Hurricane Mills, Tennessee

It’s been over 2 months since our cross country trip, so I guess we are ready to venture out on a road trip. Our journey will take us through Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas.

Our first stop is in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Who knows what’s in Hurricane Mills????????

Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch! Any correct answers?


Upon entering the grounds of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, you will wind down a small road that leads down in the holler to the community of Hurricane Mills. Years ago, Loretta and her husband, Mooney, purchased the pre-civil war home not knowing it included the whole town. While Loretta was on the road, Mooney would go and purchase more property. As fans found out where they lived, they began camping out in front of their mansion with hopes of seeing the famed star. Soon, the Lynns would come up with the idea of having a full entertainment complex of sorts for the fans.

The ranch is 3,500 acres with horses, camping, cabins, museums, stores, a Post Office, and a replica of her original home in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, as well as her mansion. She bought this property to be near Nashville. Soon after building the campground, the ranch began to grow. They estimate they get over a million visitors a year to the ranch.

Butcher Holler homeplace replica that was used in the movie Coal Miners Daughter
Bedroom where they used Sears and Roebuck Catalog pages as walpaper

The Coal Miners Daughter Museum has lots of memorabilia. There are countless outfits worn by Loretta. Many awards and pictures of her family and friends. One entire section was dedicated to Conway Twitty, the movie Coal Miners Daughter, and her family including Crystal Gayle.

From Movie Coal Miners Daughter
Remembering Conway Twitty
For the Kid Rock Fans, whom recently mock married Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn and her husband Mooney lived in this gorgeous pre-civil war 14 room, with 8 fireplaces, a historic plantation home for 22 years. She has since built another house behind this one that she currently lives in. Now you can tour this historic home.

Built in 1850
Room where Loretta Lynn wrote a lot of her songs

After moving to Hurricane Mills in 1966, the Lynn Family heard stories of the historic home being haunted. The Lynns, visitors, and employees have experienced strange occurrences throughout the years. A woman dressed in white and two Civil War Soldiers have been seen on many occasions. Strange sounds and happenings are commonplace in the home.

The Travel Channel aired a special on the Haunted Home in October of 2003. The woman in white is Beula Anderson who, after the death of her newborn son, died twelve days later from grief. Sightings of her crying and wringing her hands have been witnessed at the Historic Home and Anderson Cemetery.

After multiple sightings and unexplained occurrences, Lynn learned that the ranch was the site of a Civil War battle. In fact, nineteen Confederate soldiers are said to be buried on the grounds.

The country singer herself says she has seen a woman in mourning on the property, both inside the home and in the graveyard.

The house has been left as originally decorated by Loretta Lynn with all of her personal belongings still in place. It’s like walking back into the 1970s.

What I learned about Loretta Lynn, she was a tireless worker who made time for her fans. She, as the guided tour said, was a collector and not a hoarder. She loved her Avon decanters. Today she is 88 years old and is working on a new album. She definitely went from rags to riches because of her voice. I personally haven’t been a Loretta Lynn fan but after visiting her ranch I have a new appreciation for her.

Abingdon, Virginia, Barter Theater, Wizard of Oz, and a Ghost Story

As this virus drags on, limiting our travel, while staying within Carilion Clinic’s travel guidelines of staying in Southwestern Virginia, we find ourselves in Abingdon, Virginia. Approximately 15 miles, as the crow flies, from the Tennessee border, and at the beginning of The Virginia Creeper Trail as we nestle back in our convertible to watch the Barter Theater performance of The Wizard of Oz.

We arrive in Abingdon a couple of hours early, to take in some historic sites in downtown.

Next to the welcome sign was an old phone booth that is now converted into a phone charging station. Who would have thought!

Just further down on Main Street, the majestic and stately Martha Washington Inn sits on the right of Main Street. Originally built in 1832 for $15,000 by General Francis Preston, a hero of the War of 1812, for his family of nine children. Over the course of the last 188 years, the building has served as an upscale women’s college, a Civil War Hospital, and barracks, and as a residence for visiting actors of the Barter Theater.

