Final Part of Our Trip

July 19, 2017  Joplin, MO – It was raining this morning when we went to load the car at the hotel.  Yes with all these green fields and running streams you get rain.  We must be back in the Midwest.

Friday – Monday, July 21 – 24, 2017 Indianapolis, Indiana

We stopped by Indy to visit Linda’s Mother at the Hoosier Retirement Home.  On Saturday we picked up Mom and drove to Aunt Marg’s retirement village to visit with her.  It is so nice the two sisters can still get together from time to time.

While in town, we ate at some of our favorite places:  McL on 86th Street, Fazoli’s, and Pizza King.  Our time has gone so fast while here.  The rest of our family is in Portland, Oregon for Andrea and Jimmy’s wedding celebration weekend.

Tuesday – Wednesday July 25 – 26, 2017 Columbia, Maryland

Amy and the children welcomed us home with open arms of hugs and kisses.  Amy had prepared frozen meals for us to take home along with fresh homemade chocolate ice cream.  She wanted to have nutritious meals ready for us as we adjust to being back home.  She knows then we will eat healthier.  Thanks so much!

Thursday, July 27, 2017 Home Sweet Home!

Mount Joy, Pennsylvania –  The house looks just as we left it.  The furniture didn’t even collect dust while we were away.  It will take several days to unpack and put things right but we’re ready.

Thank you to all of our support people while we were away.

 

2017 Southwest National Park Trip:

Total Days on Road: 104 days

Total Miles Driven: 13,403 miles

Visited:  20 National Parks, 12 National Monuments and Historical Sites

States Visited: 17

Common Phrases:

People would ask where are you?  We’d answer,  “We’re in the middle of nowhere!”

“Look how fast that guy is going!”

“Crazy driver!”

After dealing with deadly traffic on the road all day we’d say as we arrived at our destination,  “We made it, we’re alive!”

Thanks to:

Linda – Blogger

Deane – Photographer and Proofreader

Angela – Sending her grandmother in Indiana my letter updates by mail for her to read

Amy – Gathering our mail and keeping us updated accordingly

Neighbors – Thanks for keeping an eye on our place in our absence.

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Branson, Missouri

July 14-19, 2017

We arrived at a condo in Branson, MO mid-afternoon and had time for a meal and to check out a visitor’s center before having a Dairy Queen treat and settling in for the evening.  I even managed to get all our camp bedding and towels along with our laundry caught up as we watched a movie on television.  Almost like home!

(Oh, the visitor’s center marked “Official” sells tickets to performances which they can sell at discounted prices IF you sit through a presentation of condo programs. Wolves in sheeps clothing.)

We spent most of our time relaxing at the condo during this week.  Each afternoon we’d head out to explore another section of Branson and check out the activities of interest to us along with stopping for dinner somewhere.

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to attend the “Sights & Sounds” production of “Moses”.  I’ve only seen two Broadway productions but this definitely rivaled them.  When the side curtains to the left and the right of stage opened revealing two more stages with scenery and actors I was blown away.  They did a marvelous job of presenting such a vast story.  Well done!  It was a joy attending.

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George Washington Carver National Monument

George 1

Friday, July 14, 2017

We stopped by the George Washington Carver National Memorial.  The memorial is located on the former 240-acre “Carver Plantation” where he was raised until age ten when he left in search of further educational opportunities.

He was orphaned by the age of one just as the Civil War was ending and his mother was a slave then stolen by slave traders and never heard from again.  The owner of the Carver plantation chose to raise George and his brother James.  George was a sickly child and spent much of his childhood reading and learning about plants and their healing properties, among other things.  He has quite the life story where he rose from a slave child into an educated man during difficult years.  He had a determination to make the most of who is was.  They have placed words of wisdom around the Visitor Center that are quotes of his.  One is below.

On Preparation for Life

“There is no short cut to achievement.  Life requires thorough preparation — veneer isn’t worth anything.”    — George Washington Carver

I’m so glad we made this stop. We learn something new at almost every national park and monument we visit.

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Joplin, Missouri

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 – short drive to Joplin, Missouri

So off we went finding ourself on two-lane road driving to Joplin, Missouri.  We saw farm after farm with crops at all stages of growth.  We especially enjoyed seeing cows cooling themselves by standing in ponds where they graze.  With few trees in the fields and these high 90s temperature, it has to be rough for cows.

