Day 39: Tuesday, October 23 – Overland Park, KS

  • Oh No!!!  Technical failure!!  Right off the bat this morning, Glenda’s new camera (purchased on the road 2 weeks ago) broke.  A slit instead of an open lens.  Help!!!  So before we launch into the day’s activities, we stop to exchange the camera.
  • Nema and Bob take us to Independence, MO the home of the Harry S. Truman Home National Park Site and Truman library.  First we check out the local town and then off for a tour of the home (a very big stamp day here…stamps for the home, the farm, the various trails…woohooo).

Jackson Court house where Harry S. Truman starts his political career as a judge

an Independence Eatery

  • For the home tour we meet Ranger Mike, our guide.  Glenda, an aspiring park ranger, is secretly thrilled when Nema asks Ranger Mike to remove his hat to let Glenda try it on.  She needs to get a good feel for the uniform she may be wearing in her future employ.

Please note Glenda is already wearing the requisite green ranger pants

Here we are at Harry’s home

A few facts about Harry S. Truman:

-His middle name is only the initial S.  for both of his grandfathers

-He is the last president to not have attended college

-He was nominated as FDR’s VP to replace the previous VP and became VP in Jan ’45 and FDR died in April ’45 so he became our 33rd President.

-Moved back to Independence after his turn as President and lived there until his death.

-We stopped back in town for ice cream.  Sundae and shakes for all (Harry worked here as youth when it was a pharmacy).

In Independence…

Yum!

  • We arrived at the Harry S. Truman Library. Take in the movie and go through the exhibits. This is a really well-organized museum. So much happened in Truman’s watch and he had so many big decisions to make. We took it all in. And then Glenda’s new working life re-emerged as a PR woman asked Glenda if she would pose for some still shots for a potential brochure and website. She’s back in front of the camera – all body parts were represented! Bob, Nema and Sue all barged in for their own stints at modeling. We think Nema will be picked as she played her role writing something out so very well.

Photo shoot – Glenda & Bob

More photography – Glenda & Sue

Harry and Glenda

  • We toured a bit of downtown KC and capped off the day with fabulous, true, KC barbecue at Oklahoma Joe’s – a BBQ joint in a gas station – rated #1for ribs in the country by some. Best BBQ we’ve ever had!

Gas and ribs, anyone?

Slab o’ ribs


Jersey Junction

In our quest to get Glenda a new camera, we met Zach, our Best Buy sales associate. He’s never been to New Jersey but revealed that the first thing that comes to mind when asked about our fair state is the basketball team. He was a NJ Nets fan because of Vince Carter and knew all about the recent move of the Nets to Brooklyn. He also made us smile when he told us he would NOT mention Jersey Shore in answer to our question. Good man!

Best Buy salesman and NJ Nets fan Zach

Theme of the Day: The buck stops in Independence, MO

Up Next: St. Louis, MO

Day 38: Monday, October 22 – Flying W Ranch to Overland Park, KS

  • Up early to try to view some prairie chickens — we tried but we don’t think we saw one although we did flush out a bird that looked kind of like a duck?? But no water in sight??  Is it a prairie chicken?  Yes, we think so.

Sunrise

Sunrise 2

Glenda (splenda) in the grass.

Hags on Nags

  • Next up – Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve with 3–really–stamps.  The prairie (french word for meadow) used to cover 170 million acres of North America, today less than 4% remains.  It is basically 3 types of grass rolling out over hills.  Because of the drought here the grass didn’t reach its usual height potential so it was easier to hike through and see where we were going.

Schoolhouse on the prairie

prairie

prairie

Glenda as a junior ranger

  • Still on our way to Overland Park, KS.  Next stop Topeka for a visit to the Brown v. Board of Ed National Historic Site.  We landed in Topeka but we were hungry!!  Shout out to Papp for the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives book for directing us to Bobos Drive-in.  Yummy.  A vintage drive-in for the burgers and onion rings.