The Inn is said to be haunted by several spirits from the civil war. One ghost story that I felt as a true love story that carries on forever is entitled The Yankee Sweetheart. ❤️

The Yankee Sweetheart story is about a tragic love affair between a student at Martha Washington College and her Yankee sweetheart. Although still a girl’s college, Martha Washington College served as a hospital during the Civil War. Several of the girls did not return home during the war but bravely volunteered to stay at the school as nurses. Captain John Stoves, a Yankee officer, was severely wounded and captured in town. Soldiers carried Capt. Stoves through the cave system under Abingdon and up a secret stairway to the third floor of the building. Capt. Stoves lay gravely wounded in what is now Room 403. For weeks, a young student named Beth nursed and cared for him. She found herself falling in love with the brave captain, and he returned her sentiments. Often, Beth would lovingly play the violin to ease his pain and suffering. But, their love was not to last for long. As he lay dying, he called, “Play something, Beth, I’m going.” Unfortunately, Beth was too late to escort him out with a song, because he died suddenly. Beth tearfully played a sweet southern melody as a tribute to him. When a Confederate officer entered and explained that he was taking Captain Stoves as a prisoner, Beth faced him triumphantly and said, “He has been pardoned by an officer higher than General Lee. Captain Stoves is dead.” Beth died a few weeks later from typhoid fever. Many of the female students who later attended the college, as well as inn employees and guests, have heard Beth’s sweet violin music in the night. Others report that Beth visits Room 403 to comfort her Yankee soldier.

Isn’t that an awesome story!

In 1935 the Inn opened up and has been a host to many guests. Among them have included, Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Down Main Street, and adjacent is The Barter Theater. It opened on June 10, 1933. It is the longest-running professional theatre in the United States.

In 1933, when the United States was in the middle of the Great Depression, many people could not afford to pay for theater tickets, and many actors had trouble finding employment.

Beginning with “some twenty of his fellow actors”, Robert Porterfield, founder of the theatre, offered admission by letting the local people pay with food goods, hence the name “Barter”. He said, “With vegetables that you cannot sell you can buy a good laugh.” The original ticket price for a play was 30 cents, or the equivalent in goods.

Barter Theatre’s first production was After Tomorrow by John Golden. An AP news story reported that the production “was played to a capacity audience that came laden with cakes, fruit, vegetables, poultry” and a live pig. Yes a live pig! Needless to say, the actors ate well.

Many well-known stars of stage, screen, and television have performed early in their careers at The Barter Theater, including  Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal, Ned Beatty, Kevin Spacey, and Larry Linville.

In 1946, The Barter Theater was designated as the State Theater of Virginia.

After sightseeing, we took in dinner at the Peppercorn Mill. It was a old home with beautiful hardwood, high ceilings, and a grand staircase. Our meal was good with a flight of margarita’s.

Now for the main attraction to what brought us to Abingdon. Tonight, because of the virus, the Wizard of Oz play was put on at the Moonlite Drive-In Theater. Everyone sat in their cars and listened to the play on their car radios. The stage was upfront with the drive-in theater’s screen above the stage showing the performers. What a great way to continue the performances. The play was just as good as if it was at the theater.

Dorothy with the Scarecrow

Dorothy sums it up best at the end of the play.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

And just like that I clicked my heels three times and said, “there’s no place like home”, and 2 1/2 hours later I was home. Haha

I hope you have enjoyed our trip to Abingdon, Virginia

Little House on the Praire and Field of Dreams

On our final journey of this vacation, we find ourselves going to Walnut Grove, Minnesota to the museum of Little House on the Praire.

Most of us have watched Little House on the Praire at some point in our lives. Most of the story took place in Walnut Grove. What I discovered was that the Ingalls family moved several times and each time they moved a little further west. Walnut Grove was the original home to Laura Ingalls Wilder. The home was a sod house. A sod house is built into an embankment of a hill. Today the sod house is just a depression in the hill. The roof collapsed a long time ago.

A reconstruction of the original sod house.

