Thursday, May 31, 2012

Harrington Beach State Park

It was an unexpected destination for us.  We were a bit ahead of schedule and therefore needed a campsite a short distance north of Milwaukee, so we started looking and found Harrington Beach State Park.  We have discovered it to be a real jewel.
Harrington Beach State Park has more than a mile of beach along Lake Michigan.  However, today there was not one person on the beach.  (The high temperature today was 50 degrees.)
As we walked through the woodlands between Lake Michigan and our campsite we passed large areas filled with the blooms of Dame's Rockets.
Other area of the woodlands are thick with fern.
 The deer stared at us and we stared right back (and took some photos)
From 1901 until 1925 the Lake Shore Stone Company operated a very productive stone quarry here.  Now there is a scenic limestone lake which has a variety of fish including bass, bluegill, and rainbow trout.
We have a delightful campsite shielded by tall grasses and brush for privacy and yet with a magnificent view out of the rear window.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Of Rivers and Indians

The Rock River of northern Illinois bears a common name
but it is an uncommonly beautiful stream with a rich history.

It arises in southern Wisconsin, wends its way south to Rockford, Illinois
and then gracefully turns southwest. 
It joins the Mighty Mississippi at the Quad Cities.
There are several low head dams like this one
in Oregon, Illinois where we are staying for a few days.
The dams are great places to sit and enjoy the beauty of the river;
the sound of the falls, the sight of the rainbow tinted mist
and the patient fishermen waiting for their day's catch.
But more beauties enchanted us, too!
High above the river bank,
on the edge of Lowden State Park where we are staying
is the statue of "The Eternal Indian."
The statue was created by sculptor Lorado Taft and dedicated in 1911.
The sculpture is over 48 feet high and is constructed of concrete.
The artist declared that the image he had created did not represent any one individual.
Nevertheless, the statue is most often referred to as "Black Hawk."
Black Hawk, a Sauk and Fox medicine man of the 1830s,
rejected a treaty signed by some members of his tribe.
That treaty relinquished to the U.S. government
all their tribal lands east of the Mississippi River.
Large portions of land in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois
were opened to settlement by white men
and the Indians were removed to the west of the Father of Waters.
Black Hawk, and a band of about 1000 supporters,
refused to leave their beloved homeland.
They promised they would not use violence to protect it,
but several divisions of U.S. military were sent out
to remove Black Hawk and his followers from their traditional homeland.
Violence ensued, and to this day it is referred to as the
"Black Hawk War."
Black Hawk's warriers were killed and he was captured by U.S. troops.
He is reported to have said,
"We fought hard but your guns were aimed well."
As he was led away by U.S. soldiers, he is also reported
to have asked them to protect the land as his people had done.
Black Hawk died in the mid-1830s on land west of the Mississippi River,
territory that is now southeastern Iowa.
But Black Hawk will not be forgotten as his spirit inhabits the statue of
"The Eternal Indian."
Through those unblinking eyes of stone
he gazes forever toward the southwest
down his beloved Rock River.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Peoria, Illinois

During our visit in Peoria, we enjoyed a bicycle ride on the Rock Island Trail
-- a multi-use trail that follows the old Rock Island railway.

We also enjoyed a delicious typical Chinese meal prepared by the mother of Jessica, a friend of our sister and niece.  Jessica's parents are in Peoria for a month celebrating Jessica's graduation from Bradley University.
We were joined by more friends for a picnic along Grandview Drive
where we enjoyed a spectacular view.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mark Twain Lake

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (better known by his pen name, Mark Twain) was born in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, six months after his family arrived there from Tennessee.  Today his birthplace is surrounded by an 18,000-acre lake bearing the famous writers name, Mark Twain.   The lake was created by the construction of the Clarence Cannon Dam project -- named for the Congressman who secured funding for its construction.
In addition to the Mark Twain Birthplace in Florida, MO, there is the Mark Twain State Park, four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, and numerous day use areas around the lake.
We enjoyed a campsite overlooking Mark Twain Lake in the Indian Creek Campground operated by the Corps of  Engineers.  The $18.00 per night fee is discounted with a U. S. Golden Age Passport card for a final cost of $9.00 per night.

