NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Truman's Independence

So Katrina and I have hit the road for our big Presidential Tour.  First stop was the Herbert Hoover Museum in Iowa, but I'm going to share today's adventure in Independence, Missouri first.

Independence is President Harry Truman's hometown and it had a beautiful courthouse which gives guided tours.  Our guide was wonderful and I won't spoil it by giving it all away.  It's less about the architectural aspects and more about Truman who was responsible for its expansion/reconstruction when he was an elected judge in Jackson County before his career in the Senate began.

Device Truman used to sign multiple documents at once!

Also in the museum is art by George Caleb Bingham, who was a self taught artist of the newly expanding west.  A lot of his work depicted commerce and daily life, including this engraving titled "County Election" with an amusing collection of voters waiting in line.

On the town square was a covered wagon giving a history tour puled by horses wearing Santa hats.  Those poor horses!  At least it was a sunny day.

Independence is also known as a mecca for the Church of Latter Day Saints, and a Visitors Center is located there to guide those looking for Mormon attractions in the area.  We didn't go inside, but admired the architecture of a church site across the street.  Here is a list of sites if you're interested.

But the main reason for our visit was of course the National Archives museum for President Truman.

Katrina checked out the gift shop first, getting very excited when she found a Rosie the Riveteer rubber ducky to take home with her.

But of course what drew my eye upon entering was the mural "Independence and the Opening of the West" painted by Thomas Hart Benton.  Native Americans from the Pawnee and Cheyenne tribes are depicted, as well as Fort Bent along the Santa Fe trail on the Arkansas River.

When Truman himself came to check on the progress of the mural the artist invited him to come on up the scaffold and paint a few strokes of the blue sky.

If you're not familiar with Truman as president, his is an interesting story.  He was Vice President and became president when Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly of a stroke in the last months of World War II.  He instantly inherited a lot of serious problems.  Not only did he have to contend with the defeat of the Germans, for months the war with Japan still dragged on, and the atomic bomb was seen as a solution to ending the war quickly.

After the war he had the job of trying to rebuild our economy.  He wanted to gradually remove wartime wage and price controls to avoid shortages and inflation.  He was a true liberal who wanted to ban racial discrimination in employment, expand social security benefits, raise the minimum wage by 50% percent and clear slums and build housing.  This proved to be too ambitious for Congress who blocked most of the reforms and unfortunately inflation, shortages and strikes resulted.  Even though he had given solutions that were ignored to prevent the situation he and his party were blamed. He also wanted to enact government sponsored health care like Great Britain did.  Think how long we have been trying to get that off the ground!  He did see some success in that area when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed them into law in the museum with Truman in attendance. A look at the list below will show most the issues of his presidency are not different from those we are still battling over more than half a century later including voter rights laws and higher taxes on the wealthy.

It wasn't just the end of WWII and the recovery of our economy on his plate, here are some quick bullet points:
  •  President  Truman signed the United Nations Charter and the United States became the first nation to complete the ratification process and join the new international organization.  
  • He undertook extensive renovation of the White House due to structural problems
  • Was the first to recognize the new nation of Israel
  • Appointed justices to the Supreme Court who believed in Civil Rights 
  • Dealt with the emergence of Soviet/Cold War tensions post World War II
  • Dispatched troops to South Korea to try to contain the spread of Communism

He had a LOT of hard decisions to make, as most U.S. Presidents do.  Not all of them were popular, as is true today.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Year in Review - the Second Half

At the end of our time in North Carolina in May I split off from Wayne and Cory and headed to Pilot Mountain State Park for a hike through the mountain laurel.

Pilot Mountain

Then I met up with them again at Carter Caves State Park in Kentucky.  With all the caves there are in Kentucky I usually pass them by, but this time Cory and I took the cave tour.  The guys passed when I pleaded for a trail partner, so I had to enjoy the great hiking trails and natural rock formations by myself.

Fern Bridge at Carter Caves State Park

Back in the Midwest for the summer I hit a variety of state parks and sections of the Ice Age Trail.  From Pike Lake and Long Lake in Wisconsin on up to West Bend, Hartman Creek and then further north to Council Grounds State Park where I finally hiked the Grandfather Falls segment of the IAT.

Toward the end of July we experienced a heat wave so north I went again, this time up to Munising in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which has become a favorite of mine despite having to worry about encountering mosquitoes and biting flies.  I stayed at Bay Furnace campground where I got to attend a ranger program on owls, and discovered a lovely little hydroelectric station at Au Train Falls away from the main tourist area.

I helped Katrina out at on National Night Out with her Girl Scout recruitment efforts...

And experimented with shooting family portraits for a friend.

Come August it was time for another big road trip with Wayne and Cory, but this time we stopped and bought a new toy hauler along the way!

Then we were westward bound to Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park!

Wayne on the Fern Lake Trail

Overall there are national parks we've enjoyed more but we had a good time.  Estes Park is a great little town, but RV parks are overcrowded and overpriced.  Sites within the park are nicer and roomier but come with absolutely no facilities or Verizon signal or wifi.  If we came again I would opt to stay in the park, but we did get some wildlife sightings at the RV park in town before we gave up and left a day early.

Deer behind our campsite

View from one of the trails on an early morning solo hike

On our way home we stopped at Scotts Bluff in Nebraska where we had a roomier site at the city run campground for half the price.

Scotts Bluff

As August turned in to September we arrived in South Dakota where we saw tons of wildlife which included the usual herds of bison and a family of mountain goats at Mt. Rushmore...