The Ingalls lived in the sod house from 1874-1876. After 3 years of crop failures, they decided to move to Burr Oak, Iowa. Laura wrote mostly of her time in Walnut Grove and Plum Creek.

Plum Creek

She wrote of her swimming hole in Plum Creek and the spring hole. She also wrote about a big rock at the creek and described it enough that today the rock can still be seen.

Rock at Plum Creek

Next, we saw the prairie that I could imagine the girls running with the youngest (Carrie) falling and Laura and Mary helping her up. Mary went blind at age 14, allegedly from Scarlet Fever. She never married or had kids, and died at the age of 63 from pneumonia.

Prairie View from the sod house

A Prairie looks like a Meadow to me. So I googled the difference and basically, a Meadow is in the South and a Prairie is in the Midwest.

In the museum, there was a lot of memorabilia and some props from the show.

Top Pa’s Fiddle
Bottom fireplace mantle
The picture on right is of the real Charles Ingalls

Walnut Grove was not originally on our itinerary. Since we were within driving distance we decided to make the trek. The show was a part of both Missy’s and my childhood that helped us set our values as adults today. The town of Walnut Grove was cute and very small. We enjoyed out time there.

The next stop was the movie set of Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” They were right because we were there.

We then met our tour guide who was wearing a 1919 Chicago White Sox wool uniform.

He was very informative and really enjoys his job. We toured the house and watched clips of the movie.

The picture below is the window where Kevin Costner first saw the image of Shoeless Joe Jackson in the cornfield.

Another view from the wrap around porch and swing
Home Plate
The cornfield in the outfield
Is that Shoeless Joe Jackson getting ready to step out of the corn?

Some interesting facts I learned from our tour guide was that it took about 6 weeks to get the field ready for the movie. They had to paint the sod in the infield to keep it green.

The producers asked the community around Iowa for anyone with cars from the early 1900s to be extras in the movie. About 1500 old cars showed up to attend the field to watch the game for the movie. Because there were so many cars that showed up, they just lined them on the road. To make them look like they were driving to the field they had them flicker their lights from low beam to high beam.

They are building a major league field adjacent to the movie field. MLB is supposed to host a game this August. It officially hasn’t been canceled, but the tour guide felt it would probably be played next summer due to this years shorten season. So be on the lookout.

From the movie, there is a quote that sums up the movie.

“This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that was good, and that can be good again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will definitely come, definitely come.”

This is a place where reality mixes with fantasy and dreams can come true. For me, it brought back how I lived my dream through Hannah and her days of playing college softball. I wasn’t as successful as a college athlete so I got to relive my dream through her. Thank You Hannah! I carry our memories with me forever.

Finally as we drove further southeast, we stumbled upon the American Pickers store, in Le Claire, Iowa, from the history channel show. Mike, Frank, or Dani weren’t there to chat with, but it was fun looking around.

This blog will conclude our 24-day cross country trip covering 9,000 miles and around 175 hours in the car. We saw some wonderful things that our country offers. We tried to leave no stone unturned but there are many more sites in our country to see. I hope you have enjoyed my blogs as much as we enjoyed our trip. I have to report that after spending so much time together that Missy and I are still married and speaking to each other. Haha. We both are looking forward to getting home and seeing my buddy, Riley.

One of few pictures we got of us together

Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and The Badlands of South Dakota

As we head further east, our first stop was Mt. Rushmore.

The mountain was named after a New York attorney, Charles Rushmore in 1885. It took from 1927-1941 to complete. The sculpture features the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively.

Picture of Mt. Rushmore before carvings

Next, we made the 30-minute journey to see Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people.

In 1876, Crazy Horse led a band of Lakota warriors against Custer’s Seventh U.S. Cavalry battalion. They called this the Battle of the Little Bighorn also known as Custer’s Last Stand.

Crazy Horse was in negotiations with the U.S. Calvary when an interpreter misinterpreted what Crazy Horse said, and he was imprisoned where he wouldn’t surrender. He was wounded by a bayonet and later died.

