We had a fun morning in Waco, TX at Magnolia Market of HGTV “Fixer Upper” fame. After parking in a city free parking lot we rode the free trolley which let us out right at the front door and Bakery. I enjoyed looking and shopping with all the other people. It was crowded but everyone was good natured. After making my purchase we walked over to the Feed and Seed Store where we enjoyed the beautiful flowers and gardens. Since the line into the Bakery was long we opted to not go there. There were several food trucks as well. People were enjoying the picnic tables and the kids were having a lot of fun romping in the large play area.
Later on, just for fun, we drove past Chip and Joanna’s restaurant, Magnolia Table. They had a full house, with people lined up waiting to get in.
This is our second sightseeing review of Waco – the first is here.
After walking about three blocks we arrived at the Dr. Pepper Museum. The tour there is self guided. The museum is housed in a three story building but there is an elevator if you don’t want to climb the stairs. We enjoyed seeing the old corner drugstore with it’s beautiful woodwork and mirror. One room has early-day bottling equipment and a video on how the old bottle washer worked. Of particular interest to me was the artesian well that originally provided water for making the first Dr. Peppers bottled here. Sometime prior to World War II the well was closed and floored over. The exact location was lost as the building was changed and used for other purposes across the years. It took some archeology to find just where, under the brick floor, the well was.
Throughout the building there are old time delivery trucks on display along with lots of Dr Pepper memorabilia. In the theater room you can enjoy Dr. Pepper commercials being played on a big screen. We were surprised at how many of those commercials we remembered! Scott wasn’t sure he liked watching them because he kept singing them to himself the rest of the day! After finishing the three stories of the museum we went across the courtyard where there were several other displays, including a very nice model railroad and a 7-Up bottling display. We also enjoyed Frosty’s Soda Shop and gift shop. We got a couple of sodas, made the old fashioned way, by a soda jerk. Scott got, of course, a Dr Pepper and I opted for a root beer. We thought both tasted better than what you would buy in a store or from a machine.
We enjoyed our visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument. At the visitor’s center we looked at the displays and watched an informative video. This distinctive formation was in Indian Territory and a landmark well known to many tribes. The pioneers followed the North Platte River as they journeyed westward. They could see these formations for days as they traveled across the prairie. This route is known as the Oregon Trail and was also part of the Mormon Trail. The Pony Express also rode through the area. As many travelers before us, we could see the Bluff as arrived in the area, and as travelers have for generations, we camped near the base of Scotts Bluff. Unlike those early travelers, though, we drove a twisting road through tunnels and with increasing vistas to the top. The view is amazing. We walked to various overlooks, thoroughly enjoying the scenery spread out below. I’m glad we were able to visit a place we have heard of most of our lives.
Mount Rushmore is spectacular and I would come again to see this monument honoring our country. The size and detail are amazing in the daytime and beautiful at night. After dark we saw a short movie about the monument, heard stories from a park ranger, and watched the lowering of the American flag by ex-servicemen from the audience. This monument is cared for by the National park Service and includes a visitors’ center, gift shops, and museum where we watched a movie telling the story of how it all came about. The artist, Gutzon Borglum, was a first generation American of Danish decent. He began the project in 1925 and it was completed by his son Lincoln shortly after his father’s death in 1941.
We also enjoyed going to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is a family owned monument and the ongoing work of Korczak Ziolkowski and his family. There are American Indian artifacts and items on display as well as a gift shop and a restaurant. Ziolkowski and his wife have passed on but his children continue the sculpting. We were lucky enough to be there for not only one of the nightly lazar light shows but also one the two nighttime dynamite blasts that are done each year. Although it was extremely crowed we found indoor seating that allowed a great view of the light show and blasting. We’ve never seen anything like the blasting, as over 100 charges were set off in rapid succession, each one with a “boom” and fiery flash of light.
Both of these monuments are worth a visit and both should be visited in the early evening so they can be seen in both daylight and under lighting.
We’ve enjoyed tours of both National Park caves in the Black Hills. We took the Historic Lantern tour of Jewel Cave. The park ranger was in Historic costume with a fitted coat and riding pants. That was the standard uniform of the 1930’s. We met at the log cabin rebuilt to the specifications of the cabin lived in by the first Park Ranger and his wife. Half the people were given kerosene lanterns to carry just like they did in the early days. We were warned that the tour was considered strenuous, we would climb up and down about 600 steep wooden steps (some ladder-like) and be required to bend and stoop in some areas.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the cave as well as providing plenty of information about the crystals on the walls and the various bats that inhabit the cave. It was interesting to see how the early cave explorers saw the caves and fascinating to think they could see so little of the path ahead as they went through the cave. I was very tired when we finished but glad I took the tour.
Our second cave was Wind Cave and we took the Fairgrounds Cave Tour. We enjoyed this hour and half tour. The cave continually equalizes the atmospheric pressure of the cave and outside air causing it to “breathe” in or out. Our tour was part of the upper and middle levels of the the cave. It is considered the most strenuous walking tour of the park with 450 stair steps along the 2/3 mile hike, but there are rails to hold on to. One flight has 89 steps going up. Our tour guide was a young lady in her first year with the Parks service. She was very knowledgeable about the cave, its history, and the formations. The major attraction of this cave is the Boxwork formations found in the middle level of the cave. We also saw popcorn and frostwork formations. This is an excellent tour and I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t mind a strenuous hike.
We spent a fun afternoon at the Ingalls Homestead (“Little House on the Prairie”) at DeSmet, SD. We started at the visitor’s center where we bought our ticket and looked at all the goodies in the gift shop. We also watched short introductory movie. From there it was out to explore the property.
The first building we toured looks like a one room school but inside has a coved wagon you can get into plus many displays about the travels of the Ingalls family bringing them to this place. From there we saw a dugout similar to the one they lived in on the banks of Plum Creek in MN. Near it is an original claim shanty similar to one they lived in that was moved from Spirt Lake. After living on the land for five years Charles had to file a governmental document called “proving-up papers” which describe the improvements he had made to the land. Apparently, he more than met the required standards. We saw the barn, water pump, and a reconstruction of Ma’s Little House. At the barn there is a calf and kittens to pet. The pump works and, for Scott, using it was a return to his childhood. At the house the docent told us several stories that took place in their home, reminding us of stories from the books. The visiting children were invited to help wash and hang clothes, beat the rug, and shake cinders out of the cook stove. There is a lush vegetable garden, herb garden, and wildflower display. The original Flindt’s garage building has been moved to the site and is now used to demonstrate and allow hands on rope making, corn shelling, corncob doll making, and hay twisting; all things that were done by the Ingalls family. We enjoyed riding the coved wagon across the fields to see a country schoolhouse like the one Laura and her sisters attended. The “teacher” told about a typical school day. She had everyone participating in her presentation, including having the children read from early readers. She talked about the lunch pails and lunches the children might have brought. We found the Ingalls Homestead to be a very fun and active place and well worth the visit.