Cowboys and Horses

IMG_20150405_171905011Moab, Utah is known for its many trails, whether motorized, bicycled or hiked. The views are spectacular, red rocks as far as the eye can see. Two National Parks are designated there, Arches and Canyons, both offer extraordinary scenery.

One of the places we’ve never taken in is Dead Horse Point, we took a drive up there on Easter Sunday to see the views it has to offer. Dead Horse Point is a Utah State Park, entry fee is $10 without a State Park pass. It is high on the mountain overlooking the curve of the Colorado River. The views are expansive.

There are many trails, including a paved walking path that gives you 270 degree views of the area off the Point. The vantage points you can gain from this view are tremendous.

The park is named Dead Horse Point for a legend that exists from the Old West. It is rumored that during a roundup of wild horses, the horses were corralled at the end of the peninsula, and then the land bridge was blocked off. Since the only escape was a 2000 foot drop over the embankment, when the cowboys didn’t return to claim their horses after the roundup, the horses starved to death. No one knows why the cowboys didn’t return.
Dead Horse Point State Park should be added to your list of Moab destinations.

If you just need an easy getaway, without the stress of trail riding, and without the crowds, it is worth the trek up the mountain to the park. Bring your walking shoes and your camera to get the most out of your visit.

Round ’em up in Fort Worth

stockyardsWe had lunch with a good friend in Fort Worth and asked for a recommendation of somewhere to visit. Everyone goes to the Stockyards, was his reply. I asked when the last time he had been there was, he hemmed and hawed. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The Fort Worth Stockyards has been converted to a tourist area. It once was a huge area for driving cattle to slaughter. All the slaughter houses and the railroad came together there. Cattle prices were determined in Fort Worth, so it was the money center.

We had just had a fabulous lunch, so weren’t in the market for the food and drink offered in the area, so we went to the Live Stock Exchange Building. The building itself was built in 1902, once known as the Wall Street of the West, it’s where livestock commissioners presided over an industry that affected many.

There are still many offices and businesses that are headquartered in the Live Stock Exchange Building at 131 E. Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas, there is also a small museum curated by the North Fort Worth Historical Society. The curators have stuffed it with old relics of the west, including the docents. Each one wants to tell you a story for your $2 donation. There is the cursed wedding dress in the case; an old Victrola with no volume control, lots of memorabilia of the times. To find the real treasures, go slow and look in every nook and cranny. The room is not very big, but filled with trinkets from another era.

When you leave, go out the back door to see the longhorn cattle, they do a roundup twice a day moving them from arena to pen for you, but if you happen to miss it, at least walk up the catwalk and look over the pen area. It isn’t all still used today, but you can imagine what it once looked like as the cattle came off the railroad cars and in to the area to be sorted. The area is still pretty open, you can see how it might have looked 100 years ago. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

Dallas…not on a Saturday, please

IMG_20150509_141130892 (1)I really try hard to tourist on a day other than Saturday in my life.  I’d much rather be somewhere on an off day, or even an off season.  So a Saturday in May in downtown Dallas is not really recommended.  But I needed to do something!  So we set off for the Dallas World Aquarium, 1801 North Griffen, Dallas, Texas for our first stop.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Aquarium, more for the design than the aquatics.  They apparently took a lesson from Disney and have learned how to move people.  When you enter the Aquarium at ground level, you make your way to the top before you even enter the displays.  The foyer winds and twists to the top among trees and branches, as you enter, the pathway then spirals down again among the animal displays.  It is open and interesting.  You can look over railings to the ponds below, in addition to the many aquariums set in the outside of the spiral path.

There are big animals like turtles, alligators and flamingos.  An aviary throughout, plus lots of fish from all over the world.  The narrow path keeps everyone moving along and the colors are vibrant.  I never felt rushed, but enjoyed the continued walk through.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was our next stop.  Just under the freeway, a quick ten minute walk away, the Perot is a beautiful modern building.  But, remember what I said about touristing on a Saturday.  Yeah, it was too much for me.  There is no great path through the museum like there is through the Aquarium, people were roaming in all directions.  Being a museum of nature and science, there is a lot of reading to do at all the displays, that really isn’t conducive to a busy Saturday.  Perhaps if it had been quieter we would have enjoyed it more, but as it was, we felt rushed to get out of the crowd.  I’m sure the Perot has a lot to offer if you have all day and not a lot of people.  For us, it wasn’t a great experience.  Pick a Tuesday outside of the school year and at least enjoy the architecture.

The Land of Chocolate

HersheyA cold, April day found us in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Everybody knows Hershey’s Chocolate.  We had just a few hours to spend, so we took in The Hershey Story.  It’s a beautifully built building that hosts the history of Hershey Chocolates.  From the start in the late 1800’s to it’s rise during the depression, Hershey wanted to be the chocolate company for everyone.  They altered their production methods to be able to provide candy at a low cost for all.