Carving today, basically just the head is carved

The rock carving started in 1948, and is still being carved today.

How it will be carved out when completed
Replica of Crazy Horse Rock Carving

We then drove an hour and a half to the Badlands of South Dakota, where we found temperatures of 92 degrees.

As we drove into the national park, there were lots of rock formations. There was an ancient sea, 37 million years ago, that covered what we call the badlands today. There are fossils in the rock from the sea animals. The rock has windblown volcanic ash. The ash weathered into clay and formed these rocks.

We saw several signs warning us of the hazards that might lie ahead.

We didn’t see any Rattlesnakes but we did see Big Horn Sheep, Bison, Prairie Dogs, Prong Horn, and an owl.

Big Horn Sheep
Prairie Dogs were everywhere
Prairie Dog hole
Prong Horn

Part of the park was the rock formations and the other part was prairies with Bison and Praire Dogs. The Owl we saw was small but had these large neon yellow eyes. So disappointed I couldn’t get a picture of the owl but found it online. I wanted to share it with everyone.

Burrowing Owl which will live in an abandoned Prairie Dog hole
This plant grew in the badlands, the fuzzy look in the picture was sort of like the white that forms from a dandelion. Very pretty plant.

The Badlands were just as interesting as the other parks we have visited.

I promise we are moving East and tomorrow’s blog will be from Minnesota and from there we will be driving southeast.

Deadwood Part 2

After a good night’s rest and no need to reach under my pillowcase to stop an outlaw from entering, we went to the ’76 museum. The western museum has a huge collection of items from Deadwood’s history. They have a celebration every year that attracts over 20,000 people. In the 1920s the days of ’76, was modeled after Buffalo Bills traveling show.

Buffalo Bill’s storytelling was an integral part of keeping the stories alive in Deadwood
Guns of the old West
Pioneer wagon
Stagecoach
Deadwood

We then headed to the Adams Museum. It had a huge assortment of artifacts. I learned that in 1922, Babe Ruth played in an exhibition game in Deadwood, that was against MLB rules and he was suspended for six weeks for the upcoming season.

Potato creek Johnny, discovered an 8.05-ounce gold nugget which is considered the most important artifact from the Black Hills history.

This is the real nugget
Calamity Jane
Sheriff Seth Bullock
He became a Federal Marshall in 1905
Cards from Deadwood
Stagecoach rides on Main Street

We then went to the Adams historical Victorian home. Mrs. Mary Adams was the second wife to Mr. Adams and was 44 years younger. Mr. Adams tragically lost his entire family to tragic death while in California and then 2 years later remarried. Mr. Adams was one of the wealthiest men in America with a net worth of about $5 million.

After he passed, Mary locked the doors on the house and left town. She would come back to town once a year, staying at the Franklin Hotel and not at her house. The house remained intact with all furnishings for the next 50 years. Yes 50 years, unbelievable! The city of Deadwood purchased the house with all of its contents and today the home is currently historically correct.

In the late 1800s, this home had beautiful wallpaper, hardwood floors, porcelain sinks, a dumb waiter,electricity, water, radiator heat. It was the first for the State of South Dakota. Today the home is beautiful!

Below are some pictures of what we have seen in Deadwood.

Bullock Hotel at night
Franklin Hotel

We found ourselves looking at the spot where Wild Bill Hickok was killed while gambling. An interesting fact I learned was when his body was exhumed to be moved to the current cemetery, was that the casket had leaked water onto his body in the ground. The water here is very harsh with lots of minerals and iron. The water had petrified his body and left it intact. His skin was real white and very hard. They said when they moved him it felt like he weighed 400-500 pounds.

Outside bar where Wild Bill Hickok died
Bar next to where Wild Bill Hickok died
Replica guns of Wild Bill Hickok
Reenactment of shooting of Wild Bill Hickok

We finished our evening in Deadwood by attending a play about the trial of Jack McCall. Jack was acquitted of murdering Wild Bill Hickock. Jack then left town and started telling people that he killed Wild Bill Hickok. He was arrested again and tried again. This time he was found guilty and 2 days later was hung. Although McCall had already been tried, the proceeding in Deadwood was not legal because the town and its inhabitants were inside an Indian reservation established by the federal government and, thus, had no right to be tried there.