Bobos

Said our server

food art photo

At Monroe Elementary School now home of the Brown v Board of Ed National Historic Site

  • We arrived in Overland Park, KS to the home of Glenda’s friends Bob and Nema and dog Cooper.  They have a beautiful house and welcomed us, our bedraggled selves and overloaded car, warmly.  Fabulous dinner on the patio in 80 degree Kansas October weather?  We go to our separate but equal bedrooms. Ahhhh 🙂

Glenda, Nema, Sue

Cooper: Dog of the month at Pete and Mac’s Dog Hotel

Chocolates for dessert

Jersey Junction

Nothing really strong today–a mention or 2 in the Brown v. Board museum about Newark’s several African American Mayors since the civil rights movement. Nema and Bob have both been to NJ many times.  Nema has decided that the Princeton U campus is the prettiest campus she has ever seen.  Nema, a Texan who knows her way around a sweet potato pie, recalls over 20 years ago she bought the best sweet potato pie she has ever tasted from some guy in the Trenton train station. She still remembers it.  So there!!

Theme of the Day: From the mountains, to the prairies….

Up next: Overland Park, KS

Day 37: Sunday, October 21 – Dodge City, KS to Flying W Ranch in Clements, KS

  • We are on our photo game today – lots of photo opps. Enjoy! En route from Dodge to the Flying W we followed the Santa Fe Trail and arrived at THE MIDDLE. Kinsley, KS – halfway between San Francisco and New York City. 

The Middle

Santa Fe Trail marker

On the trail

  • We stopped at a National Historic Site (yes, another stamportunity) – Fort Larned in Larned, KS. This was a military fort, protecting the frontier and trade routes. Glenda and Sue were really into the whole history here during the mid-1800’s. Shout out to cousin Bob Allison – U.S. History Professor – we have questions!

Sue with metal man on a horse

Fort Larned housing

Carpentry shop

Sue, from Frank’s perspective

  • On the road, we saw field after field of crops we didn’t recognize along with grain elevators we don’t understand. Shout out to Mary and Roger Blanken or anyone with farm/western knowledge – please explain. We also saw unfamiliar equipment and structures.

Storage thingies

What is it?

Help! WTF

Glenda with unidentified crop

  •  We finally turned off Route 50 to Road G, our road to the Flying W Ranch. We are staying in one of two bunkhouses on this 7000 acre working ranch and guest lodge. The other bunkhouse is occupied by 9 Minnesota farmer women who brought their own horses to ride the trails and experience ranch life for a week. They call themselves “Hags on Nags”. Perfect! We will get along fine. (Sheron and Margie H – other than the major differences, the hags remind us of you and your girls. All good.) The ranch is rustic but charming and loaded with amenities and great country views. We took a short hike uphill and got back in time for a horse-drawn carriage ride. The hags joined us. Here are our pictures at the Flying W:

The Flying W!

Goats on the ranch

Glenda on the bunkhouse front porch

Sue hiking the prairie

Glenda lovin’ the prairie

Hag on a nag

Glenda, Possum, Josh and Sue

Some of the hags

Sunset on the prairie

  • Our hosts, Josh and Gwen, couldn’t be nicer. Josh cooked us a great steak and potatoes meal, brought to our bunkhouse.  Shout out to Bob Mallow who set us up at the Flying W and more to come. Yay, Bob!
Jersey Junction

Fort Larned – we checked out the 1870 Census to find 2 NJ-born residents. Alfred Woodhall, post surgeon (we assume a Princeton grad – or UMDNJ?) and Patrick Kelley, a Private with Company K in the army. Long ago Jersey people.

We asked the hags if they’d ever been to New Jersey and 3 of the 7 in our carriage had been!

Theme of the Day: Farmers and cowboys are friends

Up Next: Overland Park, KS

Day 36: Saturday, October 20 – Manitou Springs, CO to Dodge City, KS

  • We are heading to the plains and the “wild west” town of Dodge City, KS-via Route 50-we are avoiding the big interstate Route 70.  Along Route 50 we learn of a National Historic Site near La Junta, CO called Old Bent’s Fort.  It was a trading post on the Santa Fe Trail for fur traders, Indians, explorers and visitors-the gateway to trading in the west.  It is on the Arkansas River and sits near what used to be the border with Mexico.

At Old Bent’s Fort

 

  • That was a fun and informative stop – and Glenda met another Glenda in the gift shop.  Wow!!!  Back on the road we notice the flat, open land we expected.  No more Rocky Mountains or any mountains-in fact there’s hardly a hill at all.  We found a few more sites en route.  The DAR installed 12 statues of pioneer women all across the country from Bethesda MD to Upland CA and we found one in Lamar CO.  This one is the Madonna of the Trail.  We also passes through Holcomb, KS site of the Truman Capote “In Cold Blood” murders.