The displays are well curated, providing an opportunity to see actual equipment that was used in the early years.  An interactive display provides you the opportunity to apply for employment at Hershey in the early 1920’s.  I got a job in the Wrapping Department at $0.10 per 5 pound box of wrapped Kisses; my husband was able to procure a job in the Roasting Department at $0.15/hr.  That’s a far cry from union wages.

But really, all was fun and games, all the advertisements Hershey was famous for was on display, as well as lots of information about the family and how the community grew up around the Hershey factory.  It’s worth a stop as you are driving through, but probably not a destination location unless you are taking in all the eastern Pennsylvania has to offer, or a trip to the Amusement Park is on the agenda.

Back on the Road 2015

Over four years ago, I started this blog, with the goal of sharing what we see in the world.  Let me reintroduce myself for those who recognized that I’ve been missing for a long time.

We live on the road.  I don’t mean that we travel a lot, I mean we literally live on the road, travelling from location to location, on mostly a weekly basis.  Most RV’rs travel from park to park, but they stay awhile, we don’t have that luxury, we have places we have to be.  We also aren’t typical RV’rs because we still work, in fact, it is our work that keeps us moving.

Our goal as we travel is to seek out the best there is to offer in any location.  Sometimes it is while we are vacationing, other times, it is just another port of call.

This last week was a great example, we were in Attica, Indiana.  It is a small, idyllic community with lots of green grass, old growth trees, and right now, water.  The Wabash is over the banks, in fact, the other day, you could practically fish from the McDonald’s parking lot, and it is a half mile away from the river.  There isn’t much to do in Attica, but the people are awesome.

Some things we do everywhere we go, they are necessities of life.  I visit the local library for wifi, do our laundry at the local Laundromat, shop in the local grocery store, mail from the local post office, eat in the local restaurants.  This week, I even got my haircut at a local salon.  Not much else to offer here in Attica.  But just down the road is a little gem that we recommend to everyone.

In Covington, Indiana, just off the 74, at exit 6 is a restaurant called The Beef House (16501 North S.R. 63).  It isn’t small, it isn’t quiet, but it is homemade and delicious.  Several times a year, they run a dinner theater, the restaurant is big and efficient, the food is fresh.

How do I know?  First, the place is always busy, so the turnover in food happens fast.  Second, you can see right in to the kitchen as you wait in line for a table or visit the salad bar.  Third, and I think most important, the cuts of meat are displayed in the front case, you see the cooks come by and select what they are cooking next.beef house rolls

The beef is good, the salad bar is fresh and plentiful, and the rolls and desserts are well known.  The waitresses practically push the rolls on you, always offering more and more, to the point that almost everyone leaves with a bag.  They are that good.  I did my best to confine my selection to two, and even with that, I was over full when we left.  The food is well worth a visit.

We have a lot of friends who visit Indiana through the year, The Beef House is always on the recommended stop list, you should add it to yours.  Photos courtesy of The Beef House.

(update:  we had posted we were going to the restaurant on FB, some friends saw that and just came by to tell me what a great meal they had, said they had been coming to the area for 15 years and never knew about, now they know.  I love when we can make an impact like that!)

On the Road Series: Pike’s Peak, Colorado

Looming over the top of Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak – one of Colorado’s famed Fourteeners, it is paved to the top.  A bit commercial, there is a railroad, famous donuts that aren’t supposed to be able to be made at that elevation and a race.  What you won’t find is ….me.  Elevations like that kick my ass.

Josh and Big made the trek up the mountain, not a surprise, they love anything to do with racecars.  Many of our friends and acquaintances race Pikes Peak, up the twisties to the top – it’s all paved now, but that is a recent development.

The record to the top is 8 minutes and 13 seconds.  From mm 1 to mm12, the elevation climb is 4720 feet.  The cars have to reach over 100 on some of the short straightaways to do that.  Big said he drove it in low gear, somewhere around 15 mph mostly.

Video is by my buddy, Devon AfroThunder

On the way down, the National Forest Service rangers stop you at one point to review the temperature of your brakes – too hot and you get to sit awhile.  Makes sense to me, so many don’t know how to drive mountain roads.

Pikes Peak is named for the famous Zebulon Pike, explorer of many lands.  I would have loved to have gone on the trek up the mountain, but this is one limitation I have finally come to grips with.  Anything over 10,000 feet makes me feel icky – I start to feel it between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, but only if I exert myself, by 10, I only have to try to breathe to know I’m out of my element, sometimes it’s just best to stay home.


On the Road Series: Northeast 4 – New River Gorge National Park

IMAG0665New River Gorge National River is a National Park, who knew?  I found it by accident on my map as we looked for something to kill time with in West Virginia.  The bridge and the whitewater rafting is what attracts most to the area.

The bridge is impressive, built of steel in the late 1970’s, it is taller than the Eiffel Tower plus two Statues of Liberty.  Viewing it from the river side is particularly impressive.  The area played an important role in the industrial revolution, it hauled coal on the railways from the mines tunneled in to the mountain there.  People came from all over for the jobs that were available in the area.