Deadwood is a neat old western town with a lot of history. We both enjoyed our time exploring around Deadwood. Deadwood was truly a tough, and rowdy town in 1876.

Deadwood Part 1

Today’s drive brings us to the badlands of Deadwood, South Dakota.

Our first stop was the Tatanka Museum to learn about the sacredness of the Buffalo to the Indians. The Museum was dedicated by Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves. The Indians thought as the buffalo as a sacred animal, it provided them with food, clothing, and weapons, it also played a central role in their spiritual life. It was a strong powerful animal that spirituality could help protect them.

The buffalo almost became extinct because poachers were killing the buffalo to sell their bones for grinding up for fertilizer. The tongue was a delicacy, while a buffalo hide could be traded for a cup of whiskey.

Buffalo bones

We saw Kevin Costner’s costume and a wonderful statue of the buffalo running off the cliffs in Dances with Wolves.

Next we went to Deadwood’s Boot Hill, Mount Moriah where Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Sheriff Seth Bullock are buried.

Wild Bill Hickok
Sheriff Seth Bullock

Our hotel is the Bullock Hotel, built by Sheriff Seth Bullock. It was rebuilt in 1895. In 1892 the town of Deadwood burned completely down and then in 1894 it was destroyed by floods. Today it really makes you feel as if you are in a old western hotel. The rooms are squared off with high ceilings and tall wooden doors.

We decided to do a ghost tour of the old Fairmont hotel. During its day, it was a hotel, bar, gambling hall, and brothel.

Prostitution came to be because of the civil war. There were so many men killed in the war, that it left a lot of widows. As the men in the military moved around they would find women to be with. After the war, the women had to find a way to make a living, thus prostitution began.

We learned that the term cathouse originated in Deadwood. The owner of the brothel had a problem with rats and decided to get cats to help with her problem. She got a cat for every room. The girls had to tend to the cats. Well, prostitution was illegal, and when the cats took care of her problem the men started to lineup to come to her business. There were 20,000 men in Deadwood and about 200 prostitutes. When asked if she was running a brothel, she said she had a cathouse and she had a cat in every room with a girl to take care of the cats. The sheriff said well there ain’t no law against having a cathouse so that’s how the term cathouse came to be. The owners of the brothel also were know to make a payoff of $100 a month to keep their business open.

On the ghost tour, at the Fairmont Hotel, there were some brutal murders in the brothel and gambling hall. The hotel is considered haunted and has had some paranormal reports where they have had tv-shows investigators at the hotel.

Deadwood’s main street is about 8 blocks long and when Sheriff Seth Bullock came to town, he physically took his boot and drew a line across main street designating the lower 2 1/2 blocks as uncontrollable and if you were in those 2 1/2 blocks then you need not look for his help. In those 2 1/2 blocks there were 88 gambling halls, brothels, and bars. These 2 1/2 blocks became known as the Badlands.

A look down main street today

Deadwood is a western town, where the famous Wild Bill Hickok was shot from behind while playing cards at the old No. 10 Saloon. Wild Bill normally likes to set in the back of old saloon No. 10 facing the door, but on this night there was only one seat available in the saloon with his back facing the door. Jack McCall entered the saloon and raised his pistol and killed Wild Bill Hickok. They never knew why he killed Wild Bill, but 2 days later Jack McCall was convicted and hung to death. Wild Bill was holding 2 black Aces, and 2 black eights. Today it is considered a deadman’s hand.

We finished our night off at the Ole No. 10 saloon where we ordered a whiskey to toast our trip. You have to order Whiskey when you are in a western saloon?

Some notable famous westerners to stay in Deadwood were Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Wyatt Earp came with intentions to be sheriff, but when he arrived the job was already given to Seth Bullock.