Mark Twain spent his boyhood years in Hannibal, about 30 miles from his birthplace but he spent summers on the farm of his uncle Judge John Quarles at Florida.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kansas City Weekend

Mary Sue and I had a great visit with my cousin, Phyllis, and her husband, Joe, who kindly allowed us to park our fifth-wheel RV in their driveway in Kansas City, Kansas, for the weekend.

On Sunday morning we met my cousin Richard and his wife, Lucille, for worship at First Church of the Nazarene, in Kansas City, Missouri.

After worship Dick and Lu and Mary Sue and I went to Red Lobster where we were joined by Phyllis and Joe for a delightful visit over lunch.

Dick told a story I had never heard before -- Grandpa had always farmed with horses and was very particular about caring for his land.   One day a man came down the road with a caterpiller tractor and started down Grandpa's lane wanting to show Grandpa the benefits of farming with a tractor.  Grandpa absolutely refused to allow the man to bring the tractor onto his land for fear that the machine would compact the soil so badly that it would affect the land's productivity.  Grandpa believed in farming with horses.

Later in the afternoon Mary Sue and I visited with my cousin, Royce, who lives in an assisted living facility in Overland Park, Kansas.

Since we have been living full-time in our fifth-wheel we have been able to keep in touch with our widely-scattered family even better than when we were working and lived in sticks and bricks.  We cherish our family ties.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Milford Lake -- near Junction City, Kansas

We travelled to Junction City, Kansas, in order to have some scheduled maintenance done on our New Horizons fifth-wheel RV which had been built in the New Horizons RV factory there in 2001. 
The work was done in just two days and the next morning we drove twelve miles north of Junction City to the West Rolling Hills Park -- a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground on Milford Lake.
We found a beautiful campsite right at the edge of the water overlooking Milford Lake.
On Friday morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise seen out of our rear window.
On our morning walk we enjoyed more beautiful scenery.
We also found these wine cup flowers -- also known as purple mallows.
Our lakeside location provides the perfect place to crochet.
It is also an ideal place to just sit and relax.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Keeper of the Plains

Keeper of the Plains,
Do you grieve that the grass is gone,
buried under plowed fields
and acres of wheat?

Keeper of the Plains,
Where have the buffalo gone?
Far faster than your hunting parties,
they have disappeared into
the sweep of history and change.

Tipi towns no longer arise,
and the council fires have gone out.
Your eagle feathers are still beautiful,
but they have lost their power.

But the plains remain.
You and the Great Spirit
have faithfully preserved them
and dotted them with victory sites
where you have beaten the white man
at his own greedy games.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wichita, Kansas

The "Keeper of the Plains" is a 44-foot Cor-Ten
sculpture by Kiowa-Commanche artist, Blackbear Bosin.

The sculpture stands at the confluence of the
Arkansas and the Little Arkansas Rivers in
Wichita, Kansas.
During our visit in Wichita we spent some time hiking
in the Lake Afton Park south of Goddard, Kansas,
where we found these beautiful flowers known as
Wine Cup or Poppy Mallow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oklahoma Territorial Museum, Guthrie, OK

Guthrie began its life as a dusty prairie stop along the AT&SF Railroad. On April 22, 1889,  the day of the Land Run, (sometimes referred to as Harrison's Hoss Race), Guthrie had its first incarnation as a destination, becoming a city of 10,000 people by nightfall.