We arrived a little early for a movie we wanted to see so we had time for lunch at the local mall, then on to see Despicable Me 3. Checked into Hampton Inn, watched news, then stopped by Wal-Mart for a few needed items.  Ah, I really get excited when I see a Wal-Mart where we can restock our supplies!

Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Joplin, Missouri

We set the alarm for 8:00 but were just too tired so slept until 1:00 p.m.  Productive afternoon with Olive Garden soup and salad lunch, one retail stop and then Deane took off for the Toyota dealer to get an oil change in the Sienna while I relaxed in the hotel room as temperatures are too hot to swim with no shade.  It is 95 outside but they say it feels like 107.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

IMG_2409 Great Sand Dunes NP

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Monday, July 10, 2017 – Arrive at La Junta, CO

For the origin of these dunes we go back in history nearly 400,000 years when this valley floor was covered in water.  As the lake reduced, prevailing southwesterly winds bounced the sand grains to be piled up beneath the Sangre de Cristos mountains or to be washed back toward the valley floor.  Northeasterly storm winds blast through mountain passes, piling dunes back on themselves and created North America’s tallest dunes.

After visiting the Visitor Center, we drove to a viewing area where people could wade in the river and/or climb the dunes if so inclined.  The children were having such fun building sand castles and running in this big sand box.

The traveling today was on state highways with few to no restaurants or bathrooms.  Good we carry food.  We finished off our cheese, carrots and crackers and called it lunch.  Later we found a grocery store in one town and picked up fried chicken for supper.  Such is the life of a traveler.

Notes:  We hit a snag at the KOA campground in La Junta, CO.  The cabin they had reserved for us had a second story bed which you climb a ladder to.  Linda couldn’t handle that.  They moved us for tonight to another regular camper and we’re planning to move on down the road tomorrow morning.  Not sure quite where yet.

Read this on my niece’s Facebook today.  Love her and her positive attitude.

“It doesn’t matter where you are going it’s who you have beside you”. — Anna Voss

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 – Six-hour drive to Wichita, Kansas

We started out at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta, CO but quickly decided that with a six-hour drive ahead of us, we just didn’t have time or energy to tour the facility.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site – La Junta, CO

Bent’s Old Fort is an 1833 fort located in Otero County in southeastern Colorado, United States. A company owned by Charles and William Bent and Ceran St. Vrain built the fort to trade with Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Plains Indians and trappers for buffalo robes. For much of its 16-year history, the fort was the only major white American permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and the Mexican settlements. It was destroyed under mysterious circumstances in 1849.  The fort was reconstructed and is now open to the public.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado

Black Canyon seen from Green Mountain

Black Canyon seen from Green Mountain

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Black Canyon located in western Colorado is made of hard granite, a harder surface to wear away than the Grand Canyon.  It has taken the Gunnison River wearing through the rock at a rate of 1-inch every 100 years to create this beauty.  The canyon is known for its steep walls making it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths.  As a result, the canyon is often shrouded in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black.  At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft wide at the river.  It is the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America.  Black Canyon is big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

We went to Palisades Restaurant in Gunnison that offered a little of everything which worked out great for meals Saturday night and Sunday.  Deane got pot roast, potatoes with gravy and veggies today.  They even offered a homemade cherry cobbler that was fantastic and we enjoyed sharing with each other.

Only one more national park to go and then on to Branson, Missouri.

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KOA in Durango, Colorado

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I think we are in one of the nicest KOA Camps to date.  We’ve had several that were nice but this one provides our particular cabin with a serene view and a small creek running along the side.  The quality housekeeping was obvious with no bugs or dust showing.  The owners offer the option of coming to the caboose area of the cabin and having breakfast with others for a small fee.  Deane really likes that option.  They also offer other activities, including movies for the young set in the evenings, very family friendly.

Found a yummy place for dinner tonight here in Durango at Serious Texas BBQ North.  It included outdoor dining option by a creek running past their property that was landscaped beautifully.  Very relaxing.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Downtown Durango again today.  We stopped at Jean Pierre Bakery for an afternoon treat of wafer, cream filling and strawberry spread topping.  Then dinner at Mutu’s Italian Kitchen which was delicious and the service was excellent.  A pleasant afternoon.

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