Madonna of the Trail

Road view

  • Now in KS we see a lot of feed lots–full of cows packed in at the troughs.  Roll down the window and breathe deep.  Take a good whiff of manure of a million cows.  Ugh.  Reminds us of Jersey on the turnpike.  P.U.

  • Dodge City is a pretty tired town with not much happening for tourists especially.  The fake western museum/town was closed when we arrived so we walked around town and shopped a little in the primarily Mexican downtown.  Dinner at a local Mexican joint.  Pretty good!!

Boots

 

Jersey Junction

No people junction today, but outside of La Junta, CO (which means the junction) at Old Bent’s Fort, we learn that Colt revolvers were traded regularly at the fort and were manufactured in…yes…Paterson, NJ.

 

Theme of the Day: It’s Mexican Day (our book on tape is also set in Mexico)

Up next: The Flying W Ranch Strong City, KS

Day 35: Friday, October 19 – Hotchkiss, CO to Manitou Springs, CO

  • Happy birthday, Frank!!!
  • We said goodbye to the gang at Dan’s house. They had just finished harvesting the potato crop.

Goin’ fishing!

Potatoes

Potatoes and trout for dinner sound good to us!

  • On the road, we thought, to Pueblo. We drove on Route 50 through the Monarch Pass (elevation 11,300+). We think this is the highest we’ve been. It was dicey.

Sue at the pass

Naked Aspens

Mountain view from the road

Roadside attraction – world’s biggest rocker

  • Drove through Canon City, home to 4 maximum security prisons, housing a couple of notorious criminals including: Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma bomber Terry Nichols, the shoe-bomber and more.

Unabomber home

  • Driving along, Glenda found a different possible destination in our book – Manitou Springs, CO. So here we are. Our motel/cabin is vintage quirky 1950’s. A couple of sketchy motel-mates are a cabin or two away from us.

Reception

  • Manitou Springs has several springs, like Saratoga, and it turns out the town is a cute, western, friendly, funky town with a good vibe. We like it.

Sue at the well

Jersey Junction

A new couple checked into the B&B last night and we talked to them at breakfast. Sue was surrounded by Bell Heads! Our couple both worked for the Bell System in the past and spent a few of those Bell years in Homdel, Matawan, and Freehold. They are from Nebraska and the land of wide open spaces. They thought NJ was a little too crowded for them.

Theme of the Day: Leaving the mountains behind…

Next Up: Dodge City, KS

 

Day 34: Thursday, October 18 – Hotchkiss, CO

  • OK, so another trip for Calamity Jane (aka Glenda) to the local clinic.  This time, a slip and fall and a possible sprain/break of the wrist.  Although the doctor was named something else, we harken back to Jackson and Dr. Blue.  So since all docs out here are colors, we refer to this one as Dr. Yellow.  Dr. Yellow took an x-ray, wasn’t sure if it was broken or sprained, but gave her a splint and icing and Advil instructions.

A visit to Dr. Yellow

  • But Glenda can still walk and trooper that she is, she was ready for a hike.  We had breakfast and watched as people came to pick the grapes at the B & B vineyard.

Grapes!!

The vines

Jessica and Emily, the pickers

Action shot

  • We drove to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Gunnison National Park.  A stamp!!!!  And a hike to a view at the edge of the rim.

Black Canyon

  • Later we stopped by Glenda’s friend Dan’s house here in Hotchkiss where her other friends Chuck and Inken were visiting for a fishing weekend.  A beautiful, contemporary, NY architect designed-house sitting on 200 acres with the Gunnison River running through it.  Sue tried her hand at fishing with no success but Chuck reeled in a big one!!

Dan’s House

Inken and Glenda walking back from fishing

Yay!!

  • We had a raucous dinner party at some guy’s house where he has a brick pizza oven and makes pizza for one group only in a room in his house.  Dan and Eve brought all the snacks, beverages and side dishes and Joe the pizza guy made the pizzas fresh in his oven.  The beverages were flowing and we had a long discussion about shooting guns which Sue desperately wants to do but might be too scared to try.  Joe apparently has many firearms of all kinds to shoot all kinds of things.  Hmmmmmm.

