Tag Archives: nature

2017 – Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX

20171001_181755a.jpg We have had a nice stay at Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX.  We came to Denison so I could fill in for a pastor friend while he took Sabbatical leave.  The park is located on Lake Texoma and features a large marina and multiple camping areas.  However, only the Bois D’Arc Ridge loop has full hookups.

We enjoyed the beautiful wooded campground with its herd of deer and other assorted wildlife.  The neighborhood roadrunners are comical birds that are especially fun to watch.  The campsites in this area are all pull-throughs, which each site a small loop off the road.  That means everyone’s back is to the road, creating a sense of privacy even when the campground is full.

20171024_165840a.jpg The biggest negative is that many of the sites are rather unlevel both side to side and front to back.  Some are so bad that only a small camper has any reasonable hope of getting level.  Also, in addition to bringing along plenty of leveling blocks be sure to bring extra sewer hose as the connection is seldom in a spot that will let you get level and be close to the sewer connection at the same time.  And, even though the lake is very close by, there are no lake views to speak of.  Toward the end of our stay the trees had dropped enough leaves that the lake could be seen through the forest from a few spots but there was nothing like a real lake view from this camping loop.

20171024_104727a.jpg I really should mention the hedge apples.  Some of the sites have trees with this softball sized fruit on them.  You certainly don’t want to park your RV under one of those trees in the fall!

I really don’t mean for this to be a negative sounding review.  We like this park a lot.  The staff is friendly and easy to work with.  Unless you arrive on a busy weekend, they will let you drive around and pick a site rather than stay in the one assigned.  Also, if they know you are in a bigger rig they will try to assign you one of the longer, somewhat more level spots.

The campground is just a few minutes from Denison with its restaurants, Walmart, and about any other business you might need.


2017 – Black Hills, SD National Parks Caves

20170825_164656.jpg 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.

20170825_164804.jpg 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.

20170828_115427.jpg 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.


2017 – Badlands National Park – Wall, SD and vicinity

20170822_140657.jpg After a short move we arrived in Wall, S.D. We decided to have lunch at the famous Wall Drug that is advertised on hundreds of billboards along the highways across South Dakota. Even on the state highways between Pierre and Wall I saw about 40 signs for Wall Drug. The store is huge, taking up a city block. Even on a weekday afternoon it was full of people. We had their famous hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course, their much advertised free ice water. For dessert we had apple pie and a cup of the 5 cent coffee. Again it was excellent! I had seen how large the sandwich was so we split the meal and were satisfied. There is a wide variety of shops with every kind of tourist item you can think of. It is very family oriented place with a play area and free water park for kids along with an animated dinosaur that opens its mouth and roars every 12 minutes.

IMG_6042.JPG The Badlands National Park is a very different experience. We have an America the Beautiful Pass for those of us over 62 so we avoided paying the $20 entry fee. We arrived midmorning and it was already getting warm. There is a wide variety of wildlife here. We saw some Bighorn sheep, several prairie dog towns, an antelope, and a few birds. Although the loop road was busy we had no difficulty finding parking at the overlooks. We stopped at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, had our picnic lunch in a covered shelter, watched the movie, refilled our water bottle, made a few purchases, and headed on out.

On our way home from the Badlands National Park we stopped at the Minuteman Missile National historic Site. There is a variety of hands on displays showing the significance of these sites in the Cold War and the arms race. The memorabilia is a reminder of those who served and the effect of the Cold War on the civilian population. There are actually three sites in the area, but we only stopped at the visitor center.

As you can tell, we enjoyed our time in Wall and especially, Badlands National Park.


2017 – Sightseeing in the Twin Cities area, Minnesota

There’s a lot to see in the Twin Cities and we enjoyed our sightseeing. Honestly, there’s still more to see.

