Tag Archives: 50 States

Tilting At Windmills

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

From Wikipedia: “Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from Don Quixote, and the word “tilt” in this context comes from jousting.

 The phrase is sometimes used to describe either confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded, and vain effort against adversaries real or imagined.”

Here in the east we don’t have many, if any, opportunities to see wind turbines in the huge farms like they have out west.  There are a few in eastern North Carolina and I’m sure more in other locations, but I haven’t come across them in the numbers that we encountered out west.  I had seen photos of wind farms in the west, but seeing them in person made an even greater impression.

Seven Mile Wind Farm near Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Wind turbines are not without controversy, certainly, but I find them to have a graceful beauty, spinning like a dancer in slow motion.  I don’t profess to be an expert on wind turbines or any other methods of producing electricity.  But as someone living within 20 miles (technically 20.5 miles) of two nuclear plants, two coal plants and a few other types, I think I would rather see a few dozen (or hundred) wind mills on my horizon than the steam plumes from the cooling towers of nuclear plants.  They may not work here or make sense for an area as densely populated as Charlotte, but I see turbines as a viable alternative for producing electricity, particularly in rural areas such as Nebraska, the Dakotas and Wyoming where constant wind is a fact of life.

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

We were fortunate enough to come across a few sites at times when it was conducive to making photographs, and I hope I’ve done a reasonable job of presenting them.

Wind farm along US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Our original plan was to stop at the visitor center at for a stamp in Kathy’s Passport book, take a few photos and move on.  But even though the weather was iffy when we got there, the scenery was so captivating that we decided to stick around until dark.  And we’re glad we did!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

The visitor center is situated at a rest stop along I-94 and is one of the few interstate rest areas where you can actually see bison.  We didn’t see any at the rest stop, but did see a lot of them in the park, both up close and from a distance.  The best way to see the park is to drive the loop road, which is what we ended up doing.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

A portion of the loop road through the park was closed due to some aerial spraying being done, but the road was open enough to get some good views from within the park.  “Prairie Dog Town” was a lot of fun, with hundreds of the cute little critters popping their heads out of their holes to peek at us.  We got a little “up close and personal” to some bison that wandered through a parking area right behind our car.  I was very glad to be in the car and not out wandering around with my camera!

Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Our visit could have been longer had we gotten there earlier or if the weather had been better, but it was longer than we intended, and that is a testament to being open to change and flexible in our plans.  It was a worthwhile detour, for sure!

A Quick Visit to Montana

Custer National Cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana

I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t come anywhere close to doing Montana justice.  We basically cut enough of the corner between Wyoming and North Dakota to count it as a “visit” (even still, it was 300 miles!) but purposely decided ahead of time that it was a state we would revisit later to explore in more detail.

Custer National Cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana

Our visit was essentially limited to a stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  It was a cold, wet day with the precipitation fluctuating between rain and snow, and my photos reflect that.  While I’m sure that sunny weather like we saw for most of our trip would have made it more beautiful, the gloomy weather made for appropriate conditions at a place that has such a dark role in American history.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Rural countryside along SR 47 near Custer, Montana
Rural countryside along SR 47 near Custer, Montana
Rural countryside along SR 47 near Custer, Montana

Why Wyoming?

US-287 south of Laramie, Wyoming

As I sat at my computer working on photos from Wyoming, my mind was reflecting on how I feel about the state and our limited time there.  We did drive the entire length from south to north, but saw only a fraction of what Wyoming is all about.

Seven Mile Wind Farm near Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Wind farm along US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming
US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

I suppose Wyoming, like any other state, elicits the gamut of opinions, from something like “miles and miles of nuthin’ but miles and miles of nuthin’” to “one of the most beautiful, pristine places in the world.”  I found it to be closer to the latter end of that spectrum.

US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming
US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming
US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

The voice I heard playing in my head said something like this: Wyoming exudes a quiet confidence, as if to say “Welcome.  We’re glad you came.  If you decide to stay, we’d love to have you.  If not, we understand.”

Medicine Bow Museum and Train Station, Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Medicine Bow Museum and Train Station, Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Looking at my photos I was impressed by the lack of litter.  Evidently the people who live there respect the land and keep it clean.  The land is truly one of-wide open spaces.  Even the parking spaces are bigger in Wyoming, probably because there are lots of trucks.  The people we met were friendly, the food was good, and the scenery was beautiful.  Would I live there?  Probably not, especially in winter.  But it was a nice place to visit, and I can’t wait for an excuse to go back.

Lou Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters in Downtown Casper, Wyoming
Lou Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters in Downtown Casper, Wyoming
Wind farm along US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

The Merry Old Land of Oz

Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas

One our stops in Kansas was at the Oz Museum in Wamego.  Kansas=Oz, right?  It was a very well-done museum, with lots of movie and book memorabilia as well as displays documenting various scenes and characters in the movie.  While I knew that the movie was based on a book by L. Frank Baum, I didn’t realize that the tale was actually comprised of a series of 14 books.  Now I’m going to need to read them all!

As I’ve been doing, there are a few highlight photos here in this post, and anyone interested can see more at this link: Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.

Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas

Cars, Cars, Cars!

Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana

Kathy & I visited the Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana on our recent jaunt through the Midwest.  Here are a few photos from that visit.  For anyone who wants to see even more car photos, I’ve added a gallery in Adobe Portfolio with an expanded selection.

Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana
Dream Car Museum in Evansville, Indiana

Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin

This morning, Kathy & I spent time walking around the grounds of the historic Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.  It’s a beautiful old building but unfortunately is closed to the public.  We chatted with the caretaker there who told us that a group is negotiating with the University of Chicago to take over management of the facility as an educational center.  The telescopes are being used as part of the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network.

Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin

The observatory evidently became less relevant to the university due to declining interest in astronomy as a college subject and increasing competition from other observatories.  The university has been attempting to sell the property for many years with no success, and it is hoped that a non-profit organization will be able to take over management of the facility in the near future.  It’s an interesting story if one wants to learn more.

Wikipedia: Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, Wisconsin