Pizza Party

Glenda, Sue and Dan’s guest Teddy

Jersey Junction

Dan grew up in Red Bank, NJ a full-fledged Jersey Boy!!  His friend Eve, a Phille girl, spent her childhood summers at the Jersey Shore.

Eve and Dan – Jersey People

Theme of the day: Colorado Outdoor Life, Hikin’, Fishin’, Huntin’ (for a doctor)

Up next: Pueblo, CO

Not sure yet how to pronounce this state…Col o rahdo or Col o rado…like Nevada.  Anyone know???

 

 

 

 

Day 33: Wednesday, October 17 Moab, UT to Hotchkiss, CO


  • Glenda’s friends Chuck and Inken called to let us know that they would be in Hotchkiss, CO about 3 hours east of Moab, for a long weekend.  So we rearranged our schedule and planned to meet up with them tomorrow.  We did a little shopping in the fat tire-friendly town of Moab.  We made a few purchases and found one Jersey Junction.
  • Next, on the road for 3 hours driving east to Hotchkiss.  We passed through Grand Junction, CO.  This was a surprisingly big (population 60,00) city.  The downtown was filled with sculptures and boutiques including a whole store devoted to babies and midwives (Lee take note).
  • Finally on to Hotchkiss, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Colorado.  We are staying at a B&B/vineyard run by a Frenchman Yvon and his New Yorker (Queens) wife Joanna.  For dinner we head to town and Zack’s BBQ for ribs and chicken and a delicious local brew.

Leroux Creek Inn

 

BBQ joint

Local brews

  •  Back at the B&B, Yvon and Joanna were hosting 2 couples for a culinary event. They toured local vineyards and farms to buy the ingredients and come back to the B&B to cook a meal under the guidance of chef Yvon. We participated in the wine hour before they sat down to dinner. Pat & Jim, from Denver by way of TX, Cheryl from CT with her partner Tim from England. A really festive night for all, drinking the  B&B’s wine.
Jersey Junction
So, we have a couple today. First, our shop owner in Moab – Cathya Haas. Born in Philly but her parents lived in Pennsauken, NJ. Plus, her father was from Westmont,NJ (wherever that is). So even thought she has lived out in the west for a long time – she’s got Jersey roots!

Cathya with some of her beautiful hand-dyed scarves

Our second JJ was our B&B mates, Pat and Jim. Jim spent many a week in Liberty Corner working for Ingersoll Rand. He loved driving the back roads of NJ in the early morning and agreed that most Texans have no idea how beautiful NJ can be. No ugly Jersey stories from him. Thanks, Jim!

Jim and Pat

Theme of the Day: Beer and Wine
Next Up: Staying in Hotchkiss

 

Day 32: Tuesday, October 16 – Arches National Park and Moab, UT

  • Arches National Park and another stamp!!  Two stamps here for some reason–we don’t ask, just stamp away!!  We take in the movie at the visitors’ center to add to all our extensive knowledge regarding these rock formations here in Utah.  It has something to do with salt and the colors have something to do with iron.
  • The arches are all naturally formed from the rain, wind, heat and cold and water in general and they are so cool to look at.  They are rust/orange confections, sometimes swirling, sometimes jagged, sometimes smooth.

Landscape Arch

Delicate Arch

Hi Glenda!

Delicate Arch in the background

  • As with the other areas, many of the rock formations are named after their shape or what they look like.  Here are some pictures of rock formations with their names:

The Three Gossips

Balanced Rock

Courthouse

Windows

And here are some that we have named:

Mr. and Mrs. Gnome

Weebils

?

  • Another great landscape, another great day, another day of laughs!!
Jersey Junction
None again today…We ran home to watch the debate and holed up in our lovely Ramada.

The debate

watching the debate

Theme of the Day: Landscapes – Political and Natural

Up Next: Hotchkiss, CO

 

 

 

