Being close to South Bend, Indiana and having heard of Notre Dame University all my life we decided to drive down and tour of the campus. I was impressed with beautiful well kept grounds. The famous Gold Dome and statue Of The Virgin Mary on top is a well known landmark. We toured the bookstore and saw the many items ranging from text books to Fighting Irish themed clothings. We took a walking tour with a friendly young lady who is a sophomore at the University. She said they have about 16 female dorms and 17 male dorms. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a beautiful ornate place of worship with the stained glass windows first installed In 1893. Our final stop was The Hesburgh Library featuring Jesus depicted in a famous mural as the “Word of Life” facing Notre Dame Stadium. This giant mural is better known as “Touchdown Jesus”. There is much more to see on campus should you decide to visit.
We also enjoyed our day in St. Joseph, Michigan. This city is at the mouth the St. Joseph River on Lake Michigan. Many people were enjoying the Silver Beach County Park. This park offers wide beaches with playgrounds for kids of all ages. There were several volleyball nets. We saw lots of children playing in the water at the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. They were having a blast being sprayed with with water shooting up from the floor for them to run through and stand under and huge water cannons shooting across the park on timers. There is also a paved trail above the shoreline with benches to sit on and enjoy lake view.
From the river walkway we could see the two lighthouses called Range lights at the mouth of the St.Joseph River. They were built in 1907 when the pier was lengthened.
A major attraction of the Park is the Silver Beach Carousel open year around and along with unique handmade horses. It features a rocking peacock and sea serpent benches that are wheelchair accessible.
This is a great area to visit and I know there is much more to see. In fact, I’ll have another review of the area as we continue our visit in the vicinity at a different campground next week.
We had a fun afternoon at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Our visit began at the museum where we enjoyed going through the interactive dioramas with monitors playing clips of movies based on various books written by Samuel Clemens. The ones I enjoyed most were the cave where Tom and Becky were lost and Tom’s raft where he and runaway Jim had their adventures. Many of his other popular books are represented by film clips and dioramas. We saw a mockup of a pilot’s wheelhouse with a whistle and other items from the Mississippi Steamboat era that inspired Samuel Clemens to write his books. The museum also has first editions of all his books, original Norman Rockwell illustrations from them, and personal memorabilia from his life. From the Museum we walked a few blocks to Clemens boyhood home and the Becky Thatcher house which was actually the home of Laura Hawkins who was the inspiration for Becky. We also saw the Huckleberry Finn House which was home to Tom Blankenship who was the inspiration for Huck. Finally, we toured the John M. Clemens Justice of the Peace office. From there we returned to the museum for the highlight of our time in Hannibal. A very talented actor entertained us for around 30 minutes as Samuel Clemens. We thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and highly recommend it to all, young and old alike.
After driving nearly 200 miles across the corn and hay fields of the South Dakota Prairie we dropped into the Missouri River Valley and arrived at a beautiful lakeside campground on the outskirts of Pierre, SD. Farm Island Recreation Area is a pretty spot with large, level sites and 50 amp electrical hookups. There is a convenient water and dump station near the entrance. We arrived, happily with reservations, on an August Friday afternoon and the campground was nearly full. There were many families and the kids had a blast swimming in the lake. The lake is fed by the Missouri River. It has a sandy bottom and is pretty shallow for a good distance out – making it perfect for children. Because of the layout of the campground only a fourth of the sites are by the water. Because of that, people pretty much walk through those sites to get to the lake. I know some people get bent out of shape when that happens, but at this campground it’s just the way it is. We smiled and said “hello” and they smiled in return. By Sunday evening, though, that was all over. The place was nearly empty and we pretty much had the campground to ourselves the rest of our stay.
Here are a few things you might want to know if you plan on visiting Farm Island. In addition to the camping fee there is a South Dakota State Parks vehicle entry fee of $6 a day. Since we were intending to stay four days and then visit Custer State Park later on we got a $30 annual pass instead. There is also a $7.50 out of state booking fee. I had no problem getting satellite TV which is a good thing because I don’t think there was any over the air TV. My Verizon signal was solid. When I tested the water with our TDS meter it reported numbers as high as 1000. That’s really high and at the limit of what is considered fit for human consumption. I suggest you bring drinking water. Finally, the flies are real pests throughout this area. Be prepared to defend yourself unless the wind is blowing.
Our final day at Farm Island was “eclipse day.” We woke to a severe thunderstorm that was pretty scary – wind, hail, and a downpour. Really, we should have bugged out to one of the shower houses. However, the storm was on us before we knew it. After 10 or 15 minutes of (thankfully) small hail, things let up. We feared the heavy clouds would block our view of the eclipse which was at nearly 90% for the area. However, at just the right time the skies cleared and we had a good view of the impressive display of God’s handiwork.