The Park Service has taken ownership of 70,000 acres, but for once, they haven’t shrunk the value of the area.  I am not one to criticize the National Park Service, I love the properties they have preserved for the future.  What they have done differently with this one is to continue to allow use of the river for commercial purposes and there is even hunting on NPS land.  That makes great sense to me.

So when you visit, plan a trip with a whitewater guide, take the “Bridge Walk”, be sure whatever you do, you get near the water and look up.  Look at the land that was used to fuel the Industrial Revolution, and look at the way nature has reclaimed it.  Appreciate the value that land offers, no matter the season, it always takes care of itself.

On the Road Series: Northeast 3, Coal and Beer

IMAG0655Coal is the lifeblood of this Pennsylvania landscape we are in, anthracite coal to be exact.  There were millions of tons of coal buried in slants under the landscape and many worked hard to remove it.  One of the best places to view the process is the Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland, Pennsylvania.  We stopped at the local museum first to look through the exhibits and see what was to be seen.  They do a great job of sharing how the coal is formed and how it is different than other coals.  The fields of coal lay under the mountains in this area in a vertical slant, much of what is extracted is done from underground.

The Pioneer Tunnel piles you in to a Loki and takes you down the tracks, 1800 feet in to the tunnel, the tracks stop.  There are many veins of coal that you pass under in this tunnel that was actively worked until 1931.  There are offshoots that you can walk down to see the chutes that have been dug both high and low from the tunnel to extract the coal.  The process is dirty, dangerous and back breaking.  Over 31,000 men have died in the industry since the process began.  While the press plays up the big explosions and collapses, the majority of men were killed one or two at a time doing industrial work.  Our prayers for all of them.

Not far from Ashland is another Pennsylvania treasure.  The Yuengling brewery, founded locally in 1829, it is the oldest American brewery.  The story starts five generations ago when a German immigrant named David came over to the new country.  He wanted to build a brewery to support his family, so he looked for a place with a strong German culture, at that time in Europe, men, women and children in Germany drank beer.  He wanted to replicate that formula so he had built in buyers.  He landed in Pottsville, where the original brewery still stands – well, almost original, as was common in those days, the first one burnt down.  What I loved about the place was the sense of history, the world has not been scrubbed and polished, the doors still swing on pulleys, the basement is still dug out and accessible, there is no security at the door making sure you follow every sign.  It feels small, it feels personal, it was awesome.

The fifth generation still heads and owns the brewery today, there have been five male born descendants that have headed the company…the current one is 71 years old and he has four daughters active in the industry, but no sons.  A change is afoot.  Over the last fifteen years, Yuengling has expanded tremendously from it’s humble origins, there are now two additional breweries that each make 1.7 million barrels a year, in addition to the original.  Yuengling can be purchased in 18 states and is continuing it’s expansion.  Pretty impressive for a local brewery.

There is one more thing in Pottsville that the locals are proud of, perhaps more than the brewery even.  That is the Pottsville Maroons, a professional football team who won the championship in 1925.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them, they go by the Washington Redskins now.



On the Road Series: Northeast 2

IMAG0628Maps have always been one of my favorite things, whether coloring in a map for school; drawing a map for directions (a side note here, if I drew it, don’t trust it); following a map, whatever the reason to have a map, it must be a good one.  Our first order of business was sleuthing through a local cemetery to find some relatives.  We thought we had some good information, turns out, it wasn’t that good.  We could have used a map.    The cemetery was in Sunbury, PA, originally founded in the early 1700’s.  Most of the headstones were worn by the weather, so impossible to read.  It is always interesting for those of us who grew up in the west to come east where everything is older.  Our states and landscapes had been viewed by just a few when whole generations were being buried in the east.  We were successful in only finding a single headstone that was on our list, and that was with the help of the internet.  Amazing how a new technology can link us to something almost 300 years old.

By the time we had stopped exploring the plots, we had come upon dinner time.  A local suggested the Hotel Edison.  Right there in Sunbury is a shrine to Thomas Edison, the first commercial building in which he wired his new-fangled light bulbs in 1877.  There were many other items in the hotel that he had invented, it was quite the history lesson.  It wasn’t quite dark, so we added a “speed tour” to our list of topics for the day.  The Rand-McNally map has three items listed in pink in our area today (we assume these are places of interest), so we set out to see the pink dots around Sunbury.  First stop, Fort Augusta.  An outpost of the British to protect the colonies during the French-Indian war…yes, that is before the American Revolution.  They’ve built a small scale version of the Fort on the property where the original Fort stood.  Next, the Jacob Priestly House, across the river from Fort Augusta, this is the home of a leading nineteenth century scientist.  The man who discovered oxygen and many other things, including the concept of photosynthesis.  It is said that Priestly’s thought process was so out of wack and controversial, that he was run out of England.  Last pink spot for the day was the Susquehanna University campus, a quaint little campus near the Susquehanna River that was founded in the mid 1800’s.  Beautiful place, but with tuition and room and board at over $50K a year, I doubt I will know anyone who attends.

I really enjoy speed touring, it is a combination of sleuthing, speeding and hanging out with the people I enjoy the most.  We may not get the full experience, but it is always a good time.