Day 31: Monday, October 15 – Monument Valley, UT to Moab, UT

  • We woke up to catch the sunrise over Monument Valley from our hotel room and balcony. Exquisite!
  • At breakfast we were approached by a Navajo tour guide who encouraged us to take his tour. And after thinking about it, we agreed. So we signed up for a 2.5 hour jeep tour along the bumpy, dirt roads in the Navajo Nation to view the various monuments. Here’s what we learned from our guide Brian:
  1. The Navajo people refer to themselves as Dineh, meaning human.
  2. The round houses are, indeed, called hogans and Brian himself (now age 38) grew up in one. The round hogans are female, the cone-shaped ones are male. But families can live in either style.
  3. Navajos believe in the duality of life and everything has a male and female aspect.
  4. Brian, as a child, was sent away to school from Kindergarten through 4th grade as the reservation did not have its own school. After his 4th grade year a public school opened on his reservation.
  5. The Navajo Nation has its own president and elected officials like our Congress, Senate, etc. They also vote in the U.S. elections. If they work on the reservation the don’t pay federal or state taxes; if they work off the reservation they pay federal taxes. In either case, the Navajo Nation has recently imposed some taxes of its own.
  6. Here in Monument Valley, many of the Navajo live in traditional hogans without running water. They have to travel to town to get their water. 

Brian, our guide, performing a drum solo

Modern hogan on the reservation

Glenda and Brian chatting

  • We toured the Valley and saw and photographed many of the natural stone monuments here. Brian had a lot of insight into setting up our photos. All of the monuments had a name based on what they looked like or figures that could be seen in the stones.

Framed monument

Glenda and Sue

Indian Chief or (we thought) George Washington. You decide.

Indian petroglyphs

Eye of the Sun

Eagle head

Brian, entertaining us with a traditional song

G & S

S & G

  • What a great tour! We definitely recommend it – specifically Monument Valley Safari. Next, on our way to Moab for more of the Utah National Parks.

On the road…

  • Dinner at a local brewery in Moab – Monday night football on the TVs. The patrons at the bar are mostly sporty mountain men and a few mountain women mixed in. We notice a certain facial hairstyle on some of the lads – kind of like an extra soul patch or extra long and thin Van Dyke. Does anyone know what this is? Do we have this in Jersey?
Jersey Junction
Nothing today. Too busy learning about Navajo life. Brian has never been to NJ but he has been to upstate NY.
Theme of the Day: Navajo Nation
Up Next: Moab and Arches National Park

Day 30: Sunday, October 14 – Grand Canyon, AZ to Monument Valley, UT

 

  • Another visit to the Grand Canyon South Rim this morning.  We walked along the rim and got 2, count them, 2 National Park stamps here.  Glenda was ecstatic.  Yay!!  We spotted our first wildlife evidence in the canyon and we shopped.  A double great morning!!

Morning at the South Rim

Wildlife at the Canyon: Turkey Vulture?

  • Next on our way to Monument Valley and The View Hotel in the Navajo Nation.  We weren’t sure what to expect as we traveled again through the middle of nowhere.  We noticed in the Navajo Nation that there were many octagonal/round buildings/huts mixed into the communities with houses and trailers.  Glenda researched in the passenger seat and discovered that these are called hogans — Navajo homes — round to represent Father Sun, Mother Earth, Sister Moon and the circle of life (brothers Rand, Pete and Steve take notice, bros don’t count…sorry).  Some of the hogans were also sweat lodges for meditative/ceremonial purposes. Some look like round garages, made of wood like some kind of garage or shed next to the house.  Maybe the grandparents live there?  Here are pictures of the mud hogan the ceremonial/sweat lodge type.  Pictures of your regular old hogans to come.

Mud-type hogan en route to Monument Valley

Sue inside a sample hogan

 

  • Monument Valley is _________ (insert your own superlative here).  This was the scene, apparently, of many old westerns featuring John Wayne etc.  As a matter of fact, our hotel is showing one of those old westerns on the side of the building right now.  We arrived just in time for the sunset, perfect time for shooting pics.

Monument Valley at Sunset

 

  • A note about our fellow travelers.  We have seen, of course, many Americans along the way.  But for the non-American tourists, we have seen the following:   Niagara Falls – East Indians; Yellowstone – Chinese; Death Valley – French; Swedish bikers; Grand Canyon and Monument Valley – Japanese; Germans everywhere as well as our fellow AARP members. HA!!

Jersey Junction

Elba helped us shopping at the Hopi House on the South Rim.  She is Puerto Rican, originally from Spanish Harlem Manhattan.  And although she has lived out west here in Arizona and California for a long time, she is still a New Yorker at heart and….her cousins are in South Brunswick, NJ (close enough).  Thanks Elba!!

Theme of the Day: Giddeeyup!

Up Next: Moab, UT  Arches National Park