Price: 39.00
Kansas wind farm.  I am enjoying the flat driving for a little while.
A rest stop marker!

At the Eisenhower Library!  In Abilene.
We thought we could get a Jr Ranger badge, and we had been told we could get a Jr Secret Service Badge. The man at the entrance said, no, we are not the Park Service, we are the National Archives and we do not do that. Um, okay. He was rather snippy.
We did the tour of the boy hood home
We also toured the museum. It has a lot of World War II exhibits, less on the election campaign, but still there was plenty on that too.
It was a very interesting place.
We decided to skip Tall Grass, one of the National Parks on our list, since we found out it was not finished yet.

 We saw a sign that said US Calvary Museum, exit 301. Well, that sounded like it would be good.   We had time to get to that and not enough time to get down to the Wizard Of Oz Museum. I will have to see Toto, Dorothy and the Tin Man on a later visit.
I did not know that exit 301 was Fort Riley.  We were able to go on base and visit the museum. Lon had so much fun looking at all the exhibits. I was trying to tell him about his Great Grandfather who was in the Ohio Calvary. (Mark's Grandfather).
The sign behind him reads:
This 1930s Trooper - Symbolic of the last generation of American Calvarymen- Saultes a past rich in tradition and heritage.

Not sure if I was allowed to take photos or not. I only took this one outside
Kansas City.
Highway 70 turns into a toll road before you get to the city.
We had to get gas on that part of the road, Lawrence Kansas
mileage: 26485
price: 35.50
gallons: 9.701
We just happened to hit the tail end of rush hour.  The traffic got worse as we got more into the city.  I think this is the last city we are going through. The rest of the trip is all secondary roads and around cities. I have the next two days planned,  they will be in Missouri.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 5: An End to the Mountains

We talked about going to the Air Force Academy, but Lon was meh about it.  We went to Garden of the Gods. We were going to only spend an hour there, we ended up spending 3.
Really pretty rock formations.
Some more formations we saw on our drive through the Gardens
We got some breakfast there as the hotel we were in did not have a good breakfast. The pancakes were huge. If I knew they were going to be that big, we would have split them,
While we were looking for a t-shirt for Daddy I found a Jr. Ranger program book. They are not a National Park. They would like to be, but they have a mandate on not ever charging admission and I am not sure that they will be a National Park with that.
Lon was thrilled to do all the activities that were in the book, we had to watch the movie, (a charge for that) and Lon did a scavenger hunt. He also completed the puzzles in the book. He got a patch that I will have to sew on his vest.
We bought gas in Fowler, Co
gallons: 5.954
Mileage: 2081.0
                                                                                    Cost: 22.02
We drove south to Peublo then over on Highway 50 to Bent's Old Fort.  That one is very much off the beaten path too. Lon and I are now calling our trip the summer of the obscure National Parks. It is sort of fun.
This was a trading post along the Santa Fe Trail. The original fort burnt down a long time ago, in 1976 the Parks department rebuilt it. They used drawings, writing, etc to get it as accurate as possible.
While Lon did his activities, I thought about what it would have been like to live out there. It was hot! and isolated (still!), it would have been a rough go.
Lon ran around, and I sat and listened to the mice in the rafters
Even though there are two resident cats. The Ranger told us that they played with a rattlesnake the day before and he was thinking they were not long for this world. However, they lost interest in the snake before he pounced on them.
Lon got his badge!

Had to take a picture of the peacock. They have several there. Not sure why.
In front of the wagon. The parking lot for Bent's Old Fort was a long way from the Fort.  One of the Rangers asked me if I wanted a ride back, since I had my cane. I said yes. It was just HOT.  In the upper 90s the radio said.
Yes, Lon is holding two bottles of water. We drank most of that before we got back on the highway
I thought I was going to have to double back to get to 50, but the Ranger told me just to keep going down the road 13 miles and I would meet up with the highway again. Which is what happened.
Before we get to 50, the most random thing EVER.
Zebras, ostrich, and gazelles.  No sign for African Animal Park. It was as if someone just wanted herds of these animals instead of cows.   Did not expect to see Zebras in Colorado.
Now it was off to Kansas!
Why, yes, that is corn. Lots of corn. And the closer we got to Dodge City, the more feedlots we passed. Lon does not want to go near a feedlot if we can smell it from the car that strong.   I am happy with that! Concentrated cow is not the most happy smell.

Lon took this photo of the sunset as we were heading into Dodge.
We ate dinner at a steak house recommended by the front desk. Nothing great. I did get a steak, it was just okay. On the upside, it was right next door.
We went to the grocery store and got a case of water for the car.
Tonight we are at a La Quinta, they did not have many rooms left she tells me. So we got a jaquzzi suite for 135. (plus tax) which puts it slightly over budget, but since I have been under budget for the last few days it works out.
Tomorrow is another fort! And a Presidential Library!