And while in South Dakota I met up with with Linda for the first time!  She shared one her favorite hikes to Harney Peak with me, and it was worth the climb.

blogger meet-up!

Besides the awesome views I particularly enjoyed the prayer flags on the summit of what is now called Black Elk Peak instead of Harney Peak.

Wayne and Cory were doing some fishing near our campground in Custer State Park after taking our kittens for long walks in the pine woods.

All too soon it was time to move along, with one last stop in South Dakota at the Badlands National Park.

Bison in the Badlands

While other folks go to Wall for the shops, I go for those Bighorn sheep sightings!

Back home I was feeding my new Pokemon Go addiction that Cory saddled me with during our trip by taking trips down to Southport Marina in Kenosha.

Or wandering around Milwaukee finding new things to see like Black Cat Alley.

Fall comes quickly and the monarchs started their migration while the fields turned gold.

A quick side trip down to St Louis to pick up Cory's friend brought me back to some sights Wayne and I saw many years ago on an anniversary trip.

Come October Cory and I boarded a plane for Newfoundland where we reconnected with family members we hadn't seen in awhile.

And I reconnected with our family's past by exploring our "homeplace" in Argentia.

Wayne's family's homeplace in Placentia, Newfoundland is looking a little different with the opening of the new life bridge finally completed.

And while our main reason for the trip was to attend a wedding we had plenty of time for other things like hanging out with sheep, picking berries and riding the quad down on the beach rocks.

As we headed back to St.John's I took the long way and stopped in beautiful Bay Roberts, a place I can't wait to return to for some more meandering on the cliffs.

Apparently I just can't get enough of Kentucky because in November I jaunted down again, this time trying out Taylorsville Lake State Park, walking in downtown Shelbyville, and then making my way back over the Ohio River to Indiana where I finally visited lovely Falls of the Ohio State Park and scoped out the fossil beds.

Why did I stuff yet another last minute trip into a busy fall?  Because I was scheduled to get carpal tunnel surgery on both hands and knew I wouldn't be going anywhere until at least January!

First the right wrist and then the left and both are healing nicely.  Whew!  I was a lot busier scurrying around the country than I thought I was this past year.  Hope you got to do all the things you wanted to do too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year in Review - the First Half

I started 2016 by battling my aversion to Midwest winter with a train excursion to downtown Chicago to check out some of its fantastic architecture.

Chicago River

That boosted my spirits a bit until Cory and I could take a spur of the minute trip to Natural Bridge State Park in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky.

A few minutes of sun at Natural Bridge

Hiking was a bit difficult with the roads not all plowed after a big snowfall, but I made do and even got a chance to meet the elusive Darlene and Nicole which was worth the trip alone!

Nicole at Silvermine Arch

In February I took a windy mid-week tent camping getaway to Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois.  My goal was to jump start my will to exercise after a month on the couch, a place I find myself in yet again as we speak.  Last February I was up pounds, which I never did lose this year.  Ahh, menopause!

Garden of the Gods

In March I zipped down to Kentucky twice, once to Cumberland Falls State Park to catch sight of the moonbow and get in a quick hike to Dog Slaughter Falls with Sharon, and another quick trip to check out Mammoth Cave's campground in Kentucky.  I didn't tour the caves, but the hiking was nice.  The campground was overpriced and the showers were coin operated nightmares so I won't return without our own shower in tow.  But I couldn't complain for long with flowering trees and horses in grassy fields everywhere I went in Kentucky!

Sharon and I at Dog Slaughter Falls

I made a stop at a Memorial at Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky where I learned all about his humble frontier beginnings.  With little in the way of formal education as a young child and a background working on farms he rose to become one of the greatest Presidents of these United States. On my way home I also stopped at Benjamin Harrison's home in Indianapolis and learned some interesting facts about his presidency.

In April things picked up and I was busy with a weekend getaway with my mom to Door County...

Algoma lighthouse on a cold and windy day

And then the winter doldrums were finally banished when Cory and I flew out to Idaho to meet a friend of his who lives in Boise.

From public art to architecture to hiking Boise had it all. I'd definitely visit again, if for no other reason than to get some goodies from the Boise Co-Op!

Daytrip to Celebration Park on the Snake River

May meant that spring finally came to Wisconsin, but I quickly turned my car south again where I heard dulcimers and saw a newt while hiking in Cumberland Gap.  I was struggling with undiagnosed carpal tunnel pain that was making driving extremely painful but determined to keep going.

From there it was on to the Smokies where I camped at Elkmont for the first time and explored the trail along the Little River.

Little River Trail

Little River 

I also hiked Mouse Creek Falls and then it was on to Maggie Valley where I stayed with Sharon at a friend's home.  We did some hiking in the Deep Creek section of the park in Bryson City but it was the painted Trillium on the Cataloochee Divide trail that stole my heart.

My car continued south where I met up with my husband Wayne and Cory at Cedar Point campground in the Croatan National Forest.  The campground was a good bargain at $30 night for a prime destination and we enjoyed watching the fiddler crabs every day a short walk from our campsite.

Our young cats accompanied us on the trip and while they weren't crazy about the drive down in the truck, they loved hanging out at the campsite and going for walks on their leashes to chase all kinds of new critters.

This area of North Carolina is all about the beach and while we were struggling with a severe bout of depression with Cory we tried to get out there and see what all the fuss was about.  It was pretty, but for the most part we just confirmed that none of us are beach folk for some reason.  Give me the trees or the mountains any day!

That was my winter and spring, summer and fall to come in the next installment before I hit the road tomorrow for my first trip of 2017!