IMG_5741.JPG We enjoyed our visit to Historic Fort Snelling which was built in 1820 at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. It was established to protect the U.S. Fur trade. In doing so the Fort formalized the U.S. government’s presence and American expansion into Native American Dakota land. Later, from the Civil War through WWII, it was used for training of troops. Inside the gate is the parade ground surrounded by the buildings necessary the Fort to be successful. The oldest structure is the round tower which was used for defense. The munitions building has 6 foot walls and wood floors with pegs to guard against unintended sparks. We saw a long building where rooms were set aside for enlisted men and their families as well as rooms that housed single enlisted men. There is a Sutter’s store that was owned and run by a civilian. He sold items not provided by the post commissary to the solders, their families and local people. There were many people dressed in period clothing. Some women demonstrated how they did laundry outside by hand and how they cooked over an open fire in a hearth. Jackie’s favorite stop on the tour was the home of the Commander Snelling that has been restored and furnished with period furnishings. We also saw an area set up as the post Doctors quarters, and hospital. We finished our tour learning the history of the Dakota people and the effects of the Fort on them.

20170728_200846.jpg We had a fun evening at the zoo. We started with the special Australian exhibit of Kangaroos and emu. This is a temporary exhibit and the animals will be here until the fall when they will be returned to their home at a private park outside of San Antonio, Texas. The section on Minnesota animals was interesting. We saw a beaver pushing a small log over the dam and another swim out and back into their lodge. A moose walked right in front us before moving into the woods. The aviary was fun to walk through. We especially liked the exotic birds like the Hornbill and the Crowned Pigeon. Of course we had to see the reptiles including a huge python and a komodo dragon. I would recommend this zoo as a fun destination for everyone.

IMG_5797.JPG Another adventure included driving into the city and taking the Metro train. Our first stop on the light rail was Minnihaha Falls. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gave this Minneapolis waterfall national fame in the Song of Hiawatha, written in 1853. It is a short walk from the light rail stop and well worth the time and effort to see. The view from the bottom of the falls is great but entails a lot of steps, so be prepared. We caught the next train on into town and got off at Nicolette Mall. Sadly that area is under construction so we had lunch looked around some and headed back out. It was a fun and easy way to see parts of the city.

20170803_111634.jpg The Mall of America lived up to its reviews. We were here a few years ago but this time we covered all the floors. I had read about the new Crayola store. We made that our first stop. There is every color of crayon and marker available there. One entire wall from floor to ceiling was filled with crayons and markers. A person could choose a box or basket and fill it with your choice of crayon or marker and pay for them at check-out. There are toys, jewelry, stuffed animals coloring books for all ages, as well as clothing. A really fun place to see. As we walked we found stores offering everything you have seen in any mall. Along with the stores the mall offers an Indoor amusement park with rollercoasters and other rides. We saw a water ride, a mini golf course and the aquarium. After walking all four floors and doing a little shopping we headed home.

Beyond all the sightseeing, we enjoyed the cooler summer weather, especially during the later part of our stay.


2017 – Southwestern Ohio Sightseeing

20170530_113924.jpg I’ve enjoyed our third stay in southwestern Ohio. We drove a short 40 minutes to visit nearby Clifton which was settled in 1802. The Historic Clifton Mill is one of the few working water powered grist mills in the U.S. It contains a gift shop and restaurant. Not far from there we visited Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. We hiked one of the trails down by the river to the falls. We really liked the area and hope to go back another time.

20170603_130605.jpg A fun local event was the Corwin, Ohio Tractor show. We got to town around 11:30 for the tractor parade and saw people putting their chairs under a tree so we joined them and found that it was a family of several generations that live in the area and came to see their friends and neighbors on their tractors. We saw a lot of old tractors that have been refurbished and look like they did when they were new. I saw one that I had never seen before and found out it was a cultivator tractor built in 1948 for use on truck farms. The engine was behind the driver so they could see the furrows in front of them. Following the parade there was a meal of pulled pork, coleslaw, green beans with new potatoes, desserts and drinks. The tractors were parked all around so we could get a closer look. A fun way to spend a sunny Saturday morning.

20170605_141437.jpg Being as close to the Museum of the Air Force in Dayton as we were Scott couldn’t resist making another visit. A new section has been added since our last visit so we made a bee line to it. We focused on just that hanger and one other rather than trying to see the entire place – an exhausting effort! We especially enjoyed seeing the Presidential planes as well as many experimental, one-of-a-kind planes. We did an earlier review of the Museum here.