Friday, July 29, 2016
The day I drove across the Badlands of South Dakota is a day I'll remember for a long time. I seemed to chase--and be chased--by storms for most of the day. But I will say that mixed in with the rain clouds were the most beautiful rainbows. That is what kept me going. Fear and hope...and beauty.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
In the Black Hills of South Dakota is Custer State Park. I drove through the park the other day. This gave me a great opportunity to see wildlife in a natural setting. There were buffalo all over the place--including all over the road. They are beautiful to look at but, mind you, they are wild animals and they are large and intimidating. Antelope, deer and a plethora of birds inhabited the park. The sky was a bright blue on a sunny day and the slow drive through the park was very enjoyable.
I went to see Wind Cave National Park near Hot Springs in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. I have been in other caves but this one was different. There aren't any stalagmites or stalactites in this cave because it is not a wet cave, it is a dry cave. The cave was formed millions of years ago when this area was under a large inland sea. The acidic water ate away at the limestone and created box work patterns. It looks like lace in a honeycomb pattern. The sea receded and the cave dried out.
The cave is named Wind Cave because the air pressure inside of the cave is the same as the air pressure outside of the cave. This causes gushes of air to either rush into the cave or blow out from the cave entrance in the process of equalizing the air pressure. The cave walk was really great. Wind Cave National Park is operated by the National Park Service. This is the centennial anniversary of the NPS. Get out there and enjoy.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
I visited Ft. Laramie in eastern Wyoming. This historic fort is operated and maintained by the National Park Service. It has been restored to what it would have looked like in the 1880's. Not all of the buildings have been restored. Some of the former buildings are identified only by their stone foundations. The heavily deteriorating buildings were thoroughly researched by architectural historians and the strongest structures were picked for restoration. The building pictured above housed the prison cells in the basement. Solitary confinement was scary!!
This is Old Bedlam. It has been beautifully restored. The Burt house on officer's row is another nicely restored building.
Ft. Laramie was built along the Platte River in southeastern Wyoming. It was staffed by the U.S. military whose task was to protect the pioneers as they made their way west along the wagon trails. The fort was active during the years of the westward movement but when the railroad came into use and people were not crossing the land via covered wagon, the fort closed its operations. The buildings were abandoned and fell into ruin until the property was deeded over to the National Park Service. Thanks, NPS!! 100 years this year!
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The trail west followed the Platte River through Wyoming. The river provided water for use but the current was very strong and it made the crossings dangerous. The cliffs along the river are made from soft sandstone and many of the pioneers scratched their names into the cliffs. There is quite a "guest book" carved into the soft stone. The etched names are preserved behind a fence and away from visitors (like me).
Life was hard on the trail and not everyone that started the journey was able to finish the journey.
Along the North Platte River near Ft. Laramie, Wyoming are some remaining ruts left in the soft sandstone by the wooden wheels of the many covered wagons that passed this way while heading west on the Oregon Trail. Amazingly, they have withstood the weathering and still are quite visible today. It's a part of our history.
On my way down the eastern slope of the Rockies I stopped in the small mountain town of Georgetown, Colorado. It is nestled in a valley next to a rushing creek and the historical downtown area is very picturesque. The streets are filled with shops and cafes. If you stop in Georgetown please visit the hydraulic electric plant located at the end of the street. The working plant is open as a living museum and a complete history of electrical production in the area is on display. Quite informative. I'm glad I stopped by. Enjoy your time in Georgetown.
Monday, July 25, 2016
I stopped in the small town of Parachute, Colorado for the night. The next morning I parked my car in the church parking lot, walked past the city park next to the church, crossed the street, opened the door to Mama's Cafe, walked in and sat down for breakfast. Yummy!
The cafe is in a former bank building. Solid! You can see the tellers desk area and other bank-y interior details that have been left in place. I recommend!!
Near Grand Junction, Colorado lies Colorado National Monument. It is a national park and is operated by the National Park Service. I drove through the park the other day and I'm very glad I did. The landscape is stunning. There are many viewing areas throughout the park with hiking trails and information about what you are seeing. This area of western Colorado is considered high desert.
This particular rock formation is called monument rock and is a favorite assent for rock climbers. Every year an American flag flies over monument rock on the Fourth of July.
The rock formations that look like free standing spires were actually part of a solid plateau. Millions of years of earth activity such as rising seas and erosion have worn down the layers of the weaker rock and the stronger rocks remain as separated spires. Erosion is still at work, though, and someday (in a few million years) this area may be flattened again.
These rock formations are called the coke ovens. They are named for their appearance as they look like the cone shaped ovens used for turning coal into coke. The rim of the canyon is high enough in elevation to support vegetation. The canyon is very deep and it was somewhat scary to look over the edge of the viewing stand into the sheer drop off. But, of course I did it. Of course.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
I have been driving along I-70 in central Utah. Between mile markers 104 and 160 or so there are several viewing areas located along the highway. These view points are actually small rest areas with room to park as opposed to parking along the side of the highway. Very safe! The views are spectacular and there are informative placards at each stop that give all kinds of information about the geology and ecology of the area. It's also a good time to stretch those legs and get out in the fresh (hot) air.
The rock formations show the effects of the rising and lowering of the continental oceans that flooded the area millions of years ago. The wind has also aided in the erosion process.
The elevation here has allowed for vegetation growth. Small animals and birds live in the shade of the shrubbery. The rock formation on top of this rock plateau is called Sinbad. It actually looks like a crouching lion or a sphinx. Every viewing area presents a different picture of the terrain and each new area is just as beautiful as the one before.
After a month of staying put in the San Diego area I am on the move again. I have driven I-15 through eastern California, Nevada, the tip of Arizona and into Utah. Primarily the terrain is high desert. It is all sand and quite beige-y. The temperature has been hanging around 110 degrees. Interestingly, I was talking to a lady in Baker, Ca. and I mentioned the heat. She commented that it wasn't too bad. A few days ago it had been 121degrees. You're right! Later that evening, after sunset, I passed Las Vegas. It was all lit up and looked so sparkly. As I climbed the mountains on the east side of the city I glanced in the rear view mirror and the glittering lights of the city looked like a swirling galaxy in a very black universe. Even after dark the temperature hovered around 100 degrees. The next day I drove on through the northwest corner of Arizona and into Utah. Partway into western Utah I left I-15 and started my eastward journey on I-70. This is where the terrain started to change. Mountains ahead!
Monday, July 18, 2016
I attended a morning worship service at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in San Diego. It was communion Sunday and the message was inspirational. The sanctuary is absolutely beautiful. There are blue toned stained glass windows on all four sides of the room. Unbelievable beauty shone everywhere as the bluish light filled the sanctuary. I loved being here. Absolutely beautiful!
Saturday, July 16, 2016
I've spoken about this lighthouse before. It is the Point Loma lighthouse overlooking San Diego Bay. It sits high on a hill in a very lovely setting with an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse has quite a history of service. It is part of the Cabrillo National Monument and is operated by the National Park Service. Go see it.