I am sleeping with our door locked and a gun under my pillow and a knife on the nightstand. Haha Tomorrow look for more adventures of Deadwood.

Yellowstone to Jackson Wyoming

I would like to like to thank our good neighbor, Chris Beck, aka Moviestar, for assisting us on our motel stay at Yellowstone River Motel at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana. The very best motel we have stayed in on this trip. Highly recommend. 👍

The motel is walking distance to the park entrance. As we entered we instantly had a herd of elk along the side of the road.

America’s First National Park
Dedicated by an Act of Congress
March 1, 1872

Our first stop took us to a waterfall in the Yellowstone River.

As we drove further into the park, we saw a lot of cars pulled off the road, and we instantly said, “there must be a bear”! Sure enough our first sighting of Yogi Bear.

He actually ran across the road towards all of the tourists and practically in front of our car. Ranger Mary was in a full sprint hollowing “Hey Bear”! She kept her cool in protecting the tourists from Yogi Bear. What a experience to see a innocent viewing almost go bad. My adrenaline was pumping now. A little late for the sign below.

Next we saw lots of thermal springs. I didn’t realize that they were all over the park. The colors were so pretty. Deep below the earth, magma from an active volcano heats water that rises to the surface through fissures in the rocks. The high temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit ensures that steam stays on top of the water.

Looking down into a thermal pot

As we moved along the park we saw lots of Buffalo.

Buffalo’s at Thermal Pot

We also saw Antelope

Further, into the park, we saw a petrified redwood tree from 50 million years ago. The volcanic ash and mudflow preserved this tree.

Petrified tree

Last but not least at Yellowstone we saw Ole Faithfull. It erupted about every hour. It was really something to see. It erupted a lot higher than I imagined.

Prior to erupting
Erupting

Yellowstone is such a big beautiful park, and I see why it’s the most visited park in America.

After leaving Yellowstone, we drove through The Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Mountain range we’re very large while being snow-capped.

Grand Teton

From the Grand Tetons, we drove to Jackson, Wyoming. It was a charming real old western town. In the town square, there were 4 arches made from antlers.

We then decided to get a jump on our travels for tomorrow and stumbled upon Fort Washakie an Indian reservation of Shoshone and Arapaho Indians. Fort Washakie was a old U.S. Army Post that is closed and the government has given it to the Indians. Median income is $20,000. There is nothing there, the soil doesn’t look as if you could grow anything. Very desolate except for the Indian reservation. So sad to see that is all our government could give to Indians.

Chief Washakie tombstone

Just down the road was Sacajawea cemetery. It was my first experience of being on an Indian reservation and seeing a sacred cemetery. There was an Indian family tending to a family grave while I was visiting. The cemetery was poorly kept up. Most of the graves had handmade crosses as tombstones. The caskets must have been hand dug into the ground. Most of them had dirt thrown on top to cover caskets. One burial had a iron headboard and footboard from a twin bed. It was sad to see. I felt bad that our federal government hasn’t helped to keep these cemeteries in better condition.

Sacajawea was famous for leading Lewis and Clark in their expedition across the western United States
Sacajawea’s gravesite was by far the nicest tombstone
Other graves at cemetery

As we traveled the roads of Wyoming, I thought it was neat to travel on open range highways.

There wasn’t a lot of flowers in bloom in Yellowstone.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

We saw a lot of cool things today, off to a new adventure tomorrow.

Will You Be My Huckleberry?

Glacier National Park, Montana, Big Sky Country, and Big Foot

We arrived just outside of the park entrance last night. We decided to rent a cabin instead of reserving a hotel room. The places we have stayed in the Pacific Northwest haven’t had air conditioning, and we haven’t needed it. We checked in and had dinner at a local diner. For dessert, we had huckleberry pie a la mode, and boy was it good. Huckleberries grow wild in Montana and sell for as much as $60 a gallon. They say it grows everywhere so I am sure the locals pick their own.

Cute cabin with bunk beds
Cool enough for a fire

Once again there were some Big Foot sightings. As I walk through the woods I am on Big Foot high alert. He sure travels a lot.