Located in the Unassigned Lands of the Indian Territory, Guthrie had been chosen as a site for one of the Federal Land Offices where land seekers were required to file claim to their parcels. By the evening of April 22, a tent city already dominated the landscape. Wooden buildings soon replaced the tents spreading across the hills along Cottonwood Creek. Guthrie became one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi and was quickly known for its beautiful buildings built of red brick and native sandstone.
 (quoted from

Guthrie became the capitol of Oklahoma in 1890 and remained the capitol until the citizens of the state voted in 1913 for Oklahoma City to become the state capitol. 
The Oklahoma Territorial Museum incorporates the Carnegie Library, built in 1902 -- the first Carnegie Library built in Oklahoma.  Frank Frantz, last territorial governor and Charles Haskell, first State Governor were inaugurated on the steps here.  The mock wedding of Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory was here also.
 At one time it appeared that the Indian Territories and the settler territories would become states separately.  However, in the long run the two were united and became one state -- Oklahoma.  The statue below depicts the symbolic wedding uniting Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Cowboy Oklahoma on statehood day, November 16, 1907, as the two territories came into the Union as one state.
Below is a replica of a home built near Guthrie, Oklahoma, just after the land rush of 1889.
The Oklahoma Territorial Museum tells the fascinating story of the land rush of 1889 as well as four other land rushes and two lotteries through which the U. S. government opened up for settlement lands which had previously been promised to Indian tribes.

It was in the Land Rush of April 22, 1889 that the term "Sooner" came into being.   "Sooners is the name given to settlers in the midwest of the United States who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before President Grover Cleveland officially proclaimed them open to settlement on March 2, 1889 with the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889. The name derived from the "sooner clause" of the Act, which stated that anyone who entered and occupied the land prior to the opening time would be denied the right to claim land."  (quoted from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Today was a time to leisurely explore the Chicksaw National Recreation Area, near Sulphur, Oklahoma.
The park had its beginnings in 1902 when the United States government purchased 640 acres from the Chickasaw Nation to protect the mineral and freshwater springs. Additional acreage was added until today the Chickasaw National Recreation Area has nearly 10,000 acres where visitors enjoy swimming, boating, hiking and cycling. As part of the Chickasaw tribe's arrangement with the U.S. government, the National Park Service does not charge an admission fee.
The "Little Niagara" falls is one of several waterfalls on the Travertine Creek
in the Platt District of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The 2,300 acre Lake of the Arbuckles is a major attraction
in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
During one of our hikes we were amazed at the brillance
of the bloom of this Engelmann's Prickley Pear Cactus.
Can you find the butterfly on the Indian Blanket
flowers in the photo below?
This was the first time we had ever registered and paid
for a campsite using a totally automated kiosk.
Our campsite on the shore of the Lake of the Arbuckles
is a peaceful, beautiful, and restful location.
We recommend the Chickasaw National Recreation
area as a fascinating place for a visit.

We also recommend camping here as the campsites are well-maintained
and the shower houses are sturdy and clean.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chickasaw Cultural Center

Today we visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center near Sulphur, Oklahoma.  It opened its doors in 2010  and celebrates the rich heritage of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. The Chickasaw are the 13th largest federally recognized tribe in the United States.
Greeting visitors to the Chickasaw Cultural Center is this larger than
life representation of the Chickasaw warrior.
Inside the Exhibit Center are numerous exhibits depicting the life of the Chickasaw people in their ancestral lands which were primarily in Mississippi (many near present-day Tupelo, MS).  The exhibits continue with the stories of the eviction of the Chickasaw peoples from their homeland by the U.S. government, and their forced relocation to their present land in Oklahoma in 1837.
In addition to the indoor exhibits there was a live demonstration of the Stomp Dance.
Several bus-loads of children and other visitors watched the Stomp Dance demonstration.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center has a large and well-designed campus on 109 acres of beautiful Chickasaw territory in southern Oklahoma.  The sprawling campus features state-of-the-art exhibits, outdoor gathering places, a theater, cafĂ©, and lush trails and woods.
Visitors can also walk through a Traditional Village.
The reconstructed Chickasaw village includes the large council house, two winter houses to the left of the council house, a tiny food storage shed behind them, and a summer house to their left.  The protecting enclosure fence can be seen surrounding the village.  Not pictured, to the left of this scene, is the ceremonial mound which served as the base for the home of the tribal chief.

It was a delightful day for us, both interesting and informative.