Big foot crossing, Beware!

After a very restful night, we traveled into the Glacier National Park. As we entered the valley that was once an ancient sea. You would never have guessed it today.

The first sight we saw was Lake Mcdonald. It’s a huge lake that draws its water from the glacier melts. The water was very clear with a blue hue.

Lake Mcdonald
Looking at the bottom of Lake Mcdonald. The water was crystal clear.

Next, we decided to hike the Avalanche trail. I am going to try and take you on the journey with me. The beginning of the trail was the valley of pines. Throughout time the Kootenai and Salish peoples have revered this as a special place, with special qualities. We were among ancient trees here, some were around when Peter the Great ruled Russia (1682), and when Sacajawea helped guide Lewis and Clark to the pacific. When we walked around these trees, I wondered what stories they could tell.

The trail was about 4 miles roundtrip, with elevation gains of only 500 feet. It gets it’s name from the avalanches in the winter into the lake.

One of the first unusual pines we saw was the black cottonwood. It stood straight and tall with bark that had deep grooves.

Black Cottonwood

We then cross a wooden bridge with the river crushed between giant boulders almost creating a waterfall.

Following the river, it had a very swift current as the river takes a turn.

We continue our hike, and discover a whole mountainside of moss growing to the right of the path.

Moss was growing on the trees and rocks for as far as you could see

Continuing on, we see a forest of trees straight and narrow. Growing as close as their branches would allow.

We then hiked up and down coming on an area that looked to have some form of destruction lately. Trees were down like a powerful storm had hit. Looking around we noticed a mule deer looking at us from a distance as he ate. We stood there for a few minutes admiring his beauty with his large ears, careful not to spook him.

With more hiking to go, we continued till the river was again to the left of us and noticed a small waterfall coming off the side of a huge black rock that formed the other side of the mountain.

As we hike away from the water, the trail climbs in elevation and clears to more plants and trees with the sun gleaming out from behind the clouds.

Green Rock on trail

As we walk the trail we see a lot of red and green rocks. The red rocks oxidized years ago with iron and the green rocks were underwater with no oxidation.

As we near the end of the hike going up, we see a pathway of small plants on our right leading to some pit toilets.

Pit Toilet is what they called it

After our bathroom break, we walk down to the opening of Avalanche Lake. We are stunned at what was now directly in front of us. There are 3 waterfalls that are melting from Sperry Glacier into the lake. So, in essence, we go from the pit toilets to the view you now see from your hike up the Avalanche Trail.

Panoramic view
3 waterfalls from glacier melt in June
Glacier is hidden behind the mountains

Up at Avalanche Lake, we had 2 visitors that apparently were use to people. After asking the locals both were chipmunks, one was similar to our chipmunks and the other was about the size of a small squirrel with different stripes down it’s back.

I hope you enjoyed your 4-mile hike as much as we did. The views were amazing! So far, this has been my favorite park. Pictures really don’t give just to how it really looks. Montana is a beautiful state with lots of hiking, rafting, and canoeing. I encourage everyone to visit GNP and Montana.

Hannah and Brandee find you travel assignments in Montana, you won’t be disappointed! It stays daylight until 10 pm!

My flowers of Glacier National Park

Left is Beargrass

Also our special treat from the great state of Montana, Otter Water, has to be just for us.

Only 4.5% Alcohol by Volume

Mount Saint Helen and Mount Rainier

Greetings from the state of Washington! Today we decided to hunt for Big Foot and take in a few other sights. After driving several hours we saw several sightings of Big Foot but not until we got in the foothills of Mount Saint Helen was I able to get a picture of him. The visitor center gave me a tip on where I might find Big Foot.

My hunt for Big Foot is officially over!

After the sighting, we drove up to Mount Saint Helen.

Mount Saint Helen last erupted in 1980. Who remembers this event? It devasted a 14-mile radius around the volcano. The government has spent millions of dollars on replanting trees and landscaping the area.

The eruption began with a massive landslide filled the valley with at least 150 feet of mud, rock, and intact pieces from the mountain. This created a new landscape of hills and depressions providing new places for water to pool, forming 150 new ponds and wetlands. Virtually nothing survived the landslide.

Picture of Mount Saint Helen erupting in 1980
Mount Saint Helen today

Forty years later, the forest is thick with trees and to the visitor unnoticeable of the destruction. The creeks carried rock debris and ashes to the lake forming a delta. This new marshland is a haven for wildlife today.

Next we drove about 2 hours to Mount Rainier about 60 miles southeast of Seattle.

As we entered the park the vegetation was large and thick. It was if the plants were on steroids. It seems volcanic ash is very good for plants.

It last erupted in 1894. Its height is 14,410 feet, almost 3 miles high. Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the decade volcano list. Because of its large amount of glacial ice it threatens 80,000 people and their homes. We got to see a glacial river that was still flowing pretty strong from the ice melt.

Glacial River

There were several beautiful waterfalls. Some we didn’t get to see because of the snow still in the park.

The top of Mount Rainier was covered by the clouds. You can see snow coming down its sides.
Reflection Lake is frozen in June

We saw several animals in the park.

Hoary Marmot
Stellar Jay
Deer
Elk

And today’s flowers from the parks.

The bottom right flower is a foxglove

Both parks were very interesting but quite different because of the difference in the time of their last eruption. We enjoyed the beauty as well as learning about their history.

Coastal Redwoods

Today we left Hannah’s home to head back to Roanoke. We have driven 4,300 miles. It was good to see that Hannah was doing well and that she has a nice safe place to live. She truly is living her life, and we both are very proud of her and the young lady she has become. I would like to report that Bee and Olive are doing well, and are happy being with their mother.

We headed, this morning, northwest to drive up the coast to see the Redwood National Park. We didn’t realize that today’s drive would take us off the beaten path for some pretty cool sights, nothing was planned except the redwoods.

Our first stop was at Fort Bragg, CA to see Glass Beach. Glass Beach gets its name from the smooth colorful glass pieces that you can find in the pebbly beach. The site was once a trash dump so broken bottles from garbage cans of local residents are now little treasures to be found. The pounding waves broke down the glass and pottery and tumbled those pieces into the small, smooth, colored pieces that often become jewelry-quality, which cover Glass Beach

Top Large rocky shoreline
Bottom Glass found on beach

We then stopped at an overlook to view the beautiful coastline of the Pacific Ocean. The cliffs and rocks don’t give away to much of a beach. The path we walked had 100’s of butterflies that literally hit you as you walked.

Butterflies everywhere

We then stumbled upon the Chandler Tree. In 1937 the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree was added to provide a unique treat for travelers. Visitors have been taking pictures of their vehicles inside the opening ever since. It’s 315 feet high by 21 feet wide. A vintage postcard of the Chandelier Tree was shown during the opening credits of the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. Our car barely fit through the opening, and it was fun to drive through.

Full tree on left
Our car on the right

When we finally found our way into Redwood National Park. The trees were very tall and straight. There were lots of Redwoods in the forest. They are not as old or as big as the Sequoia trees but every bit impressive.

From the base of Redwood
A Grove of Redwoods

Ferns like to grow at the base of the Redwood trees. These ferns are the biggest ferns I have ever seen. There is no shortage of these beautiful plants.

Next, we stopped in Crescent City, Ca to see Battery Point Lighthouse which was one of the first lighthouses on the California coast. It was constructed in 1856 for $15,000. The 1964 Alaska earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, caused a tsunami, leaving the lighthouse unscathed.

From Northern California and into Oregon there were lots of BIGFOOT sightings. It was actually pretty cute how the locals had displayed their own Bigfoot. Now we can say ”We saw Bigfoot”.

This Bigfoot was in a field along the road, he may be big and scary but at least he wore his face mask to stop the spread of Covid-19.

While driving in Oregon, we saw the most beautiful double Rainbow. It was as if it was finishing our day of unplanned adventures with a real treat.

And last but not least my flower of the day.